Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be taking a little blog vacation until Monday when the little one goes back to preschool. In the meantime, we've been busy recovering from a hell of a stomach virus, celebrating our wedding anniversary and prepping for the holidays. Little Lawns has been on break from school since last Friday, so we are having a nice little staycation and doing a lot of fun things at home like watching Christmas shows and baking and having play dates with her friends. It's been really nice, except for the part where I had a stomach virus for five days.

While I'm gone, how about checking out some of my latest articles on elephantjournal.com? If you enjoy them, I'd appreciate you sharing them on facebook and on Twitter for me.

This one's about being grateful.

This one's about how to have an awesome, plant-based Thanksgiving.

This one's about yoga moms. (It's funny!)

This one's about some things to do if you're sick and need to feel better and yes, I did all of them this week.

Hey! I bet you also need a good read for the holiday weekend. How about my memoir Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat? Available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon, on the Nook and at iBooks! It also makes the perfect Christmas gift!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!! Lots of love to everyone.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Former Wallflower/ Smiths Fan Gives Birth to Future Homecoming Queen! HELP!

So I seem to have reached a stage of parenting that I've been dreading. My daughter, just turned three, has suddenly noticed that not everyone is the same and she is very interested in people's differences and often very vocal about them, which becomes very awkward for me.

I'd hoped, rather naively I guess, that since my child has grown up in a very diverse area, in a very diverse family, around a very diverse group of friends that maybe she would be blind to differences. But nope, and maybe it's a natural part of her development to want to categorize everything, but it causes me some anxiety.

She points out people in wheelchairs. She asks me about skin color. The other say she said something about "black people" which I have been ruthless about not ever saying around her because I want her to just see everyone as "people" and not black or white or anything else. She asks me about her friends who have two daddies. She wants to know why a little boy in her class wears Cinderella shoes. And oh my God, I'm so scared I won't have the right answers.

I was horrified when she said something about her "brown friends" recently. I have friends who are African-American and Indian and she plays with all their kids, so they are whom she was referring to, but I don't want her pointing out stuff like that! I handled it by trying to be nonchalant about it and telling her that yeah, everybody just looks different and that she is brown too because she has brown hair and eyes. I told her that people come in all kinds of different ways and that we all look different and no big deal. I hoped this would satisfy her but she still keeps pointing it out.

So far I've handled everything this way. Yeah, everybody's different. Some people have two daddies, some two mommies, whatever. Some people can walk and some can't so they go in wheelchairs. No biggie.

I hope it's no big deal.

For the past couple weeks, she's developed a fascination with an adorable little boy in her class, E. E is, I guess what they're now calling non-gender conforming, because he paints his nails pink and likes to play dolls and princesses with the girls. My daughter calls him a "Princess Boy" and I'm not sure how she means that. I don't think that E is transgendered necessarily. I think he will probably just grow up to decorate houses, style hair or work in theater, but whatever the case, I don't want my daughter to bully E or to make him feel weird or like an outcast. So far, she says she likes playing with him but she has a lot of questions and a few times she has expressed frustration because she says boys shouldn't wear dresses or like pink or play princess. I always tell her that anyone can play or wear whatever they like and there are no rules about that, but she is a bit stubborn about this and I'm concerned. I want E to feel normal and I want E to BE normal in my daughter's eyes.

I'm scared that Little Lawns is going to be a bully and I want to nip it in the bud right now and I want to make sure that she grows up to be compassionate and a defender of underdogs and kids who are bullied.

Little Lawns was born lucky. She's typical in every way, she's pretty, smart, privileged and extremely strong-willed and opinionated. Her confidence amazes me and she's clearly very much a leader.

In short, she's not much like me. As a kid, I was shy, scared and I got picked on badly. I wasn't a leader and I just wanted to fit in. I couldn't relate to girls like my daughter. What irony, I know.

But now I've given birth to a future cheerleader and because our personalities are so different, I'm not sure that I know how to parent her in the best way that she needs to be parented in order to make the most of her personality. How can I channel her bossiness, her bravado and sauciness and her amazing confidence into a force for good? How can I prevent her from going down the wrong path and turning into a mean girl?

I need some advice on this. Help me, readers!
Monday, November 11, 2013

A Thanksgiving Shopping List for Families in Need



This time of year, food banks across the country are gearing up to feed thousands upon thousands of hungry Americans on Thanksgiving Day and they desperately need your help. Many people don’t have the time during the busy holiday season to actually volunteer at a food pantry. We may not all be able to cook or serve hot meals at a shelter, and thank you dearly if you are, but we can all help out simply by grocery shopping. Imagine how many families could be blessed with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner if everyone chipped in and bought a few items each time they went food shopping.

Most food banks organize non-perishable food drives during the holidays. They then put together bags or boxes containing all the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings, which are then delivered to or picked up by families in need to take home and prepare.

The next time you go grocery shopping, take along this simple list and pick up as many of the following items as you can. Then, take them to your nearest food bank. Don’t know where to go? Churches and schools almost always have food drives this month. Many years ago, I discovered my local food bank by googling “food bank for the needy” plus the name of my city.

Thanksgiving Food Drive Shopping List
Basics:

Boxed Stuffing Mix (like Stovetop)
Instant Mashed Potatoes in boxes or packets
Jars of Turkey Gravy or Dried Gravy Mix Packets
Canned Yams
Cranberry Sauce
Canned Veggies (green beans, corn, peas)
Cornbread Mix
Canned Pumpkin or Fruit Pie Filling
Pie Crust Mix
Salt and Pepper

Extras:
Boxed Macaroni and Cheese
Fixings for Green Bean Casserole – Cream of Mushroom Soup, Canned Green Beans, French Fried Onions
Cake Mix or Brownie Mix and Can of Frosting
Vegetable Oil
Powdered Drink Mixes
Can of Instant Coffee (Some families may not be able to afford coffee makers)
Box of Tea Bags
Can of Dried Coffee Creamer
Bag of Sugar
Rice
Bags of Dried Beans
Jar of Peanut Butter
Jar of Jam
Jar of Mayo
Boxes of Jell-O or Pudding Mix
Box of Cereal
Box of Crackers with Can of Spray Cheese
Box of Graham Crackers
Foil Baking Pans
Paper Plates
Napkins
Plastic Utensils
Paper Towels

Money Saving Tips
When shopping for charity, you want to be able to give as much as you can, so you need to get your money’s worth. Here’s what works for me:

Cut coupons.

Take advantage of grocery store “Buy One Get One Free” sales.

Buy only store-brand items.

Shop at the dollar stores. You wouldn’t believe the deal on non-perishable foods and household supplies and families in need aren’t going to be picky about brand names or fancy stores.

Find inexpensive grocery stores that will honor sales, specials and coupons from other stores and load up. Many stores will even take double coupons. In my town Wal-Mart usually has the lowest prices and they accept competitor’s deals and coupons, so I save a ton by shopping there armed with the weekly flyers from other grocery stores.

Look for discontinued products and dented cans. Usually stores have a designated area for these items and sell them at deep discounts.

Speak with the store manager and explain what you’re doing. You may just receive some generous donations!

Other Tips
If you have children, bring them shopping with you and teach them about helping the less fortunate members of their communities. Print out the shopping list and let them make a scavenger hunt out of finding the items.

Pin this article on Pinterest so you don’t lose the list.

Recruit other friends and family members to shop for the needy too. Spread the love.

Organize your own mini food drive at school, work, family get-togethers, parties, etc. Tell everyone to bring something and make it fun.

If at all possible, make the time to volunteer. Try to find ways to connect with the people who are receiving the donations. Talk to them. Get to know them and their stories. Interacting with individuals in need and experiencing their humanity will give a face to the problems of poverty and hunger facing our nation. Once you experience this, you will only want to help more. On the other side, when people in need meet and get to know those who donate and volunteer, they find a sense of hope and belonging in a world that may often seem harsh and unforgiving. Hope changes lives.

Most importantly, remember that people are hungry all year round, not just during the holidays. Donate whenever you can throughout the year and remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or get every single item on the list. Do what you can. Every little bit counts.

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