James Blunt performs "Monsters"

James Blunt writes that his new song, Monsters is, "a eulogy to my father - except he’s still alive and kicking. But he’s not been well - his kidneys are functioning at just 11%. And with that realization, I needed to tell him that, to me, he’s more than just a father. He’s my friend too, and that I love him." 

Monsters is a song that deeply captivates, and drenches the heart in tears of anyone who has had death pull them apart from a loved one. The only line we'd change as it is played out in real life is 'no need to forgive...' Rather, forgive now. Forgive often. Forgive over and over and over again. Break the chains. End the cycle. Let it go. Give it to God, and find real, raw, authentic, lasting healing. Don't allow generational pain continue, for the sake of your wellbeing, your children, and their children...

Monsters Lyrics:

Oh, before they turn off all the lights
I won't read you your wrongs or your rights
The time has gone
I'll tell you goodnight, close the door
Tell you I love you once more
The time has gone
So here it is
I'm not your son, you're not my father
We're just two grown men saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you're sleeping, I'll try to make you proud
So daddy, won't you just close your eyes?
Don't be afraid, it's my turn
To chase the monsters away.

Oh, well I'll read a story to you
Only difference is this one is true
The time has gone
I folded your clothes on the chair
I hope you sleep well, don't be scared
The time has gone
So here it is
I'm not your son, you're not my father
We're just two grown men saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you're sleeping, I'll try to make you proud
So daddy, won't you just close your eyes?
Don't be afraid, it's my turn
To chase the monsters away.

Sleep a lifetime.
Yes, and breathe a last word.
You can feel my hand on your arm.
I will be the last one
So I'll leave a light on
Let there be no darkness in your heart.
But I'm not your son, you're not my father
We're just two grown men saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you're sleeping, I'll try to make you proud
So daddy, won't you just close your eyes?
Don't be afraid, it's my turn
To chase the monsters away.

James Blunt sings to his father in "Monsters"

James Blunt and father during the filming of "Monsters" music video.

Altered to being between a daughter and her mom: 

Oh, before they turn off all the lights
I won't read you your wrongs or your rights
The time has gone
I'll tell you goodnight, close the door
Tell you I love you once more
The time has gone
So here it is
I'm not your daughter, you're not my mom
We're just two grown women saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you're sleeping, I'll try to make you proud
So mommy, won't you just close your eyes?
Don't be afraid, it's my turn
To chase the monsters away.

Oh, well I'll read a story to you
Only difference is this one is true
The time has gone
I folded your clothes on the chair
I hope you sleep well, don't be scared
The time has gone
So here it is
I'm not your daughter, you're not my mom
We're just two grown women saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you're sleeping, I'll try to make you proud
So mommy, won't you just close your eyes?
Don't be afraid, it's my turn
To chase the monsters away.

Sleep a lifetime.
Yes, and breathe a last word.
You can feel my hand on your arm.
I will be the last one
So I'll leave a light on
Let there be no darkness in your heart.
But I'm not your daughter, you're not my mom
We're just two grown women saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you're sleeping, I'll try to make you proud
So mommy, won't you just close your eyes?
Don't be afraid, it's my turn
To chase the monsters away.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

U.S. Flags with Intact Info Needed for GIAW, Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival

1500 hand-held U.S. flags are needed to pass out during Genital Integrity Awareness Week in Washington D.C. this year. Each flag has 2 patriotic-themed intact information sticker stapled to it (one per side) for awareness raising during this week. This year we will have "Defend HIS Freedom" on one side and "Watch American Circumcision on Netflix" on the other side of each individual flag.

Flags are *very* popular in Washington D.C. during the Cherry Blossom Festival, National Kite Festival, at the U.S. Capitol lawn, and at the White House where we march to on Saturday. We could pass out far more than 200 flags per day, but this is our goal to raise funding for, along with an extra 100 for the GIAW March (1500 total).

Frequently, chaperoned groups who will not allow students to take other intact materials from GIAW leaders will allow them to accept and take home flags (getting intact info into their hands)! It is very important to have enough of these U.S. flags (with stickers attached to each one) for every day during GIAW, and for use during the march.

At Amazon, flags are approximately $29 per set of 100. If you are able to sponsor one full day ($58), or one 1/2 day ($28) worth of flags OR any number of flags, small or large, we THANK YOU for your involvement and support of these pivotal GIAW items! To chip in here:

Or via mail to:

GIAW / Saving Our Sons
P.O. Box 1302
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Sponsors will be listed here and at the permanent GIAW site by first name / last initial only, for privacy, or with your business name and link if you'd like to include this. If you would like to cover one specific day, the march, or stickers, please mention this in a note.


MONDAY (GIAW Kick-off, 200 flags):

TUESDAY (200 flags):

WEDNESDAY (first day of Child Abuse Prevention Month, 200 flags):

THURSDAY (200 flags):

FRIDAY (and the Silent Survivors Stand, 200 flags):

SATURDAY (and the March to the White House 200 flags):

WHITE HOUSE (+100 flags):

SUNDAY (and the GA Clothesline, 200 flags):

(3,000 vinyl, waterproof stickers for all flags needed)

Intact Info Flags for tourists headed to the U.S. Capitol

Virtually ALL passerbys request a flag or two to take home with them -- until we run out of supplies.

GIAW Intact Info Flags

Kids love to hand out flags during GIAW too!

Group of students takes home flags, bracelets, and cards from the U.S. Capitol during Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2019.

Many tourists stop to talk at the U.S. Capitol and take home a flag and information.

U.S. Flags with intact information attached are the perfect item to take home from a visit to the Capitol during Genital Integrity Awareness Week!

During GIAW at the Capitol we repeatedly hear, "I didn't know that..." while sharing information respectfully and providing materials for tourists to take home with them.

Even if someone is too timid to come up and chat, they can grab a flag with intact info to take along and read on their bus...
GIAW Leaders handing out flags at White House

Watch American Circumcision on Netflix stickers

Defend HIS Freedom stickers

Men at GIAW march to the White House: Shane, Brian, Glen, Andrew

CoSleeping and Breastfeeding Go Hand in Hand

Breastfeeding / CoSleeping photo shared from Raising Her Barefoot
Dream feeding (night nursing) makes life easier for mom and happier/healthier for baby.

Cosleeping has made breastfeeding at night SO much easier. When Indie is hungry we both half wake up together, she latches on to feed, and we both fall back to sleep.

No need to get up and walk down the hall.

No need to turn the lights on.

We both stay warm snuggled up in bed together, she has a feed, and we drift back to sleep.

Cosleeping babies consume on average twice as much breastmilk as babies who sleep in a cot at night. Night time breastmilk contains twice as much beneficial growth hormone and significantly more melatonin (a hormone that contributes to normal circadian rhythms).

Breastfeeding and cosleeping go hand in hand. It’s the most natural feeling I’ve ever felt.

-Millie, Raising Her Barefoot

Related Reading:

Breastfeeding Made Simple (book)
best book to read before your breastfeeding days begin

Baby Sleep Resource Page

Sweet Sleep (book)

Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to CoSleeping

Safe CoSleeping (Page)

CoSleeping (Group)

Breastfeeding (Group)

CoSleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Babies Do Not, and Should Not, Sleep Alone

Turn Your Crib into a Cosleeper

International CoSleeping Symbol

Dangers of Leaving Baby to Cry It Out (CIO)

By Margaret Chuong-Kim
Read more from Chuong-Kim at Dr. Ben Kim's homepage.

Among parents of infants these days, there is constant debate about how to respond to a baby’s cries. On one hand, there are proponents of the “cry it out” method, where the baby is left alone to cry in the hopes that he or she will eventually stop. On the other hand, there are the “attachment parents” who respond immediately to their crying babies and attempt to soothe them using various methods including holding and cuddling. While the cry-it-out method (CIO) has been popular in previous years, attachment parenting (AP) is gaining a foothold among new parents today. Results of studies in psychology indicate the AP approach to crying is most likely to result in an emotionally and physically healthy child.

Attachment theory originated in the late 1960s when psychologist John Bowlby postulated that a warm, intimate relationship between caregiver and infant is necessary for optimal health as well as for basic survival. As such, each individual is born well-equipped with reflexes and instincts for interacting with their primary caregiver, which is often times the mother. For example, infants quickly learn to recognize and prefer both their mother’s voice and smell. As babies develop some locomotor control they display their desire to be close to their caregivers by reaching toward their mother or father to be picked up or by crawling toward them. From an evolutionary perspective, these behaviours have survival value. Babies who lack such attachment behaviours will stray from their caregivers and are more likely to get lost, attacked, and perish. An infant’s cry is also intended to increase the likelihood of its survival, as a mother’s instinct is usually to go to her child at the first sign of distress.

We live in an age where we can know that the baby is safe in another room, despite the loudness of his cries. Does this mean we should leave babies to cry on their own? CIO proponents often advise that babies left to cry will eventually stop, and the duration of future crying bouts will decrease. What are the emotional consequences of crying for the infant when she is left unattended? Bowlby and colleagues initiated a series of studies where children between the ages of one and two who had good relationships with their mothers were separated from them and left to cry it out. Results showed a predictable sequence of behaviours: The first phase, labeled “protest”, consists of loud crying and extreme restlessness. The second phase, labeled “despair”, consists of monotonous crying, inactivity, and steady withdrawal. The third phase, labeled “detachment”, consists of a renewed interest in surroundings, albeit a remote, distant kind of interest. Thus, it appears that while leaving babies to cry it out can lead to the eventual dissipation of those cries, it also appears that this occurs due to the gradual development of apathy in the child. The child stops crying because she learns that she can no longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because her distress has been alleviated.

Do babies cry more when they are attended to? A 1986 study concluded just the opposite: the more a mother holds and carries her baby, the less the baby will cry and fuss. Cross-cultural studies also show that parents in non-Western societies are quicker than parents in Western societies to respond to their crying babies, and babies in non-Western societies cry for shorter spans of time. Caregivers in 78% of the world’s cultures respond quickly to an infant’s cries. For instance, Efe caregivers in Africa respond to a baby’s cries within ten seconds at least 85% of the time when the baby is between three and seven weeks, and 75% of the time when the baby is seventeen weeks. !Kung caregivers respond within ten seconds over 90% of the time during the baby’s first three months, and over 80% of the time at one year. In contrast, American and Dutch caregivers have been found to be deliberately unresponsive to an infant’s cries almost 50% of the time during the baby’s first three months. Infants in non-Western societies have been found to fuss just as frequently as those in Western societies, but due to the prompt response of caregivers in non-Western societies, the overall cumulative duration of crying is less than what occurs in Western societies.

According to attachment theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions. That is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, but do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and to re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.

Children who do not have consistently responsive and sensitive caregivers often develop into insecure individuals, characterized by anxious, avoidant, and/or ambivalent interactions. Long-term studies have shown that secure individuals, compared to insecure individuals, are more likely to be outgoing, popular, well-adjusted, compassionate, and altruistic. As adults, secure individuals tend to be comfortable depending on others, readily develop close attachments, and trust their partners. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, tend to be unsettled in their relationships, displaying anxiety (manifesting as possessiveness, jealousy, and clinginess) or avoidance (manifesting as mistrust and a reluctance to depend on others). North American parenting practices, including CIO, are often influenced by fears that children will grow up too dependent. However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.

It has been suggested in the past that CIO is healthy for infants’ physical development, particularly the lungs. A recent study looking at the immediate and long-term physiologic consequences of infant crying suggests otherwise. The following changes due to infant crying have been documented: increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen level, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, interrupted mother-infant interaction, brain injury, and cardiac dysfunction. The study’s researchers suggested that caregivers should answer infant cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively, recommendations which are in line with AP principles.

CIO supporters tend to view their infants’ cries as attempts to manipulate caregivers into providing more attention. Holding this view can be detrimental to the immediate and long-term health of the baby. In the field of cognitive psychology there exists the premise that our thoughts underlie our behaviour. Thus, if we think positively about an individual, our behaviours toward them tend to be positive as well. Conversely, if we think negatively about an individual, we will behave correspondingly. Consider people in your own life whom you consider manipulative – how does that perception influence your behaviour toward them? It is unlikely that the interpretation of a manipulative personality will result in the compassionate, empathetic, and loving care of that individual. Infants, quite helpless without the aid of their caregivers, may suffer both emotional and physical consequences of this type of attitude.

When faced with a crying baby, it may be prudent to ask yourself the following questions: Why am I choosing this response? Do I want my baby to stop crying because he feels comforted and safe, or do I want my baby to stop crying for the sake of stopping crying? What is my baby learning about me and the world when I respond in this manner? If I were a baby and was upset, how would I want my caregivers to respond?

For more on 'sleep training,' 'cry it out' (CIO) and 'controlled crying' see resources at:

Campos, J., et al. (1983). Socioemotional development. In P. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s Manual of Child Psychology: Vol. 2. Infancy and Developmental Psychobiology. New York: Wiley.
Craig, G., Kermis, M., & Digdon, N. (1998). Children Today. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall.
Dacey, J. & Travers, J. (1996). Human Development Across The Lifespan (4th Ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
DeCasper, A., & Fifer, W. (1980). Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mothers’ voices. Science, 208: 1174-76.
Gleitman, H. (1996). Basic Psychology (4th Ed). New York: W.W. Norton.
Hunziker, U. & Barr, R. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77(5): 641-8.
Luddington, Hoe, S. Cong, X., & Hashemi, F. (2002). Infant crying: Nature, physiologic consequences, and select interventions. Neonatal Network, 21(2): 29-36.
Macfarlane, A. (1975). Olfaction in the development of social preferences in the human neonate. Parent-Infant Interaction. Amsterdam: CIBA Foundation Symposium.
Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2001). Attachment theory and intergroup bias: evidence that priming the secure base schema attenuates negative reactions to out-groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1): 97-115.
Miller, R. (2000). Dysfunctional relationships. In R. Kowalski & M. Leary (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Interfaces of Social and Clinical Psychology. Washington, DC: APA.
Waters, E., Wippman, J., & Sroufe, L. (1979). Attachment, positive affect, and competence in the peer group: Two studies in construct validation. Child Development, 50: 821-829.

Childbirth - what are the signs of labor?

Childbirth is not necessarily a divisive topic, but it’s certainly a topic that garners much debate over the methods and choices that suit expectant mothers and their babies. Take the stories of women who choose to forgo pain relief for as close to a natural birth as possible, without actually going into the woods and squatting over a makeshift cushion of particularly springy looking leaves. Then there are homebirths, water births, and so many opinions and advice and ‘friend-of-a-friend’ tales from those who've been there, done that.

Whatever you choose, you need to prepare. Learning to spot the signs of labor can give you the time you need to scramble your chosen plans into action. Of course, the health of the mother and baby is paramount. If you’ve been researching, you’ll probably already have asked yourself things like how can you reduce the likelihood of birth trauma? And related topics such as what is cerebral palsy and what is Erb’s palsy? For now, let’s look at the signs of labor.

Labor - phase one (the latent phase)

This is the start of labor, where the cervix begins to soften to allow the baby to pass through into the birthing canal. The muscles will begin to contract for typically periods of tens of seconds before relaxing again. These contractions (known as Braxton Hicks contractions) are your body’s way of pushing the baby out of the uterus, while the following relaxation of the muscle opens the cervix a little further each time. You can expect these contractions to last for up to 60 seconds. When they come roughly every five minutes, your baby is on its way.

A “show” and waters breaking

There is a plug of mucus that seals the cervix during pregnancy. During labor, this plug comes away. You may notice that there is a pinkish color due to losing a small amount of blood at this stage - this is normal for most women. Next, your waters will break. The baby is contained safely inside a sack of amniotic fluid. When the baby is ready to make an appearance, this sack breaks, releasing the fluid (be aware that amniotic fluid is similar in appearance to urine). For most women, labor will follow within less than 24 hours of this happening.


5 Tips on How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

In the first five years of the Affordable Care Act, some 20 million previously uninsured Americans were able to find and obtain health insurance.

Since 2017, however, the number of Americans who do not have health insurance has begun to creep back up. If you are among those who struggle to afford medical care and prescription medications, you need to know how to save money on prescription drugs.

To that end, the following list of tips has been compiled to assist.

1. Talk to Your Doctor 

Your first opportunity to save on medication starts long before you are standing at the pharmacy check-out counter. When you visit your primary care physician, tell your doctor about your situation. They may very well have samples from the pharmaceutical companies they can give you. Or they might be able to prescribe a different dosage. For example, if you take 50 mg of a particular medication, they might prescribe the 100 mg version — which costs the same as the lower dose — and tell you to break each tablet in half.

2. Shop Around 

Would it surprise you to learn that prescription costs aren't standard? Just as with groceries or clothing prices, some places charge more than others. Spend an hour or so calling local pharmacies and asking their price for the meds you take. You might be able to lower the amount you pay for prescriptions each month simply by going to a different drugstore or big-box store.

3. Don't Forget About Supermarkets 

The majority of supermarkets and warehouse clubs (think Costco or Sam's Club) have in-house pharmacies. Often, their prices are competitive, simply because few people stop in to get a script filled without also picking up a gallon of milk, a rotisserie chicken, or a frozen pizza for that night's dinner. If you can avoid making impulse purchases, you can save a lot of money by using these pharmacies.

4. Look Into Patient Assistance 

All of the major pharmaceutical companies have patient assistance programs. Contact them — often there are simple forms you can fill out on the drug maker's websites — to see if you qualify. Sometimes they can provide you with free medication; other times, patients get a significant discount that allows them to afford their medications.

5. Head to the Internet 

Ever heard of GoodRx? This website offers coupons that can drastically slash the price of drugs. Comparison shop on their site, then print out a coupon to show at the pharmacy counter. Or download the app to streamline the process. Take a few minutes to search the internet; there are other similar sites as well. Depending on the medication you take, buying online might also be an option. Be sure you're dealing with a reputable online pharmacy if you choose to go this route, however.

Know How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs 

When you know how to save money on prescription drugs, you will feel empowered and less anxious about going to the pharmacy. While it is not ideal to be without health insurance, it doesn't have to mean the end of your medication. Do you have any tips for saving money on health care costs? Share them in the comments!

How to Plan Your First Successful Family Road Trip

Young kids and road trips don’t go together. They have too much to bring with them and are far too dependent on their routines. Short day trips are great, but long, multi-day road trips will only try them and you. That is why you should wait until they are pre-teens or older because, at this age, they are ready for adventure and can (hopefully) sit still for longer than a few minutes at a time.

If this is your first big family road trip there are a lot of things that you can easily forget, which is why you should go through this checklist to ensure you plan and pack everything you need:

Decide on Your Type of Road Trip

There are three main options when it comes to a road trip with three or more people.

  • Book hotel rooms for the night 
  • Bring camping gear 
  • Book an RV rental

Hotel rooms are going to be the most expensive option, especially if you have two or more kids with you. They cannot be admitted into your own room with a cot, meaning you’ll need to book two or more rooms to accommodate everyone.

Camping gear can be a good way around this, but it does mean that instead of a cross-country trip, you are going to need to find just a few base camp locations and then go for day trips from there.

For ultimate travel freedom, you are going to want to choose an RV rental, which allows you to bring your home away from home with you wherever you go. You also can save on food costs, as they typically include a cooking range.

Invest in Travel Insurance

Many people don’t think about their insurance when they leave on a trip, but if you leave home, you run the risk of leaving the hospitals covered under your health insurance plan. Expanding your health insurance is also quite a headache, but thankfully the best way to cover for all emergencies is to simply invest in additional travel insurance for each member of your family. Do be honest if you intend to go adventuring, like white water rafting, so that if someone is injured they are still covered.

Have Everyone Choose One or Two Musts

Drivers will choose the scope of the road trip. It could be just across your state, or you could take a trip across the whole country if you feel up for driving that long and have that much time off.

Once the scope or scale of your road trip is decided, get everyone going on the trip to provide you with one or two things they really want to see on the trip. This way you can easily ensure everyone’s wishes are catered to and you can have a fun family trip together.

Pack Lean

You are going to need to help everyone pack as lean as possible. Remember, just because you are on the road doesn’t mean you cannot stop in to use a laundromat. Focus on bringing items that go well together, can easily be maintained (no delicate or dry-clean only items) and items they need to enjoy their activities (like a swimsuit or sneakers).

With these four musts, your family road trip will be more comfortable and structured, meaning everyone will enjoy it.

New Questions About the Effectiveness of Medical Marijuana for Mental Health

For many years, people have been led to believe a common myth: "Medical marijuana is an antidote for mental health conditions". Even though this possibility cannot be ruled out completely, some new questions about the effectiveness of medical marijuana for mental health will probably surprise you.

So, what's the bottom line of the new questions about CBD for mental health? A quick look at the available new evidence will force you to rethink your stance. According to reports from new studies, the negative effects of medical cannabis (say CBD or marijuana) may be far greater than the benefits.

Here is all that you need to know about the recent rethink about the facts of medical cannabinoids and their potential applications for mental health.

Medical Cannabis for Mental Health: The New Questions.

To cut a long story short, a 2019 research publication (by the Lancet Psychiatry journal), found no strong scientific evidence that medical cannabinoids successfully treat mental health conditions. This is bad news for those who use CBD for depression, anxiety, stress and a host of other disorders.

How was the study carried out? The meta-analysis looked at data from more than 80 different studies and 3000+ participants over 4 decades (between 1980 & 2018).

The results failed to find any strong proof of the efficacy of medical marijuana for mental health. In sharp contrast, it was, in contrast, established that medical marijuana may, in fact, exacerbate the symptoms of mental health patients.

Similar research carried out by Australian experts from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center, also found shocking results. The effects of medical THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid) were very insignificant in lessening anxiety symptoms. Looking for CBD? Find best quality wholesale CBD here.

Going by the synthesized data, there appears to be no reason for practitioners to be recommending medical marijuana products to psychiatric patients.

Apart from the scant scientific evidence around medical marijuana, the new studies uncovered that non-medical cannabinoids can cause adverse effects in psychiatric patients. Examples include an upsurge in the rates of anxiety, depression, and risks of addiction.

Medical doctors are continuing to raise concerns about the misapplication of medicinal marijuana for psychiatric disorders.

The truth is that the use of cannabis/cannabinoids for mental health cannot continue smoothly without the expectation of potentially dangerous consequences. For instance, some doctors believe that cannabis worsens psychosis symptoms in patients who also suffer schizophrenia.

Despite the huge knowledge gap in cannabinoids, other external factors continue to inhibit how much research can be done on the subject. In some countries, governments consider cannabis products to be controlled substances. This makes it a lot harder for scientists and researchers to delve deeper into the core of the matter.

Because some institutional boards hesitate to allow research into these substances, researchers can’t easily get access to cannabis.

But there is still hope for the future, since cannabis for research and industrial purposes, is being legalized in many countries. It's only a matter of time before researchers can make a breakthrough.

How to Stay Safe Online

The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can have several risks if someone is too lax in their approach to it. No matter how regularly you head online, you need to make sure that you know how to protect yourself. Here are some of the best ways you can make sure that you stay safe online.


Do you spend a lot of time shopping online? More people than ever are choosing to use e-commerce sites over visiting a brick-and-mortar location. Whether we are shopping for shoes, a home, or a holiday in the sun, you can find it all online. We can even play online casino games or keep up with our loved ones no matter how far away they might be.

However, when we spend our money online, we might be reluctant to hand over our financial information. Even the most secure of websites could have a leak. An e-wallet is the perfect solution for anyone who is reluctant to give a website their credit card information. Many of us even use an e-wallet without thinking about it, PayPal. This is just one of many so make sure you find one to help you pay for items online in a secure manner.


How many of us are guilty about being lax with our passwords? It isn’t just our phones getting left unlocked. Many of us are guilty of using the same password over and over at a multitude of sites. While you might think this is harmless enough, all it takes is for one site to breach and then a malicious party might be able to access your data across the internet.

Start making your passwords more complex and difficult to guess. There are plenty of excellent password managers that will allow you to keep them all safe. If you don’t want to use a password manager, there is always the old-fashioned method of writing down your passwords.

Anti-Virus Software

Have you got a decent anti-virus software on your computer? It can do more than just protect you from emails with malware and other nasty things. One of the primary things it can do is protect you online. There are so many dummy sites and pop-up ads on the internet that are infected with malware.

By installing anti-virus software, it can warn you when you are unknowingly entering an infected site. It can also try to contain the virus before it could do something to your computer. Make sure you find a great anti-virus software that you can be certain will protect your device. Staying safe online so often comes down to small but smart pre-emptive moves that will protect you in the long run. Make sure you protect yourself this way; it is much easier than you think! By doing so, you can be certain that no matter where you go on the internet, you will be safe and secure. Make sure your computer is fully protected for the next time you head onto the internet.

Liberated and Free, Me

Liberated and Free, Me

First things first,

I am not sick. (THANK GOD.)

I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering.

Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years.
AND I am finally ready to share my secret.

Deep breath Ricki…. Here goes…..

I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life.

It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things. There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth.

I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men. I am not alone in this and my goal is to help others while at the same time unshackle myself from this quiet hell I have been living in.

Ever since I played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray back in 1988 and they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming, my hair was never the same. (Yes, that was all my own hair in the film.) From Hairspray to Hairless. 😞

In my case, I believe my hair loss was due to many factors, yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions. Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair.

I got used to wearing extensions, really just over the last decade. All different kinds, tried them all, the ones that are glued on, the tape-ins, the clip ins, and then into a total hair system that I hated, and finally to a unique solution that really did work pretty well for me for the last 4 or 5 years. I tried wigs on a few occasions but never could get used to them. It all felt fake and I was super self-conscious and uncomfortable.

I’ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening.

So of late, after 2 months of bliss ‘working’ in London and after my last extreme diet where I lost 20 lbs in 6 weeks, my hair started shedding again, big time.

This time, I say no more. I have to be set free.

Free of the maintenance every 10-12 days, where my added hair would need to be tightened (sometimes painfully) and my gray hair would need to be colored. I felt like I was a slave to this maintenance schedule. I wouldn’t go out of town longer than 12 days, because of this. I even brought my hair fairy and dear friend, to London during my stint there to do what she needed to do to keep it on my head.

Well, it is a new year and new decade and a new me. With the love and support of some of my dearest friends, John Bonny, Mandy Ingber, Sarah Havana Prats, and my love, Jeff Scult, I buzzed my hair off and it feels so good!

Huge heartfelt thank you to my dear friend Amanda Demme for photographing and capturing this pivotal moment in my life. ❤️

I am liberated.
I am free.
I am releasing and letting go.
I am brave.
I am beautiful.
I am love.

For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real.

(I will on occasion choose to wear hair, but now it is for fun, not because I am hiding anything. I am so done with hiding.)

Happy New Year and decade to all! πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ❤️

-Ricki Lake
@rickilake on Instagram


Baby Safety 101: Helpful Tips to Keep Your Baby or Toddler Safe and Sound

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 12,000 children die from unintentional injuries every year? In fact, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death among children aged 0-19 in the United States.

It's frightening to think about, but injuries can happen anywhere, anytime. Because of that, it's important to do what you can to ensure your children's safety. Infant and toddler safety is especially important to consider, as they are far less capable of exercising caution on their own behalf.

To help, we've compiled a list of 7 tips to keep in mind when creating a safe environment for your child. Read on to learn more.

1. Supervision Is Key 

The most important part of infant and toddler safety is vigilance. Small children need constant care and attention, taking your eyes off them for even a moment can lead to serious injury, however unintentional.

2. Keep Hazards Out of Reach 

From hot foods and drinks to cleaning chemicals to sharp or small objects, it's imperative that you keep any hazardous items out of reach of little hands. Children learn by touch, which often includes putting things in their mouths. By ensuring that any potential hazards are out of reach, you will lower the odds of choking and poisoning dramatically.

3. Provide the Correct Type of Bed 

Age-appropriate sleeping furniture and bedding is a critical part of infant and toddler safety. Infants, for example, should have very minimal bedding. While toddlers, depending on their age and development, may need a crib or a more traditional bed. Once your child is old enough to pinch their fingers in the bars or attempt to climb from the crib, it's time to upgrade.

4. Give Infant or Toddler Safe Toys 

Most toys will have the age recommendation clearly printed on them, but do your research before purchasing any to ensure that you're buying safe toys for your child's stage of development. As a general rule, infants and toddlers shouldn't be given any toys with small or removable parts, as it poses a choking hazard.

5. Provide a Safe Outdoor Environment 

Getting a little sunshine is always a good thing! Children of all ages can benefit from spending time in the great outdoors, as long as they do so safely. Be aware of the temperature and weather, making sure that your child is in the appropriate attire for the conditions. Also, do a thorough check of your yard before letting your toddler roam to inspect for any potential danger.

6. Give Age-Appropriate Foods 

To prevent choking, you should cut any larger pieces of food into small cubes, no more than 1/2 an inch in size. Do your research and avoid high-risk foods, such as those that are sticky or tough. As long as your toddler can break the food up or swallow it whole easily, you should be in the clear.

7. Never Travel Without a Car Seat

It's all too easy to forget how dangerous cars really are. Putting your child in your lap just to go a mile or two down the road might feel like no big deal, but he or she should be in a car seat at all times, regardless of distance. It's also never a bad idea to place a baby on board sticker or magnet on the back of your car. You never know when it could catch someone's attention and remind them to drive a little more carefully.

Use These Infant and Toddler Safety Tips to Keep Your Child Protected 

Every parent wants to ensure that they're employing the best infant and toddler safety methods possible. By following these tips, your child will be much safer both in and outside of your home. The best thing you can do for your little ones is to keep a close eye on them at all times. Don't be afraid to bring in some help if you need! And if you're looking for more parenting and child safety tips, be sure to check out our blog!

Should You Try Manuka Honey? The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Medicinal Honey

With the advancement of technology, it’s easy for everyone to get updated with the latest trends in health and wellness. All the information and opinions related to a new craze are in the palm of our hands. And one of these trends that people and experts have been raving about is manuka honey.

You can find this product and purchase it on its own, or it is included in a variety of products. These include creams, lotions, lip balms, lozenges, capsules, to even drinks and wound dressings. Naturally, it can get anybody curious how this type of honey is so versatile that you can drink it, apply it on the skin, and even use it as a wound treatment. But what is manuka honey, and why do people recognize this unique-sounding honey out of the other types of honey?

What is Manuka Honey?

From the name itself, Manuka honey is the honey produced by the bees that pollinate the Manuka plant, Leptospermum scoparium. It originates from Australia, but is also now being cultivated in New Zealand. However, there is still debate about where it indeed originated. You can distinguish manuka honey from other types of honey because it is thicker in consistency. It also has a dark brown color compared to other honey types that are golden yellow. And if you taste manuka, it has an earthy and slightly bitter profile instead of a typical sweet flavor from familiar honey brands.

At the same time, you might be surprised with the price difference of manuka compared to other types of honey in the markets. It is going to be pricier because of the different factors involved in its production. For example, the manuka flowers themselves are very rare and bloom only once a year. Not to mention, they grow in places that require access via helicopter.

What Makes Manuka Honey Special?

If you look at the best certified brands of manuka honey, you’ll be familiar with the term UMF. UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor, which is a grading system used for the manuka honey brands in the market.

Manuka honey differs from other types of honey, not just in its color and consistency, but because it is dubbed as the “healthy” or “medicinal honey.” Honey is already known for providing antibiotic benefits because of its hydrogen peroxide content. But on the contrary, manuka honey is raved and bought by people specifically for this benefit.

The UMF factor is what consumers can look for when buying manuka honey for its antibiotic benefit. This is because the rating of the honey’s UMF tells you about its antibacterial strength. The scale ranges from 5 to 20, and the higher it is, the stronger is the antibiotic property of the honey.

What is the Unique Manuka Factor?

The UMF Honey Association is the one responsible for grading the UMF of manuka honey brands. To give you an idea, you want something with a UMF content of 12 or even higher if you need to use it for treating wounds. This is because these products are considered medical-grade with compounds like methylglyoxal, which is a natural antibacterial component found in manuka honey.

Should You Try Manuka Honey?

This is an easy answer simply because if you think about it, you can get multiple health benefits whether you eat it raw, use it as a sweetener, face mask, or for your wound bandages. According to DiligentChef, Manuka honey is expensive compared to regular honey, but the health benefits are worth the price.

Let’s talk about the most popular advantage of using manuka honey, which is for its antibiotic effects. Manuka honey can fasten the healing and prevent infection of cuts and scrapes. You can also use it to clear infections such as sore throat and stomach problems without even worrying about bacterial resistance.

If you’re still skeptical, the healing benefits of manuka honey are actually supported by science. As a matter of fact, the US Federal Drug Administration even approved the use of manuka honey in bandages for treating wounds in 2007.

Manuka honey promotes healing because it is also protecting the wounds by preventing the growth of bacteria. And as you are familiar with now, the substance methylglyoxal unique to manuka honey is antibacterial and attacks the microbes as well.

Speaking of healing properties, there is also scientific evidence on how manuka honey can prevent oral diseases like gingivitis. This is because the honey attacks the bacteria responsible for plaque buildup. And truth be told, it’s quite impressive to use something sweet like honey to treat gum disease.

You might even find relief in consuming manuka honey if you have a sore throat. The honey soothes the inflammation and discomfort because it coats the inner lining of your throat while also attacking the bacteria.

Your digestive health can also benefit from this tasty treat because it can help with indigestion, as well as reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as diarrhea and constipation. And if you want to reap the benefits of manuka honey topically, you can make a homemade face mask to kill the bacteria and reduce inflammation related to acne.

Are There Disadvantages in Using Manuka Honey?

Disadvantages are not the right term for them, but rather, like with any product; there are risks in using manuka honey. Manuka honey is safe for consumption and topical usage, but every person varies on how they will react to it.

For example, you might be allergic to other types of honey, which can imply that you might also have an allergic reaction with manuka honey. At the same time, honey has high sugar content. Those with conditions that require monitoring of blood sugar levels have to be extra careful in consuming manuka.

Nonetheless, it is still best to consult your doctor, whether you want to add manuka honey on your diet, use it for wound treatment, or as a topical solution. And at the end of the day, manuka honey still needs to go a long way, including a lot of clinical trials before it can enter mainstream medicine like any other type of treatment.

Baby Strains on Your Veins

Graphic created by USA Vein Clinics, a provider of sclerotherapy for spider veins.

How to support an expectant partner

So you found out your partner is expecting, and boy are you excited! Your life is about to change, but first, you have to go through the nine months of pregnancy with your partner. The period of pregnancy is always most successful when it involves both partners. This means that you can be an active participant in supporting your pregnant partner. Trust us when we say, it’s more fun this way too! If you can demonstrate during the pregnancy that you can be a reliable partner, this will give her confidence that you will also be a reliable partner after your child is born.

Here are some ways in which you can support your expectant partner:

Research on what she is going through

You will never be able to understand what she is going through. The cramps, the cravings and the mood swings. But what you can do is to research what she is going through on sites like BabyTalk so that you can be better prepared to support her throughout this nine month journey.

Be the “heavy lifter”

Carrying a baby in your womb takes a heavy toil on the body. As the baby gets bigger and heavier, the physical strain on the woman’s body also increase. What you can do as a supportive partner is to do the “heavy lifting” for her and that includes doing the housework or even carrying things when needed. If she has something in the house that she wants to move, you should be the one doing it. Ensure that all she focuses on during this period is to ensure she carries a healthy baby.

Help her with her emotions

During her pregnancy, her hormones will fluctuate. This means that she will experience extreme mood swings, from moments of extreme happiness to extreme sadness. This is normal and is to be expected, so ensure that you are patient with her during this time. Support her when she needs support, hold her when she needs holding, and listen to her when she needs a listening ear.

Be there for prenatal visits

When your partner visits her practitioner to check on the baby, ensure that you are there with her. Be involved, ask questions during the visit if there is anything you are unsure about. There are some things that your partner may not have thought of to ask, so show your presence by being there.

Get ready for the baby

There are many things to consider before the arrival of the baby. For one, you will need to do up your baby nursery. This means you will need to buy the baby crib, diapers, car seats, pram, pillow, baby clothes etc. There are literally a thousand things to consider before the arrival of the baby. Go shopping with your partner to prepare for the arrival. Also, do talk with your partner the expectations that each of you expect and strive to fulfil them.

It’s a fun time to be in this journey together. This is the start of your beautiful family journey and the pregnancy journey will only make your relationship stronger. This will bode well especially when the baby arrives, for both of you will grow your family together in happy times!



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