Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My favorite posts of 2013

Well, here we are on the final day of 2013. It's been quite a year. I must admit, in many ways, it's been one of the most difficult years for me personally. Losing my mom on January 15th set me on a path of grief unlike any I've ever experienced. At times, the pain threatened to swallow me whole and I wondered how I would go on.

Throughout the months, I shared bits of my journey. Now that we've reached the end of the year, I thought we'd revisit some of my favorite posts of 2013. I've included the links to bits of my grief journey for any of you who may be experiencing something similar. My hope is for you to find some comfort in the universality of our journey. 

Below those links are links to other topics I feel passionate about. I hope you'll find the time to read or reread some of Green Grandma's favorite posts. 

My grandbabies -- the reason I do what I do. And my husband -- without whom I'd be lost.


January

Saying Goodbye  -- The beginning of my grief journey

The surprising hiding places for triclosan -- This dangerous toxin is in more than just antibacterial soap!


February

Sharing a little bit more of my currently broken heart -- A rawer look at the journey

Fracking, bottled water, and Keurig Cups -- not seeing eye-to-eye -- How a discussion at church led to a rant


March

Returning to an empty house -- What it was like to go home again

The iPotty ... Tell me it isn't so! -- High tech toilet training. Yikes!


April

Monday Morning Reflections -- There's no place like home -- Experiencing joy again, at least for the time being

Are you still using plastic grocery bags? Why? -- An attempt to motivate readers to shop with reusable bags

Something went terribly wrong -- My reflections on the tragedy in Boston during the marathon


May

Life. It goes on -- I survived my first Mother's Day without my mom... and I gleaned some grains of joy

Vinegar Friday -- In honor of moms -- Tips on using vinegar from moms in the community


June 

A grandfather clock, a family of bluebirds, and a lifelong friend -- In the midst of the grief journey, friends can be the most valuable asset

An airplane, a squirmy toddler, and a random act of kindness -- How getting the last seat on the plane to Chicago ended up being a huge blessing


July

To everything there is a season... -- Delayed grief. It can be brutal

A game of hide-and-seek with SC Johnson -- Revealing the truth about toxins in popular products


August

Hmmm. This is the first month I didn't blog about my grief journey.

Screen time and toddlers: How much is too much? --What do researchers say?


September

Another month without a nod to my grief

Grandparents Day -- Hype or ...  -- The value of grandparents


October

We need a David to take down Goliath -- The fight against Monsanto -- it's a fight we must win!


November

Hero in Aisle Six -- A poem to honor our veterans -- Sharing one of my poems to honor our heroes


December

From coal to diamonds... saying goodbye -- The final visit to my childhood home

Fired up on Vinegar Friday -- Expressing some outrage over the Fisher-Price Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat

Thicker than Blood -- The story of a courtship -- mine and my husband's to be exact!


Thanks for sticking with me this year. It was a tough one, but I'm looking ahead to a fantastic 2014. Let's make it greener and healthier... the common sense way!




Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New You T4

Ready for a better you? Winning a ProForm Performance 400 S Treadmill couldn't hurt!

Please click on the follow button to follow each Twitter user. Then go back to the rafflecopter form to claim your entries. Thank you.




Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

A bit of vinegar wisdom from King Solomon

TGIVF!

Well, here it is, the final Vinegar Friday of the year. I saw my five-year-old granddaughter today and out of the blue she asked me, "Green Grandma, is this a vinegar Friday?" I just cracked up!

I had no idea what I was going to blog about today, but as I was reading my Bible this morning, the answer came to me from a verse in Proverbs:

"Like vinegar to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes, so are the lazy to their employers." -- Proverbs 10:26

That's it! I needed to remind you if you are taking vinegar for health reasons or for weight loss, as I've suggested many times in the past few years, remember to rinse your mouth out with water afterwards so the vinegar does not eat away at your tooth enamel. Even Solomon understood that this could happen!

Thank you for your support of vinegar Fridays this year. And if you haven't purchased it yet, consider buying a copy of my book to keep my vinegar tips close at hand all year long (and not just on Fridays!). 

Keeping it green with vinegar,








Green Grandma's Vinegar Fridays is available on Amazon.com and Lulu.com or contact me at greengrandma@comcast.net for a signed copy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Image courtesy of Karen's Whimsy

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men
."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!



~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Thicker than Blood


Bill and me Dec. 2013



Bill and I started dating on December 20, 1989. Here is our story, as seen in the new edition of CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE DATING GAME. I hope it inspires you during this season of love.








Thicker than Blood



“He’s ten years older than me!” I said to my friend, Kathy, as she tried talking me into meeting her husband’s best friend.

       “You don’t have to marry him; just go out with him. I hate seeing two of my closest friends hurting the way you are and thought you’d be good company for each other.”

Recently widowed at the age of thirty-two, I was anxious to be married again. Bill, on the other hand, was separated, with no plans to ever have another wife. Yet, once I agreed to meet him, we clicked and started spending all our available time together.

With four daughters between us, alone time was a precious commodity. We spent hours on the phone, talking late into the night. With each passing month, we grew closer and closer. Yet, we still had opposite marriage goals for our lives.

        It wasn’t long before I was, as they say, head over heels in love with Bill. He’d walk into a room and take my breath away. However, my feelings made him uncomfortable. After all, he was still in love with his wife, and wanted nothing more than to work things out with her. While I agreed that would be the best thing for him and for their two daughters, it was apparent the family was not going to reunite.

He admitted his struggle one night as we sat listening to The Moody Blues. “I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I have strong feelings for you and can’t imagine my life without you, but I still love her.”

“Of course, you do,” I empathized. “I’m not asking you to stop loving her. Loving me doesn’t preclude how you feel about her.”

“I don’t understand. How could I possibly love both of you? It just isn’t right.”

“Who says it isn’t? Don’t you think I still love Jim?”

“That’s different. Your husband is dead.”

I paused, trying to put my thoughts into words. “Do you remember how you felt about April when she was born?”

“I loved her with everything in me. What does that have to do with anything?”

      “Well, when you found out you were going to have another baby, didn’t you wonder how you could possibly love a second child the way you loved the first?”

Still confused, he answered me. “I guess so.”

“So, when Mindy was born, did you have to take some of your love away from April in order to love her?”

“Of course not. I just loved her... as much as I loved her sister.”

“Exactly,” I said, confident my point was made, “you didn’t have to split that love in two to share it. Your heart simply grew.”

“That’s a good way of putting it. But I still don’t understand what that has to do with us,” questioned Bill.

“Well, I’m not asking you to stop loving your first wife. She’s the mother of your children and you were with her for over twenty years. Love like that doesn’t go away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t love me, too. You just have to give your heart permission to grow.”

Over the next few days, he thought about what I said. And then, it happened. Not only did he allow his heart to grow, but he also gave himself permission to say the words I desperately wanted to hear.

“I love you, Hana,” he said gently, tears filling his eyes. “I really love you.”

A few months later, sitting across the table from me at the restaurant where we’d had our first date, he asked me to marry him. Naturally, I said yes.

We’ve been married for over twenty years now. My children, who were only nine and seven when we wed, were blessed with the best daddy they could have hoped for. Now, with children of their own, Grandpap is the heart of the family.

“You’ll never find anyone who will love Bethany and Jessica as much as Jim did,” a relative told me the week after my husband’s death.

She was wrong. Bill loves my girls, our girls, as much as he ever loved his own two daughters. Blood is thicker than water? Maybe. But love is much thicker than blood.



~Hana Haatainen Caye

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE DATING GAME

©2013


Monday, December 23, 2013

Being assertive without the army boots



With (sometimes difficult) family gatherings occurring over the next few days, I thought it was a good time to post this excellent take on getting through these gatherings with as few ruffled feathers as possible. I'm happy to welcome author and friend, Lisa Lawmaster Hess, again as today's guest blogger.

Photo by Summer Woods
 

Marita Mercer doesn’t take any guff from anyone. Standing up for herself and her daughter is woven into the fibers of her being, threads that have only become stronger as she raises her daughter alone.

Angel Alessio is demure with a gentle spirit. Her frame isn’t the only thing that’s petite; she avoids confrontation and puts other people’s needs before her own.

These two women are fictional characters in my novel, Casting the First Stone, but  every fictional Marita and Angel has a real-life counterpart. As women, we value relationships, and sometimes, in our efforts to preserve and protect them, we put ourselves second. We forget that the ability to stand up for ourselves is a life skill, one that we are entitled to exercise.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not suggesting that we run roughshod over everyone who gets in our way, let alone those we love and respect. There’s a difference between aggressive behavior and assertive behavior. While aggressive behavior is characterized by a “me first, take no prisoners” mentality, assertive behavior seeks common ground -- a level playing field. Assertive behavior seeks the win-win.

While we may be aggressive, assertive (or passive, like Angel) by nature, these are also behaviors we can cultivate. Even better, these are behaviors we can teach our children.

And we can begin by teaching them to send the messages they want to send. To help them do that, we can teach them to consider four elements of their message:

Choose your words. Name-calling, sarcasm and put-downs may appear to be a show of strength, but in reality, bullying behaviors like these weaken our messages because they diminish other people's respect for us and they shut down problem solving almost immediately. Well-chosen words that show respect for another person are the foundation of a strong, assertive message.

Watch your tone. The most thoughtfully considered words can deliver a completely different message if the tone in which they are spoken is pushy, disrespectful or harsh. Kids often have trouble recognizing their tone, however, and may even need you to model the appropriate tone for them...gently and without sarcasm.

Look them in the eye. Eye contact is the part of nonverbal communication that shows you mean business. When we're nervous or afraid, it can be very difficult to maintain eye contact, and we end up undermining our entire message because the other person doesn't take us seriously. It takes practice, however, to keep our eyes focused on another person's eyes, especially when we are nervous or upset.

Stand up for yourself - literally. Stance, or body position, can strengthen or weaken a message. Someone who stands stoop-shouldered and stares at the floor will not come across as confident and is unlikely to be taken seriously. A relaxed, friendly expression (think smiling mouth and eyes) inspires cooperation more readily than an angry or hostile one. Also look out for gestures or stances that can be interpreted as aggressive, such as clenched fists or hands on hips; these can make even a peaceful message look like a declaration of war.

It's a lot to remember! The good news is, you don’t need to do it all at once. Choose the easiest element and work on that first. (Eye contact is the most powerful, but it can also be the most difficult to pull off).

Does all this mean we have to be walking, talking displays of assertiveness all the time? Not at all. Assertive behavior is nuanced (that’s one of the things that distinguishes it from aggressive behavior), and we can choose when to move in and when to back off. Not wild about your husband’s choice of restaurant, but you know it’s his favorite? Could be a time to back off. Not wild about your daughter’s boyfriend because he treats her poorly? Move in.

One step at a time.





Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl and former elementary school counselor. She is currently an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania.



Lisa is the author of Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce, both inspired by her interactions with her elementary school students. Her first novel, Casting the First Stone, will be released in January 2014.

Lisa's previous guest post, Diverse Divorce... What have your kids faced?, can be accessed here.








A couple days left

Christmas is two days away and I'm still waiting for some packages to arrive so I can wrap them and put them under the tree. Cards were mailed just a few short days ago. It's been a hectic, not-done-yet, kind of holiday season. As a result, many things suffered, including this blog. I just haven't had the energy to keep up with it. For that, I am truly sorry.

Calendar by Lilla Frerichs


The good news is that a new year is right around the corner! My plans include faithful postings here that will inspire, motivate, educate, and encourage you. I hope you will "tune in" regularly and take part in the conversation here and on the Green Grandma Facebook page. We have a fantastic community of like-minded, and sometimes not-so-like-minded people, and I love the engaging exchanges. 

I also love guest bloggers. So if you're looking for a place to express yourself, email me at greengrandma@comcast.net and I'll see if what you have fits in here. I'm still eager to feature birth stories or car seat safety tips and stories. 

I'm also planning a series on caring for those with special needs, so please email your stories for that series, too. 

Looking forward to a fulfilling and inspiring new year with the best online community I know,



Better service, flexible payment plans

This is a sponsored post. I have received compensation to feature this on the blog. 


 

For those of you in the community who live in New York or New Jersey:

A home is a major investment for all homeowners and heating that investment in the winter months is essential to maintain the integrity of the home. There are continuing efforts to improve the product and the strategic pricing to keep the energy at affordable and reasonable prices.


Energy companies often offer their customers flexible payment plans to make the financial management of a homeowners energy needs as painless as possible. Energy companies that are on the forefront of energy cost management will serve the customer with greater satisfaction.

Energy customers, such as Ohio natural gas customers are on board for a variety of contract options that will help them save money. A variable energy contract will save the customer money, but will maximize customer service and product delivery. A floating price that fluctuates with the market will offer customers the greatest saving potential.

A variable plus contract will help customers take advantage of low current pricing, but with greater control over long term costs. The variable plus contract will allow customers to lock in one price for the heating season and are assured of pricing stability.

A hybrid contract allows customers to pick and choose the best elements from all available plans to meet their specific energy needs and individualize their energy pricing solutions.







Friday, December 20, 2013

Vinegar Friday and a case of cracked, dry skin

TGIVF!

Image by George Hodan
I've mentioned it before, but I absolutely love to take hot baths... and to stay in them for hours at a time. Seriously. The problem is, however, that since my last birthday, my skin has started changing, along with the rest of me, it seems. Yeah. This year has not been kind to my body. First it was pneumonia in June followed by a severe, antibiotic-resistant kidney infection in September, coupled with some of the worst fibromyalgia pain I've ever had. Now, add to the mix, for the first time ever, dry skin. Really dry skin. Some mornings, my jawline feels like sandpaper. Yuck.

But I've found a solution, at least for the dry skin. And you already know part of what I'm going to say, right? Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, to be precise. I've been using it as a toner after I wash my face, and it really helps to soften it. After toning, I slather on some organic coconut oil and presto!, my skin transforms into something touchable! 

Not only is my face softer, but so are my knees, heels, and elbows, provided I use the coconut oil after bathing. It's making quite a difference. 

When looking for ACV to use on your skin, you don't have to spring for the costlier raw vinegar. Just make sure you aren't duped into buying the fake stuff. The stores are selling carefully disguised ACV that is actually only apple cider vinegar flavored distilled white vinegar. 

Also, as I've mentioned here on the blog, as well as in my book, adding a cup or two of ACV to the bath water will also help to soften skin, as well as detoxify your body and aid in healing certain conditions, like gout.

So my advice? Skip the expensive, and often toxic, toners and moisturizers and make the switch to vinegar and oil... ACV and coconut, of course.

Winter's not looking quite so bad after all now, is it?

Keeping it green and soft with vinegar (and a generous amount of coconut oil),



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