The Daddy/Daughter Garden Project

AVABIF

“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.”-  Zenobia Barlow, “Confluence of Streams”

This spring, my two year old daughter and I started a garden. With sunshine, the garden will grow. With love, my daughter will grow into a confident and passionate young woman. I want her to have the confidence to follow her dreams and the tools to live her life with purpose and passion. Through this garden project, I hope to teach her not only about sustainability, but to help her find the self confidence she will need as she gets older. Gardening will also serve as a medium to teach lessons about the interconnectedness of life. Through my actions as her father, I also hope to show her that she will always have my unconditional love and support in all her endeavors.

Whether you are an accomplished gardener or a novice, gardening with children is a true lesson in patience.  Holes will be dug too big (or too small), dirt may be tasted for the first time, seeds will be lost, and plants will be damaged in the process. When you accept the fact that you will not achieve horticultural perfection with this garden, you give yourself the opportunity let go a little bit. These are the moments you and your child will remember forever.

When I think about gardening in my own childhood, I think of times with grandfather. He had a variety of plants and vegetables, but he had a particular affection for his tomato plants. In the tomato garden, even though we’d initially start the conversation about the plants, it was really the only time he  also opened up about his life experiences. In that little garden, he told me about the racism he dealt with as a young sergeant during World War II, his opinions on cars (“It’s Ford or nothing ”), and cooking tips (“Put garlic powder in everything!”).

Throughout the spring, I will be writing about the progress of our garden. I look forward to this project and hope you take the time to  follow our journey!

Lawnmower Man

lawnmower

It happens to the best of us, and to the best of lawn mowers: Suddenly, your most important landscaping sidekick experiences a slight setback. Regular lawn mower maintenance  helps prevent problems, and lengthens the life of your lawn equipment. Even with plenty of TLC, normal wear and tear from hours of mowing the lawn increases the chances of hitting a glitch from time to time.

But first a warning: Always refer to the operator’s manual before starting any maintenance project on your equipment. If all else fails, swallow your pride and take your lawnmower in for professional repair. I wasted 2 weeks and 50 dollars trying to “fix” something on the lawnmower that took the repair shop less than 10 minutes (and 40 dollars).

Here are some of the most common forms of mowing interruptions and what you can do

The Starter Rope is Hard to Pull or Seems Stuck:

A typical cause for this is that the engine flywheel brake (the bar you hold down on the handle that stops the engine when released) is engaged. Be sure to bring the bar down all the way to the handle before pulling.

This can also happen if your mower blade is dragging in grass or clogged with grass clippings. Move your mower off your lawn to a hard surface. With the mower turned off and the spark plug wire disengaged, clear the underside of the mower of excessive clippings, then resume a safe mowing position, and give it another yank.

Your Mower Won’t Start:

Believe it or not, many homeowners experience this frustration for one very obvious reason: the gas tank is empty. So be sure you’re filled up first. Old gas can also lead to problems starting. If you have last season’s gas in your mower, drain your fuel tank and fill with fresh gas. Other possible causes include:

  • Loose, Dirty or Disconnected Spark Plug in Your Lawn Mower: Check it out, clean off debris, re-connect and tighten.
    • Dirty Air Filter: Clean or replace.
    • Fuel Not Reaching the Engine: Tap the side of the carburetor to help the flow of gas. If this doesn’t work, you might need a new fuel filter.

You Lose Power in the Middle of Mowing:

Ah, the source of familiar sounds in the neighborhood: a puttering engine that’s suddenly quiet. Here’s why this happens and what you can do:

  • Dirty Air Filter on Your Lawn Mower: Clean or replace.
    • Cutting Tall Grass: Raise the cutting height on your lawn mower
    • Dirty Spark Plug: Clean or replace
    • Build Up of Clippings & Debris: Clean underside of your lawn mower deck as noted above.

Whoa! Your Mower is Smoking:

Your spouse may make a big deal about it, but it’s usually not serious. Your lawn mower’s engine can smoke if your oil chamber is too full, or if oil leaked into the exhaust muffler when you tilted your mower to the side. It’s simply burning off while the engine is hot. But if you’re seeing lighter colored smoke, plus have trouble keeping your mower running, it’s time for a serious look by a professional.

Happy Spring!

 

AM

 

 

My Wife, the Artist

Watermarked - Jersey Cow Betty - Lovereen Moore

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”

I am married to a professional artist. It has been amazing to see her progression over the last 10 years.. As you may know from How I met your Mother, we met while we were in college. At that time, she was a neophyte artist – taking elective art classes as her time permitted.  Although she ended up majoring in Business Management Information Systems, she was able to squeeze in a Fine Art minor.

When my wife entered grad school at Fordham University, she was able to continue her studies at the Art Students League of New York City . The Art Students League of New York has historically been known for its broad appeal to both amateurs and professional artists and has maintained, for over 130 years, a tradition of offering reasonably priced classes on a flexible schedule to accommodate students from all walks of life. By the time she completed her Masters in Social Work a few years later, her art skills had increased tenfold.

Her  “hobby” has now turned into a successful business. She paints home portraits, pet portraits, with custom art pieces for sale on her website. Last week, she even won the “People’s Choice” award at the Marietta (Georgia)First Friday Art Walk . (Her winning painting is at the top of this post.) The First Friday Art Walk is a free self-guided tour of the historic Marietta Square’s eclectic art scene. Galleries, museums, cultural venues, restaurants and boutiques host artists within their businesses from 5pm to 9pm on the first Friday of every month in the spring through fall. Many major cities throughout the US participate in the First Friday Ark Walk and it has proven to be a great way for artists to gain national  exposure.

We’ve converted our guest bedroom into her art studio. The sea blue walls offer a comforting and relaxing backdrop to perform her magic. After pulling an 8+ hour work day at her full time job (she works in Project Management), she’ll spend quality time with our girls until they go down to bed. When the kids are down and home is finally quiet, she’ll often find her artistic groove. When she gets into the zone, she’ll easily paint through the night. I find it a little troubling that there are many nights where she’ll sleep less than two hours, but after a night of painting, she wakes up refreshed and balanced. In a day full of distractions, painting at night allows her think, reflect, and create on her own terms.

Although I wasn’t really thrilled about it initially (why are you giving away our money!?), she donates a part of EVERY sale to the Humane Society of Cobb County. This is one of the many reasons I admire her constant altruism as a artist, friend, wife, and mother.

To visit her incredible site and to place an order, you can visit www.lovereenmoore.com

 

Did you know?

Art has surpassed the stock market in appreciation over the past twenty years.

 

 

I Hate the Zoo

sickparrot

Although my daughter loves to see the animals, I hate going to the zoo. They are a relic of a bygone age – a Victorian concept which, as our knowledge of the animal kingdom grows, becomes even less palatable. Frustration and boredom are common amongst animals in zoos and can lead to obsessive behaviors in the form of pacing, swaying, and even self-mutilation. This is known as stereotypic behavior and such repetitive movements have also been noted in people with mental illnesses. With nothing to do, animals in zoos go insane.

Space in zoos rarely, if ever, matches the animals’ natural range. Animals who would normally roam for tens of miles a day tread the same few paces daily.  A study published a few years ago revealed that enclosures in many zoos and safari parks are on average 100 times smaller than the minimum home range in the wild for the animals they contain.

I wrote this poem after a visit to the zoo. Although there was dirty glass physically protecting the parrot from visitors and outside dangers, I could see that the bird was depressed and showing physical signs of mental stress.

Rara Avis

locked in a cell

sitting feces, urine, grime
a death sentence
for committing no crime.
children happily hammer
on fragile glass
the price paid for loving
insects and grass
feathers are missing
beak is discolored
small price paid
for a rare bird discovered.

Cord Blood Banking

CBR logo (2)[1]

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central for the Cord Blood Registry. I received a
promotional item 
to thank me for my participation.”

In many cultures, the umbilical cord is treated with a great deal of respect and reverence. Developing and growing alongside a baby, the umbilical cord is a fairly small but incredibly important part of the story of pregnancy and birth. There are many options for how to handle the cord after birth, but after the long and complicated process of conception, pregnancy, labor, and delivery, one should take a moment to think about the way a woman’s body is so perfectly designed for this amazing process.

As any adult with a bellybutton knows, the umbilical cord is the only lifeline for the developing baby, and its arteries and veins contain the same sort of blood cells (reds, whites, and platelets) as the mother. In addition, umbilical cord blood contains hematopoetic stem cells, the undeveloped precursors of mature blood cells. These stem cells that can be used to treat over 80 conditions and diseases, including cancer, certain autism, metabolic disorders, blood diseases like sickle cell anemia, and immune deficiencies. Although only a small percentage of families opt for cord blood banking, its popularity have grown significantly over the last 20 years.

What is cord blood banking?    

Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells for potential medical use.

Is there any risk to the mother or baby in the procedure to save the umbilical cord blood?

No. There is no risk to the mother or the baby. After the birth of the child, the doctor will simply clamp and cut the baby’s umbilical cord. The blood remaining in the umbilical cord will then be harvested into the collection bag. Because this is done after childbirth, it is entirely painless to the baby and the mother. The total collection time is less than 5 minutes and is neither impeded or complicated by cesarean or natural childbirth.

Did you know that there is bipartian legislation for cord blood banking services?

Specifically, the Family Cord Blood Banking Act will allow expectant parents to use tax-free dollars to pay for cord blood banking services through Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA), Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) and the medical expenses tax deduction. Unlike other medical therapies that can be acquired at any time, the very nature of cord blood requires that it be processed and stored before medical use. Consequently, cord blood banking is a medical expense even though the use of these cells may not occur until later. Finally, the Family Cord Blood Banking Act will allow more Americans to recognize the long-term healthcare benefits of having a source of their own genetically unique stem cells stored for future use.

If you think this is a good fit for you and your family, please consider using the Cord Blood Registry.  To sweeten the deal, CBR is offering a special $200 discount for all of my loyal readers who visit their site AND completes an information request. Hell, that’s money (and cord blood) in the BANK! Visit  www.cordbankingbasics.com

About Cord Blood Registry
Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®) is the world’s largest newborn stem cell company. Founded in 1992, CBR is entrusted by parents with storing more than 500,000 cord blood and cord tissue units. The company is pioneering FDA-regulated clinical trials through partnerships with leading medical institutions exploring the use of newborn stem cells to treat a variety of serious conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury. For more information, visit http://www.cordblood.com or visit @cordblood on Twitter.

How I Met Your Mother

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One day, our daughters will ask how we met. Although we may omit certain details until they are a bit older, this is the story we will tell them. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Your mom and I met in college. We both went to Seton Hall University, in beautiful (and often misunderstood) New Jersey. It is the home of Taylor Ham, Bon effin’ Jovi, and the Jersey Shore (and I am not talking about the show!) It wasn’t love at first, second, or third sight. It took three years of talking, my temporary deportation from Canada (that’s another story altogether), and a little divine intervention for us to finally fall in love.

In college, I occasionally saw your mom around campus, and even though she’d flash a quick smile to me when I saw her, we didn’t really talk until we started working together during her senior year. We were also both dating people who consumed our energy and would have likely benefited from some type of therapy at the time. The timing never seemed quite right for us. Your mom was a class year ahead of me, so by my senior year, she found herself working at The State University of New York – Canton. Although the university has a US address, it is virtually in Canada. Hell, even the road signs in “North Country” (as it is commonly known) are in French!. Oui!

Your mom grew sick of the extended sub zero temps and decided to spend her President’s Day weekend with her mom in NJ. This was my chance! Valentine’s day was that Friday and we were both single. As ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott would say, “This was cooler than the other side of the pillow!”  I called her up and mentioned that since we were both unattached at the time, it might be fun if we went out to dinner together to catch up.

Do I even need to tell you how packed restaurants are on Valentine’s Day?

After driving to at least 20 restaurants that gave us wait times from 3 hours to “don’t even bother”, I started to panic and decided that it might be best if we went to the decrepit diner next to the mall we saw earlier. It wasn’t ideal, but at least we could talk.  It was romantic in the “no one is even here” sense of the word. We were tired, hungry (it was close to 10pm by then), and ready to go home. We finally placed our orders and when the food finally came out, my food was a juxtaposition of look and texture. How the heck do you burn food that is also cold? When your mom bit into her sandwich, she found multiple strands of someone’s hair in her food!  At that point, there was nothing left to do but laugh and end our impromptu date. We agreed that if we were both single next year, we’d plan a little better in order to secure a better meal. Three years later, we were married.

Fun Fact about Us:

We were married in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Right on da beach, mon!

A Partner’s Guide to Postpartum Depression

Birthed into Fatherhood

Postpartum depression (PPD) is one of the most common complications of childbirth, according to Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, Director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. PPD affects from 10 to 35 percent of all moms. Although many people assume postpartum depression can occur in the first few weeks of a baby’s birth, symptoms can occur at any time within the first year of the birth. If you are someone you know may be struggling with PPD, please remember that it is treatable and temporary with professional help.

What does PPD look like?

There are countless books and articles written on this subject. Postpartum Progress has a great resource to help identify symptoms if you suspect you or your partner may be struggling with PPD.

Why does PPD happen?

Although the exact cause of postpartum depression is unknown, research has show that there is a correlation between PPD and the following stressors:

Hormonal changes - After childbirth, women experience a serious drop in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. Thyroid levels can also drop, which leads to fatigue and depression. These rapid hormonal changes—along with the changes in blood pressure, immune system functioning, and metabolism that new mothers experience—may trigger postpartum depression.

Physical changes - Giving birth brings numerous physical and emotional changes. Mothers may be dealing with physical pain or emotional trauma from the birth. Other may be struggling to lose the baby weight. These changes could leave your partner insecure about their physical and sexual attractiveness.

Stress - The stress of caring for a newborn is hard! When this stress is combined with sleep deprivation, it can make a mother feel overwhelmed and anxious about their ability to properly care for their child.  These feelings are often magnified for first time mothers and experienced mothers who think they should “have it all together”.

As a spouse/partner, what should I do?

1. Gently tell her about your concerns

If you feel your partner is suffering from PPD, talk to her. Focus on the behaviors you’ve seen (crying or inability to sleep, for example) as the reasons for your concern. Let her know that if it indeed turns out she has postpartum depression or anxiety, these illnesses are very common and treatable. Remind your partner that you will stand by her.  Research shows that emotional support from a spouse is an essential factor in the recovery from postpartum depression.

2. Start working with her right away to get professional help

Studies show that the sooner women who have postpartum depression or anxiety are treated, the less negative impact their illness will have on the family.   Women with postpartum depression and anxiety are often extremely fatigued and ashamed.  This can make it very difficult to ask for professional help.  Assist her with this.  You can easily find out what resources are in your area by visiting Postpartum Support International’s (PSI) support page.  PSI has coordinators in every state who will let you know about local peer support groups, specialists and other resources that may be available.

3. Support her treatment plan

There are many decisions to be made, including what type of treatment to choose, whether to continue breastfeeding … imagine trying to make these decisions while you are suffering from an illness that has “difficulty making decisions” as one of its symptoms. She needs your unwavering support.  Step up.

4. Take care of yourself

We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self care and it is something to keep in mind as you help your partner during an emotional and challenging time.

“When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

~Author Unknown

I Killed Cupid on Valentines Day

SweetheartsCandystockphoto_Heart_Candy_366437

Many say that Valentine’s Day is an invention of the greeting card industry, with Hallmark taking the brunt of this misdirected wrath. The accusation is so pervasive that the company has posted on its Web site an article called “Just a Hallmark Holiday? Think Again!

However, the anger at Hallmark and the accusation that the Valentine’s Day celebration is a relatively modern development are both mistaken. Hallmark deserves neither the credit nor the blame for our Valentine’s Day rituals. The company, founded in 1910, printed its first Valentine’s Day card in 1913. The holiday itself dates back many centuries before then; it is apparently another pagan holiday that Christians attempted to repackage, by transforming the Roman fertility celebration Lupercalia into St. Valentine’s Day. This holiday has been transformed into a commercial spectacle promoted by florists, greeting card companies, jewelry stores, and confectionery makers. I didn’t like the holiday when I was single, and I still don’t particularly enjoy now that I am married.

If you are single, you can’t help but see commercials, posters, restaurant menus, store promotions and everything else that has been created for couples. It also makes you even more aware that YOU DON’T HAVE that special someone. Even if you are happily single, Valentine’s Day still causes a flicker of doubt wondering if you can really are THAT happy.

Married or committed couples don’t really have it any much better. There is so much imaginary pressure to live up to manufactured expectations around this one day. It’s like on February 14 we are, in essence, commanded to “be romantic… or else”. It can make you feel like if you don’t go to extravagant lengths to prove yourself with cards, flowers, and jewelry, you don’t really love your partner. Spending hundreds of dollars for Valentine’s Day is akin to including “obey” in your wedding vows: Both seem to demonstrate a subscription to outdated, narrow-minded views of romance.

My favorite Valentine’s Day happened 10 years ago. It was unplanned and cost me 10 dollars. I was single at the time and a college friend of mine happened to be home for an extended winter break. At the time, she was an administrator at a university near the Canadian border (brrr) and I was working at a small liberal arts college in NJ. We both were bouncing back from break-ups and instead of sitting home and feeling down on ourselves, we figured it might be fun if we went out to dinner together.

Do I need to tell you how packed restaurants are on Valentine’s Day?

After driving to at least 20 restaurants that gave us wait times from 3 hours to “don’t even bother”, we ended up at a old diner next to a mall. We were tired, hungry (it was close to 10pm by then), and ready to go home. Our orders were placed and when the food finally came out, my food was burnt. When she bit into her sandwich, she found multiple strands of someone’s hair in her food! At that point, all we could do was laugh and end our impromptu date. We agreed that if we were both single next year, we’d plan a little better in order to secure a better meal. Three years later, we were married.

Did you know?

Words that imply negative sexual consequences (venereral diseases, herpes, syphilis, etc) are all derived from Latin words whereas positive sexual functions (aphrodisiac, platonic, erotic, etc.) come from the Greek! Happy Valentines Day!

Coffee, how I love thee

coffee

fruit from Africa
French kissed by fire and heat
my morning delight

I’ve had a love affair with coffee for over 15 years. We met in passing while I was in middle school and became more acquainted as I prepared for my AP exams in high school. By the time grad school came around, we were inseparable and have been together ever since.  My love for coffee inspired me to write the haiku above. It is dedicated to my loyal Keurig coffee maker that unceremoniously passed away this morning.

To celebrate the pending arrival of my new coffee maker, I’ve compiled a list of interesting facts about coffee:

1. Tea was more popular than coffee in America until King George the III’s Stamp Act of 1767 increased taxes. The result was the Boston Tea Party, a rebellion in which Bostonians dumped the British East India tea cargos into a harbor. From that point, coffee became America’s national drink and was emotionally linked with its revolution.

2. Besides Americans, the two other largest drinkers of coffee are the French and the Germans. These three countries drink approximately 65% of the total coffee consumed in the world.

3. One third of the tap water used for drinking in North America is used to brew daily cups of coffee.

4. Light roast coffee has more caffeine that dark roast coffee. The longer coffee is roasted, the more caffeine is cooked from the bean.

5. Starbucks coffee shops use over 93 million gallons of milk per year. This would be enough to fill 155 Olympic-sized swimming pools. They also use 2.3 billion paper cups annually

6. According to legend, coffee was discovered in the 9th century when an Ethiopian goat herder named Khaldi noticed that his normally lethargic goats were more excitable after they had nibbled the red berries from an evergreen tree. Khaldi took the berries to a Muslim holy man, who turned the raw fruit of the coffee tree into the delicious beverage.

 

“…it was at Starbucks when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”            - Sarah Vowell

Depend – Not just for the Elderly

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central Consulting for Depend. I received products samples and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.” 

In its most recent survey of for prostate cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. It is the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic men, and the fourth most common cause of death from cancer among Asian/Pacific Islander men.

Since I am a Latin scholar, you know I’ll have to drop a little etymology on ya’ll . The word “prostate” comes from the Medieval Latin prostate and Medieval French prostate. The ancient Greek word prostates means “one standing in front”, from proistanai meaning “set before”. The prostate is so called because of its position – it is at the base of the bladder.

After out annual physical for our adult rugby club, my good friend and former collegiate teammate found out that he had prostate cancer. He took care of himself, didn’t drink, exercised regularly and had a fairly stress free life as an elementary school principal. How could he have PROSTATE cancer? After the initial shock of being diagnosed, my friend decided that he would do everything in his power he could to fight it. After two surgeries, my friend found himself dealing with something no 30 year old wants to talk about or admit – incontinence. Even though it was a “temporary” (3+ months) side effect from the surgery, using Depend Underwear with Fit-Flex protection allowed him to return to work and to the rugby field in a matter of weeks. Better yet, the discrete protection of Depend undergarments gave him the security and confidence he needed to once again excel at work and on the rugby pitch.

In addition to treating various health issues, millions of Americans have bladder control issues, also known as incontinence. The condition can affect anyone – not just the baby boomers! Bladder control issues can also affect young people, particularly women who have given birth or men who have been treated for prostate cancer. Many active, social people with bladder control issues live in fear of embarrassment because they worry their incontinence products can’t help them discreetly manage this common condition. To help give them the freedom and confidence they need every day, Depend (www.depend.com), has introduced Depend Underwear with new Fit-Flex protection.

To show the positive impact Depend can make in someones life, the Depend brand is featuring the personal journeys of real people with bladder control issues and highlighting their new found sense of freedom and confidence is a series of inspirational online videos.

Please visit the links below to watch the videos and/or to request a free sample.

Real Stories Videos: bit.ly/1c17B85

Request a Free Sample: bit.ly/1dmUbkW