Pro-life Duggars shun unwed mom and baby, would they shun Mary and baby Jesus? - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Have the Duggars of TLC's "19 Kids and Counting" lost their Christmas spirit? The super-sized family is turning a Scrooge eye on daughter-in-law Anna's unwed sister Susanna Keller and her baby, said Radar Online Dec. 11. It's ironic anti-abortion Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar would shun Keller when she kept her baby. And it begs a larger question: would the hardcore pro-life, fundamentalist Christian Duggars also shun Jesus and his mom?   Pro-life Duggars shun unwed mom and baby, would they shun Mary and baby Jesus? - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Dillard's "Dear Santa" sign is idiotic, low and downright dangerous to girls - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Stores are in competition for our holiday shopping buck. We get that. But at least one is downright desperate. Dillard's is willing to stoop to insulting and shaming little girls. A Florida Dillard's department store featured a children's clothing display with a sign that read "Dear Santa, please bring me a big fat bank account and a slim body. Don't mix them up like you did last year." Really.

Yahoo Parenting reported on the Dillard's Dear Santa sign November 11.

Annoying? Without a doubt. Snarky holiday ads get stupider every year. Tacky? Yep. And getting worse every year, too. But dangerous?Absolutely and doubly so. First, is the suggestion that children are greedy, or should be. A big bank account? What so they can blow it--at Dillard's of course--on overpriced junk? With credit card debt through the roof in the U.S., maybe it's time for less Christmas shopping not more?  Dillard's "Dear Santa" sign is idiotic, low and downright dangerous to girls - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Drug-free psoriasis treatments you can start today

Happy World Psoriasis Day, October 29. Well, maybe happy is the wrong word. Psoriasis is anything-but-pleasant red, scaly skin lesions. Psoriasis is ugly, itchy and painful. It's not contagious, but makes socializing awkward. And it's chronic--sufferers never get over it. Flare-ups can make you downright miserable. The best solution is to see a dermatologist. But there are also at-home treatments you can start today to control flare-ups.Drug-free psoriasis treatments you can start today


Common and Potentially Deadly Myths About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

I was diagnosed with OSA--Obstructive Sleep Apnea-- in 2010. I began sleeping with a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) breathing machine. It's not perfect, but it's helped me sleep better. It's possibly saved my life.

I've always had sleep problems. Now that I know why, I've researched sleep apnea. I've found a lot of misinformation circulated by those who don't have it. Some myths are just mean stereotyping. Others are plain dangerous. Here are prevailing misconceptions and corrections. Common and Potentially Deadly Myths About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Relationships Fails and Wins, How to Vent Anger without Dumping on Your Partner

Anger is a normal emotion. It's not right or wrong. Venting anger is healthy if done right. But venting can quickly turn to dumping if ground rules aren't observed. Dumping on your partner is an epic relationship fail. What differentiates venting from dumping? Dumping is blame and shame oriented and destructive. Healthy venting is sharing-based, respectful and goal-oriented. Use these fixes to turn anger dumping fails into productive sharing wins!Relationships Fails and Wins, How to Vent Anger without Dumping on Your Partner


Relationship Fails and Wins: How to Actively Listen Without Getting Taken Advantage of

Life is stressful, can we just agree? So it's normal for us to feel anger and to bring that anger into our relationships. That sounds like it should be a bad thing. And it is if anger isn't expressed or handled properly. Anger dumped on others is a major relationship fail.

But, ironically, so is not communicating anger at all. Bottled negative emotion turns septic. It seeps out in ugly and passive-aggressive ways. When people stew over old hurts, and don't release them, the anger has nowhere to go.

Sometimes, anger that was originally directed elsewhere, becomes personal. An objective or public issue starts getting played out on the subjective, private stage of intimate relationships. In already shaky relationships, repressed rage can even turn vindictive. Innocent people get punished for things they had nothing to do with. Children helplessly watch family members hurt each other. They in turn stuff their feelings. They pass on generations of toxic anger. It becomes a vicious cycle, figuratively and literally.

But there is hope. If you learn to communicate and share problems in healthy ways, it can actually make your relationships stronger. Venting anger safely requires two things: respect on the part of the one venting and active listening on the other's part. Here's how to show empathy without getting taken advantage of. Read more by clicking the link.   Relationship Fails and Wins: How to Actively Listen Without Getting Taken Advantage of

Manipulative Abusers in Relationships Know the Behaviors and Beware

What is manipulative behavior? It's coercive, shaming and hurtful. We've all been manipulative at times. A manipulative abuser's behavior isn't occasional or situational. It's chronic. Manipulative abuse isn't obvious. It's covert and passive-aggressive. And therefore so much more dangerous. Manipulative abusers have been called different things: sadist, control freak, sociopaths, invalidator. Bottom line--they like hurting people.

 Why do people become manipulative abusers? There are many possible reasons: intense self-esteem issues, delusions of grandeur, religious mania, alcoholism, substance abuse, abuse issues in childhood, even brain damage. Two things are certain: manipulative behavior is sick and dangerous. If you're the target of a manipulative abuser, know it's the manipulator's problem and not yours'. Learn to recognize the traits.

 -Bizarre communication patterns. He'll make provocative statements, ask leading questions, bait you into an argument, trap you into some imagined falsehood. He is trying to back you into a corner.

  -Backhanded compliments. '"Well you finally found a nice shirt." "You made dinner for once?" Their "compliments" are thinly disguised insults. When you call her on it, she gets offended and accuses you of not being able to accept a compliment.

  -Humiliation. When you speak, he ignores, contradicts or belittles. He says "you're not making any sense"though he's been interrupting, twisting your words and arguing with you since the conversation began. He prefers to do this publicly.

-Inappropriate humor. He thinks shaming people is funny. He'll tease and mock. He interrupts your serious talk to say dumb things for laughs. He makes faces behind your back. He says its to "lighten the situation." Funny, if you do it to him, it's not so funny.

  -Second guess. She'll speak "for" you in conversation with others, explain what you mean. She pooh-poohs you. She says she's "translating" or "interpreting" what you said. Her goal is to undermine you, make you feel stupid and make others think you can't speak for yourself.

  -Nonverbal warfare He's an exhibitionist and a drama queen. He uses implication, gesture, body language, innuendo and tone of voice to perfection. He has  a fully-stocked arsenal of psychological tricks and mind games to keep you second guessing yourself and looking over your shoulder. If confronted, he turns the tables in a crazy game of point-counterpoint.

  -Break promises. They lie, arrive late and 'forget' to call. They screw up but do it in such a way it looks like your fault. Then they blame you. They like seeing you awkward, embarrassed, confused and nervous. They remain always the "good guy."

-Exaggerate. They seize upon your every mistake and blow it out of proportion. They manufacture things you supposedly did. Abusers follow you, check up on you, question your judgment and motives. They defend their distrust and disrespect by either blaming you for "being paranoid" or saying you're unworthy of trust or respect.

 -Lack of responsibility. With the same energy they attack your mistakes, they downplay their own. If they admit mistakes, it's in a backhanded way that says it was really someone else's fault.

  -Law unto themselves. They expect the impossible of you and nothing of themselves.
They make up rules as they go. They change rules randomly, expect you to read their minds and adhere to their contorted rules.

  -Manipulators literally live in their own world.

  Manipulative abusers will trample you down and leave you to bleed. They will make you believe that it was all your fault, you deserved to punished and they only did it for your own good. And then they will move on to the next victim and convince him that you were an evil person and repeat procedure. Please. Don't be that victim.

10 Reasons You're Irritable, Plus Healing Mood Lifters

 I admit it--I struggle with chronic grouchiness. That might surprise you as generally, I'm cheerful. That's because I've learned to dig beneath the irritability to the root causes. Here are ten reasons you're a grouch and 10 things you can do about it. 10 Reasons You're Irritable, Plus Healing Mood Lifters

Codependent Recovery Using Al-Anon Slogans

I am a recovering codependent. I'm also an empath--I feel everyone's pain and take on their problems. I can't recover from that--it's how I'm made. And I don't want to. But I can find healthier ways to cope. Here are recovery tips for codependents and empaths using Al-Anon slogans.  How to Recover From Codependency Using Al-Anon Slogans

Panic Attack Survival Tools: Emergency Kit for Coping with Anxiety

Do you struggle with chronic anxiety? Do you, like me, default to panic over healthy responses? Do you come out guns blazing or retreat in the face of stress. Fight or flight is a common though no healthy, coping skill. Taming anxiety takes time and work (I've been at it all my life). No matter how much progress you make, it never quite goes away. Here's an emergency kit of A-Z panic attack survival tips.  Panic Attack Survival Tools: Emergency Kit for Anxiety

Why Won't He Propose Marriage? Relationship Tips for Brides-Hopeful

Ladies, is your man taking his sweet time popping the question? It's discouraging to brides-hopeful, to wait on grooms-reluctant to propose marriage. Here are reasons he might not be asking and how you can get him to "put a ring on it." Note, I say "he" but it can be men pushing for and women shying from marriage, too.   Why Won't He Propose Marriage? Relationship Tips for Brides-Hopeful

Healthy Children's Car Snacks for Happy Travel

Summer means vacation and vacation means travel. Whether day-tripping or driving cross-country, traveling with kids can be hard. Kids get irritable. Grumpy kids fight more, get on your nerves and may even cause accidents. Adults do too. Usually this stems from boredom, hunger, exhaustion, lack of activity, more than bad behavior. Most travel drama can be minimized by keeping everyone fed. Pack a cooler of healthy snacks to keep them happy. Whether driving, flying, sailing going by rail or bike, these portable snacks travel well. I still pack snacks for my adult kids when we travel together. Better than paying sky-high (pun intended) airport prices. Here's an A-Z car snacks menu that's low sugar so kids don't get wild, low salt so they don't too get thirsty, high protein to fill them up and high fiber so they don't get travel constipation (that's a thing. I used to get it at summer camp). Healthy Car Snacks for Traveling With Kids, From A-Z

Lose Weight, Depression and Shame, Gain Self Esteem

I've lost 98 of the 100 pounds gained after pregnancy loss, depression, menopause and antidepressant drug therapy. The left photo is me summer 2011. Right is me May 2014. I've lost fat and gained many good things: better overall health, food "sobriety," confidence, joy, peace of mind, self-esteem. Here's how losing weight made me a happier, more peaceful person. Lose Weight, Depression and Shame, Gain Self Esteem

Diet Tip, Get off the Scale. Seriously. For Emotional Peace of Mind

I'm just a few pounds shy of my weight loss goal of 100 pounds. It's taken me about two years total, but the weight came off faster in the second year because I understood better how to diet. I just tried on last summer's pants and found I've dropped four sizes since then. Losing weight is as much about emotional as much as physical health.  Diet Tip, Get off the Scale. Seriously.

Work at Home, Set and Police Your Boundaries

The best and worst part of working at home is you're always home. Oxymoron? Yes. Dilemma? Yes. You're available 24-7, which is good for others. For you, not so much. My youngest son put it well--"Mom, you don't work at home, you live at work." If you work at home, it is essential to learn to set and maintain boundaries with family, interruptions, schedule.   Work at Home, Set and Police Boundaries

Avoid Steroidal DHEA Weight Loss Supplement with Testosterone

I’ve been dieting and lost 96 pounds. I use herbal and fruit supplements recommended by Dr. Oz, or another trusted source. I’d heard of DHEA and found it in the Meijer and Sundown Naturals vitamins. So it was FDA approved. It was labeled as helping metabolize sugar. It made me angry, jittery and aggressive. So I advise you to Stay Away from Steroidal DHEA Weight Loss Supplement

The Horrible R Word and Myths About Down Syndrome

I'm mostly a live and let live person. But when I hear people use derogatory slurs against people with Down Syndrome, I get steamed. If I ever hear someone use the r-word (I can't even bring myself to type it) they will get an earful from me.

I'm a certified teacher endorsed in EI (emotional impairment) and CI (cognitive impairment) special education. CI includes Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21, also called mental retardation and developmentally disabled). I've taught many CI students. As a teen, I lived in and helped manage a group home for developmentally disabled adults. There are myths about Down Syndrome that need dispelling. I am going to do that, plus share caregiver tips.  Myths About Children With Down Syndrome Plus Caregiver Tips 

Acknowledge Burnout Before It Consumes You

I don't do balance well. My MO is to ignore exhaustion or displace with more work. It scares me not to be busy. So I don't let myself experience burnout, rest and move on. Our oldest daughter flew up from Louisiana for a our youngest daughter's 16th birthday. Our oldest son came in from Detroit with his girlfriend. It was his b-day too, but he came to see his sister.   I Think I Need to Acknowledge Burnout

To Lose Weight, Maintain Relationships, Feel Better, Abandon Calorie Counting Sometimes

I'm going out to dinner with my husband tonight. He has to work another six-day week (nights) and may be working seven nights a week again (why do they not hire a new person when someone quits??) And I am on a diet. 96 pounds gone, woo hoo! But sometimes, all that calorie counting, denying myself gets tedious. So I take breaks from calorie counting when we go out to dinner. I mean I still watch what I eat. But not so obviously. It's annoying to be on a date with someone who is always preaching diet, or food allergies or gluten-free, or vegan. My relationship is important to me too. So when I am lucky enough to get a night with husband, I don't rub the diet in his face. And you know what? I feel better and it doesn't derail my weight loss a bit.   Diet Tip Abandon the Diet Sometimes

I Lost 93 Pounds With Little Diet, Habit Changes

I've lost 93 pounds. (Left Feb 2014, right Feb 2011). I put on 100 pounds after losing two stillborn babies and taking antidepressants. People ask how I did it and I say not in big, invasive ways (surgery, drugs) but with little habit changes. Here are 14 easy tweaks I made to help me lose.  How I Lost 93 Pounds With Little Diet Changes

Melatonin Helps Sleep Problems, But It Is Not for Children

 I have sleep apnea, arthritis, carpal tunnel, scoliosis and tendinitis. I'm in menopause. So sleep is often difficult. My CPAP (breathing mask) helps, but presents problems of its own. I won't take sleep medication, but I've been exploring herbal supplements.  Melatonin Helps Sleep Problems, But Is Not for Children 

Six Bad Mood Lifters (With Six You Get Cat)

Raise your hand if winter is getting to you. Maybe you have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or winter blues? Here are some things I found help. With six, you get cat! Like the Doris Day movie? (let's see how many oldies out there remember that reference?)  Six Ways to Shake a Bad Mood

Am I a Neglectful Mother? Thoughts on Burying Children

I've been asking this question every year for the last 13 years. I seem to need to process annually. Am I a neglectful mother? I don't ask for a general absolution. I know my failings, am doing my mea culpae.

This is specific, and will probably get weepy. I've mentioned we lost two stillborn daughters, Mary Therese in 2001 and Isobella Raine in 2004. The little sisters share a grave in Spring Lake. And we do not go visit it.   Am I a Neglectful Mother?

How to Stay Married with Selective Deafness Liberally Sprinkled with Humor

We used to say grandma was conveniently deaf. She heard what she wanted to hear. And I've found in relationships, selective deafness is not all bad. Take men... please! Take them really far away from me! Seriously, I like men. But around 50, they develop dysentery of the mouth.

They're grouchy. They complain and pontificate ad nauseum to anyone else who will listen. They make rude loud remarks. Either because they figure they're deaf so everyone else must be, or they passive-aggressively WANT the person to hear. And they love haranguing, preferably the person least able to fix what's bugging them. And my husband has adult Asperger on top  of it.  Not that I'm perfect, mind. How to Stay Married, Be Selectively Deaf
And he freely and proudly admits it. So, here's 

Weight Loss Photo Journal February 2014 Update

I keep talking about how I lost a lot of weight. Currently, I'm down 93 pounds from my all-time high of 234 pounds. I've shared a few photo exposes, but here's the most recent one as of February, 2014. I'll try to do side-by-side shots. Left is of me Saturday, Feb. 1 and right is me at my fattest, July 2011. I hated having photos taken when I was so fat. In eight years, after losing two stillborn daughters and taking Paxil, I had put on 100 pounds. I weighed 110 pounds on my wedding day in 1987. As you might imagine that weight did nothing for the depression. Losing weight has helped a lot, with depression and menopause. Click for more pictures and stats.  My Weight Loss Photo Journey Update February 2014

How I am Sleeping Better through Sleep Apnea and Menopause

I've never slept well. I get to sleep great, in fact I used to fall asleep everywhere and anywhere. Then I finally had a sleep study which determined I have severe sleep apnea. I've had it all my life. I stop breathing countless times a night and so don't cycle into deep sleep. I started using a breathing mask and that helped, but it also caused problems. Then menopause kicked in. And I will always deal with PTSD from some childhood issues.  But thanks to the Good Lord and some herbal supplements, I am sleeping better. Read on.

Time for Hazelnut and Nag Champa

I've had it up to my plucked eyebrows with being asked "are you following your New Year's resolutions?" NO I am not. Because I didn't make any. Because I'm just going to break them and... hey, why do YOU care? Who are you, the self-improvement police? You selling pardons or something? MYOB!! Go clean out your own backyard and leave poor dysfunctional me to my many dysfunctions. Read on, this really does have a cogent point.Time for Hazelnut and Nag Champa

Healthy Ways to Get Back to Work After Vacation

We got back from our trip to Detroit-New Orleans on December 30. We had a fantabulous time, seeing our son in Detroit and daughter and son-in-law in Lafayette. Getting all four kids together for the holidays was a wonderful blessing. After getting home, husband still had a few days left of vacation and we enjoyed them to the fullest. Needless to say, it's a little difficult and depressing to go back to work after holidays. So here's how I'm ramping into work.   Getting Back Into the Work Groove After Vacation

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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