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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Food for thought: Portion Control

Not only is it important to eat the right foods, it is also important to make sure you are eating the right amount of them. Knowing proper portion sizes is essential to not only managing nutrition related health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, but it is also one of the basics to weight loss and overall healthy eating. If you are struggling with losing weight, but think you are eating the right foods, it may be the amount you are eating. Estimating portion sizes can be very tricky, and most of us are not very good at it. It takes time and practice. Here are a few tips to help you correctly measure and estimate your portions:

1 .  Measure your foods at first. See what one cup of breakfast cereal or 1/2 cup of vegetables looks like on your dishes. Measure one cup of milk and see what it looks like in your glassware. You may be surprised. After measuring foods several times, you will be better at estimating.
2.  Freeze leftovers in individual-size portions. This is not only more convenient, it will save you time when are ready to heat and eat these foods.

3 .  Buy individual portions of snack foods, especially those that are high in fat, sodium or calories. Or make individual portions yourself by dividing up a large container into smaller portion-sized bags. This makes it easier for you to make sure you are getting the right amount every time.

4. .  Use smaller dishes. This may sound trivial, but you will not put as much food on a smaller plate. This will help you eat less. If you are hungry, you can always go back for more. Limit second helpings to fruits and vegetables to help keep you on the right track.
                                  Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut filling is cooked on stove-top then poured into the baked crust and chilled with a whipped cream topping.
3/4         cup cornstarch 
1-1/2      cups granulated sugar 
1/2         teaspoon salt 
4            cups milk, scalded 
2            eggs, beaten 
1-1/2     teaspoons vanilla 
2            tablespoons margarine 
1/2         teaspoon coconut extract 
1            cup coarsely shredded fresh coconut 
1            baked 10-inch pie shell or  graham cracker  pie  crust
4            cups whipped cream

1 .    Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt; mix well. Gradually stir scalded milk into cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for two minutes, or until thickened and shiny. Add a small amount of the hot mixture to eggs and beat until well blended. Return to pan and beat for two minutes over medium heat until slightly thickened, being careful not to let mixture curdle. Remove from heat and add vanilla and margarine, mixing until smooth. Pour through sieve to strain out lumps. Place plastic wrap directly over filling; set aside to cool.
2 .   Add coconut extract and half the coconut to the cooled pie filling. Pour filling into pie shell; chill. Spread whipped cream over pie, mounding in center. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Coconut cream pie recipe makes one 10-inch pie.

Words of  Wisdom :

You may not have very much sense. But if you have enough to keep your mouth shut and look wise, it will not be long before you acquire a wide reputation as a fountain of Wisdom

Few and precious are the words which the lips of Wisdom utter: 
To what shall their rarity be likened? What prices shall count their worth? 

Perfect, and much to be desired, and giving joy with riches, 
No lovely thing on earth can picture their fair beauty. 
They be chance pearls, flung among the rocks by the sullen waters of Oblivion. 

The sun of the mind, and the life of the heart is Wisdom. 
She is pure and full of light, crowning grey hairs with lustre, 
And kindling the eye of youth with a fire not its own. 
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

You can never control who you fall in love with, even when you're in the most sad, confused time of your life. You don't fall in love with people because they're fun. It just happens.

A very proud  grand-poppa         G.

Friday, January 30, 2015

There's a Healthy, Alternative Fast Food on the Rise

Shake Shack burger and concrete 

Shake Shack is part of the growing trend of "fast-casual" restaurants taking on giants like McDonald's

Shake Shack is ready to shake it up. Ever since Danny Meyer opened his take on a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in New York City in 2004, demand for Shake Shack's all-American food offerings has been insatiable.
Among devotees in New York, the "ShackCam" - a camera which offered a live-video feed of the inevitably long line - was particularly popular. Fans waited nearly five years for Mr Meyer to open up a second location.
But since 2009, the chain has been rapidly expanding, and it now has 63 locations in the US and around the world. Customers spend an average of $13 - significantly more than at most other competitor restaurants.
On Friday, Shake Shack is poised to gorge on investor demand in its US market debut. Late on Thursday, it priced its offering at $21 per share - netting the firm over $100m to fund future expansion and valuing Shake Shack at $745m.

President Obama and Joe Biden in a Shake Shack

  President Obama. shown here at Shake Shack, has long advocated for raising the federal US minimum wage

But Shake Shack is changing more than what people eat and how much they pay for it. Although the appeal of burgers and concretes - Mr Meyer's take on milkshakes - may seem obvious, ( the food is fresh, chemical and drug free and prepared on the premises. ) the demand for Shake Shack is actually part of a larger shift in US consumption habits towards so-called "fast-casual chains".
The term refers to restaurants like Chipotle, Panera, and others that offer consumers the ability to get food fast, but reject the classic fast-food model favoured by established brands like McDonald's and Burger King.
In that model, food is generally prepared off-site, meaning more chemicals and industrial suppliers are used. The food is then sent to franchises, where workers assemble the ingredients.

Chipotle worker

  Chipotle, the dominant fast-casual Mexican chain, has supported raising the minimum wage

"When you look at fast casual as a category, it tends to offer the promise of fresher food that's prepared more on-site, that is sourced more sustainably," says Hans Taparia, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. This model is particularly appealing to millennials, he adds, who tend to care less about price - the average "fast-casual" meal is $7.50, compared to $5 for a meal at a chain like Wendy's -  and more about ethics.
"Every marketer is trying to get access to this millennial consumer - it's an 80-million person strong consumer base: the largest demographic alive today," says Prof Taparia.

Firms like Chipotle, which have been particularly successful among this group, have seen incredible sales - and large returns to investors. Chipotle's shares have risen an astounding 1,587% since 2006, when, in a move some have called short-sighted, McDonald's spun it off as a separate company.
Crucially, for workers, this better food requires more from employees, so it tends to come with better wages. The minimum wages paid to fast-food workers have been a focus of intense national debate in the US, where activists and unions have been organizing fast-food workers into day-long protests agitating for so-called "living wages" of $15 per hour.
"Fifty-two percent of fast food workers in America earn wages that are below the poverty line," notes Prof Taparia, and even President Obama has called for an increase to the minimum wage to reduce exacerbating income inequality.

Shake Shack workers

Shake Shack pays its workers well above minimum wage in New York
A solution could come not just from legislation, but from these shifting business models. When it filed for its public stock sale, Shack Shack wrote that it paid its workers in New York City a starting salary of $10 per hour - significantly higher than the New York State minimum wage of $8 per hour.
"We believe that this enables us to attract a higher calibre employee and this translates directly to better guest service," wrote the firm when they filed.

Brian Parker 

Brian Parker co-founded Moo Cluck Moo in Detroit

Just ask Brian Parker, the co-founder of Detroit's Moo Cluck Moo - a recent entry into the growing fast casual market. At Moo Cluck Moo's Dearborn location - the company currently has two "concept stores" - a stream of customers came in on a recent Saturday night, braving subzero temperatures to order menu items like the "Notorious Cluck" - a gigantic fried chicken sandwich.
Although the restaurant is situated just across the street from a Wendy's and a Taco Bell, it did steady and continuous traffic all evening. One customer who had just discovered the restaurant the week before -  had been five times since.

French fries and fried chicken sandwich at moo cluck moo

Moo Cluck Moo serves standard "fast food" items like fries and burgers

Like other fast-casual chains, the meat and ingredients are ethically-sourced and antibiotic free, but Moo Cluck Moo take the millennial ethics emphasis one step further, and pays its workers a $15 per hour living wage.
"It's the right thing to do: it empowers our people, we don't have to babysit our staff, and we have low turnover as a result," says Mr Parker, noting that restaurants have been profitable for the past two quarters.

Worker at Moo Cluck Moo

Workers at Detroit's Moo Cluck Moo, like Sue, are trained to do various jobs in the restaurant
He adds that it also helps that workers - called "culinarians" - are trained in all aspects of the restaurant, from operating the fryer to ringing up customers.
Sue, a life-long worker in fast-food kitchens said "It's probably the best place I've ever worked."
If Shake Shack's debut on Friday can prove not just to customers but also to investors that profitability in the fast-food industry need not come at the expense of sustainability and employee salaries, it could potentially spell raises for millions of US fast-food workers.

Anyone who is interested in starting a business, guaranteed to succeed, should consider the latest trend in fast-casual dining, a modern twist on fast food. It has standards and ethics heretofore unrecognized in the fast food industry. The food is delicious, fresh, unadulterated with drugs or chemicals and sustainable. It is prepared from scratch right on the premises and not shipped, frozen, from hundreds or thousands of miles away. It is cooked and presented quickly ( the only similarity to the huge fast food franchises). And, finally, the service is efficient and friendly because the employees are content and paid commensurate with their efforts. A simple formula in keeping with the lifestyle of the millennial generation.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My parents are getting divorced after 22 years of marriage and it seems to be strongly affecting my mother in a terrible negative way .
Mom has told me that she has contemplated suicide twice . Once, she even held my brother's gun to her head . Everyone in the family, even my grandmother, my aunts and even my boyfriend , think mom needs counseling . 
So how do I suggest it without making her think I am calling her "crazy" ? And another problem is the cost . Mom may refuse to go because it's too expensive . Do you have any suggestions that may help ? 
Concerned Daughter 
Dear Concerned Daughter,
All mentions of sucide  should  be taken seriously . You are right  that your  mother  could  benefit from professional  help  and it  doesen't  need  to be expensive . Tell her  you are worried  about  her  and  it might help if  she  talks  to  someone  about  her  feelings . Free  and low-cost help  is  available  through local  churches, graduate  school  counseling  departments, medical school psychology departments , United Way , the  YWCA, and the YMCA. The Samaritan Institute ( ) . Nami   ( ) and  the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( ) and through support  groups  such as  the Depression  and Bipolar Support Alliance  ( ) and Recovery International( ) . Do a little  research on her behalf  and make  a suggestion , including  a website  or  phone  number so she can get the help she needs. 

Dear Maxy ,
I am noticing a new behavior in my tween daughter that is driving me nuts . Pretty much anything I say to her she rejects as if I don't know what I'm talking about . We are constantly bickering over every little thing . I asked her one day how she became an expert on everything at such a young age , trying to add some levity to the situation . What can I do to stop getting caught up in the arguments .
Stressed Out 
Dear Stressed Out,
According to Dr. Laura Markham, an 11/12 year old girl's hormones are going crazy and their brains are rewiring, so they are famous for their mood swings. They often don't even know why they're having an angry or tearful outburst. They often are ambivalent about "growing up" and resist the bodily changes and societal expectations that are thrust upon them. They begin experimenting with being sassy. It's pretty normal. But you can change the dynamic of the relationship:
1. Reconnect: Hug her more, spend time alone with her, listen more and find out what's going on in her world. Do something she likes....maybe go shopping or out to lunch.
2. Stop criticizing and start appreciating: Consciously remind yourself -- and her -- of all things you love about her. Give her more positive reinforcement and help her build her self esteem.
3. Try to see it from her point of view: Cultivate empathy for her. You may think she is over-reacting or over-dramatizing but girls this age have big feelings. She will learn to moderate them if she feels she is understood by you. 
 Focus on what really matters -- how people in your home treat each other, rather than being a disciplinarian. That doesn't mean you don't set limits. It means you do it in a patient, respectful, calm way, so your child internalizes calmness and respect and the ability to set limits for herself. If you respond to her upsets by getting upset yourself, it's like throwing a match on kindling.
Of course she won't become perfect. So you will need to cultivate the patience of a saint. Is that fair? No. But since when has parenthood been fair? A sense of humor really helps and it can break a tense moment. The bond you build now will last the rest of your life.
Here are some books you can get from the library.... The Everything Tween Book: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Turbulent Pre-Teen Years - by Linda Sonna......How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years - by Julie A. Ross......Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter from Her Tweens to Her Teens - by Dannah Gresh .
Good luck, Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I get so many emails these days that it is hard to keep track of them . It has become a problem for me because I have missed following up on key messages from my family and work . One of my clients got mad and threatened to take his business elsewhere . It that isn't bad enough , one of my friends got upset because I didn't respond to his invitation to go to his birthday party . I didn't see any of these messages . I feel overwhelmed by technology and really wish I didn't have to manage email . What should I do .
Out of Control
Dear Out  of  Control ,
You need to "make friends" with technology and  figure out  how  to use it  to  your  advantage . Start by  separating  your work  from your  personal life . Create  a new  email  address  specifically  for  your  friends  and  family . Send  a message  to all of  them  from that address  requesting that they use  that one . Next , clean out  your  other email  address . Delete  everything  that is  old  and unneccesary  . Review  everything   and respond  to anything  that is  outstanding . If  you are  late  in your  reply , be sure  to apologize  for  your  tardiness . Being  organized  will help you  stay on top  of  your responsibilities .

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Food for thought: Stay with a healthy diet in 2015

Do you feel like you may be forgetting something? Being forgetful can be caused by a number of reasons such as not getting enough sleep, not getting enough exercise, genetics or other lifestyle or environment factors. But keep in mind that your health and nutritional status can play a major role in your mental function. Foods that encourage blood flow to the brain are best for boosting memory and brain function. Here are a few tips to help you boost your brain power with nutrition:

1 .   Get plenty of fruit. Dark fruits such as blueberries and cherries are great antioxidants that may help reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as dementia.
2 .   Add some wild-caught salmon and other foods that are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids to your diet.
3 .   Go a little nutty by adding nuts and seeds. These are great sources of vitamin E which is a good brain booster. An ounce a day is sufficient. Look for unsalted nuts if you have sodium restrictions.
4.   Eat plenty of vegetables. Try dark green veggies such as kale and collard greens. Get plenty of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables may help to improve your memory, as well.
                                 Creole  Pecan Pie
1-1/2 cups pecan pieces 
3 large eggs  
1 cup sugar  
3/4 cup light or dark corn syrup 
2 tablespoons melted butter  
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon salt  
1 (9-inch) deep-dish frozen unbaked pie shell 
1. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.
2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.
3. Stir together eggs and next 5 ingredients; stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie shell.
4. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until set, shielding pie with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Serve warm or cold.
My daughter used Mrs. Smith's Deep Dish Frozen Pie Shell.

Words of  Wisdom 

Work hard for what you want because it won't come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If somebody puts you down or criticizes you, just keep on believing in yourself and turn it into something positive.

No matter what you're going through, there's a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it and just keep working towards it and you'll find the positive side of things.

Try to make at least one person happy every day. If you cannot do a kind deed, speak a kind word. If you cannot speak a kind word, think a kind thought. Count up, if you can, the treasure of happiness that you would dispense in a week, in a year, in a lifetime!

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.

I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we're all teachers - if we're willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.

A proud grand-poppa                  G.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Teen’s Inspiring Video Shows How He Overcame Autism Odds

When Michael Whary was diagnosed with Autism as a child, doctors told his parents he wouldn’t be able to drive a car or even ride a bike. “Well, they’re wrong,” now 16-year-old Michael declares — while two-wheeling, behind the wheel of a Hummer, and speed cruising around on an ATV— in an inspiring video he created as his community service project to become an Eagle Scout.

An Autism diagnosis is “not your fault!” a slide introducing his footage proclaims to parents. “You are not alone!” Whary’s goal with the short film is to encourage parents to seek out early education opportunities for their children on the spectrum. Mom Judi Whary tells Yahoo Parenting her son, “knows how initially, diagnosis can be so devastating to the whole family. But the faster you get over the devastation and get to the education, the better.”

It worked for the teen, who takes viewers on a spirited walk through his old preschool, the Children’s Development Center in Amherst, Ohio, where he says he still goes to meet with his “social club.” As the tune of Katy Perry’s “Roar” blasts, teachers wave pom-poms, and kids hold up signs including “Autism is my Super Power.”

There are humorous moments (Whary channels Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man performance at one point, silently descending on an escalator alongside his sister) and straightforward stories of his experience, so families can better understand what their autistic child may go through.
“When I was younger, sounds were very loud to me,” explains the honors student and marching band trumpet player at Midview High School, on camera. “And every sound has the same importance, whether it’d be the fish tank pump or my mom calling me. It still takes time for me to sort out the sounds I hear into levels of importance. Some people don’t understand this and think I’m ignoring them.” As a teen, he continues, “I have a hard time understanding banter and other social situations that can get me into trouble sometimes but I have lots of friends and I am involved in my school and doing things that make me happy.”
Scouting is one of the activities that has brought Michael the most joy, which is why Judi says he spent nine months perfecting the video to submit for his Eagle Scout candidate application. On February 19, Michael will present his work in front of a panel of judges who’ll decide on the spot whether he’s accepted.

Either way, she says scouting for the past nine years has been a rewarding experience. “It builds a lot of confidence,” she says, adding that becoming an esteemed Eagle Scout is important to Whary because it will help people recognize that he is capable and successful. “Often kids with Autism get into miscommunications with authority and society that lead people to think that they’re troublemakers,” she explains. “ But if that happens, and hopefully they find out he’s an Eagle Scout, someone might stop and think, ‘Wait, am I making assumptions about him just because he’s Autistic?’” The status, she adds, “is proof that he can help others and do things people say he can’t do.”
Michael says as much himself at the end of his video. As the credits roll, he holds up a sign: “Not the Exception, Exceptional.”

What to do when the kids see too much

Sex Snafu: What to Do When Your Kid Hears, or Sees, Too Much

One father’s post on Reddit about his daughter nearly busting in on him and his wife as they were having sex has been getting a lot of action (pun intended) online, with nearly 700 people commenting on it in the first 24 hours. Redditor Tuff Adams wrote that his flight-attendant wife of 24 years was home on Thanksgiving after a multiday trip and told their three young children, “You guys get in bed and don’t come downstairs and bother mommy and daddy. We are going to sit on the laptop and do some Christmas shopping for you.” 
Of course the youngest had other ideas. “About halfway through our sexy time, I hear a knock on the door,” Adams lamented. “We immediately stop what we are doing. We are dead silent, hoping whoever it is will go away. Thirty seconds go by and I hear the sweet sound of my precious 8-year-old daughter say, ‘Are you guys still Christmas shopping?’ My wife says, ‘Yes, we are. Go back upstairs.’ My little angel says, ‘Well, all I can hear is AHHH AHHH AHHH AHHH!’”
These parents may be scarred for life, but it’s unlikely that their child — or any other kid who overhears his or her parents — will be. “He did not traumatize his child,” child psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish tells Yahoo Parenting. “Children beginning at age 3 years have imagination. They are capable of attaching their own story content to sound. The 8-year-old may have fantasized Mommy and Daddy reacting to an AMAZING Christmas gift they discovered online shopping!”

Getting caught doesn’t have to be a big deal, psychotherapist and parenting educator Andrea Nair says. It can even be a positive learning opportunity, she adds, if you tailor your response to their age and questions.

For preschoolers
Children in this age group may worry that one of the parents is hurt because they are hearing sounds they’ve never heard before, says Nair. So the first thing you need to do is ask if they have any questions. “You don’t want to tell them more than they need to know because you assume they saw more than they did,” she says. “But you also don’t want them asking other people about it, since you may not be OK with the answers they get.” Nair also recommends that instead of lying about the incident, you tell your young children that you were giving each other a “special hug that adults who are in love do.”
For older children
Honesty is the primary concern. “By sixth grade, kids are typically learning about sex in school, and it can be shocking for them to think that their parents are doing this,” says Nair, who suggests using humor to break the tension in a heart-to-heart about what went down. “So go ahead and joke, ‘We’re busted. How awkward. What are we going to do with this?’ Then ask if they’re concerned about what they saw or heard and if they have any questions.” Just don’t use this episode as a time to talk about the birds and the bees. “You don’t want to link that with the image of your parents,” she explains. “Even if you think that conversation is important, wait a few weeks. If you don’t, kids will have a hard time with their own sexualization because they’ll just be thinking of their parents.”
For teens
This discussion becomes about house rules. “Teens need to know what you expect in terms of privacy,” says Nair. And if you have an open enough relationship with your kids, she says, you can talk about keeping sex safe and consensual. Sure, it’s an embarrassing episode, the expert acknowledges, but “it’s also an opportunity.” The most important thing is to address what happened, adds Walfish. “The images that caught your child’s mind’s eye will remain in your child’s memory,” she says. “Talking it through helps your child process the information, resolve it, and put it into proper perspective.”

The Genie says put a lock on the bedroom door and let the kids know they should go about their own business if the door is locked. All the psycho babble is fine but prevention is the best solution.

No One

Remembered sunshine trickles down among my thoughts, summer fragrance, lazy, golden warmth.
Did once I live, hold the rich, dark earth between my hands? Did I leave footprints in the sand? The image fades; it is forgot. I glide away upon the moon's slipstream and cast no shadow on the land.
For I am nothing, I am no one; a breath of air caressing your cheek, a whisper of breeze that lifts your hair, murmurs softly, but cannot speak. Nor can I hear the echoes of a voice, once mine. Had I a name? I don't recall. These things are lost among the mists of time.
I am nothing, I am no one, but I am to dance across the water's sheen, sail across the sky, admire a frosted, crystal moon, as it paints the earth with platinum light. I see the sunset melt the blue, spill down into the sea and turn the waters flaming bright. I feel the colors flow through me.
Such splendor, the wonders I could share, but I drift along a solitary plane. Of my presence, you are unaware. A mote of dust upon a sunbeam, the shimmer on a web, finespun, a reflection through a raindrop. I am nothing, I am no one.

The Genie

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,

Please tell me when did alcoholism became a disease ? A disease is when the body is ill and not functioning properly .
According to Webster's dictionary , addiction is the quality or state of being addicted , and continues that it is a "compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (as heroin , nicotine , or alcohol) characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal .
So why do alcoholics have a disease and those who abuse drugs are addicts ? Why do we tolerate the double standard ? 
An Alcoholic's Wife 
Dear Alcoholic's Wife,
In 1956 the American Medical Association decided that alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholism, according to the AMA, is a progressive and terminal disease if no intervention occurs. It leads to the break down and failure of the liver, kidneys and heart and affects the brain. There are also genetic and biological markers. They feel that alcoholism fits the definition of both mental and physical disease.

Alcoholism is classified as a 'substance abuse disorder' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Mental and emotional symptoms of alcoholism exist long before the grave physical complications appear. They believe thinking of the condition as a disease diminishes the moral stigma of it and supports the idea that alcoholics aren't responsible for their behavior. And it doesn't cover social and cultural influences that may play a role in alcoholism development.
In 1988, the United States Supreme Court found that alcoholism is always the result of the alcoholics "own willful misconduct." The Supreme Court also listened to the arguments presented in favor of the 'disease' theory of alcoholism and concluded, "the inescapable fact is that there is no set agreement among members of the medical profession about the designation of alcoholism."
In conclusion, maybe the answer lies somewhere between disease and substance abuse (or addiction). They just haven't found a better term to define it.
I know it's hard to stay positive, but hang in there,

Dear Maxy , 
A dear aunt passed away about six weeks ago . Unforfortunately, I could not attend her out-of- town funeral dur to the expense and my own health issues . But I knew she loved a partular flower and I had the florist send some to the funeral home .I have heard nothing from the family , although even a short note would have been appreciated . How do I check to see whether the flowers arrived on time ? I am uncomfortable calling the family . Can I check with the florist ? Have we all lost our manners in this day and age . 
Dumfounded Niece 
Dear Dumfounded Niece ,
It can be difficult  for family  members  to put  aside their grief long enough  to send  thank-you notes  and  other acknowledgments, and it  helps  to have  friends  assist them . Yes , you can  check  with the florist . But  there is nothing  wrong with picking up the phone  to call your  relatives  and express your  condolences , share  memories  of your aunt  and in the course  of  conversation , find out whether  the flowers  were received .

DearMaxy ,
My husband and I will celebrate  our  40th anniversary soon. We've sent out 100 invitations  to a party , and  60 people have responded   saying they  will be in attendance . The final  40 people  have not  RSVP'd as of  yet . I am nervous because my wife  and I took time out  to invite our friends  and they will potentially cost us  time  and money if they don't  show  up . How  much time do you allow  for  guests  to respond  to an invitation ? 
Race Against  Time 
Dear Race Against Time ,
One of the biggest challenges  that party planners  have is  that  increasingly  these days  people  do not RSVP  for events . You are right to be concerned , but  there  are some things  you can do . Start with  checking  with your  caterer  to find out  when you have to give one final  head  count .
This is the number  that is key  for your  budget . When  you feel  you are getting  close  to that date , if  you still have  a large  number  of  people  who have not  responded , you may  want  to pick up  the  phone  or shoot them an email  to double check  their status . You can tell  the truth , that you have to give the caterer  a final count  and want  to know  if they are planning  to attend  your  party .  Do not pressure  them to come  . Simply be  kind  and direct . 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Top Ten Parenting Mistakes and How to Prevent Them

10. You decide on a parenting “style” before your child is born and tell everyone how perfectly you will execute it. Talk about being destined to fail! Making a decision that huge before getting to know your child’s patterns will undoubtedly sabotage your every plan. The mother who intends to breastfeed exclusively will have a child with an allergy to nipples and the mom who is confident that corporal punishment is the only way, will give birth to a child who is hypersensitive to touch. Learn your child before you choose your lessons. And, if necessary, decide to adopt a parenting “mindset” rather than a style.

9. You don’t allow your children to play and explore. Children learn through play, and play includes struggling, making mistakes and even getting some bumps and bruises along the way. If we are constantly guarding, guiding and correcting their playtime, they will be afraid to try new things and, more importantly, they will not learn how to correct or soothe themselves.

8. You react out of embarrassment instead of responding to the true situation. You let your child run around the house naked from the waist-down at home because that’s the latest potty training technique—but when he whips off his pants in the grocery story because he has to pee, you get embarrassed and scold him so other people don’t think you condone exhibitionism. That sends mixed signals and will only set you both up for failure. The better idea would be to ask him, “Buddy, do you have to go potty?” and then follow through while reminding him to use his words next time. Any parent will understand. And if they don’t … who cares?! I’m pretty sure we could all tell a pretty good embarrassing story about our kids.

7. You blame your child for your reaction. ”Why do you make me yell at you? We were having a great day until you ruined it!” This teaches your child to blame others for his/her own actions. Is a 2-year-old really responsible for you choosing to yell at them? Can the mistake of a toddler take away all the fun you had earlier in the day? Own your decisions and choose your words parents: “I’m yelling because I feel frustrated right now.” Then, give them the power by asking them what they can do to help get back on track.

6. You make unrealistic and idle threats. Chances are, you won’t really leave your child at the mall alone and you certainly are not going to break his/her arm if he/she doesn’t stop pulling things off the shelves (and if you do, your problems go way beyond this article). So don’t even say it! You are teaching your children to make threats to get their way and you’re telling them that you can’t be trusted to tell the truth. If you are going to make threats, be sure they are things you can realistically follow through with, which brings me to the next big mistake…

5. You don’t follow through on consequences. If you use counting as a parenting tool, make sure your children know what will happen if they get counted out. “I’m going to count to three and you had better sit down.” Then what? So after the third time of complying, they decide to see what you’re made of, then the negotiation begins. Have a better plan; set agreements in advance and stick to them. “We will be at the playground until 3 p.m. and then we will go get pizza for lunch! If you fight with me when it’s time to leave, there will be no pizza. Do you understand?” Then, it’s simply a matter of following through.

4. You end your requests or commands with “OK?” This is an easy one. If “no” is not an acceptable answer, then don’t ask if they are OK with it.  “It’s time for us to start getting ready to leave. You have two more minutes to play.” Period. You can do it.

3. You tell your child it’s not his/her fault even if it really is. If Suzy pushes Billy off of the sliding board and Billy starts crying and says he doesn’t like Suzy any more, comforting the crying Suzy by telling her it’s not her fault is neither serving Suzy’s emotional intelligence nor is it honoring Billy’s feelings. Suzy needs to know that her actions affect the people around her and sometimes, we make poor choices. The better thing to do is to ask Suzy, “Billy is hurt and sad right now, what would you like to do to make this better?” She may not respond by walking over and apologizing right away, but maybe she’ll make him a card or ask him to play something else. Let the apology be her own, but acknowledge the effort.

2. You force children to display affection to “strangers.” We talk about “stranger danger” and yet, when we attend a gathering with family or friends that our children don’t know, we insist they give Aunt Mary a kiss! Sparing a distant relative’s feelings by forcing our children into uncomfortable situations is not a good move. In fact, it’s contradictory and confusing. Teach your child to shake hands or blow kisses instead. It’s just as cute and allows kids to keep their distance while maintaining their comfort level and still let’s Aunt Mary feel loved.

1. You compare other people’s kids to your ownin front of your children. Parents, don’t we deal with enough blame, shame and guilt from our own beliefs without putting it on each other? So what if Jamie’s kids don’t eat meat? Who cares if Bill and Donna let their kids have iPhones? Those are their kids and their rules. That doesn’t mean you have to change your beliefs to compete with them. So unless someone is actually harming their child, what if we just let parents parent? And what would happen if we all decided to take our favorite things from each other and implement them? And what if we would then thank each other for sharing them? It sounds crazy, I know, but just imagine what a different world this would be?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Delivery Room Chuckles

Do Men Belong in Delivery Rooms ?

In the drama that is pregnancy and childbirth, women are the stars and men are the supporting players. But there’s one place where guys can also play a pivotal role: the delivery room.

Men used to nervously pace the halls of the maternity ward, puffing on cigars. Nowadays, they’re right alongside their laboring partners, giving encouragement and back rubs — or live-tweeting the event. Some men voluntarily show up for duty, others are pressured into it. Either way, fulfilling the role of a birth parter is intense. Case in point:  On Thursday, Kristen Bell’s husband Dax Shepard told Ellen DeGeneres that he watched his wife give birth to their almost 2-year-old daughter Lincoln and, more recently, their newborn daughter.

“Kristen, God bless her, was in labor for 33 hours,” Shepard told Ellen. “[Her labor with Lincoln was] 15 [hours]. That’s child’s play.” He added, “She got an epidural hour 14 — as you should — and I think dads need something. I deserve something because I was along for the ride. It’s still a car crash and I’m in the passenger seat. I’m playing Katy Perry and I’m breathing and I’m rubbing her back and I have fatigue and I think, ‘I need something for this, help me.’”

Who could blame Shepard, really? The delivery room is often a flurry of high-stress activity, beeping machines, and a stampede of people with strange medical instruments. All the while, husbands must remain calm and collected while their loved one undergoes one of life’s most physically demanding experiences. Not exactly an easy job. Regardless, 93 percent of women have their partners in the delivery room and 43 percent say the guys were more helpful during the birthing process than doctors, nurses, or doulas, according to a recent survey conducted by the website Baby Center.

That’s not surprising to doula and Lamaze teacher Deb Flashenberg. “No one but the woman’s partner is going to offer such loving, comforting, and unconditional support,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. Flashenberg, who also runs Prenatal Yoga Center in New York City, says most male clients are positioned down below for a first glimpse of their child, while 20 percent stay by their partner’s shoulders and two percent sit on the sidelines. “One husband was very religious so he prayed in another room during his wife’s birth and another did nervous laps around the room,” she says. One, Flashenberg recalls, even sat in a chair, calmly reading the newspaper during the labor and birth.

For men who are uneasy about taking a front-row seat, the issue is usually more complex than the “ick” factor. Yes, birth is messy. Never mind blood, sweat, and tears. There’s tearing, a placenta, and unexpected bodily fluids. But male anxiety is usually less about sexual revulsion (“The vagina doesn’t even look like a vagina during birth,” notes Flashenberg) and more emotional. Biologically speaking, men are problem solvers and it’s frustrating for many to witness their partners undergoing such an intense ordeal while able to offer only an ice chip for comfort.

“That’s why men who want to be supportive should start during pregnancy,” says Flashenberg. “Accompany your wife to birthing classes, feel your baby kick, communicate about the birth.” Another idea: Determine your respective roles ahead of time so expectations are met. “If the woman is usually the emotional caretaker, her partner will need to understand that she won’t be able to assume that during labor,” she says.

It’s also important to respect each other’s feelings on the matter. Some women feel too vulnerable and self-conscious to have their partners present, and some men simply aren’t up the task. That might be why “push presents” were invented.

Food for Thought : Take Small Steps

January is half over and many of us have let our New Year's resolutions slid a bit. While about half of us make resolutions, only about 8 percent actually achieve their goals. Most resolutions focus on weight, fitness, overall health or self-improvement. Reasons for not achieving these goals are many, but most of the time it is because we try to change too much of our current lifestyle too quickly. As with any challenge, it is important to start off slow and measure achievements in small steps. Here are a few simple tips to help you stay on a healthy path for 2015:

1 .     Wear a pedometer. You don't have to spend a whole lot of money on one, but don't go for the cheapest option either. You can get a quality pedometer for about $20. Make sure to calibrate it for your stride. Those who wear a pedometer and monitor their steps each day walk an average of one mile more than those who do not. A healthy goal is 10,000 steps per day.

2 .     Always opt for water. Whether you are eating at home or at a restaurant, always have water with your meals. Keep water with you at all times.

3 .      Make fish a part of your meals at least twice a week. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and albacore tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

4 .      Make sure you are getting 8 hours of sleep each night. Studies have shown that you really do need that much sleep per night. Getting adequate sleep not only helps you feel better, but it also can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, and boost your memory.

Words  of  Wisdom :

If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.

A proud grandpa     G.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why would anyone want an eyeball tattoo?

Jason Barnum

The sentencing of a convicted criminal with an eyeball tattoo in an Alaskan court has drawn attention to an unusual form of facial decoration - one that is less than a decade old, but winning new converts all the time.
Jason Barnum, 39, who pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a policeman, has ornate tattoos on his head and part of his face - teeth on his cheek, an eyeball in middle of his forehead. But even more dramatically, the white of his right eye has been tattooed jet black.
Arguing for the prosecution, Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew urged the judge to take a look at Barnum's face which, he said, showed the convicted criminal had "decided a long time ago that his life was about being hostile to people".
But, in tattooing his eyeball, was Barnum really expressing hostility to the rest of society? And if our eyes really are the window to our soul what else might a tattooed eyeball say about its owner?
The man who first experimented with injecting ink into an eyeball is a US tattoo artist who goes by the name of Luna Cobra. Far from wanting to look evil, the original goal was to look like the blue-eyed characters from the cult science fiction film, Dune.
"There used to be a private body modification convention that happened every few years in Canada," Luna Cobra says.
"That year, an old friend had Photoshopped a picture of his eyes to look blue like in Dune. I told him, "I think I can do that for real."
The next day, Luna Cobra took a syringe and practised on three brave volunteers.
"I'm aware of how insane that sounds, but I've been doing this type of thing for my whole life so I wasn't coming from nowhere with this," he says.
His technique, which he has modified over the years, involves injecting pigment directly into the eyeball so it rests under the eye's thin top layer, or conjunctiva.
A single small injection has enough ink to cover about a quarter of the eye. It takes several injections to completely cover the sclera, which is then coloured for life. He has done it for hundreds of people - in blue, green, red and black - from Singapore and Sydney to London and the US.
"If you want to amuse yourself by decorating your eyeball, why not do it?" he says. "I do a lot of things that look like tie-dye or 'cosmic space'. I think it brings a realm of fantasy into everyday life."

Kylie Garth with blue eyeballs 
Kylie Garth says the response to her eyes has been uniformly positive
Looking a little out-of-this world is something that appealed to Kylie Garth, a body piercer who works in Luna Cobra's Sydney studio. Before deciding to change the colour of her eyeballs, Garth had experimented with a number of body modifications including face tattoos, piercings, elf-like pointed ears and a bifurcated tongue.
"It was mentally intense," she says of the several injections needed to colour her eyeballs a delicate blue-green, a colour she refers to as sea foam.
"It feels like somebody is poking at your eye, then it feels like strange pressure and then it feels you have a bit of sand in your eye, but there's no pain."
One customer who might disagree with this is a Polish rapper, Popek, who was filmed having his eyes tattooed green by Luna Cobra in London. A couple of days later he experienced a painful burning sensation in his eyes that prevented him sleeping. Fortunately, it was temporary - he was later reported to be considering going back under the needle to darken the tattoos - but opticians warn about a risk of damage to the eyes, and even loss of vision.
Garth says the reaction to her eyes has been universally positive.
"It's thinking about getting a needle in your eye that makes people say, 'I can't believe you did that.
But I've never had anyone say my eyes look scary," she says.

The same can't be said of darker tattoos, however.
"I try to keep people away from it, especially if they have a dark iris," says Luna Cobra.
About one person a week contacts him to inquire about eyeball tattoos - and many want black.
"I tell them you're going to look frightening forever to the majority of people you encounter. You might find people have trouble connecting with you or looking at you because they can't follow your iris."

Popek shortly after procedure
  Popek the Polish rapper began to feel a burning sensation that kept him awake
Over the past few years, some US prison inmates, who already use tattoos to signal their crimes and gang affiliations, have attempted to colour their own eyeballs. An episode of the US reality TV programme, Lockup, shows two inmates who try to tattoo their eyeballs blue and red using smuggled-in instruments.

Luna Cobra says that what started as an experiment between friends, and fans of Dune, has run out of control. He's also heard that it's fashionable among Brazilian teenagers and in some Russian sub-cultures - and worries that people could be being harmed.
"It's shocking. We had no idea anyone else would do it. And now everyone's obsessed with it," he says.
"We often felt like we released a beast into the world and now all these people will be damaged," he says referring to the many ways the tattooing process can go wrong - from using the wrong ink and needle to injecting too much pigment or going too deep.
"It's a shame because I think it's something really beautiful, but it's taken an odd course."

Shaun Robinson arrives at the premiere of Summit Entertainment's 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2' at Nokia Theatre L.A 
A different effect can be achieved with coloured contact lenses
For its part, the American Optometric Association unequivocally condemns the practice, saying it puts the patient at risk of infection, inflammation and blindness. Such is the concern that several US states have debated banning eyeball tattoos.

Garth, who says she is one of only a handful of women in the world with both eyeballs tattooed, says anyone considering the procedure needs to be absolutely sure they are making the right choice.
"It's not like you're going to get a little tattoo on your wrist," she says. "This is the most permanent body modification you can get, you can't take the ink out of your eye."
That may explain why eyeball tattooing is still rare art. But, despite the risks, its popularity is growing. Before long it may not be that uncommon to come face to face with a stranger whose appearance is literally eye-popping.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My daughter  and her husband  are  using  a surrogate  to have  a baby  . What do I do about  a shower ? 
It is  my daughter's first child  and she and  her husband  are in their late  40s . Should  I make  the shower for them  as a couple  ? Does  she  not  get a shower  because   someone  else  is  actually  pregnant   with the child ?
Dear Grandma-To-Be,
It doesn't matter who who is carrying the child . Any new  mother is entitled  to a baby shower  if someone wants  to host one . Of course  , it is better  if  the shower  is  given by friends  and not immediate  family ,  but  these days  few people  pay attention  to those rules . Couple  showers  have  become  more  popular  since  both Mom and Dad (presumable) are raising  the child . Whether  you do that  or  not is entirely  your  choice .  Congratulations .

Dear Maxy,
I am married  to one of  four  siblings who dutifully  took care  of their  aged  parents  until their  mother  died  a few  years  ago . Daddy , in his  mid-80s  , met a bevy  of women at his upscale  care  facility  and proposed  marriage to one of them  within two weeks  . She  turned  him down  , but  a mutual friend  accepted   and she secretly  married  Daddy  shortly thereafter . 
The woman  has  two  children  , both in professional  jobs , one of  whom is  an attorney .At first we like the stepmother  , laughed  a bit  and everyone got  along  well . But  18 months  later  later  , Daddy died  and we discovered  that he  had  drafted  a document  leaving  his estate  to her worth almost a million dollars  to her  . Now  the stepmother  will not  answer  any of  our  calls  and  hangs  up if  we managed  to  get through . We certainly  feel slighted , but this woman  is our legal stepmother   and we would  , with civility , like to make our case  to her  to use  some  of that money  to help with our  children's tuition . How do we addressed her ?
Dear Bombed ,
Oh my . I'm certain  the readers  will come  up with many names  you  can call her , none  of  which is  printable . Your  80-something  father-in-law  sighed  over  his estate  to a woman  he  barely  knew  , they married  in secret   and it  lasted  a short  time . This entire  situation  sounds  fishy .  You need  a lawyer . Now .

Dear Maxy ,
One of  my male friends  has asked me  on numerous occasions  to hook him up  with one  of  my female friends . I told  him I don't  think any of  my  girlfriends  would  like him . Nevertheless, he insists . Mind  you , one of my girlfriends has  already meet  him at a party , and  has  confirmed  her  disinterest. What  more  can I say to him ?
Cannot  Take No  For  An Answer 
Dear Cannot Take  No  For  An   Answer,
Rejection is hard to accept , no matter  who you are . This friend of  yours  probably thinks  that because  you are the go between , that he stands  a greater chance  of  getting  a date through you . You need to squash that .Tell him  that you asked  your girlfriends  if they would  like to go  out with him  and they declined . That is very  specific  and definitive.
Further  , as a  friend , talk to him  about the way  he approaches  women . If you already  have a sense  of why he turns off all your  friends  and you think  you can share that with him , do so . He  may not realize  that he  has offensive  behaviors . The  greatest gift  you may be able  to give  him is a clear  sense of how  he is perceived .

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gage Garmo got his dying wish

Combination photo of Gage Garmo and Eminem (Instagram/Getty Images)Combination photo of Gage Garmo and Eminem

On Sunday, the 17-year-old had a surprise visitor to his Rochester Hills, Michigan home: Eminem
Garmo died the next night after a three-year battle with an aggressive form of bone cancer. He would have turned 18 on Friday. 
When Garmo was told he had just days to live, his friends took immediate action, spreading his story on social media with the hashtag #GarmoStrong, setting up a GoFundMe account to help support Garmo and his family, and trying to make Garmo’s dream of meeting Eminem come true. 

Rainbow Connection, an organization that grants wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses, was already aware of Garmo’s wish. When his health took a turn for the worse, the organization scrambled to contact Eminem and make a visit happen. 
Only days later, Eminem flew in from Atlanta, surprising Garmo in his family’s living room. 
"Gage sat up with a grin on his face," said Rainbow Connection’s Ingrid Todt, on hand as Eminem arrived at the Garmo home. “His family hadn’t seen their son do that in such a long time.”
"It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen," she said. “The stars aligned, and Gage’s wish came true.”
"We’re so glad we were able to reach Eminem’s people and they were able to respond, and Eminem was able on such short notice to go and see this boy in his own home," executive director Mary Grace McCarter told the Detroit Free Press. “It says something about everybody, really. I hope all the students and friends of Gage feel good about their well-wishes too.”
On Monday night, hundreds gathered at Rochester High School’s football field for a  candlelight vigil in honour of Garmo, who was an active member of the varsity football team, even after losing a leg to amputation. Garmo was granted an early graduation from the school last week. It is a bitter-sweet tale but it shows that kindness and compassion are contagious and even a thug rapper like Eminem can be touched by it
Watch another boy have his wish come true:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

Action should be taken earlier in life to combat diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, amid evidence that deterioration of the brain starts when a person is in their late 40s
Press Association - Preventive action should be taken earlier in life to combat diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, amid evidence that deterioration of the brain starts when a person is in their late 40s

TORONTO - Here are 10 warning signs that may indicate Alzheimer's disease and warrant a doctor's checkup:
1. Memory loss that affects daily functioning: Most people forget things like names occasionally and recall them later; a person with Alzheimer’s may forget things more often and not remember them, especially more recent occurrences.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks: A person with Alzheimer's may have trouble with long-familiar tasks, such as preparing a meal.
3. Problems with language: Everyone has trouble finding the right word on occasion; someone with Alzheimer's may forget simple words or substitute words, making sentences difficult to understand.
4. Disorientation of time and place: It's normal to forget the day of the week or one's destination — for a moment. With Alzheimer's, a person can become lost on their own street, not knowing how they got there or how to get home.
5. Poor or decreased judgment: A person with Alzheimer's disease may wear heavy clothing on a hot day, for instance.

6. Problems with abstract thinking: People may sometimes have difficulty balancing a cheque book, for instance; someone with Alzheimer's may have significant difficulty with such tasks, possibly not recognizing what numbers in the cheque book mean.
7. Misplacing objects: Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys; someone with Alzheimer's may put items in inappropriate places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
8. Change in mood and behaviour: While everyone experiences sadness and other moods on occasion, those with Alzheimer's can exhibit mood swings — from calm to tears to anger — for no apparent reason.
9. Change in personality: A person with Alzheimer's can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn. Apathy, fearfulness or acting out of character may also occur.
10. Loss of initiative: Temporary loss of interest in activities can occur in most people; someone with Alzheimer's may become passive, and require cues and prompting to become involved.
Source: Alzheimer Society of Canada.