Tweet, Tweet! Are You Following Me On Twitter?

If you aren’t already, be sure to follow me on Twitter to receive daily updates on my Kickstarter campaign, baby food health tips and human trafficking information. Search for my handle name: @AnnaMEngel.

And, as always, I would love to hear what topics you would like to see up on the blog. Happy Thursday everyone!

Homemade, Organic Baby Food

When I first began introducing my little girl to solid food, I made the decision to make her food from scratch. No buying commercially-made baby food in jars from the store, no grabbing a baby food pouch from a coffee shop while meeting up a friend for a coffee date. I wanted to make all of her food myself: 100% of it. A baby food processor and blender, along with a recipe book and food jars, were purchased and thus began my baby food making journey.

Now the food-making journey is not always easy and can be time-consuming (just ask my husband) but the benefits have been so worth my while. And what an experience it has been! It has been incredible to watch my little one’s appetite take off as she experiences new flavors and textures as well as to watch her reactions to new foods that are introduced. And I have learned so much about nutrition and vitamins that can be found in various produce and meats. I have discovered that making my own baby food allows my daughter to digest all the vitamins and nutrients that each specific food has to offer while enjoying its taste, aromas and natural colors in their entirety. No more food that has been genetically modified, incorporates growth hormones from animal-derived products or harmful chemicals and pesticides. No more food that has been sterilized in order to allow it to have the necessary 18-24 month shelf life.  I am in complete control of what goes into my daughter’s food and, as a result, I know that she is truly getting the best ORGANIC options out there.

As a result, I want to share the amazing experience we have had with other moms. I desire to provide local mothers with healthy, organic food options for their little ones that are free of harmful pesticides, GMOs, added salt, modified starches and refined sugars; lack artificial flavors and colors; and in no way include preservatives, additives or fillers. Additionally, I am planning on making and selling Lactation Cookies for nursing mothers (those just beginning the nursing journey or who are continuing to supplement while their child transitions to solid food). The ingredients in these cookies promote milk supply in mothers, thereby providing the most natural and wholesome nutrition to infants and babies: breast milk).

To help begin this process while cutting costs for purchasing mothers, I have begun a Kickstarter campaign. To find out more about the products I will be producing, ask questions or donate to my cause, please click here. If everyone donates only $5 each within the next 29 days, I will be fully funded to provide and equip other mothers with nutritious and healthy food options for their children. I would also ask that you would please share this cause with those you know so as to help spread awareness.  Thank you!

She Was Beautiful

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for that sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

Dr. Kanani Titchen Fights Human Trafficking

As a pediatrics resident with Jefferson/Nemours/Afred I. de Pont Hospital for Children, Dr. Kanani Titchen, recognizes that most pediatricians are not aware of the signs of childhood sexual exploitation or know what to do if they are able to spot the signs. This includes branding, including tattooing and branding by pimps.

Dr. Titchen has developed a four-chapter series, which includes human trafficking experts who discuss signs and available resources, out of a national survey she conducted on medical students, residents and physicians. She is raising awareness on an issue that doesn’t receive much attention in the medical industry. To learn more about Titchen, please visit http://bit.ly/1ph9TEx.

Making My Private Life Public

Last month I wrote an article on why my husband and I never post photos of our child online.  Included in this post I explained why we also do not disclose any of locations we have been with our daughter and why we try to limit the amount of personal information we share regarding her.  Not long after writing this particular piece I stumbled across an article featured in Time Magazine that held a similar concept to the one in my blog.

The brief article, entitled My Experiment Opting Out of Big Data Made Me Look Like a Criminal, describes how personal information is collected throughout the government, academic and industry markets.  The mantra of “if you don’t like it, just opt out” is thrown at individuals who are uncomfortable with how public their lives are becoming yet this is not as simple or easy as its advocates proclaim.  Janet Vertesi, the article’s author, demonstrated how complicated this catchphrase really is with a nine-month long experiment to see if she could keep her pregnancy a secret from the Internet (which would have fed that information through databases that companies use for targeted advertising). The author concluded the article by stating that her ‘experiment’ was personally inconvenient to herself and her husband while making interactions with family and friends extremely awkward and rude. She even wrote that she and her husband were seen as inconsiderate, abrupt and antisocial.

All of this to say, I was encouraged by what I read.  I can relate with the above statement as many people view my husband and I as “inconsiderate, abrupt, rude” and somewhat “antisocial” for being picky about what we share via the Internet regarding our daughter.  It is very unfortunate that our desire to live private lives have caused the individuals and community around us to label us in such a manner while straining relationships.  And although the Time’s article features a slightly different topic then the one that I shared a few weeks ago, the theme is the same.  The ability to opt out of publicly sharing every aspect of one’s life is viewed negatively and met with fierce criticism.  Gone are the days of personal, face-to-face interactions among individuals.  In its place is surface-level relationships with individuals merely interested in learning the details of their peers lives without ever holding a conversation. Convenience, comfort and complacency have made our society unwilling to invest richly or deeply into individual human life.  And have alienated those who desire this and more.

Protecting Children From Human Trafficking

As a parent, I am constantly worrying about how to protect my beautiful, innocent child(ren), especially in a day and age where danger seems to be constantly present.  Human Trafficking is one crime that has exploded over the past several years due, largely, to the advancement of technology.  For most people, it is a vague concept that is thought to reside primarily overseas or is an issue that could never happen to them or a loved one.  This could not be further from the truth.

Human Trafficking affects us all.  However, vulnerable populations – such as children – tend to be at higher risk of falling prey. Georgia Family Magazine hit the nail right on the head when they wrote “as awful as this subject is, parents can’t mince words when it comes to educating innocent kids…It’s up to parents to protect children by developing trusting, open relationships, and by educating them to the very real dangers posed by this industry.”  I hope and pray that my child(ren) never become victims of this disgusting business!  I do not know what the future holds for them but I know that there are steps that I can take to reduce the changes that my child(ren) are not victimized.

Tips To Protect Your Child

  1. Build honest relationships with your children.  If your child is acting out, sit down and listen – what’s going on?
  2. Be honest about your own experiences.
  3. Make sure your children with you – or a trusted adult – at all times.
  4. Create and provide your child/teen with health self-esteem.  Traffickers prey on the insecurities of children, teenagers and young adults.
  5. Strictly monitor computer use.  And provide them with safety tips regarding social media (i.e. turning their location services OFF, putting their profiles on PRIVATE and not accepting friend requests unless they personally know the individual) that will increase their safety from online predators.  Use the parental control settings on your computer to check the Internet history. Have access to all of their account usernames and passwords for safety reasons.  And discuss with your children the dangers of social media and how this is influencing your decision to monitor the computer and Internet usages.
  6. Educate your children going off to college or travel about the deception used by (sex) traffickers.
  7. Teach kids never to lose themselves in alcohol or drugs.
  8. Warn young people to avoid stairwells, elevators, clubs, bars and deserted streets where they can be whisked out of sight.
  9. Teach youngsters to beware of offers of modeling and dancing careers that seem too good to be true.
  10. Explain the importance of being aware of their surroundings.
  11. Always meet your child’s friends and significant others.  Local traffickers often times use young and charming individuals – particularly males – to recruit children into the (sex) trafficking industry.  Notice if your child has new clothing items, makeup products, cell phone(s) or other items and inquire about how they acquired them.  Also watch your children for changes in mood or increased anxiety.

For additional safety tips and information, check out the links below.  I gathered the above tips from these wonderful resources:

Why We Post Nothing About Our Child Online

Before my daughter was born, my husband and I made the contentious decision to never post a photo or video of her online nor share any specific information that could be used to personally identify her.  We do occasionally share brief stories or memorable moments with her on our Facebook pages (which have been set to ‘private’) for our family and friends who are not able to see her on a regular basis.  But we always try to be as discreet – and, oftentimes, vague – as possible in order to provide our daughter with some sense of confidentiality and anonymity.

Many people have asked my husband and I why we do not post photos of our child online or why we try to limit the amount of (personal) information we share regarding her.  Often times, people have a difficult time understanding our rationale.  We have even been met with some resistance, even after explaining our reasoning.  Although most of our friends and family members have been respectful of our requests for them not to post photos/videos of our daughter online to any of their social media (or other Internet) sites, it has saddened us to see how some individuals have blatantly gone against our wishes and posted material anyways.

Our reasoning is that we do not want our daughter’s life to become public knowledge where anyone in the world – particularly strangers – can have access to her through photos or videos, viewing the various locations she has visited or resided, or reading intimate details of her life (i.e. the activities she enjoys, who her friends are, what foods she does or does not prefer, etc.).  We are uncomfortable with the reality that the rise of the Internet has allowed such easy access to any particular individual’s  life in which a lack of propriety often times prevails.

Slate Magazine published an article in September 2013 that does a wonderful job explaining (in a nutshell) why parents such as my husband and I are choosing to keep our children’s lives private.  The article, entitled We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online: Nothing.  It’s the only way to defend her against facial recognition, Facebook profiling, and corporate data mining, discusses how modern day social media – among other Internet sites – are preventing future generations “any hope of future anonymity”.  By sharing our children’s lives through digital content, we are providing the world with personally identifying information that can be accessed at any point in time, anywhere in the world.  It is up to our children – when they have grown up and matured – to make the decision of what personal information they would like to share and with whom.  The over-arching theme of the article is a call to parents to protect their children in a world saturated in and obsessed with over-sharing on global platforms.

The article is a short, fabulous read and I encourage you to read it – regardless of whether or not you agree with what it says,