About Nicole Greene


Outspoken, a mother of 3 and a bit of a creative nerd. Nicole is passionate about family and social good, and blogs from Trinidad & Tobago. Download her mobile app available for Android and iPhone/iPad.

Posts by Nicole Greene:

Dutch mother rescues daughter from ISIS

Dutch mother rescues daughter from ISIS

Over the past few months, there have been a lot of stories about young girls being lured to Syria, away from their Western families to become jihadi brides“. The brides of ISIS.

It’s a disturbing trend. So much so, that the Canadian government has called for research

to better understand why and under which circumstances women are recruited and the extent to which they become involved in violent extremist movements.

Just like the grooming carried out by pedophiles on the internet, much of this recruitment is carried out via social media. And the victims don’t realise what they’re really getting themselves into, until it’s too late.

Syria is, after all, at war. And these are the brides of the warriors.

One very lucky girl has been able to escape, against all odds… with the help of her mother.

Last week, after a plea for help from her daughter, Monique went back, against the advice of police, travelling to Raqqa, the seat of Islamic State’s so-called caliphate, according to Dutch media. She reportedly found her daughter and brought her back via Turkey.

Despite all attempts to talk her out of it, Monique travelled from the Netherlands to Syria to track down her teenaged daughter Aicha, and brought her back home.

Aicha was arrested upon her arrival.

Read the full story at: BBC News – Dutch mum rescues daughter from Islamic State in Syria.

The Risk You Take in Telling That Little White Lie

The Risk You Take in Telling That Little White Lie

As parents, we often tell ourselves that a little white lie is harmless but necessary to preserve a child’s innocence, to protect them from knowledge they’re not ready for, or just to save our own sanity.

And yet… we expect our kids not to keep things from us, and teach them that “honesty is the best policy”.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, a recent study at University of California-San Diego supports what most of us know deep down – when you lie to a child, even if it’s a white lie, you’re teaching them that there are times when it’s ok to lie to you.

“There are several possible reasons why our manipulation may have caused the children to engage in more dishonest behavior,” write the authors. “First, it is possible that the children were imitating the lie-telling behavior that they observed. … Perhaps these children made assumptions about the importance of honesty to the model. … Another possibility is that rather than imitating, the children were extracting information about the adult who lied to them. … Perhaps the children did not feel the need to uphold their commitment to tell the truth to someone whom they perceived as a liar”

The Truth about Unicorn Poop
But lies, by definition, are deception. And deception leads to some level of breaking the trust in a relationship.

And while adults may be better able to determine the situations in which someone might lie – to spare your feelings, or in a good-natured prank – kids are still developing the emotional intelligence to decipher all those cues.

Bottom line – if you’re going to lie to your kids for their own good, you’d be wise to give them an explanation when you’re found out. Unless you’re ok with having the tables turned on you.

via Lying to Your Kids Will Turn Them Into Liars — Science of Us.

Why GoldieBlox Really Isn’t Breaking Gender Stereotypes

Why GoldieBlox Really Isn’t Breaking Gender Stereotypes

I first heard about GoldieBlox when they were at the Kickstarter fundraising stage.

As a woman working in Science and Technology, I have experienced first hand the kind of chauvinism in the classroom and workplace that pushes many brilliant female minds away. I was very much willing to embrace the idea of the clever Miss Goldie and her Blox, because I’ll support anything that helps children develop their spatial thinking skills.

I also liked the idea of a toy that wasn’t born out of the lazy notion that girls’ toys must focus on looks and fashion in order to be successful.

But as Goldie seeks to establish herself in the marketplace, is her marketing team missing the point?

Sarah Orsborn thinks so:

GoldieBlox bothers me because they perpetuate the harmful gender binaries in toys and products for children rather than shattering them, and they also perpetuate the false opposition our culture sets up between “beauty” and “brains.”

Read the full story on xoJane here: GoldieBlox’s “First Action Figure For Girls” Is Less Revolutionary Than It Seems.

Toronto’s Anti Littering campaign is brilliant!

Toronto’s Anti Littering campaign is brilliant!

I’ve never understood the desire to litter.

If there are no garbage bins around, I’d rather hold my stuff in my (oversized) bag than toss it on the ground.

Even as a child it struck me as inconsiderate. I mean, what’s the plan? It can’t stay there forever, so you have to intend for someone else to pick it up right?

My mama would slap you upside the head if you tried that at her house. And clearly your mama should have too.

None of this “I’m creating jobs for other people! What will the DEWD/URP/CEPEP people do?”. That’s crap and you know it.

And the city of Toronto isn’t afraid to to tell you what we’re secretly thinking of you…





Ebola – How Worried Should You Really Be?

Ebola – How Worried Should You Really Be?

2014 seems to have seen more Ebola infections and deaths than any other year in the past. As a mother, and a citizen of a country which allows visa-free entry to some affected African nations, how worried should I really be?

That’s the question I asked myself when news broke of the infection and subsequent death of one of Sierra Leone’s leading infectious disease doctors, at the hands of Ebola.

I’ve closely followed the events that came afterward, and I’ve done my own research.

Now I’m sharing it with you.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus.It first appeared in Africa in 1976 and has a high fatality rate. According to the WHO, it is responsible for the deaths of about 2000 people between 1976 and 2012.

Outbreaks typically begin in wildlife – the natural host is the fruit bat. The virus is transmitted from animal to human by handling or ingesting infected wildlife, and human to human via bodily fluid exchange (saliva, blood, semen, etc).

Upon identifying Ebola infection, patients must be quarantined to control the spread of the disease. “Treatment” is typically supportive care, although some drug therapies are in development.

Patients are contagious once they begin showing symptoms of the virus (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches). Male patients who recover from Ebola can still transmit the disease via semen for up to 2 months after recovery.

Is the fatality rate really 90%?

There are different strains of the Ebola virus. According to the CDC the fatality rate ranges between 50% and 90%.

The current strain is said to have a fatality rate of about 60% (932 deaths from 1711 cases as at the time of writing.

Is this like the movie Outbreak?

Are we on the verge of a huge pandemic? If not, why not?

The movie tells a story about a deadly outbreak of a disease that starts off with some similarities to Ebola. It starts off in an animal and spreads to humans.


While the movie starts off with the disease spreading via blood/bodily fluids, it really gets out of control once it becomes airborne.

It is possible for to Ebola spread via large droplets when the patient coughs, but that would require very close contact. In human to human transfer, Ebola is not known to become aerosolized.

In addition, a droplet of saliva contains a less concentrated “dose” of the virus than a droplet of blood does.

In this way, the way Ebola spreads is more similar to the way HIV is transmitted, while the disease in Outbreak spreads like the flu.

Because of this key difference, Ebola is much more easily contained than the disease in Outbreak.

Didn’t one study outline airborne spread from pigs to other animals?

Yes. Pigs have been found to transmit a more concentrated “dose” of the virus in “aerosol” than humans do. So Ebola has indeed been found to spread to monkeys who were not in direct contact with the infected pigs.

However, the writer of that paper points out:

unless you’re sitting next to an Ebola-infected pig, […] airborne transmission of Ebola viruses isn’t a big concern

Why doesn’t quarantine work in Africa?

Quarantine *does* work in Africa – and everywhere else – to prevent the spread of Ebola.

Healthcare workers and family members face a greater risk of contracting the virus than the general population. (See Transmission.)

When healthcare workers become infected, it is usually because of accidental exposure when safety protocols are not followed. For example: protective equipment is not worn or not available, accidental breaking of the skin, etc.

When family members become infected, it can be due to exposure before the virus was identified, or transmission when preparing the body for burial according to cultural norms.

In some cases, infected patients are “stolen” from the hospitals once diagnosed. It is thought that fear leads to a correlation between death and the foreign doctors or support services like the Red Cross, and families try to save their sick loved ones, thereby infecting themselves and others within the community.

Healthcare workers have even been attacked, seen as bringing the disease to the communities, rather than responding to a critical healthcare need. This fear has worked against the efforts to control the latest outbreak.

Why were those Americans flown back home?

Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are healthcare workers who were working in Liberia caring for Ebola patients.

Both contracted the virus, and were granted access to experimental drugs while in Africa. A decision was taken to fly the pair back to the US (separately).

The reason for this is likely because the treatment administered is a pretty big deal. Ebola patients typically receive “supportive” care, while the body builds up its immunities to fight the virus. If those immunities don’t build up in time, the patient can go into shock and die, with their bodies becoming essentially liquefied internally. As we’ve seen, that can happen between 50% and 90% of the time.

But the Americans were given treatment which had never before been tried on humans.

It’s not unreasonable to imagine that the US CDC would have wanted to be able to closely monitor the effects of the drug, which will need to be tested on a larger sample of humans before it can obtain FDA approval.

They travelled safely by plane,

is there a real risk to fellow passengers?

Yes… and yes.

Dr Brantly was transported in a specially outfitted plane – not a regular commercial carrier or private jet.

He made the trip in one of these isolation chambers.

Isolation Chamber similar to that used to transport Dr Brantly

Isolation Chamber similar to that used to transport Dr Brantly

It is fully sealed and kept at a lower pressure than the surrounding air, so should there be a puncture, air will flow back in to the tent. They will not be using the plane’s toilets, and any waste they generate while on the plane will be chemically-sterilized while in the air, then autoclaved once it is removed from the tent while inside a BSL-4 facility.

The transport of the doctors was carefully planned and coordinated.

Ebola-infected individuals should remain quarantined and should not undertake commercial air travel.

How can I protect myself and my family?

The CDC website has a section on Ebola prevention.


Disclaimer: I have no medical background, and the above links represent the research that I have done to inform myself and my household. This information is shared freely in the hopes that it may be useful for others similarly trying to understand the current Ebola outbreak.

Earache in Toddlers: Is It a Cold or an Ear Infection?

Earache in Toddlers: Is It a Cold or an Ear Infection?


Life can be lousy when you’re little one with an ear infection. More than three out of four children have had at least one ear infection before the age of three, and many more suffer from ear pain caused from the common cold, according to KidsHealth.org. When toddlers suffer from earache, it can be difficult to determine the cause, as most young children are not able to express their symptoms clearly. It’s important to distinguish between a cold or ear infection to ensure that your toddler receives the proper medical care. Along with a diagnosis from your child’s pediatrician, use these tips to determine the cause of your child’s ear pain.

Common Cold

Toddlers with the common cold may show a wide range of symptoms, including sniffles, sneezing, a persistent cough, or a sore throat. Young children can suffer from as many as six to eight colds per year, according to the American Lung Association. The common cold is usually caused by rhinoviruses when children breathe in invisible cold droplets in the air. The first symptoms of the common cold are often a tickle in the throat, a stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing.

Some children may also have a cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, mild fever, and loss of appetite. Toddlers with earaches caused by the common cold may have difficulty sleeping and difficulty hearing as fluid builds up in the middle ear, preventing the eardrum from working efficiently. Some children experience brown, yellow, white, or bloody drainage from the ear, indicating that the eardrum may have ruptured.

Ear Infections

Ear infections, or otitis media, are the most frequently diagnosed illnesses among children in America, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. Earache is usually the first symptom that toddlers develop. If your toddler is not able to communicate this pain out loud, he or she may cry, tug at the ear, or point to the ear to tell you that it hurts. Ear infections can develop after a cold or sinus infection, and is usually accompanied by a fever.

Infections of the middle ear are usually caused by a virus or bacteria, causing fluid to build up in the area behind the eardrum. Ear infections are often times accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, an unpleasant odor emanating from the ear, trouble hearing quiet sounds, reduced appetite, and difficulty sleeping. In some instances, white or yellow fluid may drain from the ear. The ear drum helps with equilibrium; therefore, some kids may have problems with balance when they have an ear infection.

Get Treatment

Whether it’s caused by the common cold, an infection, or both, it’s critical to have your child’s earache diagnosed by a qualified pediatrician or physician. To diagnose your toddler’s ear pain, the pediatrician will examine the ear using an instrument referred to as an otoscope. Healthy eardrums are a pinkish gray color. If there is an infection in the middle ear, the eardrum may appear swollen, inflamed, and red in color. A pneumatic otoscope may also be used to check the pressure in the middle ear caused by fluid buildup.

There is no cure for the common cold and the virus must run its course. Your child’s pediatrician can provide pain medication, such as acetaminophen, to relief discomfort. Ear infections must be treated with a prescribed antibiotic to kill any bacteria that is causing the infection. Antibiotics are not; however, needed to treat an earache that is caused by a virus or a cold. If fluid stays in the ear for more than three months, or if your child suffers from chronic ear infections, your pediatrician may recommend myringotomy, or ear tubes.

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Smart With Money

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Smart With Money

Learning to save

Parents are more comfortable talking with their kids about bullying and drugs than they are about money, according to a survey conducted by T. Rowe Price. The study also found that 77 percent of parents are not always honest with their kids about finances, and 15 percent lie to them about money weekly. We don’t want our children to stress over mounting bills, but we don’t want them to grow up financially illiterate, either. Start teaching your kids about money today with these techniques:

Discuss Money Regularly

Kids don’t need to be sheltered from the realities of earning and spending money. The sooner they understand money concepts, the sooner they can take responsibility over their own allowance spending and saving.

Incorporate money talks into your day-to-day routine. Point out which groceries (think milk and bread) are necessities and which are luxuries (like chips and soda). Talk about how the more you earn, the more you can splurge on extras. Further engage them by asking for help researching the best deal on cable services after a move or by discussing what factors you should take into consideration when purchasing a new family vehicle.

An article on Money.USNews.com points out some of the possible outcomes of heavily involving children in the family finances. Several experts in the article suggest giving children bite-size pieces of information about the financial status of the family without painting a full picture. When a child wants to know how much a parent makes, another way to frame it is to explain the greater importance of the ratio of monthly bills to income.

Though factors like the child’s age and the family’s current financial situation may guide discussions, parents have to decide for themselves how much financial disclosure is best for their children.

Make Earning and Saving Money Fun

Show your kids that financial responsibility is a rewarding journey, and you just may foster mini-entrepreneurs. Let children in your household set up earning goals, and offer payment for taking on extra chores. Also encourage them to come up with ideas on making extra money. Once a week, declare how much extra everyone earned. Reward the kids for the most money made and most creative earning idea.

Help your children decide how to save their own money, whether that’s in a regular savings account, money market account or CD. Explain how each option differs. Show them how interest turns into free cash down the road. Let them see how the money grows annually and how to plan ahead for their financial future.

Set up a Budget

For pre-teens and teens, help them set up a budget on an app like Mint.com. They can track how much they spend on their food, entertainment, fuel and more. Review it weekly to help them set reasonable savings goals for things like a car, a new gaming console or college.

Discuss ways you can stick to the budget, like watching free movies online or checking them out from the library. Don’t forget to discuss what to do if you go over budget. Should you sell off future structured settlement payments through a site like JGWentworthCashNow.comand use the lump sum to help pay off debt? Dip into next month’s budget? Or come up with a way to earn extra money like tutoring, yard work or errand-running? Figure it out together, going over the pros and cons of each.

Remember to come up with fun, budget-friendly activities, like cooking together as a family once or twice a week, baking your own bread or scouring thrift stores for great finds. Turn budgeting into an adventure instead of a chore.

My Friend Suhana – A First Look and Giveaway

My Friend Suhana – A First Look and Giveaway

About the Book

My Friend Suhana by Shaila & Aanyah AbdullahTitle: My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy | Authors: Shaila Abdullah & Aanyah Abdullah | Publication Date: December 16, 2013 | Publisher: Loving Healing Press | Pages: 17 | Recommended Ages: 3+

Summary: A simple tale of love and friendship to warm your heart. Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy.






The Buzz

“Children with cerebral palsy, like Suhana, the special 7-year-old child in this book, might never take a first step, say their first words or even do the same things other kids can do. But, they can understand kindness, love and true friendship. This is a story about two young 7-year-old girls whose friendship will span a lifetime and whose love will never die … There are so many themes that are brought to light in this wonderfully illustrated book. Friendship, understanding, love, kindness and trust…This mother and daughter have presented a well written, special, colorfully illustrated book that is definitely a must read for children in the lower grades, read aloud in every classroom, hospital groups, book store book signings and even at centers with children who have CP who can learn that they can do anything––all they need to do is try.” ~ Fran Lewis, former Reading and Writing Staff Developer at NYC Public Schools

“Promoting friendship, respect, and support, this children’s book aides in teaching others that art can help overcome and accept the differences of physical characteristics in others. It shows the bond that a mother and daughter share caring and loving those who have physical or mental disabilities as they convey how to be a true friend.” ~ Conny Crisalli, Book Pleasures

“This heartfelt story shares what it would be like to have a friend with cerebral palsy. Parents, teachers and young readers will appreciate the stories purpose and enjoy the colorful illustrations depicting the moods of Suhana and the love and caring she receives from her friend…Both authors have done an excellent job of educating us on how to be role models by opening our minds and hearts to the possibilities.” ~ Kristi’s Book Nook

“My Friend Suhana, for which Kindle and ePub editions are also available, was inspired by the experiences of the authors. While helping her mother with a special needs class at a local community center, a seven year old girl befriends another seven year old girl named Suhana who has cerebral palsy. It is a simple tale of love and friendship that will warm everyone’s heart.” ~ Wayne Walker, Home School Book Reviews

“My Friend Suhana is a delightful read for a children’s book. Very well illustrated with respect, friendship, and advocacy all in mind at the same time.” ~ Dawn Cruzan, President, Camp Craig Allen for all abilities

“This is the story of a seven-year-old’s first attempt at unconditional love. Tough but tender, inspirational yet utterly real, this is a small gem of a tale. Highly recommended for anyone in the position of mentoring a beloved child through the hard places of life.” ~ Paula Huston, author of A Season of Mystery and A Land Without Sin

More reviews at http://myfriendsuhana.com/reviews/


About the Authors: Shaila Abdullah & Aanyah Abdullah

Shaila & Aanyah Abdullah

Shaila & Aanyah Abdullah

Shaila Abdullah is an author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of two award-winning books: Saffron Dreams and Beyond the Cayenne Wall. The author has received several awards for her work including the Golden Quill Award, Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction, Patras Bukhari Award for English Language, Reader Views Award, Written Art Award, and a grant from Hobson Foundation. My Friend Suhana is Shaila’s first children’s book. In her free time, Shaila loves to run around with her children–Aanyah and Aaliyana.

Aanyah Abdullah is a creative and compassionate 10-year-old, who is drawn to children born with physical and mental disabilities. When she was in second grade, Aanyah along with her mother Shaila, started volunteering out at a local community center where they helped assist special needs children. Later Aanyah wrote an essay about her friendship with a girl in the class who had cerebral palsy. That essay is the inspiration behind My Friend Suhana. Aanyah dreams of establishing a special school for children with disabilities one day. She is known to always stand up for what is right and is-–in her parents’ and teachers’ eyes––a perfect role model for her baby sister.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: February 12 to March 12, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Shaila Abdullah & Loving Healing Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

Be sure to check out the My Friend Suhana Blog Tour

(coming Mar 4 to 11, 2014)

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