Monday, April 29, 2013

100 years of celebrating birthdays -- Sponsored video

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the American Cancer Society

 Cancer is all around us. We'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't been touched by cancer. At least in the United States, where we're surrounded by carcinogens daily. We're either breathing in toxic substances, consuming them, or rubbing them into our skin with carcinogen-packed products deemed "safe" by the FDA. It's beyond frustrating. 

I'm a proponent of cancer-prevention, but the fact remains that we also have to focus on cures and support for those who have this insidious disease. 

I've had my own brush with cancer twice in my life. In 1982, while pregnant with my second child, I had cervical cancer. Recently, I was diagnosed with skin cancer. Both were easily treatable. 

Several years ago, a family member was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Fortunately, it was found early, through a routine mammogram, and she is now cancer-free.

Other family members succumbed to asbestosis, a lung cancer stemming from working in my hometown's asbestos factory.

Cancer. Is it not one of the nastiest words in the English language?

There was a time when the word was rarely spoken aloud. It was whispered, or not said at all, perhaps in fear of the word itself being contagious. Some cancers maintain that stigma. But it's time to end the silence!

This year, on my birthday, the American Cancer Society will turn 100 years old (May 22, 2013). In 1913, 15 determined physicians and business leaders with a mutual desire to raise awareness of cancer, succeeded in starting an organization that is now the world's leader in the fight to end the disease. With a goal of creating more birthdays, the ACS has contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since the early 90s. During that time, they've played a role in saving nearly 1.2 million lives. 

While I believe they still have a long way to go to diminish the preventable cases of cancer due to the FDAs lenience about carcinogens in products, their work is partially responsible for the 50 percent drop in smoking since the 60s, which has contributed to a drop in overall lung cancer death rates (from first, second and third hand smoke).

By the end of this year, the American Cancer Society is hoping to enroll at least 300,000 adults from various racial/ethnic backgrounds from across the country to participate in a historic research study called the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). It will be interesting to follow the developments related to this study. 

One of the things I appreciate about the ACS is the practical assistance they give to people during their treatment, such as providing them with a free place to stay and/or rides to and from the treatment facilities. 

What do we need to do? We need to keep fighting for everyone to have access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, toxin-free products, and food free from carcinogens.

And we need to stop whispering and hiding from the word. CANCER needs to be talked about. Silence won't finish the fight!

A sense of community

As I mentioned last week, I spent my Saturday at the Writing Success XXII conference in Mercer, PA. I presented two workshops -- Fictional Characters Anonymous (a kind of an AA-type meeting for fictional characters) and The Power of Blogging. 

While I am by no means an expert on blogging, I feel qualified to talk about the influence a blogger has. The main focus of my talk was on community, and let me tell you, I bragged about you guys. I love the Green Grandma community and let my class at the conference know that. Without you, this blog would be pointless. 

Of course, it is the community on the GG Facebook page that really shines. You support each other, share tips, ask questions and give me the feeling of one big family as we "meet around the water cooler." Even though most of us only have an online relationship, I can't tell you how much I love it when I have the opportunity to meet you face-to-face.

So, today, I just wanted to thank you for being part of the GG community. I treasure you.

What about the community do you love best?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Have you yerdled lately?


As Earth Week wraps up, I thought you might enjoy some fun activities, courtesy of NBC's Share and Tell, such as the "How Are You Green" Eco Quiz. I also thought you might like to learn about an awesome program that helps you unload your stuff or accumulate more. Yerdle is a mission-driven California Benefit corporation helping people share with their friends rather than buying things new. 

You see, every pound of new goods produced generates 71 pounds of waste during the manufacturing process.Ouch. That's one of the reasons you hear me saying over and over again: buy used, reuse, re-create, etc. I recycle those terms on a regular basis. It's why one of my very favorite places to shop is Goodwill. And I simply love garage sale season. 

Yerdle helps us minimize our impact on this beautiful planet of ours by helping us share our stuff. On yerdle, friends post items they're willing to give away or loan, search for items they're looking to get, and nab the things they want. It's simple. It's eco-friendly.

For more inspiration, just click the Real Life Share and Tell Stories link below and read the real life stories of how sharing on yerdle has helped people just like you and me get the stuff they need -- without buying a thing! 

You can even host your own Share and Tell party with your friends and shed some excess house pounds by unloading the stuff you no longer need or want. Need some support? Email Rachel at yerdle and she'll be happy to help you out.

Why host a Share and Tell? Well, how about to protect the planet? Save money? Give gifts to your friends? Or simply find some things you need? And you don't even have to clean your house for a Share and Tell party, although you can if you want! These parties work just as well online or in person.

So check it out. Yerdle's the wave of the future... the eco-friendly wave, that is! And let me know how you do on the Eco Quiz!

Disclaimer: I am working with NBC Share and Tell and will receive goods in exchange for this post.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Vinegar Friday in the bathroom


It's been a busy week for me. I'll be heading up to Mercer, PA today so I can teach a couple of workshops at the Writing Success XXII conference tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a night away and an inspirational and motivational Saturday. I judged the Children's Writing competition, so I'm anxious to share the good news to the winners. Of course, with good news comes bad, and I'm always sorry to disappoint the writers who are hoping to hear their names mentioned, but don't. This is the second writing competition I've judged this spring and I've learned a lot about entering. I'm amazed at how many people do not pay attention to guidelines and do not proofread their work! I will admit, I rarely proofread my posts here on GG, so I'm sure you find errors here and there. But these posts aren't being entered into writing contests and I don't have to follow anyone's guidelines, but my own.

Now 30% off!
What does all of this have to do with vinegar? Absolutely nothing. I was just rambling. However, my book, Vinegar Fridays, will be available for sale at the conference, and I am teaching a workshop on blogging, so that counts for something.

But you stopped by for a tip about vinegar, right? And, of course, I don't want to disappoint you. So here goes. This is from page 10 of my book:

Now that we're in the bathroom, let's start off with killing germs, which is kind of necessary when we're talking bathrooms, isn't it? Full-strength distilled white vinegar is the answer here. I always have some handy in a spray bottle. Spritzing, then wiping the doorknobs will kill any germs that remain from hands that were washed in haste, or perhaps not washed at all! Eww. While you have the spray bottle in your hand, spritz the toilet seat (both sides) and all around the exterior of the toilet bowl. That will send the germs a-running. 

In the meantime, fill the bowl with 1 to 2 cups of undiluted DWV. Close the lid and let soak for several hours. There will be very little scrubbing needed with it's time to lift the lid again. Vinegar's just amazing like that! For extra deodorizing power, add 3 cups of bleach -- JUST KIDDING!! -- 3 cups of vinegar to the bowl and let it do its magic overnight. If you wake up in the morning with the urge to go pronto, just be grateful for the opportunity to practice your Kegels as you scrub the bowl and watch the rings disappear! Not only does the vinegar clean and deodorize the toilet, but it disinfects it as well! It's natural, economical, and non-toxic, with no harmful vapors or odors... what more could you want? Distilled white vinegar is the best toilet cleaner around!
Missing those scrubbing bubbles? [you do know how toxic they are, right?] Make some eco-friendly ones of your own by dumping some baking soda into the toilet bowl prior to adding the vinegar.

Well, I'm off to get ready for the conference. Enjoy your weekend. And be sure to stop back tomorrow when I ask the question: Have you yertled lately?

Keeping it green with vinegar,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Supermom! How I birthed my baby -- Part 4 When babies make an early appearance

A Tale of Two Pre-Term Births

By Julie Ann Cook

Every Child is Different

Tiny hand
In July of 2006, I was seven months pregnant with my second child.  My first pregnancy, labor, and delivery had been a book-perfect experience.   
No surprises, save for my short-for-first-pregnancy labor.  But even that wasn’t totally unexpected since my mom had been similarly quick with labor and delivery of me and my three siblings.

This second pregnancy seemed to be going just as well.  It was a bit more challenging, though, because of the simple fact that I was busy chasing a two-year-old in addition to working part time outside the home. I had become accustomed to the dull, tight, ache of Braxton-Hicks contractions, but had thought little of it besides it being a reminder to drink more water and take a break.

One morning, though, that wasn’t enough.  After an hour of drinking water, resting, and trying to “walk it off,”  I still just didn’t feel right.  So I called my OBGYN.  The office said they would squeeze me in for a 9:30 appointment. My husband took me to the doctor, and after vitals, etc., I was seen by the doctor at 9:50.

Not the Plan

At 10:15 a.m.,  I was being rushed to Labor and Delivery.
I was 34 ½ weeks along, making my delivery “near term,” which is still pre-term, just a less frightening word for it. The doctor had found me to be six-centimeters dilated when he told me, “You’re having this baby today.”  My heart fell into my stomach.  The wind was knocked out of me.

This was not the plan. I kept thinking. This isn’t supposed to happen.  It’s too soon!

I don’t remember much of the labor.  I remember crying.  I remember being told how I should be breathing.  I remember yelling at the nurse who tried to tell me how to breathe as I was busy feeling broken over the fact that my body was making my baby come too soon.  My emotional tension made the pain worse than I had expected or remembered—of course, with my first delivery, I had opted for an epidural, but there was no time for such this time. The only thing holding my baby in was my un-ruptured bag of water.

I had no idea what this early delivery meant for my baby. I expected time in the NICU, but what did that mean?  Would there be permanent problems?  Would my baby be OK?  Why was this happening? Did I do something wrong?

At 10:51 a.m., my second child, a son, was delivered. I missed it amid all the chaos inside my own head.

I held him for the briefest of moments, between tears, marveling at his little sounds… until someone—a NICU nurse?—informed me that he was making those sounds because he was having trouble breathing.  And my heart broke as they scooped him up and attended to him in his warming bed before rushing him to the Special Care Nursery.

That night was the most emotionally challenging of my life up to that day. Alone at the hospital, I found my way to the nursery for a late night visiting session.  I was the only parent there at 2am.  With the exception of the beeps and buzz of monitors and incubators and lights, it was quiet as I sat beside my tiny boy’s warming bed and simply touched him, feeling the softness of his skin and peach-fuzz hair. I was emotionally exhausted, but trying to sleep, I discovered, was useless.

That night, one of the nurses suggested I take a baby blanket back to bed with me to sleep with it, to let it take on my scent.  I could swaddle him in it the next day.

Rollercoaster Days

The next two weeks were full of ups and downs, small victories and apparent setbacks.  Our little boy, though generally healthy, suffered from what the nurses affectionately called “Wimpy White Male Syndrome.”  Basically, Caucasian males are more likely to have weak lungs than many other preterm babies.  So our little guy began his time in the post-womb world on a ventilator. His sucking reflex had not yet fully developed either, so he was on a feeding tube in his early days.

Our source of greatest frustration and emotional exhaustion was that no one would tell us directly what needed to happen in order for us to bring our baby home.  Rather than tell us the whole checklist, we were only told one goal at a time, which was painful when we felt we were led to believe that the next hurdle was the final one.  The goals our little guy needed to meet were, in no particular order:
  • Meet and maintain (or surpass) birth weight of 5 lbs 4 oz.
  • Regulate his own body temperature without the help of a warming bed or incubator.
  • Be able to breathe independent of any machines, keeping his oxygen levels reasonable.
  • Be able to breastfeed and take a bottle (since he was prescribed a supplemental high-calorie formula to help him “bulk up.”)
  • Overcome jaundice.
  • Pass his “car seat test”—sit in an infant carrier car seat for a full hour without going into distress.
In addition to his goals, my husband and I were required to take and pass an infant CPR test, something beneficial to any adult dealing with infants.

All the while, I expressed my breast milk, the one small thing I could consistently do in my role as “mommy.” Overall, though, I felt helpless and in the dark because I did not know what questions to ask.

We were fortunate that we lived close enough to the hospital that we could visit for multiple feedings each day, but with a toddler at home (who was not allowed to visit his baby brother), that was a challenge still.  We rarely visited together.  Every free minute seemed to be spent at the hospital or in the car to or from.


Finally, the day arrived, as a surprise actually, when we brought our little “Bean” home.  We hadn’t realized until that morning that he would be discharged that day.  How good it was to have our whole family together under one roof!

A Scare

Two and a half years later, I was pregnant yet again.  This time, with “high risk” on my chart due to my previous early delivery.* I took the recommendation to get weekly progesterone injections starting at 16 weeks.  (Studies suggest that progesterone injections can help reduce the risk of preterm labor in some women who have previously had a spontaneous preterm delivery.) So every week, I would offer my upper thigh as sacrifice to a stinging shot in hopes that my third child, another boy (we had found out ahead of time with this one) would be safely delivered in mid-August.

With five-year old and almost three-year-old active little boys, it was not a stress-free pregnancy. But we were determined to do what we could to keep our little guy gestating. I was terrified when, in mid-May, at 26 weeks, I had a bout of false labor that wouldn’t go away. I spent the better part of that day in the hospital as they worked to stop contractions.  Fortunately, they were successful, and my littlest boy was still safe inside me.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Another July rolled around, with all its heat and humidity. Aside from my May scare, the pregnancy had been relatively uneventful, though full of Braxton-Hicks contractions.  My doctor had been keeping an eye on my cervix, and did not seem too concerned.

But our third son was just as eager as the second, and again at 34 ½ weeks I found myself in active labor.

…But Completely Different

This time, though, was my best birth experience to date.   

Though our little one was early, I had a good idea what to expect.  We had done this before.  And as an added bonus, I had arrived at the hospital early enough to get my requested epidural.  (I don’t have anything to prove—besides, I’d already proven that I could labor naturally and established that I preferred not to. I’m a wuss.) 

Comfortably numbed and emotionally calm, I was able to focus my energy and attention in the moment.  I was even able to control my breathing for the most part.  Of my three live births, this was the one for which I felt most present.

After about 5 hours of labor in the hospital, our third son was born.  He too had underdeveloped lungs and needed some extra care in the hospital, but this time, I knew the main obstacles he would need to overcome before he could come home.  And I knew what questions to ask.  I was familiar with the nursery’s hours and workings, and I was more comfortable with dealing with a tiny baby than I was the first time around.  I relished every moment of kangaroo care.  And I spent more time making memories with my little boy than worrying about making plans.

3 Healthy Boys!

Lessons Learned

If there is one thing I’ve learned from these experiences, it is simply to do what you can and give the rest to God. It feels like a lifetime ago, and a blink of an eye, but these memories are just that.  In the end, these preemies are just as much the active little boys that my full-term firstborn is; sometimes even more so.  I find little use in hovering over my children: I did everything “right” and yet I still couldn’t protect them from coming early… which to me simply says there are some things beyond our control. 

 Helpful resources

Julie Ann Cook is a happily married, joyfully outnumbered mother of four boys, one who was stillborn at 20 weeks. Between assisting in living room railroad construction and addressing concerns of who would win in a fight between Megatron and Iron Man, Julie is an author, artist, and webmaster. Julie's writing has appeared in various publications including Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, moonShine review, and The Wolf. She is the author of Love Like Weeds, a book-length poetry collection to be released by Main Street Rag later this year. Julie blogs at Digging Cheese out of Carpet in her *ahem* spare time. Check out Julie's Facebook page for more!



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Conquer Spring Allergies Naturally with Hyland's

Photo by Vera Kratochvil
It happened. I woke up with a sore throat, itchy eyes and a runny nose. It's spring.

So, I headed my basket of Hyland's Homeopathic goodies, certain there would be something in there to address my seasonal allergy issues. I pulled out the Complete Allergy 4Kids, read the instructions, and took the recommended dosage for adults (yes, adults can take the kids' formulas; they just take a bit more). After an hour or so, it dawned on me that I was no longer suffering from any of the symptoms of springtime allergies. I was thrilled.

Here are the natural ingredients the Complete Allergy 4Kids contains:
  • Aconitum Napellus 6X HPUS 
  • Alllium Cepa 6X HPUS
  • Euphrasia 6X HPUS
  • Galphimia Glauca 12X HPUS
  • Histaminum Hydrochloricum 12X HPUS
  • Luffa Operculata 12X HPUS
  • Natrum Muriaticum 6 HPUS
  • Nux Vomica 6X HPUS
  • Sabadilla 6X HPUS
  • Pulsatilla 6X HPUS
While the names might sound a bit toxic, I can assure you, they are not. These homeopathic remedies treat all the symptoms of allergies, including: pain and swelling in face; itchy throat; sneezing; hay fever; runny nose; watery, itchy, burning eyes; nasal inflamation; nasal discharge; feeling of blocked ears; sinus pain; headache; ear pain; dark circles under eyes; itchy nose; and sinus pressure.   

Later this morning, I was out on my porch reading and the spring boring bees (as in boring wood, not boring personalities) started buzzing around my head. I tried to ignore them. Then I thought about how long it's been since I've been stung. Decades, I believe. I wondered if I've developed an allergy to bees yet. I know people who, after a childhood of stepping on bees in their bare feet in fields of clover, are now allergic to them. One man who went to my high school, actually died from a bee sting. That's scary. So I decided I would start carrying Hyland's Hives formula with me in my purse. Even if I never need it, someone else might. And I can attest to how Hyland's apis mellifica works in the worst cases of hives I've experienced. So, I'm going to pick up a bottle of Hives tablets the next time I'm at a store that carries them.

How about you? Have you discovered the wonders of Hyland's Homeopathic products yet? With all the pollens in the air, you never know when spring allergies might rear their ugly head. Hyland's has graciously given me a link to pass on some savings to you. Download this coupon for $1 off your next Hyland's Allergy Product purchase (Seasonal Allergy Relief, Complete Allergy 4Kids, DEFEND Sinus, Hayfever, Hives, or Calendula Spray). And if you're not sure where to find Hyland's, check out this easy store locator.

Are you ready to conquer spring allergies naturally with Hyland's? Or have you already discovered how wonderful their products are? If so, why not pop in to their Facebook page or website and let them know. After all, everyone needs to hear a little bit of affirmation from time to time, don't you think? Or, better yet, find Hyland's on and post a review. Reviews help the company figure out what's working for their customers... and what isn't

While you're at it, why not let me know what Hyland's products you absolutely love? I'm always up for trying something else of theirs, based on recommendations from you. So what do you recommend?

Looking forward to reading your comments,


Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for Hyland's Homeopathy and receive products at no cost to me. However, everything I write in my posts is true from my experience. Of course, what works for me may not work for everyone and I am in no way suggesting that you do not consult with your physician.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Resolutions

Image by Teodoro S Gruhl

Last night, I was lying in bed thinking about what I could resolve to do that would be kinder to the earth. It had me stumped. Not that I have it all together when it comes to being green, but I really put forth an effort. 

While I was thinking about it, I decided to start a new tradition. While most people make resolutions on New Year's Day, I'm going to start my resolutions on Earth Day. Want to join me? I already posted my Green Grandma Question of the Day (GG QOTD) over on my Facebook page, asking community members to finish the sentence: On Earth Day this year, I resolve to ________________.

So, how would you complete that sentence? Is there anything you've been doing that hasn't been particularly earth-friendly? Perhaps you're still using too many paper towels (rags work just as well). Are you a cloth diapering mama who's gotten lazy and been using way too many disposables? Have you been forgetting your reusable bags too often when you go to the grocery store? Are you still using fabric softener (GASP!)? Are you tossing your sheets into the dryer when you could let the sun and breeze dry them just as easily (and much more fragrantly)? Are you driving when you could be walking? Have you been tossing cans and plastic bottles into the trash can at work where there's no recycling, rather than taking them home with you and putting them in your own recycling bin? Are you throwing away paper instead of taking it to a paper recycling collection bin in your community? Are you still cleaning with toxins when vinegar, lemon, and baking soda work just as effectively?

The list goes on and on. The question is: what changes are you willing to make? Will you sacrifice a bit of convenience to benefit the future generations on this magnificent planet of ours?

Which leads me back to the thoughts that kept me awake last night. What am I willing to do? This morning, it dawned on me (no pun intended). We have a few remodeling projects ahead of us and I resolve to use the greenest choices whenever possible. That means taking the time to research paints, flooring, fixtures, etc. and, within reason, paying extra for them.

So my resolution involves research. What about yours? 

Wishing you a wonderful Earth Day,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Beautiful Mom Giveaway Event!


There is no question that this coming Mother's Day is going to be a tough one for me. The loss of a mother is something nearly all of us have to face at some point in our lives. Some of us, like me, are blessed to have our moms with us for most of our lives. But that doesn't make their absence any less painful. My mom was with me for 55 years. That's a long time for me to get used to having her around. Now that's she's gone, there is a void that no one else will ever fill.

What better way to celebrate my mom's life and her incredible contribution, not only to my life, but to the lives of countless others, than by hosting a Mother's Day giveaway? 

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Do you know what you’ll be asking for? How about winning an awesome prize package for yourself that will let your inner and outer beauty shine? We’re giving away a fabulous prize package that will let you do just that! The winner of the Beautiful Mom Giveaway will receive 3 amazing prizes (total value of $170.95)! This event is sponsored by Natural Vitality and hosted by Happy Mothering and the Green Moms Network

NV Gift card #4 


$100 Gift Certificate for the Natural Vitality Store

Natural Vitality makes high-quality, award-winning dietary supplements to assist your in achieving optimum health. They are probably best know for Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement that helps your muscles and nerves function properly, keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and assists in keeping your bones strong.

But they also offer several other high-quality supplements:

  • Osteo Calm
  • Vitality B Complex
  • Vitality C Complex
  • Organic Life Vitamins
  • Plant-Sourced Minerals
  • Energy28
  • Natural Kids Calm Multi
All of Natural Vitality’s products are Non-GMO project verified and the ingredients in their supplements are organically grown!

Read Happy Mothering’s review of Natural Vitality supplements here.




100% Pure Red Wine Resveratrol Gift Set

The 100% Pure Red Wine Resveratrol Gift Set is designed to aggressively protect against signs of aging such as environmental damage, lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity. These products don’t contain harsh detergents, synthetic chemicals, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances or any other toxins. 



Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged

From celebrated dietitian Ashley Koff and fitness trainer to the stars Kathy Kaehler comes Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged, an exciting new way for moms to tap into their own natural and renewable sources of energy to overcome fatigue and achieve their personal health goals. Koff and Kaehler have put together a safe, sensible, flexible and, most importantly, effective program for moms of any age—whether their kids are in diapers or heading off to college.

This amazing package could be yours! To enter, simply complete the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Green Grandma was not compensated for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

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