health issues


Recently, John Stamos was interviewed and mentioned that he is the national spokesman for Project Cuddle, a charity that works to prevent babies from being abandoned.

According to Project Cuddle, it has been estimated that there are 57 babies abandoned daily across the United States. 57 babies daily. This adds up to over 20,000 babies a year. This statistic is too shocking too avoid.

Baby abandonment is defined as an infant under the age of 12 months bring “discarded” or left alone for an extended period of time in a public/private setting with an intention to dispose of the baby.

This is where Project Cuddle comes in.

As the website states:

Project Cuddle™ is the result of one woman’s crusade to help prevent infants from being abandoned. Debbe Magnusen fostered over 30 drug-exposed babies, while raising two biological children. Eventually five of those beautiful little ones were adopted and became part of the Magnusen Family.

The Project Cuddle™ crisis line was actually formed from the living room of Debbe’s home, with the hope of ending baby abandonment. Within 12 hours of opening the 24 hour crisis-line, Project Cuddle got its first crisis call. A frightened woman that had hidden her pregnancy from everyone she knew, was due to deliver any and had no prenatal care. There was no time to waste. Debbe had only days to orchestrate a safe and legal alternative to abandonment, Project Cuddle™ was able to retain an attorney, a family wanting to rescue and adopt the baby, as well as an obstetrician, hospital and social counselor, Debbe Magnusen coached this woman through the delivery of a beautiful baby girl. After the baby was delivered into the arms of the adoptive parents, the birth mother said to Debbe. “I feel like I’ve done something good for the first time.” The woman did not break the law, the baby was safe and a rescue couple was overjoyed at having a new daughter in their lives.

To learn more about Project Cuddle and its founder, Debbe Magnusen, click HERE.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel has been the “go-to” resource book for thousands and thousands (and thousands) of pregnant women for the past 25 years.

Its popularity among women is the reason why it is been on the New York Times bestseller list for 355 weeks, with nearly 15 million copies in print.

It was the first pregnancy guide written by women, for women… not by any doctors. And it truly revolutionized the world of “pregnancy” for women by being the “pregnancy bible.” You have a question, the book HAS an answer. It’s THAT thorough.

And through the past 25 years, What to Expect When You’re Expecting has been updated and revised with current health and medical information. Something that today’s pregnant women need and expect.

And most recently, for its 4th revised edition, Amazon.com describes it as:

A new book for a new generation of expectant moms— featuring a new look, a fresh perspective, and a friendlier-than-ever voice. It’s filled with the most up-to-date information reflecting not only what’s new in pregnancy, but what’s relevant to pregnant women. Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. More comprehensive, reassuring, and empathetic than ever, the Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy). There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (more advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food–dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be.

But finally… there is one change that What to Expect When You’re Expecting has made that was long overdue. Very long overdue.

A new cover.

The cover model-mama has gotten a make-over.

The mama now gracing the cover has long hair, hip jeans, fashionable boots and a formfitting, chic top. She stands, ready to face the world…

No more forlorn looking mama. No more rocking chair.

Jocelyn Noveck with The Associated Press wrote a fantastic article that appeared in The Providence Journal on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008. The article discusses the changes made to the “iconic” pregnancy book, quotes from Heidi Murkoff and speaks of the importance of this “American pregnancy bible.”

Read the article HERE.

And grab yourself a new, updated version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting!

We had a few Smart Mamas email us the link to a very interesting article that was published in the New York Times on Monday, May 19th, 2008 by Julia Moskin.

For an All-Organic Formula, Baby, That’s Sweet discusses how parents who are buying Similac Organic may, in fact, be giving their babies a sweeter taste. It is the only brand of organic formula that is sweetened with sucrose, which is sweeter than sugars used in non-organic formulas.

This article brings up many issues concerning the “organic” approach in bringing up baby.

We are interested to hear your views on this article.

Email us at audrey [at] pinks and blues [dot] com for your thoughts. We would like to have a follow-up on this topic from your views/thoughts/opinions.

Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess wrote a powerful blog on May 15th, 2008 that we asked if we could share on Smart Mama…

Women, Children Resort to Eating Dirt Cookies in Haiti: The Global Food Crisis
May 15, 2008

This post is part of Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

If you live in the United States or North America and are reading this blog, chances are you’ve never known what real hunger feels like. Sure most of us have uttered things like, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse,” “I’m starving!,” or “There’s nothing to eat” while staring into a refrigerator or cabinet full of food (I know I’m guilty of all three), but the reality is that the majority of us always know where our next meal is coming from and we don’t truly want for much.

We may also complain about the rising food costs (again, I am guilty) and perhaps have had to scale back on the groceries we buy or forgo other luxuries, but we are still able to provide nutritious meals for ourselves and our families. We are very fortunate.

Elsewhere in the world in developing nations, people are not so fortunate. The rising cost of food is taking it’s toll on the poorest of poor. In countries like Haiti, people are resorting to literally eating dirt in order to fill their bellies and stay alive. “Cookies” made from dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening have become regular meals for many Haitian men, women and children.

The price of food continues to rise and even the dirt to make the cookies, which comes from the country’s central plateau, has gone up in cost.

At the market in the La Saline slum, a two-cup portion of rice now sells for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk, and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared with food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day.

I thought long and hard about what topic to cover for Bloggers Unite for Human Rights. Given that I’ve already written extensively in the past about maternal health both because of my personal interest and CE position with BlogHer, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and tackle something I didn’t have much knowledge about. While there are so many human rights crises going on in the world right now – the Myanmar cyclone and China earthquake just to name a couple of the most recent – I decided on something slightly less in the spotlight, though no less significant, in hopes of educating myself as well as others.

A friend of mine named Heather is personally invested in the situation in Haiti as she and her husband (along with their two biological children) have been trying to adopt two children – Clara (age 3) and Emerson (age 1) – from an orphanage there since March 2007. I took the opportunity today to ask Heather some questions about their adoption experience thus far and find out more about how the food crisis is affecting the lives of the children in the Haitian orphanage. She was kind enough to share personal information and provide me with some pictures of her children.

Amy: Have the living/food conditions changed between your first visit to the country (and/or orphanage) and your most recent visit? If so, how? And when, roughly, were those visits?

Heather: Our last visit was in January 2008. The visit planned for April 2008 was canceled due to the rioting in Port au Prince over the rising costs of food. We have also visited in July and October 2007 and plan to go again in July 2008.

We aren’t able to see much of the country during our visits as our orphanage only allows us to visit on escorted trips and we are not allowed to leave the hotel while in the country. From what we see driving from the airport to the hotel, Port au Prince seems cleaner and there are more functioning traffic lights. There are still canals filled with garbage and wild pigs eating that garbage. There is still the stench of burning garbage.

The conditions in the orphanage appear about the same since our first trip in April 2007 with the exception of there being 50-75 more children in the 3000 square foot house where they live. We believe there are now approximately 150 children living in what is a mansion by Haitian standards. There is no yard – the house is surrounded by concrete which extends about 10-20 feet from the walls of the house. The property is surrounded by a 15-20 foot tall cinder block wall topped with broken bottles. Laundry is done by hand and hung anywhere possible to dry.

The infants are all kept on the main floor of the house – probably in what used to be the living and dining rooms. Children who are walking up to about age five live upstairs. They sleep in double- or triple-decker cribs with at least two children in each. The orphanage’s directors and their children also live upstairs. There is one bathroom. Older children generally live in one of the other two buildings the orphanage leases in the suburbs of Port au Prince.

Amy: How is the current food crisis affecting the orphanage?
Heather: Parents are given very little information about the daily life of their children, however, we know that they usually eat two meals per day and one snack. This food is usually rice and beans – little to no protein, dairy, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Their water is rationed as they do not have a safe source of water other then bottled water which is expensive. Infants are weaned off formula well before they would be in the US as the costs of formula are astronomical compared to rice and beans.
Parents are attempting to collect 36,000 pounds of food to be sent by container ship to the orphanage in July.

Amy: Have your visits to Haiti changed the way you look at food and food waste in our country of plenty?

Heather: Every interaction I have with other people, every show I watch on TV, every news report I hear or read, every purchase I make reminds me of the overabundance we have in our country and how just a small fraction of what we have would provide Haitians with “luxuries” they’ve never experienced – daily protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, proper medical care, shoes, and so on.

Listening to people complain about the hardships in the US makes it ever so clear that we have absolutely no idea what true need is.

Amy: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your children, the orphanage or your experiences visiting Haiti in general?

Heather: This is the most painful process I’ve even participated in – politics taking precedence over children’s lives, the different value placed on children in a country where it is common for children to die, the lack of urgency, difficult communications, arbitrary laws enforced (or not) at someone’s whim. Every day we live with the reality that our children might die before they come home. Clara, at age 39 months, weighs 18 pounds. She has not gained any weight in 15 months. She has TB. This is in the orphanage where her biological mother brought her to receive better care than she could provide at home. International adoption is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. I’m not sure I will survive it with my sanity intact.

Heather’s children are at Foyer de Sion orphanage. She doesn’t expect Clara and Emerson to get to come home to the United States until 2009. If you’d like to make a donation (PayPal accepted) to the orphanage, please visit Sion Fonds.

What can we do here at home to help with the food crisis?

Aside from making donations to charitable donations, there are other things we can do in our own part of the world that can have an impact on the global food crisis.

– I wrote a couple weeks ago about why growing even a little bit of our own food is so important. Even if you only start a container garden for some herbs and a tomato plant, every little bit makes a difference.

– We can also reduce our meat consumption. Meat is much more costly to produce than grains and energy is lost in the process of feeding grains to animals. “Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.” – Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

– Become aware of your food waste and look for ways to reduce it. Take smaller portions and go back for seconds if needed. Buy only what you will consume so you aren’t throwing away produce once it goes bad. Teach your children about food waste and how to reduce it.

– Compost your food waste.

I want to hear from you too. What do you think will help with the food crisis? What are you personally doing to make a difference? Head over to Amy’s blogCrunchy Domestic Goddess.

Many women choose natural childbirth in order to participate fully in the birth of their baby and to have control over the birthing experience. By choosing natural childbirth, she will be using a minimum of routine interventions during labor and is expecting to be unmedicated throughout the birth.

Natural childbirth means that the birthing mother accepts that she will probably feel pain and discomfort as part of labor and birth. Positive aspects of natural childbirth include no loss of sensation. She will also remain alert during labor and birth.

By choosing natural childbirth, you can move around freely and use whatever positions you find comfortable throughout labor. Many women feel a sense of empowerment or accomplishment after giving birth unmedicated. Even though they had pain, many choose to remain unmedicated for future births.

Most techniques advocated with natural childbirth are non-invasive. Partners and other family members will feel more involved as they help the mother cope and work through her contractions.

Childbirth classes teach techniques to help the mother attain a natural childbirth. These techniques may be practiced before labor begins. By practicing and understanding these techniques, some of the fear and anxiety she may be experiencing is lessened.

Unlike an epidural, these techniques do not remove the pain. They give you means to cope with it. If you still find that you cannot deal with the pain, an epidural or other pain relief can be given in the hospital if you are not too close to delivery.

Getting ready for natural childbirth helps a family prepare for their new baby. First, you develop your birth plan. This is a written plan for you and your caregivers that give them an idea of your wishes during labor and birth.

You can have a natural childbirth without drugs in a hospital, a birthing center or at home. Birthing centers are an option that is family-centered and is a compromise between a hospital and birthing at home. Hospitals are moving towards this design by calling their maternity wards birthing centers, and creating a more home-like environment. Relaxed visitation hours are often employed.

Achieving a natural childbirth can be easier when you use a midwife, a doula or other birth attendant. Midwives are familiar with comfort measures to help you cope with labor pain without resorting to drugs, and can provide a more personalized prenatal care routine than you can get from an obstetrician.

If you have an obstetrician, your labor care will be provided by the hospital nurses. Some nurses have studied natural techniques, but they are only available until their shift is over. You may get assigned a nurse on the next shift whose preferred method of labor management is to repeatedly offer an epidural.

Even if your heart is set on a natural childbirth, it is important to remain flexible. No one can predict how labor will flow, and sometimes interventions are truly needed.

Studies have proven that if a woman has continuous support, they are less likely to need pain medication for labor and delivery than if they are alone or feel unsupported. Partners can learn to do this in childbirth classes, and doulas can be hired to help. Unlike nurses, doulas don’t work by shifts… they are there for the duration of the birth.

By: Carol Stack. Get more information about natural childbirth and other health issues here, including tips about diabetes, asthma treatments and high blood pressure.

We recently had a chance to chat with Debbie Jacobson, creator and executive producer of “What’s Next?” on Retirement Living TV.

The lifestyle makeover show for middle age, “What’s Next?” shares inspirational stories of men and women who want to make the most of their freedom years. Having achieved the goal of retirement, many retirees, however, realize that the reality is not always as rosy as the dream. After a little freedom, many retirees find themselves asking, “What’s Next?”

This is where the team of “What’s Next?” comes in. Guided by the help of a team of experts in areas of health, wellness, lifestyle and relationships, and career and volunteer opportunities, each guest pinpoints trouble spots, and explores activities recommended by the team to overcome these obstacles.

The creation of “What’s Next?” is very special and very personal to Debbie Jacobson. Debbie’s father had a rough time transitioning into retirement and Debbie, a working mom with four kids and a fifth on the way, had a tough time watching him deal with it. Inspired by her dad’s plight, Debbie, ever the proactive mother/wife/daughter/producer, created and is executive producing the TV series.

Debbie’s father was actually the first subject in the series. And as many of us may be facing similar situations with our own parents and grandparents, we at Pinks & Blues feel that Debbie Jacobson has a very important and powerful message, and even more crucial, solutions.

1. Your idea for “What’s Next?” started on a very personal level with your Dad. Can you tell us a little about your Dad’s journey into retirement as it is connected with your talents and experience?

Well, my dad’s retirement didn’t come in the way he had hoped, i.e. the sort of old fashioned farewell dinner, gold watch, etc. The company he had worked for since he was a young man (Kitchens of Sara Lee) moved to a non-union (right to work) state to save costs and it put my dad out of his job. He was able to work with a couple of other places, but the same thing kept happening – plants were closing to move to states where labor was less expensive. He found that he was getting older and at times it felt like his chances of continuing to work were less and less likely. My dad is a man whose whole existence was built around his job, his value was wrapped in his paycheck , and certainly as my dad. Over the years we all harassed him so much about getting out of the house and going back to work because we thought that would make him happy. He just was disenchanted and had lost all motivation , I guess for fear of rejection or not being able to capture the camaraderie he had at Sara Lee…

And then along came RLTV. I was working on a show for the network (Art of Living) that told stories and highlighted retirees and seniors doing outrageous and/or exceptional things in retirement. Most times activities that were very different from life prior to retirement – they basically reinvented themselves. I started thinking about my dad and how he was so opposite of these people. This was when “What’s Next?” was born… and I really wondered about all the other people who might be in the same situation as my dad. How many other people went into retirement or were already there and life just wasn’t playing out the way they had hoped. Who would they turn to? How would they get through this?

RLTV was so supportive and gave us a chance to reach out ! As a producer, I knew there might be avenues we could help our guests explore that they may be too intimidated to pursue, or just weren’t thinking of a bigger picture. We could help pave the way but pave the way with experiences they could have achieved without us – just to help them realize what might have been right under their noses the whole time.

2. Many of our Pinks & Blues readers are facing the retirement of their parents/grandparents. What are some important red flags to indicate that a parent may need the intervention of a program such as “What’s Next?”

I believe the red flag to watch out for to begin with is really seeing them stuck in the house. Seeing that they seem to be socially isolated – not reaching out into their community. Whether it is sleeping late or watching a lot of television, there is so much more for them outside of the house . The trick is , when you see the red flags, getting your parent to admit that they have an issue and letting go of their pride, just a little, for their children to help them out. And don’t treat them like children – they have so much experience in life and just may have lost their way…

3. “What’s Next” addresses health and wellness, lifestyle and relationships, and volunteer and career opportunities. How does “What’s Next” actually connect a retiree with experts in these fields?

We initially do an over the phone interview with our guest to hear about his or her life as it is at that moment – before we begin our process. We hear where they are emotionally, physically, etc. and work to put experts together that will seem to best serve the guests needs. Whether it is financial, physical, or social, we always hope to find that our guest responds and succeeds with all the options laid out before them. Sometimes it doesn’t go that way, which is fine. My hope is that at least one thing changes for them and improves their quality of life. Beyond that , the idea is that when the show leaves them and this whole “tv” process is over, that they have learned things about themselves and tools to achieve a better retirement. They have earned it and deserve to have this time be the best it can be!!! The experts are with us from the beginning, meet with the guest, explain who they are and what they can offer. If something they suggest doesn’t sound good to our guest, they absolutely have the option to say no. We find this in the case in offering financial help.

4. How has “What’s Next” been received? We at Pinks & Blues have watched segments of “What’s Next” and are so encouraged by even small lifestyle changes that have influenced the positive changes in individuals.

The show has been very well received, actually! So many people respond with how either they individually relate or know someone who is in this situation. People who have seen the shows really get emotionally caught up and really feel the emotion of the lows for the guest, which then triggers the “come on, you can do it!” feeling… it’s a lot fun hearing the different reactions!

5. How do you follow-up on the retirees you profile?

We did a reunion show with all the guests in one room together. That was a lot of fun! Mainly because for most of them it was a chance to realize that they were among their peers who are experiencing the same or similar things in retirement. It became painfully obvious that each individual really thought they were the only ones having a challenged retirement. When we were all together, I told them I was so happy that they had a chance to see one another and experience each others’ stories, BUT there was a bigger purpose being served here. They were really reaching out to our audience and saying, “You aren’t alone – look at us! Now get out there and try something new!”

At the end of the shooting day for the reunion show, there was so much bonding between the guests. Friendships were formed and they all exchanged email addresses to keep in touch. I know, for a fact, that my dad has received several emails from the different guests checking in on him and encouraging him. It really has been so humbling because I could have never anticipated the support that would be shared with one another!

6. And the question of the day… how does one get his or her parent/grandparent to apply to be on “What’s Next?”

For anyone who has a friend, parent, or relative who is really struggling and lost in retirement, they can contact us through the website RL.TV or by calling the network (800) 754-8464.
Thanks for having interest in the show! It is so near and dear to my heart. I am truly proud of our mission and proud to be a part of a network that has such a care and concern for this.

We at Pinks & Blues thank Debbie for her wonderful and inspiring work in helping our parents and grandparents live full, productive and happy lives. “What’s Next” can be seen each Friday at 2pm EST on Retirement Living TV. Be sure to tune in!

A hundred years ago herbs were not only used in cooking, but were the basic ingredient in most health remedies used to treat common aliments. The herbs were planted in the spring and dried in the fall, to be handy for the up coming year.

Perhaps using home remedies was found to be the more prudent way to treat illness than a costly trip to the doctor. Home remedies were used to treat illnesses such as colds, stomach aches, muscle pain, and more.

Most home remedies included medicinal herbs. The herbs were combined into concoctions, and by trail and error, remedies were developed. The tried and true remedies were used and shared with family, and friends. Many of these old remedies have survived, and are still used today.

The common cold was one such illness that was frequently treated with a variety of old home remedies.

Below are some old tried and true remedies to aid with comforting the common cold.

1. To help sooth a sore throat: Sage mixed with a bit of Alum

1/2 tea dried Sage, a pinch of Alum mixed in a warm 6 oz glass of water. Gargle several times every few hours.

2. Mix 2 tab. Molasses into a cup of chamomile tea. This drink can be given at night to sooth one off to sleep with a sweet tea. The chamomile is also soothing on the stomach, and aids to promote sleep.

3. Sassafras tea is also great it aid in diminishing fever, and soothing one’s throat.

4. Cold Eeze Lozenges. These are an all natural lozenges that are made with Zinc. Studies show the zinc will help reduce the length and severity of a cold. These wonderful lozenges can be purchased at most drug stores or health food stores.

5. Homemade chicken soup. Helps with congestion, and is thought to be an all around good cold remedy.

6. The wonderful Hot Toddy. Mix piping hot water to a cup, 1/2 shot of whiskey, and 1 tea spoon lemon juice, 1 tea spoon honey, mix well. The Alcohol has an anti-inflammatory effect on mucous membranes. Also said to reduce fever, and relieve muscle aches.

7. Garlic and warm milk. 1 good size glove of garlic crushed and mixed in 1 cup of warm milk. This concoction is said to shorten the duration of a cold. An active compound in garlic, allicin, is known to be a good decongestant. Garlic is also known to have potent antioxidant properties, so it couldn’t hurt.

8. Vitamin C. Eat foods that are high in vitamin C. Studies show taking vitamin C will shorten the length of a cold.

9. Echinacea, the Chinese have been using Echinacea for centuries for its strong antibiotic properties. World Health Organization also supports use of Echinacea for use to shorten the common cold.

10. Cough syrup can be made very easily in your own kitchen. Slowly boil a lemon with its skin on for about 8 minutes. Cut the lemon in two parts and squeeze the juice with the use of a squeezer. Add the lemon juice to a glass. Mix in two tablespoonfuls of glycerin, (purchase glycerin at your local drug store or health food store.). Stir lemon juice and glycerin together. Add 1 tablespoonful of honey. This cough syrup will really ease a sore throat.

11. Feed a cold; starve a fever. There is a theory that eating less during a cold may shorten the duration of the cold. However, nutritionists strongly disagree with this theory, because the body that is stricken with a cold needs more nutrients, to aid in fighting off illness.

12. Breathe steam. Steam does help liquefy and loosens mucus. This mucus helps clear airways, and can decrease nasal congestion.

13. The Old fashioned mustard plaster helps relieve chest congestion. To prepare 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 1/4 cup flour lukewarm water. Sift together mustard and flour in a bowl. Slowly add just enough water to make a paste. Spread the plaster on a piece of muslin that is big enough to cover the chest. Cover with another piece of muslin. Like a sandwich, put over chest. Check chest in 5 minutes for any signs of allergic reaction. Remove if skin is showing hives or deep redness. Skin will be a little pink. Leave on 1/2 hour; remove plaster with tepid water.

By Sharon Stajda. For more information about common cold remedies, visit Cold Remedies – Home Care Treatment.

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