Friday, December 12, 2008

Bethlehem in Waxahachie, TX

This is a great place to take the kids. Its beyond a living nativity and displays the whole town. Children will learn all kinds of things about how people lived back then, including activities and how-to crafts. The story of Christmas is unfolded before your very eyes.
I went a few years ago, and was very impressed. This is one of my favorite nativity Christmases, and definitely worth the drive to see!
Bethlehem link


December 5-7 and 12-14

6 p.m. - 9 p.m.


Located Behind Central Presbyterian Church

402 N. College Street

Waxahachie, TX

View Map


Performances are repeated every 30 minutes.

Also on display at the Central Presbyterian Church, "The Supper Quilt" by Dr. Donald E. Locke, DDS.


FREE Admission. Donations Welcome.


View & Print a 2008 Christmas Brochure

Candlelight Home Tour Information

Downtown Victorian Christmas Festival & Enchanted Pines Ice Skating Rink

Shop Waxahachie

Christmas in Marshall, TX

Well, this year, since gas is once again affordable enough to go places, we're driving 2 hours away to Marshall, TX. This town is simply amazing at Christmas. We also visit our favorite coffeeshop in all the world, the Magnolia Hall Coffee shop, which is a coffee shop in an old Victorian house listed on the National Register.
Here's a calendar of events and several website listings.!

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Marshall, Texas. Come enjoy our world-renowned Christmas extravaganza and famous small-town, East Texas hospitality Thanksgiving through New Years' Eve.

Wonderland of Lights is one of the largest Christmas celebrations in the United States and attracts visitors from all 50 states and other countries. Yet, it keeps its wonderful small town Christmas atmosphere.

More than 125,000 lights embellish the "Crown Jewel," the historic courthouse. Hundreds of businesses and entire neighborhoods decorate around central themes.

In 1987, the community of Marshall, Texas joined together in the spirit of peace and brotherhood to create a holiday extravaganza called Wonderland of Lights. The festival begins the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and runs through December 31st. Today, this festival rivals any Christmas lighting scene in the country, known as the “Granddaddy of Texas Lighting Festivals”, with over 10 million lights in the community.

The Historic Harrison County Courthouse, located in the center of the
Downtown Square is the festival's "Crown Jewel" decorated with over 125,000 tiny white lights. You will find a variety of entertainment and activities, including live entertainment on the downtown square, Church of the Bells, carriage rides, bus tours to neighborhoods with elaborate decorations and lighted scenes, driving tour through historic downtown with displays over 24 feet tall, visits with Santa, the famous “lighted” Christmas Parade and an outdoor ice skating rink.

As a special attraction, Holiday Home Tours offer guests a glimpse into Marshall’s unique and historic homes dressed up for the holiday season.

Load up your friends and families and experience a true “hometown” Christmas atmosphere!


Marshall Chamber of Commerce

Also, the towns around Marshall also have wonderful Christmas events.

HomeCalendar of EventsShreveport-BossierNatchitochesMarshallJeffersonKilgore

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Starting solids with babies

I came across this article, and thought it very well written. Though I'm not a mom yet, this is one of those subjects I've thought about.

Starting Solids
by Cathe Olson

Introducing solid food is an exciting milestone for your baby and you. But it may also bring up a host of questions and uncertainties. Perhaps a relative thinks you should start feeding cereal at four months because that's what the recommendation was when she raised her children. Maybe you're anxious to start solids to help your child sleep through the night. Or maybe you're just wondering what food to start with and how much to give. For many moms, the whole feeding thing can become very stressful. Fortunately, it's not as difficult as you may think. A lot of it is just relying on your own motherly intuition about when your baby is ready for solid food. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started.

When to Start Solids

Breastmilk or iron-fortified infant formula provides ample nourishment for the first six to nine months of your child's life (breastmilk for up to one year). So, there's no rush to add anything else. In fact, starting solid foods before six months, especially if allergies run in your family, increases the chance of an infant developing food allergies.1 At around six months, a baby's digestive system has the necessary enzymes and antibodies to handle solid foods. But that doesn't mean you have to start right at six months. Every child develops at a different pace. Rather than looking at the calendar, watch your baby for physical signs of readiness. Your infant should be able to sit upright and pick up food with his hands. He must also have lost the tongue-thrust reflex which causes him to automatically push the food right back out of his mouth. When your child is ready for solids, he will become noticeably interested in what you're eating. He may even try to grab food off your plate. Also, don't start solids for the sole purpose of wanting your child to sleep through the night. Babies wake for comfort as well as hunger and just because your baby is full, doesn't mean he will sleep.

How to Start Solids

The first tastes of solid food are mainly to help your child become accustomed to the texture, not to replace breastfeeding—so small servings are best. Offer a small amount of food on a baby spoon. Stop when she turns away or closes her mouth. One or two tablespoons of food is plenty for those first feedings. It's also wise to feed solids between regular feedings, rather than just before or after breastfeeding. Never put baby food in a bottle. The unfamiliar texture may cause choking.

Each new food you introduce should be offered alone (or with a food already introduced), so if there's a sensitivity or allergy, you will recognize it. Wait three to five days before introducing the next food. Allergic reactions may include bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, rash around mouth or anus, or runny nose not associated with a cold. Do not introduce a new food if your infant is sick. You will not know if reactions are from her illness or the food.

What Foods to Start With

The best first foods are low in protein and easy to digest. Rice cereal is a common choice because it's unlikely to cause allergic reactions. Other good cereal choices are millet and quinoa (available at natural foods stores) which are good sources of iron, as well as other vitamins and minerals. Fruits like bananas, apples, pears, avocado and vegetables such as green beans, winter squash, sweet potatoes are also excellent first foods.

For the first year, you'll want to avoid acidic foods like citrus, strawberries, and tomatoes; cow's milk; high nitrate vegetables like spinach and nonorganic carrots; egg whites; chocolate; and nuts as they are highly allergenic. It's also a good idea to avoid foods with sugar, caffeine, chemical additives, and salt as they can be detrimental to your babies health. In addition, raw honey should never be given to an infant under one year.

Is Organic Necessary?

Infants are especially vulnerable to the effects of pesticides. Children experience rapid growth in a short period of time, and their brain and immune systems are immature. Although The Food Quality Protection Act requires pesticide levels to be safe for children and infants, a study done by the Environmental Working Group found that many commercial grown fruits (including apples, grapes, peaches, pears, and strawberries) exceeded this level and that commercial baby foods contained unsafe levels of carcinogenic and neurotoxic pesticides. 2 In addition, commercially grown soybeans, and some grains, fruits, and vegetables are genetically modified. Products containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) are not required to divulge that information on their labels. You must buy organic to ensure your food is GMO-free. Organic food is becoming increasingly available. Check your natural food store, farmers' market, and supermarket.

Homemade versus Storebought

Although the baby food manufacturers don't want you to know it, you really don't need to feed your infant special food from boxes and jars. Babies can eat fresh, natural, unprocessed foods just like anyone else. Homemade baby food is nutritious, inexpensive, and easy to make. You don't even need special equipment. Apples, peaches, and pears can be stewed and pureed in your blender or food processor. Winter squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, zucchini can be steamed until soft and pureed with a little water. Bananas and avocados are simple to prepare. Just mash the ripe fruit with a fork until smooth. Commercial baby food is convenient but food is often diluted with water and starchy fillers. The paper-thin flakes of rice cereal hardly resemble food at all. By starting your children on processed foods, you are training their tastebuds to think that this is what food should taste like. It's no surprise that kids these days seem to prefer processed foods to fresh when that was their first food experience.

Making Homemade Babyfood

For a busy new mother, making a whole separate meal for your baby can seem overwhelming. But guess what - you don't have to. Homemade whole grain infant cereal (recipe follows) makes a great breakfast for the rest of the family too. The steamed vegetables you're having for dinner can be pureed in your blender or food processor for baby food. Or to make things really easy, get a little manual baby food grinder and just mash up whatever the rest of the family is eating right at the table. For convience, you can cook up a batch of vegetables, fruits, beans, and/or grains when you have time. Puree them in your blender or food processor, and freeze in ice cube trays. Then you'll have a prepared meal for your baby whenever you need it.

Iron Supplementation

It's a common myth that infants need iron supplementation. If you are breastfeeding your child and were not anemic during pregnancy, your child is likely getting enough iron. Though breastmilk is low in iron, the iron is very well absorbed. Infant cereal manufacturers play up the fact that their products are iron-fortified, but the type of iron they add is not absorbed well by the body.

Your best bet is to serve whole grains like millet and quinoa that are naturally high in iron. To fortify your infant's food further, you can add some dulse flakes or granulated kelp. (You can find them at your natural foods store in the Asian or macrobiotic section.) These sea vegetables are concentrated sources of minerals, including iron. As your infant becomes comfortable with solid foods around 9 months, you can add iron-rich legumes like lentils or adzuki beans to further enrich her diet.

Following are some recipes to help you get started. As you can see, these are recipes that your baby can eat and the rest of the family can enjoy as well.

Whole Grain Infant Cereal

Brown rice, millet, and quinoa are the least allergenic grains making them good choices for infant cereal. Millet and quinoa are good sources of iron. To fortify cereal further, add a pinch of dulse flakes or granulated kelp to the cooked cereal.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast 1 to 2 cups organic brown rice, millet, or quinoa (or a combination) for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when grains begin to pop and give off a nutty aroma. (Lightly toasting grains makes them more digestible and prevents the cereal from become gluey when cooked.) Cool grains completely and store in a covered jar.

To prepare cereal:
Grind desired amount of toasted grain (about 2 or 3 tablespoons for an infant) to fine powder in a blender or grinder. A coffee grinder gets a particularly fine texture. In a saucepan, whisk together 1 part cereal powder and 6 parts water. Bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes (stirring occasionally), or until soft and smooth. Add extra water if necessary.

Note: The rest of the family can enjoy this cereal too. Use 1 part cereal to 4 parts water. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


The whole family will enjoy this as a side dish at dinner or sauce for pancakes or French toast. Go ahead and use more fruit to double or triple the recipe. The water measurement may not need to be doubled or tripled, however. Start with less water and add more if you need it.

1 pear, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup water

Place fruit and water in pan. Cover and simmer over low heat until soft. Add more water if necessary to keep fruit from scorching. Puree or mash.

Makes about 2 cups

Note: Freeze Pear-Applesauce in ice-cube trays. When firm, remove to freezer bag or container. Cubes can be stored in freezer for several months and will thaw quickly when needed.

Mashed Avocado
Avocados are an excellent first food for babies. They are easy to digest and contain lots of good fats to nourish your child's brain and nervous system. Plus, they don't cause constipation like grains or bananas might. Best of all, they're simple to prepare. Mash up what you need for your baby and then use the rest on sandwiches or salad for the rest of the family.

Mash the flesh of a ripe avocado with a fork. Add a little breastmilk or water to thin it if necessary.


L. Businco, G. Bruno, P.B. Giampietro, and M. Ferrara, "Is Prevention of Food Allergy Worthwhile?" Journal of Investigative Allergies and Clinical Immunology, 3, no. 5 (1993): 231-236.
Richard Wiles, Kert Davies, and Christopher Campbell, "Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children's Food," Environmental Working Group/The Tides Center, January 1998.

For more information:

The Baby Book (Revised and Updated Edition), by William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N. Little Brown, 2003.

Feeding The Whole Family, by Cynthia Lair. Moon Smile Press, 1997.

Natural Family Living , by Peggy O'Mara with Jane McConnell. Pocket Books, 2000.

Simply Natural Baby Food, by Cathe Olson. GOCO Publishing, 2003.

Cathe is a freelance writer and the author of Simply Natural Baby Food: Easy Recipes for Delicious Meals Your Infant and Toddler Will Love Simply Natural Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Whole Foods To Nourish Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women - And Their Families. She has studied vegetarian, macrobiotic, and whole foods nutrition and cookery. Cathe cooked at natural foods restaurants and delis in the San Francisco Bay and Central Coast areas of California before settling down with her husband Gary to raise a family. She works at home while caring for her daughters Aimie and Emily. Read Cathe's blog

BPA and other toxic plastics

I've always wondered how to tell which plastics will leach toxins and which won't. Here finally is a great article that has all the details. I mostly use glass mason jars to store things in within my refrigerator. I use a great stainless steel wide mouth funnel which makes it easy to pour food straight from the pot into the jar.

Safest plastics for food and beverages

By Lori Bongiorno Posted Mon Nov 3, 2008 10:28pm PST

Some plastics are safer to eat and drink from than others. Here's a quick guide to help you make informed choices. If you want to dig deeper, take a look at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Smart Plastics Guide (PDF).

It's worth avoiding the following plastics when you can. You can identify a plastic by looking at the recycling code number that appears inside a triangle at the bottom of many containers.

Resin code #3

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can leach phthalates, known male reproductive toxicants. It can be identified by code 3. One way to avoid it in the kitchen is by choosing plastic wrap made from polyethylene rather than PVC. If a box is not labeled, find a brand that is or call the manufacturer.

Resin code #6

Polystyrene is used in Styrofoam products. It may leach styrene (a neurotoxin) when it comes into contact with hot, acidic, or fatty foods. It's marked with recycling code 6.

Resin code #7

Polycarbonate can leach bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor associated with a long list of health concerns. Baby bottles, "sippy" cups, 5-gallon water jugs, and reusable beverage bottles are typically made out of this plastic. Products may be marked with recycling code 7 (also includes any plastic that doesn't fit into the 1 to 6 recycling code categories) and/or the letters "PC."

In response to the widespread concerns about BPA, baby bottles and other items made from alternative materials are springing up. Experts say stainless steel is your best bet for reusable water bottles right now. ThinkSport and Klean Kanteen are two widely available brands.

The following plastics are considered safest for food storage. Glass and stainless steel are also good options.

Resin code #1

Polyethylene terephthalate ethylene (PETE), code 1.

Resin code #2

High-density polyethylene (HDPE), code 2.

Resin code #4

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), code 4.

Resin code #5

Polypropylene (PP), code 5.

Here are some tips for using all plastics safely:

  • Don't microwave food plastic containers. Chemicals are more likely to leach out when plastic is heated. "Microwaveable plastic" doesn't guarantee that chemicals won't leach. Cover foods in the microwave with wax paper or a plate. If you do use plastic wrap, then make sure it doesn't touch the food.
  • Avoid putting hot foods in plastic containers. Let leftovers cool off before storing them in plastic.
  • Take good care of plastics by not washing them with harsh chemicals, and dispose of scratched and worn containers. Research has shown that older, scratched items will leach more, says Kathleen Schuler at the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy. (Don't put them in the dishwasher if you want to be completely risk-averse, she suggests.)
Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Telephone Picture Game - a group game

We played this game at the New's house the other night with 9 people. It was really fun. Here's a description of the game that my husband kindly wrote for me. If anyone knows the official name of this game, let me know. :)

You start with a circle of people. Each person has a pad of paper, preferably a small spiral notebook. You can use a stack of small pieces of paper as a substitute, though that can be more challenging.

Begin by asking each person to write down a word or short phrase. It's best if this is something simple like "Superman" or "wearing my heart on my sleeve," but it can be anything. Be sure no one looks at anyone else's paper.

Now have each person pass their pad of paper to the person on their left.

Upon receiving the next pad, each person reads the word or phrase, then flips to the next page in the pad. On this page, they are to draw a picture that best represents the word or phrase.

Once all the pictures are drawn, have everyone pass the pads to the left again.

Now, looking only at the picture, each person writes what they think the picture represents. The next person draws a picture, and so on.

Keep passing to the left, alternating "words, pictures, words, pictures" in this same manner until the pads have come full circle. It's best to count ahead of time to see how many turns this will be. This works best with an odd number of players because the last person will be writing a word that the original owner of the pad can compare to his or her own.

Finally, each person in the circle looks to see how close the final word is to what they originally wrote down, then shows the group the progression of each word and picture on their pad. Hilarity ensues.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Above Rubies Retreat coming up

The Above Rubies retreat in Arkansas is in 2 weeks from November 14-16. Can't wait - should be wonderful to see everyone again.
Its not too late - November 6th is the registration date deadline.
I love the whole experience.
Check it out at :
a lot of my pictures are up on the site. :)

and my experiences at the retreat last year:
Above Rubies Retreat

Vitamins I take

What I take daily:

Hawthorne (for heart)
Soloray's Cool Cayenne (the only way I can take cayenne, not fond of "hot")
Country Life's Omega 3
Garden of Life Primal Defense - 4 capsules
Garden of Life Living Multi - 3 tablets
Source Naturals Evening Primrose oil (for reproductive system)
Lysine (to prevent fever blisters)
Digestive Enzyme
and i'm about to try Wheatgrass

If I feel symptoms of a cold coming on (haven't had an actual cold in 20 months):

OlivePlex Olive Leaf Extract
Nature's Sunshine ALJ
Yogi Tea's Stomachease Tea

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tarrant County Early Voting

Vote early. Its easy. If you're registered to vote in Tarrant County, go to any of the voting sites (many of which are community centers and libraries) and vote there. Next week, they will be opened from 7 AM to 7 PM. It will be much easier to early vote than it will be to vote on the actual day. :)
I will be working the November 4th election - and we are expecting a crowd. Contact your precinct chairman if you want to volunteer. Should be very interesting! :) -Melissa

Here's the site that lists all the early voting places.

Pollworker information|

Tarrant County Voter's Guide:

Verify that you are registered to vote (and your polling place on Nov. 4)

Remember, when you early vote, you can vote at ANY of the early voting places, but if you decide to vote on the actual election day Nov. 4, you can only vote at your official polling place (you can find out where that is by clicking on the link above.)

Please forward this email.

Happy voting!

Melissa Neece

Saturday, September 27, 2008

96 candles on a birthday cake

Here's a video of 96 candles on a birthday cake for my grandfather. I'm glad nothing caught on fire. :)

Gallbladder info and help

I know someone with gallbladder problems, so here is some info.

what i see mostly is to drink lemon with water a lot (this also makes your body more alkaline improving health overall - use a straw to drink lemon water to protect your teeth). To eat/drink a lot of apples - raw apple juice is suppose to be good, but apples overall is important. Eat beets and carrots. And to take a really good probiotic, of course. i always recommend Garden Of Life Ultimate Defense (keeps us healthy!).

here are some quick links for gallbladder help
Gallbladder books at Amazon

Gallbladder books at the library

Indigestion : living better with upper intestinal problems from heartburn to ulcers and gallstones

by Janowitz, Henry D.
Gallstones [videorecording]

... Gallstones [videorecording] / produced by ...

some interesting remedies:

Three tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of one lemon taken before bedtime and again upon rising can cause softened gallstones to pass in the stool (See Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by James Balch, M.D., and Phyllis Balch, C.N.C; Avery Publishing Group Inc., Garden City Park, New York; 1990.)

  • Include often - high fiber foods like wholegrains, legumes, bran, raw fruits and vegetables, especially apples and pears; also low-fat yoghurt; eggs and fish.
  • Aim to limit your dairy product intake such as cow's milk, cream, processed cheese and butter. Opt for organic yogurt and cheese such as parmesan, ricotta and cottage.
  • Avoid foods that contain high counts of bacteria or fungi – these are all dairy products, preserved meats, delicatessen meats, hamburger meats, smoked meats, and processed or junk foods. This is because these foods will trigger or exacerbate gall bladder infections.
  • Avoid saturated animal fats including fatty meats, butter, cream, ice cream, cheese, chocolate, biscuits, fried foods (most gall stones are composed of cholesterol); refined sugars and refined carbohydrates.
  • Include healthy fats such as cold pressed nut and seed oils and foods rich in essential fats such as cold water fish, avocados etc. Good fats are important for the health of the gall bladder. An extremely low fat/no fat diet is NOT recommended.
  • We also recommend that you avoid red meat for about three months

Several foods, herbs, and supplements help the digestion process by improving gallbladder function.

Often extracted from soybeans, lecithin is a type of fat found in brewer's yeast, eggs, fish, grains, legumes, and wheat germ. A good multivitamin-mineral supplement helps prevent the nutritional deficiencies, including inadequate vitamin C and B, complex, that contribute to gallbladder problems. Several herbs are recommended for the gallbladder, including Oregon grape root, ginger, and turmeric. These are available individually as teas, extracts, and capsules; as spices; and as' fresh foods. Of the many foods that are gallbladder-friendly, the most versatile may be the apple, whose juice is cleansing and can help to soften gallstones.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Favorite Vacation spots

Here are some of my all-time favorite vacation spots. I highly recommend them. :)
Especially if you are about quirky places and having fun on the cheap, and not about luxury that I can't afford.

Glorieta - We went practically every summer as a child. They have interesting day camps for kids, and Centrifuge for youth. Those who have gone back say its not nearly as individualistic and interesting as it was in the 80s (its also not as booming, hmm, i wonder why....) but it still can be fun and inspirational. If I could afford a vacation house, I would buy one in Glorieta.
Lifeway Glorieta Baptist Conference Center

Glorieta Events

Stagecoach Inn - This is a nice romantic getaway. The mineral bath pool is absolutely amazing. I could spend hours in the lovely warm water. The restaurant is unique in that you pay one price ($18-24) per person, and then choose your selection for appetizer, dinner and dessert. Its located in a western boarding house type decor, and so the atmosphere is great, and so is the food. You can walk around the grounds in the day, and there are several great niches to read books or observe nature. Its a wonderful place to spend a weekend. While you are there, you can shop in Salado, which has amazing stores. At Christmas, they pull out all the stops with horse-drawn carriages, caroling, hot chestnuts, etc. Then, five miles down the highway in Belton is an old-fashioned movie theater with curtains and balcony seating.
Stagecoach Inn

Salado info

Salado Calendar of Events - because I always like to do some of the local flavor when I go places.

The Beltonian - an oldfashioned movie theater - click for days and times of showings

Trails End Guesthouse- This is a very romantic getaway - Its in the hill country of Texas. The view is beautiful. The breakfast is good, plentiful, and different! The pool is on the hill overlooking the view, and is "adults only" - no kids. Its perfect for a midnight swim. :)
In nearby Kerrville, there is a restaurant where we had the best steak of our lives. In fact, now, when we crave steak, we wish we were at the Cowboy steak house in Kerrville.

Trail's End Guesthouse

Cowboys steak house

Hot Springs - The Park Hotel - We especially like this hotel because each room is interesting, and you just get that 20's feel from the hotel. Reminds me of several European hotels that have a vintage flair. We haven't been back since the new management, but from the pictures, things look the same - and now they have bike rentals for just $5 for the entire stay.
Hot Springs is a great town with lots of wonderful mom and pop shops, and lots of things for the kids to do - from the alligator farm, to the tiny town model village to the amusement park - its just all around fun. On one of my vacations, I took a cooking lesson at an herb farm - that was different. :) Usually, we just go and browse the shops and relive history down bath house row. And drink the mineral water, of course! And we always eat the Friday Night Seafood Feast at the Arlington Hotel (right next door to the Park hotel). Its usually the only place I eat oysters - cause you can eat as many as you want. :)
Here's a listing from the official site:
If you have an adventuresome family, excitement is the key word at Magic Springs theme park and Crystal Falls water park. Play in interactive wonder in the Mid-America Science Museum. As you drive through the Hot Springs National Park, be sure to see the mountains in full panorama from the Hot Springs Mountain Tower or take the whole family digging for treasures in a quartz crystal mine.

Park Hotel of Hot Springs

Hot Springs Activities

Friday Night Seafood Feast

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Anti-toxic legislation

Have you checked out Moms Rising lately? They've been doing some amazing stuff to get companies to stop putting toxic chemicals in kid's bottles, sippy cups, and toys.
I signed up for their email newsletter, and highly recommend others to sign up for it too - you find out important information this way. Here is their latest newsletter:

Dear MomsRising member,

Wouldn't it be something if we could just walk into a store and buy a baby bottle or a bath toy without worrying it contains toxic chemicals?

The good news is, we're making swift progress towards this critical goal. Your messages so far have energized Congress to finally introduce legislation to prevent toxic toys and other toxic products from reaching our children, including:

  • Legislation has been introduced in the last few weeks to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and other child care products;
  • Congress is considering a ban on phthalates, a toxic chemical used in too many toys like rubber duckies;
  • And, last month Congress introduced the Kids Safe Chemical Act that would shift the burden on companies to prove that the chemicals they are using in children's products are safe.

With your support, we can get these laws passed through Congress - and get toxics out of our homes and away from our children. This project is funded solely by our members. Nanette, a mother of four, just donated $50 to this effort because she was appalled by the fact that companies had been getting away with using harmful substances in toys for years, and wants to help stop that practice.

Consider giving just $35 (or what you can) to support the Toxics Out of Children's Products program today:

When family advocates like MomsRising link up with environmental advocates to fight harmful toxics, it's powerful. This strategy brings a family focus to "green" causes, increasing public awareness of the pervasiveness of toxins in our indoor environment.

Legislators and the media are inclined to listen to moms. Businesses know that women make more than 80% of buying decisions in all homes[1], so you can be sure they're listening too.

In fact, MomsRising members have already:

Improved the Consumer Products Safety Commission Reform Act by assisting in the elimination of a section which would have put more toxic chemicals in our homes;

  • Been credited by the Washington Post with helping to stop the sale of baby bottles with bisphenol-A (BPA) at five of the seven major retailers of baby bottles;
  • And generated nearly 20,000 letters to Congress requesting that phthalates be taken out of children's products, resulting in key committee members changing their position, and moving the ban forward in Congress.
  • MomsRising is a bootstrap, mom-run organization, and right now this work to get toxics out of children's products is funded solely by our members.

You can help keep this important work going by donating today:

Thanks so much for all your work on behalf of our nation's children -- Kristin, Joan, Donna, Roz, and the Team


Sleep Number vs. Tempurpedic

We have a Sleep Number bed. Both Kevin and I just love it. Before, we had a foam memory topper and 6 egg crates on top of that on top of an older mattress, which is ok, but still not as soft as a Sleep Number bed. I still have one egg crate mattress topper on top of the Sleep Number bed - I think it helps smooth it out. My only peeve is that when he is not in the bed, it tends to roll me to the middle of the bed.

Here's some info on Sleep Number beds:

There are two outlets in Texas that I know of, if you know of another one, let me know.

interesting forum discussion:

Other Forums

The Radisson hotel chain has quite a lot of Sleep Number beds - you can stay the night at one of them to check it out.

same with tempurpedic

While looking up all this stuff, I found this site to be intriguing.


Wisdom teeth pain relief

So here are all the suggestions I could find on wisdom teeth pain relief. OR even just regular TEETH pain relief!  One of my best friends (in her thirties) just got her wisdom teeth removed. More power to her! I'm so glad I got all mine done when I was 18 - Christmas of my senior year - looked like a chipmunk during vacation, but looked almost normal by the time school started again.

Clove oil (number one recommendation on many sites)
warm salt water gargle
cold or hot compresses on the side of face
ice cubes in paper towel on tooth area
Noni juice
pure vanilla extract on cottonball on tooth
combine vanilla and cloves on cottonball
stuff wet tea bag or frozen tea bag on wisdom tooth area
clove of garlic with rock salt on tooth
avoid hot and cold, stick with warm for a few days
rinse mouth out with peroxide

From Home Remedies:
  • Mix 2 drops of clove oil with 1/8 teaspoon olive oil. Soak a cotton ball with this mixture and place it on the tooth, bite down gently on the cotton ball to keep it in place. Leave it there for some time as clove oil contains eugenol, which is a natural pain killer and antibacterial.
  • Place a small piece of onion on the paining tooth; onion also has bactericidal properties which will help to decrease your pain.

I also HIGHLY recommend these products for help with teeth and gums!

Here are some sites to help:
Best Toothache Relief
Pain Relief 101
Home Remedies Toothache Relief
Home Remedy Comments
Wisdom Tooth Wisdom

Here's an interesting trick from the Askville site:
Use some more ice on your hand. Here's a neat trick developed by pain researcher Ronald Melzack, Ph.D., of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Rub a piece of ice on the V-shaped area between your thumb and forefinger for five to seven minutes, until that area goes numb. This treatment significantly eases tooth pain by sending impulses along the same pathways that toothache pain travels. The impulses close the gate on incoming pain messages--in effect, shutting off the ache.

Another thing to think about from a comment on a forum:
If you are female and have wisdom teeth pain, check your calendar and see if you aren't near a time when you would be pre-menstrual and retaining water. Many women retain water in their upper and lower jaws and it will cause impacted teeth, such as wisdom teeth, to become inflamed and hurt.

If you are retaining water, then diuretics are a good solution. Even something as simple as adding lemon juice to a glass of water will help you to clear out the retained fluids. Celery is another natural diuretic. Avoiding salty and processed foods will help, too.

Rules of thumb for wisdom teeth:
  • Eat soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or a thin soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as healing progresses.
  • Do not use a straw for the first few days. Sucking on a straw can loosen the blood clot and delay healing.
  • After the first day, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Women who decide to have their wisdom teeth removed should try to schedule the surgery for the end of their menstrual cycle (usually days 23 through 28). There seems to be less risk of dry socket during this time

PS. If you are getting fillings put in for cavities, make sure they don't contain mercury. Mercury fillings (just like mercury vaccines) can cause a lot of problems, including memory loss and infertility.

PSS. Here's some interesting ideas/point of view for alternatives to a root canal. I saw that possibility in several comments in my toothache research, and then a friend said she was having a root canal, so I thought I'd look it up. :) -a bit strange

Monday, June 16, 2008

Smoke Alarms>
Subject: Contactify Message: smoke alarms
To: MelissaNeece
Date: Sunday, June 15, 2008, 9:55 PM
Sender Name: linda
what do you know about smoke alarms? i need new ones and
there are lots to choose from - i have no idea what to do.

Well, Linda, I went ahead and looked up some quick
reviews for you. Consumer Search and
Reports both have great reviews on smoke alarms.
Currently I have First Alert
cheap alarms that I
bought at Costco when I first bought my house,
I didn't really even
think about looking at reviews.
So you definitely had a great idea, and thanks for

asking the question!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

More on Shopping Reward sites

Lots of people have been asking me about the Big Crumbs reward site. I think its fabulous. Its very simple and free to sign up, and you can find out more about the site through the How it Works page or the FAQs page. has been around for over 2 years and eBay members have earned cash back on millions of dollars in purchases, as well as other stores and sites. It also helps Ebay sellers advertise, which is a definite plus.

Click Here to find out more about Big Crumbs.

I've done a little bit more research into the matter (of course!) and I find I am highly impressed with this site. Even if you only use it to get cash back on Ebay purchases, its worth it. This site is totally free to sign up. If you want to just be a Crumbsaver, you get more cash back. If you want to be a Crumbearner, you get a little money from those who you refer. They are just giving you the marketing commission that they get from merchants. Its all really neat - I've looked at several people's profiles as well as several people's blogs, and this is a great way to earn an extra 50 dollars or so a month without too much trouble. I plan to use my savings/earnings for gas money.

Here are all my favorite shopping sites where I get cash back from Big Crumbs. Their cash back is several percentage points higher than most of the other cashback sites. So with a coupon code, and this cashback site, I really save a lot of money - in fact, I often find that it is cheaper to buy things on the internet than to purchase them in the actual stores. These are just some of my personal favorites - they have a whole lot more stores where you can save! As a Crumbsaver, you can save the following amounts:

Vitamin Shoppe -7.8% cash back
Botanic Choice - 16.2% - 9%
1-800 Contacts - 7.2%
Vision Direct -9%

Ebay: - 4.5%
Ebay -36% of seller's fees

Barnes and Noble 4.5%
Borders -5.4%
Discovery Channel store - 9%

DotPhoto -4.5%
Kodak 5.4%
Kodak Gallery 9% 6.3%

Babies R US 2.7%
Baby Center Store 5.4%
Back to Basics toys 8.1%
Childcraft 4.5%
Hearthsong 9%
KB Toys 4.5%
Leaps and Bounds 6.75%
Motherhood Maternity 8.1%
One Step Ahead 6.75%
Oriental Trading Company 4.5%
Preschoolians 18%
Shindigz Party 9%
Toys R Us 2.7%
Target -up to 9%
Walmart 3.6%

Travel: 4.5%
Hotwire 1.8%
Expedia 1.8%
Orbitz - up to $19 1.7% 13.5%
Travelocity up to 4.5%
Southwest Airlines - 4.5%

Clothes and Shoes: 10.8%
Chadwicks 4.5% 7.2%
Kohls 3.6%
Motherhood Maternity 8.1% 15.3% 15.75%
Preschoolians 18%

Office Supplies:
Office Depot up to 5.4%
Office Max 3.6%
Staples up to 6.3%
TigerDirect 1.8%
VistaPrint up to 18%

Miscellaneous: 31.5%
Lillian Vernon 5.4%
ITunes 4.5% - 12.15%
Personalization Mall - 13.5%
Tiger Direct - 1.8%

Click here to find out more about Big Crumbs.

How it works page

Another Shopping Reward site that is Awesome is Mr. Rebates. They'll give you 1% of the purchase price, and not just a percentage of the sellers fees.

Mr. Rebates


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shopping Reward Sites

I don't know about you, but every time I shop online, I use a coupon code AND a reward site -preferably a cash-back reward site. The two I mainly use are BigCrumbs and ShopatHome.

BigCrumbs is especially good for Ebay purchases. Its really easy because I have a Quickcrumb bookmark tab in my toolbar window - I click on it - it opens the ebay page - and the bid/purchase is then automatically credited to my account.

BigCrumbs also has a great referral incentive, unlike the other shopping sites. So I highly recommend the BigCrumbs site. Click on the link below to find out more information.

Its wonderful to get a check in the mail from one of these sites. I just got a $25 check the other day - it feels like free money. ;)

Shop at Home is also a great site - and you earn a one-time payment anytime a friend joins. If you click on the link below and sign up, the first time you use the site, you get $5 for free. I use this site all the time to get 6% cash back from Vitamin Shopppe - definitely helps keep my vitamins more affordable.


Another one that I found that I like is Mr. Rebates. It gives you 1% cash back of the actual purchase price on Ebay, instead of a percentage of the seller's fees like most of the others.

Mr. Rebates


Monday, May 26, 2008

Fertility tips and encouragement

Here are some fertility tips and encouragement from me to all the women out there who are TTC:

hey, it takes most couples 18 months or so to get pregnant (doctors won't even do anything until you've been trying over a year). You only have a 20% chance of getting pregnant once every cycle. And that number goes down the older you get. So don't worry about infertility until you've been trying for a couple of years. Also, a woman is only fertile 8 days of the cycle - the four days of cervical mucus plus the four dry days afterwards. Also, most women ovulate at 4 pm, and then the egg is only viable for about 12 hours after that. (that's why you see on tv shows when women are watching their ovulation of having lunchtime "quickies".) The sperm however can live for several days inside the ducts within the cervical mucus, and then when you ovulate, the sperm rushes out to fertilize the egg, which is why women are considered fertile for 8 days of the cycle. Also, the percentage of getting pregnant goes way down if you are drinking caffeine and soda during those 8 days, which is a bummer. I'm pretty much off caffeine right now, thank goodness, but it took awhile. :)
There are a lot of little "fertility tricks" that people can do to help along fertility. You can check out my webpage on fertility (its a work in progress) and I also really liked the book Natural Fertility by Nikki Bradford.
Hot baths are a big time no-no. Sperm has to stay at a 89.6 degree F temperature. The whole testicle/scrotum area is a lot cooler than regular body temperature, which I found to be interesting.
Also, at the doctor's office, there is a really simple test for men to make sure they have viable sperm (its a lot easier to check the men first, and then check the woman, their test is not as involved. ;). You can also find these tests on the internet, if you don't have a doctor.
Millions of couples have fertility issues, mostly as an environmental and food issue, as well as a biological one. So there's a lot of stuff to try out there, so don't feel like there's no hope or feel like the problems are insurmountable or something. :) Anyway, I didn't know any of the stuff I mentioned above until this year so I thought I'd pass on my info. :)

Friday, May 9, 2008


Updated 5/9 & 5/11 - scroll down to see updates.

11/15/07 -So I've been thinking about eggs lately. They are one of those "brain power" power foods that are suppose to be super good for you. But not all eggs are alike. And some are super expensive. And some have way more in them than others (and what I mean by that is that the chemically eggs have way too much chemicals/antibiotics in them, and the good eggs have a different degree of Omega 3s and Lutein.) So here are some interesting varieties and facts on the eggs out there.

Recommended eggs:
Good Day! Naturals All Natural Eggs
Christopher Eggs
Pilgrim's Pride Eggs Plus
Eggland's Best

Some websites that tell more about eggs:

Some facts about free-range vs. conventional:
They found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial, "conventional" (i.e., from confined hens) eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene.

webblog in progress....check back later for more......

update: 5/09

I emailed a few months back the Christopher Egg company and asked where I could purchase their eggs, because I had been looking for them everywhere, and no grocery store carried them. They emailed me back saying that Krogers carried them. I went to 5 different Krogers in Arlington, Fort Worth and Dallas, and emailed them back saying No, Krogers does NOT carry them. Then I emailed the Kroger company and asked them to carry these eggs. I guess the two companies talked to each other because........

Long story short - Krogers now carries them! Hurray! They carry them under their Private Selection brand name. They are around $2.50 a dozen, which is a lot cheaper than most organic-type or natural-type eggs.
Christopher's Eggs are Amazing, and I will probably never buy a different type of egg again. They contain 660mg of Omega 3s PER EGG! Most eggs only contain about 60-130mgs per egg.

Here's the info on Christopher Eggs:

From their website:
Christopher Eggs come from hens fed a natural diet that is so special it is patented. This diet allows them to produce eggs that are rich in Omega-3 unsaturated fats along with the protein, vitamins and minerals found in regular eggs. Research shows that Omega-3 should be a vital ingredient in a healthy diet. Omega-3 can't be "manufactured" by the body, so it must accessed from our food. Unfortunately, we do not eat enough of it.

The formula for Christopher Eggs was designed by Belovo, a Belgian egg processing company with expertise in developing health oriented food ingredients, oils and egg based powders.
In developing Christopher Eggs, Belovo researched nutrition and the human and animal diet, both historic and contemporary. The natural diet of the ancestors of our modern chicken was far more varied, including an extended range of seeds, pulses and green vegetation. This diet yielded eggs with a better nutrient content and a better balance of essential fatty acids.
Currently, many other eggs are from chickens fed primarily wheat and soya. This results in eggs that are much lower in Omega-3 than Omega-6 fatty acids, and does nothing to adjust the shortage of Omega-3 that is widespread in Western diets.

Good Fats and Bad Fats

All fats are composed of molecular building blocks called fatty acids. These fatty acids can dramatically affect human health depending on their blend, mix and balance.

The Bad

It is well known that saturated fats are bad for us. Found in many foods including meat, dairy products, and some tropical oils, saturated fat increases the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and obesity. Recently, another culprit has been identified - trans fatty acids, which are man-made molecules produced during the hydrogenation of vegetable oil. Studies show that trans fatty acids can be even worse for your cardiovascular system than saturated fat and may also increase the risk of breast cancer.
Unfortunately the typical Western diet is loaded with the types of fatty acids that seem to be linked with some of our most serious health problems, and significantly deficient in some that are essential for proper nutrition. It now appears that switching from butter to a vegetable-oil based margarine may not have been such a great idea.

The Good

Mono-unsaturated fatty acids, the type found in olive oil and canola oil, have properties that appear to help protect the cardiovascular system. They also seem to reduce the risk of certain metabolic disorders such as diabetes and have been linked to lower rates of cancer.
Polyunsaturated fats can be good for you as well. They contain EFAs, or "essential fatty acids." These EFAs are fatty acids that are necessary for normal growth and development, yet cannot be manufactured in your body. They must be obtained from our food.
The two types of EFAs in polyunsaturated fat are Omega-3 and Omega-6. For these EFAs to be produce maximum nutritional benefit they should be evenly balanced. Unfortunately the Western diet is overloaded with Omega-6, and very slim in Omega-3.
Belovo and Christopher Eggs are committed to providing a more nutritious option in eggs with an extraordinary level of Omega-3 and a proper balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Over the last 20-30 years scientists have discovered more and more health benefits thought to be associated with diets rich in Omega-3. They include:
  • The Heart and Circulation
  • Consumption of Omega-3 appears to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke because it seems to:
    • Reduce the tendency for blood to clot
    • Lowers the level of fats circulating in the blood
    • Cuts the risk of an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
    • Can reduce high blood pressure
  • The Joints
    • Omega-3 is believed to reduce the stiffness and pain in the joints of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
  • Growing Brain
    • Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers are believed to benefit from a high Omega-3 intake. It appears to be a vital component of the baby's brain, which grows rapidly in the last 3 months of pregnancy and the first 6-12 months after birth.
  • Behavior
    • Because of the apparent impact of Omega-3 on the brain, research is being concentrated on a wide range of behavioral problems, such as Hyperactivity in children, Depression and Alzheimers. Evidence supporting the beneficial influence of Omega-3 in this area is not conclusive, but is strengthening.
Additionally, research is beginning to show possible benefits in other areas, including some cancers (breast and prostate), type 2 diabetes and asthma.

5/11 - On the pregnancy level: From Dr. Mercola's site:

The Benefits of Omega-3’s

Not all news is bad news, however. There are some steps you can take during pregnancy which will greatly benefit your child’s future health. One of the best is increasing your intake of omega-3 fats.

A study published in the British Medical Journal clearly showed that omega-3’s are associated with lessening the risk for premature delivery. They dramatically reduce pregnancy complications, and do wonders to improve the health of all children.

A high intake of omega-3’s during the later stages of pregnancy can increase fetus growth (without extending the duration of the pregnancy!)

In fact, it can even increase your child’s intelligence.

To sum up, an awareness of which foods are good for your baby -- and which are harmful -- can reduce the risks of birth defects, protect your child from obesity, and even increase their intelligence.

From Braylock - an incredible article - an absolute must-read!!!

other articles on Omega 3s



I was in the public school system for 6 years, from 2000-2006. When I got out, I suffered for several months with depression. I never want to go back to those zombie-like days again, and I am so grateful to my husband for helping/putting up with me!
I have felt so much better in the last few months, mostly because of:
I have found that what works for me for the best way to combat (and it is a fight!) depression is the following:

Lots of water
no soda (or at least limit it to once a week!!!)
Lots of Omega-3s (ck out my christopher's egg page) and
I take Carlson's Cod Liver Oil pills
Sunshine - extremely important - I need to walk at least 3 times a week or
I know I will suffer!
Green Tea - lots of anti-oxidants
A really good Multi-vitamin - I like Garden of Life Living Multi and
Nature's Way Alive!
Acidophilus pill - cause 80% of your immune system is in your gut
severely limit caffeine intake

now if only I could wean myself off of sugar........

Here's a couple of websites:
Dr. Mercola

I found this article to be interesting. If you are on medication, you can always do the above and take your pills. If you and your doctor carefully monitor your progess, you can try almost anything!

From the Dr. Mercola website:

Clearly drugs are rarely the best choice for pregnant women who are depressed. There are so many better options.

Antidepressants are the top-selling therapeutic class, with $12.5 billion in retail sales. Depression is an enormously common problem and many people use a drug-based solution to address it.

Second generation antidepressants have traditionally been believed to be safe during pregnancy. However, this report shows that Paxil use may cause a withdrawl symptoms in babies once they are born.

While I am certain many women benefit in some ways from their use, these drugs are in no way shape or form ever responsible for improving the underlying cause of depression.

Sure seems to make a lot more sense to recommend the use of simple therapies which are far more effective and virtually non-toxic.

Now, what would those be?

First and foremost, especially with pregnant women, the use of omega-3 oils is an absolute must. It is also clear that omega-3 fat supplementation and restriction of omega-6 fats will profoundly improve the brain function.

Dr. Stoll is the director of the psychopharmacology research lab at Boston's McLean Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He discusses this extensively in his book The Omega-3 Connection. He reviews the new evidence supporting the use of omega-3 oils for depression.

I thoroughly enjoyed his book, but disagree with his recommendations to avoid using cod liver oil. It is my experience that as long as the dose is carefully monitored, cod liver oil is far more beneficial than traditional fish oil capsules.

In addition to treating the depression they will also do wonders for improving the intelligence of the child and protecting them from the epidemic of brain injuries such as autism, pervasive developmental delay and ADHD.

Secondly exposure to full spectrum lighting is key. In the summer this is a no-brainer, just spend one hour outside in the sunlight, not behind a window. The window will filter out many of the over 1500 wavelengths that are present in full sunlight. If the problem occurs during the winter then access to full spectrum fluorescent lighting will be very important.

If pregnant women only did the following three steps, the great majority would notice amazing improvement in their depression:

  • Omega-3 oils, specifically fish oil, is probably the single most important nutrient for a child with ADHD to take.
  • Next they should only drink water as their beverage, taking care to avoid fruit juices, soda and milk.
  • Restrict sugars and grains, which cause insulin levels to be elevated.