Soda Pack Rings Still Harm


Something I didn’t think about when I was younger and went through 6-packs of Sunkist or Natural Light (What was I thinking?!) like water.

The rings on these 6 or 8 packs of soda, beer, seltzer, etc can be deadly to animals.  Even if you throw them away in your garbage bags or recycling bin, it doesn’t ensure the safety of wild animals.  They easily blow away from a refuse site or fly free from your recycling bins into storm drains.  And most of these 6-pack rings end up in the ocean and pose a serious threat to our marine wildlife. The rings, the larger ones that hold the cans in place and the smaller ones in between can end up around an animal’s neck, choking them to death. Or ingested by seabirds or turtles or entangle sharks and rays, etc.

And yes, this is still a major problem.

In 1989, federal mandated that the sole global producer of these rings manufacture it to be 100% photodegradable.  So, it now starts to disintegrates in sunlight after a few days.  So that’s good, right?  Well, yes.  It means that any that wash up on shore or are exposed to the sun at a waste station will not be a danger.


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But what about those wrapped around the middle of a turtle?  The one who’s swimming and spending the majority of its time under water?  Not really exposed to sunlight.  Not really a big help for the rings to be photodegradable.  Neither does it help out the dolphin or manatee who gets entangled by it under water.

The best way to handle these plastic nooses is to cut them up.  Still.  This is not outdated.  This is the only way to ensure that they won’t strangle or incapacitate wildlife.  Cut through every possible hole in the rings.  The large ones that hold the cans and the smaller ones in between.  Snip, snip, snip!

And goodness, if you know of another way we can safely dispose of these, please share!

Did You Know that Spices Expire?

It’s true!  I didn’t find this out until much, much too late.  Meaning that, of course, I had spent years using expired spices in my meals.  Yech!

None of us have gotten sick due to my negligence, I am happy to report.  But my meals did not taste any better because of them, I can assure you of that.

When I had my first apartment by myself, I did whatever I could to save money while stocking up my kitchen with tools and essentials.  What that really means is that I spent weekend after weekend at yard sales, scavenging people’s throw-aways for hidden treasures.  And you know, I did pretty well.  Found some nice pots and pans and cooking utensils that had been barely used, for pennies on the dollar.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. – Hector Urquhart

I went to an estate sale in an upscale town one Saturday morning and hit the jackpot.  The home had been occupied by an older woman who had just passed away the month before, and her kids were selling everything.  Including all the spices from her spice rack.  And so, I bought them all.  Buying 20 different spices at the estate sale = $5.  Buying 20 different spices at the grocery store = $100.  $95 is a lot of money to a 20 year old.  You know, it’s still a lot of money to me now!

Well, as the story goes, you get what you pay for.  The spices ended up being expired.  And I didn’t find out for years.  Yup, years.

The good news is that expired spices cannot make you ill, like expired chicken, for instance.  (Did you just gag a little when you read that?  I did when I wrote it!)  Expired spices lose their flavor.  Quite a bit.  So your dish will not only be lacking in the flavor you’re looking for, but may also have a strange taste to them.  Something a bit…

So, next time you’re cleaning out your kitchen, check your spice drawer.  Might be time to invest a little money in some fresh, fragrant, delicious spices!

Here’s What I Didn’t Know About Child Predators…

I always thought it would be obvious.  That you just avoid letting your kids become altar boys or chaperone school trips that require overnights. I thought strangers were much more scary than people I know and trust.

as much as 90% of abuse is perpetrated by people known to the child & family. As many as 30-40% of abusers are immediate or extended family members, and as many as 40% of abusers are other children. Only 10% or less are estimated to be strangers. 

…they come after them at night when everyone’s asleep.

…they do it right in the same room as the parents.

…they “groom” the parents and the child.  They are or become loved and trusted by both.

…Grooming often starts with borderline behavior (roughhousing, tickling, having kids sit in laps, rubbing, etc) in the presence of other adults in order to normalize the behavior with the child as being acceptable – if mom or dad isn’t objecting, then this must be OK.

…they look for signs that parents may easily dismiss a child’s feelings or opinions.

…not all child molesters are pedophiles.  Some have just “found” the opportunity.  They’re depressed, have gone through something traumatic in their lives, have a substance abuse issue, have control issues, be socially awkward or an outcast, or have sexual immorality issues.  And so…

…they seek out easier prey:  the shy child, the loner child, the insecure child, etc.  But if the opportunity presents themselves with any child, they’ll take it.

Here’s what I didn’t know then, am thankful I listened to and know is the 1st tool in the line of defense between your child and these predators:  Listen to your gut.  If you sense something is wrong, there is truth to that.  LISTEN.

Your instinct is based on truth and the purpose of your instinct is to avoid danger. Who cares what people think.  It’s what you think that matters when it comes to keeping your Baby safe.

Here’s What I Didn’t Teach Her About Predators…

I thought I’d done a really good job of teaching My Baby Girl about strangers, about privates, about people looking, asking to look, touching or asking to touch her.  I taught her to scream and fight and bite and run to Mama or Daddy.

I didn’t teach her that if she couldn’t get out of the situation, it wasn’t her fault.  That if she was paralyzed by fear or shock that it was normal and not her fault.

I didn’t tell her that some of the inappropriate touching that shouldn’t be allowed could just be rubbing of her head or her thigh.  It could be a caress to her face.  I didn’t teach her to just give high 5’s instead of hugs.  To NOT sit on people’s laps.  To say no when someone asked for a hug.

I didn’t teach her that the most important thing for her to remember was that she should always tell her Mama.  To never keep a secret.  To not listen if someone tells her that they might hurt her or her parents or that we won’t believe her or that she did something wrong.

Here are tips for you to follow before anything could ever happen to your child…

We can never guarantee that what we teach our kids will enable them to get out of a bad situation, but we can do our best to give them skills & prepare them for the unexpected.

And there are some great age-appropriate books out there to help you review these topics with your child in a way that won’t scare them.  Here are a few resources…

And lastly, I found this great site with some parenting action items to help keep kids safe from a future of abuse and rape.

What I’ve learned throughout this process is that I know nothing.  And that’s ok, as long as I know that I know nothing and do everything I can to educate myself and my husband and my Baby Girl!


Don’t Wear Your Belly Ring!

when you’re pregnant.

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I know that you want to feel sexy, even as your body is morphing and your belly is distending and you feel like you just might have an alien invasion happening right below your chest.

But let me tell you…there is nothing, nothing, sexy about a stretched out belly ring hole.


And that is what will happen.  You will get a stretched out version of your current belly ring hole.  Because as your belly grows, your skin will get tight around the extra weight and it will pull against the ring you have in there now and find resistance and will settle for stretching the holes to get the room it needs.

Now there is such a thing as a pregnant belly ring, which is longer than your normal one and made out of a flexible rubber/plastic.  This is great to get your hands on if you don’t want your belly ring hole to close up on you during your pregnancy.  I tried a dozen tattoo and piercing shops when I was pregnant to see if they carried them, but they didn’t.  So, it was a bit painful at 10 months without a ring to try to loop it back through!

Here’s a website that has many varieties of pregnancy belly rings

The Sound And The Fury


The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner

What the …???

What kind of bizarro book is this??  Who says this gets to be a classic?  Why?  Because it’s ridiculously difficult to follow and figure out what in the world is going on?

Or perhaps it was the pioneer novel for depicting different character’s point of views with each chapter.

Who knows.  What I do know is that it was not an easy read.  It was really tricky to try and figure out who they were talking about and what time period and what was going on.  And it was such a relief to finally finish it!


The classic dysfunctional family.  An alcoholic Father. A perpetually “ill” Mother.  A severely mentally handicapped 1st born son, Benjy. The 2nd son, Quentin, whom the family sells part of their land for him to go to Harvard, who drowns himself. The 3rd son, Jason, cold and bitter and nasty.  The daughter, Caddy, who shames the family by getting pregnant at a young age, out of wedlock.  Her bastard daughter, Quentin, adopted by the family and targeted by Jason as the scapegoat for his bitterness towards them all.


Predator Next Door – The End…


I spent the morning on websites, researching sexual predators of children and the way they operate.

And it was eye-opening.  I knew nothing.  I would have never guessed, never seen it and never suspected if the stars hadn’t aligned that night.

And my husband spent the day reading websites and came home and said, “We’re going over to talk to them and tell them that we no longer want any contact with them.”

And that’s exactly what we did.  We had my trusted friend from Book Club over to play with my Beach Rose, while we went over to Jim & Sarah’s house and told them that Jim’s behavior had made my husband, myself and my Baby uncomfortable.  That after reading and speaking to various agencies, we saw red flags all over this relationship and we no longer wanted any contact with them.  Sarah looked shocked and asked, “Is this about the dog bite?”  And Jim, who didn’t look surprised at all during the entire conversation, who wouldn’t look at us, shot his hand out to stop her and yelled, “Sarah!” But I said, “No, Sarah.  This is about the inappropriate way Jim touched My Baby.  Boundaries have been crossed that are non-negotiable.  Stay away from our family.”

And that was that.

Sarah tried to reach out via text saying that she thought it was a tragic misunderstanding and that they both had to have criminal background checks to work at school.

I wanted to reply, “So did Jerry Sandusky.”  I wanted to.  But I didn’t.  I just blocked her contact on my phone so that I would never have to hear from her again.

And we’re getting a fence.  A big one.  Because really, fences really do make the best neighbors.

Predator Next Door – Part III


I wrote it down.  I sent the story to the woman, Laura from Say It, Survivor.

And I called the police station in my town.  The chief answered the phone.  There are no coincidences…

1st Opinion

The police chief heard me out, the abridged version of the story.  And then this is what I remember that he said, obviously not in this exact order and you have to picture me interjecting when he asks me questions…”You are 100% correct.  Your instincts as a Mother are never wrong. Everything about this story is wrong.  Everything points to that man being a sexual predator of children.  I want his name.  Where does he work.  Address.  Don’t doubt yourself.   It sounds as though you are doubting yourself, why?  Where does your husband stand?  What does he want?  Proof?  There is no proof with these types of cases, unless it’s too late and then there’s the type of proof you don’t ever want to think about.  Stay away from them.  You can’t accuse him, but you can tell them why you don’t want to be in contact with them and you can tell your neighbors with small children why you are no longer in contact with them.  I can write up a report if you want.  It just goes on file.  I can send a cruiser there to make sure that he never talks to your family again.  Talk to your husband about how you want to handle it.  In the meantime, let me put you in touch with Child Advocate Center to talk to them about how to talk to your Beach Rose.”

2nd Opinion

Laura wrote me back and this is some of what she wrote…

“I think there are red flags all over this situation- it made me anxious just reading about it.  If it were me, I would not have any contact with them outside of a wave across the driveway.  I’d rather be uncomfortable about it as an adult than have my child violated, wouldn’t you?  And I think you need to have a conversation with your Beach Rose.
I strongly recommend you check out The Mama Bear Effect for how to talk to your kids about body safety.
At the end of the day, your best defense against your child being sexually abused is her relationship with you.  She needs to know that she can come to you with anything, that you have her back, that you will do anything in the world to support and protect her.  And if something *has* happened, be mindful of how you receive that news- if you act like it is the end of the world she will believe you.  If something has happened, let her know she is safe, believed and protected.
We have those maternal instincts for a reason and we ignore them not only at our own peril, but at the expense of our children’s well-being.”

Predator Next Door – Part II

For the back story on the predator next door, click here

I got home and told my husband that Jim was the most disgusting pervert of all time and recounted everything and my husband looked at me like I was crazy.  And so I thought I was…

but there was a niggling at the back of my head telling me that everything I’d felt was valid.  “DANGER!  DANGER!”  kept ringing in my ears.

So, on Monday, I left a voicemail for a member of my bookclub, a woman in her mid-50s, whom I thought would be an objective person to run everything by to get an honest reaction and opinion.

You see, not only did my husband feel like I may be overreacting, but I was also worried that I might be.  I was PMSing, had just read an article on Jaycee Dugard (the girl who was kidnapped by a husband/wife team when she was 11 yrs old and wasn’t found for 18 yrs), and read The Weight of Silence, a book which I’ve reviewed on this blog (see link) and which outlines how a child predator grooms the parents & child to trust and like them before they commit their crime.

I didn’t hear from my friend until Tuesday and then she insisted on coming over to talk.  I relayed everything to her, starting from when we first met Jim and Sarah.  She did not interrupt once.  When I stopped she asked if I was done.  I said I was.  She said, “This is dangerous.  There are red flags all over this.  You need to talk to someone.  You need to stay away from this guy, these people.  There are issues all over this story and you need to keep your Baby away from him.  Write everything down.  Start from the beginning.  then send it to this lady who runs a website for those who have been abused and see what type of advice she gives you.  You are not overreacting.  I am not PMSing.  I have never read nor heard of the book you’re talking about.  And I don’t know the story of Jaycee Dugard.  And I feel the danger.”

And so I started writing everything down…

and kept talking to my husband and told him what my friend had said…

Predator Next Door – Part I

So there’s this neighbor…

We went over our neighbors’ house for dinner last Sunday night.  A married couple in their 50s.  We’ll call them “Jim and Sarah”.


Jim and Sarah moved in to house next door 4 years ago.  No interaction then.  They were both teachers at a boarding school 3 states away and were only coming up on weekends.

Then my little Baby started getting a little bit older, 2 ½, and my hubby would take her outside to play and they met Sarah and Jim, briefly.  I still hadn’t made much effort.  Maybe I finally brought them some zucchini bread to introduce myself and welcome them when they started spending more weekends at their house and when my Beach Rose was around 3, in 2014.

Fall of 2014:  Thought it was odd that Sarah asked for my husband’s cell phone to “have on hand”, when she saw him out in the yard one day.  Would have thought that a woman would have the courtesy to ask for the wife’s phone number, not the husband’s.   She called him to see if we wanted to come over for neighborhood dinner with our other neighbors. We went, I gave her my number and told her to call me in the future, saying that then I could contribute to dinner and would know times, dates etc for us to get together.  Also, my husband and I were both immediately turned off by them being soooo close to our neighbors kids, a boy- 9 years and a girl-8 years.  We walked into the dinner party and they had their arms draped over the kids shoulders.  They’d apparently gotten pretty close to the kids and their parents over the year.  They’d gone to see their plays at school and at the park, had multiple gatherings, etc.

My husband, in passing, had mentioned to Sarah that they could swing by on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve for a drink, since Sarah had said they had no plans.  Thought it was really odd that they did and that they stayed the entire evening, when it was obviously just immediate family there: my husband, my Baby & I, my husband’s Dad, uncle and Aunt.

Not much interaction over the winter and then we had a large 40th Bday party for my husband and invited all the neighbors so that nobody would be upset about the noise and parking on the street.  Jim and Sarah came and spent the majority of the party talking to my parents, my hubby’s parents and our neighbors whose kids they were friendly with.

Sometime around now, Sarah started showing up in our yard a lot when my hubby and my Baby were outside.  She kept asking my Baby for hugs.  My little Beach Rose didn’t want to give her one.  Sarah laughed and said, “That’s because she doesn’t know me and trust me yet.  But she will!”

Then “Sarah” started really pushing to have us come over to their Lake house.  She kept asking if we could come, and when we’d decline, she’d immediately offer up another date.  My husband was uncomfortable with “crossing that line” with the neighbors; the whole ‘fences make better neighbors’ mentality.  She kept also offering that just my Baby & I go up if my husband had to work.

  • September of 2015 – At the Lake (My Baby’s almost 4):  My Beach Rose said she had to go to the bathroom, “potty”, which was upstairs & we were all downstairs and “Jim” said “Oh, well I was just going upstairs to change so I can take you.”  And I said no that I would take her and then Sarah scoffed at me and said, “What do you think Jim’s going to go the bathroom with her?!”
  • Invited over for a night of cocktails at their house Fall 2015: Adults sitting around a fire,  and my Baby is running around after the cat.  “Jim” says to my Baby, “  Could you please do me a favor?  Can you please come and sit on my lap?”  Immediate radar and then I put it out of my head because so often Sarah had said that they’d “adopted our family as their own and my Baby as their Granddaughter, and that Jim especially had a special place in his heart for little girls.”
  • Jim goes back to work 3 states away for the school year. Sarah officially retires and is staying full-time at her house by herself.
  • Invite Sarah & Jim to my Baby’s 4th Birthday party along with all neighbors. Only Sarah comes and tells my parents that she and Jim have adopted my Baby as their granddaughter.
  • Sarah offers to babysit for my Baby for FREE anytime. She and Jim would be happy to, so that we could go out for dinner sometime, or if I need to run errands, etc.  My husband tells me that she offered this to him and he tells me that its up to me to work out with her if I want to.
  • Sarah offers to teach my Baby how to read, for FREE. Once a week, at her house.  She does this for a living, teaching young children who are having difficulty, how to read.  I find this offer very generous and take her up on it.  We go to her house on Fridays for about 1 hour and I sit in the other room while Sarah teaches my Baby.  She offers many times to have me drop off my Beach Rose by herself, so that I can run errands or go running.  I never feel comfortable.
  • I start inviting Sarah over for dinner on Monday nights, over the winter months- 2016, with our family and my Father-in-Law because she’s lonely. She starts pushing her boundaries.  She texts me all the time.  Stops by with any excuse.  Brings my Beach Rose books, toys, etc.  Brings me presents, old tables of hers, things she’s getting rid of.  I start pulling back with my invitations to have her for dinner and start making up excuses not to go to reading.  My Baby no longer wants to go either.  She says the only thing she likes is the cats and the snacks.
  • I bump into my neighbor with the kids who seemed so close to Sarah & Jim and she said that she had to basically tell Sarah to back off and she felt bad that she was lonely but that Sarah was constantly coming over uninvited and that their schedule was too busy.
  • Sarah locks herself out of her home. She asks for a ride from me.  Then later that day she brings me a copy of her house key to hold onto in case she ever locks herself out again.  She locks herself out 2 more times in the next month.
  • May 2016: My husband & I go out to dinner & get an 18 year old babysitter to watch our Beach Rose.  We’re having dinner when I get a text from the sitter saying that my neighbor came over & had locked herself out and needed the key.  I text back to have her tell “Sarah” that we’ll be home in 20 minutes and will get the key then.  When we get home the sitter is visibly uncomfortable.  She said that Sarah barged into the kitchen and started pulling open drawers and going through them, saying “It’s ok, they have my key” and muttering about where it could be as she is ransacking the kitchen.  She finally found it and left.  I go to her house the next morning for what I had decided is the last reading session and tell her that she made our babysitter uncomfortable & therefore made us uncomfortable.  She apologizes and says that everyone has always told her that she has boundary issues, even her own daughter-in-law.
  • A week later, Sarah tells us that Jim has officially retired and that he’s moving home. She says we’ll have to get together & also try to work out a time for the cabin.


August 21, 2016 – First contact with Jim & Sarah since May.  Invited over to dinner.  Sent my husband & my Baby over early because I was finishing the dessert I was bringing.  I was about 10 minutes late.

  • Nervous about being late to their house for dinner with just my husband bringing my Baby over, because already had a skeezy feeling about Jim.
  • My Baby gets too close to their dog’s face and gets bitten in the face.  No puncture, just swelling.
  • Dinner: Jim put my Baby’s high chair right next to his chair and it ended up between his chair and Sarah’s.
  • Jim helped my Baby into the high chair.
  • Jim brushed my Baby’s hair away from her cheek and kind of over her shoulder.
  • Jim patted her head, starting at the crown of it and petting it all the way down her head to her shoulders. He did this two times during dinner.
  • Jim paid attention to my Beach Rose mostly during dinner, and every time he did it was as if he couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
  • Jim kept looking over at me, never in the eyes, but with his eyes downcast to see my reaction.
  • I was screaming on the inside that none of this was normal and that I wanted my Baby by my side.
  • My Beach Rose looked uncomfortable and unsure when Jim touched her, then she’d look at me and then she kind of did a little smile and let it go.
  • Jim took his index finger and rubbed it on my Baby’s left upper thigh while he was talking to her.
  • Jim kept trying to get her attention after dinner to engage her in conversation since she’d run off to play.
  • I caught Jim looking at her when she came outside after having used the bathroom and her shorts were rolled down at the waist a bit and you could see the top of her underwear.
  • Long periods of looking and staring at my Baby.
  • Asking my Beach Rose about school and whether she’d be taking the bus or Mama would drive.
  • My Baby bent down to play with the kitty and you could see the top of her little bum crack and I turned to see Jim also looking.
  • Jim talking to my husband and I but eyes and attention on my Baby the whole night.

…to be continued…