When It’s Not What It Seems: The Murder at Lululemon

March 21st, 2011

On Thursday, I quickly put up a post about a community gathering in memory of Jayna Murray. A friend from Bethesda’s Mindfulness Center had asked me to put the post up, emailing me that“the women at the Mindfulness Center have been close to Jayna and all the workers at Lululemon.”

No longer. The murder victim’s co-worker, Brittany Norwood, was arrested on Friday and charged with the slaying. She’s due in Montgomery County court today.

Like so many in our community, I was horrified by this senseless tragedy and then incredibly shocked to learn that one of the “nice girls” from Lululemon may have committed this crime.   Perhaps it’s ghoulish, but I wondered what she looked like – I wondered if I had seen Brittany on Bethesda Row.   I searched for images of Brittany Norwood, and turned up two that seemed like fits, but as I tweeted Friday night, I was afraid to post the images in case I had identified the wrong person.

It turns out I hadn’t identified the wrong Brittany Norwood – biographical details since revealed by the news media, and her sad looking mug shot match the images I found of a pretty young woman partying in her FaceBook picture and a wholesome looking woman in her college soccer profile picture.

We tend not to think of women as murderers. It’s far easier to imagine brutal “masked men,” as Brittany had claimed, even when logically we know that the odds of “masked men” sneaking into a store on a well traveled street are extremely low.

I wasn’t originally going to post these photos of Brittany Norwood, but I wondered if they would stay up online. And sure enough, they’ve been removed from the websites where I found them. Facebook profile deleted. College soccer shot gone.

All the public is left with is an image of Brittany Norwood in a mug shot. An image that is what she became…but doesn’t reflect all that she was..and doesn’t remind us, like those other images do, that things are not always as they seem.

How sad.

Bethesda Community to Gather at Candlelight Vigil in Remembrance of Jayna Murray this Friday Evening

March 16th, 2011

Lulelemon Shrine Bethesda


Our community has been rocked by a random act of violence:  the senseless attack against two beautiful young women, yogis who radiated peace and happiness through their work at Lululemon Athletica.  I was asked to post the following to help get the word out about a community gathering this Friday evening in remembrance of Jayna Murray.

Community Gathering in Remembrance of Jayna Murray
and in support of our friends at Lululemon and our Community.

Friday, March 18, 2011
8:00-9:30 pm

We will gather at The Mindfulness Center at 8:00 pm, with an open forum for remembrances and prayer, in celebration of the life of Jayna and in support of our friends at Lululemon, and the healing of our community.  This will be followed by a candlelight vigil to Lululemon for song and prayer. Dr. Deborah Norris will lead us in meditation, and Rev. John Love will lead us in prayer.  Counselors will be available at The Mindfulness Center throughout the week.

Deborah Norris, Ph.D.
Founder, The Mindfulness Center
4963 Elm Street, Suite 100
Bethesda, MD  20814

Director, Psychobiology of Healing Program
American University


Going Green on Saint Patty’s Day (My Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Post)

March 10th, 2011

The “green” holiday is becoming anything but green. Back in the “olden days” when I was a kid, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was simple. You put on some green clothing,  a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, and made sure to down some beer that night. If you truly had the Luck of the Irish, you got to watch or march in a fabulous St. Patrick’s Day parade, like the one in New York City where I marched for years.


But like everything else in our consumerist society, we’re being prompted to buy more “stuff” to celebrate properly. I’ve admitted to loving the tacky, tacky side of Christmas, replete with blow-up inflatables and lighting, but decorating for the holidays is a longstanding tradition. Do we really need more inflatables barely three months later? This year, St. Patrick’s Day inflatables have popped up on suburban lawns, biding their time till they end up in our landfills. (Check it out here). And more and more, the retailers are offering special Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patrick’s Day. Cheap Plastic Crap is bad enough in kid’s goody bags. Do we really want to encourage it on St. Patrick’s Day too?


Here are 10 tips for celebrating a truly green, eco-friendly St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun! Luck o’ the Irish to you!
1. Wear Green

2. March or Watch a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

3. Enjoy Some Irish Spirits

4. Sing Irish Songs

5. Visit an Irish Pub or Restaurant

6. Bake and Decorate Some Green Cookies or Cupcakes

7. Try Some Corned Beef and Cabbage Ah, I’ve gone greener since I wrote this post in ’08. Beef is a major contributor to climate change. So skip the corned beef! Tofu and cabbage? Cabbage and beer?  :)

8. Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patty’s Day

9. Say No to St. Patty’s Lawn Decorations

10. Smile and Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Have fun!


Copyright OrganicMania

Note: This post was originally published in 2008.

The Danger Our Kids Face: #justiceforhenry

March 7th, 2011

Update: Katie Granju will discuss Henry’s case on CNN Tuesday night at 7 pm EST on “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.”

Yesterday morning, I sat stunned, looking at the angelic faces of the third graders in my Sunday school class. I kept thinking of another boy, who shared our faith, enjoyed the love of close family and friends, and yet ended up dead at the age of 18, victim of the number two cause of accidental death in America.

Do you know what it is?



You’re not alone if you don’t realize that drug abuse, particularly prescription drug abuse, has reached what some experts call “epidemic proportions.”

The problem is, parents don’t talk about it. In our tell-all, Reality-TV world, a child’s drug addiction is one of the few things that is considered shameful. And as a result, awareness of the problem  is low, and families suffer in isolation.

But one mother, in the midst of her horrible pain over not only losing her son Henry, but dealing with a very questionable  police investigation into his beating and involvement with a drug and prostitution ring, is changing all that.

Katie Allison Granju is a gifted writer. Many of you know her as the author of “Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child,” as a contributor to Salon, as a Babble.com blogger, or from her blog Mamapundit.

She’s now taking her powerful communications skills and huge reach into the Mom blogger community to both raise public awareness of the prescription drug epidemic and to force a re-examination of the investigation into her son’s death in Knoxville, TN.

Please go to her blog and read the story of Henry Granju. You will be shocked and saddened and outraged. Tweet about it using the hashtag #JusticeForHenry.   Call or email Nancy Grace and ask her to investigate.


And above all, talk to your kids about drug abuse. A little bit of experimentation with pot is NOT OKAY.

Watch this incredible video, Henry’s story. Show it to your kids. Ask your school, your church, your synogogue, to show it to the youth. It will save lives.

And after you’ve done all that, please remember to leave a comment here and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you and godspeed to Henry’s family.

— Lynn

Cutting PBS Kids

March 3rd, 2011

Dear reader,

I am Lynn Miller’s son.I do not want the government to eliminate PBS kids because we do not have cable Tv .PBS kids is one of the two  kids channels on tv that my mom lets me watch. I want you to write letters to the people in the government who want to destroy PBS Kids.   Please donate money to help PBS Kids. I saved up and donated $30 from the part of my allowance that goes to charity – you can donate too!

Thank you.

To donate, find your local station here.

Note from Lynn: Hmm…Big Boy’s first blog post. And it was all his idea! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it? :)

Copyright 2011 OrganicMania

A Valentine’s Ode: The State of My Love Affair with Blogging

February 12th, 2011

This Valentine’s Day, the @GreenMoms of the Green Moms Carnival will be blogging about ….affairs of the heart and blogging. Why do we blog? Karen asked us, “Where does all this voice and passion come from? Why do we do it?”

I wish that like Karen I could simply blog about my love for blogging, about how OrganicMania opened new doors, introducing me to a wonderful community whom I never would have met otherwise. Like a starry eyed lover, I could dwell on my blog’s good points: creative release, fun, self-expression, and service to others.

But that would be only half the story. We’re no longer in the throes of first love, as on Valentine’s Day 2008, when this archive shows I blogged nearly every day.

The desire is still there, the bloggy thoughts come, but now other loves beckon. I can tweet my thoughts more quickly, and without an empty page staring back at me as I write. 140 characters: so easy!  I can post a Facebook update in a second and soon see the friendly faces of old friends as they respond.  After three years, my bloggy friends are real friends, and like all friends, we call, visit and email – all without visiting each other’s blogs.

The demands of everyday life can be overwhelming at times, making a personal cause-related blog seem like a luxury I can ill afford.

I’ve thought about quitting, leaving my blog behind. But everytime I’ve thought about it, the blog nearly instantaneously – magically – delivers an incredible gift that makes it impossible to leave.

Increasingly, I look at OrganicMania as an old friend rather than a new love, one that will always be happy to see me when I find the time to visit. And one that’s not jealous of my new companion – my second blog.

Or so I hope.

Check out the other bloggy love lorn posts over at Best of Mother Earth on Monday – Valentine’s Day!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2011

Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is Finally Here! And This May Be the Last Year to Make it Organic!

February 5th, 2011

Yes, it’s true…that big Superbowl football game is on tomorrow.  But today? It’s another fantabulous, once-a-year event: International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

Held the first Saturday in February, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is exactly what it sounds like: a  great excuse for a party! What began as a small gathering in upstate New York is now a worldwide event, but still very much under-the-radar.


And this year, it’s a rather poignant occasion. With the USDA’s decision last week to allow unrestricted planting of genetically modified alfalfa, the ability of America’s local farmers and USDA organic producers to guarantee GMO-free foods is severely compromised. Why? As surely as the wind blows, seeds and other particles from GE alfalfa will cross-contaminate neighboring farms. Of particular concern is the impact on dairy farmers, who use alfalfa as dairy feed (hence my warning about this being the last organic ice cream for breakfast day).  And as Rodale.com reports, GE alfalfa could “contaminate organic honey supplies, since bees forage in alfalfa and create nectar that in turn becomes honey for human food.”

Why the concern about GMOs?  Where to start? The risks – to autism, allergies, infertility and more – are so well documented that surveys going back five years or more show that most Americans would prefer to avoid GMOs if given the choice. But since GMOs are not labeled in this country, the only sure way to avoid them is to buy organic – one of the main reasons I buy organic, as I’ve blogged here here and here.

Here are a few good primers on the risks of genetically engineered foods:

About GMOs, The Non-GMO Project

Six Reasons to Avoid GMOs, The Non-GMO Project

GMO Dangers, Institute for Responsible Technology

Monsanto’s GMOs and Autism, Wellsphere

Safety of Genetically Modified Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects, National Academies Press, 2004 (Read the section about the potential for increased allergies!)

Scientists Speak: Say No to GMOs

The Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods: Autism Hope and Healing

The Trouble with Monsanto and GMOs: Dr. David Suzuki Spells It Out: Red, Green and Blue

What’s a GMO and Why Should You Care? Allergy Kids, Robyn O’Brien

What can you do? Contribute to the legal fight against this outrageous decision. Let the White House know you don’t appreciate having your kids treated like lab rats in the giant GMO science experiment. And in the meantime, cherish the remaining delicious stock of American made organic dairy, before rushing to buy European treats.

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

Meanwhile, enough of the politics and back to the fun of Ice Cream for Breakfast Day!

Here’s more on the story from the “official” Ice Cream for Breakfast Day website.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ruth and a little boy named Joe. Ruth and Joe grew up in the
back of beyond in New York state where it was very very cold. Every winter between New Year’s Eve and
Passover, life in up-state New York got extremely boring, so their parents invented a holiday to brighten
up the dreary days of winter. It was called Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. This was a wonderful holiday for
children and parents alike because to celebrate you had to eat ice cream for breakfast on the first Saturday in

Well, Ruth and Joe grew up and went away to a university. They made many friends and taught them all
about Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. After college Ruth had a roommate named Barry to whom she also told
about this tradition. Many years later, Barry met Itzah C. Kret in Washington, D.C. and converted him into an
Ice Cream For Breakfast Day observer.

Nobody has kept precise track but through word of mouth ICFBD has been celebrated in many homes, states
and countries all over the world. Some people give parties with musical instruments, others simply
celebrate with family members. There is no right or wrong so long as you follow the 3 plus 1 simple Ice
Cream for Breakfast Day Rules

(1) Eat ice cream
(2) for breakfast
(3) on the first Saturday in February

(4) spread the word

The rest is up to you!

As for me, I’m fortunate to be invited to the famous Barry’s party!

Let me know if you spring for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! (And yes, make it organic!)

Have fun!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2011

Helping Those Who Need It Most

January 7th, 2011

I woke up early this morning to retrieve Big Boy from Children’s Hospital. We’re so fortunate. In and out world-class medical care just 30 minutes from our home.  At Children’s, they treat anybody – from the children of DC’s power brokers to the poorest kids in our nation’s capital.  As one of the doctors there said to me yesterday,

“We’re $50 Million in the hole this year. We can be doing fine financially, but then one bone marrow transplant for a patient without insurance will set us back. And can you really say no to a child with cancer?”

And while I give thanks for the incredible staff at Children’s National Medical Center, I also thought of others with cancer – adults. Do people say no to them?

According to my friend Susan from ToddlerPlanet, they do. Susan has world class medical care and  tons of resources at her disposal to fight her fourth recurrence of cancer in four years. She just found out about this latest round, and while she’s intent on beating this back, her focus is also on a very personal campaign: getting lymphedema sleeves onto the arms of cancer patients.

If you haven’t heard of lymphedema sleeves, you’re not alone. In fact, when I first met Susan at BlogHer this summer, I gasped and said, “You blog about everything! How come you never blogged that you have tattooed arms??!!”

Well, this brilliant astrophysicist does not have tattooed arms – but she does have lymphedema sleeves, which reduce the pain and swelling associated with cancer – while looking like radical fashion accessories.

Read more here.

— Lynn

Happy Christmas: It’s Epiphany

January 6th, 2011

I interrupt this New Year to remind you that some are still celebrating Christmas! Depending on how you count the days from Christmas, the twelfth day of Christmas may be celebrated on January 5th or 6th, with Epiphany on the 6th.

This year, we celebrated Epiphany early in order to avoid having it at Children’s Hospital, where my son will have his appendix removed today. (The final stage of that awful emergency of a ruptured appendix!)

Epiphany King's Cake

It’s one more thing we do in our household to focus on friends, family and faith, as opposed to what I call “the commercial Christmas” and what my @GreenMoms friends call “holidays without the hoopla.”

My last post here was on the eve of Advent, when I blogged that I was going to try to do as my church advises: Relax. Slow Down. It’s Advent.

Of course, life doesn’t stop. I confess, I did work through the holidays,  stopping only on  Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day. And of course I didn’t get around to everything on my agenda, but I adapted. Who says a gingerbread house needs to be made before Christmas? Voila! I decorated mine with “2011,” transforming it into a New Year’s gingerbread house!


But perhaps it was the hours gleaned through “neglecting” my blog that gave me time to bake cookies, something I never got around to last year.

If you’d like to celebrate Epiphany, here’s the key part:

Boo looks at our collection of King Cake "fievres" from years past.

Boo looks at our collection of King Cake "fievres" from years past.

Get a great King’s Cake! They’re hard to bake, unless you’re a master chef, so I’m not going to suggest that. A better bet is a French bakery. In years past, we always got our King Cake at Patisserie Poupon in Georgetown, DC. This year, we tried Café Cocoa on Bethesda Lane, and were thrilled with the cake.

Cut the cake into pieces. The person who finds a small porcelein figure in their piece is crowned “King” and gets to wear the gold crown that comes with the cake. (I’ve “upcycled” our gold crowns by passing them along to a dear friend so that her daughter could play Queen Esther at the Temple’s Purim festival. Talk about Interfaith Dialog in action! :) )

Because by Christmas Eve I typically discover that we have overabundance of presents for the kids,  I set a few aside to give as “gifts” from the Wise Men.

This year, the boys each got a watch.


I dodged their question about whether the Wise Men shopped at Gap or had a toy factory by asking, “What do you think?”

My eight-year-old responded, “I think   Melchior

Caspar and Balthasar got the watches because telling time is really wise, and they’re The Wise Men.”

“How did you know their names?,” I asked, wondering if something from that “boring” Sunday School was sinking in…

“From the Advent calendar!” he exclaimed.

Happy New Year! If you celebrate Epiphany this year, let me know!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2011

Simpler Celebrations: Christmas AND Chanukah?

December 1st, 2010

My son came home from school today and declared himself a poor soul because he only gets Christmas presents, not Christmas AND Chanukah presents, like most of the kids in his class.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “Most?”

“Yes,” he insisted. “There’s only like five of us who just celebrate either Christmas OR Chanukah.”  (And he rattled off the names to prove his point).


Tonight, December 1st, will see some kids lighting candles and getting the first of their Chanukah presents, while others rip open the doors on the first Advent calendar window to snare some chocolate. And apparently, at least here in Bethesda, a lot of kids enjoying both!

It’s tough enough trying to keep the commercialism of Christmas at bay.  How do parents cope with double the demand for presents: Christmas AND Chanukah?

Apparently my eldest son isn’t alone. My youngest son’s teacher told me at pick-up today that the majority of the four-year-olds are celebrating both holidays as well.

My first inclination was to smile. It seems like just yesterday I was debating inter-faith marriage with my friends (and some boyfriends). Would Jewish-Christian couples really be able to honor both faiths as they raised families? Apparently my generation is making it happen!

But how do families celebrating both holidays focus on the traditions that matter most, without the holidays turning into one huge present-fest?   I’d love to hear from those of you who do celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. Tell me what you’re doing!


In our family, we’ve long had the tradition of the Advent calendar. From one for my eldest to one for each kid, to three – with one for DH and I to share – to this year’s splurge of one Advent calendar for each of us – we love it!

We celebrate Advent with the calendar, Christmas story readings after dinner, and now, Jingle Bells and Ode to Joy on the keyboard.

Christmas Day is just the start of a 12 day celebration finished by Epiphany (which regrettably will be celebrated at Children’s Hospital as my son returns to have his appendix removed).

The holidays are a beautiful time of year. Music, candles, stories, delicious treats and more – all make the holiday spirit last a lot longer than a gift ever can.

What do you think?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on “Holidays Without the Hoopla,” running at The Green Parent on Monday, December 6th.  Head on over there then to check all of the posts from the @GreenMoms!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010