Monday, September 29, 2014

 Love: For the Health of It

“Men give love for sex: women give sex for love.” –Unknown/Anonymous

Health Benefits of Having Loving Relationships:
Love brings about emotions of which laughter is but one. Laughter is medicine.
Research shows acts of love neutralize negative emotions that harmfully affect your immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular functions.
Cancer survivors (studies have shown) healed better and faster from treatment when a strong family bond existed. Loving family connections and close-friend(s) bonding created noticeable and healthful results.
Prolonged hugging and hand holding (even from non-romantic pairings) provides the bonding intimacy necessary for health benefits.
Platonic relationships where extended hugs and copious touching are discouraged still benefit from back pats, shoulder squeezes, and arm rubs. Stress hormones will lessen and human connection increases.

MIT Sloan School of Management (researchers) found that men are more likely to say “I love you” first.

Health Benefits of Being “in” Love:
Drop in blood pressure, longer life span, drop in cortisol* levels (when together; rises during separation), keeps wits sharp, lessens depression (especially in women), brain health improvement (in couples who socialized together especially with other couples), stress diminished through power of spouse’s touch, oxytocin** released during cuddling/hugging/sex (plays role in social bonding & has tremendous effect on cardiovascular system), improved agility and muscle control (through frequent sex), less pain (head and muscle aches) due to sex and increased blood circulation and movement. And for men specifically, frequent sexual activity throughout their lives has shown a reduction in prostate cancer later in life.

The principal steroid hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. It regulates 
carbohydrate metabolism and the immune system and maintains blood pressure. When natural or synthetic cortisol is used as a pharmaceutical, it is known as hydrocortisone.

A neuropeptide that stimulates contraction in the uterus for childbirth and mammary ducts for milk production. This same hormone (the feel-good hormone) increases overall happiness and sense of wellbeing. It is increased through cuddling, holding, and sexual intimacy. It is known as a bonding hormone as it bonds mother to child and woman to man.

Studies have shown…
~Frequent huggers had lower blood pressure.
~The health benefits of marriage were cancelled out by divorce and death; the participants had worse health issues than individuals who had never been married.
~Blister Test/Study: couples were given blisters and their healing progression was monitored. The couples who were happy & loving healed faster than the couples who were hostile to one another and/or in depressed relationships.

Learn about the Opposite Sex for Better Relationships:
+Learn the differences in men and women to improve your relationships with them; spouse, parent, child, friend, or employer!
+Enjoy what he/she brings to your life rather than compete with him/her. Appreciate the opposite as a complement to your life.
+Communicate what you feel, don’t be afraid to open up and be vulnerable. Shame on the person who exploits your open honesty!
+Don’t play tit for tat—give freely, expecting nothing in return and animosity won’t grow. Be prudent, though—don’t be a doormat, either.
+Do support your partner’s interests and participate in them—bonding will occur. Things that light them up have a way of warming your fires, too.
+Don’t say or ask for something expecting something else to come about—your spouse cannot read minds, for that matter, neither can the rest of us!

Two great books (and their websites) explaining love and its many complexities for men and women as individuals:

“The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts”  Dr. Gary Chapman

“Men are from Mars Women are from Venus”  Dr. John Gray

Many books have been written on the subject of love and marriage from every perspective imaginable. I chose these two because they deal with men and women as men and women--we are different! Also, because love is good for requires work to make it work and good texts are the tools along with a willing heart and mind. Love Languages learned will help you with every relationship you have, not just romantic coupling.
Be well~

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dealing with Depression

Hello All,
A talk I did in January of this year "Dealing with Depression" hit home with many; whether you suffer its affects, or a family member or a friend does, everyone feels the pain of depression.

Notes from the Dealing with Depression Talk/Presentation

Symptoms of Depression
Fatigue, insomnia, change in appetite, lack of desire to do what was once enjoyable, sad mood, anxiety, lack of concentration, feelings of guilt and/or hopelessness, frequent crying spells, difficulty in keeping up with peers (socially or otherwise).

Some Causes of Depression
Situational depression (loss of job, death, relationship ends, etc.), meds, drug use, PMS, cancer, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, RA, any limiting or degenerative disease, vitamin B-12 or B-6 deficiency, and heredity.

The longer a person stuffs his emotions and doesn’t deal with the root cause of the depression, the harder and longer the later recovery will be, and at a very high cost—lost years. Every decision you make is based on your current way of thinking and mindset. Your life will take shape and direction from this starting point. You may not like where you are in two, five, or even ten years if you make decisions built on your current emotional state. These are all things to consider.

Depression is caused by many known factors, many at the same time. A counselor will help you to determine whether negative incidents led to the present situation, or a chemical imbalance is the culprit. Many times both are to blame. Allergies to chemicals, medications (some medications create nutrient deficiencies), or even foods can cause a depressed state. A safe area to start change is your diet. Eating a healthy, well-balanced, and well-varied diet is never a waste of time or effort. You may even feel improvement immediately.

Food affects mood. You’ve heard that you are what you eat; hence, junk food equals junk body. The temptation of sugary treats, sodas, and juices (with more forms of sugar than fruits) is a nationwide epidemic. Who could blame children and teens (not to mention many adults) for desiring such sweetness?

The problem isn’t only tooth decay and empty calories; sugar is like a drug in the bloodstream. The sugar high is all too short and followed by a crash that leaves you lower than when you started. It’s a false energy boost. Sugars can be addictive, making depression worse because of the struggle to overcome the need to have more of it, and the inevitable increased intake of sugars and starches.

Simple carbohydrates (such as pasta, snack chips, cakes, candy, and even breads) break down quickly in the digestive system and rush into the bloodstream, where the brain is affected first. Remember that false energy boost? After your energy and emotions have been on a roller coaster ride, the offending “sugar” now imbalances mineral levels (especially calcium-which also could contribute to insomnia), dissolves B vitamins (which are especially necessary for nerve health), depresses the immune system, exhausts the pancreas, and contributes to weight gain. It also plays a negative role in diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, cholesterol levels, nearsightedness, and indigestion.

Nutrient deficiencies throw the body out of balance. The body’s chief role is to survive and seek balance. Each day humans are met with an onslaught of toxins, radiation, processed and refined foods (virtually devoid of nutrition), chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, viruses, bacteria, and so on. Some are greeted in the air we breathe, water we drink, and from out-gases in our buildings (homes included), but many are eaten by way of the standard American diet (S.A.D.); such disruptions to health imbalance us. Simple changes (over time) in our way of eating can relieve, and even reverse many health concerns. 

A short list of foods high in fiber, EFAs (essential fatty acids), vitamins & minerals, and enzymes (notably for brain health):
Brown rice, wheat germ, tofu, tempeh, beans, almonds, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, walnuts (particularly for prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease), sea vegetables (nori, kelp, etc.), oranges (and other citrus), apples, and sprouts.

A fresh salad of raw veggies (baby spinach, red peppers, onions, carrots, cucumbers, seeds, sprouts, fresh herbs) and an outrageous dressing added daily is a great start to any healthy beginning. Soy yogurt with
wheat germ and fresh fruit makes a satisfying breakfast. Snacks of seeds and nuts (not salted & roasted— raw only), or fresh fruit are a better alternative than dangerous packaged snacks.

Half the brain’s weight is essential fatty acid. A low-fat diet, or an over-processed one, is lacking EFAs.
Enzymes are necessary for every function of the body. They are replenished by eating fresh foods. Cooked (and heated foods) are dead. The enzymes are lost, the first to die when cooking food. The secret is to eat fresh, raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

NOTE: Food coloring and preservatives are known carcinogens (cancer-causing). They also may contribute to frequent headaches and mood swings (as well as other maladies).

  • Water is an important nutrient to the body. Six to eight glasses of pure water daily are necessary for proper hydration, waste removal, and organ function.
  • Sunlight contributes to a healthy mind and body. At least fifteen minutes a day is necessary for the body to synthesize vitamin D (used with vitamin A to utilize calcium).
  • Exercise promotes fluid movement and drainage in the lymphatic and elimination system, oxygenates the blood, sparks the digestive system, curbs the appetite, and releases endorphins (happy hormones)—among other things.
  • Yoga, T’ai Chi, Karate, and Pilates are forms of exercise that truly serve the participant. They offer more than simple exercise. They have time-tested benefits of relaxation, discipline, peace, and calmness.
  • Hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and acupuncture offer additional methods of relaxation. Learning deep relaxation has helped some people to overcome chronic depression, in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
  • Adequate sleep is crucial to overall good health. Eight hours a night allows your body to not only rest, but to heal. Your body heals when you sleep! Depression can make sleeping a challenge and lack of sleep can worsen depression.
A list of foods to avoid (negative effects on mood and overall health): 
Cheese, yeast extract, alcohol, soda, coffee, caffeine, junk food (refined & processed—basically anything in a box with a long ingredients list), artificial sweeteners, sugar, food dyes, all preservatives, aluminum-based baking powders, (and aluminum cookware).

A list of supplements that are rich in enzymes, EFAs, amino acids (protein), vitamins, and minerals:   

  • Blue-green algae
  • Chlorella and spirulina
  • Barley, wheat, and alfalfa (grasses)
  • Royal Jelly— (from bees-not vegan) a powerhouse of B vitamins, the eight essential amino acids, and more.
  • Probiotics— beneficial microorganisms –necessary to intestinal health for proper nutrient assimilation and elimination of wastes. Also, needed for manufacturing a few B vitamins.
  • Fish oil—Omega-3 fatty acid is an important nutrient to the body but especially the brain (helpful in depression and assisting anti-depressants to do their jobs better). Fish oil is the better form of Omega-3 (compared to flax seed oil) for depression. 

Toxic Colon = Toxic Brain

Highly refined and processed foods (white flour, pastas, etc.) form a type of sludge in the colon. When fiber (whole foods, vegetables, grains, beans) is absent from the diet, or insufficient, the wastes are not moved through the colon, and the elimination passage narrows. Animal products also “gunk” up the colon. Foods that are left behind putrefy (causing a noxious odor when passed as gas), and then petrify (forming desiccated pebbles). Nutrients are unable to be assimilated because of these obstructions. Increased nutrients will not help, as they will not be properly absorbed. 
Lifestyle choices that benefit mental health:
Exercise, sunlight, fresh air, proper diet, adequate hydration, laughter, love, interdependent relationships, spiritual peace and practice, friendships that encourage and support, enjoyable work and interests, doing for others (service), smiling, joint projects or tasks with others, uplifting music, involvement in movements or ministries that matter to you or to someone you care about,  playing/petting animals, visiting nursing homes, singing, writing/journaling, art (painting, drawing,carving), playing/learning an instrument, crossword puzzles, game night with people who are a hoot, and anything else that makes you  awesome!

Herbals to get you through it all:
  • Bach’s Rescue Remedy-especially good to calm high anxiety, sullen mood, and aid in depression
  • B-Complex Vitamins-nourish the nervous system and calm the body and mind; they also improve the efficacy of prescription anti-depressants.
Supplementation Dosages from Andrew Weil, MD ~~~~
St. John's wort: St. John's wort is an herbal remedy that has long been used in Europe as a treatment for mood disorders. Standardized extracts have shown an effectiveness equaling Prozac in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of the disease. It should not be taken with anti-retroviral medications, birth control pills, or antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs like Prozac or Celexa. Try 300mg of an extract standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin, three times a day. It's full effect will be felt in about eight weeks.
SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine): Has the advantage of working more
quickly than St John's wort. Use only the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets, or in capsules. Try 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach.
Fish oil:
 Recent preliminary studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful in maintaining a healthy mind. I think that reasonable doses of fish-oil supplements (1,000 - 2,000 mg per day) might be useful in addressing mild depression. Fish oil is an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential fatty acid found in nerve and brain tissue.

I cannot stress the need for lifestyle change and the addition of counseling or group therapy enough! Keeping silent and being isolated will not improve your condition. Depression doesn’t just disappear, or go away. You may find as you work through your depression that you discover many wonderful things about yourself.

The world is waiting…

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stress in Any Season

Hello All,
I did a talk/presentation in November 2013 on anxiety and stress~here are the notes for your pleasure.

Notes from "Stress in Any Season"

A Few Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress:

Stomach issues
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Jaw clenching/Grinding teeth
Cold, clammy hands

Change in appetite
Frequent crying
Difficulty breathing/Frequent sighing
Frequent urinating
Loss of sexual desire
Feeling overwhelmed

Natural Ways to Combat Stress

Yoga Breathing (because you can’t breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time) 
4-7-8 Breath
Exhale completely through the mouth.
Inhale through the nose to the count of 4—HOLD breath to the count of 7—exhale slowly, through the mouth to the count of 8.
Repeat at least 2 times daily.

Brisk Walk
A ten-minute brisk walk during an episode can calm the jets. Whether it’s a distraction or increased blood flow to the brain, take it as a remedy!

Herbal Remedies
~Rescue Remedy (spray, gum, or pastilles) from Bach Flower Remedies

~Chamomile: calms—compounds bind to some brain receptors as drugs like valium do. Tea or capsules.

 ~Hops & valerian: sedatives---taken to promote sleep—DO NOT take with prescription sedatives or tranquilizers. Tea or capsules.

 ~Green Tea—contains amino acid L-theanine—reduces anxiety. Tea or capsules.

 ~Lemon Balm: calms, helps with sleep. Tea or capsule.

 ~Passionflower: sedative for nervous restlessness. Also used for insomnia. DO NOT use longer than one month. Capsule or herbal blend capsule.

 ~Kava Kava: calms & promotes rest/sleep. Tea or herbal blend capsule.


Lavender & Bergamot & Eucalyptus: calming—can use essential oils sublingually or in a diffuser.

Nutritional Therapy
Eat leafy greens for phytonutrients—to reduce anxiety. Varied diet of greens will supply loads of B-vits., which are necessary for nerve health and combating stress.

Laughter & Touch & Expression
Laughter is the best medicine...I'm sure you've heard that said. The truth is that laughter releases endorphins and endorphins are hormones that make you feel good! Laughter is laugh and someone is bound to at least smile when they see you crack up in a fit of hilarity. 

Why not find things that make you laugh: a movie (comedy), a comedian on CD you know to be your brand of amusing, a funny friend to have coffee with, playing with children, or playing with animals. All can bring you laughter and happiness--even for that moment. String a bunch of moments for a happy accident--a great day!
People who have animal friends have improved health! Petting a cat or a dog or a llama can lower blood pressure and impart a sense of well being. Animals provide unconditional love and the benefits are felt by both human and animal.

Touch is important for all humans...everyday. No matter your age, you need hugs. No matter your age, you need the positive feedback from another person. Don't neglect yourself by not being in a situation where there is no one to share this bond with you. 

Animals provide additional, and I think quite necessary, love and affection. Warning: Don't replace human touch and intimacy with animal/pet affection...isolation from your own species will not bring you stress-free living. Enjoy both!
Do check who comprises your human circle. It might be the people (or a person) in your circle are stressing you out, not people as a whole.

It is difficult to squeeze in everything we need...should...and want to do--every day or every week. One way to have better control in this area, thereby reducing the stress we put on ourselves, is to re-check our priorities often.

Do you still operate as a mom/cook/referee/maid/errand girl/message taker/homework helper now that your children are in college and living on campus? I hope not. Your job titles have changed. Have you re-evaluated your tasks and time to reflect this whilst tending to your needs via your new-found freedom?

Sadly, many of us hold onto our old job titles and pile on new ones as they pop up. We stay so busy that we neglect things that bring us another, necessary, true joy. Things that are separate of work, home life, spouses, children, and friends: things that are part of our core being such as art, music, dance, gardening, philanthropy, etc. Passion for the gifts we were God-given that make us feel alive differently than the day-to-day us. Sometimes, stress stems from this lacking and can be abated by its expression. You can even share this part of yourself with your spouse and family and friends, still reaping the rewards, as well as adding happiness to their lives. Seeing those we love thrive and flourish brings peace and joy to our lives.

What do you want to do?

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Question of Dairy

Hello World!
Back in the fall--2013, I gave a talk/presentation on the most requested subject...Dairy! I am including the handout/notes here for your perusal and enjoyment.

“ I would call milk perhaps the most unhealthful vehicle for calcium that one could possibly imagine, which is the only thing people really drink it for, but whenever you challenge existing dogma…people are resistant.”
Neal Barnard, M.D.

Ailments & Diseases Linked to Dairy Consumption:
Gastric upset
Heart disease
High cholesterol levels
Hormonal imbalances
Intestinal bleeding
Multiple Sclerosis
And the list continues…

Commercial Milk Contains:
Various minerals & vitamins
High cholesterol content
Veterinary drugs
Pesticides & Fertilizers
High levels of growth hormones
Bacteria & viruses
Blood & pus

Worried about calcium? Osteoporosis?
 ...Just remember beans & greens.
Green vegetables and beans have large amounts of absorbable calcium; both contain fiber, which is necessary to control cholesterol.

“Your glass of milk, even low-fat, is awash in fat (the equivalent of three slices of bacon), cholesterol, antibiotics, bacteria, and—the most distasteful ingredient—pus.”
Jane Heimlich (in her foreword for "Milk- The Deadly Poison" by Robert Cohen)

Why does the medical community still tout milk? Dairy is big business--and they can afford to advertise and promote and educate about their products. A doctor, like anyone else, only knows what he has been taught.

Everything about this picture says American Lunch...right down to the white bread (that's a whole other subject). Milk does not do a body good.

Did you know that milk avoidance can help clear up eczema, arthritis, colic, asthma, iron deficiency in infants, musculo-skeletal  pain (growing pains), and lower cholesterol?

Here is who a cow's milk is meant for--we're actually taking it from him--cow's need to have babies to produce milk, just like the rest of us mammals. This little guy won't get to stay with mom, he'll be sent to the veal farm more than likely. Males are not needed on dairy farms.

Some Shocking Numbers
21.2 lbs. milk = 1 lb. butter
2.1 lb. milk = 1 lb. evaporated milk
10 lbs. milk = 1 lb. hard cheese
12 lbs. milk = 1 lb. ice cream

Better "milk" choices
Hemp milk
Almond milk
Soy milk
Rice Milk
Hazelnut milk
Coconut milk
Quinoa milk

*Go to the tab (above) labeled "Dairy-Free Recipes". 

Premium Sources of Calcium
Collard greens
Swiss chard
Mustard greens
Kidney beans
Soy beans
*Calcium is an abundant mineral in greens, all beans, grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, and sea veggies, lentils, and legumes of all kinds. different cuisines! Life is an adventure!

This is a big topic and we've only scratched the surface: Further health studies and dietary facts, the environmental impact from dairy farming (and factory farming for meat consumption), cost and natural resources consumed to support the industry, and last, but not least, the terrible treatment, storage, and killing of sentient beings we call food. Dairy cows get "used up" and become low-grade meat products, female calves replace other dairy cows, male calves become veal. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Women, Hormones, & the Stages of Life

                                      Hello from RI during our last 12 days of summer!

This is my first post in 2013. My dad was ill and passed away soon after my last post in 2012; I was too uninspired and sad to write.This past July I did a talk on Hormones and the Stages of a Woman's Life. I thought I'd start blogging again with highlights from that talk.     Thanks for reading and for the questions that keep coming in...I will start posting answers again (and to those who have enjoyed the e-mails instead, they'll continue, as well). 

Hormones and the Stages of a Woman’s Life

Imbalances: Hormones help regulate everything from energy flow to inflammation to women’s monthly cycles. When hormones are out of balance the effects are felt differently by each woman--bio-individuality is the reason. 

Signs of the Times
·    Teens have begun cycles earlier (some at 8 or 9 yrs. old); pre-menstrual syndrome is common in today’s world.

Child-bearing years can include PMS, infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, headaches, depression,  & low libido.

Other signs 
of hormone imbalance are irritability for no reason, frequent water retention, spotting between cycles or absence of menstruation, and painful or difficult menses.

Major causes of imbalances are stress, adrenal exhaustion (produce most hormones), severe dieting or exercise, deficiencies in nutrients (especially protein, calcium, B-complex, EFAs: essential fatty acids), environmental pollutants and hormones, birth control, and HRT (hormone replacement therapy). 

·    Herbal support for normal, healthy child-bearing years: many varied fresh fruits and veggies in the diet, whole-food supplements (especially rich in folic acid and chlorophyll), and essential fatty acids (EFAs).

·    Massage therapy is essential in helping with infertility—stress management is important. Avoid caffeine.

Hot Flashes & Menopause:
Hot flashes are caused by the hypothalamus (regulates sleep cycles, appetite & body temp, and produces hormones in the pituitary gland) over-reacting & producing hormones, attempting to stimulate estrogen production.
Menopausal symptoms can be heavy bleeding (unlike/worse than normal periods), spotty bleeding, leg cramps, migraines, fibroids, low libido, hot flashes, mood swings, crying for no reason, vaginal dryness, hair loss or thinning, and night sweats.

*Hot flashes can last 2-4 years after menopause has ended.
      Herbal Support:  Supplements are made for particular needs and will vary to include many of these herbs: Dong Quai, Black or Blue Cohosh, Licorice Root, Wild Yam, Chaste Tree/Vitex, and Ginseng

*Black Cohosh: research has shown 8 weeks later, estrogen levels are equal to Rx medications' results.
*Licorice Root: stimulates the adrenal system.

·    Vitamins/Minerals/EFAs: Supplements may contain any number of these beneficial components to aid your needs: Vitamin E, Omega 3 or mixed EFAs, folic acid/B-Complex, and Valerian Root/Kava Kava.

·    Foods: Super foods, such as those high in chlorophyll (wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, etc.) are wonderful system-wide health builders that will increase stamina and have a long list of other benefits. 
      Add these foods to your diet (high protein & mineral content): Sea veggies (kelp, dulse, wakame, etc.), soy foods, papaya, seeds, nuts, miso, and green or white teas.

*Sea veggies help remove toxins from the body by binding to chemical wastes and then eliminating them through the proper channels.

*1 cup soy = 1 Premarin tablet

*To moderate bleeding:
drinking red raspberry or green tea may help. Exercise is something that will either help you to lessen the bleeding or increase it—this is your bio-individuality…you have to try it first to find out.

NOTE: Many people have sought relief from every malady known to man through acupuncture and/or acupressure. Also, massage therapy (including foot, hand, and ear reflexology) has miracle-like results!

God provided every tree, grass, berry, nut, seed, flower, root, bark, stem, leaf, and fungus (did I miss any?) to help nourish and cure us of our ills whilst providing nutritive sustenance. He also gave us trigger points for effective body work—all to help us cope in this changing, beautiful, yet difficult world.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Q & A (Parenting)

This week's question is from P. M. in Massachusetts...

Hi Sunday,
Should I let my daughter stay overnight at her friend's house? I'm not asking for permission, but I am not sure I should say no. She is new to the school and just made friends, a sleepover is planned and I don't know the family or any of the other kids. I am afraid my daughter will be left out of other things if I say no. She has had sleepovers with friends at our old house, but I knew all the moms.

Hi P.,
Tricky indeed. You give no indication of her age, but most girls start sleepovers around age 10 and by age 15 are less likely to have issues in getting permission; I'll assume she is within those ages. Also, you stated she's had sleepovers at your home, but was it reciprocal with the known parents? 

If your caution has served you well, perhaps it isn't that you are as concerned with knowing who the parents are, but rather, knowing them well enough to allow your child to be in their care. Allowing sleepovers in your own home has given your daughter the feeling of being part of the group without your fears for her safety becoming an issue. 

I suggest getting to know the parents much better and finding out how they plan to entertain the girls for the evening. Ask the important questions: Will a parent be awake most of the night? The girls will be awake until the sun is up...or is that only in my experiences...  
Are there brothers in the home? If so, where will they be (sleeping)? Will they be allowed to go outside at all during the sleepover? Will anyone else be allowed into the home besides the invited girls? Who are the other girls (and their parents)? Will the parents have any visitors that night? Who else lives in the home (an aunt, uncle, grandparent, exchange student)? Is it a smoking house? Do the parents drink alcohol (will they drink while the girls are there)? What is the condition of the home (safe, clean)?

The key phrase here is "Get to know the parents much better!" before agreeing to any sleepovers. It doesn't matter if it is going on next door and you can see into their living room and if every girl in your daughter's class will be there. That doesn't matter. 

What matters is that her life and well being are paramount to you. You have to feel certain about the situation you put her in...millions of mothers have been in your place of question; most had nothing to worry about, what of the ones that did? This is the stuff that keeps you up at night. 

My mum always told me, "When in doubt say NO!" I sometimes round the bend in my thinking process tormenting myself with endless possibilities, outcomes that sound like the Forensic Files, and panic attacks. Then that wee voice in my head (no, not a crazy one) reminds me to mind my mother's wisdom. 

This made for unhappy moments in the Kazas home; my daughter could be angry with me, that didn't matter. What mattered was that she was with me, whilst being angry. 

In another post I'll explain ways I was able to keep sane during my daughter's teen years while still able to provide the freedom she so desired.

P.M. don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings over your parenting decisions; another caring parent understands such things and children get over disappointments when spoken to with care and respect. I also found it helpful to use diversion tactics--make a fun evening that competes with or overshadows what she'll be missing. It is more "work" for you this way, but you will forge a trusting and loving relationship greater than you can imagine from where you now stand.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Home Maintenance (Emergency Preparedness)

Storm-Season Sensibility and Beyond

Storm season is upon us once more and winter is not too far off. The natural state of affairs, or delighting in our seasons, coupled with the unrest in other parts of the world make this post timely. You'll note I have no suggestions for a zombie apocalypse--all I can say to that is "double tap". 

I am always willing to share my “Be Prepared” motto, and fun list of “Must-Have On-Hand Items”. Most items in the list should be kept handy all year long; there is always the possibility of a power outage. It is wise to consider the following suggestions in conjunction with the government’s checklist.

We lessen the burden on others, in the event of an emergency, when we are prepared as best possible, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families.

Storm-Preparedness Arsenal:

  • Batteries (of various sizes for all products needed: flashlights, radios, lamps, etc.)
  • Flashlights and lanterns
  • Rechargeable flashlight (type that stays plugged into a wall outlet, when power is lost the flashlight is activated--using charged battery power; it is now a source of immediate light, on the wall, to guide you.)
  • Masking tape to tape windows.
  • Duct tape, tarps, and plastic to seal areas.
  • Plywood and scrap wood (useful for covering and protecting windows. Long screws and (ideally) a drill (charged) should be kept nearby for this purpose.) 
  • Assorted tools: hammer, screwdrivers, pry-bar, wrenches for gas and water meter shut-off's, assorted wrenches for other situations, nails, screws, staple gun, etc.
  • Gas grill or charcoal grill (filled propane tank; charcoal and lighter fluid)
  • Matches and lighters
  • Hand can opener
  • Food Items: (Un-refrigerated products for each person, for at least four days)
  • Hermetically-sealed milks (soy, nut, dairy); do not require refrigeration until opened.
  • Canned goods (Especially those that can be eaten without warming or cooking)
  • Dry goods: crackers, wafers, biscuits, cereals, trail mix, nuts, seeds, and granola-type bars.
  • Packaged fun foods (For the kids—to keep them thinking all is well: raisins, fruit leathers, popped popcorn, etc.)
  • One gallon of water per person, per day, for 4 days (Used for drinking and personal hygiene.) Don’t forget hydration for pets.
  • For babies: diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food.
  • Feminine products
  • Pet food
  • Paper plates, plastic dinnerware, and plastic drinking cups. Don't forget paper goods!
  • First aid kit: large enough for entire family--should include gauze, tape, scissors, alcohol pads, bandages, antibacterial cream/ointment, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea med., antacids, hot/cold pack, thermometer, plastic gloves, tweezers, hemostats, face masks, first aid directions, and anything else you have room for (examples: blood pressure kit, bottles peroxide & alcohol, suture kits, butterfly bandages, tourniquet, finger splints.)
    Whether bought as a kit or put together yourself, be sure to have the necessary items in one spot...preferably a bag or box that can be brought to the person in need and packed in an evacuation bag as needed.
  • Additionally, a natural first aid kit would also be in my arsenal...but that's another post!

A generator would be the solution to stay self-sufficient in the event there are power outages but no evacuations. There are many sizes and prices. A small one might keep lights on and the TV airing, and a larger one would keep the furnace firing and the refrigerator chilling.

Other Storm-Preparedness Tasks:

  • Fill propane tanks for grills or fire places.
  • Fill automobile gas tanks (and snow blowers).
  • Keep prescriptions filled and up-to-date (For Bipeds and quadrupeds!).
  • Keep cell phones charged.
  • A land-line phone that doesn’t require electricity will most likely work during a power outage, unless phone lines are down, too. Unfortunately, we have mostly given in to digital telephone services these days.
  • Create an emergency plan with your family (know what to do, what to grab, who to call, where to go, and where to meet should you get separated—always have a “Plan B”.).
  • Relocate items from the property that could become projectiles (including garbage cans). Store them in the garage, shed, or basement. Be sure loose shingles, gutters, wires, etc. are fastened to avoid further damage. NOTE: Do not repair power and utility lines yourself; always call on the appropriate companies to do so.
  • If heat becomes an issue, conserve warmth by having everyone camp-out in the living room! An air mattress or two will make this a comfy way to tough-it-out. Sealing doorways or even setting up a tent will further your efforts.
  • Sleeping bags
  • Keep board games, playing cards, and art supplies accessible. Think about passing the time playing music…MP3 player with speakers or use the nifty new solar/crank radio or maybe playing instruments.

Crank and/or solar radios are great products to buy. There are many models with a wide price range. Some have AM/FM and shortwave frequencies, a weather band, and MP3 connection. Many offer hand crank, solar, and AC/DC as power sources. Others even have built in lanterns. Such a piece of electronics would not only be indispensable but also the sunny spot in a dark hour.

Consider buying solar chargers. Many sizes to fit your needs and budget: small chargers for cell phones, larger for small appliances, and still larger for larger needs. Many sources to power your needs means less drama for you and your family. Alternative sourced portable power isn't just for flashlights anymore.

In the Event of Emergency or Evacuation:

Should you get a knock on the door at 3 a.m., and you are in your P.J.’s—quite groggy, will you be able to get everything you need in the five to ten minutes you are given to leave your home? 
Consider the panic multiplied and amplified by each member of your household. The answer could be pre-packed emergency kits. The minimum they should contain follows.

  • Overnight/Emergency packs for evacuation: Personal care items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, washcloth, make-up, lotion, dental and orthodontic appliances, feminine products, etc.); change of clothes and shoes (don’t forget socks); medications and pain relievers; and important papers (birth certificates, social security cards, copies of account numbers, insurance policies or contact numbers, IDs, credit cards, medical cards, bank cards, important phone numbers, and anything else you would not want to leave behind to be destroyed or to be found by someone who isn’t a member of your family), first aid kit, glasses, a book or two to read, notebook and pens, deck of cards, travel games, hand sanitizer, baby wipes (extra--for all family members) for freshening, chewing gum, mints, snacks (granola bars, etc), ear plugs, flip flops (to wear in shower), hair ties & elastics, gloves & hats (weather appropriate), athletic shoes (there may be walking), travel sewing kit (safety pins, too), walkers or other devices for the physically challenged.
  • Don’t forget baby…If you are evacuated to a shelter, baby food and formula probably will not await you. In addition to food, formula, diapers, and baby wipes, you will need 4-5 extra outfits, pacifiers, blankets, and at least one calming toy and book.
  • Pet food and pet medications. Remember to bring pet carriers, leashes, and collars with tags (To identify the animal and for proof of vaccination. Leads for cats are a good idea, too.) for each pet.
  • Create a list of medications and dosage for each family member along with any medical considerations that may become emergent. Each person should keep a copy of their list on their person (consider laminated cards), in the event of separation or unconsciousness. Medical ID jewelry should be worn, as well. 

You can add as much as you like to your bags...each person could have their minimum and an additional item for all to share. Some "preppers" put up canned goods and build shelters, others pack mess kits, tents, and inflatable boats! It's all very personal.

NOTE: Zipper-lock bags are great for keeping items separate and dry in your packs. Storing papers in plastic bags is a good idea—vacuum sealing is best. What a great use for that machine! To ensure safe, dry transport of your important papers, matches, even socks, vacuum seal your way to peace of mind.

Backpacks make excellent evacuation or emergency bags. They are easy to store and comfortable to carry. Each family member should have their own. 

They can be packed at the beginning of each season and left in a closet—in the hope of never using them.

An additional bag could be packed at evacuation time with less important contents: books and activities, photos, music, a special sleeping bear, blanket, etc...  Keep an empty bag for this purpose with the "E-Bag" or "Bug-Out Bag". 

You don’t know how long you might be evacuated—whether on foot or by car. Your vehicle should also have an emergency kit and a first aid kit. They can be bought pre-packaged or you can make your own using a duffel bag or plastic (snapping) shoe box or a back pack to contain the items. Blankets (maybe even a pillow or two) stored in the trunk will be welcome if you are stuck somewhere, are at the drive-in, or the kids fall asleep on the long ride home from Uncle Nikos’ house.

This fast-paced world does not allow for tragedy or mishap. Devastation to your home and life are compounded when having to start over without the necessary “papers”. To track down everything needed is more than an inconvenience. 

In addition to carrying important documents, cards, and contact information with you after fleeing your home, it is wise to have files backed up on thumb drives. You will have them with you to help you put your life back together should the worst befall you. 

Keeping the entire packet of important papers and thumb drive in a safe place (like a fire box) is wise. Should you need to pack and run, it will all be together for you to add to your other Bug-Out items.

Use a thumb drive or two to secure irreplaceable memories: photos, scanned mementos, videos, etc. You could also scan important documents, tax returns, receipts, payment stubs, bill and statement information, worksheets, reports, music, and that novel you've been writing.  Back it up with a second thumb drive and keep them in separate bags. 

USB (thumb drive) medical records are big now. Patients can keep import medical information (useful if rescue is called) within the reach of those able to help save their lives.

The time to think about planning is now, today. Don't wait until you are scurrying to find everything you need while in a panic. There will be enough to worry about in an emergency; think ahead and be kind to your future self.

A little planning and a little praying goes a long way.

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