Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Favorite Hyland's Summertime Memories

Disclaimer: I am a Hylands Homeopathy Ambassador and receive various products and gift cards from Hyland's and promotional partners at no cost to me. All views and opinions expressed on this blog post and corresponding social network mentions are my own and are not to be interpreted as medical advice.

I've been reminiscing a lot lately. My childhood home is up for sale in Manheim, PA and knowing I will have to part with it has surfaced a lot of memories for me. Most of my memories involve summertime fun with with my best friend, Dawn, or my cousin, Kelly.

One of the things I loved to do as a child was ride my bike to the Manheim Community Pool where I would spend endless afternoons and evenings diving and swimming and having fun with my friends. I also was involved with morning activities there, like water ballet. I loved learning the graceful underwater moves. But I had a problem -- a problem that has plagued me my entire life: foot and leg cramps. I used to fear being in the middle of a routine with my long skinny leg extended high into the air with perfectly pointed toes, only to have those said toes cramp up on me and ruin the routine. 

Later, in my days in musical theater, the same fears would surface. What if my foot or leg cramps up?

Now, in my 50s, I still struggle with the same issues, although not while extending my legs high into the air in a water ballet routine (scary thought!). Now the cramping usually occurs in the middle of the night while I'm enjoying an escape into dreamland. BAM! All of a sudden, I'm out of bed and moaning quietly in pain. That's why I am eternally grateful I discovered Hyland's Leg Cramp formula quite a few years ago. I do not go anywhere overnight without those wonderful little tablets! I keep a bottle bedside so all I have to do is reach out for them in the dark and pop three or four under my tongue. Within a couple of minutes, the cramps usually subside.

I've recently started taking the leg cramp pills that you swallow as well. When I started running low on the other tablets, I decided to take some of the pills before I went to bed. So far, that has worked to bypass the cramps altogether. How awesome is that?!

There are still occasions, usually after I've been in high-heeled sandals for way too long, where the cramps do not subside easily. That's when I'll reach for the Hyland's Leg Cramps Ointment and get a double dose of Hyland's goodness. 

And headaches? Forget about it. With Hyland's Migraine formula, they are a thing of the past. 

Ahhh, painfree summer nights. That's what I'm talking about!

What about you? Have you ever turned to Hyland's to help you enjoy your summers more? If so, Hyland's would love for you to share your story! If you head over to their Facebook page, you can submit your favorite Hyland's Summertime Memory. You simply fill out the comment box with no more than 200 characters, including spaces (hey, that's 60 characters more than a tweet!), about how a Hyland's product helped you and/or your family enjoy summer more. For example, tell about how Hyland's Bug Bite Ointment helped soothe your summertime bug bites so you could better enjoy your camping trip. 

When you enter, make sure you fill out the field that lets them know Green Grandma sent you (pretty please). If enough of you do that, I will be in the running for some great rewards (like VISA gift cards).

Hyland's will choose 20 random summertime stories to feature on their new Hyland's Favorite Summertime Memories video. Participants will be selected at random as long as they adhere to the contest rules and submit a clear and legible summertime memory of how a Hyland's product helped enhance their summertime fun.

Everyone who is randomly chosen for the video will receive a Hyland's summertime survival package featuring some of Hyland's products geared to make summer more enjoyable.

The Summertime Survival Package Includes:

  • Hyland's Leg Cramps Ointment ($8.59)
  • Restful Legs ($7.69)
  • Migraine Headache ($8.19)
  • Backache with Arnica ($10.49)
  • Bug Bite Ointment ($8.19)
  • Bumps 'n Bruises ($8.29)
  • Hyland's Drawstring Backpack ($10)

One random Grand Prize winner will receive a $200 VISA Gift Card to use for their favorite summertime activities.

The contest runs through July 12, 2013 and the video showcasing the winners will launch on July 15, 2013. 

How much fun is this?!

Can't wait to see some of your stories featured on the video,

Weekend Quote

This is pure and undefiled religion 
in the sight of our God and Father: 
to visit orphans and widows 
in their distress 
and to keep oneself 
unstained by the world. 

~ James 1:27 NASB

Friday, June 28, 2013

Vinegar Friday and an impromptu conversation


On Wednesday, I wrote about my experience traveling to Chicago. Today, particularly since it's Vinegar Friday, I want to write about my experience traveling home.

Unlike Wednesday, when, through the kindness of a stranger, I made it from the airport to the hotel at no cost, the cab ride from the Allerton Hotel on Magnificent Mile to Midway Airport, cost a bundle. Well, not a bundle exactly, but a whole lot more than what I was prepared to pay. I'd gone online to see the cost and the website said the short trip would cost $25. The airport shuttle was $27, so I decided to take a cab. I asked about shuttle service at the Allerton, and the bellhop told me it would be the same price to take a cab and one was already waiting outside. Fair enough. I hopped in the cab without asking what it would cost. By the time I got to the airport, via a cab driver who barely spoke his broken English to me and who spent most of the time talking on his cell phone, it cost me $39! I was appalled. But, that's not the purpose of this post.

I boarded the plane and noticed there was a middle spot in the front seats, so I took it. I sat between two women and we had a nice chat as we waited to take off (40 minutes late because of lightning) and as we flew. One of the women started talking to me about green living. Of course, she didn't know she was sitting beside Green Grandma. She told me all about the dangers of chemicals in our products and the horror of artificial sweeteners. Eventually, she leaned over and mentioned the big one -- Vinegar!

"Do you have any idea all of the things you can do with vinegar?"

Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do.

"Let me tell you," she went on.

Finally, I said, "Actually, I wrote a book about vinegar."

"Get out of here!" she exclaimed.

At the end of a rather bumpy flight, Kristin asked me for a business card. We'd bonded over vinegar, like so many of us have. And that is why, every week, I start the post with Thank God it's Vinegar Friday!

Keeping the conversation lively with vinegar,

You can purchase Vinegar Fridays online at,, and

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Supermom! How I birthed my baby -- Part 13

I'm so happy to feature another post by guest blogger, Renee Lannan

Hypnobirthing Experiment: Birthing Joy on Christmas Eve

At 38 weeks, I was pumped, ready to roll, rather than dreading labor. I’d interviewed a woman who spoke so glowingly of hypnobirthing—“When I was done birthing my baby, I wanted to do it again, right away!”—that when I found myself pregnant again, I bought the book Hypnobirthing: The Mongon Method by Marie Mongon.

For my previous delivery, I had taken Bradley classes and had a wonderful water birth. I valued the physiological info about natural birth that the hospital class never explained, and how to relax deeply, eliminating the muscle tension that creates pain. But was there more to learn?

By the way, that's a deep red washcloth in the water, not blood!
I loved reading the book’s descriptions of painless, joyous childbirth, free of anxiety. I went to sleep every night to the Hypnobirthing affirmations and rainbow relaxation CD. I’d been anxious about so many things—everything from worrying I’d go into labor while my husband was out of town, to worrying labor would be faster than the time it took to drive to the birth center an hour away. What if I had to stop at one of the closer hospitals and have to fight with MDs to have the kind of intervention-free birth I want? Hypnobirthing targeted a lot of my worries, and I was optimistic and in giddy expectation.

So the weekend I hit 38 weeks, December 16th, I expected my daughter to arrive any day, since her last brother was born at 38 weeks. Then Monday came and went. Then Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Each day that passed, I grew more depressed, losing confidence. My young sons asked why I was crying.

What was wrong? Then I realized: every day I didn’t go into labor increased my chances that my mom would not be free to come to help, as she was hosting the family Christmas hours north of me.

Then in the wee hours of Christmas Eve, I awoke with mounting contractions. But I did not want it to be the day after-all. I felt weary, not ready. My in-laws were coming at noon and my whole side of the family was leaving town.
At four a.m., I called my closest sister who hadn’t planned to leave for the holidays until around noon, and we left after she arrived to stay with our boys.

We were on the road by five, wasting no time. Many people want to labor at home as long as possible. I get that for a hospital birth. But for us, due to the long drive there and the fact that neither my husband nor I could really relax until we were there, we had no goal but to get there fast, even if it meant wandering around stores for hours until I progressed enough to check in. Plus, the Birth Center was a friendly place to labor, not bent on speeding things up or pushing interventions.

Everything was so quiet, like we were stuck in movie with the sound turned off, traffic lights fuzzy in the pitch blackness. The only sound I could hear was my own crunching, trail mix in my teeth. I relaxed, breathing through contractions that grew sparser. I thanked God for granting many prayers: my husband with me, no traffic, no ice, my kids safely with my sister. We passed outlet stores with quaint Amish buggy pictures. Then we turned onto narrower roads, horse and buggies real road mates as we drove deeper into farmland.

We arrived at the center around 6 a.m. I breathed relief.
In the room that looked like a Lancaster county bed and breakfast, I got in the Jacuzzi tub right away, my husband managing the CD player looping my hypnobirthing affirmations. The voice I’d heard every night for three months was familiar, comforting, its words speaking about my body’s natural ability to do this work and about the joy set before me: this is the day I would meet my daughter.
I thought, “If this labor goes like the last one, my daughter could be born by seven a.m.” I relaxed in the water through steady contractions, my limbs floating; my husband scrolled through stuff on his phone. I used the bathroom. He made me a microwave burrito and I ate half.

As eight o'clock passed, then nine o'clock, I couldn’t believe I was still doing the same thing. The nurse said, if I wanted to get things moving, I could get out of the tub, walk around, try different positions.

Here I should confess. I only halfway practiced some of the hypnobirthing exercises. The book is full of beautiful stories of how the husband gives the wife cue words or certain touches, practicing again and again so that the wife has completely trained her body to go limp with relaxed muscles. It was a dream, but I was so tired the one or two nights a week my husband actually slept in our house, and with everything else that had to be crammed in such a short time period for our whole family, involving him in what I’d been learning just didn’t occur very much. And honestly, I’d birthed three times before, and not yet had my husband been that kind of involved. I was not counting on my husband; I was counting on the water and the relaxed state of hypnobirthing to help me not need to rely on him. My husband is not comfortable with birth. I’ve always wondered if my first labor, a terrifying surprise labor for a 10.5 week miscarriage, with me vomiting out the window of the car and going through transition and delivery in the ER waiting room, both of us clueless about what was happening and why, had something to do with his dislike of the process. My next labor, a grueling 24-hour hospital birth where every intervention made my experience awful, leaving him feeling incapable of helping me, didn’t help. And my third birth was so fast there wasn’t much opportunity for him to be of much assistance and redeem previous bad experiences.

So here I was, in a labor that was obviously going to be longer than my last, and I hadn’t put in enough practice. My worries about a lightning-quick birth had eclipsed the idea that I should’ve prepare for a long one.

My husband helped me walk up and down stairs, where I bent over with contractions each time I reached the bottom or top. While I wouldn’t say the next one-to-two hours were fun , I will say I wouldn’t trade the memory of my husband helping me, kneading my back during a contraction as I leaned into a wall or on the birthing ball. This was the only labor where we worked together as a team. I was truly struggling with anxiety at this point—the number one cause for painful labor, physiologically—and my husband’s support helped calm me.

I ended up lying on my side in the bed. Everything else became too demanding. I needed all my energy and focus to be on relaxing my whole body, and this side-lying position was the only way I’d practiced it. That is what I learned about hypnobirthing: what I practiced worked.

Around 11 a.m., I got back in the tub, feeling a distinct change in what my body was doing, everything in me was about outward movement. But after a few contractions, I could no longer handle an unexpected pain—my tailbone felt bruised from sitting in the tub for hours before! With no plan to birth in any other position, I asked my midwife for suggestions but really didn’t want to follow any. I didn’t want to try anything new. My husband said I needed to hear my CD again; he could tell I was weakening in my thoughts, feeling anxious and cross.

Hearing the affirmations again did help, and I took courage from feeling my body was getting ready to push the baby out. I slowly moved to all fours, to take the pressure off my tailbone. And with each contraction, I began to feel the bearing down, the kind my body did involuntarily. It did not need me to tell it to start this part of the process; my body was doing it, with or without my help!

For my first son, I thought the pushing part of the 24-hour Pitocin-induced hospital birth was the easiest part; there were breaks and it was controlled. With my last labor, I remember being shocked by how fierce and unquestionable that pushing feeling was, with no breaks at all, just seven intense minutes and out flew a baby! This time, my experience was a mixture of the two; the feeling was intense, but there were breaks, and it took longer than 7 minutes.

I was sort of trying hypnobirthing, but honestly, I’d stopped really trying to relax properly. I hadn’t practiced it enough in different positions for it to be second-nature, and I didn’t have the power of concentration at that point to try something new. I was pretty tense. I had told my midwife that hypnobirthing taught that you didn’t even need to push your baby out—that if you were in a coma, your body would expel it anyway, no help from you needed. I got a variety of responses from midwives. One said, maybe since I was experienced, I could overcome and control the pushing urge. I was doing the downward J-breath Hypnobirthing taught, just trying to slow things down and avoid another tear along the scar line of the episiotomy from my hospital birth. As I was in the throes of the unbelievably strong urge to push, my midwife said I had to push with it to get my baby out. And honestly, I was done with trying to follow a method to see if it worked. I wanted the baby out, now! So I pushed maybe two or three pushes at the height of the intensity. I was told the head was out. Then I remember the midwife saying, “Get your baby! Renee, get your baby!” I was disoriented—wasn’t that what she was supposed to do? I shifted and put my hands in the water until I felt a little body in the water, still cozy in the warmth that felt to her like amniotic fluid. I scooped her up into my arms, crying, “My baby! My baby!” with tears sprouting from my eyes. A sense of unspeakable awe filled all my senses.

The happiness flooding me was a full-body sensation. Relief, release and joy transformed my whole body and all discomfort was gone. My baby was in my arms, all six pounds, thirteen ounces of her, her face pink, her eyes locked on mine from the moment I lifted her out of the water. We knew her first name from the beginning, but we were considering Christmas-y names for her middle name. We decided on Joy. We named her for what I felt: pure, awe-inspiring joy.

My midwife said I had done a very good job and managed my birth well, and was “in control.” On our slow drive home through a snowstorm, Christmas carols on the radio, my husband said, “Well, that was your easiest birth.” I looked at him in disbelief. It had been ten hours and exhausting, though certainly not awful like my first son’s birth. He said I made it look easy then, remaining relaxed and in control. I thought about it and realized it was true; I’d never remained in control so well before, not losing confidence that everything was as it should be.

Now I recommend any pregnant woman take a hypnobirthing class. I befitted a lot from the little I gleaned from the book; what would my birth have been like if I’d taken the classes, been a good student and really practiced? 

Renee Lannan is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and stay-at-home mom. Many of her online articles are accessible here. She also blogs about her "Nap-time Writer" experiences of trying to freelance while raising three little ones.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An airplane, a squirmy toddler, and a random act of kindness

“There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother.” 
~ Theodore Roosevelt
Chicago skyline
I flew to Chicago this past Sunday. It was the first time I flew since 2000, so I never before experienced the whole TSA "Remove your shoes and belt" thing. Long lines, bare feet, x-ray view of me. Yikes. I must say, I didn't like it one bit. 
Then there was the actual flight. I'm not a fan. It's not that I'm afraid to fly. I simply don't like doing it. I don't like being told what to do. "Sit. Keep your seat belt on. Store belongings in overhead compartment." Plus, I don't like the idea that I simply cannot step off the plane whenever I want to. Now, don't get me wrong -- I know it's a safety issue. I just don't enjoy being in that position. I also don't like the feeling of flying. My ears felt like they were going to explode. The pain was insane. I kept wishing I'd had the time to take the trip by train or car. Flying is just not my thing.
I misunderstood boarding times, so when I arrived at the gate for my Southwest flight with 15 minutes until take-off, I was the last one to get on the plane. With Southwest Airlines, there are no assigned seats. Even though I was flying business class with an A-2 boarding designation, the fact that I got there after everyone else had boarded meant that my business class seating meant nothing. 
I walked all the way to the back of the plane without spotting a seat. Uh oh. The flight attendant rudely pushed me forward and told me to find a seat and put my carry on in the overhead compartment. I tried to tell her there were no more seats, but she didn't want to hear it. Nor did she offer to assist me in any way. What is it they say about Southwest crews? They're so nice? Let me tell you, that was not my experience on either flight. Not at all.
As I started back up the aisle, I noticed a mom with a toddler. I asked her if the seat beside her was for her child and, picking up the little girl, she indicated the seat was mine for the taking. Great. A-2 seating and I'm stuck sitting beside a mom with a squirmy toddler. Yippee. 
We hadn't even started out of the gate when Natalie (the 15-month adorable, but squirmy, little girl beside me) started fussing. She wasn't thrilled with having to stay seated, and she let her momma know about it. I spotted some board books stashed in the seat pocket, so I picked one up and asked Natalie if she'd like for me to read to her. Little did they know they were seated next to, not only Green Grandma, but to Maya Ray, as well. 
(For those of you who don't know it, I am the voice of Maya Ray who narrates all of the English versions of Marvel's iStorybooks.)
Putting my talent, along with a need for peace, to work, I entertained the toddler with words and then with songs. Every once in awhile, she ducked under her mama's nursing cover for a bit of comfort.
Do you remember the car seat safety series we did awhile back? Yeah, me, too. Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, Megan Arce, did a post about the necessity of keeping your little ones in car seats on airplanes. Well, Miss Natalie wasn't in a car seat, but let me tell you, she was blessed with an attentive, patient, loving mother, who obviously spent lots of time reading and singing to this precious little one. I was thrilled that Maura did not pull out any kind of electronic device to entertain her child. She did it the old-fashioned way, with books and songs with motions the child obviously saw hundreds of times.
"Maya Ray?" Of course, she didn't know who Maya Ray was. She uses her own voice to read to her child. I was not insulted... I was delighted.
My plan, upon arriving in Chicago, was to take a cab to the Allerton Hotel along Magnificent Mile, but I was not happy about how much that was going to cost. Maura came up with a solution. 
"If you want to take the train, you can go with me."
I took her up on the offer. After we retrieved our luggage (which arrived, thank God!) and Maura changed Natalie's diaper, we headed for the train. Maura swiped her train pass and I boarded for free. When we reached our stop, she led me to the bus stop and told me which bus to take. When it arrived, she hopped on, saying, "It's a Sunday afternoon. I don't have anything else to do." Again, even though this bus was not heading in her direction, she swiped her pass and I had another free ride. A few blocks from my stop, she, Natalie, and I said our thank-yous and goodbyes. 
Here we were -- strangers who assisted each other (me helping with her fussy baby, and her helping a visitor in the city where she lives). I don't know how Maura felt about our afternoon together, but I know how I felt... incredibly blessed and grateful for the kindness of a stranger. What started off as an oh no kind of trip, ended as a reminder to me of how important random acts of kindness are in a world sometimes full of nastiness, selfishness, and misery. 
Why did Maura go out of her way to help me? She said it was because, when she moved to Chicago ten years ago, people were so kind to her and helped her in many ways. She was just paying it forward.
Pay it forward, folks. It can make a world of difference.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What if the Disney princesses had email?

I lead a couple of monthly writing group where I give assignments. Last month's assignment was to write a letter from one fictional character to another. Breana English decided to take it in a different direction and presented us with a series of emails from some of Disney's favorite characters. I enjoyed it so much, I asked her if I could share it with all of you. I hope you find it to be as much fun as I did!

Sleeping Beauty's Castle by Andrew Schmidt

Subject: Curse was broken!!

Hi girls!


So, did I miss anything while I was asleep?



Did you ever! Turns out the beast I was staying with was a handsome prince living under a curse. Who would have thought?
Snow’s had another change of address, but you’ll have to get it from her. I can’t remember it. Cinderella lost her shoe, and Ariel’s found herself a new man. Jasmine’s been grounded again, so I haven’t heard from her for a while.

Subject: Ha!
Don’t think you have anyone fooled. We all know why you agreed to take your dad’s place.

Subject: Mind your own beeswax
I don’t know what you’re talking about.


Subject: So romantic!


Weelll, someone living in a place that beautiful had to be at least an earl, right? But you’ve both fallen in love and will live happily ever after, so it all turned out for the best! True love conquers all.


Cinderella xxoo

P.S. Has anyone found my glass slipper yet?


Subject: Re: So romantic!  


So not true.
Nope. Have you checked the trash? Maybe it broke.

Subject: Re: So Romantic!


Well, you can hardly talk. How’s that kiss coming? Prince-what’s-his-name puckered up yet?


P.S. What is his name, anyway?

Subject: WHAT?

You underwent a major surgery for this guy and you don’t even know his name??




Subject: Re: WHAT?



It’s not like I can exactly ask him, now can I? Besides, didn’t you think Adam’s name was ‘Beast’ for, like, the first year you knew him?




Subject: So Romantic!


Maybe you could try writing to him? But don’t worry. Snow still doesn’t know her prince’s name, and they have the most romantic story ever!

Cinderella  xxooo

Breana English is an aspiring writer and American History teacher who lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and a Betta fish named Blue.              



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