Thursday, May 31, 2012

To quote a friend, "Cancer Sucks!"

My friend, Michael DeCoulaz, lost his battle to cancer last night. I found out when his daughter posted it on his Facebook wall. The news took my breath away and left me with that sick, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I'm not dealing well with the news.

Like my friend, Sharon Donovan, who died last month, I expected Mike to pull through this ... to beat it. His wit, his attitude and his faith, just like Sharon's, made it impossible to believe the doctor's prognosis. Sure, it was terminal. But surely, Mike would beat it.

His death came as a shock. There seemed to be no "going downhill fast" kind of warning. He started a new round of chemo and then he died. He died. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that.

Mike was the first guy I started seeing in college, which totally freaked out my roommates. We didn't have dorms, but lived in townhouses with 5 of us in each one. When Deke (which is what everyone called him back them) would come knocking on the door late at night, they'd all lock themselves in their bedrooms. You see, Deke got kicked out of school the year before. I've decided not to go into it publicly here, but it did concern my roommates. I wasn't worried. I believed in second chances. And I liked Deke. Really. Despite his reputation, he was courteous with me and treated me with respect.

I don't recall what happened, but we didn't stay together for more than a couple of months. Parting was mutual and there were no hard feelings.

Many years later, I was working in my office late one night, and I received a phone call. It was Deke. He was living in South Korea and decided to look me up. Everyone I knew from college had lost track of Deke. We all assumed he was either in jail ... or dead. He was neither, but that was almost not the case.

He told me this story:

After college, things went steadily downhill. I kept trying to make sense of my life, but it just wasn't working for me. Finally, I decided it was time to end it. I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking about how I was going to kill myself when I saw an ad in the newspaper. They were looking for English teachers in South Korea. 

I picked up the phone, made a plane reservation, and headed to South Korea, leaving my former life behind. I got a job, met the love of my life and got married. I even have a daughter!

The reason I called was because I wanted to let you know that everything you told me about while we were in college suddenly made sense to me after I got to South Korea. You were right! 

You see, Deke and I spent quite a bit of time while we were together, talking about my faith. He didn't buy into it at all, and mocked me for it (which is probably why we didn't stay together for very long!). But in the midst of his search for meaning in his life, he found, not religion, but a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit turned Deke's life around. He was no longer riddled with angst. He was at peace. That peace led him to a purpose.

Michael's love for the people of South Korea was evident in everything about him. He brought his wife and daughter to the states, where they settled happily in Charlotte, North Carolina.

When he was diagnosed with cancer late in September, he approached it as he did everything else in his new life in Christ -- with optimism, enthusiasm and humor. He continued to make us laugh.

For me, I feel drained. With Sharon's death just a month and a half ago, and now Deke's death, I'm feeling really, really sad. So, I'm going to take a little break from the blog, checking in when I feel up to it, but not pushing myself to post something new every day. It's time for me to take care of me for awhile.

Please keep the DeCoulaz family in your prayers. Michael was a GG community member and enjoyed keeping up with the Facebook posts. The world has lost yet another contagious smile and uplifting spirit, and I, for one of many, am deeply saddened about that.


Here's a video Michael did a couple of months ago ... it's his weight loss infomercial and clearly demonstrates his unusual wit. If you are easily offended when someone makes light of cancer, please do not watch. It's just Mike making light of his own, very serious, situation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Are you up for an inspiring movie that will make you laugh, ponder and applaud ... and then ponder some more? This is it. Bill and I ended our Sabbath day on Sunday with dinner and a movie (a belated birthday celebration). I picked the movie and I'm glad I did, even though it was about retirement! I loved this movie. Why?
  • The cast. How can you go wrong with the marvelous Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in starring roles? Outstanding! 
  • The director. John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) has some really wonderful moments in his direction of this film. Truly wonderful bits that had me leaning over to Bill a few times to whisper comments in his ear. 
  • The location. I've never been to India, nor do I have any penchant for going there. But this film gave me more than a glimpse of what it would be like.
  • The interaction. This is where the film rises above many others I've seen. The interactions between the main characters and the interactions between the people from India and the British tourists. Delightful.
  • The lessons/morals of the story.
  • The mood of the movie. Charming and uplifting
  • The cast. I know I started with this, but I have to repeat it. Casting directors, Michelle Guish and Sahar Latif, chose exactly the right people to play these enchanting characters. As much as I loved Dench and Smith is this film, the true standout performance was delivered by Dev Patel, who should easily garner an Oscar nod. The only problem with Patel is he didn't have nearly enough screen time. 
Other cast members worthy of mention include Patel's girlfriend in the movie, the stunning Tena Desae, and the others from the retiree group -- Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy,  Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, and Ronald Pickup (aptly named, considering his role!).

Superb acting, directing and scenery aside, I think the lessons/morals of the story are what impressed me the most. It poses the question, "How do you deal with change and loss?" Ahem. I think I needed this.

The Marigold Hotel draws this group of retirees in with a bit of false advertising. False in that it doesn't quite resemble what the group was promised, but not false in the vision of the proprietor -- the young idealistic Sonny Kapoor. He sees what the Marigold could be and his enthusiasm is contagious. The audience sees it, too.

It is a place for "the elderly and the beautiful;" a place for "outsourcing the ones other countries no longer want." I'm paraphrasing one of the most poignant lines in the movie, delivered with a smile by Patel's character.

"I have a dream to create a home for the elderly so wonderful, that they will simply refuse to die," Sonny gushes to his girlfriend.

Think about it. In India, they value the elderly. What lessons we could learn ... what lessons we should learn.

Other lessons:
  • It's never too late to find love
  • First loves are hard, if not impossible, to forget
  • Something new and exciting can be just around the corner, no matter how old you are
  • We can all learn from each other
  • "Everything will be alright in the end, so if it's not alright, it is not yet the end."
  • "India, like life itself, I suppose, is about what you bring to it." 
There is even a dig at Universal Healthcare, as Smith's character has to wait 6 months to see a doctor for a hip replacement, so she goes to India to have it done right away.

The movie has been panned by some reviewers. I don't know what they were watching. Maybe they enjoy a bit more skin, blood and loud explosions ... none of which you'll find here. And, for those of you who prefer Christian-themed movies, I won't lie to you. There are things about this movie you might find offensive. However, it is clearly not meant to be a Christian movie. But there are still wonderful lessons to glean, including this one from Judi Dench's character's blog: "The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we must."

Disappointment? In some things in my life, of course. In this movie, not in the least.

If you've seen the movie, were there any lessons that spoke to you?

Do you want to win $5,000 and an international adventure? Submit your idea for improving your community and the world in the Marigold Ideas For Good Contest!

In conjunction with and Road Scholar, five winners each month over the age of 50 -- from April to September -- will receive a $5,000 grant toward their project, and one grand prize winner each month will receive an additional educational or service-learning trip.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A thought-provoking Sabbath

It was so good to return to some normalcy on the Sabbath after a few weeks of ... well, not doing the normal Sunday things. Like going to church. I hadn't been to church in three weeks and really missed the time of worship as well as my church family! I've also missed the first three parts of a thought-provoking sermon series on the story of our lives, based on the topic of a Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) conference our minister, Tom Fodi, recently attended in Portland, Oregon. As a writer, I'm all about the story, so I really love that he's preaching this series. Yesterday's focus on conflict and stress, and how important they are in creating a story of interest, was well done, to say the least. It seems we're all looking for stress-free, peaceful lives, but when you think about it, how does a life like that serve to create change in the world around us? If our focus is to live peacefully, our focus is inward and not about the outward big picture. Don't you think?

Of course, my life would be more serene if I didn't care about getting the word out there about the evils of Monsanto and the other corporate giants who are producing products harmful to us. If I shut up about  GMOs, BPA and other toxins, I could retreat into a complacent coma and affect zero change in the world around me. But at least I'd be happy, right? Folks, I think we have it all backwards. That is my problem with religions focusing on inner peace and revolving around self. Christianity is revolutionary and involves serving and loving and creating change in the world. Of course, there are many who have hidden behind the shield of Christianity and created havoc with hatred and self-righteousness, judgmental spirits. I shudder when I hear about the paths of destruction left behind by Christians on their high horses.

Christianity was never meant to be a religion, folks. It was supposed to be all about relationship. Relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Relationship with each other. Relationship with those who think alike ... and those who don't. It's about love, and for those of you who have been hurt any of us who represent Christ, I truly apologize. Sometimes we are misguided. We misinterpret what the Bible says. We seek self instead of selflessness. We deliver judgment rather than grace.

Wow. This isn't where I meant to go with today's reflection on my Sabbath Experience. But maybe it is exactly where I was supposed to go. Tomorrow, I'll share my thoughts on last evening's date night with my husband. Dinner and a movie ... a movie that had a profound impact on me and is changing the way I look at things ... at least a little bit.

To my American friends, have a safe and happy Memorial Day. And to all of you in other countries, may freedom reign where you are!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remembering those who died

"The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery. One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GI's of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way." 

-- Ronald Reagan
   Remarks at Memorial Day Ceremonies 
at Arlington National Cemetery
May 31, 1982

Friday, May 25, 2012

Vinegar and mosquitoes

Laura, 2010
 TGIVF! It's Vinegar Friday!!

I have a full day of grandbabies ahead of me. The lovely little Lady Laura will be here shortly and little Lord Lincoln will join her around 5:30 tonight. It's a sleepover for the cousins! Since I have to work today, Laura will be spending the day with her favorite person -- Grandpap -- but I'll get plenty of Laura and Lincoln time in tonight and tomorrow morning. How lucky am I?

But before the day gets into full swing, I just wanted to share a really amazing (I think) vinegar tip with you before the holiday, bug-biting weekend begins. It's something I mentioned in my book, but said I hadn't tested it enough to know if it really worked. Well, now I have.

I discovered, by mistake, that mosquitoes do not like apple cider vinegar. I left a jar with ACV in it sitting on the table on the porch after giving my cat an ACV bath. To my delight, the mosquitoes that had been buzzing, and biting, us the night before, were not repeating their pattern. As we played Bananagrams on the porch, they simply left us alone. Hmmm. That was at the end of the season last year.

Lincoln, 2011

Well, it's mosquito season again and we're bite-free. Why? Because vinegar is awesome, that's why! I simply sat a few containers of vinegar around the patio and porch and it's done the trick. Is it a coincidence? Maybe. But I don't think so.

Try it. See what happens and let me know.

In the meantime, to my American friends, have a safe, healthy and fun Memorial Day weekend. And don't forget to thank the veterans around you who were willing to sacrifice their own lives for freedom. Thank God you can still show your appreciation to them. And remember the ones whom you can't thank ... because they gave it all. That's what Memorial Day is about, after all ... remembering the bravest of the brave.

This mosquito-free weekend is brought to you by ACV!

Keeping it green with vinegar,


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let's do the Java Jive!

I sure do know a lot of worriers. This bothers me, but it is understandable. After all, there is a lot to be worried about these days. So, I thought it would be a kind thing to do, rather than lecturing you on how bad worrying is for you, to actually ease your mind about one thing that might be on your mind.

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Coffee. Do you ever worry about your coffee drinking habit? Well, you can stop. Unless you're drinking an exorbitant amount of coffee each day, you just might be reaping some health benefits from your daily cup or two of java. How cool is that? Coffee contains phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. This is especially helpful for anyone predisposed to diabetes because the antioxidants in coffee can build up insulin sensitivity. This can cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 30 percent! I wish I had known that back in my tea-drinking pre-diabetes days!

Other suspected benefits include:
  • boosting your brain power (I know I certainly can use that!)
  • cutting your risk of 
    • Parkinson's disease
    • gallstones
    • cirrhosis
    • colon cancer
Of course, if you are pregnant, this is not your free-ride to morning caffeine highs! Stay away!! For the health of that precious unborn child, switch to a decaffeinated morning brew!

And that's it for this week's Truths and Tidbits. I think I'll go grab a cup of coffee to wake up my brain.

Do you have any myths you would like to debunk? Feel free to comment!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Talking dirty

It's Review It Wednesday and today we're talking dirty. Well, actually, we're talking dirt. Compost, to be exact. Compost and a worm named Pee Wee.

I stumbled upon this wonderful series of children's books by Larraine Roulston and contacted her to see if she would send me a book or two for review. She graciously agreed and sent me the whole series (at no charge, of course).

As soon as I could, I sat down with my granddaughter, Laura, and started to read. I was expecting a short picture book, but was surprised to discover a rather lengthy book, better suited for school-aged children.

Larraine Roulston is a resident of Peterborough, Ontario where she lives with her husband, Peter. She's been writing about environmental issues since 1987 and is an active member of the Composting Council of Canada. She's also served on the board of directors for the Recycling Council of Ontario. This writer knows her stuff about composting and she shares it in such a way that kids (and adults) are entertained while being educated. She even includes a catchy composting song (sung to the tune of the Hokey Pokey) that Laura and I now sing on a regular basis.

Pee Wee, Sammy Sowbug, Mini Millipede, Bradley Beetle, Susie Springtail and Verme the earthworm  take us on adventures through composting. There is suspense. There is friendship. There is dirt. And bugs. And all things yucky. But yuckiness is easily transformed into something more than a science experiment ... it's transformed into a way of life for kids and their families who, after reading these books, can embrace the logic of composting, and ultimately, live greener lives.

I love this series.

While Laura seems to have a longer attention span than many three-year-olds, the books are a bit long for the toddler group. But maybe I'm not giving them enough credit. After all, when Grandpap and Laura were planting my herb garden, Laura wasn't frightened by the dozens of creepy crawlers ... she just said, "Look, there's Mini Millipede!" Aha! The lessons stuck!

Isn't that what we want from really good children's books? Lessons that stick? Well, that's exactly what you get with the Pee Wee's composting series.

Here are the six books in the series:
  • Pee Wee and the Magical Compost Heap      This is the first book in the series and it introduces kids to backyard composting through the adventures of Pee Wee, the endearing little red wiggler worm and all the other insects in the compost heap. There are even guides in the back of this 22-page book: Materials to Compost, Do Not Compost, and Composting Glossary and Further Information Guide.
  • Pee Wee's Great Adventure      With instructions on how to care for worms and harvest their castings (a cleaned-up word for worm poop), this book takes us on an adventure that ultimately teaches us all about vermicomposting (from a worm's eye view!). 
  • Pee Wee's Family in a Nutshell      Here kids learn the difference between backyard composting and vermicomposting.
  • Pee Wee Goes to the Fair       It's time for the Spring Environmental Science Fair and Pee Wee and all his friends spend a day at the fair.
  • Pee Wee's Magical Compost Tea      The human kids in this story learn about the benefits of brewing and applying compost tea for a Waste Reduction Week activity, while Pee Wee and the other compost critters plan their own compost tea party inside of a rotting pumpkin.
  • Pee Wee's Magical Compost Heap Colouring and Activity Book      As if the storybooks aren't enough fun, Larraine added one last book to the series -- a 24-page colouring and activity book sure to delight green-minded kids, parents and teachers. What fun!
All of the books, with the exception of the first one, are printed on 100% post-consumer paper that is acid-free, using vegetable-based inks for printing. How green is that?!
These truly are a valuable resource for parents and teachers when it comes to teaching kids about composting in a way that will stick. While it seems that so many books out there appeal to little girls, this is a series of books that little boys will just eat up! I mean, seriously ... they're about creepy crawler bugs, for goodness' sake!

The books are economical as well. You can order the entire set for just $35 plus postage. Teachers can even add Pee Wee's Fun with Worms Teacher's Guide to further enhance this educational opportunity. Visit the website for more information or contact Larraine at or 705-778-1922.

Since I received the whole set, I thought I'd host a giveaway so you could have the chance to experience a taste of Pee Wee's adventures for yourself! Entering is super simple. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. It follows a really incredible weekend where I was able to hone my craft.

As a writer, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed spending three days immersed in the writing community at the 25th annual Pennwriters Conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. To be surrounded by like minds who really get each other, was exactly what I needed in this season of change in my life. I felt like I belonged in a way we writers don't always experience. Plus, I was able to stay in a beautiful room at the Eden Resort, enjoy really good food, share stories and laughter, meet new friends (and some old ones who I only knew electronically), rejoice in others' success, and lead some workshops -- one of my very favorite things to do in life! It was a good weekend.

As if all of that wasn't enough, I also was honored that my poem, Prodigal, tied to win 2nd place in the poetry competition. Little happy dance. I was surrounded by so much incredible talent, that this was truly an honor!
Our keynote speakers, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Maria Snyder, inspired and motivated me. Hank shared something especially meaningful to me ... as an investigative reporter in Boston, she didn't get around to writing her first novel until she was my age (as of today). So, I've decided this is my year!

Topping off my incredible weekend with Pennwriters, was the time I was able to spend with my mother on Thursday night and Sunday through Monday. I never take the time we have for granted. I know how blessed I am to still have my mother with me, even if she doesn't understand my passion for leading a life with less chemicals!

And then there was dinner on Sunday night with my best-friend-for-50-years, Dawn. She treated me to a birthday dinner that was both delicious and soul-soothing. Dawn has always had a knack for making any problem in my life seem smaller and any success in my life seem sweeter. Always. I treasure our friendship.

I drove back to Pittsburgh yesterday, listening to the second book in Richard Paul Evans' The Walk series, and was left wanting more. I was so disappointed when the final words were read, that I popped the first CD back in and started listening to the book all over again! I love Evans' work.

Bill and I made dinner with the groceries I brought back from Lancaster County -- fresher, cheaper and simply more delicious, and sat down to watch the final two hours of my favorite television show. I wept as the last credits rolled for HOUSE, knowing that, this too, is a change I have to adapt to.

Although it was a Monday, I did not work yesterday. And so, Monday was my Sabbath this week and this is my accounting of my Sabbath Experience. It was sweet. It was relaxing. It was necessary. And now, my friends, it's time for me to get to work ... oh, after I go eat my free Build Your Own Slam at Denny's. Aren't birthdays wonderful?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thoreau's thoughts on farmers

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

 When, in some obscure country town, 
the farmers come together to a special town-meeting, 
to express their opinion on some subject 
which is vexing the land, 
that, I think, is the true Congress, 
and the most respectable one 
that is ever assembled in the United States.

Thoreau's essay "Slavery In Massachusets"  from 1854

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vinegar Fridays -- how about some rose vinegar?


Photo by Andrew Schmidt

Community member, Erika, sent me a link for rose vinegar. Have you ever heard of it? I hadn't, and I'm always excited to discover new vinegar tips!

So, rather than writing a VF post today, I'm encouraging you to visit The Nerdy Farm Wife featuring this wonderful new-to-me tip. The rose vinegar is so pretty ... and practical.


Keeping it green (or in this case, pink) with vinegar,


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Towards a healthier garden

I’m happy to have another natural gardening expert share his wisdom with the GG community. Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He blogs for pros across the U.S., such as fence contractors in Norfolk, Virginia.

When it comes to our yards and gardens we look at them and see trees growing leaves, flowers budding, and striking new shades of green taking over the old brown winter brush. What we don’t always see, though, are the chemicals, toxins, and noxious gases that often penetrate these spaces.

How do these substances infiltrate the confines of such beauty in nature? Two of the main culprits are chemical pesticides and fumes from machines associated with regular grounds maintenance. Both release harmful substances into the air and on vegetation, which means anyone playing or working in the yard can be exposed to them easily.

That’s why when it comes to eradicating pests and making the yard look respectable, it’s important to try more eco-friendly means so the garden is a healthier place for everyone. When it comes to pesticides and fumes some considerations include the following:


Let’s face it. Pests of all kinds are pretty annoying, especially when they are chewing on vegetables and flowers we’ve worked so hard to cultivate. However, while it’s very easy to purchase a chemical pesticide, spray the yard, and think we’ve solved the problem we are actually creating bigger ones.

Ask any exterminator and they will tell you that even though poisons in pesticides and insecticides are meant to kill bugs, their effects don’t discriminate when it comes to other living organisms …  like people. Why else are you warned not to go on a lawn or in a home after a spraying?

These substances affect humans and continued exposure to such chemicals, either externally from touch or internally from consumption of sprayed foods, can eventually cause serious illnesses. Similarly, the same can be said of weed killers, which are often chemical-based.

Some solutions: To avoid pests, try companion crops, attracting predators that will eat them, or spraying with organic-based pesticides. For weeds, either pull out unwanted vegetation with your hands, purchase an eco-friendly brand of weed killer, research natural ways to eradicate them, such as with vinegar, boiling water, and salt. Weeds can also be controlled with various types of mulch. 


Photo by Petr Kratochvil
When it comes to noxious fumes, we generally think about exhaust coming out of cars and trucks. But did you know gasoline lawnmowers produce significant percentages of pollutants that can actually equal or surpass that of an automobile?

Considering that millions of Americans still use gas powered mowers, weed whackers, and other yard machines producing fumes on the spot, it’s important to try other methods for cleaning up the yard.

Electric mowers are an option, but their usage means power companies work harder and general pollution becomes more widespread.

That’s why the best way to try and prevent fumes from entering the environment is by using manual tools and only operating electric or gasoline versions when it’s absolutely necessary.

It will require using a little extra muscle but in order for our yards and gardens to be healthier corners of the world where our family’s well-being is a main concern, going the extra mile can save a lot of heartache down the road.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review It Wednesday -- the need for sleep

I thought it would be especially appropriate if I were to 'review' my own life on this particular Review It Wednesday. So today, instead of a product or book review, here is what I have to say:

I'm too busy. Busyness can lead to stress. I'm too stressed. 

There are major changes going on in my life and I'm not taking the time to process them. Client demands are high right now, as are personal demands.

I'm editing a book for one client, writing a book for another and have two children's books to research and write for Marvel iStorybooks. And, of course, deadlines are looming.

Tomorrow, I'm heading to Lancaster for the Pennwriters Conference. I'll be presenting two workshops and moderating several other workshops. The days will be long ... but fulfilling.

Before I leave, I have more to do than I believe is humanly possible. 

That brings us to the subject of the blog ... and today's review. 

When I started thinking about which of the products/books I should review this week, I actually felt a bit sick to my stomach. A review? I thought. When am I going to find the time for a review?

The answer ... I'm not going to find the time. After all sleep is important. Even Laura understands that!

The value of a nap!

So, forgive me if you were counting on a review. Instead of taking the time to read one, why not spend some time reviewing your own life? What does your current state of busyness look like? Is it time to step back and let a few things slide?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Black-and-white issues

Photo by Charles Rondeau

Apparently, yesterday's post about the TIME magazine cover struck a cord with many of you. But I thought I should post a short follow-up, in case some of you are confused about my position.

You see, I have really strong opinions about what I think is best for babies. No, really?? Yes, really. And I tend to share those opinions, and back them up with the facts I find. But that doesn't mean I think less of you if you don't agree with me. No one's going to agree 100% with another human being. It just doesn't work that way. 

Remember that the next time you see a mom putting a disposable diaper on her child. Or a mom out in public nursing her toddler. Or a mom losing her cool when her child has pushed one too many of her buttons. Maybe that mom just needs someone to extend kindness.  

It's so easy for us to jump to conclusions ... to form opinions ... to judge. I'm as guilty of this as you are.

I believe a mother should breastfeed her baby if it is at all possible. I'm not sure I agree with breastfeeding kids in preschool. My thoughts are ... a pump and a cup. But that's just my opinion. And that is exactly what it is ... an opinion. While it is factual that breast milk is best for a baby, formula-feeding does not equal bad parenting.

I believe babies should be in cloth diapers ... for their health, if nothing else. Bottom line is that disposable diapers pose all sorts of health risks for kids. If you can protect your kids from that, why wouldn't you? While it is factual that cloth diapers are best for baby, throw-away diapering does not equal bad parenting.

Those are my black-and-white issues, among a few others. But many of the issues are gray for me, so I won't comment. I just wanted to clear up any confusion following yesterday's post for those of you who know I'm a strong breastfeeding/cloth diapering proponent. My position hasn't changed ... but perhaps my attitude has ... just a bit.

What about you? What are your black-and-white issues? 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Are you mom enough?

The recent cover of TIME magazine stirred up quite a controversy, as I'm sure was their intention. Even on the Green Grandma Facebook page, the community moms engaged in some disagreements. Everyone seemed to have valid points, despite having differing opinions. 

Perhaps sales have been down for TIME. Perhaps they needed a boost. What better way than to show a defiant-looking young woman, staring down the camera, with a big-for-his-age, 3-year-old practically hanging from her boob. Oh wait, he wasn't exactly hanging, was he. That would require her to have the less-than-perky breasts that those of us who breastfed for any length of time tend to have. But TIME didn't photograph the average breastfeeding mom, did they? Ahhh ... one of the sources of contention for many. I only breastfed my girls for one year, as that was the common practice in the mid-80s. But I can tell you, that if someone had photographed me with my child standing on a chair to reach me, my breasts would not have looked like hers. Most likely, yours wouldn't have either.

Now don't get me wrong ... I'm not judging Jamie Lynn Grumet for having perky breasts. Perhaps I'm just a bit jealous. Actually, I'm not judging Grumet at all. It's the photographer, Vaughan Hannigan, that I have issues with. Apparently, he modeled the shots in the magazine and on the cover after various paintings/statues of Madonna and Child ... and I'm not talking about the pointy-breasted Madonna of Like a Virgin fame. No, I'm referring to the actual Virgin Mary ... that Madonna. And, of course, the toddlers in this article are all supposed to remind us of Jesus. Ummm, no. Mr. Hannigan, you missed the mark. 

First of all, none of the images I've seen of Mary boast that indifferent, seemingly defiant countenance. Granted, I have not seen the rest of the photos, as I haven't had the chance to go to the library to look at the current issue, and I have absolutely no plans to give TIME any of my money. My opinion comes from the tasteless cover, coupled with the tasteless choice Hannigan made to mess around with sacred images. 

The photographer is quoted as saying it is impossible to hold some of these older children as they are nursing. Really? Hmmm. I seem to recall holding my children on my lap well into their teens. I'm pretty sure these moms don't feed their kids while standing. Part of the whole attachment parenting/breastfeeding lifestyle is about nurturing. That is certainly not captured in this cover photo.

The child looks awkward. Look at the picture. Other than mouth-to-nipple contact, the boy is not touching his mother. Give me a break! The set-up for this photo is ridiculous.

And, on a side note, don't you feel sorry for this kid? Here is where I will fault Ms Grumet. What was she thinking?? Doesn't she realize she just opened the door ... wide open ... for her precious child to be bullied for many years to come. I guarantee ... it will happen. Then what will happen to all that nurturing? I'm guessing he just might be a bit peeved on mommy dearest.

Okay, photo aside, let's move on to the title. I don't know whose idea that was, but they should be fired!


The cover screams a challenge to all of us who have both children and mammary glands. Seriously? Let the Mommy Wars begin ...

Attachment parenting vs non-attachment parenting (I couldn't find a word for that). Co-sleeping vs non-co-sleeping (I couldn't find a word for that, either). Breastfeeding vs formula feeding (yea! I knew what to call that). Home schooling vs private schooling. Cyber schooling vs public schooling. Vegan diet vs animal protein diet. The list goes on and on, pitting mom against mom. 

That is my main issue with this cover. I really can't comment on the article itself, since I've not read it. It's quite possible that journalist, Kate Pickert, did a fabulous job revealing the true nature of attachment parenting to the curious masses out there. Possible. Maybe, even she was upset by the cover photo and the title. Who knows? I can't blame her. But I do blame TIME magazine for sensationalizing a parenting choice that thousands of moms and dads are making. It's a parenting choice they believe is best for their children. And that is the issue, isn't it? Aren't we all doing what we believe is best for our children and our families? I know I did. My choice was to breastfeed and cloth diaper my girls. They went to public school. They slept in their own rooms. Those were my choices. What about yours? Are you tired of being judged for your choices? Do people's harsh stares or biting words make you weary? Have 'well-meaning' relatives' comments caused you to rethink what you're doing?

Moms ... we need to band together. We need to support each other. We need to stop beating each other up. 

The world is a harsh place at times. Wouldn't it be nice to fall back into the comforting arms of the mom community when you just need a little bit of kindness?

Are you MOM ENOUGH? Absolutely. And you have won the right to wear that badge proudly.

Sharing my pride in you,


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  
She never existed before.  
The woman existed, but the mother, never.  
A mother is something absolutely new.  


Friday, May 11, 2012

Vinegar Friday


I've been asked whether or not women can take apple cider vinegar on a daily basis if they're pregnant. While a common folklore circulated linking ACV to miscarriage, there is no basis for that belief. Unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar can actually benefit you if you are pregnant, in the same ways it benefits others (as I wrote about in chapter 10 of my book). Additionally, it can help prevent pregnancy-related anemia and help to prevent heartburn and constipation. It just might curb cravings that can lead to excess weight gain as well.  

What about if you're nursing? Won't it make your milk sour? Babies don't seem to mind it, so I'm guessing the milk is still pretty tasty to them. But the huge benefit to your nursing mamas, is that taking a tablespoon of ACV a day can help prevent mastitis! If you've ever experienced the pain of blocked milk ducts, you're probably wishing you'd known this in the past!

Of course, don't take my word for it whether or not ACV is safe if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Here's the word from the real expert:

According to John Westerdahl, PhD, MPH, RD and director of the Bragg Health Foundation, "Bragg Apple Cider vinegar is safe to consume for pregnant and lactating women."

There you have it. And that's all I have for you on this particular Vinegar Friday.

By the way, are you happy I reinstated this feature? Let me know!

Keeping it green and healthy with vinegar,


Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, 32 oz, Bragg - $4.29
Retail Price: $14.29
You Save: $10.00

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