5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.comHave you ever stopped to consider how many of the events you attend are planned or staffed by volunteers? People give of their time and resources to provide everything from family events to funeral dinners, Sunday school classes to transportation for no reason at all except that they want to do something nice for their neighbors. 

My family has the privilege to serve our community in several different capacities. We’ve ben helped by caring neighbors more times than we can count and we know there is no way to ever fully pay it back. We can only pay it forward. 

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.com

Volunteering can be rewarding in 1,000 different ways but it can also be a soul-sucking experience when you encounter people who say the “wrong” things. Whenever an event that we’ve worked on, be it small or large, ends, I find myself reflecting on these five comments that invariably get said to me. Consider that the person to whom you’re speaking gave up a portion of their very lives to help out before you say these things!

#1 – THIS EVENT SUCKS.

What the volunteer is thinking:  Really? For the last 52 weeks I’ve gone to planning meetings and worked my bum off every Sunday night while you stayed home on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching Once Upon A Time and now you’re going to come to my event and bash it? If you think you could do better here are my three file boxes full of contracts and information. Feel free to take over for me next year.

What you could say instead: You know what would be awesome? Maybe next year you could have a band. I know a group that would do an event like this for little more than gas money!

Volunteers are often in search of new ideas and contacts but vague, harsh criticism is just demoralizing.

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.com

#2 – THAT DECISION WILL SURELY PUT THE GROUP OUT OF BUSINESS.

What the volunteer is thinking: Do you have ANY facts for your statement? Because I never saw you at a single one of the many meetings we spent discussing the long-term financial implications of this decision and, by all accounts, we are going to save money and increase profits.

What you could say instead: Why did the group make that decision?

Organizations large and small face obstacles and challenges all the time. Sometimes a choice is made that may not make sense to a person who doesn’t have all the facts. Usually, unless the information is legally confidential, volunteers are happy to explain why various decisions are made when asked. Blatant, uninformed negativity comes across as confrontational and judgmental.

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.com

#3 – THAT’S NOT WHAT I HEARD.

What the volunteer is thinking: If you’d rather listen to your local rumor mill why are you even talking to me about this?

What you could say instead: Thank you for sharing your first hand information. I’m happy to have the facts and not just a bunch of rumors.

In volunteering for a local group I recently had a conversation with a woman who expressed concern that our organization was preparing to disband. I assured her there was no truth to the matter. We were in the black. Sponsorship was up. Attitudes were positive and, though this year’s event would have to be different because of circumstances beyond our control, it would still be great. Again she said, “but I heard…” and again, I assured her that I’d been quite involved and there was no truth to the rumor. At that point she just shook her head. If you’re going to choose to believe random rumors don’t waste a busy volunteer’s time.

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.com

#4 – THIS GROUP WAS BETTER WHEN SO-AND-SO WAS ON THE COMMITTEE.

What the volunteer is thinking: Maybe so, but after 25 years of putting up with jerks like you So-and-so had a nervous breakdown and now she can’t even drive past our building without bursting into tears.

What you could say instead: I remember that, under So-and-so’s leadership, your committee was always really good at communicating with the neighborhood. These days I feel like I don’t hear much from your group at all.  Maybe you could start a Facebook page or something.

Different people bring different skill sets to a group and, often, when one person leaves a hole is left that goes unfilled. If you notice something like this, by all means bring it up. Constructive criticism is helpful and appreciated. New ideas (or old ones that have been forgotten) are welcome. Whining and complaining… not so much.

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.com

#5 – NOTHING AT ALL.

What the volunteer is thinking: Why did I work so hard to do this when no one even cares that it got done?

What you could say instead: Thank you for all you’ve done.  How can I help?

Either of those phrases are rest to a volunteer’s weary soul. Put them together and they are a little piece of heaven.

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Volunteer | LazyHippieMama.com

Looking for a place to lend a hand but not sure where to start? Try VolunteerMatch.org to get some ideas.

LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

Is Being a Parent Frowned Upon?

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comThere are times in history and places in the world where being childless was just about the worst thing a woman could be.  It was (and still is, in some cultures) thought to be so awful that it was considered to be a curse and all manner of laws and customs developed to allow barren women to claim a child as her own that she might not have to face the shame of not being a mother.

Here in modern day America, I wonder if we’ve gone to the other extreme.

“She’s having another baby?”

“They have how many children?”

“She’s pregnant? But her career was just taking off.”

“A baby? Well, I guess her life is over now.”

I’d be willing to bet that, even if no one said these things to you, you’ve heard them said (or said them yourself) about someone else.

When I met my husband he already had two children from his first marriage. When we found out we were expecting our first baby together the reaction was mixed, at best. For the most part we heard, “How are you going to afford a baby?”  One especially supportive relative (sarcasm intended) said, “Oh, great. That’s just what you need.”

The truth is it was a hard time. We were broke. Not “we have to cancel the extended cable movie package,” kind of broke. More like, “I wonder if we’ll be able to buy noodles AND butter tomorrow,” kind of broke. It wasn’t the way we’d planned things (and, yes, we had a plan and had taken “precautions” along those lines) but it was the way things were and we managed. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Fast forward five years. Sweet Hippie Daughter is in school. Hubby and I are both working. We decided we wanted one more little person in our family because… well… just because. We love our children. We remember how that love grew and multiplied with the birth of our daughter and we want to allow that love to grow again.

We had two miscarriages and, early on, were told that the third pregnancy wouldn’t last either, but he was a determined little bean and he hung in there. Finally, very near the end of my first trimester, we saw a powerful heartbeat on the ultrasound, the bleeding stopped and we were told that, yes, a new Hippie was on the way.

I suppose, as a writer, I should have the words to describe that moment in the ultrasound room but I’m at a total loss. After so much sadness and grief and worry, after weeks of wondering and praying and crying, our tiny baby was right there in a grainy black and white image.  It was pure joy!

I wanted to shout to the world!

And so I did.

And the world rolled it’s eyes at us.

“Really?  FOUR kids?”

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.com

Yes, some folks were happy for us and celebrated with us but far more reacted with skepticism and doubt that such a “large” family could ever possibly be a good idea. Many said, in one way or another, that they thought it was irresponsible because we “couldn’t afford it.” A few thought it was “so sad” that just as I was getting back to work I ruined things with another baby.

It’s true. We were still poor. Our spaghetti had honest to goodness sauce every day, though! And… how much should that matter? Obviously, being able to support your family is important but when do you have “enough” money to have children? According to some estimates no one except the “one percent” would ever be able to raise a kid in this country!  Yet, somehow, hundreds of millions of us manage to keep our children fed and clothed.

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comIt’s true. Four kids are a lot of work. Honestly, though, I swear four is easier than three. They love each other (mostly). They entertain each other. And, yes, sometimes I ask the older ones to care for the younger. To the critics I say: No, I do not feel this is unfair. It’s not every day and that’s what families do – they help each other out.  I have never felt like one of our children was missing out on some portion of our love because they had siblings. If anything, I feel the exact opposite. Instead two people living with them and loving each of them they each have five people loving them (well… more than that when you count grandparents, etc, but you get the gist).

This isn’t just about me and my family and our circumstances, though. The age of social media gives us a weirdly intimate glimpse into the lives of our friends and acquaintances. I see it all the time:

Person A: We’re having a baby!

Person B: Bummer!

The idea seems to be that now you are saddled with all this responsibility. You’ll never have a great career. You’ll never get to be spontaneous again. There won’t be any more late night parties or long weekends, lounging lazily in the sun. Now you’ll have to trade your cool car for a minivan. You won’t be able to afford designer shoes and every meal for the rest of your life will be chicken nuggets and macaroni. Your uterus has suddenly turned into a black hole that will suck all of the money and fun from your existence.

Most of all, the mother (the rules are different for fathers, of course) has lost all chance of being a productive citizen. After all, you can’t possibly be successful at parenting AND anything else at the same time.

Where did this idea that parenting is a terrible burden come from?

Do we feed the monster by complaining about how HARD parenting is all the time?

When did we lose the notion that children are a blessing and that more children are a bigger blessing?

When did “parent” become a second-rate status?

Is it just me? Are my views skewed? I would love to hear from you!

What do you think? Is parenthood looked down upon in our society?

tmb-468x60-slow

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

 

 

30 Days On The Homestead

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.comToday marks the end of our first month in our new (old) place. We have been loving every minute of it!

Well… maybe not every minute.

Between the toddler, the dog, the rabbit and six chickens it seems I spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up poop. Not my favorite thing, but it’s amazing what you can get used to!

Also, I have determined that our basement is the creepiest place on earth.  I saw it when we looked at the house – the constantly dank floor, dark creepy tunnels to access the plumbing, the hidden, shadowy corners behind the gigantic furnace, all locked away behind a 900 pound creaky wood-plank door – and I swore I would only go down there if I could SEE the funnel cloud and make a realistic determination that it was moving toward me. But then the internet guy came and needed me to go down and show him where to bring the cable lines in. I considered just forgoing internet but I’m pretty sure that would be worse than being sucked up into a tornado. Then Crazy Hippie Drummer decided he has a dream of being a tech reviewer and he wanted to start a blog along those lines. Just as he was getting started a circuit blew and the only way he would be able to continue is if I went down there AGAIN and flipped the switch back over. I swear, getting to the fuse box was like a scene out of Arachniphobia! That boy will never know the level of love I have for him to have braved it out on his behalf!

Aside from that, life is good. Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to:

Lots of time in the garden!

30 Days on the Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

Just starting out…

After a month of sunshine and rain!

After a month of sunshine and rain!

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We’ve loved watching the grapevine flourish. I can’t wait to taste all the fresh grape juice!

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We built a coop and run for the chickens.

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We’ve been amazed by how entertaining they are, but the funniest thing is that Harry Bunny seems to have come to believe that he, too, is a chicken.  (I keep checking for Cadbury Eggs… just in case.)

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We’ve added all manner of fun things to our yard!

The fairy garden

The fairy garden.

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

A home for the toads.

And another. I'd MUCH rather have toads than mosquitoes!

And another. I’d MUCH rather have toads than mosquitoes!

I love this candle holder made from part of an old crib!

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

Another part of the crib went to make this “skateboard” swing.

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We cut down a bunch of over-grown half-dead shrubs… now to do something with that space! (*Note – by “we” I mean Handsome Hippie Hubby and our neighbor worked really hard while I took pictures.)

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We started a butterfly garden for all those little pollinators to have a safe haven. This may be the world’s easiest project since the most important part is to STOP mowing and cultivating and let the grass and wildflowers grow. Of course, being me, I had to add a few little knick knacks. I think hanging a couple of colorful planters on the pallet/fence would be perfect. I’m keeping an eye out for just the right ones.30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We explored the swampy area next to the riverbed across the street and found some fabulously huge tadpoles.

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We had great fun celebrating with friends!

30 Days on the Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com

We’ve still got a lot of work to do. At some point we should probably finish unpacking.

30 Days On The Homestead | LazyHippieMama.com Of course… we’ll have a whole long winter to finish the indoor projects. Maybe I’ll get to those boxes then.  I think I’ll spend today with my bare toes in the warm grass!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

What Do You Do When They Turn Your Water Off?

What Do You Do When They Turn Your Water Off? | LazyHippieMama.comThe US Declaration of Independence lists among the “inalienable rights” of all people the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We’ve all heard it a million times but what does it really mean in our modern society? Does the right to life simply mean the right to BE alive? Or does it mean that everyone, regardless of their level of income, education, ability or even ambition has a basic human right to those items and services needed to stay alive?

What happens when a person can’t keep a roof over their head? When they can’t afford food? When they are sick but have no way to pay a doctor? What about that most basic need – clean water?

When you think of people lacking access to clean water you may envision a family living in some rural part of India or Africa or in a part of the world where there was recent extreme violence or a natural disaster but, earlier this month, a group of people from Detroit reached out to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner with a plea for help. The city had shut off water services for thousands due to non payment.

That’s right. Americans are begging the United Nations for humanitarian aid. Next time you hear someone say the economic crisis is over remember this story.

The UN’s response was basically a statement that said shut off for non payment was only allowed if a resident was able but unwilling to pay. Beyond making a statement there really isn’t much they can do at this time.

The city of Detroit came back with all of the predictable responses. Tens of thousands of delinquency notices were sent out in May. Most were either paid or payment arrangements were made but thousands remained and when the due date passed the city began turning their taps off. “We are doing our best to work with people.” For a city that is in complete economic shambles, administrators felt there was no choice but to terminate services for those residents.

So now what do they do?

I realize there are many who just feel that folks in these stories are just sitting around mooching off of society. They are criminals and addicts and slackers of all sorts. It’s true that many of them are all of that and more, but certainly not all of them.  And even those who are… well… let’s look at the world they live in.

I only live about an hour from Detroit but it is a universe away. I know that the city has gotten national attention but I’m not sure how much people further away really know about what’s happening there. Honestly, I probably can’t grasp it fully myself since we don’t go into the city.

The city is bankrupt. There are whole neighborhoods of abandoned houses which are, not surprisingly, some of the most crime-ridden zip codes in the entire nation. Desperate people are burning down vacant houses in an attempt to avoid having “crack houses” in their neighborhood. Schools are often wrought with violence and the drop out rates are astounding.

“Just get a job!” is a joke. The unemployment rate hovers around 15% and that’s not taking into account the thousands who have fallen off the roles or never made it onto them in the first place.  Nor does it count the thousands who can only find part time, minimum wage work.

Assuming a person is able to get a decent education in such an environment and that they have the astonishing focus and strength of will required to finish school, then what? Where do you work in a city where there are no jobs? How do you get to work if you have no car and the city bus may or may not be running any given week because the infrastructure is crumbling?

Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t beg for help in such a situation? Can you swear that you would never consider crime, if you were that desperate to feed your family? And how much does your level of desperation increase when you wake up one morning to find you can no longer flush the toilet, take a shower, or give a glass of water to your child?

This is not some distant, impoverished nation. This is happening just a short drive from where I live in Happy Hills Suburban/Rural America.  The residents of the city are trying – desperately, fiercely fighting – to save their city but the challenges are immense.

I get it, from the city’s point of view. Really, I do. There is already an astonishing deficit. The resources to go on just aren’t there. The city, as a whole, is in the same boat as the desperate residents. They need people to pay their debts or at least to make some attempt at trying to pay. They literally can’t afford to be lenient.

But it’s not just Detroit.

In younger, poorer, darker days I was in this same boat. I had a job but I was scrambling. Granted my problems were, at least in part, due to my own mistakes but once you’re in that hole… it’s a long hard climb to get out, even if someone extends a helping hand. When I turned on the faucet and got no response I simply wept. I literally wanted to die if life was going to be so hard.

Thanks be to God, things have improved in my life, but every month when I fork over $70+ to the village for access to running water I think of those days.

People have been slamming the CEO of Nestle Corporation for saying that water is a commodity that should be sold like any other but, really, aren’t we already doing that? Sure, there are some people who have wells but, for hundreds of millions of Americans water already IS a commodity they are paying for.

And, looking at this from both sides, there are good reasons.

Water treatment plants and the construction and maintenance of the pipelines that bring it into our homes are extremely costly.

Also, water is a finite resource. There is only so much to go around and people tend to be a lot more careful about their use when it hits them in the pocketbook.

And it’s easy to say, “those who can pay should,” but, then again, how do you make that determination?

I don’t know the answer, but I know that it makes my heart hurt to think that, not so very far away at all, at this very moment, there is a mom who is faced with putting dinner on the table at the end of a long day of back breaking, menial work for which she was paid less than my family spent on our last trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s. She hasn’t been able to wash up properly. She can’t clean the dishes. She can’t even fill the pot to boil some pasta unless she spends a precious dollar on a gallon of water from the grocery store.

All of this and I’m not even getting into the debates that are popping up all over the nation over people who are trying to “go off the grid” and facing various legal opposition which forces them to stay “plugged in.” Again – there are valid reasons ranging from sanitation, to fair use, to economic issues for those laws but… now we’ve come full circle to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

What do you think? Should a city have the right to stop water service to those who can not/do not pay?

Additional Reading:

Water is a Human Right

UN Help Sought to Restore Detroit Water Service

Nestle’s Peter Brabeck: Our Attitude Toward Water Needs To Change

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

There’s No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comGMOs have become big business – not only for those marketing them, but for those businesses catering to the people who wish to avoid them.  This has resulted in a lot of confusing labels, controversy and mis-information. Hopefully this post will help clear up a few things.

You may ask why you should even care about this. Well, it’s up to you to decide if it’s important or not. I recently wrote about why I care.

The term “GMO” stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” This refers to “an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering.” (dictionary.com) GMOs were first marketed in the mid 1990′s. Before that there was no such thing as a GMO food.

Now, keep in mind that most (perhaps all?) modern food has been “genetically altered” in that it is different from its ancient, wild ancestors. Farmers have been cross breeding and hybridizing for as long as they’ve been farming. Because of that, the watermelon you eat is probably very different from the watermelon your great grandparents ate but it is NOT GMO. It is hybrid.

You will hear people say that due to pollination, air pollution, or the intervention of the Alien Overlords (OK. I made that last one up. But people get a little extremist at times) there is no such thing as organic food any more. Well… that’s a can of worms for another day. Let’s keep it simple for now.

Here’s a few of the facts and fictions about GMOs that you need to know to understand what you are buying.

“GMOs must be labeled.” – FICTION

Vermont recently passed a law about GMO labeling. Otherwise, there are no laws governing labels for GMO foods. This means consumers who aren’t well informed can be swindled from both sides of the aisle.  GMOs can be in anything and no one has to tell you. On the other hand, marketers can slap a “no GMO” label on something and charge you more when the reality is there is no such thing as a GMO variety of that product.

A great example of this is popcorn.  Pretty much all corn used for human or animal consumption in the USA is GMO unless it is specifically labeled as “heirloom” or “organic.”  HOWEVER, there are no strains of GMO popcorn being sold in this country. Most likely there is very little difference in the expensive “No GMO” brand and the cheaper store brand right next to it.

“Any pre-packaged food is GMO.” – FACT (sort of)

For all practical purposes you can assume that any corn, soy, canola, and sugar (not including cane sugar) in the US is GMO. You will be extremely hard-pressed to find any kind of processed food, be it a loaf of bread, a TV dinner or a bottle of salad dressing, that doesn’t contain at least one of those products in some form.

There are exceptions. There are a a handful of companies that are not necessarily “Certified Organic” but that do not use GMO products. Most (though not all) of these products have a “Non GMO Project” certification.  Your best bet is to know the facts and read labels very carefully.

“Nothing in the produce department is GMO.” – FICTION

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comPapaya, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash and sweet corn are all likely to be GMO unless specifically labeled otherwise. There is also a modified red-fleshed pineapple from Del Monte that is legal for sale in the US, though I’ve never seen it in any of the stores in my area.

Some items, however, are commonly “accused” of being GMO when they are not.

Biotech companies are pushing to develop GMO oranges in response to a disease that is destroying orange crops but they do not have an approved product as of the publication of this post.

There are also no GMO tomatoes, potatoes, melons or apples being sold in American grocery stores at this time.

“There is no such thing as GMO meat.” – FACT (technically)

This is a true statement in that the animals being sent to market have not been genetically modified. However, the VAST majority of commercially raised animals are fed GMO corn or soy. Many processed meats, like ham and sausage, are processed with GMO enzymes. So… I guess it’s up to you to do the math on that and make your choices accordingly.

It is my understanding that Certified Organic meat, eggs and dairy must come from animals fed non GMO feed. If I’m wrong I hope someone will point it out to me.

“Cheese is GMO.” – FACT

Most hard cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, etc.) are made with enzymes that are modified. This includes kosher cheese, unless it specifically states otherwise.

“Wheat is GMO.” -FALSE (but bread usually is)

There is no GMO wheat currently approved for sale in the US. Not long ago there was a massive controversy when a wheat field was found to be contaminated with GMO pollen but that seems to have been a one-time event. The wheat used in most modern products is hybridized and processed so as to be practically a different food all-together from wheat 100 years ago, but it is not GMO.

However, most products on the grocer’s shelves, including whole grain bread, IS GMO because they contain corn, soy, sugar or some combination of those.

“All Certified Organic foods are non GMO.” – FACT

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.com

I have heard people argue that manufacturers may use a tiny portion of modified ingredients and still use the “Certified Organic” label but I have never seen any reputable evidence that that is the case. If you would like more details on the various wording of organic labels (“Made with organic ingredients,” “100% organic,” etc) this is an excellent guide.

“Organic and Non GMO are the same thing.” – FICTION

Certified Organic foods are grown without any sort of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. There are other environmental and production standards that farmers must meet as well, to achieve their certification. They must be inspected, fill out a small library worth of paperwork and pay to be legally Certified Organic.

Something can be Non GMO and completely soaked in chemicals. In fact, the Non GMO version of some foods is MORE chemical laden than the “conventional” version! GMO crops are designed to be resistant to disease and pests so farmers need to spray them less often.

“It’s all garbage, so there’s no point in trying to figure it out.” – FICTION!

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comDon’t get discouraged or overwhelmed!  There is A LOT of information out there but a little diligence on your part will go a long way. It IS possible to understand food labels. It IS possible to GREATLY reduce the number of harmful ingredients in your food. It IS possible to eat whole, healthy, natural foods regardless of where you live.  You may have to put a little effort into it, and you may come up against some critics, but… hey… who wants to be a sheeple anyway?!

Keep reading. Keep researching. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook! Find out for yourself from a reputable source. Most of all, don’t reach a point where you are afraid of your food! You know that a carrot, in any form, from any source, is healthier than a PopTart. No one has to tell you that. Trust your instincts and beware of slick marketing and you’ll be just fine.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comMy family avoids eating GMOs.  I can’t say we NEVER eat them. We had GMO corn taco shells this week and cookies from a local bakery that almost certainly uses conventional ingredients. A recent trip to a nearby burger joint was what our family refers to as a “crap fest.” It was delicious! Healthy? Well… uh… it was delicious. As a rule, though, we go for food that is as close to all-natural as we can get it, even though that means our grocery budget is higher than average and we have to make cuts in other areas to pay for our food.

I’ve been working on this post for quite a while now, trying to put together the reasons we make the choice to eat a GMO-free (more or less) diet.  This morning, Wanda from Minnesota Farm Living posted this link on her Facebook page and it was just the motivation I needed to tie all this together and post it.

Wanda and I are on opposite sides of the GMO debate but I have immense respect for her. She runs a farm that is clean and humane. She goes out of her way to know the latest research on how to keep her animals healthy and, therefore, provide healthy meat to the public. Also, she has been endlessly patient with me as, for nearly a year now, I have been occasionally pestering her with questions about why so many farmers make the choices they do when it comes to bio-tech if it’s “SO OBVIOUS” to Joe Public that bio-tech is evil.  She helps me see that my viewpoint isn’t always the only one and that, as a consumer but not a producer, I don’t always understand the bigger picture.

The article she posted today, entitled, “How Scare Tactics on GMO Foods Hurt Everybody,” was an interesting read and I agree with a lot of what they said.  The author, Prof. Pamela Ronald, was speaking specifically in reaction to a new bill that has been passed in Vermont, requiring the labeling of GMO foods.

Let’s start with the common ground.

Prof. Ronald says, “…farmers’ use of GMO crops has reduced by a factor of 10 the amount of insecticides sprayed on corn over the last 15 years… decreased carbon dioxide emissions…”

I live in a rural area and I have asked dozens of farmers why they buy GMO seed. Universally they say it reduces the amount of pesticide they have to use and the amount of gas they would use applying it to their field. Additionally, fossil fuels are burned in tilling fields and GMO crops require less (sometimes no) tilling.  I would add that several of them go a step further and say that using GMO seed has decreased their topsoil erosion as well. So, in these ways, GMO crops are a big benefit to the environment.

She also states this:

“The bill is a contradictory hodgepodge of requirements and exemptions. It doesn’t require labeling for cheese made with genetically engineered enzymes, or red grapefruit developed through radiation mutagenesis. It doesn’t require labeling for animals that have been fed GMO crops, or for crops sprayed with carcinogenic compounds. The law doesn’t require crops sprayed with the organic pesticide Bt to be labeled, but crops genetically engineered to produce Bt must be labeled, and so must certain types of hybrids (including triticale, which can be found in most natural-food stores).”

To which I reply, with a sigh, “Yup. That’s government for you.”

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comNo doubt some law maker was trying to please the organic foodies (who are often backed with surprising amounts of money and clout) and the National Board Of Name Your Favorite Food (who, no doubt gave them money and clout) at the same time and they ended up with some kind of weird compromise that singles out a handful of items while creating special tax breaks for others. Sadly, I’ve come to realize that’s just how government works these days in far too many cases.

There is this statement: “So the law… won’t give consumers access to food that’s… less “corporate.”

True. Organics and natural food is some seriously big business in America these days. Pretty much every major food manufacturer has a branch or “child company” that sells organic products. In fact, the cost of organic certification is so prohibitive that there are very few small farms that can afford it.  If you want to avoid doing business with Corporate America you need to grow your own food or buy from a neighbor who does.

She concludes with this:

“So let’s label food, but let’s do it right. Instead of adding a general label about the process with which a plant variety was developed, let’s use labels that provide details about how the crop was grown and what is actually in the food. Let’s apply these labels to all foods, so consumers can make comparisons and draw their own conclusions about the risks and benefits of each seed or farming practice. Let’s create a national sustainable agriculture standard that is science-based and that has as its goal the health and well-being of consumers, farm workers, and the environment.”

Yes, yes and yes! I couldn’t possibly agree more! What a lovely idea! Let’s do it!

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.com

In the meantime…

Did you notice that the quotes, above, have a lot of pieces taken out? Those are the parts that are, for me, not common ground.

Right off the bat she says that there is not “a single credible report” that raises issues about the health consequences of GMOs.

If you click over to the first post I ever wrote on this topic you will find links to several reports from all over the world that raise concerns over everything from decreasing fertility rates to Leaky Gut Syndrome.  Some of them come from more credible sources than others but it is important to remember in any hot topic debate that one side can almost always find some reason to discredit the other.

For instance, I could try to discredit Prof. Ronald by mentioning that she makes her living by producing and promoting GMO products so it is in her personal best interest to put the best possible face on bio-tech. Is she knowledgeable? No doubt she knows so much more than I do about all of this it’s laughable. Is she unbiased? Not a chance. Does that mean she lacks credibility? I guess that’s up to you to decide.

She points out that these products have been widely consumed for 30 years now with no ill effects.

She could be right. Presumably, if you’re reading this, you’re still alive and well enough to read. I wonder though… We are told there is an obesity epidemic. Severe food allergies are more common than ever. Children have higher rates of respiratory illness than ever before. Adults are suffering from chronic pain and illness at younger ages and more severely than previous generations. Mental illness is on the rise. Autism is on the rise. We are not a society that has been experiencing improved health in the past generation.

Is that because of GMOs?

I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

It certainly seems prudent, though, to consider that ONE of the MAJOR changes in the world in the last generation has been the introduction of genetically modified food.

She hails GMOs for reducing food costs and insists that labeling will increase them.

Uhm… has she been grocery shopping lately?! In what world is food getting cheaper?!

She argues that GMOs enhance biological diversity.

I would argue that buying ONE type of seed from ONE company does the exact opposite. Further, there are side-effects of Round-up Ready Seed. One example that comes to mind is the reduction of milkweed growing in soy bean fields. Great news for soy bean farmers. Bad news for the pollinators who live primarily off of milkweed. If the pollinators die off a massive portion of the food on this planet goes with them. That is not a good thing for biological diversity!

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comMy favorite argument from the pro-GMO side is one that is made in every conversation I have ever had on this topic.  “Everything we eat has been genetically modified in some manner.”

That’s true. If you looked at food from 1,000 years ago it would barely be recognizable to you. We have domesticated and cross-bred and hybridized everything. We’ve been doing it for as long as we, as a species, have been intentionally growing our own food.

Here’s the difference, IMHO.  Keep in mind, I am not a scientist. I never claimed to be. If you come back at me with a line about aminopeptides or some such thing I won’t understand a word you are saying. I’m just drawing on a decent under-graduate education and a LOT of reading on this topic.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have a black cow who is an awesome milk producer and a white steer who is totally tolerant to the coldest conceivable temperatures. You might decide to play Cupid in the pasture and see if you can’t come up with a spotted baby cow who grows up to be one extremely hardy milk-making beast.  Congratulations! You just manipulated the gene pool.

Now, let’s say your black cow almost drowns one day because she fell into the river that runs through your pasture. You decide to take one of her ovum, extract the DNA, splice it with the DNA of a fish and create a cow-fish that is a great milk producer and has the ability to breath through gills.

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.com

That’s the difference (in ridiculous, over-simplified terms) between the genetic manipulation that has been going on for centuries and Genetically Modified Organisms.

Is the milk from the cow-fish healthy? Maybe.

Do scientists in the year 2014 have a strong enough handle on the workings of DNA and the effects of food on overall health to guarantee that cow-fish make healthy milk?  Hmmm… well, have they definitively answered what role DNA plays in cancer? Mental illness? Diabetes? Can they “fix” autism or down syndrome? Can they even, with 100% accuracy that never fails, trace the genetic lineage of humans?  They’re getting there. The amount of knowledge and the understanding of practical application increases every day, but the science of genetics is not perfectly well developed yet.

Add to that the track record of foods that were once deemed not only acceptable but hailed as better than anything from nature – they range from cocaine to saccharine to trans-fats. “All doctors agree this is safe,” they said.  “There is no evidence that it’s harmful,” they said. But now we know better.

Pile on a healthy dose of Big Biotech being in bed with the lawmakers, the pharmaceutical companies and everyone else who stands to make a dollar.

Toss in a dash of truly bizarre controversy surrounding scientists formerly hailed as THE experts in the field (thinking of Dr. Don Huber, specifically).

And, just for good measure, throw in a pinch of, “The hippie in me just can’t trust a company like Monsanto,” (I never claimed to not have a few biases of my own!),

and now you have the reason why I still avoid GMOs, even though the evidence may show that they are safe.

*** I didn’t provide many links to research or further reading in this post because much of what I was drawing on came from what I’ve learned in the past, when doing research for the post, “What I Learned About GMOs From 9 Farmers, A Monsanto Employee and A Whole Bunch of Reading.”  If you want more information I strongly encourage you to head over there and click through to the various links on both sides of the debate. This is not a cut-and-dry issue and there is a great deal to be considered when making the right choices for yourself and your family!***

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates? 

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

Why Are We So Excited About The Zombies?

Why Are We So Excited About The Zombies? | LazyHippieMama.comLast night I saw a tweet in which the author admitted that she was actually a little excited about the prospect of a “zombie apocalypse.”  It reminded me of something our oldest boy said, about a year ago. After watching Back To The Future he commented, “it seems a little sad that people in the 80′s looked forward to a future of flying cars and clean-burning garbage-fusion and now, when we look to the future, we just see the end of the world.”

Why Are We So Excited About The Zombies? | LazyHippieMama.com

I had to wonder why our perspective has changed so much in the past generation.

There are bad things these days – school shootings and tough economic times and so forth. But every generation faces their challenges. When I was little we feared invasion from the Russian army. My children’s generation is more frightened of the idea of a “mass shooter.”  My grandparents, a young married couple in the pre-WWII era, would look at our “tough economic times” and call us whiners. I think the folks who worshiped in fear of being tossed to the lions and those who tossed their dead on plague wagons probably felt pretty strongly that times were tough in their day, too.

There are good things these days. There has never been more information in the hands of more people. It’s easier than ever to keep in touch with one another. We have sound treatments for diseases that were considered a death sentence just a generation ago. Much of the world’s population has access to running water and deodorant. I’m a big fan of living in the age of reduced B.O.!

I have to think that what has changed is our perception of where the current “norms” are leading us. 30 years ago we looked at the explosion of new technology being developed and marketed and we saw endless possibilities. Clean energy! Abundant food! Extraordinary advances in healthcare!

Today we see that, for various reasons – be they scientific, political or monetary – much of what we hoped for is not coming to pass and we can’t imagine that it will.  Big oil and coal have largely suppressed the development of truly marketable clean energy. There is plenty of food but we can’t seem to get it into the hands of the hungry. Advances in the science of growing even more food have been met with massive controversy over health effects and environmental safety. People are experiencing unexplained chronic illness at a rate unheard of by previous generations while drug companies are focusing more resources on drugs to enhance our sex lives than finding a cure for cancer.

I think that such things sap our hope for a bright, shiny tomorrow where cool kids wear their pants inside out and ride to school on hover boards.

image source: bananascoop.com

image source: bananascoop.com

The glimpses of hope we see are often in things like an increase in the number of community gardens – spaces where people learn to provide for themselves and care for their neighbors. We see families coming together to find real solutions to local issues of poverty, crime, and lack of access to quality education.  There are those advocating for a more holistic approach to wellness, fighting for equal rights for all persons and celebrating the creativity of the human spirit.

Now, consider a TV show like, “Revolution.”  Before the lights went out people were living as we do today.  Afterward they live in small communities where they grow their own food, care for their neighbors, fight crime and injustice together and so on…

Why Are We So Excited About The Zombies? | LazyHippieMama.com

Of course… there’s the whole issue of murdering, raping, thieving bands of militant maniacs roaming the countryside and blowing up entire chunks of the nation but… well… we’ll just set that aside for today.

image from disaster.nicolasherold.com

image from disaster.nicolasherold.com

I wonder if, on some level, we are coming to long for an “apocalyptic” scenario because we see ourselves as hopelessly mired in a massive, badly broken system and the only way we can imagine getting out is by the total collapse of society.  Once the slate is “wiped clean” we would be free to start fresh.  Kind of like declaring bankruptcy for the entire human race. There would be serious consequences to deal with but maybe we’re coming to think those consequences would be preferable to what we’ll face without some kind of massive change.

All of this is just one Hippie Mama, pondering things that are really too large in scope for my puny brain to wrap itself around in any real, comprehensive way, but it makes me curious to know your thoughts:

What do you think?

Do people actually look forward to a coming “apocalypse?”

Can real change happen without major catastrophe?

Is the path our society is on sustainable for the long-term?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates? 

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

 

Are You Cyber Safe?

“I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for BGCA. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

Are You Cyber Safe? | LazyHippieMama.com

As parents in today’s world we are faced with certain challenges that previous generations never dreamed of. The digital world has opened up infinite new opportunities for our children to learn, grow, explore, connect and express themselves in ways that previous generations could never have dreamed of.

Unfortunately, as we hear all too often, along with all of those good things come a whole host of new problems.  Whether it’s cyber bullying or online predators we need to know how to teach our kids to keep themselves safe.

As the parent of four children who are very “plugged in” I know that I am aware of these issues every day and always looking for quality resources.

In an effort to be part of the solution, Boys and Girls Club of America has launched their Cyber Safe Futures Initiative in support of Internet Safety Awareness.

They have created a website designed for children, teens and parents. It is full of resources from a glossary of common terminology to quizzes, testing your parental cyber smarts.

What do you do if one of the adults in your child’s life is posting material that seems inappropriate for children on their social media? How do you take steps to stop cyber bullying? When is your child ready to have their own account?  How do you help younger children understand cyber safety?

All of this and much more is addressed!

One of the most interesting features is the weekly teen Cyber Tribe Q&A in partnership with Sprint. Let’s face it: Many (most?) teens know more about the internet than their parents do! Who better, then, to answer questions about new technology and how to use it safely? Each week a question is highlighted and it could be yours!

Just for submitting your question you get the opportunity to be entered to win an iPad Mini and $500 to the Boys and Girls Club of your choice! Why not head over and ask what’s on your mind right now?

It’s worth a few minutes of your day to make sure that you are current on the best ways to protect your family!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates? 

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

 

 

Re-purposing An Old Crib

Just for the record - we haven't made him sleep in this one for quite some time, he just decided to spend a little time remembering the good old days.

Just for the record – we haven’t made him sleep in this one for quite some time, he just decided to spend a little time remembering the good old days.

Toddler-saurus Rex outgrew his crib several months ago. We knew that it was time to move him into a big-boy bed but we already had the crib. He liked it! And for some reason this boy… the boy who will jump from the top of the staircase, launch himself into the deep end of a swimming pool and climb a ladder like a spider monkey stayed in the crib. He would wait, patiently calling for Hubby or me to come get him, every morning.  We would come into his room and tell him he could get up, at which point he would easily climb out of bed by himself and follow us downstairs.

I don’t get it, but I wasn’t about to complain!

Why would I end this arrangement?!

But, alas, then we moved into the new house.  The crib was used when we got it and, though I never checked, it’s probably been recalled because every crib in the US that’s more than 10 minutes old has been recalled for one reason or another. It was getting a little rickety. It really wasn’t safe for him anymore and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable giving it to someone else for a younger baby to sleep in.

Maybe he can sleep in the dog bed? He seems pretty content in there!

But it was still so pretty! And I couldn’t see just tossing all that loveliness in the landfill.

What’s a Hippie to do?

Repurpose it, of course!  I had Handsome Hippie Hubby tear it apart to its pieces and drag them all to the new house which he did with no complaining – even though at least one full load of what we moved was “pieces of stuff I’m sure I can use someday.” He’s a great husband!

Yesterday was the day… I figured it out!

We had a spot in the yard where an old tree stump had been ground out and the hole filled in with dirt from the field next door.  The grass hadn’t yet grown over it so it was just calling for some kind of creative treatment.  As I stood there, staring at the bare earth, trying to figure out what I wanted to do it came to me.  The rectangle of earth was just a little larger than a baby crib.  EUREKA!

I dug out the corners and buried the legs enough to give it some stability, tied the corners together with a length of wire and planted peas all around the edges. As they grow they can climb the sides creating a little “hidden fort.”

I painted an old piece of plywood I swiped out of a friend’s burn pile (Yes. I admit it. I save other people’s garbage, too.) as a tic-tac-toe board with painted rocks as the markers. A few colorful touches added some fun and it’s ready to go!

The finished product! Now to wait for the peas to grow...

The finished product! Now to wait for the peas to grow…

I am having so much fun at the new house – with all this space to build things like this.  What whimsical creations have gone in your yard this summer?  Tell about them or share your links in the comments.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

When The Going Gets Tough…

The guys who saved my mama!

The guys who saved my mama!

A little less than two weeks ago my mom posted a status update on Facebook. “It’s a beautiful day. Headed to the pool.” About an hour later I got a text: “Mom had a heart attack. She’s on the ambulance now. Oldest sister is flying out ASAP.”  In the hours that followed the messages involved, “She coded. They shocked her five times and brought her back.” and “Being life-flighted to Vegas.”

My mom just turned 80 years old. She is the youngest old lady you could ever meet. She’s healthy and strong and active. She plays cards and dances and flirts with the lawn boy. No one saw it coming. Thanks be to God and some excellent care takers she is back home and recovering.

In the meantime, middle sister and I were getting messages from our stepmom.

“Dad isn’t eating well. He’s in a lot of pain. Still no answers.”  Finally, today, the call was, “Dad has been admitted to the hospital. He’s in bad shape.”

All of this came the very week that we were closing on our new house. There were papers to sign at various offices. We needed to switch all of our utilities and change our address and attend to those details. We had to be out of the old place and have it cleaned up. Handsome Hippie Hubby had to make the 18-hour trip to pick up Crazy Hippie Drummer from his grandparent’s house. We are planning Toddler-saurus Rex’s birthday party in a few days.

Ever heard that phrase, “When it rains it pours?” Yet nothing in life comes without a lesson.

Here’s what the past two weeks have taught me (or reminded me of):

Say what you need to say and do what you need to do right now. Tomorrow is NOT promised to you. What you have is THIS moment. Don’t waste it.

There is good stress (a new house. Yay!) and bad stress (loved ones are ill. Boo.) but it’s all stressful. It’s OK to say, “No. I’m not OK. I’m overwhelmed.”

In times of great stress people may lash out. Don’t take it personally. It really has nothing to do with you.

When you’re holding on by a thread it is more important than ever to look at the positive. Dwelling too much on all of the “what ifs” will make you crazy and miserable.

Every day there are a thousand little tasks that seem vitally important. They really aren’t. What’s important is taking time to let people you lover know you love them!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!