Thursday, February 28, 2013

End It Movement... why care?

Yesterday, I was silent on social media. Why? Because I care. Because I want you to be aware of the human trafficking atrocities going on worldwide. Children are being stolen from loving parents like you and me and are sold as slaves. Some work in factories. Some work in the fields. And many, many young girls are sold so their bodies can get some twisted pleasure to sick, sick men. How can we sit back in our indifference and not care?

Please watch this video to learn more. Folks, we have to do what we can to End It! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

End It Movement

To honor the 27 million who have disappeared in today's world of slavery, I will not be engaging in any social media today. It has to stop, folks. The human trafficking has to stop.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Name the Hyland's Tooth Fairy!

Did you know that Thursday, Feb. 28th is National Tooth Fairy Day?

How awesome would it be it you were the one to name the new Hyland's Tooth Fairy? And how much more awesome would it be when, as the one who named her, you received a prize package that included 

  • a Hyland's Baby Basket
  • $200 Visa Gift Card
  • Hyland's Baby Teething Onesie
  • a custom-made First Tooth Certificate

I mean, seriously... wouldn't that be awesome? It would be doubly awesome for me if someone in the Green Grandma community won! 

Here's the deal: Hyland's is looking for a name for the new Hyland's Tooth Fairy. Isn't she a cutey? Starting on Thursday (2/28/13), the Tooth Fairy naming contest will be on the Hyland's Teething Facebook page,where you can enter your submission. Participants will then vote on the top 10 and each of the finalists will receive a Hyland's Baby Teething Onesie and Hyland's Baby Teething Tablet product. The good folks at Hyland's will choose a grand prize winner, based on the name they find most fitting for their fairy. Fair enough? 

But the Tooth Fairy naming contest isn't all that's happening... On Thursday, they are also launching a page on their Hyland's Baby site where you can download a First Tooth Certificate, Teeth Chart, and "I got my first tooth" badge, which you can personalize with your child's info to create your own keepsakes.  

You see, Hyland's Homeopathic isn't just about health; it's also about fun! I can't wait to see the names you guys come up with. If you've been following my FB posts, you know my daughter is trying to figure out what to name her little girl, who is due to make an appearance on Earth Day. Just maybe one of the Tooth Fairy name suggestions will strike her as the perfect moniker for the baby, otherwise known as "Rabbit" (so named by her big sister, Laura)!

So... head over to the Hyland's Teething Facebook page and 'like' it so that on Thursday you can enter to win! And make sure you go to the Hyland's Baby site and download all the goodies, direct from the Hyland's Tooth Fairy... whatever her name may be!

May the best name win!

This is a Hyland's Ambassadors sponsored post.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cross Roads... life, seasons, a book

It has been a truly unusual morning. My cheeks are cold and wet. Cold, because I just spent the past hour sitting outside on my patio reading. It is 39 degrees outside. Wet, because the book I was reading was Wm. Paul Young’s Cross Roads.
Initially, I ventured outdoors out of curiosity. Yesterday at church, my friend, Anton, asked me if my crocuses were out yet. I couldn’t answer truthfully, because I hadn’t checked. Besides, it’s February. Surely, at best, they were barely breaking ground. 

Imagine my surprise, and delight, to discover I was wrong. Feeble, and a bit sickly looking, there they were. A cluster of purple flowers, greeting the day, seemingly as oblivious to the chill in the air as I was. Perhaps focused more on the warmth of the sun, which was such a welcome respite from the grey days of icy rain. 

There they were, peeking out through the mud, amidst stray autumn leaves that blew across the yard and settled under bushes. There they were, offering a glimpse of hope, just like the book I just finished.

The sun’s warmth felt good on my winter weary skin. So much so, that I decided to spend some time savoring it. I went inside, poured a cup of coffee and grabbed a shawl, my camera and the book. My intention was to read a few pages while I drank my coffee, and then come inside to get warm. Instead, I remained outside, despite the clouds that shielded me from warmth time and time again, and I finished the novel.

Tears threatened to fall, and I let them. Freely they flowed down my cold cheeks as I took in the wonderful story wrapping up in the last chapters of the book. Freely they flowed down my sun-kissed cheeks as I, once again, felt the overwhelming burden of loss of my mother’s death, just 40 short days again. I sat outside on this sunny, but cold, winter day, and I wept. Ahh… the cleansing power of tears.

When I found out Wm. Paul Young had a new book coming out, I was thrilled. After all, his debut novel, The Shack, is my favorite novel ever. Even my husband, who was a skeptic at first (Father God portrayed as a black woman… come on!), gave the novel a chance and ended up loving it, too. Now, in his case, it didn’t take the place of his all-time favorite, Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, but it’s close. 

I contacted Mr. Young and told him about my blog and that I post reviews… would he be interested in sending me his new book for review. He graciously responded, informing me he would forward my info to his publisher. Sarah, responded quickly, and said she’d send out a book right away. 

That was in December. Since I received the book, my life took a dramatic turn and mimicked some of the pages in Cross Roads. The main character of the book, Anthony Spencer, spends the majority of his time gracing the chapters in a coma. On January 12th, my mother had 3 massive strokes and never regained consciousness. She was in a coma until she passed 3 days later. The main character of the book I was engaged in and my mother were traveling the same journey… did they experience similar crossroads? I have no way of knowing. But the parallel did not go unnoticed, which is probably why it took me so long to finish the book. There were days I just couldn’t go there

All of my personal issues aside, the book is an absolute gem. Young does not disappoint in this much-anticipated second novel. He proves, once again, his ability to think outside the box when it comes to faith issues. While the “religious” among us seemingly love to put God in their own, clearly defined, boxes, Young sets Him free and makes the reader think about the Trinity in a whole new light. 

Is the book theologically correct? Who knows? It’s a novel, and not intended to be read as anything but. As a novel, it has suspense, humor, twists and gut-wrenching realities that make it hard to put down (barring any family crises… ). Above all, however, its plot is original and refreshing. While at times it may mirror the reader’s own personal demons, it shines brightly with a message of redemption.

For me, the only problem with the book is that there are uncanny similarities to the novel I am working on, which I started before I delved into this treasure of Wm. Paul Young’s. Now, I have no choice but to change some of my book, so as to not sound as though I am copying his. That only means I am challenged to make my story even better than it originally was, right?

The Shack changed my life. It made me see the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in a new and refreshing way, especially in the way it personalized the Holy Spirit for me. Cross Roads does the same, challenging the reader to think about the crossroads between here and the afterlife/eternity with new eyes, almost as if we were seeing through another’s.

It begins:

Some years in Portland, Oregon, winter is a bully, spitting sleet and spewing snow in fits and starts as it violently wrestles days from spring, claiming some archaic right to remain king of the seasons – ultimately the vain attempt of another pretender. This year was not like that.

Tony, the protagonist in this novel, is unlikeable… initially. By the time Young finishes weaving his story, however, I wanted Tony to be part of my life. I wanted him to get inside my head and see through my eyes. I wanted him to teach me lessons I stubbornly refuse to learn. Lessons like this one:

Tony was overwhelmed by the holiness of the everyday, the bits and pieces of light that surrounded and embraced the simple routines and tasks of the ordinary. 

The “holiness of the everyday.” Isn’t that a marvelous concept? When was the last time I considered a day to be holy? Yes, the novel convicted me. I was/am convicted of taking the simplest things for granted. Simple things like crocuses surviving the brutal curse of winter and emerging unscathed. People surviving the brutal curse of abuse and embracing grace. Amazing. But then again, grace always is.

While it takes a while to love, or even like, Tony, it is easy to find affection for Cabby, a 16-year-old with Down’s Syndrome, or Maggie, a charismatic African American who pulls you in and doesn’t seem to let go until she has you “doing church” in your own living room. You laugh with her. You cry with her. And she makes you want to pop in some good ol’ Gospel music. Now that I’m finished with the book, I know I’m going to miss Maggie. 

Would I recommend Cross Roads? In a nanosecond. My plan was to finish the book and then pass it on to my mother. That’s not going to happen now, and that, like so many other things, makes me sad. But then I remember a few scattered lines from Chapter 15 of the book:

“Don’t you understand? I am not sorry. I wanted to be here [heaven]. This isn’t about me, this is about you… I am better than you can imagine. I am a melody, too.”

Cross Roads, like The Shack, will be a melody I will hear for years to come. And when the melody starts to fade, I’ll revisit them. For in these books, I find a reflection of God I do not often find in theological commentaries or even in my mind’s own distortions. This is a God of extraordinary grace. 

Once again, Wm. Paul Young has revealed Him in this praise-worthy book.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The not-so-tight regulations in the fracking industry

Tell me again how fracking is safe because it's so tightly regulated!

Public Domain Photo

“The natural gas industry has exemptions or exclusions from key parts of at least 7 of the 15 major federal environmental laws designed to protect air and water from radioactive and hazardous chemicals.”

(NYT: Lax Rules for the Natural Gas Industry, March 3, 2011)

The following federal laws do not apply to the gas industry:

  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Superfund Act
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act

Friday, February 22, 2013

Vinegar Friday Tip of the Week


Image by George Hodan

Starting this week, I'm going to be posting just one tip every Friday. And many will be new tips that were not included in my book, Vinegar Fridays

How many of you have stories about your kids slipping something other than a tape into your VCRs (back in the day when people still had VCRs -- which I still have, by the way)? What was it? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich perhaps? Fortunately, it's a bit more difficult to slip anything into a DVD player. But that doesn't mean the DVDs don't act up now and then.

So let's kick off this new VF feature with: how to fix a DVD that is skipping or freezing. Don't you hate when that happens? Simply dampen a soft cloth with distilled white vinegar and carefully wipe the playing side of the DVD. Dry it completely before attempting to resume play!

I'm not going to guarantee this will fix it every time, since some DVDs are beyond help, but it's certainly worth a shot. After all, the DVD just might have a smear or two of peanut butter from a busy toddler's hands!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Complementary Feeding: Breastfeeding to Solid Foods

Today, I'm happy to have guest blogger, and fellow Pittsburgher, Deena Blumenfeld RYT, RPYT, LCCE. Deena is mom to Owen (7) and Elaine (3). She is an advocate for normal, physiologic childbirth and a mentor to expectant and new parents. See below for links to her website and for more information about Deena's important work here in the Pittsburgh area

When my son (now 7) was about 6 months we decided it was time for solid foods. He was exclusively breastfed and we were excited to introduce food to our boob-maniac! We did what most parents do. We grabbed a box of rice cereal (organic!), and mixed it with breastmilk and spoon fed him. He took to it right away and was an enthusiastic, if messy, eater from that first feeding.

However, that rice cereal had an unplanned side effect – constipation! No one told me that rice was constipating. My poor little guy had his first digestive problems ever. That’s when I learned about the “P” fruits.  If it starts with “P” it makes poop – peaches, pears, plums, prunes, etc. He was much happier after that.

When my daughter was born, almost 4 years later, I was a bit better educated. With her, we followed the AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the WHO’s (World Health Organization) guidelines a bit better.

The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant, a recommendation concurred to by the WHO and the Institute of Medicine.

AAP is cognizant that for some infants, because of family and medical history, individual developmental status, and/or social and cultural dynamics, complementary feeding, including gluten containing grains, begins earlier than 6 months of age. Because breastfeeding is immunoprotective, when such complementary foods are introduced, it is advised that this be done while the infant is feeding only breastmilk. Mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding through the first year and beyond as more and varied complementary foods are introduced.

Complementary feeding is defined as the process starting when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of infants, and therefore other foods and liquids are needed, along with breast milk. The target age range for complementary feeding is generally taken to be 6 to 24 months of age, even though breastfeeding may continue beyond two years.

Guideline: Practice exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months of age, and introduce complementary foods at 6 months of age (180 days) while continuing to breastfeed.

When looking back at my own baby book from 30+ years ago, I saw that my mother had put rice cereal in my bottle at 2 months of age! Yikes! Live and learn I suppose.

So, with my darling daughter, when she reached the ripe old age of 6 months we started her on solids. Her first food was not rice cereal. She had homemade sweet potatoes, and loved them. She loved them all over her face, hair, high chair tray…

As a parent, how do we actually begin that weaning process to solid foods, even as we continue to breastfeed (or formula feed)?

Signs of readiness:

  • She can sit up (with support) and can hold her head and neck up well.
  • Her birth weight has doubled.
  • She’s interested in what you’re eating and may even try to grab food from your plate.
  • She can keep food in her mouth rather than letting it dribble out.
  • She shows signs of being hungry for more than she’s getting by clamoring for more when her bottle is empty or wanting to nurse more often.
  • 6 months per AAP and WHO
  • Check with your pediatrician before beginning solid foods to account of any of baby’s specific needs or allergies.

How to:
  • Substitute one breastfeeding for a solid feeding. 
  • Start with a fruit or veggie. Rice cereal is constipating and has little nutritive value past the added iron. 
  • When baby is hungry, offer the food. 
  • If baby turns her head away, it means she’s not hungry or finished eating. Don’t force her! 
  • Introduce one new food every 4 days. This will help you figure out if your little one has an allergic reaction to anything. 
  • Understand that with a new for it can take 12-14 tries before baby will eat it. Keep trying! 
  • Start with one meal a day, working your way up to 2-3 by 9 months and by 12 months, 3 meals and 2 snacks.

Finger foods:

  • Baby needs to have the pincer grasp (index finger and thumb to pinch and pick up). This is usually at around 8 months of age.
  • Foods should be soft, cut up small and easy to pick up.

Explore with flavors! My kiddos are well-rounded eaters because we never said “That’s too grown up for them.” They eat Indian, Ethiopian, Italian, Sushi, even octopus! Don’t be afraid of spices and seasonings (though keep the salt content low). A diverse palate at a younger age will make a big difference in “pickiness” later on. Also, don’t stress about baby eating the same thing over and over, or having a few days where they only want one food. We look at nutrition over the course of a week, not a day.

And keep breastfeeding! Baby’s main nutrition comes from you, not from the food you prepare. Although baby gets some nutrition from the solid foods, they still need you. Baby needs the closeness of mama (or daddy, grandma, etc.) during feedings. I love that the WHO calls it “Complementary Feeding.” I think that’s the perfect term for feeding baby solid foods from 6-12 months.

Food should be fun, not a chore. Go in with a fun attitude (and a washcloth and a change of clothes for both of you!). You and baby will have an enjoyable experience exploring solid foods.

Deena Blumenfeld RYT, RPYT, LCCE is the owner and principal educator at Shining Light Prenatal Education in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh; Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator; Lamaze Trainer for the Lamaze Educator Seminar; 200-hr Registered Yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance; Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance; Certified Khalsa Way™ Prenatal Yoga Teacher.

You can contact her through her website, through Shining Light Prenatal Education or email her at

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Secret Scents

In their new report, Secret Scents: How Hidden Fragrance Allergens Harm Public Health, Women's Voice for the Earth finds that millions of people are affected by skin allergies caused by chemicals in fragrance. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for consumers to avoid specific fragrance allergens because companies keep fragrance ingredients a secret.

The solution is simple: Companies should disclose fragrance ingredients in products so that people have the choice to avoid harmful chemicals.

Take Action Tell the fragrance industry to stop keeping fragrance ingredients a secret!


Learn More with the Secret Scents Infographic: 

If you can't read this, a clearer version can be accessed here.


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