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The best Christmas present ever is causing me problems! Researching green house cleaners (actually house cleaning services not the products) has now been added to my VERY long "to do" list. I'm ashamed to say that I knuckled and bumped it to the top. I did so out of selfishness and more than a healthy dose of the need for assistance in digging through the after holiday clutter and confusion.

Before my awakening to the dangers of household cleaning products I might have called the first commercial cleaning service with an impressive ad in the yellow pages. But now I want to know more about what will be left behind after my merry little helpers leave my home.

Here are some questions that I plan to ask all of the green house cleaners that I call.

  1. Does your company use commercial chemical free products or do you make your own out of baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and the like? If you buy your green cleaning
    products can you give me the name of the company?

  2. Are you bonded? I don't have a lot of valuable stuff but I like to know I'm covered because once upon a time (pre-babies) I had a decorator that dropped a hammer on my brand new Kohler toilet while hanging pictures and found out the hard way that she was not insured.

  3. Do you hire workers or are your cleaning professionals co-owners of the company? I like the idea of the owner polishing my furniture.

  4. Will the green house cleaners who visit my home have GREEN cards and speak English? I would prefer that there be no illegals in my house and I want to be able to communicate my needs as we go, if you please.

  5. What kind of vacuum cleaners and vacuum cleaner filters do you use? If it's not HEPA, it's not happening in my house.

  6. What do you charge and do you do windows? Even though I won't be paying the green house cleaning crew for several visits, I want to know that once I'm fully and completely addicted to having help that I can afford to keep it coming.

I'm just starting the process of interviewing green house cleaners and I have to make my phonecalls during naptime so it could take awhile but right off the bat I'm pleased to report that there are quite a few household and commercial cleaning services that advertise that their cleaning products are environmentally safe and chemical free.

That's encouraging, but we all know that talk's cheap and they are going to have to prove their claims to me before I let them in the door. If you have questions about who gets the job of becoming my environmentally friendly house cleaners, I'll probably be posting about them on Family Recipes, Babies and Green Parenting Issues in the next few weeks.


Where to Donate Used Stuffed Animals

I'm on a house cleaning mission and wondering where to donate used stuffed animals? After what will be forever remembered as the Christmas asthma attack of 2009, I've dedicated every free moment to ferreting out every possible irritant and allergy trigger in the house including all but the kids' most beloved plush toys that are worth all the trouble it takes to keep them dust mite free. I always try to recycle my kids' toys after Christmas, but this year I'm especially focused.

I know I could take the whole kit and kaboodle and leave them in the Salvation Army dumpster, but by conducting a little research I have found some answers to the question of where to donate used stuffed animals where they will do the most good.

Here are a few places that I'm going to locate and contact to see if will accept these toys or if they don't they might know of where to donate stuffed animals for children in need.

  1. SAFE (Stuffed Animals For Emergencies) is at the top of my list if I can locate a chapter near us. A friend told me that this organization collects new as well as used toys and stuffed animals. If I can find one, this is the answer to my prayers because the volunteers take care of distributing the items to children's homes, hospitals and emergency organizations like fire, ambulance and rescue services where the items are used to comfort children. The SAFE website is stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org.

  2. Homeless shelters are next on my list of where to donate used stuffed animals.

Where to donate used stuffed animals. by state:


If you live in Arizona, California and Ohio you might want to check out Project Night Night. This organization creates and donates tote bags for homeless children ages 0-10 that contain a blanket, a book and a stuffed animal. At this time, their website says they only have drop-off locations in those three states, but we can only pray that they expand.


Floridian families can contact Mushy Mates to donate their used stuffed animals to foster children and other needy kids. This non-profit group is based in Florida but helps children in all states and I've also heard that they accept donations from all 50 states but I'm unclear as to the process. Maybe somebody can respond and help us out with some details?

Mushy Mates works with case workers to get the toys to the foster children. You can also donate money as well as toys to any of their local foster care agencies, family homeless shelters or battered women's shelters and it's probably a good idea to mention the Mushy Mates' charity by name. If you have questions, you can contact Mushy Mates by email at MushyMates at MushyMates.com.

If you have any more tips on where to donate used stuffed animals, please return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues and share them.


Is My Baby Allergic to Dogs

I have never stopped to wonder is my baby allergic to dogs because her allergies included all the common irritants like peanuts, cat hair and dairy. Her allergist never mentioned a dog allergy so I assumed that this was the one animal oriented area that we may have gotten lucky.

However, we learned over the holidays that this was not to be. As I look back the last post was made while I had images of creating a lovely holiday meal dancing in my head. Sick of leftover turkey, my goal was to come up with dishes with a fresh, new taste, something that the whole family would enjoy and that would not trigger any of the kids' many allergies.

Then, while neck deep in recipes printed off the internet one of our college friends came to visit with a new puppy in tow. Needless to say that the girls went crazy over the cute little guy. I was letting them all visit and entertain each other when my friend comes rushing into the kitchen asking is my baby allergic to dogs.

I could tell she was excited and when I saw my little one, I knew we were in a bit of trouble. Her face was red and her breathing indicated she might be in for an asthma attack. Thanks to quick treatment with her meds, all quieted down. But you can bet that I'm scheduling an appointment with her allergy specialist to see for sure is my baby allergic to dogs or was there a chemical or perhaps grass on the dog's hair that triggered the allergic reaction.

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see if it was flea powder or dog hair that created these symptoms.


Christmas Menu Ideas

Hey everybody, I'm open to some new and interesting Christmas menu ideas if you happen to have any lying around. I made a huge pan of southern cornbread dressing using my family's traditional recipe for Thanksgiving with all the usual trimmings including a large cheesecake for those who don't fully appreciate sweet potato pie or banana pudding.

Plus, we had enough turkey to feed our large group, have turkey sandwiches for a week and then boil it for a big pot of turkey carcass soup. My nieces and nephews cringe at the word "carcass" so if you have any suggestions for renaming my favorite leftover turkey recipe I will consider them.

My problem is that after eating one creative leftover turkey recipe after another for several weeks, the idea of baking another one so soon is not so appealing to me and my husband actually turned a lovely shade of green awhile ago when I mentioned it. His Christmas menu idea is to buy rib eye steaks, potatoes and salad fixings and let that be it; he even offered to be the cook! Whoa, now that's hard to resist but I can feel all my ancestors in the background threatening to haunt me if I'm lazy enough to cave.

We are not big fans of ham around here so I need Holiday recipes that don't use ham and Christmas menu ideas that will keep both my living and departed family members happy!


Parenting Styles

I had an excellent opportunity to get a good look at my siblings parenting styles over Thanksgiving and I'm certain that I'll get another taste during the Christmas and New Year's holidays. I'm one to resist spewing parenting advice to others for the simple reason that no matter what the kids do at home, there is really no way of knowing what they will do when they are in public.

Long story short, Thursday night I broke my own rule of not becoming involved. No, one of the cousins did not whack one of my girls on the head or try to sneak peanuts to my baby with a severe peanut allergy. The little darling disrespected my mom's home.

I didn't lose control and even managed not to criticize my sister's severely relaxed parenting style but I just could not keep my mouth shut. She was raised in the same house as I was with the same values and to see her let her child get away with a level of destructive behavior that we never would have been caught dead practicing under the darkest cover of darkness or under a cloak of anonymity, much less in the middle of a family gathering in full daylight was just too much.

To give you some background, mom has had the same living room furniture all my life. On her birthday we pooled our resources and bought her a new set of end tables and a coffee table challenging dad to buy a sofa, chair and loveseat which he did. Thursday was her day to show the completed room off and you could tell that she was so very proud.

I reminded my girls to mind their manners and keep food at the table and to play outside as did all of my brothers and sisters EXCEPT for the one who believes in a loose and indulgent style of parenting. Things started out alright and then her little boy got rowdy and thought it was a good idea to stand on the coffee table, jump on the new sofa and break a lamp. After each incident, the expected admonishment never arrived.

Finally, after the lamp crashed to the floor. I took matters into my own hands and told the little boy to get outside with the other children and pulled my sister aside to give her a piece of my mind. She proceeded to give me a rundown of her preferred style of child-rearing and how she wanted her child to have freedom to make his own choices to build his self-esteem. Parenting styles and self esteem be hanged, that was my mother's house and I shared a piece of my mind and shared a little unappreciated advice with her on how to discipline her son.

Was I wrong in the way I handled the situation? I would appreciate it if those of you who visit Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues would give me a little advice before the family Christmas get-together.


Thanksgiving Time Savers

One of the best Thanksgiving time savers that I put to work yesterday (and the day before) would make my great-grandmother's head spin backwards. Yeah, I was raised to believe that it was a sin or at the very least something to be embarrassed about if the can opener came into play at any time during the preparation of the holiday feast.

The rest of the year, the dancing glove was the enemy but on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter canned goods were left in the cabinet or better yet, the grocery store. The exception was, of course, something that you had canned yourself in a Mason jar.

This year, with all of the stress and extra workload in keeping the house disinfected so that everybody won't get MRSA that doesn't already have it, I bit the bullet and took a few shortcuts. And I have to tell you that of all the heretofore forbidden Thanksgiving time savers, canned chicken broth was the absolute BEST!

Led to believe that the taste of canned broth was easily detected when compared to homemade, I had never experimented with it. Under the gun this year, I forgot to buy a hen and simmer it to have my broth ready to make the dressing and gravy. After a quick and surreptitious dash to the grocery before lunch, six cans of Sweet Sue saved the day. The empty cans were bagged, hidden and buried in the dumpster and NOBODY said a thing about any of the recipes having a slightly "off" flavor.

Not having to make room in the refrigerator to store the homemade broth alone probably saved me an hour! That may not sound like much but on a busy holiday, every hour counts.

I would be curious to know if you discovered any Thanksgiving time savers that you might want to share. As for me, you can bet that I've got six more cans of this stuff on my grocery list to have on hand for Christmas. Am I proud that I jumped in and did what I had to do to make Thanksgiving dinner a success? You bet I am! Am I going to tell my grandmother what I did? Well, no. In fact, the canned broth is written in code on my grocery list and I plan to hide the cans in the trunk of the car. Will I be found out? You will have to return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see more Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday time savers and to see if anybody outs me.



Digging through my recipe box, what I have in my hands is a box of family traditions. Some of the cards are so stained that I can hardly read them but because the instructions and ingredients are in my grandmother’s handwriting, the thought that someday I will have no choice but to discard them breaks my heart. Each creased and dog-eared rectangle is soaked in memories.

And with each passing day, I appreciate more and more the importance of family traditions. It gives me pause to think what part of our lives that my girls are storing away in their minds that will be remembered in their adult lives. Somehow I know that what might strike them as memorable and important may not be the things that I regard as profound. I can already tell that from talking to my niece who is slightly older than my oldest daughter. I will ask her if she remembers this or that day that is crystal clear in my mind’s eye only to find that she has no recollection of the events whatsoever.

What I am counting on is that as my baby girls get older and find themselves in difficult or upsetting circumstances that they will have comforting memories of a stable childhood to bring them comfort. What I’m doing to foster these memories is keeping variety to a minimum especially when it comes to the holidays. My basic Thanksgiving and Christmas menu will always include certain dishes with a few experimental dishes on the side because I believe that repetition is the key to family traditions.

My sister and I have a standing joke about how every year until we left home mom and dad decorated shoeboxes with aluminum foil to hold oranges, apples and nuts supposedly left by Santa. It worries me that my girls will remember this coming Christmas as the one when dad was so sick and mom was worn out and worried. This thought has put my wheels in motion to focus on building fun holiday family traditions that will overshadow their dad’s current health crisis.

Before the season get in full swing, I’m organizing my favorite family recipes and making a list of fun holiday traditions from my own childhood that I want my daughters to enjoy. I’m not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to decorate the house like I’m trying to win “Home of the Year” or buy tickets to every holiday production within a 100 mile radius but I am going to do my best to keep it fun and keep Christ in Christmas. And I am not going to repeat my mother’s mistake of forcing Christmas stuff on my girls. One funny memory I have is mom telling us to get ourselves dressed and get in the car before we completely ruined everything and that we were going to LOVE the Nutcracker whether we liked it or not!

Come back later to see my list of Fun Holiday Family Tradtions that I come up with and please feel free to leave some suggestions for me in case I come up short.



My family sweet potato pie recipe is soul food at its best. It's delicious, nutritious (so long as you don't mind sugar with your Vitamin A) and sitting down for a slice with your loved ones or even all by yourself with a good cup of coffee is definitely good for the soul.

Southern Sweet Potato Pie Video.

Just to let you know this is a truly SOUTHERN style recipe. It's not fluffy but firm. I use Pet evaporated milk not condensed milk and i am not sure why anybody would want to make it any other way. I'm sure there are other recipes that are delicious but if I tried to change a single ingredient or do something like add pecans or walnuts, I expect that I would have a redneck rebellion on my hands.

10 cups thinly sliced sweet potatos
1/2 stick of butter or Blue Bonnet Margarine
2/3 cup plain white flour
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 tsp of cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Pet Evaporated Milk (or however much it takes to make the mixture the same consistency as cake batter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 deep dish pie shells (unbaked)

Cover sliced sweet potatos with water in a large boiler. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook till potatos are soft which should take about 45 minutes give or take a few. Before you remove from the fire, take a test slice and mash to be sure it is "mashable" without leaving lumps. When soft and ready, drain well in a colander and return potatos to the large boiler.

Mash margarine and potatos together till margarine is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the Pet milk until blended. (if you were looking for condensed milk you are looking for something other than my family sweet potato pie recipe, my friend).

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon mixing well. Pour this mixture on top of potato mixture and mix till well blended. Add one egg at a time mixing well after each. Last of all add the vanilla and stir.

Pour everything into 2 unbaked, deep dish pie shells.

Bake about 1 hour in a preheated 350 degree oven until the centers are firm.

To keep the entire sweet potato pie recipe from ending up on the bottom of a hot oven and ruining your day, I put the filled pie shells on baking sheets and not directly on the oven racks.

To keep the edges of the pie shell from getting burned, I put strips of aluminum foil around the edges before I load the pies in the oven.

This is an OLD SOUTHERN FAMILY sweet potato pie recipe. Before my great grandmother passed away I made her give me approximate measurements for the ingredients and instructions. I am still amazed at how consistent her pies were considering that she never used a recipe book and did all of her baking on a wood stove.

I'm going to share more soul food recipes that I'm thinking of including on my Thanksgiving dinner menu, so y'all come back now!

Wound Care

We are still making trips back and forth to the hospital for wound care for E's MRSA. Blood was drawn yesterday and the white blood count is too high still for the poor guy to be taken off the antibiotic drip. I'm not sure what the plan is at this point because according to the doctor he was hoping for a much better response by now. This is confusing to me because I had read a report that MRSA actually kills white blood cells so I'm making a note to ask the doctor about this.

The huge wounds left from the incisions that were made when the boils, carbuncles or abscesses (wound care nurses have called them all of the above, so I'm not sure which he had or if he had all three) were lanced are still very sore but are slowly closing.

The largest wound was 8 inches in length and 3 inches deep after surgery. This woun care for this one has been a nightmare. Keeping a dressing on it is a challenge and not surprisingly, it is extremely painful. Yesterday, as part of the treatment the nurser used a scalpel to cut the sides so that she could start to pull the sides of the incision together for it to heal. She then put steri-strips on it to pull it closed. Needless to say this was a very painful visit and E was exhausted and went straight to bed when we got him home.


I'm happy to post that after a long haul, the swine flu symptoms are on the decline around my house. Another happy dance that I'm willing to do is in celebration of the fact that for some odd reason that I'm the only one in the family that got sick.

One of the comments that I got was from a visitor who asked me how I knew that I had the swine flu and not your garden variety seasonal flu virus. The answer to that question is that I do not know for certain because as bad as I felt, I never felt the need to visit the emergency room or for that matter to even contact our doctor for antiviral medications. The reasons that I suspected H1N1 was because I had gotten my regular flu shot weeks earlier.

If I had gotten sick a few weeks earlier, the first thing I would have done would have been to call my doctor to get a prescription for tamiflu. But do you remember my post on how to remove a tick last month? Well, while talking to a medical professional about that I squeezed in some questions about whether or not to get the swine flu vaccine should it become available AND I did my best to talk him into prescribing Tamiflu ahead of the game which failed. He said that unless the seasonal or swine flu symptoms became severe that he would not use the antivirals.
He seemed knowledgeable on the subject so I weathered it out. I ran fever for several consecutive days but here I am now none the worse for wear.

Dear hubby on the other hand has had it tough with the MRSA but I'll be back later with the latest information on that and thanks to all of you that are praying for his recovery.



I’m here to tell you that the swine flu and MRSA infections are a painful match. My family is exhausted and while I feel that every day brings me a little relief from the symptoms, there are moments when I feel that I’m about to relapse...big time.

Of all times for the only adult male in the house to have a full blown MRSA episode this is not a great time and perhaps one of the worst. To give you some background that illness has kept me from sharing, the man of the house has had a little accident that has left him with some cuts and scrapes which at first seemed to be no big deal.

Moms who have been with me for awhile know that my baby (who has asthma and food allergies) got MRSA during a hospital stay. Well, a few days after daddy’s minor accident it is now clear that those abscesses, that we are all too familiar with, are starting to pop up in practically every place that he was scratched. One of them in particular is very painful and nasty, so I see rounds of antibiotics for our family in the future as a preventative measure.

Meanwhile, I’m on about day 5 of the swine flu and weak as a kitten with a houseful of kids and a sick man with a staph infection. The universe is being terribly unfair to dish out a case of the swine flu and MRSA in one single dose. More later, I’m off to scrape up some recipes made from as many anti-viral foods as I can find in the cabinets.



I just got off the phone with a mom who asked me, "Do you think there is too much violence on TV?" Would you like to know what my knee jerk reaction to this question was? Well, since you asked so nicely I will tell you that I almost replied that there was nothing BUT violence on television.

The only reason that I bit my tongue and tempered my remarks was that I realized that I would be wrong because there is some excellent kids' programming available. Sure, some of it is terrible and sets a very poor example for children. And the fact that "Reading Rainbows" has been cancelled hacked me off to no end. But there are a few shows that I let the kids watch.

It's when I go searching for something for my husband and me to watch after the kids go to bed that I can give a definite affirmative answer to the question "Do you think there is too much violence on TV?" Because where adult programming is concerned you have a choice of goofy sitcoms, crime shows, talk shows or reality (oh please) television. Oh yes, and my husband's favorite, sports which I place in the "violent" category much to his dismay.

I have come to the conclusion that if you want to watch something uplifting to clear your head before bedtime, you are just out of luck! Murder, mangled bodies and mayhem do not a bedtime story make.

Every mom I talk to has the same complaint so why is this stuff still being crammed down our throats? I want to know what demographic likes to go to bed with visions of corpses dancing in their heads?

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see what kind of answers I get to the question.




I would rather use pumpkin that I process myself but I have kept a pumpkin bread recipe with canned pumpkin handy for those times when I need to whip up a batch and don't have any pumpkins around.

3 cups of sifted plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or allspice
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 cup Crisco or 2 sticks of margarine
1 tsp of baking soda
2 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
(1) 1 pound can of pumpkin

Line two small coffee cans with waxed paper without poking holes in the paper or leaving seams where your bread batter can leak through.

Sift the flower, salt, baking power, baking soda and spices together.

Cream Crisco or your softened sticks of margarine gradually adding sugar as you cream till fluffy.

Add one egg at a time to sugar mixture beating well after each.

Stir in vanilla flavoring.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture alternately with dollops of canned pumpkin beating after each addition.

Stir in chopped nuts. You can use pecans or walnuts in your pumpkin bread recipe but I can't have either because of baby's allergy to tree nuts.

Pour equal amounts into each wax paper lined coffee can or a wax paper lined bundt cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.

I might catch some flack from my visitors for posting this recipe for several reasons, like the fact that my bread has LOTS of calories, using canned pumpkin instead of fresh and for saying that I use a coffee can as a cake pan. I will address these issues in order:

  1. I already explained why this easy bread recipe calls for canned pumpkin. It's handy and a timesaver and I believe the vitamin benefits are the same as fresh but don't quote me on that.

  2. This bread is not low calorie and I'm not trying to pass it off as such. It's a guilty pleasure that should be limited unless you want to move up to the next clothing size.

  3. My mom always made her pumpkin bread recipe with canned pumpkin baked in two small coffee cans that had been greased and lined with wax paper. It was fun and I don't believe it presents any possible health problems.



I’m all for recycling baby stuff not only to keep the landfills from spilling over but to save money. Not willing to be penny rich and pound poor or spend a dime to save a nickel or vice versa, I bought quality baby clothes and shoes for my first daughter in gender neutral (well most of the time) styles.

Knowing that there would be more little ones coming down the pike (odd name for a vagina, right?) and that I could reap huge financial benefits by using these items to dress, feed and entertain more than one newborn. Some of my efforts were more rewarding than others, but for the most part I was very successful in saving lots of money especially on items necessary for baby’s first year in the nursery.

Here are some ideas for recycling baby stuff that worked best for me. Of course the amount of your savings may vary depending on the sex of your babies and how far apart they were born.

1.Save those gowns and footed sleepers. You can never have too many to change into after a spit up or a diaper failure. Stains don’t matter and the cotton fabric gets softer and more comfortable with each trip through the laundry.

2.My girls’ used crib shoes and socks still look brand new even after being worn by three babies. If you know how much soft soled leather baby shoes cost you know that this is a very good example of saving money by recycling baby stuff. One caution that I would add is to be sure that you store them in a dry place between births as I lost a couple of pairs to mold (or was it mildew) when I put them in a cardboard box on the floor of the closet.

3.Strollers and baby beds are expensive and big money savers so long as you keep up with recalls. I actually came out alright by selling mine and buying newer models used for my second and third baby when storage space at my house was scarce. I didn’t feel guilty because by buying used, I was still recycling baby stuff and keeping it out of the junkyard.

1.Stained outfits were a real downer for me (other than sleepwear). I had more fun shopping yard sales for used baby clothes that were in good shape and friends gave me some free baby stuff that had never been used at all that they had lying around that was too good to throw away but that didn't fit their child.

2.My nursery decorations for each girl were not expensive, but I wanted fresh, new bedding and decorative items rather than crumpled stuff out of a trunk.

3.Check the date on your infant car seats as most car seats are considered unusable six years past the date of manufacture. Once again, keep updated on car seat safety recalls.

Those are just a few tips on recycling baby stuff and if you have some frugal and earth friendly ideas of your own to share please leave them in the comments section on Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues so that we all can do our part in improving our environment.



Seeing a mom use anything BUT chemical free baby products and household cleaners is something I can get really worked up about. I can hardly believe my eyes when I go to another mom’s house and see poisonous chemicals in the bathroom and under the sinks.

So what if you have reliable cabinet door locks to keep baby from taking a swig right out of the bottle when you put the products within reach every time you clean the house? When harsh cleaners are used to clean the toilet there a risk of poisoning the thirsty family dog as well as the toddler who thinks the potty is a small and easily accessed bathtub. To avoid this situation in your home, do some research on using chemical free, natural toilet cleaners!

I’ve been exposed to my fair share of chemicals in my lifetime as most of us have. When I think of how much crap I’ve breathed into my lungs when helping clean the house on Saturdays it scares me to no end. I’m determined that my daughters are going to have a better start in life and know better than to release nasty chemicals into our water supply and to use natural household cleaners and natural pesticides whenever possible. Now is the time for the world to stand up and take notice that using natural based household cleaners and chemical free baby products is better for everyone.

I started out using chemical free baby products but I still see more than a few moms hanging on to brand names filled with stuff that (in my opinion) adults much less babies should never be exposed to. There are many green, chemical free baby products samples giveaways and lots of information posted on why fewer chemicals are better and it is our responsibility as parents to make the right decisions!

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to find more opinionated rants about the need to go green in our homes.



ticks removed

We had an incident yesterday that required me to refresh myself on how to remove ticks from a human. Dear hubby had gone out in the field to dump some grass clippings and apparently picked up an unwanted hitchhiker and before I would commit to helping him out, I went in search of the best method of removing ticks. Here are some tick removal tips.


Clean the area with rubbing alcohol and then with clean tweezers grab the tick as close to where it has attached itself to the skin as possible.
If you don’t have tweezers handy, avoid handling the tick with your bare hands. Once you have a good hold, pull it straight out of the skin with a firm, steady motion WITHOUT SQUEEZING THE TICK’S BODY. Crushing the critter’s bulbous little body will cause it to regurgitate its stomach’s disease causing contents. And friend, if there is anything more disgusting in this world than tick puke I can’t name it.
Once you have removed and destroyed the tick, go over the area once again with rubbing alcohol and when dry, dab on some bacitracin ointment. Our doctor says bacitracin (available without prescription) is better than Neosporin.

I have one suggestion on how to teach your kids how to remove ticks from a human being; let them practice on the family dog. Growing up in the country, I had to remove ticks from dogs all the time that they picked up running through the woods and I got really good at it. For all practical purposes knowing how to remove a tick from a human is the same as knowing how to remove ticks from dogs except for the fact that my daddy’s hunting dogs were nowhere near as squeamish as my husband!

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see if my patient feels that I did a good job or if (God forbid) the spot gets infected.



I just accidentally deleted or rejected a comment asking what kind of yeast to make wine muscadine wine to be exact. I don't know if the would-be winemaker will check back here to get the answer to his or her winemaking question but just in case I wanted to leave a reply.

I'm told that you could use the same yeast that you might use to make bread, but the taste would be terrible but to be clear I've never tried it so I can't say. I would advise that you use specifically cultured yeast for winemaking. And that is a perfect example of things I wish that had been asked of the old folks before they passed on. I would have loved to be able to ask what kind of yeast was used to make muscadine wine in those days. I doubt seriously that my great-great grandmother had access to special ingredients; so what DID she use? My guess would be that in the old days they grew their own special cultures or just allowed the muscadines to ferment naturally without using yeast cultures.

As far as what what kind of yeast to make wine that we would use today, I have seen Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast recommended by people who say that it works great and is very cheap to use. If you don't have a home brewing supply store in your area, you can order it online. The only problem there is that I'm told most wine yeasts should be refrigerated until used and I'm not sure how that could be guaranteed in the mail.

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues if you have questions and I'll try to answer them.



red eyed tree frog baby halloween infant costume endangered species

To draw attention to the shrinking habitat of the red eyed tree frog, I’m having a Baby frog Halloween costume giveaway contest! These bug eyed frogs have kind of become the poster child for saving the rain forests of the world if you have seen many posters advertising the need for action. This may be because their eyes make them look horrified and the organizations behind this very worthwhile movement know that WE SHOULD BE HORRIFIED that these priceless treasures are being destroyed at an alarming rate of speed.

There is another contest taking place that you can reach by following the link above that allows you to choose your own costume (if you win) from ANYTIMECOSTUMES.COM if dressing your baby like a tree frog is not what you had in mind for baby’s first time out Trick or Treating.


– Comment on what you feel can or should be done to slow the destruction of the rainforest. Don’t forget to leave your contact information so that I can get in touch if you are the winner.


The winner of the free baby frog Halloween costume giveaway will be drawn on October 15th at Midnight and announced the following day. I will contact you and give the winner 2 days to contact me with shipping information. If the winner fails to contact me within this time frame, another winner will be drawn.

Just so you know, I won the costume that will be the prize in my blog’s baby frog Halloween costume giveaway and there was a no return or exchange policy attached to the freebie. When it didn’t fit my little one I was disappointed at first and then I had the idea of turning lemons into lemonade by offering another mom a free baby Halloween costume AND using the cute baby tree frog costume as an opportunity to talk about the disappearing rainforest.

FYI the red eyed frog is not considered to be an endangered species YET. But where will they go when the rainforest is gone?

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see more giveaways that give me a chance to rant and rave about the lack of attention being paid to the environment.



muscadine grapes growing picture scuppernongs wine recipe

Hubby said I should share our old-fashioned, southern muscadine wine recipe after I told him that I had posted Gran's muscadine cobbler recipe. I was reluctant to do so not because of its secret ingrediants or because it's acidic and you have to acquire a taste for it. I didn't post it because all of the kids would have been in big trouble if we had ever so much as whispered out loud that somebody in the family had made wine or anything alcoholic.

This recipe for muscadine wine will produce a sweet version. If you want your wine to have more kick to it, some people add vodka.


8 quarts of muscadine Grapes
8 pounds of granulated sugar
4 quarts of warm spring water (un-chlorinated)
1 package of dry yeast

Wash the muscadines and then one by one, mash the grapes in your fingers.

Pour the sugar in the warm water and stir still dissolved. Dip out a small amount in a cup and dissolve the yeast and pour it back into the main mixture.

Pour the liquid over the mashed muscadines.

Stir the muscadine mixture every day for a week.

Strain into a crock or churn that can be sealed and let sit for six weeks.

Strain mixture again and put in jars with the lids screwed on very loosely for the first few days (about 3) so that there's no chance of the jars exploding (ask me how I know!).

Tighten the jar lids and store in the cellar or a cool place.

The south, as I'm sure you know from watching old timey movies, has a reputation for making moonshine whiskey. But what you might not know is that for every man who had a still and made "shine" there was probably a wife who sang in the choir every Sunday that may have helped in the process to raise a little money to feed her children. The enterprise was necessary but shameful at the time and in the south, if you had relatives who made whiskey it is not something that is discussed.

The one and only reason that my grandmother shared her muscadine wine recipe with me is because she believed in its medicinal properties. And as muscadine grapes contain as much if not more resveratrol than grapes, it seems that she was right.

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to find more of my family's favorite recipes.



fire ants

Yesterday I needed a natural way to kill fire ants, preferably without the use of chemicals. After all the rain I could look out over the yard and see ant mounds everywhere! Before you recommend that I pick up some fire ant poison at the discount store I feel that I should remind you that I have four little girls who play in this same yard where those mounds have popped up like mushrooms and I don't like the idea of their running through chemical pesticide residue in their bare feet.

I knew from the start that their extermination would be a delicate balancing act. Fire ant stings could be deadly to my youngest and I will protect her at all cost but I don't want my babies exposed to pesticides in order to do so. What I needed was a fire ant mound destroyer that would leave no poisonous residue once the job was done. Because not only have they built mounds out in the yard but there are piles of ant dirt right next to the patio where we spend a lot of time as a family. These suckers have to go and if at all possible I was determined to make it happen using the most natural means available to me.

In my search of a natural way to kill fire ants, I came across some suggestions that seemed reasonable and some...not so much. And then there was one that looked like it would be downright fun! Would you care to guess which method I decided to try first? Being such a fan of family fun and all, you just had to know I'd choose the lighthearted way of bug extermination.

I'm going to use baking soda and vinegar to kill these red devil fire ants.


The instructions I found said to pour baking soda all over the mound and poke as much as possible deep into the mound using a stick. EXTREME CAUTION is necessary to avoid attacking ants while you are poking soda into their mound. In fact, I recommend wearing tall, rubber boots for protection. I tried a skinny, wooden dowel rod first but ended up using my backup which was a straightened wire coat hanger but your experience may vary depending on your soil.

After the baking soda was in place the next step was to pour a gallon of vinegar over the mound making sure that it comes into contact with the soda to facilitate the desired reaction. That mound started to crackle and fizz like crazy. I saw dead fire ants everywhere. It seems that your elementary school science project would have done better to educate us on a natural way to kill fire ants without chemicals rather than be just a lame volcano spewing on the table for a minute. Did this kill the fire ant queen or will the mounds pop back up again?

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to find out!



scuppernong pie cobbler homemade southern old fashioned

My grandmother's muscadine pie recipe may be the most delicious way I know to get your daily allotment of the trendy, anti-aging flavonoid known as resveratrol. Who would have dreamed that muscadines, or scuppernongs as we always called them, are supposed to be loaded with the same stuff that has red wine flying off the shelves of your local liquor store! Another added benefit of this pie is that I know that the muscadines I pick myself have never been treated with any pesticides!


4 pounds ripe scuppernongs (muscadine grapes)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch (or plain white flour)
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Teaspoon of Lemon Juice

1 Recipe of your favorite double crust pie crust

Wash the scuppernongs then pull the hulls off off the pulp over a bowl to save the juice.

Pour the hulls, half of the saved juice in a heavy boiler and cook till tender. If the hulls are tough, it could take a while.

In a separate container, combine the remaining juice and the pulp until the seeds come loose, stirring constantly. Then run this mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds.

In a large pot, combine pulp mixture and hull mixture and stir until mixed.

Remove 2 cups (freeze leftovers for later or make another pie) with sugar, cornstarch, butter and lemon juice stirring well.

Pour into a pie plate lined with crust, top with remaining portion of crust. Trim and seal the edges. Flute the edges and cut slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees or until crust is brown.

As for me, I don’t like the taste of wine. Fermented beverages of any kind have never held much appeal for me. I’ve tried it and not only did I fail to appreciate the bouquet and flavor; the stuff makes me sleepy and gives me a headache. Dessert has yet to produce those side effects so I think I’ll stick with getting my flavonoids the old fashioned way.

Lucky for me that this old, southern muscadine pie recipe has (reportedly) many times the amount of resveratrol than is supposed to be packed in a bottle of Bordeaux. And I can cook it for a fraction of the price unless you count the time that I spend picking them off the vine and the time I’ll be scratching the redbug bites after the fact. Why do I always forget to spray before I head out the door to the woods with bucket in hand?

Return to Muscadine Pie Recipes to find more easy dessert recipes using old fashioned ingredients.



I call this Mama’s Quick recipe for pear cobbler because this was the dessert that was served when fresh pears were coming in by the bushel basket full and quick family meals were to be expected. After the crops were in and jars of canned fruit were lining the shelves, when a more relaxed pace fell in place we could look forward to pastries that took more time to produce. Another good thing about these pears is that I know they have never been treated with pesticide.


2 cups of peeled, sliced fresh pears 2 cups of sugar (1 ½ if using canned pears)
4 ounces of unsalted butter
¾ cup of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sweet milk
1 whole egg

Pour 1 cup of sugar over sliced pears in a bowl and set aside (if using canned pears, half the sugar and use a little syrup out of the jar). Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt your butter in a 2 qt oven proof baking dish either by placing dish in the oven or microwaving for a few seconds.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar with the rest of your dry ingredients including spices and salt (less a half cup of sugar if you chose to use canned pears) and mix well.

Beat the egg and sweet milk together with a spoon, pour over the dry ingredients and blend until a batter forms. Pour this batter over the butter that you melted WITHOUT STIRRING. Then pour your pears including syrup on top of your butter and batter, AGAIN WITHOUT STIRRING.

Bake your preheated oven for about an hour at 325 watching to see when batter (which has now miraculously risen to form the top crust) begins to brown.

Most cooks would leave it at this, but Mama would brush the top of the crust lightly with butter and sprinkle it with sugar which gave it better flavor. In my traditional southern home, more butter and sugar were added to practically every recipe.

Pies with rolled pastry were more time consuming than Mama’s quick recipe for pear cobbler and more visually showy but it would be impossible to find fault with the sweet, buttery filling of this easy pear dessert no matter whether what!

Return to Oooh Baby Parenting, Family and Environmental Issues to find more frugal southern recipes that include fresh fruit and produce.



From as early as I can remember, August was the month mama made her pear honey recipe with pineapple. My favorite pear tree, the one that my daddy planted the day I was born, could be depended on to deliver many bushels of firm cooking pears around the first of August and this treat was just one of the many delightful dishes made from its bountiful harvest.


12 cups of firm, peeled, sliced pears
12 cups of white sugar
1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple undrained
1 washed, thinly sliced lemon including the peel

After you wash the pears and cut them up, keep them covered in cold water until you have twelve cups. Drain the water from the pears and run them through the coarse blade of your food processor or thinly slice them. Put pears and sugar in a large pot and heat over very low heat (to give the juice a chance) stirring occasionally and don’t worry about crushing the pears. Simmer until the pears are cooked clear (I’m not going to put a time here because pears in different stages of ripeness take different amounts of time to get the right honey- like consistency) stir in the crushed pineapple and lemon and cook 5 to 10 minutes more. Pour the Pear Honey recipe with pineapple into hot, sterilized jars and seal. The results should be 6 to 8 pints of a delicious treat that is wonderful on a hot biscuit and makes an attractive gift.

1. Some cooks drop a cherry in each jar for a little added color if you want to dress it up to give as a gift

2. If you have some over ripe pears. Half the amount of sugar recommended for crisp pears

3. Try using Pear Honey on your kids peanut butter sandwiches instead of jelly

Some cooks use pineapple juice instead of crushed pineapple in their recipe. But Mama’s pear honey recipe with pineapple just tasted better to me, had a better texture and was easy to make with less cooking time than when juice was substituted. There were times when frugal cooking was a necessity that the juice from a can of sliced pineapple was substituted for the crushed pineapple. Many reading this may be thinking that a can of crushed pineapple is so cheap that they could not imagine altering the taste and appearance of the pear honey recipe to save a dollar. And I pray that those ladies never have the need to watch every cent like our family had to when times were bad.



pear recipes

I have more favorite pear recipes than for apple, peaches or most any other fruit. The reason for this might be that my daddy thought of an old family tradition to commemorate the birth of his baby girl. He headed right out to that pretty, field right beyond the pasture and planted a pear tree. Actually, he planted a bunch of pear trees, but I always knew which one he planted on the day I was born because he pointed it out to me regularly every time we took a walk in that direction. So, we have always had lots of canned pears on hand.

But that’s not the only reason my childhood memories are packed with every kind of pear recipe from pear cobbler to Pear Butter most of which were cooked for our family by my grandmother who says that she did her best to duplicate her mother’s recipes in spite of the fact that the only directions she was ever able to pry out of her was, "Oh, I throw in a little of this and a little of that and never have used a measuring cup or spoon".

I do not want my girls in the very distant future to have to guess at how I made their favorite old fashioned southern pear recipes like Pear Honey with Pineapple, pear preserves and mama's famous recipe for pear cobbler. My plans are to leave them with detailed recipes so that long after I’m gone they can enjoy natural goodies that they had when they were at home.

At the moment I’m looking at a bushel basket full of pears that need peeling. But right after I get through canning them I’m going to start typing out all those old fashioned, family pear recipes and if you make it back to Oh Baby Green Living, Family and Parenting Issues I'll share them with you and yours. There are lots of pear recipes on the net, but I may have a few old southern recipes that you might like better.



vintage picture taken of magazine page windsor half knot tie

With my family consisting largely of females one might wonder why I’d need to know how to tie a tie. Over the past few years I have devoted a world of time to learning how to make baby girls’ hair bows and embellishing hair bands and barrettes with doodads and decorations. However, learning how to tie a necktie knot fell further on my to do list with every baby girl that popped out of the oven, so to speak but as we know life can throw you a curve when you least expect it and, no pun intended, tie you in knots.

At one of the birthday celebrations that my devoted husband attended with two of our daughters yesterday he volunteered to catch the littlest kids and be sure they had good footing in the blow up pool at the bottom of the big blue monster slide. To make a long story short, one of the kids flew down that slide like a rocket and dear husband jammed two of his fingers trying to catch the child. The hostess fetched a bag of ice and iced the swollen fingers immediately but hubby arrived home with throbbing digits that resembled stuffed sausages. Among all the other things I had to take care of due to his debilitated hand, I was informed if he was going to go to church with the family this morning, I had to learn how to tie a tie because there was no way that he could do it himself and as he is an usher, my husband always wears a suit and tie to Sunday services.

Thinking he was just trying to play hooky from church I stayed up after everyone else had gone to bed thinking that I would head him off at the pass and surprise him with my amazing ability to tie his tie in a perfect knot. Imagine my surprise to find that there are more than a few knots that are used for this purpose and I didn’t have a clue which one I needed to learn. What was the difference in a half-Windsor and a plain Windsor? Or did he use the Shelby also known as the Pratt? What I needed was to find the easiest way possible to get us (hopefully) through one tying so I did a search for the EASIEST way to tie a tie and found that I was not the only person that need help in learning how to tie a tie as there are not only colored pictures and diagrams with instructions but (God bless them) videos teaching us the fine art of tying a gentleman’s necktie in many, many ways. For simplicity’s sake I decided on the half-Windsor knot because the steps seemed to me to be the easiest.

About an hour ago, I laid out hubby’s shirt and tie like I always do and when he came out of the shower, he paused when he saw the familiar scene wondering how this was going to work. Before he could ask any questions, I said, "When you’re ready for your tie, I’ll take care of it for you". He hasn’t gotten around to asking me how or when I learned how to tie a tie so for now it’s our little secret and just one of those things you do for family.

Return to Oooh Baby Parenting, Family and Environmental Issues to see if he ever asks me whose tie I tied before his because I know that it will bug him until he asks.



I'm having trouble figuring out how to squeeze in quality family time this holiday weekend. I was not aware that September was a big baby delivery month but if the number of birthday parties that my kids were in invited to attend today alone, there must have been a premature ice storm or something four or five years ago if you catch my drift.

With such a busy schedule and dear daddy taking half the kids in one direction with mommy (yours truly) heading in the other with the remainder of our little crew in tow I had to ponder if trying to attend every get together was the best plan. The girls were so tired that they took a short, unsatisfying nap in the car on the way home and are now half-heartedly splashing in the bath while I'm heating spaghetti sauce and boiling noodles for supper.

Tomorrow we are going to have some quality family time, together, as a unit barring some unseen disaster. My goal is to pull the plug on the television and the football games (sorry, Honey) and to turn on the telephone. Mom, dad and the kids are going to play and laugh and spend some time making memories.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting, Family and Environmental Issues to see if I make good on my promise.



Ok, it's one of those mornings when baby is fussy but you have to go to the store and an old man walks up and slaps your child in Walmart. Not exactly a great way to kick off the day. This might seem like a fictional report of a friend's bad dream or perhaps a nightmare of your own. However, this scenario played itself out in a Walmart store in Georgia.

A 61 year old guy named Roger Stephens apparently got enough of a little 2 year old girl's crying and (alledgedly) told her to shut the child up or he would do it.

As kids are so prone to do, the little girl kept crying which reportedly prompted Stephens to make good on his threat. It was reported that he (as gran used to say) rared back and slapped her not once but four times. He then had the brass to tell her mom, who was no doubt standing there gaping in shock, "See, I told you I could (or would?) shut her up". To quote Whoopie Goldberg, "WHAT THE HELL"?!

To follow up, Mr. Stephens was picked up, arrested and charged on Monday on a first degree cruelty to children charge. Before his arrest (or perhaps because of the impending?) he apologized to the mother for slapping her little girl. My questions is what kind of man slaps a child in Walmart or anywhere for that matter?

I tried to get a mental picture of my husband slapping one of our girls and I couldn't. We just don't discipline our children in that way. The image of anybody hitting a child in the face or anywhere is appalling to me because. It's my belief that violence never solves anything but creates bigger problems for the long haul. I'm not a fan of violence, but you better know that any man who slaps my child in Walmart or anywhere else better be expecting it. This peaceful mama would break out a big can of ass whipping like you wouldn't believe!

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting, Family and Environmental Issues


Frankly, I can’t say how I feel about the I PLEDGE video until I study it and give it a lot of thought. There is more work to do for a parent than to analyze the actual content of the video. First, let me go on the record as saying that I don’t like the idea of political messages being directed at my children while they are at school.

The question was brought up at a play date this morning whether or not the video had a political agenda. I'm not usually concerned with politics but I like to be informed on current events so I figured I had better check out some of the opinions on the I Pledge video posted by people who are more involved and intelligent than yours truly.
My findings were that President Obama’s speech seemed to be standard political fare asking the viewers to be more patriotic, responsible and helpful in nature. Then the celebrities are seen making pledges about how they plan to support the president and do their part in helping the world and that’s where the film became problematic and at times kind of goofy.

Some of the celebrity pledges shown in the I Pledge video concerned helping out in food banks, being more cheerful and helping the elderly population which I can jump on board with in a big way. And then there was the pledge not to shoot the bird to our fellow travelers on the roads which is a small contribution to world peace, but I’m not sure I want my kids to hear about adults giving the finger at school as I exercise restraint when I’m driving to keep them innocent as long as possible.

And then there are the more leading pledges that leave me scratching my head namely the one about the celeb promoting stem cell research and selling their old gas burner to buy a more fuel efficient hybrid. For one thing most kids know very little if anything about stem cell research and beyond being told they can’t use the car could not possibly care less about fuel efficient transportation.
Many pledges, such as supporting local food banks, smiling more, and caring for the elderly are not controversial. But other pledges, such as "to never give anyone the finger when I’m driving again", "to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid" and to advance stem cell research some say cross the line. The question at hand is not whether these pledges or statements are harmful, because most of the stuff that I’ve read was in the I Pledge video is pretty mundane stuff other than the subject of stem cell research. The bigger issue is whether the children should be politically influenced at school.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting, Family and Environmental Issues to see what ladies in my neighborhood think about this video being shown in public schools.


Swine Flu, Babies and Asthma

The word is that Swine flu and asthma is a nasty combination. But then every illness is further complicated when breathing problems exist. The numbers of reported cases of confirmed cases are increasing with every newspaper that hits my driveway. And my anxiety is spreading through my body faster than the virus is mutating because I have children who are in the high risk group that have allergies and can't take the regular flu vaccine much less the H1N1 vaccination.

It depends on how I’m feeling at the moment but I’m waffling between being worried about the actual illness and what might happen if one of my girls catches it which would be bad enough under any set of circumstances but even more so given their existing breathing problems and fear of the girls being a guinea pig. The reports that this vaccine has not been put to the test and could possibly be more dangerous than the swine flu in and of itself.

What’s a mother to do when put between a rock and a hard place? Should I roll the dice, keep my fingers crossed and pray that the H1N1 bypasses our family or trust the medical talking heads and put these little souls in line to get a vaccination that some doctors are on record as stating that in their opinions the swine flu vaccine is not ready for use in humans?

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting, Family and Environmental Issues to find out whether we decide to vaccinate or not.


Dear Kid Saturday - My Hyper Tired Baby

Dear Cass, my poor, sweet, hyper tired baby,

I should have known when I had to wake you up earlier than usual this morning that today was not going to be the day that we would win the "Peaceful, Organized Family" award. Did the absence of carbs that were kept to a bare minimum at breakfast make you feel deprived? You seemed to enjoy the turkey bacon and scrambled eggs so much that missing a bowl of your favorite cereal should not have been an issue. My hopes were that what I cooked would stabilize your and your sisters' energy levels so that our day would be easy going and pleasant even with the shortage of sleep last night. But lack of energy has not been your problem today has it?

I'm so very sorry that you are having a difficult time enjoying your day. Your sisters are honestly not trying to be aggravating, at least no more than usual. And you should know better than expect me to allow you to break rules just because you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. You know that all rules are there for a reason and a bad mood is no excuse to rethink or to bend them.

Maybe after naptime, my hyper tired baby will be in a better humor and I will see your sunny smile once again. My apologies for passing on my genetic predisposition towards grumpiness due to lack of sleep. I wish I could tell you that you will outgrow it but your mommy never has. This is just another one of those instances where we must learn to play the hand we've been dealt. And there will be an earlier than usual bedtime tonight.

Love, Mommy



Can somebody please tell me how to clean glass shower doors the quick and easy way? If you can share a tip or two and tell me how to KEEP them from getting covered in spots caused by hard water that would be ever so helpful as well.

The story behind my dilemma goes like this. A few months ago we went house shopping and after looking at over a hundred or so homes on the market we narrowed it down and bought a home that had many positive features (which you will probably get to hear about in the coming days, months or even years as the mortgage stretches before me for quite a way) one of which was the very roomy custom glass shower.

There are shower heads coming at you every which way (I’ll probably need advice on how to clean a clogged shower head before too long) and it was so modern looking with three walls of white (manmade) marble and one long wall of, at the time of purchase, squeaky clean glass. A few wash jobs later, I now see that I better learn how to clean glass shower doors FAST or they are going to look like an old coffee pot pretty quick.

I had some spray cleaner but my mom tells me that she heard it will pit the glass, so I barely escaped doing some irreparable damage by the skin of my teeth. Always believing it’s best to use recipes for green household cleaners and pesticides whenever possible, I’m going to start with vinegar and go from there. I’m off to fill my trusty spray bottle I will keep you posted on how the vinegar does on cutting the build-up using a soft cloth.

Meanwhile, if any of you have ideas on how to clean glass shower doors without scratching them and how to keep them from getting water spots immediately after said cleaning will you please return to hit the comments section below and help me out?



kids and sports injuries emergency room ER

Kids and sports injuries have always fit like a hand in glove. In my neighborhood there is always a child getting hit by a ball, breaking an arm at football practice or spraining an ankle. As the mother of four girls who love to play cheerleader and tumble, the news that school gym injuries are jumping in numbers gives me cause for concern. The reason given for the increase is that schools are pushing kids to get up off their butts and get some exercise in an effort to DECREASE the numbers of obese children. And I’m all for getting kids off the couch and away from too much television not to mention preventing them from wearing out their little hands playing video games but get a load of these numbers and wait for it because there’s a shocker in the numbers.

In a recent study the numbers from a study on kids and sports injuries from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (is that a mouthful?) were the big tip off. For the period that covered eleven years, over four hundred thousand kids were injured during PE (physical education or Phys ed as we used to call it in the dark ages) and taken for treatment at the emergency room. This number increased 150% over the course of the study. The largest number of injuries was associated with six school activities. Not surprisingly, the usual contact sports were culprits. Of course, football and basketball are on the list and I would have been amazed if they were absent. And there were a few of the less physical sports on the list like soccer, gymnastics and volleyball. But then, hold on… RUNNING is on the list.

I ran junior high track and then went on to high school so I paid my dues as did many of my friends and frankly I can’t remember an injury or sprain that couldn’t be iced down on the spot with the athlete sent limping to the sidelines to rest up. My question is this, have kids gotten so out of shape that they can’t even run without having to hit the ER?

Please leave your comments or experiences regarding Parenting Kids and Sports Injuries before my oldest leaves for kindergarten!



birds on ceiling fan

I love birds but the feeling that I had while having to clean up bird droppings off my back doorstep this morning was about as far from love and affection as one chick could get. The problem is that recently birds have taken a liking to the portion of our patio that is covered. They regard the ceiling fans as their own personal merry go round as you can see from the pictures. This is bad enough as they are pooping all over the patio floor as well as the fan’s blades but the worst of the situation is that they have built a nest on top of the audio speakers that are unfortunately mounted directly above the back door to our house and the pile of bird poop on the steps is getting bigger by the minute.

The whole time I’m removing the poop I’m recounting all that I know about bird droppings, disease and health risks that might I might be exposing myself to. It struck me that by having to remove the droppings that I was probably sending no telling what kind of microbes into the air (and breathing them into my lungs) by stirring the mess up to get it swept up and in some cases where it was still fresh, scooped up.

And did I mention the swooping and pecking problem? It’s not enough that the birds have turned my patio into their personal toilet, first they started dive bombing us if we wanted to go into the backyard. To show respect to what I thought might be nesting season, I relocated the kids’ playtime to the front yard and they followed us there. Now the little buggers are attacking the windows of our home whenever they spot any movement indoors.

Can anyone tell me how to rid myself of these aggressive little suckers? We can’t enjoy our home and need to send the bird droppings, the disease, health risks and the aggravation down the road. Please help, I’m beginning to feel like I’m living in an Alfred Hitchcock movie and with my kids’ allergies and existing illnesses it’s not something I want to deal with. Please leave your suggestions on how to lesson my exposure to hostile birds and bird droppings in the comment form on Oooh Baby Parenting and Family Issues.



coughing wheezing symptoms of asthma in children

Why I was so dumb to think that asthma in children had become an illness of the past much the same as polio and red measles would strike me as funny except that dealing with asthma is anything but fun. My older brother had asthma as a child but I was too little to remember anything about it except that my mother accused my father of being the cause of it because he smoked his pipe in the house.

As you can imagine, when my daughter starting presenting symptoms of asthma, the most noticeable being a persistent cough at night it came as a shock. Of course, that was before I did my homework and found that asthma in children was not only alive and well but very common in babies with allergies and eczema which made my infant a prime candidate for RAD (reactive airway disease which is a fancy, modern name for asthma) in spite of my diligent reading of vacuum cleaner reviews to see which models got the best consumer product ratings and reviews .

Her uncontrolled (and misdiagnosed) allergies early on made it impossible to manage her asthma symptoms and along with her MRSA and frequent upper respiratory infections kept me on edge to the point of exhaustion. I’m glad to report that as she has gotten older and her allergy triggers have been pinpointed, treatment has gotten more effective.

And the support network for parents with a child who suffers from this condition is fantastic! There are online screening quizzes to help parents identify the symptoms of asthma in children and information on asthma treatments for children so that you will be well educated and prepared to discuss whether or not your baby’s allergies and asthma symptoms with your doctor during your next visit.



safe green toilet cleaner how to clean a toilet commode

Modern homemakers don’t just need to know how to clean a toilet. They should educate themselves as to the environmentally friendly way to clean tough toilet stains that won’t unnecessarily pollute our water supply or accidentally poison the family pet or even worse, the kids! I'm not the only person whose baby has mistaken the commode for a water park, am I?


Tank cleaners that come in the form of tablets or hanging capsules were all the rage for awhile. The belief was that if you properly cleaned the reservoir tank that those stubborn toilet rings would never show up in the first place. Now we know that this is wrong thinking in that we found out that this was not the magic cure it was held up to be. Plus, if you had a dog or a cat that enjoyed a refreshing drink from the commode from time to time we realized that toilet cleaner did little to enhance this experience. Even if you don’t have an animal to worry with, why do we think it is a good thing to pour an unending supply of chemicals in our water? We should be more concerned with REMOVING chemicals from water rather than dumping more in.


The facts are that there is no magic cleaner or tip that I can share with you for how to clean your toilet while never having to go into the bathroom. I CAN tell you how to clean the commode and never get your hands dirty; wear gloves! Ok, I know that was cruel but let’s get real.


Cleaning the toilet is an unpleasant task that takes some elbow grease and a cleaner helps. But chemical toilet cleaners are not part of how to clean a toilet in a safe, green and environmentally friendly fashion.


Did you know that plain soap and water do a very good job of killing germs? The only problem here is that pesky ring in the toilet bowl. That is a little harder to get rid of so here are some safe toilet cleaners that might make the job a little easier.

(1. Reduce the water level in the bowl and sprinkle it liberally with baking soda. Dash some (cheap) vinegar in the bowl and scrub with one of those green scrub pads or the toilet brush of your choice.

(2. Take one cup of Borax and add enough lemon juice or vinegar to make a paste. (I prefer lemon juice for its safe bleaching properties) Smear the recipe on that ugly toilet bowl ring and let it sit for two hours then scrub.

(3. Drop two denture cleaning tablets in the bowl when you go to bed at night. Scrub the bowl first thing the next morning.

So, that is how to clean a toilet without poisoning the family pet or our planet. If you use any of our green household cleaner recipes, please come back and give us a review as to how they performed.

Return to Home and Baby Parenting and Family Issues to find more tips on how to clean a toilet and green household cleaner recipes.



Recently there has been an increased focus of national attention on the improvement of industrial environmental standards. As the USA attempts to rebuild its economy, we must be focused on not only restoring industry, but restore it in such a way that is not environmentally destructive. Perhaps the economic slowdown could give us an opportunity to improve all aspects of industry, including hazards among workers in their place of work and the health hazards affecting citizens residing in the surrounding areas that in the past were all too common.

What many do not realize is that not only does the health of our planet earth depend on improved industrial environmental standards, but the health of humans as well. The far reaching health complications caused by irresponsible industrial practices can essentially be divided into two categories, namely the direct and the indirect.


Direct health conditions have been documents to be on the rise as a direct result of the use of fossil fuels. A perfect example of this may be the increased asthmas rates in areas with high smog indices. Even the mildest case of asthma can deteriorate respiratory capacity over time and leave breathing seriously diminished with unimproved air quality. The continuous release of chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere has shown to increase ultraviolet light exposure by lowering our filtered sunlight. And as we are aware, this same ultraviolet light has been conclusively linked to skin cancer. It should come as no surprise that skin cancer cases in countries like South Africa and Australia, where the atmosphere is most affected is much higher than in other areas of our planet.


Indirect industrial health consequences include those which can be attributed to old industrial infrastructure, including toxin exposure to employees. Workers in oil refineries, for instance, have been proven to have a much higher chance of developing mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, than those fortunate enough to work in cleaner industries. Even though asbestos was banned in the 1970s for most uses there are several refineries and factories that continue to use equipment manufactured in the pre-ban years which expose workers to cancer causing asbestos fibers.
We see then, that there is a clear advantage to improvement of industrial environmental standards, implementation of sustainable energy policies and healthier environmental attitudes for the health of the planet and of the world’s population.

Return to Oooh Baby Green Living and Parenting Ideas to read more about the need for improvement of industrial environmental standards.


Dangers of Baby Slings

I am announcing my intentions to ignore the dangers of baby slings that I have seen mentioned in various consumer reports recently. Being a cautious person by nature, I take each and every study that comes out very seriously and have the utmost respect for the integrity of said reports and the professionals who oversee and conduct them. However, this time I’m taking a few grains of salt with the results of the baby sling report.

For those who are considering this valuable attachment parenting device, the study states that in a time frame of the past five years there have been at least four babies who died from being carried in baby slings. And there are even more reported incidences of injuries to babies’ heads, skull fractures and bruises and contusions.

Most of the problems occurred when the babies tumbled out of the sling. To that, I have to reply that I have carried three (soon to be four) newborns in ring slings and have not had one fall out of the carrier yet! I do not jog, cook or do aerobics while carrying an infant in a sling. The moments are rare when my arms have not been wrapped around my babies when they are inside the sling carrier or wrap. It is my opinion that perhaps the dangers of baby slings have more to do with learning the lack of skill and common sense of the user than the danger of using a sling.

The study goes on to say that there are no safety standards for baby slings and I agree that since many moms believe it's alright to make your own baby sling using free patterns that they find on the internet that there is room for error. But again, in my opinion, that fact alone doesn’t make them dangerous.

The truth is that any squirming baby can wiggle out of your arms if you are not careful. I’m not telling anybody to take risks when parenting their babies. But, a little common sense goes a long way when assessing the dangers of baby slings.

By all means pick a safe baby carrier with a good track record and before you put your baby in any stroller, carrier or swing; learn how to use the thing. The same dangers of baby slings apply to any kind of baby gear, gadget or seat. Practice with a baby doll, read the owner’s manual and learn how to use the belts, straps and restraints before using the product with a real infant. And perhaps the best advice I can give to new mothers is to never allow yourself to become distracted by anything when caring for your baby. Make a solemn vow to not let anything short of a nuclear explosion pull your attention away because in my experience, the little sweethearts know the exact moment that you are not watching and will take that opportunity to injure themselves or their siblings. And nothing is worth sacrificing the safety of your precious child.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to see more of my opinions on expert studies.


I saw a story about how American families’ opinions of what they considered to be basic household necessities had change significantly since the year 2006. The report seemed to focus on appliances and a few h not so necessary household items atellite television and microwaves, not the bare essentials.

Some of the report’s findings were encouraging to me as they indicated a rise in green living practices. As an example, 16% (or somewhere close to that number) of the people polled said they didn’t’ consider clothes dryers to a necessity. This number is considerably higher than the number reported in 2006.

The most disturbing and probably misleading number was associated with dishwashers. The number of people who consider dishwashers to be unimportant rose significantly. People, the reason dishwashers have fallen off of the list of household necessities is not because of a rise in green living practices and above all it does not indicate that family members have suddenly taken a shine to washing and drying dishes the old fashioned way.

What this finding may indicate is the amount of junk and fast food that families are eating. If you shop for meals at the local drive-through restaurant, there’s no need to wash the dishes or the environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam containers. I admit to feeling a tingle of excitement over the number of moms hanging their organic cotton baby diapers on an outdoor clothesline, but the thought of losing the happy chuckle of the dishwasher filled with dirty dishes after a home cooked family dinner is disturbing.

Return to Oooh Baby Family, Parenting and Environmental Issues to see more opinionated rants and raves from Claire.



Don’t attack me when I tell you that there is a good side of a recession. And no, I’m not one of the executives of AIG that got a huge bonus for poor performance. I’m just a frugal stay at home mother who has watched families buy carloads of unnecessary stuff that was bought on credit for years and who is now watching those same people drowning in debt with a FOR SALE or a FORECLOSED sign in the front yard of their homes.

The upside of hard times is that it brings out the "we can do it" attitude that makes America such a great place. Excess has made us fat, lazy and according to the rest of the world, very difficult to love and respect. Oh, and let’s not ignore that many resorted to less than admirable tactics to mound up cash to float their unrealistic, wasteful lifestyles. I wonder if this is the reason that I hear some say that we needed a recession?

Whether it was needed or not, there are difficult times ahead. Anybody who thinks that the economy is going to be fixed overnight is delusional or may be privy to a method of debt reduction that probably would not hold up under close legal scrutiny. For those of us who like to live on the right side of the law, difficult times call for tightening the belt, trimming the fat and working on a frugal household budget or under the worst of conditions, asking for assistance.

One good side of recession is not only the fact that an economic slowdown might give our planet a much needed cooling off period, but that many libraries are reporting a 30 percent and better increase in their book circulation and an approximate 20 percent increase in patrons overall. Nobody wants to lose a job, their home or be without sufficient food and clothing. But when searching for positives in a sea of negative news the fact that our children may be reading more might produce a generation of kids who are competitive in the world’s job market of the future and if we had to suffer a recession to get the job done maybe we will have learned a valuable lesson.

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues for more comments on the positive side of recessions.


How to Help Children Cope with Death

I’m at the computer for therapy as well as to search for clues on how to help children cope with death. The signs are there, the appetite is failing, the meds have obliterated that cutting wit and at times over the top but always entertaining personality.

As far as I’m concerned, the stages of grief kicked off for me between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I give thanks to the Lord every night (and during the day when I can’t stop my mind from drifting in that direction) that it wasn’t in his plan to take her to be with him during that time and that we were given one more holiday season where we were once again shamed by her acute sense of knowing what the perfect gift for each and every child might be.

Now, I’m fielding requests from the kids wanting to know why I’m going to visit and they aren’t included. After telling them that the reason is that she’s in the hospital, their reaction was that she needed their comfort and company even more so than when she was at home. I’m at a lost as to how to help the children cope with death since coping with death is not something that I’m so very good at myself.

Maybe the way to cope is not to cope at all, but just to do what we can do to stay busy and productive. Making kids feel productive is a pretty tall order. They want to feel that they are doing something to help. The oldest said she wanted to make cookies so I picked up a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough and let her slice them and put them on the cookie sheet. I suggested to the littlest one that it might be a good idea to draw a picture for me to decorate the walls of the hospital room and as I’m typing she’s enthusiastically drawing a picture of a purple cat because according to her, purple is such a happy color.

If purple kitty cats and burned cookies are helping the children cope with death who am I to question the results?

Return to Oooh Baby Baby Parenting and Environmental Issues to read more of my learning experiences in dealing with what life throws at you while raising kids.



Has anyone else read about a drug store that is promoting what in my opinion is a misuse of antibiotics? According to the what I've heard, the pharmacy is offering free antibiotics in a push to promote better health for its customers stating in a promotional poster that as people don’t pay for germs, why they shouldn’t get free antibiotics.

As a stay at home mother, I’m all for freebies but not free medicine when I don’t need it. And that’s what bothers me about this campaign. Could there be people who might otherwise weather their way through a nasty cold (that wouldn’t respond to antibiotic treatments anyway) just fine without meds that might ultimately create a resistance to antibiotics that get the drugs just because they are free?

I would never want anyone not to have medicine when they have a real need. But I would like to know what precautions the stores might be taking to prevent the misuse of antibiotics to avoid problems in the future. Apparently the experts are concerned about this just as much as I am.

Has enough been done to educate people that these drugs are to fight bacterial infections only? One of the mothers I came across in a play group the other day had no idea that antibiotics have no impact on the common cold or the flu. Her reasoning was that you give them to the kids to be sure that viral infections don’t morph into anything else. I wonder if she realizes that she may be creating antibiotic resistance and doing her child’s immune system more harm than good. When Cass was diagnosed with MRSA as an infant, she was lucky to have several options to treat it. What will happed to overmedicated kids whose parents have made a habit of the misuse of antibiotics?