Archive for March, 2008

Teens and Open Discussion

My oldest daughter and I had a conversation about sex yesterday. I tried to play it cool, but inside I was in a turmoil. She is 14 and very interested in boys. I can remember that age well, very well. My daughter thinks and says to me all the time that I am ‘cool’. We like the same music, enjoy the same style of dress, and I do not judge her for her choices.

It may not look like it, but each and every time we have a conversation about something that is deep and this important, I hold myself back from giving what she would say is ‘uncool’ advice. Condemning her or her friends for that sip of alcohol, throwing a literal fit over the fact that she has a friend who smokes pot, and restraining myself from interrogating her on her activities when she is with her boyfriend.

It isn’t the fact that I care if she thinks I am cool or uncool. No, I feel that to have my child trust me, I have to trust her to make her own decisions. While we talk together about personal things quite often, it is nice to know I am the only person she confides her deepest thoughts to. She feels safe enough to tell me her concerns about her friends who drink, the ones who smoke pot, and to express that she just isn’t ready to have sex yet.

It isn’t always easy to be the open and accepting parent. You can feel as if you are being punched in the stomach at some of the things your child tells you. But when they tell you, with real sincerity in their voices, along with relief, that you are the only person they feel as if they can turn to and be so open. It is so worth it.

Is your child open with you? If not, are you willing to step back and let your child make a few choices without judging? This may be the step you need to take to become closer with your child. Please share your thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorized, Adolescence | No Comments »

Xbox Live Gamers Support Autism Awareness

There is a new website that is dedicated to recruiting people who enjoy playing video games and want to contribute to a good cause.

Gamers For a Cure is located at http://www.gamersforacure.com and is open to all gamers who are 18 and older. For a donation of just $10 USD, you can help further awareness of Autism. You can join in tournaments, win cash and support the Don Earl Early Childhood Development Center.

I am currently working to get in contact with the owner/admins of the site to bring more news to you. For now, you may sign up to join the community, but the site is very new and is only open for joining. As news develops, I will be posting more information.

Posted in Uncategorized, Special Needs | 4 Comments »

Enough with Winter, Already!

Winter seems to be dragging on this year. Here on Long Island, we’ve had a total of three inches of snow—maybe. We’ve also been treated to several 50-degree days in the middle of January and February. But the rest of the country hasn’t been so lucky.

Maine has received no less than 10 feet of snow in some areas. A friend told me that her mailbox is entirely covered in snow, and, if her German Shepherd were white instead of black and brown, she’d risk losing her every time she went outside!

Julie Fletcher has made the best of the weather by making snow angels. But at some point, you just want to say, “enough’s enough!? I’ve always suffered from a mild version of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It was much worse when we lived in a basement apartment, but even now, I’ve had it with the winter.

Five tips to cope with this long, long winter:

- Bundle up, get outside, and get active. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins that boost your mood. But if you’re tired of the riding the same old treadmill as you stare at the television, get outside! Bicycling may be out of the question with the roads slick, but you can take a walk, have a snowball fight with your kids, or even go sledding. Pretty soon, all this snow will be gone and you’ll miss it—okay, maybe not!

- Let daylight in. We rent an older house with horrible insulation; we keep heavy curtains on our windows throughout the winter so less heat escapes. But sitting in the dark is not the best way to get happy. The days are getting longer; enjoy every last bit of sunlight you can get by tossing open those blinds and letting the sun stream in.

- Use full-spectrum bulbs. Full-spectrum lights, http://www.verilux.com/light-therapy-lamps/seasonal-affective-disorder often used to treat SAD, are pricey. But if you’re at your wit’s end with winter, the purchase may be well worth the money.

- Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep will make the lethargy of winter feel even worse.

- Remember, it’s almost over. Soon, the harsh winter days of March will give way to April showers and, finally, May flowers! Hang in there. In the meantime, prepare by getting a jump start on your spring cleaning, that way you can enjoy the nice weather when it rolls around, rather than being stuck inside reorganizing your closets.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Exploring Coffee Alternatives

After discovering I was pregnant, I became determined to give up caffeine. Not only was I aware of the dangers in consuming excessive amounts (and I drank coffee in excess!), but it make me feel queasy.

After enduring two weeks of withdrawal headaches, I had broken the addiction, but not the habit. I missed the taste, smell and experience of my morning coffee, and a cup of joe in the evening after a good meal.

A Google search led me to Teeccino, a caffeine-free, herbal coffee alternative. I called for some samples, but my expectations were low.

It was another few days before I finally brewed a cup. I wanted to wait until I had the mindset where I was simply yearning for coffee. Also, I was just afraid of being disappointed. Teeccino brews up right in your coffee pot, percolator or French press, just like any ground coffee.

I brewed the Original Flavor, which, the company says, isn’t the one most like plain, regular coffee, but a unique blend roasted carob, barley, chicory roots, figs, dates, orange peel and almonds. I added a little bit of low-fat milk and two sugar packets. It tasted like high-quality gourmet coffee! The orange and almond notes were most prominent behind a rich, dark roast coffee flavor. A winner!

Next, I tried the Java blend, which the manufacturer says is made “for the coffee purist.? That describes me. I don’t like flavored coffee or anything too fancy. Java flavor is supposed to taste the most like regular, rich, dark, black coffee. It did, more or less. In the back of my mind, the thought lingered, “But it’s not coffee!? Nonetheless, it stands out as a tasty morning or after-dinner hot beverage. I actually preferred the gourmet flavorings of Original blend better than Java. The company also offers a selection of flavored blends, from mocha to hazelnut.

In a blind taste test, would either of these herbal coffees fool someone into thinking they are drinking “real? coffee? It’s hard to tell. If I was served Teeccino in a restaurant, I might simply think it’s a new brand of gourmet coffee—without the energy rush or resulting jitters.

In conclusion, if you had to give up caffeine for health reasons, or simply chose to, but still crave the flavor of a good cup of coffee, Teeccino is a tasty beverage that provides the pleasurable, indulgent experience of sipping gourmet coffee—with none of the side effects.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

A New Recipe, Diabetic Friendly

I just received a new book to review. I’ve been ill, along with the children, so it has been a rough time trying to get it reviewed! The book is actually a cookbook with some really tasty recipes. The press release had an interesting recipe in it, but I thought I would share the one I tried last night. It was really great and such a refreshing change of pace from the sandwiches and other quick to make foods of the past week.

The book is The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook by Chef Jennifer Bucko, MCFE and Lara Rondinelli RD, LDN. If you or someone you love is a dibetic, this is a great cookbook to have on hand. Laid out in an easy to read manner, recipes placed in sections according to meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts.

Here is the recipe I tried. It is really good, plus you can tailor it to your tastes by adding in big chunks of fresh vegetables.

Sausage Lasagna

*Cooking Spray
*12 Strips whole wheat lasagna noodles
*1 lb turkey italian sausage
*1 large (2lb 13oz) jar pasta sauce
*1 ½ cups reduced fat, shredded mozzerella cheese, divided
*15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
*¼ cup grated Parmesean cheese
*1 egg, slightly beaten
*¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Spray a13×9x2 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt.

3. Cut ends of turkey sausage and squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings. Discard casings.

4. In a large saucepan, cook turkey sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Drain fat, lower heat to medium and add pasta sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, set aside to cool.

5. In a medium bowl, mix together ½ cup mozzarella (reserve one cup mozzerella), ricotta cheese, Parmesean cheese, egg, and parsley.

6. Spread 1 cup pasta sauce and sausage on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange noodles side by side on top of the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles.

7. Repeat layering with pasta sauce, noodles, and cheese mixtures two more times.

8. Top with the remaining 3 noodles and 1 cup of sauce. Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover; top with remaining mozzarella cheese and bake an additional 25 minutes or until cheese is lightly golden brown.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Choices, Choices

Parents-to-be face many important decisions. Breast-feed or bottle feed? Cloth diapers or disposable? To go back to work after the baby is born, or not? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

For me, many of these answers were easy. Breast-feeding, disposable diapers, and continuing to work-at-home as a freelance writer after a short maternity leave.

Before greener readers condemn me for my diaper choice, let me point out that I do not have a washer-dryer in my home. My husband is lucky when he has clean socks.

The true sticking point for me was the “great vaccination debate.? Much to-do was made over news headlines and studies discovering a link between autism and the mercury found in some vaccines. Later studies debunked these findings, but the buzz continued.

Then the premiere episode of ABC courtroom drama Eli Stone brought it back to the forefront with a compelling, albeit fictional, storyline.

I’m not one to make a decision based on prime time television viewing, so I delved further into the evidence. I turned up enough long-standing studies from what I believed to be reliable sources to convince me that vaccinations are safe—at least in terms of vaccinations not causing autism.

Many parents eschew vaccinations for a variety of other reasons, including religion, a belief in 100 percent natural living with no chemicals or medications, or fear of other side effects related to vaccinations. Some parents believe the human body’s immune system grows stronger without intervention, and don’t wish to cause undue trauma and pain for the child by putting them through a series of shots. Parents who make this choice, whatever the reason, believe they are doing the right thing for their children.

In many states, parents can get a medical, religious or philosophical exemption from vaccinations, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy path to follow. Parents who don’t vaccinate their children should be prepared to face legal and social consequences.

Some parents who won’t let their children play with unvaccinated children. In some states, parents may face charges of neglect. Of course, there is always the risk your child will contract these childhood diseases, facing discomfort, pain and possibly dangerous symptoms and long-term side effects.

The decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate your child is highly personal; what is right for one parent is wrong for another.

Should you choose to vaccinate, speak with your physician and also research potential side effects and reactions so you can make an educated decision. Insist on getting a full list of ingredients in any vaccination. Knowledge is the key to making the right choice for your child.

I should add that Julie Fletcher, chief blogger here at FR, wrote an article for the upcoming March/April issue of theWAHMmagazine, which further explores the vaccination debate, points to evidence that there is no proven link between autism and vaccines, and talks about food-related causes of autism. This Web-only, interactive publication hits cyberspace March 5, so be sure to check it out.

Posted in Uncategorized, Concerns and Expectations | No Comments »

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