Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Sting-Along For The Holidays
Hey, readers! The Broo's "November BHM," Scott Sonnon, found his way to my blogpost and linked it on his facebook page! So lemme take a minute here and pay tribute to another celebrity whose art I've loved and whose actions I've admired my entire adult life. Maybe he'll find his way over to my blog, too.

Hello Sting. Remember me?

Of course, I'm kidding. I just wanted to take a festive moment to share Sting's Christmas album, which isn't very well known among non-hardcore fans. Most everyone on the planet is familiar with at least one of Sting's solo or Police songs, and he has millions of admirers. But, I feel that the music produced by him over the years has particularly mirrored the events in my life and captured my life-experiences in a serendipitous timely manner. Each album he released over the years seemed like a personal musical gift that picked up where the previous soundtrack (of my life) left off. From love gone bad and breakup songs, to political messages and religion. This parallelism continued to the point that soon after my son was born in August 2009, Sting released his first "Christmas" and lullaby album, If On A Winter's Night.  Just like that, out of the blue, after 30+ years, he produced a lullaby album right when my son was born! I once ran into Sting at a club in Beirut after meeting him the night before post-concert. I asked him jokingly, "are you following me around?" He will never know how much I meant it!

I remember being home with my infant son in his first winter of life with this album often playing in the background, and we've enjoyed it every holiday season since. A favorite song on that record is "Soul Cake," which my son also has a fondness of, probably because I used to dance with him in the carrier to it's music when he was my infant soul cake! The album is truly a masterpiece and captures the magical character of the winter season.  The compositions in this record further prove that Sting is not just a popular musician, he is a serious and dedicated  artist with an open heart and a wide-open spirit for the breath of life. If you're tired of the same old Christmas music you have, you might want to add this one to your collection.

I've met Sting on several occasions (though I'm sure he still doesn't know who I am) from concerts in Beirut to fundraisers for Arab-Americans in Washington DC. He is truly a remarkable human being, (but not as remarkable and understanding of my 'Sting thing' as my amazing husband, who some say has a resemblance to the man). But what makes me such a huge fan, is the added admiration I have for him on many other levels aside from his musicianship --yoga, pro-marijuana legalization, anti-war messages, and support for Palestinian kids, for starters.

As I listen to these songs again this year, I want to wish all ye wonderful Broo readers health, happiness, love, peace of mind, and much much soul cake throughout the season!

As for us, we'll be moving to a new place in the new year, so expect the Broo to get a little more quiet until we move into our new hOMe.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crochet Bits: Brooversible Sweaters

I present to you two broo-versible sweaters I recently made for my son from scrap and left-over yarn. They are not reversible in the sense that they can be worn on the inside out, as "reversible" clothing items usually are. These sweaters have no front nor back, so they can be worn with either color facing forward.

Again, T-shape, basic stitches, and easy as 1, 2, 3. Click on each image to enlarge.

Sweater #1

Brown Side

Blue Side

Sweater #2

Green Side
 Orange Side

Stay colorful...

I Don't < 3 NYC

Now that the flu vaccine has been rendered not only useless, but also harmful to consumers, the drug companies have nowhere else to turn but to their lobby-driven comrades in government to help them push their poison onto the youngest and most defenseless American citizens in order to make more money and stay in business.

If you haven't heard already, Nanny Bloomberg's city has voted to require ongoing flu vaccines for babies and children as young as six months old who are enrolled in city-licensed daycare centers and preschools. Every mainstream media article I've read on this news topic quoted officials who cited flawed statistics and mad science driven by propaganda. One indisputable fact is that the more we vaccinate, the more we damage our immune system over time. So New York wants to start them wee young, eh? Give them another "Head Start"--on the fast track to illness.

The Health Department is either selectively ignorant or guilty of outright lies when is states, “This mandate will help protect the health of young children, while reducing the spread of influenza in New York City.” There is absolutely no proof of this nonsense. 

When will this trending assault on the health freedom of Americans be stopped? When will medical dishonesty be stopped?

I want to first see the children and grandchildren of every government and medical official who approved this mandate in line for a jab of the mercury, antifreeze, phenol, thimerosal, formaldehyde, animal blood and viruses soup, before I'll agree to give it to my child.

This story sure cut short my high from the recent health and child freedom victory of the Hershbergers!

But I'm staying...hopeful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Got Milk? It Gets worse.

In the recent blog post, Got Milk?," I told you about the developmental damage at risk with the iPad bouncy chair, made by Fisher-Crime, but I missed the iPotty!! I am not making this up, folks.

Can you imagine the additional butt deformations that will come out of this one?

What's Google glasses while babies sleep?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December BHM: Anna and Andy Hershberger
Beautiful Humans of the Month (BHM)

The Amish couple, Anna and Andy Hershberger, scored a huge victory for every American parent this month.  I wrote about them recently because I was concerned that theirs was a horrible example of the over-reach of government when it comes to parental rights and health freedom.

After an Ohio court ordered that 10-year-old Sarah forcefully receive chemotherapy (which was making her suffer more) and transferred her guardianship to a hospital nurse, her parents took her and fled the country. They found alternative therapies for their daughter's treatment and apparently, "the cancer is receding, and she is in excellent physical condition." The nurse resigned guardianship of Sarah, and now the Hershberger's are getting ready to come home. 

Here's the whole story.

This is also a Brootal loss for the chemotherapy-pushers. As thousands of people like the Hershbergers have proved, and are proving, there are other therapies out there that actually work without harming the patient. I hope that someday the Hershbergers will tell us what therapies they chose.

Stay Troo..(yes, "tuned" isn't working anymore, TS)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Got Milk?

All this kid is missing is a bottle of scotch, some cigarettes, and he or she will be on a speed train to early mental destruction and death.

I can't wrap my head around this story, folks The APA is "worried" and "weary?" They should be up in arms if they knew anything about the business of growing babies! Are they afraid to upset Fisher-Price with their cautious words? This iPad bouncy chair by Fisher-Price should be as illegal as heroin! ...Or come with a danger warning like cigarettes. In my eyes, this is no better than having babies stare at a loaded gun for entertainment!

Stay tuned? Never mind.

Not as good as the real world: Experts say toddlers belong in the real world, not the virtual one

Friday, December 6, 2013

These Are The Colorful Times

In the spirit of the season and leaving all politics and the Angelinas and Kims behind for now, this blog post will simply be a mixed update on some of the creative and not-so-creative "colorful" projects started and discussed in previous posts here on the Broo. Hope everyone had a grateful Thanksgiving and enjoying the festivities of the holiday season.  I regret not posting more frequently lately, but as you will see, my hands have been occupied.

On the crochet front:

Tea Cozies....and then there were three...and many admirers waiting for their garments to be made.

Then there was a birthday hat for Mayya. (actual Mayya wears it much more beautifully than my model here).

On Toe Color Therapy:

After getting a kick out of the rainbows, my son asked me to put planets on my toes, with specific instructions that Neptune should be on my second toe. This four-year-old is a huge fan of anything space or astronomy, so I decided to give it a shot (no pun intended) and paint the sun and the traditionally known nine planets in the solar system, one on each toe. As you can see, the results were pretty brutal. Can you guess the planets?

So you know what they say about not succeeding the first time. I decided to try again but to keep it simple, and just paint my son's favorite two planets on the big toenails, and on the rest of the toe nails paint nothing but star spots on top of the dark base.  Here are the results. Now can you guess the planets? 
(Excuse the remains of the spilled yellow and red nail polish on my feet.)

UPDATE: I got a compliment on my planetary pedicure the other day, in the middle of a jam-packed yoga class, from a male instructor! Apparently, yoga Toe Color Therapy is contagious and makes others smile, too.

On growing out the gray hair:

I finally got a good haircut to remove much of the tired colored hair I'm trying to get rid of. Of course, my hair stylist was aghast and tried to convince me not to let the gray grow out, but I stood my ground. I didn't do anything special with this cut. It's still long and very layered now, but the next cut will hopefully be short enough to be fully naturally colored. Right now, this is a hard (and sloooow) stage to be in, but to be honest, I'm not finding the "skunk" to be too offensive or unsightly. It's blending in an interesting way. I'm very excited about the gray peeking underneath!

And we end with some new holiday decorations:

As I've mentioned before, we don't live in a big space, so decorations are limited to a small tree and a scene drawn on the glass. Last year it was Santa. Here is the scene we painted on the sliding door this year. I used window markers, and drew it from the outside, so that it's less prone to damage from my son's wandering little hands on the inside. That way, he can also use the pens to draw anything he wants on the inside panels. I wipe it clean from the inside daily, so he can draw new images. This can keep him engaged for hours, giving me this kind of time to blog, for example.

It's wonderfully relaxing and therapeutic to work and play with color, even grey!

I hope you're staying cozy...

Friday, November 29, 2013


When I was teaching elementary school five years ago, I made these little crochet "Gidgets" out of left-over yarn for my students as incentive to do good work. They loved them and very much enjoyed collecting them in different colors. At one point I was making elaborate creatures, too, such as octopuses, starfish, and assorted ornaments. It was Gidget-mania at that school! Kids started to haunt me for them. Each Gidget took me about 5 minutes to make, and after the crochet part was done, it's was matter of gluing any small size wiggly eyes, and drawing on the mouth with fabric paint-- and they loved doing that part. This was more engaging, more satisfying, and more fun for students than giving them candy and food to motivate them.

A couple of days ago, I started making Gidgets again for my four-year-old son, and he is just as delighted by them as my elementary students were. He puts them on his trains for a ride, and builds homes and cars for them with his Lego blocks. He is even sleeping with a couple in his bed while I type. You have to admit, they're kinda cute! So while making this one, I decided to film the process on my iPhone to share with all of you. You have to click on this link to see the demo of how to make one on Blogger kept giving me an error message when I tried to upload it. Perhaps it's too long? Please excuse the production quality, mumbling, and interruptions-- I also had to readjust the camera in the second half. I was literally holding the phone under my chin while filming this. And please hold all comments about my bulb-shaped thumbs and chipping nail polish!
Meanwhile, here's another tea cozy I just finished today.
Stay tuned..

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Beautiful Human of the Month: Scott Sonnon

Scott Sonnon is a highly respected name in martial arts, fitness, and yoga. He is considered by some to be somewhat of a guru, and he's also the founder of the new Prasara yoga style which is very focused on strength in poses and transitions. Many advanced yogis today could only dream of doing the kind of stuff he does. Scott is truly unique. Here's a short demo of this physical genius at art.

When you look at this, of course you see lots of physical beauty, but what made Scott Sonnon beautiful enough for me to inspire this monthly feature was watching him in raw human form on Youtube giving this TEDx Talk in Bellingham earlier this month. To me, Scott Sonnon is the ultimate picture of strength, confidence, intelligence and love. Imagine my shock to learn from watching this that his childhood and his school beginnings were the exact opposite-- weakness, crushed self-esteem, learning struggles, and violence. Like many men and women I admire, he defied his tormentors by feeding his internal and external powers and rising above the storm.

In this moving presentation, he credits his mother for inspiring him to break out and make drastic changes in himself and in his life. In spite of his institutionalized schooling, it is the home-lessons he received from his mother that really counted towards his success. Another living testament to the importance of 'home lessons' and the real presence of parents in children's lives. Scott has much to say about schools and his own learning disabilities, but he really nails it with his message to our modern right-brained-female-advantaged schools of today.

"We end learning disability when we stop disabling learning."

Here's Scott's talk on "How we suppress the genius and create learning disability," and here's a mini biography which tells a little more about him. Scott is also active on Facebook.

The world is full of beautiful humans like him, and I hope to feature some of them regularly on the Broo.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tea (Cozy) Time!

I haven't been blogging with regularity recently because,'s tea  cup has been full. We are still searching for a new home and new car, and caring for ourselves and a teen and 4-year-old. Many of the blog posts I draft in my head, seem to expire in the fog of my thoughts. So lately, at the end of each day, all I want to do is take a long bath or use my hands to read or to crochet. After finishing the holiday outfits for my friend's twins, I made them these two easy sweaters. I made them a little larger this time, so eventually, they will fit.

Last Saturday, a friend came over for dinner and afterwards I served tea in a teapot covered with one of my old crocheted cozies. I got so many compliments on it that I decided to start making cozies again, and maybe gifting some for Christmas. They're fun to make and they really keep the tea nice and hot. Here's the first prototype I made yesterday.

More to come, so stay tuned.

Who Doesn't Get Cold Sores?

I remember getting my first "cold sore" on my upper lip when I was an adolescent. In those days, the Middle Eastern folk medicine explanation I usually got for it was, "oh, your stomach must be in disorder." As a youth who shunned many things Old World and traditional, I laughed it off. As I got older, I continued to get these unsightly lip menaces on occasion. I never really found any other explanations for them until the birth of the internet and the information revolution. I finally was reassured by 'modern' medicine gurus that cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, and that once a person was infected, her or she would forever be damned with more of them...and blah blah blah. This explanation didn't make intuitive sense to me. I still wanted to know what exactly triggered the cold sores, because at times, I could go months without them, then suddenly I would get one. Eventually, I turned to my favorite website for alternative answers. Although I found much useful information and remedies (acetone!), I still couldn't find out why it happened. If it was really the so-called Herpes virus, what triggers it?  I couldn't be sure my sores were triggered by artificial sweeteners,  either, because I've diligently avoided that stuff for years. But hey, artificial sweeteners in food might add weight to the theory that it's indeed "stomach related."

Well, about nine months ago, I went through a period of getting one cold sore after the other. One would heal and another would pop out. It was so frustrating. But this time I noticed that it happened at a time when I had eaten a lot of seafood, and I felt like I might have had some kind of food intolerance since my stomach was also showing signs of disorder. Maybe there was some truth in the old Arab folk saying that cold sores are related to the state of the stomach. So I decided to have a food allergy test to see if it would reveal any food sensitivities. I had been meaning to do this test ever since my husband did a it year and a half ago. He used to suffer greatly from a mystery food-related reaction, but we never could figure out what it was until he did this blood test. To our shock, the culprit was eggs! And, boy was my husband a heavy egg eater at the time! Plus, eggs are in just about every baked good out there, and he's a big fan of those, too. Of course we found this out in the same summer when we ordered FOUR DOZEN eggs to be delivered with our weekly CSA. Anyway, once he started avoiding eggs, the symptoms went away, and now they only return when he consumes eggs. Could my cold sores be food related, too?

So we ordered and administered the blood test kit from The Life Extension Foundation, which is where we order all our blood tests (and many vitamins and supplements) without having to rely on a doctor's prescription. When the results arrived in the mail, only one food sensitivity stood out on my chart--not seafood, but CORN!  That explained a whole lot. No wonder popcorn (popped in corn oil!) made me feel so bad after eating it, even though I love it. Of course, corn is in just about everything these days. So many things are fried in corn oil. High Fructose Corn Syrup is also in  many commercial sweet foods, so is corn starch. I was doomed to a life without corn, but at least I might avoid a lifetime of cold sores if I stopped eating it. It was worth a try, so now I avoid this food and its extracts.

Since I started to watch out for corn, I stopped getting cold sores for a while, until a couple of weeks ago. Drat! I got another one. And this time I was even more convinced it was stomach-related because the week before it popped out I had been complaining about not moving smoothly, if you know what i mean.  So what happened? What might I have eaten?

In talking to my husband, we tried to put the pieces together of what I might have consumed that was outside my normal diet. He recalled that this last episode happened to me just after Halloween. Though I normally don't eat any chocolate except the organic dark variety, I had guiltily indulged in some of the junk chocolate my son had collected, specifically Snickers and M&Ms. Aha! The ingredients list clearly shows corn products and a lot of other garbage in those candies. Needless to say, I learned my lesson.

As I nurse what I hope to be one of the last cold sores I get, I want to encourage my dear Broo readers to consider getting a food intolerance test. Regardless of whether or not you get cold sores, you may have other unexplained ailments puzzling you and your doctors. This information can truly be life-changing. I believe that when something goes wrong in your body, the first thing to suspect is food, unless of course you're on some prescription drug and it's causing side effects. Either way, it's clear that most our sicknesses come from what goes into our bodies-- bad food, bad water, bad drugs, unclean air, etc. Even if one stays away from the processed foods, the additives are now sneaking into meats and produce without the consumer's knowledge. Have you had any pink salmon or a tasteless bright red apple lately? Be careful what you think you're eating.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." I'll bet he would have a change of heart (or a heart attack) if he saw the GMOs, ultra-processed, MSG-laden, artificially flavored/colored and highly sweetened garbage we consider "food" today. 

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Makeup Freedom: Week 2

Last week I reported that my new "makeup freedom" has led to the habits of washing, splashing, and moisturizing my face much more frequently. So naturally as I do these things more often, I'm tending to give my face a little extra massage when I dab that Nivea cream on, applying some of the face yoga methods I'd already been doing. So I'm happy to report that another bonus I found to makeup freedom, is the ability to give the face more workouts, at any time of the day. No worries about messing up the mascara.

A dear friend and reader of this blog left me a concerned message about my decision to give up makeup. In typical trilingual Arabic that most of my Lebanese friends speak, she asked:

"Shou osset il maquillage ou wishshek? Kissikhta, yalli byisma3ek kaano kul yom bit7otti tonne foundation 3a wishshek. You only did your eyes, so shou hal maw'af yalli akhadtee dod il maquillage halla'?"

An online translator will probably explode if you tried to cut and paste this passage, so here's the translation:

"What's the story about the makeup and your face? (Expletive), listening to you it's as if every day you apply a ton of foundation on your face. You only did your eyes, so what's this stand that you've taken against makeup now?"

To answer my friend's question, I didn't really take a total stand against makeup, just the ritual of applying it every day. Luckily, I can get away with this because I don't have a corporate career or anything like that right now. I still plan to wear makeup for special outings and occasions. I especially look forward to flashing a tonne of eye makeup when the gray hair starts to crown my face!

Oh, on the subject of maquillage, I think you'll get a big kick out of these pictures of the magical power of a good makeup job. Unbelievable!

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Makeup Freedom: Week 1

So far, I'm very much liking the feeling in my face without any makeup. As a result of not having any eye-liner or mascara to smudge, I've developed this new habit of splashing cold water on my face almost every time I'm near a sink. Ahhhhh...It's such a picker upper, and it gives the face a fresh (though temporary) glow. I'm finding it very liberating to be able to do this as often as I want, especially before and after yoga classes. I'm also enjoying squirting rosewater on my face more often now--something I've always liked to do for the cooling effect and other cosmetic benefits.

But this new face washing habit of mine can make my skin feel a little dry, so I'm reaching out more for one of the NIVEA cream jars I've always kept tucked in my bedroom, living room, kitchen, handbag, and car for moisturizing my hands. Now I 'm using just a spot on my face a couple of times a day. I've never really been much into facial moisturizers. Even when I was wearing makeup, I only used a few drops of sandalwood (with jojoba) or rose essential oils once a day, and that was that. But by the end of most days, my face looked and felt dry and dehydrated. But not anymore.

I recently read that NIVEA is better for the face than the ultra expensive Creme De La Mer, which I used to use about ten years ago, until I boycotted it for political reasons. Let's see if this new routine of mine might be helping control the wrinkles, too!

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's All Coming Together....Naturally.

It should be clear by now that I've decided to take the "no Botox or cosmetic enhancement" route to approaching my fifties up ahead. I'm always talking the talk about natural food as medicine and stuff, so in order to be more true to myself and my personal beliefs, I wanted to expand this concept a little. One thing I've decided to do is to let my natural hair color grow out, and to stop using any kind of dyes, natural or not, on my hair. That's it. I'm done with the fuss.

I'm only about a month into the process and I can't wait to get enough growth to cut my hair short like this and then go from there. It's going to be interesting to have such a drastic change in hair length at first, since my hair has been on the long side for most of my adult life. But I can always grow it long again. Gray and long. Cool.

I'm a little nervous about the whole slow process, although I'm also totally up to it this time. You see, I tried to do this once before, but many people around me were very discouraging and not for the idea, especially because I have such a young son, some said. But this time I'm much more mentally strong and inspired because my 72-year-old mother is doing this, too, after a lifetime of coloring. And on that rare occasion when I have my mother on my side of an issue, it's like a home run!

Some of the greatest women I know and admire, personally and by celebrity, have never touched dye to their hair and they are all unique and BEAUTIFUL. They also inspired me.

I was also inspired by this TV anchor woman, who bravely chose to go gray before the eyes of her viewers on her daily newscast, in spite of the fact that in her profession of studio studs,  they do all kind of things to hold on to their faces' youth, or seriously risk losing their careers. Men and women do this, but you simply won't find any female white tops like CNNs Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper on your TV screens. It would be career suicide for most TV women.

So as my natural hair starts to creep out, I'm more curious about the color distribution underneath. Yes, it's like watching grass grow, but in a fun way. I simply can't wait for it to come out more. I want to see the gray shade that nature intended just for me. There must be more than just 50 shades out there! I also wonder how this hair revelation might change me on the inside, or affect the way people respond to me on the outside, if at all.

This new change I seek is in good timing because as I mentioned, my son is now enrolled in a Waldorf school, and I tell you, these people are all about letting nature take the lead, and I mean in everything. In health, living, clothing, food, and education.  Most teachers and parents in that school wear a lot of natural fiber and hand-made clothing. Many mothers are seen in modest long skirts and flat-heeled footwear. On many days, I'm the only person in jeans and maybe some makeup when dropping off or picking up my son. Still, that whole environment is fitting for me in many other ways, though. I like the old-fashioned style of community education and parent connectedness, craft and handwork activities for young and old, and other things that can be right up my alley.

I know I won't be wearing long skirts any time soon, nor will I give up nail polish and pedicures, but driving back from dropping my son off at school this morning, I got to thinking, why not stop wearing makeup daily? Just keep my face clean, healthy, and moisturized. What if I got to know my real face a little bit better, too?

So in my ongoing quest for freedom and liberty, I'm also going to try to embrace make-up freedom for a while to see how that feels.

Stay tuned...and I'll let you know.

Crochet Time!

As the short and cold days of winter fall upon us, I begin to gravitate back to my crochet needles when I find quiet evening time. I find working with colorful yarn and the repetitive act of hooking to be extremely calming and therapeutic...kinda like yoga.

So I thought I'd share this first project of festive baby clothing I just finished. These items were inspired by a dear childhood friend, who along with his partner were just blessed with twins through a surrogate birth. I'm very excited for my friend because I know at least he, will make an awesome father for the lucky boy and girl! Mabrouk Marwan and Rick.

Here they are.Very basic crochet, completely improvised and easy to copy, as all my project are. So stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And Speaking of Rainbows...

"Let's Be Gay" writes Hala Deeb Jabbour in today's post on her awesome literary blog, MySeventyYearOldEyes --where this modern-day Scheherazade tells the best true stories connecting modern history/culture with current global social issues through the eyes of an Anglo-Leventine and decades-wise woman.  I introduced Hala to Broo readers in a previous post, titled "3 Sisters in Blogging,"

With her permission, and hopefully with regularity, I'll be re-posting some of her essays here because I think they're such a treat.

Let’s Be Gay

Cecile was the first lesbian I met. She was a tall and beautiful Lebanese woman who spoke only French as many Christian people did owing to the fact that Lebanon was colonized by France for many years, and it had become a classy feature to associate with the colonizer’s language and disassociate from one’s mother tongue. Cecile was my manager at the newly established FM department of the Lebanese Broadcasting Station. One afternoon, as we were working, she suddenly got weepy and told me how men had always taken advantage of her, cheated on her and how her marriage of some years ago had failed because of a scoundrel of a husband. She had, as a result of all her heartaches, made a rational choice to love women only. The fascinating revelation for me – I was twenty-one years old and quite na├»ve – was that I had come to know a lesbian for the first time, a woman I happened to admire and like, and that her sexual nature did not affect our relationship in any way; did not affect her job; did not cause the Lebanese Broadcasting Station to explode or Lebanon to go up in flames!! And no one, though many in that building knew, treated Cecile in any way that was different. Later on in my life, I came to know a few women of my generation who were also lesbians. Now that does not mean that every member of society condoned this behavior. Most, though, considered it a benign infraction, or a subject for gossip mongering.

Next door to our office was the Classical Music Division of which Paul was the manager. Paul had taken it upon himself to look out for me from the many wolves roaming around in the building. One day, he called me into his office and very gently told me that I should watch out for our programmer and avoid being alone with him in the studio. It turned out that the programmer had let it be known that he was quite interested in getting me into his bed! That was Paul: soft, intelligent and caring. Paul was homosexual. I learnt that from Cecile. He was born that way. Again, most knew. No one treated him any different. The sky didn’t fall!

And, yes, we all heard in those days of Afif who was found shot to death at his seaside villa. His male lover had done that in a fit of jealousy. You see the Sixties had brought out of the closets many societal issues that were hidden but that had been going on for thousands of years. It happened in the US, in Europe and – Surprise! – in Lebanon, too! I remember Tucker Carlson* getting all excited as he was reporting from Beirut during some upheaval or another, and literally shouting into the camera that Lebanon should be protected because it had a gay nightclub for God’s sakes! I mean, imagine! An Arab country with an openly gay establishment!! However, if one just reads the social scene described by poets and the intelligentsia of the region throughout time one wouldn’t really find that to be such a surprising revelation! Though gay liaisons weren’t explicitly overt, they were, historically, throughout the Arab and Middle Eastern Worlds a fact of life. Some gay individuals were royalty, others were just ordinary folk; they might be likeable or obnoxious; highly successful and educated or not at all. They were, and are, no different from heterosexual people worldwide. Believe it or not, Aleppo and Istanbul were once the gay hubs of the Middle East.

Since meeting and knowing Cecile, who had made a choice, and Paul, who was born that way, and so many others in Lebanon and the US, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone should twist their knickers because of Anyone’s sexual expressions. Not the Ayatollahs in Iran and not US Conservatives! (And pray, are they that different on some of these issues, after all?) This planet of ours has many more dire and pressing matters than people’s sexual expressions! Or is it that our politicians are good at riling us up about these private issues as they weave their mischief away in the afterhours and far from the public eye and pass Bills and Laws that profoundly affect each and every one of us in much more weighty ways than our sexuality ever will; Rules and Regulations that we’ll never even realize the dangerous extent of until it is much too late? Grow up everybody! Chill!

*Tucker Carlson is a well known political news correspondent.

Toe Color Therapy


As we approach winter, the time between nail salon visits for a pedicure stretches a little more as the ladies ditch the sandals and open shoes for warmer, closed shoes. For the winter, most people's toes go into hiding.  I used to be like that too, until yoga came into my life. Now I have to keep the toes trimmed and pretty through the winters too, mostly because if my toenails aren't kept short. it's painful to roll over them when transitioning from upward facing dog to downward facing dog pose in a vinyasa. And since yoga is a practice that is done barefoot, everyone in the studio ( least my immediate mat neighbors) can see my feet and I can see theirs. In yoga, we don't have sneakers or special gear to show off as in other sports, so you see a lot of nicely pained toes on those mats. I don't think I've even seen any guy yogis with grubby feet, either.

Most of all, I have to stare a lot at my own feet, especially in my favorite forward folding poses like Uttanasana,  Paschimottanasana, and such poses. Oh, those folds are so tension releasing I can hold them forever. Click on the links for easy instructions if you want to try.

So, I need to keep the little piggies groomed, and today, I decided to keep these points in mind when I got my pedicure. I figured if I'm going to stare at my toes all the time, might as well put some 'happy' in the colors and designs, in the spirit of color psychology.

Luckily the nail technician at the salon had a bit of a sense of humor (if that's at all possible with these serious nail gals) and she accepted my request.

This took me back to past years when I used to paint seashells with these awesome nail art pens. It was a creative and contagious hobby that everyone who watched me do it, ended up with several painted shells of their own creations. I missed that.  It was a creative and calming activity that everyone enjoyed, young and old. I think I need some more of those pens and should start using them on my toes to bring back some of that fun.

The best part was my 4-year-old's reaction when he noticed, "Mama, that's so cool. Rainbow toes." Then he proceeded to chase my toes around like a kitten going after a ball of yarn.

Look out for future "Toady zynes" which I may start featuring on the Broo regularly. If anyone out there has any ideas or suggestions, please bring them on.


Monday, October 28, 2013

T.V. Fatwa!

Folks, the time has come to completely turn off the TV for our youngest son. Although his TV viewership has been extremely limited, and posed a huge moral dilemma for us, he didn't start watching until well after he turned two. But now that he is in a Waldorf preschool program, I have a deep desire to abide by the school's strict no-media policy. Deep in my heart I've always known that what little TV he watched was doing him more harm than good. An excellent article by Thomas Poplawski, "Taming the Media Monster," helped seal my conviction to entirely ban TV from my young son's life until at least the age of ten-- if I can help it. And I know it won't be easy, but I also know it's worthwhile.

So a few days ago, I covered the TV with an old crib sheet of his and I told my 4-year-old that the TV was going to sleep for a long time, and I packed away all his DVDs out of sight (except for yoga). He seemed to get it right away. As the days passed, he asked to watch a show only on two occasions, and simply telling him that the set was asleep was enough to move him on to another activity. From observing him in the last few days and from past times when he had gone on a "TV diet," I am convinced that TV is probably one of the most damaging things we can do to our young kids. There is a stark contrast between my son's behavior, attitude, and mood when he has been exposed to media, and when he's not. Although he is obviously zoned-out and well-behaved WHILE he is watching, TV definitely brings out a hint of "autistiky" ADHD type behaviors in him as soon as it's turned off.

In a book I'm currently reading, Back To Normal: Why Ordinary Childhood Behavior is Mistaken for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder,  the author Enrico Gnaulati says that most children (especially boys) are born with a predisposition to autism or ADHD--some more than others, and to different degrees. I fully agree, as I've witnessed this in my own son and in other 'normal' children I've known and worked with.  As to what causes full-blown autism, the jury is still out on that one.

I want to talk a little more about autism  because it's a subject that has deeply interested and mystified me since I was working closely with a group of autistic kids from 2006-2008 when I was "Language Acquisition Specialist" at a public elementary school. It was an education for me to watch their professionally trained teachers work with them, and I got an insider's view on how these kids function and how they learn. In investigating this topic over the past few years, I found several theories about what causes autism. I investigated all the common explanations. Is it vaccines? Is it genetic? Is it older parents? Birth trauma? Early umbilical cord clamping? There were no hard answers to be found.

Every single theory had much evidence to support it, but it could never stand alone exclusively because none of the possible causes can singly be applied to all cases of autism. You will find some unvaccinated autistic children out there, and you will find some who had perfectly natural births, etc. So what explains it? There are conflicting opinions about this among professionals, my friends, and former colleagues alike.

Through everything I have seen and read for myself, I've personally concluded that Autism is a result of a perfect storm of events, as described by this brave mother of an autistic child who is convinced enough to write "How I Gave My Son Autism" on the Thinking Moms' Revolution site. This is a courageous and scary article in which she blames her son's autism on a combination of "triggers" she might have pulled while pregnant, birthing, or nursing. Her particular "perfect storm" consisted of:

1. Ultra sounds while pregnant
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup in the diet
3) Lortab/Acetaminophen while pregnant
3. Taking the drug Lortab while pregnant
4. The drug Pitocin during childbirth
5. C-section and the drugs/recovery this major surgery involves
6. Antibiotics while breast-feeding
7. Vaccines
8. Flouride poisoning
9. Giving Acetaminophen to the child

Luckily, I've suspected all these things for a while now and I've stayed away from this entire list of possible triggers in order to protect my son, to the best of my knowledge, from this modern epidemic. We also let him spend lots of time outdoors and we give him extra doses of vitamin D3 because a deficiency in this hormone has also been linked to autism.

As I see it, what connects all these things is that they are all interferences and interruptions in the mental, physical, and/or emotional processes of human development. Too much and too many of such "interruptions" with our biology and natural environments might result in some of us reaching a certain limit in capacity causing our sensory system to ultimately malfunction as we withdraw into the world of autism.

But what about TV?

In seeing how TV affects children, I started to think, what if exposing children to TV and media beginning at infancy could also be one of the culprits in triggering autism? As I did my research to try to answer this question or to see if it has even been asked, I found that there actually are solid theories and studies looking into the possibility that autism might also be triggered by excessive TV exposure at infancy. In Amish communities, by the way, the incidence of ADHD and autism are almost nil. It's worth noting that these communities neither vaccinate their children nor watch TV in their homes. For the most obvious reasons, nobody in the mainstream media is talking about this burning question about media exposure in any intellectual manner.

In the US, it has been clearly established that the sharp rise in rates of autism happened at the same time when cable television and children's programming were introduced. Since the late 80s and early 90s, parents have been bombarded with baby and child educational products promising geniuses,  which turn out to be unscientific scams like the Baby Einstein products. Also, let it be noted that the rates of autism are highest in states with the highest amount of cable TV viewing (rainy states such as Washington, Oregon and California top the list).  Even the American Academy of Pediatrics  admits that media exposure causes attention problems in children. Although the AAP strictly cautions against exposing young children to TV,  you won't find them telling us how terrible the consequences might be, nor will you find them banning -or even speaking out against- children's TV programming that specifically targets infants under 2.

Nobody can say for sure how autism happens exactly, but my fine-tuned maternal instincts and average observation skills tell me that TV certainly contributes to MY own son's ADHD/autistic-type behaviors (repetitiveness, communication difficulty, transition tantrums, extreme restlessness). Luckily he hasn't been exposed for very long, and it's a good thing we're stopping it sooner than later.

I'm glad that the Waldorf schools take this no-media commitment seriously. It makes perfect sense. In the past few days alone, my son's imaginative play and creativity have occupied much more of his time. He has rediscovered his toys and has come up with new ways of combining them to build new concepts. He's drawing more, looking at more books, and he's much more focused on activities and in his communication. He's mostly in a harmonious mood, and we're already seeing a dramatic decrease in his resistant responses. It's absolutely crazy! Please continue to collectively knock on wood.
Turn off the TV, and transform your child.

Over and out...

3) Lortab/Acetaminophen while pregnant
3) Lortab/Acetaminophen while pregnant

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bread Pudding

Last week I enrolled my son in a 3-day preschool program that runs from 8:30am until 12:00 noon at the local Waldorf school, a ten minute drive from where we live. At first, I was so hesitant and worried about our decision, that I couldn't even wrap my head around blogging the entire week.  As some of you might already know, the last time we tried school was a huge disappointment. But thankfully, all seems to be going very smoothly so far. My son attended from last Monday until yesterday, and has had an excellent experience from start to finish. Please knock on wood.

So far, I'm cautiously embracing this school like a young girl approaching new love after a broken heart. I like the teacher, who is a male, and the warm and gentle assistant who works with him. She seems very experienced and patient. I love the fact that there are a maximum of 15 children in the class at any given time, as opposed to the 23 students in the Montessori fiasco of last year. But most of all, I love the fact that it's a Waldorf school and I know for sure that first and foremost, the teachers in this kind of system are trained to love the children and treat them gently. Academics and technology are not a priority and in fact, they are shunned and highly discouraged for children of young ages. In Waldorf schools, mother nature takes the lead. I always knew in my heart that when the time came to put my son in a school, it would likely be a Waldorf school, at least in the primary years. So I was elated to find him a spot in this little school so late in the year.

You see, when I first met my husband, his two children were attending a Waldorf school in Maryland. The girl was in 3rd grade and the boy was just starting Kindergarden. I was very intrigued by the methods in which they were taught, and at the time, I felt utterly embarrassed to have an MEd in education from a respectable university, yet I had no idea who Rudolf Steiner was or what Waldorf education was all about. Mr. Steiner is also the father of biodynamic farming for heaven's sake!! Needless to say, in order to redeem myself, I spent the next two years reading everything I could about Steiner and Waldorf education, and I enrolled myself in a Foundations of Waldorf Education course to learn even more.

To say I had a complete paradigm shift in my thinking about pedagogy would be an understatement. Throughout my 17 years of public school teaching, I had a reputation of being the rebel child advocate, often standing alone against popular decisions made after months of mental grooming of the staff by the administration. But now, I wanted to learn more about everything I wasn't taught about in college about alternative methods of education that actually work. I became deeply interested in the historical big thinkers of education and child development, because today's educational "thinkers" didn't seem to know anything at all anymore beyond testing, testing, and testing! I spent the next two years after this time of revelation and study, teaching in a public elementary school, where I successfully applied many of the best methods I learned to teaching my students with "language disabilities."

At the time, I worked as a "language acquisition specialist," working mostly with about 10 foreign adopted kids who came to the USA from various places and at various times of their lives. Some came at infancy, one came at the late age of 7, yet they all seemed to struggle with language issues and presented themselves as mysterious puzzles to their homeroom teachers. This was really a unique group of kids, and no education or psychology textbook ever taught me about their unique needs. So I spent a lot of time teaching myself how to teach them. I found out that what they mostly needed was TIME, love, and security. And here we were throwing tests, labels, and standards at them, while expecting them to miraculously catch up with their peers in all areas of academics, as if everything else in their lives were perfectly standardized and hunky dory.

Applying some of my new-found Waldorf, yoga, and Brain Gym ideas to these special children worked magically to open their minds and hearts a little more to learning, when nothing else seemed to work. I was so sold on the Waldorf philosophy that my work email byline for the next two years, was a beautiful quote by Rudolf Steiner. “Receive the children with reverence, educate them with love, send them forth in freedom.”

So yes, I have a good trust that the Waldorf system will be appropriate for my son, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and even daring to hope, that I could slowly increase his attendance and perhaps even the length of his days there. Though I struggle with releasing my son,  home-schooling an only child has proven to be a tough business.  I feel a little less guilty about the idea of sharing his schooling with outsiders now. I hope to be writing more about this school journey as time reveals more experiences.

So what does this have to do with bread pudding?

Well, one thing about the Waldorf schools is that they're very "festive"in nature-- on so many levels. They celebrate the mornings with a good morning song, and the end of the day with a goodbye song, and meals with a song, and so many larger festivities are celebrated throughout the year. So the school is having its Fall Festival this coming Saturday, and I signed up to make a dessert. Since I'm making my favorite super-easy dessert and it always seems to please everyone who ever tasted it, I thought I'd share it with the Broo readers while I'm at it. A two-for-one, for those of you who couldn't care less about the school stuff and are only here for the food.  One of my mottoes, "Feed them and they will come!"

So...this basic bread pudding has been called many "Ims" (mother Arabic). Some call it "Im Khaled" (mother of Khaled), some call it "Im Ali" (mother of Ali), etc. After doing a little Google research, it turns out that the Egyptians have a similar version with its own history, too. Here's our family recipe.

Immi's Bread Pudding

 1 loaf Challah bread
1 quart half and half cream
1 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup raisins
(1/4 cup of milk or water if needed)

Note: The original family recipe is made with Greek Tsureiki bread, which is made with mahlab. The Jewish Challah doesn't have this extra flavorful ingredient. So if you can get your hands on the Greek Easter bread, use that instead.

For the syrup:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange blossom water
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 375.
Shred the bread with your hands and spread it out in an oven proof ceramic or Pyrex pan. Work in the raisins and almonds so that they're evenly spread within the dry pieces of bread.

Pour the entire contents of the half and half on top of the bread and squish everything down with a fork until the bread mixture appears well-soaked and evenly spread. Add a little milk or water if necessary (depending on the size of the loaf ) to achieve that level of squishy moisture.

Place the pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top looks dry and slightly browned, and the surface almonds look roasted.

 While he pudding bakes, put the water, sugar, and orange blossom water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

When the bread pudding is ready, pour half the syrup on top and let it all cool for a few minutes.

Use the remaining syrup to pour on individual servings for those who like it sweeter.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Turmeric Drink


In one of my previous posts about the benefits of turmeric, I mentioned and included a demo video about the recipe for the ayurvedic "Golden Milk." I hope some of you might have tried it by now.

Since then, my husband has discovered a new brand of turmeric drinks on the market, sold for about $6 a bottle at our local organic store. I instantly loved it when I tasted it, but $6 a bottle? That seemed a little over-priced for a bit of spiced tea.

So, I decided that the simple pantry ingredients these drinks were made of had to make it easy to replicate the recipe at home. So I did. In about 3 minutes flat! The taste isn't exactly the same as the bottled version, but it comes very close and can be just as good, if not better. I prefer my recipe, in fact, because it's slightly less sweet and I like the fact that I'm using my own brands of organic spices and other ingredients. You can adjust your recipe to your own individual tastes, too.

In the first couple of attempts, I used fresh ginger root, but it somehow it changed the overall flavor. Then I tried powdered Chinese ginger root instead, and that result was much better, and easier! So here's my recipe for a most refreshing cool drink that beats any soda and gives you tonnes of health benefits. It takes so little time to prepare, that you can make it fresh each time. You can also double, triple, or quadruple the recipe and bottle it up in the fridge where it can stay fresh for a couple of weeks. Make sure you always shake it up before you drink it.


12 fl oz filtered water
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1/2 heaping tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Chinese ginger powder
a pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Heat 2 oz of the water. In a glass jar or shaker mix the warm water with the honey, turmeric, ginger, lemon and salt. Stir well. Add two ice cubes and the remaining 10 oz of water. Close the lid and shake the contents for about a minute until all the ingredients are well blended. Serve on more ice.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

So, The Government Shuts In Our American Faces
Who's not talking about this? Around where I live, many many are directly affected by this. So I won't say much here. I just want to share my favorite original quote I've seen on the subject , which comes from Karen Kwiatkoski, Phd, who is a regular columnist on . It truly spoke to me in every way.

"When we begin to understand that we don’t really need a big fat nanny state, and begin to mentally and spiritually wake up to the mathematical fact that more government means less freedom and prosperity, less joy, less happiness – we accomplish much more than is immediately visible."

And here's the rest of it. Nanny's Big Fat Revenge.

You say you want a revolution, well, you know...we all want to change the world.

Stay tuned...

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Getting Scary To Be A Parent In America

Lately, I've had a little cloud of hopelessness following me around because of the stories I keep reading in the news. The news stories I refer to are not the ones about stalkers, rapists, and child predators which saturate the media. I'm referring to the ones where government agents and employees barbarically treat parent citizens with such impunity, with no regard for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and snatch away their children.  I'm pretty sure I'm quoting our Declaration of Independence from tyranny here! Maybe I'm just lost and confused in these times of truly amazing stories, where the reality is that our rights have long since expired along with my American illusion.

Children in America are fast-losing their natural-born right to the care of a parent, and instead they are being tossed into child-care institutions at infancy while the government dictates their education, vaccination, place of residence, "wellbeing," and what have you. It seems that our children have become the property of the government. I admit I am a little extra jaded about this topic because of past experiences I've been through with my husband in a classic custody battle which put out the light in our eyes for a year. There aren't too many feelings of helplessness that compare to standing before a judge who decides the fate of your own children.  This has happened to us and has marked us forever. But folks, I'm not talking about custody battles here. Today, we see kids who are being snatched away from peaceful homes and from their loving happily married parents, too. I'm actually starting to seriously worry that one day this government will have the right to snatch away our own son from us for whatever reason it sees fit. Maybe the government will decide it doesn't like my home-schooling, or the food and medicine I feed my son, or the medical decisions we make for him, or the style of haircuts he gets, or even the content of my blog?

Where does it end, when there's a draft to war?

What tipped me over the edge today was reading about the Amish family that had their 10-year-old sick child taken away by an Ohio court because the parents wanted to give their cancer-stricken daughter a break from cancer-causing toxic chemotherapy! The already ill and traumatized child, who begs not to have any more chemo and whose days are already sadly numbered, is further traumatized by her separation and placement in the care of a complete stranger! Is this really necessary? Are these parents so dangerous to their child that they need to be kept away from her? This Amish mother and father never refused to treat or heal their daughter, they just disagreed with the hospital's prescription-- a prescription which automatically became the law? Of course, nobody knows the full context of the story, but still this outcome truly scares me and adds to the examples of cases that prove that American parents have lost the right to freely raise their own children.  Will home-birthing soon follow to become a criminal act in America because some judge has been given the all-knowing power to "protect the wellbeing of a child." Will the government one day mandate that all babies be born on operating tables for their "protection?" The language below, used by the appellate court in this case, is disturbing, and it sets a most dangerous precedent which ought to alarm every parent in America:

"While we have no doubt that the parents are acting in accordance with their principles, beliefs and honest convictions and that their goal may be a laudable one, it does not justify or nullify the right of the state and the probate court to protect the health and wellbeing of a child."

How exactly are these unconstitutional and brutal actions by the court protecting the "health and well being" of this child?  Is this dying and heart-broken little girl now better off in the custody of a strange hospital worker? Will she be taken to the hospital with a total stranger and be forced to have the chemo administered to her without the loving and assuring presence of her parents? If this isn't an assault on a child's birth rights, I don't know what is. If this isn't legalized kidnapping, I don't know what is! If this isn't down-right state terrorism, I don't know what is. When the courts can take away our children for no good reason and choose medications for us because they are in bed with the pharmaceuticals, what next will they be forcing us to do, line up in a row and jump off a cliff? We have become a nation of true slavery when citizens procreate and are forced to hand over their offspring to the governing lords who have their own lobby-crafted definition of "health and wellbeing."

And who remembers little Alexandia Hill, the 2-year-old who was also recently taken away from her peaceful parents and placed in foster care by a judge because the parents were guilty of the oh-so-criminal act of smoking marijuana, only to be brutally killed by her foster mother within months of her placement?

"We never hurt our daughter,” the girl's father said. “She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care.”

Now the little girl is dead. Heckuva job, Judge!

If anyone tried to take away my child or tried to harm him in any way, I don't know what I would do.  I might just lose my motherly wrath to insanity and go on a crazy driving spree in downtown DC,  just like that 34-year-old mother did last week. And since apparently my child belongs to the state, the cops might remove my son,  their human "property," from the car before they shoot another unarmed and defenseless mother to pieces...just like they protected the "wellbeing" of Miriam Carey's now orphaned baby. In case you missed it, this ugly and under-reported detail accidentally slipped out from a witness in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

I pray for the Amish family of Sarah Hershberger. I pray for the parents and soul of Alexandria Hill. I pray for the soul of Miriam Carey and her motherless baby.  I still pray for Elizabeth Snowden, Edward Snowden's mother, as I pray for all mothers and fathers whose children's lives are put in danger by the unchecked bullying of big government everywhere.

And since I honestly don't know what I would do if someone tried to seriously harm or take away my child, I mostly pray that I'll never find out.

Let's all pray for America, and her children.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Popping Pills

After our teenage daughter decided to abandon ship last week and return to her old ways living with her mother, you'd think the trauma would have left me popping pills. And it's been a trauma, believe me. Not just for me, but for every other member of the household, and mostly for the remaining teenage brother who is working so hard at wrapping his head around the events. But no, I'm not popping any pills beyond the extra dose of turmeric added to my daily bunch of vitamins and supplements, and of course, lots and lots of yoga. It's been a tough ride to say the least, but with those tools, I have my seat belt on, and I think I'm riding it out pretty well.

Which brings us back to popping pills...

When my son was younger, it was always a challenge to find children's vitamin supplements that didn't come in sweet and flavored liquid forms. My husband and I always went out of our way to find clean cough medicines and fever reducers for him, too. When he had a slight fever, we always favored piercing an adult liquid ibuprofen and mixing it with honey and tahini. By the way, tahini is the BEST cough suppressant out there, and our kids don't mind it at all. It's quite soothing for the throat, actually.

The one thing our youngest son did mind a lot, no matter how flavored it was, was cod fish oil, and who can blame him? So one day, I decided to try to teach him how to swallow my pills instead. He was just three years old at the time,  and to my utter surprise and joy,  he got it down from the first try!  It brought him so much pride to be able to do that, and since then, he's been taking his vitamins in the form of 8-10 pills every day, and his ibuprofen in pills when needed. I know some adults who can't do that. Maybe they were given sweet syrups as kids, too...?

My point is, we really wouldn't need all the colorful sugar-laden garbage-filled kids' medicines and supplements that are out there, if we simply teach kids to swallow pills. Whoda thunk it, huh?

Behold, my now 4-year-old son's demo for you --slamming his pills in less than a minute and a half. I'm a proud mama!

If you're getting this post in email, you'll have to visit the blog site to see this video.

Stay tuned...

Monday, September 23, 2013

That Toxic Phone!

One of of our biggest challenges as parents of teens, is controlling those darned mobile phones they have. Even before our older kids moved in with us, we had restrictions on their phones when they spent weekends, holidays, and summers with us. This might have been one of the reasons why their visits became shorter and less frequent as they began to navigate their teens. Time with us meant time away from their phones. The phones consumed them and screwed up their priorities. But now that they live with us full-time, they're facing a drastic change of habit here.

My husband and I are always amazed at how those kids' personalities slowly transform to a more natural and pleasant state of being within an hour of being away from their cell phones. They become more aware, more present, more grateful, more attentive, more respectful,  and the list goes on. They're just awesome kids,  really, but when they have their attention on their phones, they become "wild animals," as their dad would say. We believe that extreme phone usage (and online socialization!) really distort teens' perception of reality and they grow up numb and lose touch with their real emotions. Heck, mobile phones have the same negative effects on adult behaviors, but at least adults are done growing!

Louis C.K. says it perfectly in this clip (Thanks, Beeb) from last Friday's  Conan show. Must see.

Folks, we are facing just one more assault on young people's well-being by the reckless pushers of modern technology, bad medicine, and useless education. We've got to put an end to the madness. We've got to find a way to unplug our children from machines, and replug them to life--or they will completely miss out on life!

I find it so dangerous and frightening to see children as young as 10 walking around with cell phones. I find it equally scary to see babies playing with apps on their parent's devices. It's horrifying really. Most of us know that the science regarding the effects of cellphones on human health is inconclusive, at best--yet it skews to the negative.  We still have no proof that cell phones don't cause brain cancer in adults, yet we take even bigger risks with kids. Their delicate skull and brain tissues are still developing and more penetrable by wireless electronic signals.  Incidentally, we keep our kids and ourselves away from the TSA porn machines as well. We know for sure that harm comes from the constant human exposure to radiation, so we try to avoid or minimize our own.

Now that our teens have moved in, we've set the rules for cell phones tight, and they're NOT happy about this at all....yet. But the changes we are seeing are profound. They'll even admit it themselves. They are slowly, but surely, getting used to their new and abbreviated relationship with their phones.

The rules are fairly simple and reasonable.

For the teens:

1. No cell phones at school. They each got an Ipod for the "but I need my music" excuse.
2. Cell phone time is after school until 5pm, then after homework/dinner until bedtime.
3. Friday to Sunday, they have total access, unless there are special circumstances.

For the household:

1. No cell phones are charged or kept in the bedrooms at night.
2. When we all go out together, only one of us takes a phone. We rotate on this.

That's it.

Life is better this way.

As for our youngest son, the 4-year-old, my husband and I have vowed that he will only own a cell phone when he is able to pay for it himself. Even then, he'll have to follow those same simple rules.

Stay tuned...but unplug occasionally!