Archive for the 'Daily Living' Category

Take the 4-point plastics pledge

Probably everyone has seen that one scene from The Graduate where during the Benjamin’s party, one of his parent’s friends says something to the effect of: “I’m going to tell you one word about the future. Plastics.” Many of us even remember the old commercial sponsored by the American Chemistry Council that stated: “Plastics Make It Possible.” For years we’ve come to rely on the convenience, portability and “safety” of plastics.

Then, we got a collective environmental conscience and realized that plastics were filling our landfills and destroying the planet.

Now, we know that certain plastics contain Bisphenol-A a possible endocrine disruptor and hormonal disruptor as it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

It is in many items that we use daily and consider safe: from baby bottles to sports bottles, the linings of metal food cans, and in nearly any take-out container that isn’t foil or a paper product. The least safe plastic items are those labeled 3, 6 and 7 and their unsafe properties increase with heating from the dishwasher and microwave. A recent report by Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H. in the Green Guide states that “the plastics industry says it is harmless, … a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. …[And] ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The company bisphenol-a.org asserts that the levels of BPA found in the items we use daily are safe, and are only unsafe at high doses. Zandonella’s report continues that according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, “low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women.” While the FDA sees no reason to change its 2003 opinion on the safety of BPA in conjunction with food use, they have been wrong before. In contrast, in December 2007, the Center to the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction issued a detailed report about BPA and its implications in humans, concluding that more study on the effect of BPA in humans is needed.

Hmmm. Some experts say BPA is perfectly okay; others, not so much.
So what are we to do?

After a thorough check of my cabinets for anything labeled 3, 6 or 7, I was happy to find that all of my son’s sippy cups were labeled 2. But that was just the cups themselves. What about the lid–the part that he actually sucks on? What about the ones that have been saved by relatives with toddlers before us and passed down to us and clearly show the wear and tear of little toddler nibbles? Are the ones that are a decade old (and clearly flaking) still safe? There was no way to know…as neither the contemporary lids nor the older sippy cups had any numbers on them. Am I to assume that because the newer cups have a “2″ imprinted on them that the lids are also twos?

You see. More questions.

I checked my son’s bowls and other plastic that we use for food regularly as well. No numbers there either. Luckily, I never heat food in plastic, but what about transferring hot food to a plastic bowl?

As you can see, the new information only leads to more questions, concerns and decisions about food container choices.

While on one hand I don’t want to give my toddler a glass bowl…it is much easier to take care of a cut than potential future problems that could affect his internal functions.

I put my mind at ease with the intent to make some behavioral changes and wiser shopping choices. Luckily, I didn’t have to grapple with how to dispose of any threes, sixes or sevens properly.

But later in the day, the question arose again. I was at my favorite local cafe, where as I sipped my steaming coffee from its cardboard-lined cardboard cup, I stared down at the number six on the lid. How many times have I sucked on a hot liquid in one of these lids in my lifetime? How many times have I consumed hot food from a number 6 container? Sure, my exposure has been minimal according to the FDA and some scientists, but the questions still lurk.

What about you and your family? It makes you too, wonder now, doesn’t it?

Armed with this new information, I am willing to take a four-point pledge for myself and for my family and make a behavioral change to reduce my (our) exposure to BPA.

  • A pledge to shop smarter and avoid purchasing plastic products labeled with the numbers 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge to avoid take-out and establishments that use plastic containers labeled with 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge that when point two is absolutely unavoidable, to avoid personal exposure to such plastics that have come into contact with heat.
  • A pledge to use sustainable and safe reusable products.
  • Will you too take the pledge?

    Feel free to make it public and claim the pledge in the comments field.

    Posted in Health, Daily Living, Health Care, Healthy Living, Poison, Smart Buying, Guest Blogger, News Items | 1 Comment »

    Total Mom: Total Advice for Today’s Women

    The bookstore is stocked with more self-help books than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime. But every once in a while, a book fills an important niche in a way no titles before it have. Such is the case with Hannah Keeley’s Total Mom Makeover. Subtitled The Six-Week Plan to Completely Transform Your Home, Health, Family, and Life, this book promises a lot—and delivers.

    Keeley, a gorgeous blonde with a psychology degree and seven kids whom she home-schools, is a bundle of inspirational energy. “Average? women may wonder how they’ll find the time, energy, or confidence to execute her life improvement plan. But the book lays it out in such easy-to-follow baby steps that anyone, no matter their situation, should be able to see how small changes build on each other to make a big difference.

    Drawing on her psych experience, Keeley takes Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and transforms itinto a pyramid custom-made for moms, building up from Starter Mom, to Basic Mom, Secure Mom, Nurtured Mom, Confident Mom and finally, Total Mom. Daily exercises and weekly plans help readers climb the pyramid gradually.

    In Week 1, readers develop a vision of what they want their lives to be like. Keeley breaks it down into four areas: Home, Health, Family and Life.

    By Week 2, a mom’s “basic? needs (for food, clothing, and shelter) have been met, and it’s time to work on meeting these needs in the best ways possible—with the healthiest food and clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. You’ll even begin to get your house in order, making it the home you’ve always wanted to live in. I found the home organization tips particularly useful!

    Each lesson builds on the ones before it until you reach Week 6. Here, readers are urged to fulfill their spiritual side to reach “Total Mom? fulfillment. Keeley also presents tips to keep the program going long-term, to continue living the life you want to live everyday.

    Don’t believe it can be done? Think six weeks is not enough time to improve your life? One of the tenets of the program is to maintain a journal and to communicate with friends and family about your plans. Jenn Hollowell, a mom in Richmond, Maine, is taking it further and inviting blog readers to hold her accountable for her progress, or even to join her in the Six-Week Total Mom Makeover.

    Why not give it a try?

    Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living | 1 Comment »

    A Journey Into The New Year.

    It is New Year’s Eve, the time for clearing out the old and making resolutions for the new year ahead. Normally for a holiday, I would post some recipes, party ideas, and the like. Since this is the time for new beginnings, I thought I would bring my readers (you guys!) into my life by making my resolutions public. This will make it harder for me to fail, because I am making a proclamation to everyone of what I wish to do this coming year and hopefully, many of you will join me. Consider me a partner in your own journey to betterment, I will share my own successes and yes, even my failures.

    You will find that you are not alone in your quest! If you would like, post a comment with your resolutions, or even one resolution. Spend a moment to share your progress each day, week, or month.

    Here are my own resolutions.

    1. Lose weight.
    This is probably the most popular resolution. Many of us would like to lose weight for better health or to look and feel better about ourselves. I have recently written an article on losing weight after pregnancy and most of the tips it contains can be used by anyone. I will also post my own diet advice that I find works the best for me and my body type. Much of what I write will be geared towards women, because I am a woman and I know what works best on a woman’s body. My husband is interested in gaining more muscle mass this year, so stay tuned if you are male, because I will be gathering information from my husband ,Rob Fletcher, on great body building and diet advice for men. Before you use any of the advice I provide, check with your health provider. While I have many years of health, herbal, and other training experience, I am not a doctor, nor should my advice be considered medical advice.

    2. Stop smoking.
    Yes, I write almost exclusively on health and family topics, but I am addicted to tobacco. The first step anyone can make in their lives to beating an addiction is to admit they have a problem or addiction. Well, guys…I just admitted it. So can you! No matter how long you have been smoking, you can stop. Smoking contributes to so many health problems, it boggles the mind that those of us who smoke haven’t given the nasty habit up yet. If you are a smoker and are ready to quit, join me in this very hard road. If you need someone to talk to, email me or use instant messenger to find me. I will be posting links and information to help you (and me!) kick this habit. We can beat this together!

    3. Get organized.
    Oh, my. This one may be harder than quitting smoking! I have just taken pictures of my horrible workspace. Being a writer, most of my work is performed in one small area, but if you are a home worker, you know how the rest of your home can fall into shambles. A huge focus of this year will be on learning how to, not juggle, but to balance your work and home. Juggling leads to stress, stress leads to anger, and anger leads to the Dark Side. Oops, I sound like Yoda…let’s just focus on learning to balance, I will leave the light saber lessons to Lucas.

    There you have it. My three huge resolutions for this coming year. I promise to give you the inside track to all of this, no ‘expert’ sounding articles, just straight, honest, and personal accounts of what we can do to move our lives forward in the most efficient and beneficial manner. An entire year of hope, laughs, maybe a bit of crying, but in the end, I hope we can all look back and see just how far we have come.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living, Holidays | 3 Comments »

    Holiday Productivity (or non-productivity)

    How many times have you made plans in the evening, right before going to bed only to find the next day that everything you plan to do has gone *POOF*? During the holiday season this happens more often. I notice that my plans go awry almost from the time I wake. Breakfast slows down because the kids need this and that, baby decides to wash his hair with syrup, big sister un-decorates the tree. These minor mishaps through the rest of the morning into a down spiral.

    I don’t post too often about my writing here or my own experiences at home. But, today seemed to be the perfect idea for a post to share with you. If you are a mom or dad who works at home, or maybe you work outside of the home only to come home and have your plans go falling apart worse than Aunt Mary’s crumbly cakes, then this is your post.

    I try. I promise you, I try to get things done. Just don’t take a peek into my laundry room or my kitchen right now. The bedrooms? Forget about it. My productivity levels have dropped to an all time low. It’s not that I have much more work than normal. I think it is the lack of support that we who work to support our families get from the same family.

    Have you ever sat down to your computer only to have a little one pop up beside you asking for a snack? You just fed her, but suddenly she has the capacity for food of a beluga whale. Or maybe you have just come home from work and everyone wants to go shopping. Can’t a person have a break? Can’t your partner handle the shopping for one night or hold off on the need to go out for one more day?

    If you are a home worker, most of the time everyone thinks you are sitting in front of the computer, knocking back the wine while nibbling bon bons. Heck, even my husband seems to think that writing is no big deal. So I have eight articles that need to be 1,000 words done in three days, that doesn’t get his boxers washed, now does it? If only they made self washing-drying-folding-putting away clothing. I’d be in heaven! Oh, and what about self washing dishes? Euphoria. If my house could sustain itself while I work, it would be a dream. I thought we were supposed to be living like the Jetsons nowadays, anyway.

    Here are some things that might help your productivity levels rise. Well, only if you aren’t like me and forget to put the tips into motion.

    1. Forget what mom told you about separating your laundry. Try doing it more simply. Keep whites separate, but wash everything else in one big lump. If you are worried about reds running onto other colors, just throw reds and blacks into the same load. If this doesn’t work for you, find a laundry that does your clothing for you. Load them into your vehicle, drop them off, forget them until it’s time to go get’em.

    2. The vacuum is your friend. Just pick up everything that is too large to go into the thing and vacuum the whole house. Forget dropping it for a broom. That wastes time. If your dog or cat sheds badly, grab them and take care of the excess hair while you are cleaning the floors. Voila, two birds with one big whirring rock.

    3. Enlist help. Even the smallest kids can help you get things done. Give older children a bag and the directions to “pick up all that junk you put there?. Usually they’ll get confused, so gently point them in the right direction. Motivate them into helping, only if you meet resistance, by holding a favorite toy hostage. A squirt gun to the head of a favorite doll is an amazing motivator.

    5. Don’t put off today what you will have to do tomorrow. If something really needs to be done, go on and do it. Waiting will make it worse. If you need proof, come look at my kitchen. Bring pepper spray.

    So now you have a short list of tips that may help you. Understanding the mechanics of your home will also help. Understand that no matter what you do, sometime tomorrow the mess will come back. If you are sneaky and attack after the kids are asleep, you are more likely to have a clean home for most of the next day. Unless your kids stay at home all day, if that is the case, then I suggest getting a dog to clean crumbs they leave behind and a snow shovel to pick up toys in the quickest manner. At least you will have a few extra minutes here and there to devote to work, holiday decorating, or holiday cooking.

    Posted in Parenting, Daily Living, Holidays, Writing, Humor | 3 Comments »

    Motivational Monday: Albert Einstein

    “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”- Albert Einstein

    Something that bothers me to the extreme is how attached some people get to items. I can understand sentimental value. A few things in my home have been with me for years, mementos of certain people or times. But, hoarding and attaching signifigance to the smallest thing results in a cluttered home and mind. The constant worry of if something is ’safe’ from your children, partner, or guests is stressful. Packing it carefully away reduces it’s real value.

    And what is the real value of a sentimental item?

    The memories. Yes, the set of dishes your grandmother used on holidays or other special occasions may mean the world to you. But what satisfaction comes from having it packed away? The memories came from the use of them…and how can memories continue to be forged if you wrap them in newspaper?

    Handling and using the things that come from ones you loved is the best way to honor them. Of course, some things might be too fragile for everyday use. If finances permit, check into preservation/restoration services. A quilt can be hung on a wall, plates placed in a hutch, and small things like Granpa’s pipe and pocketwatch could make a lovely shadowbox.

    Build your memories, don’t pack them away.

    Posted in Daily Living, Mental Health, Stress Management | No Comments »

    Motivational Monday: Helen Keller

    “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

    Helen Keller was born into a life of darkness and silence, yet she overcame these limitations to live a life that lit the darkness for others. The smallest effort is great if it is fufilled to the best of your efforts and talent.

    Are you a single mother? A single father? Maybe you are just someone who spends each day going through the motions of living. When was the last time you took a moment to note the good things you do each day? Perhaps you read a book to a child, held the door for someone at the market, or even just made that first cup of coffee for your partner.

    Each of these selfless tasks are noble. Every person has something of the great and noble in them and it doesn’t take aspiring to moving mountains to show the world. Just opening your heart to the tiny kindness that each of us perform each day is enough.

    Posted in Lifestyles, Daily Living, Mental Health, Stress Management | 1 Comment »

    Wednesday Works: Use Your Talents

    Paints

    Everyone has some type of talent that they can market. Can you write? Paint? Perhaps you’re just really great at finding sales on clothing or putting together outfits that stun your friends. Put these talents to work for you!

    If you can write well, try checking out your local newspaper for a guest column. Find out the best time to come in to talk to the editor personally, instead of calling in to speak with him/her. Deadlines are hectic for an editor and they will more than likely not be able to take even a minute to hear your pitch for a column or even an article. Call, speak with a secretary to find out the deadlines and visit after the deadline for that day.

    Painting murals in homes can bring you a tidy profit. If you own your home or have friends who do and are open to you painting a free mural or accents, take advantage of that. Be sure to take pictures, preferably high resolution, and place them in a professional looking binder with clear page protectors. The larger the picture, the better. You are building a portfolio, so be sure to keep it professional. Place an ad in your local paper and online using free classifieds for your area. Include a nice, clear shot of your work and include quotes per mural/room/wall.

    I have a friend who is a personal shopper and she never wants for much of anything. She has clients all over the world! My friend scours sales and the internet for the most gorgeous outfits, buys accessories, then contacts the client who the outfit is perfect for. She has a binder full of each client’s likes and dislikes, plus their perfect colors. The last I heard, she had paid off her home five years early, thanks to this job!

    Use your creativity to come up with more ideas that you can use to market yourself. Working from home doesn’t have to be all MLM or envelope stuffing.

    Posted in Career Minded, Daily Living, Interior Design and Decoration, Writing | No Comments »

    Motivational Monday:Love

    “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”-Mother Teresa

    Love

    Often times we wonder if we are spending enough time with our families. A phone call to mom, a walk with the kids, a quiet dinner with our partner. All of the demands our busy lives place on us cuts down the precious moments we share with the ones we love the most.

    We may not be able to change our schedules to make more time in some cases and nature will not allow another hour to be added to our day. What we can do is make the time we spend with our families full of love. Take a few moments to say ‘yes’ to reading just one more story at bedtime, ‘yes’ to a short walk, and ‘yes’ to cuddling with your partner for five extra minutes in the morning before work. Here is a great article on love and how to keep it going in your relationship. Love Will Keep Us Together.

    Before you turn out the lights in your child’s room, say ‘I love you’ one more time. Make it a habit to look into your partner’s eyes when you tell them you love them, so it becomes a habit to make a connection with one another; instead of a habit to just say the words. Just one extra thoughtful moment for each person you love each day will make your life more full of what every human needs: love.

    Posted in Parenting, Relationships, Building and Maintaining, Cohabitation, Communication, Marriage, Daily Living | 2 Comments »

    Motivational Monday

    “Be who you are and say what you mean because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” - Dr. Seuss

    A Daisy Doesn't Pretend To Be A Rose

    I love this quote. No matter who you are, you should live by this rule and teach your children to do so as well. Low self esteem not only comes from bullying, but from the fear of allowing others to see who you truly are. Be honest, be direct, and never hide the real you.

    The kids are making a new start right now, why shouldn’t mom and dad? Don’t let resolutions and goals to make changes come only at the beginning of the year. Little changes add up over time, especially those that can help boost confidence.

    Why not choose a new quote to jot down on a small piece of paper once a week and try to live by it the best you can? When you’re feeling low or just need to have a little reminder, pull it out of your pocket and read it. Read the quote out loud if you want. Use it in conversation.

    And don’t stop with quotes from famous or historic people, come up with your own. Who knows, you may end up with a quaint little coffee table book of inspirational sayings you have written!

    From now on, let’s start the week off with a quote. Feel free to email me suggestions!

    Posted in Character Development, Daily Living, Faith, Mental Environment, Stress Management | No Comments »

    Lunches Kids Will Love

    Big Burger

    I’ve decided to pack lunches for my daughter this year. I know tons of parents have made their child’s lunch for years upon end and I figure it’s my turn to join the ranks. School lunches, while supposedly balanced and nutritious, look about as appetizing to me as those cellophane wrapped sandwiches sitting on the counter at the local gas station.

    Yeah. Mm, mm good.

    My husband and I are pretty health conscious and luckily, our children love their veggies. If you’re wondering how we got so lucky, it’s a matter of introducing the kids to vegetables as if they were treats when they’re still very small. Black olives are great fun to pop on the end of tiny fingers and nearly every child loves to pop sticks of carrots or celery into any type of dip. It’s like a requirement of being a kid to dip everything that’s remotely dippable.

    So, in search of the perfect lunch, I married some ideas. Kids like to have something they can just pick up easily. Wraps are a great way to go if your child is like that. But, you can run out of tortillas at the wrong time. Then you’re stuck with a soggy old sandwich. Or are you? Nope! Just trim the crust off of a piece of bread and roll flat. Voila! Instant wrap. You may have to use a toothpick to hold it shut, but this does work really well. For smaller kids, don’t worry about the toothpick, just add smaller amounts of filling.

    Sometimes it seems like a nice idea to make a hot sandwich or wrap, but don’t fall to that temptation. By the time lunch rolls around, the melted cheese on a hot sandwich or wrap will be gummy, the bread soggy, and the mayo…I don’t even want to go there. Try cold versions of hot foods. Chop chicken, season with taco seasoning, mix with a bit of sour cream and salsa, spread on top of a lettuce leaf that lines a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, then roll tightly. A cold chicken fajita!

    You don’t have to stick to normal sandwich fillings or breads. You can also use bagels, pita bread, crackers or rolls. Ever try strawberry preserves with cream cheese? Uh huh, kids love that, too. Leftover stew? Wrap it! Just drain the excess liquid, squish the vegetables and meat together a bit, then wrap. Let your imagination run wild.

    Next time, we’ll talk about easy desserts for packed lunches!

    Posted in Parenting, Nutrition, Cooking, Daily Living, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

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