Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011

I wanted to do a "Best of" post but couldn't decide how to pick the posts to feature as the "best".  My first thought was just to list the top 10 viewed posts but some silly and very random posts appear in that list like my Lemon Drop Melon post.  Then it was suggested by a reader to do the posts with the most comments but I did a few review/giveaways this year so those obviously have the most comments. 
Then I decided to ask you, the readers, to tell me what your favorite posts were.

In the end I decided to do a top 10 as voted by you and a top 10 all time highest viewed.  I was going to do a top 10 highest comments BUT it was almost identical to the top 10 highest viewed.'
I also added in my own personal top 10 of posts I got the most out of writing.  I made sure to list 10 posts not already covered in the other 2 lists as many of those listed in the other 2 were also my favorites

Top 10 from you, the readers (in no particular order):

1. Adoption Part 1: Emotions- guest post on A Little Bit of All of It
2. Adoption Part 2: Loosing Her
3. Adoption Part 3: Unexpected Surprises
4. Adoption Part 4: Adoption Day
5. Cosleeping Can be Safe and Rewarding
6. Dark Days: Winter 2009
7. Dear Dishes, I Hate You! - when someone suggested this one I told them it was a 2010 post, NOPE it just barely skated in being written Jan 15, 2011.
8. The Flats and Hand Wash Challenge- There are 9 total so I am not listing them individually.
9.  I will tell my kids "good job", "you're pretty" and whatever else I want, thank you.
10.  The Tantrum Confession- When Peaceful Parenting Doesn't Work

My Personal Top 12 (because I couldn't narrow it down to 10!):

1. Jack Needs a Mama
2. This is Where the Healing Begins-Letting Go of Perfection
3. I am not a Bully Mom and neither are You
4. Childhood Lost and Found
5. A Mother's Guilt
6.  Birthday Letters to the Kids- 4 total, 1 for each kid
7. My Breastfeeding Journey in 95 Words
8. Zoom Zoom WHOOSH!
9.  I AM a Christian....
10. Is pink really evil?
11. Bam Bam had SPD and so does my daughter
12. Don't want your kid to be a bully, stop being one yourself.

Top 10 highest Viewed

1. Lemon Drop Melon
2. More Exotic Melons
3. Dark Days: Winter 2009
4. Now its acceptable to bully grieving mothers?-another bullying rant
5. I am Habiba, You are Habiba, We are ALL Habiba
6. Bummis SuperLite
7.  I have a blotch on my boob......
8. Crying Babies Will Be Charged Extra
9. Words Hurt
10. Habiba and Alma, Together Again

I know it's a lot of posts but I encourage you to browse through and read them.  I wrote 226 posts in 2011 (YIKES!!) so these really are the best of the best (minus the 3 random posts that some how made the top 10 highest viewed haha.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jack needs a Mama!

I have talked about my desire to adopt again in the future briefly in Karma's Adoption Story.  We always knew we wanted to adopt even before we adopted her and I feel strongly like I want to adopt again.

About a year ago I stumbled upon a site called Reece's Rainbow through an adoption forum.  It was a site that's main focus was on adopting kids with down syndrome from foreign countries before they "aged out" and were sentenced to life in an adult mental institution, the sad thing is they "age out": at 4-5 yrs old.  Once they "age out" they are unadoptable, meaning even if a family comes forward they are not allowed to be adopted.

I showed Ted the website and discussed my desire to some day consider adopting a child from there, he agreed it was something we could think about in the future but we both knew it was something we were neither mentally nor financially prepared for at that time.

So I promised myself someday and tucked it into the back of my mind.   To continue thinking about it was just entirely too sad because I felt so helpless in the moment.

Then last night, ABC World News did a story on Reece's Rainbow that brought it to the front of my mind.  I saw they had a FB page and decided to like them.  Through that I stumbled upon the following blog about Jack:
No Baby No Blog: Jack

image credit: No Baby No Blog

Jack's story broke my heart.  I wanted nothing more than to book a flight to Russia right then and there and bring him home.  If only it were that simple right.   I made Ted read his story too, not really sure why as I knew there was nothing we could do about it.   Not only are we still not in the place where we are mentally prepared for another child BUT even if we were they have income guidelines that we just do not even come close to meeting for a family our size.  I never saw these income guidelines before and they have all but extinguished my dream of EVER being able to adopt a child through a program such as this.

I was depressed for the rest of the night because of this realization, not only we were not in a place where we could currently help Jack but I doubted we would ever be in a place where we could help any child by providing them the home they so desperately deserved.

I had dreams about Jack all night long, which really surprised me as I expected to have zombie nightmares after watching this crazy show on Netflix that freaked me out beyond belief (The Walking Dead).  Zombie nightmares would have been a welcomed relief over the dreams I had which the main theme of was Jack asking me if he could please come and live with us and me telling him over and over again that there was just no way.  There was even a dream where we were in the process of adopting him but at the last minute we just left him at the airport in Russia instead. 

Hey, I have issues I know!  I got almost no sleep because it was just 1 dream after another.  I would wake up, realize it was a dream, close my eyes and drift right off into another one.  When I say stories like this weigh heavily on my heart and mind I am not joking.  I would give anything to be able to adopt Jack or a child just like him.

Then, this morning the answer appeared to me.  As I browsed Jack's page on Reece's Rainbows once again (because I am into self torture like that I guess) longing and praying to find a way, any way, to help him my prayers were answered.  I can't be the mama White Knight who swoops in and rescues him BUT I can be an angel behind the scenes. 

I don't know why I never noticed it last year, probably because I was too blinded in the mindset of "we will adopt one day" to see, but they have plenty of ways for those unable to adopt now (or ever) to help.  The main way is through each child's adoption fund.  Each child awaiting adoption has their own fund you can donate to, this helps pay the eventual adoptive families fees which can rack up quickly.

If, like me, it's not easy to give money, at least not in large amounts (although donating even $5 helps greatly!) you can still help by sharing.  Share Jack's story, share Reece's Rainbow, share the stories of any and all kids on the site that touch your heart.  Share, share, SHARE!  Encourage those you share with to share too.  Just because you do not think you personally know anyone willing/able to adopt a child does not mean you don't know someone who knows someone who is.

So, I can't be Jack's mama, but I can commit myself to help find her for him.  She is out there, this boy is just too sweet to not find her.  Can you help?  Can you please share this blog, Jack's Story here or his Reece's Rainbow page here

Here is a little bit about Jack, taken from his Reece's Rainbow page:

"Jack was born in October 2000. He says he would love to find a family with a brother or sister of a similar age so they can play together. He is not an aggressive boy. Although he likes insects and worms, he does not like scary movies. He is very cute, smart and charming. He is also communicative and sociable. The director of his baby house spoke enthusiastically about him. The director of his current orphanage writes very warmly about him. Before he was about to transfer to the older child orphanage, he asked a visitor "do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me. I would really like for a visitor at least, because I am all alone and I have no one." He is open and shows his emotions. His caregivers say he is responsible, obedient and kind. He likes physical education and the natural world. He also likes to sculpt. He understands that his chances of a family choosing him are slim. He has always seen parents coming for the younger children. Jack is living with HIV. Jack is a nice kid. He is active and alert, careful and smart. He is a friendly boy. He does not speak roughly to the other children. He calmly shares his toy when someone asked to ride the scooter. His teachers appreciate him for his peaceful nature – they say he behaves properly in every situation. He listens and takes the word of his educators. He is happy to talk about school, about games, how he went to the circus and rode the rides at the zoo. He is said to be similar to a "home child." He asks mature questions, and his voice breaks in tears when he asked a family why they had come for a younger child and not for him? He asked "what do I need to do for a Mom to come? Do you know where she is? Is she looking for me?" He has enough mental strength to maintain his positive outlook on the world. He is getting older, but he is still a defenseless child in need of care and family warmth."

I know many are hesitant about adopting an older child BUT he does not sound as if he has many of the emotional/aggressive issues that older kids awaiting adoption are often labeled with.  He sounds sweet and loving,.  I think I connected with him so much because he sounds so much like my Teddy; sweet, loving, caring, artist and a mama's boy at heart even if he has never yet met her.

Are you Jack's mama?  Do you know her?  Do you know of any place I can share Jack's story where his mama might see it?

this mama who wishes she could be,

P.S. Please ignore the typos in my URL, Sariah thought she would bang on the keyboard a few times for good luck as I hit post making the URL appear as  jacVk? whoops.

Friday, December 23, 2011

DIY Christmas: Tinker Bell Sensory Manipulative Toy

Not really sure what to call this, it's not a "shape" sorter since it only has 1 shape.   As part of Karma's SPD therapy toys like this are referred to as "manipulative toys" because they require kids to use more fine motor skills so that's what I am going with.  It's also made with different textures to appeal to sensory seeking kids.

As with the Tangled Tower and Felt Book this is something I was totally inspired to make on my own therefore I will tell you how I made it BUT I am not exactly crafty so there may be easier ways.
Mine sort of evolved as I went.  The original plan was to cover the ribbon spools with scraps of wrapping paper and paint the tin.  Then I decided to paint the spools instead but as I went the paint was not covering the writing so I went with cloth instead.  The Tinkerbell theme was just a fluke that happened after I started.  Original Theme was going to be Shapes/Letter/Numbers painted all over the can and the spools.

What You Will Need:
Old Coffee Can or similar container.
Old Ribbon Spools
Scrape cloth/ribbon
Anything else you think will add appeal.

To Assemble
First wash out coffee can and dry- I do not drink coffee so I found someone who did to give me a can.  Similar containers will work too.

Once coffee can is dry paint it.  I tried painting mine yellow at first with plans of painting shapes and letters on top.  The yellow was not covering the writing on the can at all though so I painted blue on top and it morphed into this teal blue color.

Tinkerbell over yellow paint.
You can see the paint was not covering well.

another fairy over a redish orange paint

As I said above, original plan was to paint the spools in primary colors and paint shapes, letters and numbers on top of that.  The paint was not covering so I was inspired to add some sheer fabric on top, fabric that you could still sort of see the paint through but fully covered the writing on the spools.

Once I started adding fabric on I was inspired to use some fabric that matched the tin.  Instead of trying to cut out the fabric and glue on top (which I know I would have failed miserably at) I glued the fabric to the spool and once dry, cut around the edges.

I was also inspired to use ribbon on a few sides of the spools to give some more texture to them.  I did this in a similar fashion as the fabric by gluing the ribbon on and then cutting around it to fit the shape.

Original plan was to paint the lid but instead I decided to use fabric on it as well.  Again, I glued the lid to  the fabric and cut to fit afterwards,.  Make sure you glue the fabric to the sides of the lid as well.

Once glue is dry and fabric cut to fit, cut a hole in the top just long and wide enough to easily slip the spools inside.

as you can see, I painted the inside of the
spools as well.  This is the one with the
orange ribbon above on the other side.

That's it, you are done.  There are tons of different ways to make this.  After I was finished I was inspired that, if I had more ribbon, I could have wrapped ribbon around the can gluing as I went to create a nice textured strip pattern.  you could still use old wrapping paper scrapes, construction paper, etc.
Chalkboard paint would be fun to do, especially on the can.  Wish I had some of that!

This wanna be crafty mama,

DIY Christmas: Felt Touch and Feel Book

This is a Touch and Feel felt book I made using old stained/ripped up shirts that were in too rough shape to donate.  You could use special pieces of clothing too if you wanted to give the book more special meaning.

As with the Tangled Tower this is something I was inspired to make on a whim.  Therefore I sort of made it up as I went and since I am not exactly the craftiest mama on the block I may have done some things backwards or made it harder on myself than it needed to be.  With that said this was actually really easy and fun to make, I would love to make more if I had the time/supplies.

What you need:
Old shirts, preferably ones that have unique designs with lots of raised areas/soft areas/textured areas/areas that are sensory pleasing to touch.
Felt rectangles/squares (easily found at craft stores/big chain stores)
Fabric Glue/Hot glue

To Assemble:
Cut out designs from shirts, be sure to leave enough area around the design so that it looks pretty.

hello horribly UNstraight edges!

Glue down fabric onto felt.  I tried using fabric glue at first but it was taking too long to dry so I switched to hot glue. If you are talented in the sewing department you could even sew these together, that would probably make them sturdier anyways I just have no sewing skills.

I can't cut in a straight line to save my life so I was inspired to use ribbon boarders to give the illusion that my pieces were cute out nicely.  I think the ribbon boarders also just make the book look nice.
This is where I switched over to hot glue because the ribbon kept pulling off since the fabric glue was so wet.  Plus the hot glue helps to seal the ends of the ribbon together to prevent fraying as easily.

ribbon boarder hides edges nicely

Once you have 1 page done move on to the next until you have all the pages you want completed.

To assembler into a book line up felt pieces together.  Use scissors to create a hole in each piece of felt and thread ribbon through.  Tie ribbon in a knot and cut.  Repeat until you have as many holes as you want/need(I did 3).  You could also use metal rings or metal brads to bind the book together.

This actually turned out to be a lot cuter than I envisioned in my mind, probably because in my mind I didn't have cute ribbon boarders around each pic.  I made up a silly  story to go along with our book, in case anyone ever asks me to "read" it.
It goes:

for the touch and feel/sensory aspect the girl is raised
off the material.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named -insert name here_

She was very cute, everyone in the land agreed this was so

for the touch and feel/sensory aspect the letters and
fruit on the "Cute" picture are all raised and textures while
the Tinkerbell is silky and soft

-insert name here- was so gentle that even the Fairies loved her.

She was also very caring and loved all animals.

for the touch and feel/sensory aspect the glittery parts
on the puppy picture are textured and the lines on the
roses are all raised.

-insert name here- was very talented when it came to gardening and grew the most beautiful roses in the entire land

for the touch and feel/sensory aspect the girl is raised off
the material.

The end.

OK, the story isn't exactly grade A material but I had to work of the pictures and that's the best I could come up with at almost midnight.

Happy crafting!

this wanna be crafty mama,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

DIY Chritmas: Journal Jar

Another easy peasy DIY last minute gift idea for those of you like me who may be scrambling trying to figure out what to give someone for Christmas.  Really great if you are working with a limited budget.

I didn't actually make this one but was gifted it.  I enjoyed it so much though I thought I would pass on the idea to all of you.  This is the perfect gift for the preteen, teen or even adult writer in your life.

What you will need:
1 empty glass jar-pickle jar, spaghetti sauce jar, etc
1 blank note pad/journal
paper-fun festive colored paper is ideal.
decorative items for Jar-ribbon, paper, etc

To Make:
Remove label, clean out jar and dry. 
Decorate jar to make it look pretty.  The one given to me has ribbon around the edge or the lid, decorative paper on top of the lid and a new label on it that reads:
It's a recipe for a life story!
Each day, select a new journal slip.
Paste it to the top of a fresh journal page and fill in your answers.
Enjoy the memories!

Go online and find journal prompts- if you google "daily journal prompts" tons pop up, even some great ones just for kids/teenagers. 
A few I found:
Creative Writing Prompts for your Students' Daily Journal-Super Teacher Worksheets
High School Journal Topics
Creative Writing Prompts
Or you could even make up some yourself.

Make a good long list of prompts, enough to fill the jar,.  Print out and cut into individual slips of paper.  Fold paper and place inside of jar.

Decorate front of journal/notepad if desired.

That's it, very simple but meaningful(in my opinion) gift.

this DIY mama,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DIY Christmas-Tangled Tower

Here is the first of the blog posts I promised for "easy" DIY Christmas gifts.  If I can pull them off then they must be easy as I am the least craftiest person ever!

My daughters LOVE the movie Tangled.  In fact they watch it everyday, no joke!.  Kimmy is the most vocal about her love for all things Tangled and all she asked for for Christmas was "Punzel this" and "Punzel that".  Mainly she wanted a "Punzel doll" and a "punzel Tower".  We got the doll but the Towers were just so pricey.  I found 3 different towers and they ranged in price from $35-129!.  They all got horrible reviews too, saying they were flimsily made and fell apart easily.  Even the $129 one, which you would think would be sturdy and well made by the price, had many negative reviews saying the plastic was thin and cheap and fell apart easily.  Because of this we skipped out on buying a Tower.

not the prettiest tower in the world but it will do.

Then one night, while being kept awake by Miss Anti-Sleep Karma, it occurred to me that maybe I could attempt to make a tower myself.  I mean, if they were going to be easily broken it might as well be something inexpensive.  Plus that's 1 less Made in China potentially toxic toy not in my house.
I began looking for items around my house that looked like a tower and settled on Oatmeal containers. 

Now, I just made this up in my head and I am not a crafty person, so there are probably easier ways to do this but I am not aware of them.

I apologize right now about the pictures.  Everything appears way darker than it does in real life.  I don't have a real camera right now, just my phone and the lighting was very poor in my house today since it's all cloudy and rainy outside.

supplies- I used the egg carton to place the paint in.

What You Will Need:
2 empty cylinder oatmeal containers
Paint- at least red, blue, yellow, white and black so you can mix other colors as needed.
Paint brushes

To Assemble:

First clean out oatmeal containers.
Place on top of newspaper on a smooth sturdy surface- I used our dining room table
Mix black and white pain to create a grey stone color.
Paint outsides of oatmeal containers with the grey.  NOW- If you are smart you will use a knife to cut out spaces in the back of each container first so the tower is open to be played in.  I was not smart and painted the entire thing and then had to cut out portions after the paint dried which means I wasted my time and paint on those portions.

first layer on the outside- dark grey

Once the grey paint dried I added extra white to the mixed paint I had and dipped a damp cloth into the lighter grey and sponged/twisted it on top to try and give a stone finish to it.

"stone finish" with lighter grey

I attempted to paint the inside walls purple and pink.  I could not get the purple to be the nice light purple most Tangled items come in though.  If you want this color it may be a good idea to buy it and not try to mix it yourself.

While the inside paint dried I added vines on the outside, well I tried to anyways, they are pretty rudimentary.

my wanna be vines

Once the inside paint was dry I painted the "floor" grey.  Then I added a "fireplace" and "picture frame" using some brown paint.  I painted in the fir place black.
In the picture I was trying to recreate the picture Rapunzel painted of herself watching the lanterns so I painted in some green "hills" and the sky black.

While the fire place and picture dried I added a lighter green to the vines and some flowers.

Then I added the "log" and "fire" to the fire place and "Rapunzel" and the lanterns to the picture.  At least I TRIED to add that stuff in.


One all the paint was dry I glued the lid on top of the purple level-which I am leaving blank because I am just not creative enough to figure out what to add there!
I added glue on top of the lid and glued the pink level on top of the purple.

in retrospect I only needed to paint a "ground"
on the bottom section of the tower-owell!!

I tried to find a styrofoam cone shape in the craft section at Walmart top glue on top of the second level but they didn't have any so I just painted the lid brown and glued it on top.

in real life it looks brown I swear!

FYI- You may want to paint the first lid green, at least the edges, before gluing on.  Otherwise it stands out really bad and it's a lot harder to paint the edges green once it's already glued on.  I painted the edge "inside" of the tower grey to match the floor.  I was going to add a rug on the floor of the top level but chickened out.

Not the best looking Tangled Tower in the world but I think my girls will like it, at least I hope so!  I don't think it will last past January in our home though, not with Karma's destructive ways.

I bought this set for them to play with inside of the tower:

I am going to wrap them up together.

this wanna be crafty mama,

P.S. check out my Made in the USA Paint- woo-hoo!!

P.P.S. I apologize now for any errors, I have to go to my sons school for caroling in the halls soon and don't have time to proof read right now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tis the Season-Holiday Toy Purge and other ways to help.

In the hopes of capitalizing on everyone's Holiday Spirit I want to share the following worthy causes with you.  Some I have shared before, others are new.  It's good to give and care year round but I know it's fresh in everyone's minds at this time of the year so with that in mind here we go:

Christopher and Tadan are both beautiful little boys who have been diagnosed with a rare disease called Vanishing White Matter Leukodystrophy.  A disease so rare when Tadan was diagnosed his doctor admitted he didn't know anything about it.  Please consider liking their pages and sharing to raise awareness for this terminal illness that has no  known cure, not even a treatment.  This is simple and free and only takes a few minutes to do.
You can learn more about Vanishing White Matter and Tadan's Story here
and while you are in the liking mood check out Finding a cure for Vanishing White Matter Disease (VWM) <-- you can also donate here if you wish to do so.

Aubree's Angels is a page dedicated to a very sick little girl named Audrey who suffers from Neuroblastoma stage 4.  I have100% faith that this page is for real as Aubree is the niece of Cathy from Blissful Booty Cloth Diapers.  Cathy is organizing a raffle at this time so please like the page to so support and to keep updated on that.  If you are a WAHM or own a small business and would like to donate please contact Cathy or leave a message on Aubree's page.
The current status on this page reads
"We have just visited with sweet little Aubree and she is still smiling as usual. She will be starting a treatment with EPO and iron to make her stronger so she can receive aggressive chemotherapy. She has a tumor on her kidney that has spread to her first 2 vertebrae. She needs your prayers....she is a very sick little girl.
She went for another test and said she could choose a toy because she was a very brave girl...she said "I want 2 cars for my brothers". What a precious gift she is to all of us."

The status before that reads:
"Aubree Lynn Bonawitt was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma stage 4 today. She is in the Toledo Children's Hospital. Please help us pray for her. We will be going to visit her this weekend and find out details. We will provide information as we receive it."

Don't forget the 1 in 5 Americans struggling with hunger and please consider donating to Dr. Oz's Help Fight Hunger or your local food bank/shelter.  As little as $5 can give 1 child 50 meals, or 50 kids 1 meal.  Even $1 is something.

While your at it, don't forget the Ask 5 for 5 as well.  Donate $5 to help feed those starving in East Africa and then ask 5 friends to do the same.

If, like our family, money is always tight remember every little bit helps, even $1 can go a long way.  If 1 million people "only" donate $1 that's still a lot of money.  i remember reading an article that while many think it's the rich with their big fancy checks that keep charities afloat it's usually the little guys donating small amounts that make the biggest difference.  Those with the least tend to be the most generous and give smaller amounts more often.   Most likely because they have been/still are there and know what it's like to struggle.

One way to donate without spending a dime, do a Holiday Toy Purge.  This is one of our families Christmas Traditions.  I purge toys here and there throughout the year (4 kids + 4 birthdays = LOTS of toys!) but we do the big one right before Christmas.  I go through each toy individually down to each and ever last hot wheel 1 at a time.  I hold them up and ask "keep or giveaway?" and let my kids answer.  I have been meaning to take a picture of this years "haul" to share as a Holiday Giving Wordless Wednesday but I have forgotten 2 weeks in a row now.  This is the majority of the pile minus some books, a few puzzles and a few larger bulk/outdoor toys.  I am torn between pride and shame at sharing this photo.  Pride that my kids were so generous, they gave away toys they still enjoyed playing with.  Shame that my kids had so many dang toys they can give away this many and not even blink an eye about it.

I will TRY to get a picture of all the toys for this coming Wednesday.

Lastly, another one you can do that will not cost you a dime and could potentially save a life, sign up to be a bone marrow donor.

If you have any to add to the list please share in the comments below, Tis the Season!

this in the spirit mama,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Musings, After Thoughts, Mamatography 2012 and Jan 30 Day Challenge

I often have random thoughts pop into my head on a daily basis and have no one to share them with.  They are far too random to really earn their own blog post though so I decided I would lump them all together in one post a week.  You all have been nominated to read them.  Now, as with ALL weekly bloggy ideas I commit to I can promise you I will not remember to post every week but I will TRY.  Watch, now I will no longer have these random thoughts.

I will start off with a little light hearted Mommy Confession.

Mommy Confession for this week:
I am pretty sure I only showered once this whole week (M-F).  Errrr, maybe my time would be better spent in there instead of here.

CoSleeping Carnival After Thoughts:
These are my random after thoughts that occurred to me as I read the many amazing posts in this carnival (and yes I read them all).

I didn't realize all of the Milwaukee bedsharing SIDS/Deaths involved baby's who were formula fed.  There is definitely something there as all safe cosleeping/bedsharing sites encourage you to only room share or use a side cared crib/hands reach cosleeper for formula fed babies and only place breastfeeding babies in your actual bed.

It's NEVER too late to start cosleeping.  If it is something you always wanted to do but didn't allow yourself because society told you it was wrong it's never too late to start.  Even if baby is 1 or older you can try it.  Perhaps baby won't like it now, and that's ok, but you never know it may allow baby and in turn you to get a much better nights sleep.

Crib Manufacturers want to fund the national anti cosleeping campaign?
We are sure to see more anti-co-sleeping campaigns pop up all over the states as a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is launching   campaign against co-sleeping paid for by Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association (crib manufacturers, that’s right!).

 Hmmm, can we say conflict of interest!

Something I meant to include in my cosleeping blog but forgot- Once our kids have transitioned out of our bed (which happened at different ages for each of them) we never had even 1 incident of them asking to come back.  So to all the naysayers out there who insist once a kid is "allowed" in bed they are "stuck" there until they hit the preteen years (some suggest even longer) I say bullhockey.  Even when our kids are sick, having trouble sleeping, or awaken for nightmares they do not even ASK.  I suggested  once to Teddy after a particularly bad dream that he could come and sleep with Mommy and his response was a confused "why?"
I think as long as the transition is done gently and not forced upon the child then the likelihood of them returning to your bed is very slim.

January 30 Day Challenge:
I wasn't even going to do a 30 Day Challenge in January.  I must admit they are wearing on me and I am not really sure if anyone else is even participating anymore.  With the New Year approaching though I considered making a list of "goals" (I don't like to call them resolutions) and then I remembered I posted a list last year here on this blog and didn't stick to any of them. 
One of my goals was going to be to exercise more, that's a goal I have every year.  So I decided instead of setting a yearly goal I would more than likely fail at I would create a 30 Day Challenge for it instead. 
On my list of goals I was going to put "Exercise with my kids" so that's what January's Challenge will be.  The 30 Day Exercise With Your Kids Challenge.  I have a lot of fun kid (even baby/toddler) friendly exercise ideas here.
So is anyone with me?

Another Thing I tried to do last year was the 365 Project.  You know, where you share 1 picture each day for 365 days and you have your entire year captured to remember. 

I thought this was an amazing idea and wanted to do it but didn't want to bog down this blog with daily posts like that so I decided to create a new blog  Problem with that was I had no clue you could have multiple blogs under 1 acct so I had to create a new email and everything.

I did great through Jan and then it became a pain to remember to log into a separate blog acct everyday so I stopped.  So sad that now I do not even remember the log in info for that blog!

Last night I saw the idea for Mamatography 2012 (posted by Diary of a First Child) which is the 365 Project only you post once a week with your pictures from that week.  This seems more doable to me.  Again, we all know how "well" I do with weekly commitments on my blog BUT even if I only posted once a month I could still have the 365 pics at the end of the year.

Christmas is sneaking up on me and I promised some homemade gift idea blogs, I had to wait until after today (pay day) to buy some last minute items though.  Gonna go to the store tomorrow so I promise they are coming.  They will just be cutting it close to the wire, perfect for those procrastinators out there like me.
I have 1 I completed that would be great for a preteen/teen or even adult writer in your life called a Journal Jar.  Maybe I will get it posted today or tomorrow.

That's it for now, a little picture into my random mind.


Cosleeping can be Safe and Rewarding

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog CarnivalThis post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction . Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I am sure, unless you have been hiding under a rock or avoiding the Internet,  everyone has seen Michigan's Anti Cosleeping ads.  Therefore I am probably seen as late to the party on this one.  I wanted to save my post for Monkey Butt Junctions Safe Cosleeping blog carnival.  So, here it is, a little late but still relevant.

The first time I logged onto FB and saw this image I must admit the knife did not immediately jump out at me.  What did jump out at me was the baby sleeping in his/her tummy surrounded by overly fluffy bedding. In the few seconds it took my brain to question why the baby was on it's tummy the knife registered as well.  I was viewing FB on my phone and could not read the writing on the photo.  What exactly were they trying to say here?

I clicked the photo and waited for my ever slow poor 2 year old (ancient in terms of smart phone) phone to load the picture-something it has difficulty doing these days on FB.  I had to click and retry several times before I could get it to load.  I zoomed in and read the following:

"Your Baby Sleeping with you can be just as dangerous."

as angry as the above to ads made me I find this one the worst of them all!

Were they kidding with this!  I had to reread it a few times to make sure I was understanding the message and purpose behind this ad.  I was flooded with a mix of emotions from frustration to bewilderment and even a bit of dread.  I often catch flack from a few friends/family members for cosleeping and envisioned them sending me links to these ads with something along the lines of "see I told you it's dangerous" (I am happy to report that never happened)

A few posts down on FB someone else had posted an article on the same ad along with a few more images from the campaign.  The images frustrated me, the comments left made my blood boil.  I could not believe some of the rude and insulting comments that had been left insinuating that those who cosleep are "ignorant" and "get what's coming to them when something bad happens to their baby".  One person even suggested that people who cosleep should be turned in for child neglect/abuse and have their kids taken away.

Were these people serious.  I had faced opposition to cosleeping before but it was usually more of the "you'll be sorry when he's 8 and still stuck in your bed" and "your poor husband you are choosing the baby over him" variety. (FYI- cosleeping was my hubbies idea!).  I had never heard anything like the pure hate these (almost always anonymous) commenter's were spewing.

Milwaukee is struggling with some of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, higher than many 3rd world poverty stricken countries even.  Apparently these ads are their "solution" to the problem.  I am having a hard time understand how these ads are going to help in any way.  All they seem to be doing is fueling arguments on the Internet and angering/shaming those of us who practice SAFE cosleeping.

Milwaukee's problem is not cosleeping, the problem is lack of education.  Cosleeping, when done properly and safely, actually DECREASES the risk of SIDS.  Cosleeping allows baby to be close enough to mom that the heart beat and breathing patterns of both actually synchronize.  So if baby does experience an Apnea episode (now believed to be a major cause in SIDS cases) it is likely that moms breathing will help him/her get back on track.

Mothers who cosleep are also super aware of baby's presence and I have read many stories of moms awaking to baby's in silent distress, something they would have slept through if baby was in his/her own bed in another room.  This even happened to me with Sariah when she was only a few months old.  I awoke for some unknown reason.  I couldn't figure out why I was awake, none of my kids were crying and I didn't need to pee.  Out of instinct I reached out and placed my hand on top of Sariah's belly.  It wasn't moving.  I laid there for a second waiting to feel a breath and I felt nothing.  I just told myself "wait for it, wait for it, it's coming" still nothing.  In a panic I scooped her up and the movement startled her awake and into this hysterical  out of breath crying.  It sounded like she had been crying forever and was having difficulty catching her breath.  To this day I don't know if I was just groggy and imagined she wasn't breathing or if she was just breathing so shallowly in my half asleep state I didn't feel it.  I will never know 100% for sure but the what if's haunt me.  What if I had not awakened for no reason to no sounds.  What if she had been in a crib in another room..... I don't like to allow myself to go there I am just thankful I did wake up and that she cried when I picked her up.

So what are the differences between safe and unsafe cosleeping?  Dr. Sears has a great list on his website (I love Dr. Sears!). 
He also has a great response to Milwaukee's ad's here.  So glad he spoke out about it.

safe cosleeping: baby is away from pillows, blanket is not above baby's waist/chest,
mattress is firm and there is no excess/bulky bedding.

Safe Cosleeping Tips:

* Never sleep with baby if you have been drinking, taking prescription medication that may hinder your ability to be fully aware or if you use any type of drugs.  It is thought that baby should only be placed in the actual bed if breastfeeding, bottle fed babies are safer in a side cared crib or easy reach cosleeper attachment.  Those who smoke should also avoid cosleeping

* No big bulky comforters, over abundance of blankets or fluffy pillows.  You can have the pretty catalog bedding set if you want but you need to remove all of that stuff to safely cosleep with baby.  Blamkets, if being used, should never go above baby's waist/chest.  Never cover baby's head/face with anything.

* Ideally baby should be placed between mom and a guardrail/wall (as long as there are no gaps between the bed and the wall that baby could slip in and suffocate).  We cosleep with baby in the center but Ted is also very aware of our kids in bed with us.  Some fathers report they are not.  Talk with your partner, if he feels like he is not aware of baby there then you should never place baby in the center.  Never bring baby to bed in the middle of the night and place in the center, your partner needs to be aware baby is there.

* Never place baby next to older siblings to sleep. If you cosleep with older kids too an adult should always be between baby and the older child.  When Kimmy was first born Teddy still slept in our bed so he stayed in the middle and Kimmy slept on the other side of me next to the wall.  This worked until Kimmy became old enough to move.  By that time Teddy was almost 3 and we just moved him to a toddler bed right next to ours.  We kept out mattresses on the floor so his toddler bed was like an extension of our bed.  When Karma came we did the same thing with Kimmy and placed her in a toddler bed on the other side of our bed.

* Baby should still be placed on his/her back to sleep (until they are old enough to roll around on their own that is) and should never cosleep in a bed where the mattress is over soft/fluffy.  Baby needs a firm surface to sleep on so that his/her face is not likely to sink in causing airways to be blocked.  Never cosleep in a water bed.

* If you or your partner is a deep sleeper or has any medical conditions that may cause them to sleep deeply or move around a lot in the bed (such as sleep walking, night terrors, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome) you shouldn't cosleep with baby.

* If mama has long hair she needs to pull it back and secure it.  I have seen this listed more than once now and I guess long hair can pose a strangulation risk to baby.

* You should never cosleep with baby on a couch, in a chair, or anywhere other than a flat firm mattress (at least queen size).  <-- I say this as someone who has been guilty of doing it before I knew better.  This is why education is needed not insulting ad campaigns.

For more safe cosleeping info check out this great Tutorial from Hobo Mama complete with pictures.

People all over the world cosleep with their children.  This has been practiced since humans came into existence.  In fact  "Cultures who traditionally practice safe co-sleeping, such as Asians, enjoy the lowest incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)" -Dr. Sears
It is only a recent (within the last 100 years) Western phenomenon that society has shifted and decided that babies belonged in their own crib in their own rooms.  This goes against everything our bodies are programmed to do.  Babies are wired to seek out comfort, warmth and safety at night.  Alone in a crib they have none of these.

Other beneficial reasons to cosleep:

* Baby and mama both get better sleep.  Baby is right there and less likely to fully awake before mom is able to attend to his/her needs.  If baby is in another room down the hall by the time mom gets to him/her baby is already fully awake and takes longer to settle back down.

* Improves breastfeeding relationship and success.  It is so much easier to breastfeed a baby at night if baby is right there in bed with you.  I credit cosleeping to my successful breastfeeding relationship with Teddy.  First babies are often tough to breastfeed.   Add in his latch issues, the almost 3 weeks of finger feedings, and the fact that he was a very restless sleeping High Needs Baby and I know I would have given up if I had to get out of bed and fully wake up every single time he awoke.

* Baby experiences  “protective arousal”  something I talked about briefly above.  This ability allows baby to more easily awaken if in distress for any reason.

* More babies die in unsafe cribs than they do in bed with their parents.

even older kids enjoy cosleeping because, let's face it, no one
likes to sleep alone.  There is comfort in having someone
else there with you.  The 3 older ones almost always
end up in the same bed together  at night.

As for the "your poor hubby" and "what about sex?" comments we cosleepers are forced to constantly endure.  Although it is really no one's business I promise we have that covered!  As I already mentioned, cosleeping was Ted's idea.  After a few weeks of me getting absolutely no sleep and spending every night out in the living room on the couch with our son he asked "why don't you just bring him to bed?".  I answered that I had thought about it but honestly felt he would be against it.  I bought into the societal hype that fathers resent babies brought into their bed.  Ted actually loves cosleeping and because of the often hectic work schedules he has had over the past 5+ years since we started he has commented many times that it's often the only snuggle time he really gets with our kids.

Milwaukee's problem is not cosleeping it's lack of education about safe and proper ways to cosleep.  The ads are insulting and make it look like anyone who cosleeps is endangering the life of their child.
If you are as offended as I am by these ads I encourage you to sign and share the petition Conscience Parenting started, you can view and sign it here

Trust your instincts, do what's right for you family and know that cosleeping is a safe and loving option.

this proud cosleeping mama,

NOTE: I use the term "cosleep" because it's easy and everyone knows what I mean when I say it but technically we "bed share".  Cosleeping is defined by all or several members of the family sleeping in the same room.  You are a cosleeper even if baby is in his/her own crib if you place the crib in your room.  Bed sharing is when baby sleeps in the same bed as the parents.

******* Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival
Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign - Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
  • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family - Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
  • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. - See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families' needs.
  • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars - Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
  • Reflections on Cosleeping - Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
  • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed - Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
  • What Works for One Family - Momma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
  • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
  • Crying in Our Family Bed - With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
  • Dear Mama: - Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
  • Cuddle up, Buttercup! - Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase "Cuddle up, Buttercup!" has such special significance to her.
  • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler - Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
  • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping.
  • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture - Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
  • Our Cosleeping Story - Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
  • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
  • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
  • The Truth About Bedsharing - Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk - and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
  • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool - Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
  • Dear Delilah - Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
  • CoSleeping ROCKS! - Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
  • Safe Sleep is a Choice - Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
  • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed - Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
  • Tender Moments - The Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
  • Cosleeping Experiences - Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
  • The early days of bedsharing - Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
  • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures - Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
  • Symbiotic Sleep - Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
  • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? - Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
  • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper - Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
  • Why We Cosleep - That Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
  • Adding to the Family Bed - Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.
A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Mormon's views on being gay

This will be another toughy for me to write and I have a sneaking suspicion I will loose some followers over it and I am ok with that.  I promised myself when I started blogging I would be nothing less than my true authentic self.  I never wanted to build up a facade of something I am not.  With that honesty in mind I have felt compelled to write this blog for weeks now.

The blogosphere has been buzzing with beautiful posts such as SDL I am a Christian, unless you're gay, To the old man at the store by The Path Less Taken, a few recent episodes of Glee and of course the powerful YouTube video by Jonah.Mowry
Just today I read Teaching Acceptance on BlogHer and it gave me the final drops of courage to write this.  I am not as fantastic as the writers who inspired me but I will do my best.

I am a Mormon and I embrace those who are gay!

Yes, I said it, I accept them for who they are, do not look down on them and shun the idea that they are sinners because of it.

Ok, are you still there?  I feel many rolling their eyes and closing the screen right now.

I have always been accepting of gay people, I have not always been a Mormon.  Those things clashed for awhile and I sort of had this internal war within myself.  To say that The Mormon Church and those who are gay often clash would be an understatement (hello prop 8!)  While I believed with all my heart and soul that the church was true I had (and still have) difficulty with their stance on gay people. 

Honestly it was something I had struggled with since I began my journey towards knowing my savior Jesus Christ.  It was not exclusive to the Mormon church but a theme that kept appearing in every church I attended  I could never understand why churches would preach acceptance and tolerance and then add a "But" at the end to exclude people. 

Is this what Christ taught?  Are we all reading the same book here?  When I read about Christ I read about a man who accepted and loved everyone, there was no contingency at the end of that.  In fact, if Jesus were to come back to Earth today the people He likely would hang out with are those who are gay, and anyone else persecuted or looked down upon.  That's what He did the first time He was here.  Jesus was very unpopular in His day for hanging out with the "unlovable" the "sinners" everyone else shunned.

NO!  Jesus would not be down with all the hating we have in our world., I believe this in my heart to be true.

Now, once I was baptized I just tried to avoid all talk on this subject until one day I discussed it with a friend in the church (who I will keep anonymous to protect her brother) who informed me about her brothers feelings that he may be gay.  I do not even remember how we got onto the subject but the longer we talked the more I realized I was not alone in my feelings.  Here was another person, also a Mormon, telling me she did not agree with many in the church and felt it was not our place to judge others.

She and I both agreed on a few things:
1- That Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are perfect, mankind is not.  Meaning men can (and DO) make mistakes, especially when tasked with the job of interpreting the Word of God.  I believe that the Bible was given to us by God, I also believe that men throughout history may have made mistakes translating it, some may have even purposely distorted it for their own gain.

Many in the Mormon church use this as an explanation for the plural marriage scandal of the churches early years.  I have been told by more than 1 member that they personally-this is in NO WAY the churches official view-feel it was a misinterpretation of a message from the Lord and was meant more as a way to take care of so many women being left widowed with no way to care for themselves.  Mormons were mercilessly persecuted in the first 30 + years after the church was formed.  Because of this many men (and women and children) were killed, leaving behind wives with small children unable to make a living since back then very few women worked any sort of job that earned an actual wage.

I have seen it proposed in many places that the one Bible verse so many love to quote to show that being gay is a sin was actually mistranslated and instead of reading " A man shall not lay with a man" it should in fact read "A man shall not lay with a boy/child" because in Hebrew the word used for "man" and "boy" are very similar.

Now, I am not a scholarly person when it comes to The Scriptures, I do not know a lot of Theology and do not wish to argue with anyone on this subject.  Heavenly Father gave us all free will and with that comes the right to believe and do whatever you like.  All I am trying to say is perhaps PERHAPS those tasked with the difficult job of translation got it wrong.

2- Once again, as I previously stated, Christ loved EVERYONE without exception and He ordered all those who claim to follow Him to do the same.

3-Heavenly Father created each and every one of us and He does not make mistakes (see above).  Now this requires the belief that being gay is something you are born as and not a choice but seriously if it was a "choice' who would actually choose a life filled with so much pain because so many feel it's ok to look down upon/bully them.  No, I don't believe for a second it is a choice.  Therefore I must conclude that Heavenly Father knew what He was doing.

Now, through this admission I am sure I will (sadly) loose some real life friends as well, although I sincerely hope it does not come to that.  I just cannot remain silent about it anymore.  While I have yet to encounter anyone in my ward (local church for those not Mormon) who openly say hateful things about gay people I know it is implied. 

I speak out for all of those who also consider themselves Mormons that do not feel that gay people are second class citizens living in sin who should be looked down upon or pitied.

I am not God, I do not speak with God therefore I do not presume to say how God feels on this or any matter.  I do feel like I have a personal relationship with Jesus and through him with God.  This relationship has been fostered through reading the Scriptures and personal prayer.  The God I know and love does not appear, to me, to share the feelings of so many who claim to follow him do.  The God I know and love sent His only son to die for us ALL.  The God I know and love commanded us to love one another as we love Him.  I don't know about you but I would never say hurtful or insulting things to God, therefore I refuse to say these things to any of His children.  It's hard to wrap my mind around at times for sure because yes once again that includes EVERYONE, even those who find joy in harming others.  This is one hurdle I am not sure I will ever get over, but I try.

I prayed long and hard and contemplated on this blog for weeks.  In the end I felt it was important to let it be known that not all Mormon's feel being gay is somehow "wrong".

So, assuming I am still allowed to stay in the church after this admission I will say it again:

I am a Mormon and I embrace those who are gay!

And I know I am not alone in this.  I know there are others in not only the Mormon church but all other Christian/Religious faiths who feel the same way.  We need to stand up and let everyone know that religion does not equal discrimination or oppression.

Also, I doubt they would seriously kick me out of the church for admitting this, but you know what, I have honestly not been a member of the church that long........

Now, I just hope my bloggy skin is thick enough to endure the hateful comments I am sure will pour in from this.  I reserve the right to delete any comment that is just too hateful and I will exercise it.

this proud Mormon mama who accepts everyone,

P.S. I must admit I have always been too much of a coward to look into the churches official stance on gay people other than what I already knew about the issue of marriage.  I just didn't want to know the official view I guess because that would make it worse for me if it was negative.  Upon reading this blog a fiend posted the following links for me:
Gay Mormon named to key local LDS leadership post in San Francisco
Mormon church issues statement in support of gay-rights ordinances
Still not 100% sure how I feel about this but it's a start right.  At least I know I am not alone in how I feel when it comes to loving and accepting those who are gay.
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