Monday, November 11, 2013

Little Liars! (When your child lies)

I hate when my kids bold face lie!

"Wasn't me!"

"I didn't do it!"

"I don't know..."

No matter how perfect and wonderful your kids are, they're eventually going to lie. It may be a little white lie, it might be a lie with a huge impact on everyone in the family...maybe it's your two year old, maybe it's your teen...

But, when it becomes a habitual thing, what's a parent to do?

First of all, it's important to know that when your kid lies, you have somehow made it possible for them to lie. Not to blame you (sorry!), but you need to stop giving your child the option to lie.

Scenario #1

For example, let's say your eight year old accidentally helped himself to a piece of pie that you told your kids NOT to touch.

"Who took the piece of pie?" will put your child in a spot where he can lie.  Even asking him why he took it could lead to a lie. How easily "not me" or "I didn't do it!" slips out to avoid consequences!

Instead, you can simply say, "I told everyone not to touch the pie until I was ready to dish it out. Because you did, you have already eaten your piece. Don't expect any when the rest of us have dessert."

Scenario #2

Your cute little toddler is running around the house, playing and having fun, and out comes a "bad word" from her mouth. What do we say right away, without even thinking?

"Did you just say _____?"

And, you've set your little one up to feed you the lie, "No!"

Instead, skip right past the question. Why ask the obvious?

"We do not say bad words!" Then, dole out the warning or time out.

Scenario #3

Here's where things get difficult.

In our house, it's not always easy to pinpoint who did what with eight children. When something comes up missing or broken, the entire house seems to chime tones of "it wasn't me" and "I didn't do it".

I have to play detective by questioning suspects and collecting evidence, process of elimination. Lol

Often, when it's all said and done, I still have no answers and a definite liar or two in the bunch.

So, here's what I did the other day when the Egg Nog that I had purchased just the night before and specifically told all of the children not to touch ended up half empty the next morning. I lined all of my children up side by side, told them to turn around and face the wall, no talking, and they would stay there until someone confessed to stealing the Egg Nog.

And I let them stand there, whispering under their breath to each other. I overheard the word "unfair", and although I told them not to talk, I figured a little sibling pressure on the culprit couldn't hurt. About 20 minutes later, a confession came out. (Although later, it was recanted. The kiddo claimed they just felt bad that the four year old and six year old had to stand there like that and God would punish the real person who did who knows?)

But, you get the point here. Before you ask the questions, just think about how you could rephrase what you are going to say to avoid your child lieing.

If you already know they did it, skip right to the reminder of why we don't do it and dole out the punishment.

Scenario #4

The habitual liar. (Sigh....)

Here's where frustration can really max out. This is the child that will lie to you, even when they know you know that they did it...or didn't do it (like their homework).
This child will lie to you when you just saw them, with your own eyes, perform the offending act, and then try to jump on the defensive with you.

Don't buy into it!

Do not ask them why they did it, there are no explanations. Do not ask the child anything. Tell them.

"You know that behavior is wrong."

When that child starts to open their mouth to spout out their excuses or bold faced lies, repeat yourself.

"You know that behavior is wrong. And it won't be tolerated. There are consequences for that type of behavior." Go on to state the consequence that needs to be paid by the child for their infraction. Repeat any of the above as necessary until your child hears you.

(Whatever you do, don't say that a consequence will happen the next time this happens. Because there shouldn't be a "next time" around if that behavior is not accepted. Right?)

Put your foot down, don't accept lieing, but most importantly, don't lie yourself. Or, at least don't do it in front of your kids. ;)

Friday, April 26, 2013

3 Bizarre Hotels the Kids Would Love!

Although we haven't made plans for a trip somewhere amazing for a while, there is another way to let the wonders of the world take you and the kids away for a moment.

No, maybe you do not have the ability to pack your bags and run to a land far away, but you can sit at the computer with the kids and show them some of the most bizarre looking hotels around the world. Take an online trip with your family!

Or maybe, just maybe, you're really looking for a cool place to take your children during their vacation. Maybe this was your year to take that fabulous, unique family vacation. If that's the case, I envy you!

Anyhoo...Here are 3 of the most bizarre hotels that we could find around the world to show your children when you're all antsy to take a vacation:

1. Utter Inn - Stockholm, Sweden - We you ever imagine that this was actually a hotel?

Well, this isn't the actual hotel, because the majority of the actual Utter Inn is underwater. Yes, below this cute little red shack that reminds me of ice fishing, the guests will enjoy the following comfort:

Created by Mikael Genberg, artist and sculptor, the Utter Inn puts people who love to be on the lake for activities, like water sports, right in the middle of the lake. There's more of a comforting, homey feeling to the Inn, so don't expect the Ritz. If you choose to stay at this hotel, you will be transferred to it in a boat and your first impression will be the kitchenette and a small dining area in the red shack that is above the water. Surrounding the red shack is a small deck that guests can enjoy the views of the lake from. Underwater is where the guests will sleep, in a human sized aquarium.

Don't be alarmed when the boat driver stops the boat, drops you and your family off, and drives away only to leave you and the family members you are staying with alone. There won't be any bellhops, no receptionists, and no room service, however you can elect to order a dinner that is delivered by boat. Unfortunately, the Utter Inn does not have enough room for our humongous family - we'd have to leave most of the kids home and that's no fun! - because there are only two twins beds for sleeping arrangements.

While the Utter Inn offers a unique experience, it doesn't look all that comfortable, but you won't have to worry about noise from other guests at this hotel, because you will be the only ones.

2. The Capsule Inn - Japan

Now, if I'm going to take my family to one of the most unique and crazy hotels in the world, it would not be The Capsule Inn in Japan. I'm just sayin'...

And here's why:

For the record, this is where you sleep, in these little holes in the walls. It almost makes me think of coffins and I highly doubt I would get a good night's rest in them. Plus, there would be strangers sleeping - and snoring! - right next to you or down the hallway...not my idea of comfort!


3. Free Spirit Spheres - Vancouver Island, Canada

Of course, not everyone can make it to Sweden or Japan, so we looked around Canada and we found the Free Spirits Spheres on Vancouver Island. You will walk on the 5 acre property to a staircase that is wrapped around a tree, and then climb the stairs to your "hotel room" that looks like this:

On the inside of this strange looking cabin (or pod, as they call it) in the woods, you will find a cozy place to stay, suspended between 10 and 15 feet in the air. One is cedar, one is spruce and one is made of fiberglass.

 Inside will be a double bed, a microwave, and a refrigerator. And, even though you will be out in the woods, far away from civilization, each of the three pods also has an iPod docking station in it. Don't be surprised if the pod sways on a windy day.

Cool, huh? I hope you spend a moment sharing these cool places with your kids! And, if you actually get to visit one (or ever been in the past), I would love to hear about your experience! Happy travels!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Letting Your Child Fail... To Succeed

I always say that our job as parents is to make sure that are children are successful in life. Of course, it's up to us, as parents, to figure out exactly how to raise a child to be successful.

There's something that you might not know about parenting and successful children. And that includes letting your child fail, because failure teacher your children how to handle difficult situations on their own and also how to learn from them...

And if you think about it, the more we fail,  the more we learn techniques to help us become more successful. Right?

If you want to raise your child so that he or she has character,  strength,  and is eventually successful in their life,  LET THEM FAIL! (And then be there to help pick them back up.)

Now, this may sound like brutal parenting,  but take a look at how your children have learned over the years. Let's talk about little Sally. Little Sally started out as a newborn who didn't know how to talk or walk or do anything.  You had to do everything for her, right? Now,  because little Sally fell down a million times and  mispronounced word a million times,  she was actually failing and learning.

I know it's actually kind of a negative way of looking at things. But, it is honestly the way that things work with us humans.

Let's fast forward, a few years from now when little Sally is interested in sports or maybe a part in a school play.  What do you do if she doesn't get the part that she tried out for or make the sports team? What do you do if she makes a sports team but cannot hit,  pass,  or catch the ball to save her life?

This is where you need to let her failures teach her how to succeed.  Encourage her to try it again next time around but most importantly, we need to teach our children how to overcome their anxieties about failing. And we need to teach them that failing is okay as long as we learn from it.

But, how do we do this?

Let's look at this concept from a different perspective.

Why We Don't Want Our Kids to Fail

First of all, it's understood that it hurts us as parents when our children fail. Not necessarily because we need them to succeed or it makes us feel like failures as parents, but more so because it hurts them when they fail. And, what hurts our children hurts us.

We want them to succeed at everything, because then they will feel good about themselves.

But, setting your child up to succeed all the time by only permitting them to do what they will obviously succeed up can also be setting them up to fail. What do I mean by this? You're going to help your child select classes in school that you feel like they will get an A in, rather than choosing challenging courses that there's a chance they will fail.

Two psychologists, Dan Kindlon and Madeline Levine have studied these concepts. They wrote that people who were overprotected by their parents are more likely to experience difficulties during their teenage years and young adulthood when they were confronted with real life problems. These people are not accustomed to finding solutions to problems, because their parents always solved problems for them or kept them from facing failure, therefore they struggle with handling problems on their own.

Does this mean that we have to set up our children to fail so they can become successful?

Essentially, yes. Whenever anyone attempts to do something that they have never done, something that they are not familiar with, there is always a chance of failure. Right?

Here's what we need to remember: we will be right there beside them when they fail to teach them how to overcome the feelings that are associated with failing and we can teach them how to deal with the feelings and use the experience to learn from.

It's called...character building. And, believe it or not, failing is one of the best ways to build character, if used correctly.

As a matter of fact, a local psychologist here in Buffalo, NY, Mark Seery, led a team of psychologists here at the University of Buffalo in some research regarding these concepts. This group of researchers found that when adults have grown up without - or with very little - adversity in their lives, they ended up less confident and satisfied in their lives, as opposed to people who had been through some 'rough times' in childhood. It sounds a bit backwards from what we would expect, but these researchers suggested that overcoming obstacles “could teach effective coping skills, help engage social support networks, create a sense of mastery over past adversity, [and] foster beliefs in the ability to cope successfully in the future.”

So, although we want to protect our children from the hurts and ouchies in life, we also have to let them experience some of them. Now, I'm not saying that you should stand back and let your child suffer with bad decisions and mistakes, while pointing the finger and saying, "I told you so!"

On the contrary, although you "let" your child fail, you also are going to be there for them when they find their back against the wall or their face flat on the floor. Talk to your child, ask them what they could have done better. How would they handle the situation in the future? 

Turn every failure into a learning lesson.

Don't fear letting your child fail, because it is good for them. Let them try new things, let them experience the let downs in life. Just be there for them when they fall, help them dust their jeans off, and remind them that every failure helps them learn something new about themselves, the world that they live in, and life in general. 
Failing is okay, as long as you learn something from it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Let's Call It As It Is: It Isn't About Anti or Pro Choice! (The Kermit Gosnell Trial)

Have you heard of this monster? His name is Kermit Gosnell. And, he's on trial right now for some of the most heinous murders I've personally ever heard of.

Monster Kermit Gosnell

Chances are, you've either just heard of him recently or you have never heard of him at all. There are reasons for this, and I'm going to tell it like it is.

I've spent a large amount of my past few days thoroughly reading the 281 page grand jury report for this trial. (Thankfully, with my new Samsung Galaxy 3, I can read the pdf while I'm doing other things).

I have experienced a plethora of emotions while reading the unbelievable details behind this story. Disbelief, anger, outrage, name it, I felt it. Confusion...

Let's pretend that you haven't heard about this trial and this murderer who is facing the death penalty right now. And, I'm going to pretend that you haven't heard about him, because it was only just recently that news stories have been popping up, only AFTER decades of heinous practices that were swept under the rug by Department of State and the Health Department of Pennsylvania. Yes, swept under the rug.

Because there were numerous complaints over the years of terribly unsanitary conditions in his abortion clinic, which had an upstanding sounding name - the Women's Medical Society. However, this place was a House of Horrors type abortion clinic with unsanitary conditions that included fetal remains in jars and bags and freezers, obviously improperly stored and disposed of. Medical instruments were dirty and rusty, and were grotesquely used on patient after patient, spreading venereal diseases from one girl to the next.

But, the lack of cleanliness was just the bottom of the bucket.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell was a careless money monger. It was all about the money for him. He had his staff, which consistent of absolutely NO doctors or medical assistants - well, let's just say none that went to school and received their degrees. Apparently, he had two "doctors" who wore nametags that said doctor, and acted as doctors, but didn't have the credentials. He knew this and the staff knew this, yet they all treated these "docs" as real doctors; they wrote up diagnoses, administered drugs, you name it.

And, that's not the worst. Dr. (and I use the term loosely here) Gosnell performed illegal, late term abortions.   We're talking 30 week gestational pregnancies and beyond!

But, even that's not the worst of it!

I mentioned that he was "all about the money". This is what I mean...

Basically, he would have his staff at the Women's Medical Society give the women who came in for abortions labor inducing drugs in the morning. He didn't want a bunch of loud, screaming women, so he also instructed the staff to give the women drugs to sedate them, quite often sedating them into stupors. He often didn't even come into the clinic until the evenings, when most of the abortions had already been completed.

And, you're going to have to read other news stories, or maybe the grand jury report, to find out how they "took care of" the babies that were delivered alive. (For me, it's just too gruesome to even publish on Mommy Rantings. I'm not into the whole "If it bleeds, it leads" thing.) And, the majority were born alive. So, they had to be killed. That's murder.

But, the murders that he is on the chopping block for were more than just the babies. Mothers died in his hands, too. He left fetal remains in mothers, passed STD's between them, and killed at least a couple of the women who simply went in to have an abortion performed.

Like I said in the title, this isn't about anti abortion or pro-choice. It's simply not. When it all boils down, the numerous complaints about this doctor and the Women's Medical Society were swept under the rug for another reason. I'm about to get to that in a moment.

Before I explain why I think that this man has been "getting away with murder" since 1979, I am also going to talk about the other side of his business, the actual thing that brought him to his demise. It was the prescription drug business that he was running. Apparently, people could walk in off the street and purchase a script at the Women's Medical Society without any medical reason. Kermit Gosnell left blank scripts that were already signed for anyone who walked in and paid for them. This was his cash cow, bringing in hundreds of thousands per year for him.

THIS is why authorities finally decided to close the shady business he was running down. NOT because of the complaints that arrived at the Department of State or the Health Department about women who died at the hands of this man, the unsanitary conditions, the perforated colons and uteri that had to be seen at other doctors in local area hospitals after botched procedures.

So, why was this man allowed to get away with murder for decades? 

Sadly, he ran his clinic in Philly and the majority of his clientele were black or hispanic and they were poor. Don't hate me for saying it. If his clinic was run in the beautiful, rich suburbs and most of his clientele were wealthy Caucasian women, do you think he would have gotten away with such filth since 1979? The answer is no.

Now, don't get me wrong. He did cater to some suburban white women, only on Sundays, and he and his wife were the only ones that did those procedures. And, I'm sure he took really good care of these women, or at least paid very special attention to these abortions. These were the ones that he took seriously.

It was all about the money. No client was too young...and no baby was too far along in the pregnancy.

I can just see the anti abortion and the pro choice groups using this trial as an example why their opinions are right. But, I can mostly see anti abortionists shouting out about this, talking about how all abortion clinics should be shut down because these crimes never would have happened if abortion was illegal. And I say, "No way!" I believe these crimes still would have occurred and they also would have been overlooked even if it was illegal, because the man was getting away with all kinds of illegal stuff anyways, behind the front of the Women's Medical Society.

Not the Women's Abortion Clinic. And, when the facts all boiled down, regardless of the illegal nature of his business, Kermit Gosnell got away with murder until his illegal prescription business, not the deaths of women or babies, was discovered.

Wake up call, America! It's not about pro choice or anti abortion! It's about money. It's about sweeping heinous crimes under the carpet for decades because...why? It's about state agencies turning their backs on the women they should have been protecting from this monster! It's about the babies that were born alive and killed heartlessly without a second thought about their life!

Let's call it like it is.

Friday, April 12, 2013

EdenFantasys Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Oil - Review

If there's anything in the world that I love almost as much as my children, it's a massage from my husband. (If you're not getting them, you're not buying the right products!)

I bet the chances are that you'll get one with my favorite massage oils from EdenFantasys. I've had the opportunity to try out some of the best massage oils in the past few years while working with EdenFantasys, and I've used every single one of them as an excuse to get a massage. (Of course, if having the product in hand and asking nicely doesn't work, I recommend giving the massage first...give and you might receive.)

This time, I got to check out Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Oil, the Fresh Lily & Musk one.

For me, it's the scent, the consistency, how it glides, and how it feels on my skin. Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Oil passed most of my tests with flying colors. The consistency and glide factor are perfect, much like most of my other favorite massage oils in the EdenFantasys shop. On the skin, it stays slick enough for a long lasting massage, but doesn't leave your skin greasy. It actually moisturizes very well.

The scent, a light flowers in the meadow kind of smell that comes from the fresh lily mixed with a light musk, didn't impress me much. I love, love, LOVE this massage oil that smells like bananas and another one that has a cinnamon spice smell - that's what I like to smell when I'm getting those melt-your-body-down-to-a-gel-form massages that my husband so amazingly delivers. :) But, this lily and musk didn't really hit the spot for me.

I will say that, in all fairness to a product that is perfect in every other way, I ran the smell past my husband and he seemed to like it, because it was light and flowery, almost a powdery light scent, in his opinion. He's the one that said it smelled like lightly scented flowers in the meadow, maybe with a little fresh air.

With a price tag of $38.99 for a 4 oz. bottle, you would think that it was made with gold! Right? Funny thing is, the packaging boasts "exquisite oils with 24-Karat gold flakes to lend an eye-catching shimmer". We first used Lelo at night, so it was difficult to see the shimmer, even with the help of lighting from my hubby's iPhone.

But, in the morning, I tried it out again. And, sure enough, there were teeny tiny gold flakes in the oil. This was actually one of the characteristics that changed my mind about the Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Oil, the 24-karat gold flakes. That makes a product worth its weight in gold! There isn't an obvious shimmer on the skin once it's rubbed in unless you use a whole lot of the product, but between the gold flakes and the way that this oil it made to absorb into the skin without leaving a greasy doesn't leave you desiring much more.

My most favorite thing about the massage oils that I have reviewed from EdenFantasys is the fact that most are made with only natural ingredients (at least the ones that are on my "favorites" list are). That's what I want on my skin! So, yes, the bottles are a bit on the expensive side, but it's not like you're paying for a bunch of liquid from who knows where. For example, the Lelo Flickering Touch oil is made of apricot kernel oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, perfume, and gold powder (mica, iron oxide, gold).

On a five star scale, I would give the Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Oil in Fresh Lily and Musk scent a 4 1/2 stars, and the loss of half a star is only because I'm still trying to get used to the scent. I would categorize it in the high-end category for massage oils. 

Have you tried any good massage oils lately? Which ones are your favorites?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bonding Over Beauty - Book Review

Things have changed since we were teenagers. That's no surprise, because every generation of moms and daughters experiences the same thing - change. Somehow, as moms of tween and teen girls, we have to figure out how to finagle past these changes and create lasting bonds so that our girls trust us and come to us, rather than their friends, for girl-talk and advice.

That's where Bonding Over Beauty by Erika Katz comes in. And, she doesn't just give moms a list of different activities that they can do with their daughters to bond with them, she has every sensitive topic and evrey beauty question covered in her book. From hair washing and trimming to shaving, dilapidating, waxing and tweezing to talking about menstrual cycles and that scary 3-letter S-word. These are just a few of the topics that Erika Katz has covered in her over 200 page book.

Additionally, you will find intricate details that help the not-so-beauty-inclined moms better understand how to do pedicures, make-up, hair, and skincare and help their daughters learn how to handle beauty issues in the most appropriate ways.

Then, of course, as promised, Erika Katz has included hundreds of beauty and other activities that we can use to create a lasting bond with our daughters. One example is to treat your daughter to an at-home spa experience.

What I also liked about Bonding Over Beauty were the pages with charts or definition boxes. They break up the reading and are great additions to the book. For example, one page has "Need To Know" definitions of the following words: Aromatherapy, Aromatic essence, Absolute essence, Aromatic oil, Diffuser, Spritz bottles, Wicker baskets. Another page has a chart with the headings "Not Great" and "Ideal". In the "Not Great" column, there are examples of food and drinks that are...well, not great for you and your daughter's skin, such as soda, juice drinks, chocolate milk, sports drinks. Then, in the "Ideal" column, seltzer, water, fresh juices, whole milk, rice milk, and almond milk are listed as the ideal alternatives for healthy skin.

You can tell that a lot of thought was put into this book over a long period of time. The thing that I like the most about Bonding Over Beauty is that although it is written in a voice that is addressing you, the mom, it's not written in a way that makes you feel like you can't sit down and share it with your daughter.

Although things have changed since we were tweens and teens, there are things that never change, like our daughters' needs for mom-daughter bonding time and age-old beauty routines that will never be outdated, as long as moms and daughters exist. Bonding Over Beauty reminds us of the many different ways we can build and accentuate that bond that lasts a lifetime between mom and daughter.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Potty Mouth Mommies

Our kids learn a lot from us, and that includes mimicking our choice of "naughty bad words". You might be a stand-up parent, attend every school function, and you might even be President of the PTA, but we're betting that you've used one of the words on our naughty non-no bad word list here at least once in front of your children!

We're not even talking about curse words, swear words, or whatever you might call the worst of the worst bad words that you can use. We're talking about regular potty words that you may even find in the dictionary that carry negative connotations that we don't want our children running around saying.

Of course, you already know that if mom has a potty mouth, kids are going to be more inclined to let them slip out of their mouths, too. Along with our list of (non swear-word) naughty no-no words, we will give you some pointers to help you steer your children away from saying these words, both in the immediate moment and in the future.

Naughty bad words (and phrases) that should cost you and your kids 25 cents:

1) God/Jesus/Jesus Christ - These words, unless the children are talking about what they heard in church, learned in religion class, or heard when they were watching Joel Olsteen on the television, should be off limits, not used in vain. We all know better! Even if you're an athiest or part-time Christian, hearing one of these sacred words coming out of a child's mouth should be like scratching nails down a chalkboard. "Gosh", "golly", "goodness" are all perfect substitutes that you can use and encourage your children to use.

2) Hate - "Hate" is a strong word. It takes some deep seeded anger and emotion to hate someone or something. Honestly, it's best that we don't let ourselves get to the point that we "hate" someone or something. It's better to "strongly dislike" someone or something. Or "really not like" it. There's enough hate in this world without our kids learning to hate, too.

3) Freakin' or Fricken' - We parents know that these words are actually replacements for the well-known f-bomb. But, it's become cute to use them, and our teenagers and tweens have caught onto these bad word replacements, too. It's not too cute, though, when a little two year old says, "Freakin'" or "Fricken'", though, especially in context. Well, maybe it's kinda cute the first time, know what we mean!

4) Shut Up - Where do they hear these things? Anyways, there are a lot of ways to get your point across with words and "Shut up" is one of the meanest ways of saying what you are trying to say. Sure, you might mean "Shut up!", but wouldn't it be nicer and more adult-like if you raised your voice and said, "Quiet the noise level!" or "I mean it! Quiet down!" or "This is my last warning! Lower the volume!" Certainly, our vocabulary is expanded past two word instructions and demands.

5) Stupid or Dumb - These are words with a purpose...and the purpose is to be hurtful or negative. There's enough negativity in this world, and kids running around saying, "You're stupid" or "Your brother is dumb" doesn't make this negativity any better. Here, it is helpful to talk about feelings and let your child talk about their feelings, because these words are usually used when a child is upset. Instead of "This game is stupid (or dumb)!", it's usually "This game is really upsetting me, because I have to keep starting over!"

6) Fart - In my house, the little kids think that the f-word is "fart" (the older kids know the true f-word, but I have never heard them say it.) Fart isn't a nice word. It's just not. For us moms, just saying the word "fart" is simply not ladylike now, is it? And, it's not nice for our kids to say it, either. Nobody really wants to hear a kid say, "I farted". Nor do they want to hear: "Mom! You just farted!". Point made.

7) What the...??? (Pronounced "What thuh?") - Hearing this incomplete question really bothers me, because what it really means is "What the hell?!?", the bad word phrase substitution of "What in the world?". I mean, what's wrong with that? Why did we have to change it to another place? What in the world was fine as is.

8) What. - This "bad word" pretty much feel into this category because it is so disrespectful. No matter which way this word is used, "What." "What?" "What!" "Whuht?", it never never carries an air of respect. Here's an example. (I won't mention names). One of my dear children will respond with, "What????" when you confront him about something. This, in other words, means, "What the hell do you mean?" or "Why the hell are you accusing me?" Then, there are the times when someone wasn't paying attention to your conversation, they say, "What?" instead of, "Oh, I missed that. Could you repeat it?". Or, someone says something surprising, and the other person respnds, "What!", rather than "Really?". Or, how about you call your child's name and they respond, "What?"! None of it, I repeat, none of it sounds respectful. Whatever happened to, "Yes, Ma'am" or even "Yes, Mom"?

9) Crap - What exactly does a child need to yse the word "crap" for? As in "I took a crap" or "This music is crap."? Either way, the connotation of this word goes right back to the S-word, and that's not okay. Crap is an unecessary word. It's just not nice no matter how it's used. Whatever happened to poop, doo-doo, or even the proper bowel movement? There's no reason to use "crap" as a word.

10) Fat/Ugly (and other negative adjective words) - You know where they picked it up, don't pretend you don't know. Somewhere along the line, you called someone "fat" or "ugly" or even the meaner combination of the two words, "fugly". Anyways, I probably don't even have to go into any explanations or reasoning on this one. Fat and ugly are mean-hearted words. They don't have anything nice that comes along with them. They should be banned, along with all of the other mean and nasty adjectives that hurt people's feelings.

What words are on the naughty list in your house?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Bunny versus The Cross

I think that it is so uncalled for that we have all bought into this whole "blowing up a holiday into extraordinary and difficult-to-fulfill measures" thing.

You know what I mean.

Halloween: purchase an expensive and cheaply-made costume for every one of your kids (my eight children have learned to make their own and help the little ones make theirs, too. I'm not buying into it). Purchase eight million tons of candy to hand out to all the little munchkins dressed up in their expensive and cheaply made (or possibly home-made costumes, it is becoming the trend, after all) costumes when they ring your doorbell and holler, "Trick or Treat!", only the nicest way to say, "Can I please have some candy?". After running around from house to house in the closest, most well-to-do lots-of-candy-giving-out neighborhoods in your area (of course, you drive your kids there) with all the other little hooligans in the town to solicit candy, you haul your children home with their loot. (I must admit, I do like all the scary music, decor and real-life scary set-ups and watching the children have fun.) You get home and dig through the candy - and deal with off-the-wall candy-high children for weeks straight.

Thanksgiving: Eat til you're stuffed. Then eat dessert. Then watch the game and take a nap. Then, eat some more.

Christmas: How many presents did you get? Did Santa bring what you asked for? Decorating the Christmas tree, sending out Christmas cards, letters to Santa, Christmas wish lists, crowded, crazy holiday shopping. Presents piled as high under the tree as our wallets could stand on Christmas morning. Of course, don't forget the Christmas baking, all the cookies, candies and cakes. Oh, and the decorating of the food, the house, the tree. Holiday light display contests - who can have the biggest and baddest light display with coordinated Christmas music? And, now, we're supposed to remember to come up with some mischievious thing that this little bad elf does for the children to discover every day. Then, kids now want expensive iPads and iPods and smartphones and Sony PS3's for Christmas! What ever happened to a few great toys under the tree?

Valentine's Day: Valentine's Day has turned into the "love" version of Halloween. Have you seen the loot that kids bring home from school on Valentine's Day?! When I was a kid, we exchanged little individualized Valentine's Day cards. Men would buy pretty flowers or a box of chocolates for their loves. But now, it's about the decorated desserts, wads and wads of candy, huge boxes of chocolates, not one, but two dozen roses. People decorate just as much as Christmas with hearts and cupids and red, red, red.

St. Patrick's Day It used to be that we just threw on a green shirt and said, "Happy St. Patrick's Day" to everyone we walked by. We also might sporadically fake an Irish accent to say, "The luck of the Irish!" while drinking a dark brew and enjoying the corned beef and cabbage and soda bread. We might even make it down to the local St. Patrick's Day parade, or if we live in Chicago, we may have been to the watch the Chicago River turn green, an annual tradition for St. Patrick's Day. Let's up the ante! Kids are now looking for the "lucky coin hunt". This is similar to the Easter Egg hunt, only the leprechaun hides lucky coins (I didn't even know the leprechaun made house visits!). They want lime sherbert floats, specially decorated St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, four leaf clover face paintings, and are we now exchanging St. Patty's Day cards, like Valentine's Day?

And, now...

Easter: The Easter Bunny! Easter Egg Hunts! More candy than any of the other holidays combined, stuffed into Easter Baskets. Chocolate bunnies, Cadbury Eggs, Easter cupcakes, Easter brunch, Easter parades, pretty Easter dresses! Dying eggs has become a competition of the utmost artistic skills, then don't forget to pin the pics on Pinterest, share them on Facebook and Tweet about them! Did you know that Easter is now #4 on the list for popular holidays to send cards? And, don't forget the ham dinner as we celebrate Spring...

Now, hold on just a moment! It's not about the bunny, my fellow parents!

Somehow, we've managed to completely obliterate the true meanings of these holidays. Go ahead and ask your child, "What do you think about when I say, 'Easter'?". What would their first response be? Would they mention the resurrection of Jesus? "How about 'Christmas'?". The birth of our Christ? Sadly, most kids won't. Not at first thought, anyways. You can't blame them for it.

Why do we continue to dig ourselves into this endless hole of holiday expectations? Some people have turned the holidays into unrealistic expectations for a mother like me, with eight children. Maybe it's fun for you, with your one or two children, to make the holidays a big whirlwind of candy and presents and decorations and activities. But when you raise that bar of expectations for your kids, my kids hear about it and then they expect me to jump through hoops to make each holiday as big and crazy as you've made it!

Stop! Stop! Stop!

Holidays are beyond "going overboard" now, and it's because of you! You parents who buy not only the candy and chocolate bunnies, but also the kites and the purses and the PRESENTS for Easter! You parents scrambling to come up with the bestest naughty things your elf can do every single night! You parents who hide the lucky coins on St. Patrick's Day! Just Stop!

You're making it hard for those of us who want to teach our children what the holidays are really about!

I don't mind doing the holiday traditions that I grew up with doing as a kid with my own children, I don't. As a matter of fact, I love to see their smiles and excitement. I don't even mind telling the little white lies that come along with holidays that have been told to children for decades (centuries?) to maintain the "magic" that each holiday brings. I do love to see the light displays at Christmasttime and hear the holiday music on every station on the radio. I love experiencing the haunted houses, stuffing myself with holiday dinners and desserts until I'm passing out, and the overall excitement that the children radiate.

What I don't like is being forced to make each holiday bigger and more spectacular than the last. Competing against the parents who feel like the "traditional" traditions are not enough anymore.

I don't like wondering what my children are expecting each holiday - we need to bring things back down to a "normal" level of expectations so we, as parents, know what we're supposed to be doing. There's nothing worse than my children coming home from school after a holiday and telling me that their classmate, Johnny, got a new PS3 and ten games and a tablet for Easter! (Why did the Easter Bunny only bring us candy and hide Easter eggs for us?)

Give me a break! And give other parents a break! Bring things back down to a dull roar, the "normal" traditions that we all grew up with.

I can handle that.

Then, let's make sure that our kids know the real reasons we are celebrating these holidays. Maybe you're not religious. Maybe you don't want to make the holidays about their true meaning. Okay, so then don't celebrate them. Just don't make it hard on those of us parents who want our children to understand the true meaning of holidays, and don't blow every single darn holiday up to be something they were never meant to be!

Happy Easter! (Remember, it's not all about the Bunny!)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Guide To Girls' Hair - Book Review

Yesterday, I talked about the different categories for hair in "When Your Daughter's Hair Isn't Your 'Type'". Today, I want to tell you about this awesome book called Cozy's Complete Guide To Girls' Hair: The Cutest Cuts and Sweetest Hairstyles to Do at Home by Cozy Friedman.

This book is packed full of tons of how-to's, from a wide variety of styles including 5-minute styles, to how to cut different types of hair, to which hair utensils to use. There are definitions for every possible word associated with hair. For example, one page defines words like cuticle, cortex, medulla. Another section explains the different types of hair and how to "handle" them.

From detangling hair to sectioning hair to caring for hair during the summer and caring for it during the winter, Cozy Friedman has thought of and shared it all in her book!

Then, there are absolutely stunning ideas (and step-by-step instructions) for hair styles. Braids, pigtails, buns, and styles that include adornments for the hair, like ribbons and flowers. One of my favorites is the Heart Braid:

And, the answers to the most common hair catastrophies, like head lice, gum stuck in hair, dandruf, green hair, and static cling are all in this book!

I have enjoyed every moment of Cozy's Complete Guide To Girls' Hair: The Cutest Cuts and Sweetest Hairstyles to Do at Home. The organization of the book makes it easy to look up topics, just in case you run into a hair catastrophy and need to find the information fast, or if you're planning to do a quick trim to your daughter's hair and want to check out the tips beforehand.

Definitely a must-have for your library, whether you have daughters, nieces, or granddaughters!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Being an SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) Parent

I will always remember the moment that my daughter's speech therapist told me the results of her assessment: Veronica had Sensory Processing Disorder (otherwise known as “sensory integration dysfunction").

I wrote Veronica's Story back in June of 2011, but recent interactions with a friend who just found out that her son has SPD and a couple of associates of mine who are struggling with the intricacies of SPD that affect their childrens behavior have spurred my mind (and fingers) to type up another article about SPD.

If you haven't read my daughter's story, you may want to read that first (click here). It has a lot of basic information about SPD if your child was just recently diagnosed with it.

To protect the privacy of people, I won't mention names, but I was chatting with a friend on Facebook about a week ago. Her son was recently diagnosed with SPD, and she felt just like I did when I had found out about Veronica. You see, Sensory Processing Disorder is a quirky disorder that has the ability to drive parents of affected children nuts, especially if a diagnosis has not been made. By the time the diagnosis has been made, many parents (like me) are entirely frustrated and fed up.

What is SPD Like?

Imagine a child with a bit of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Alzheimer's, and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder - not the hyperactive one, ADHD). Swirl together the obvious characteristics of these disorders and then add "behavior problems", social problems, anxiety, and aggressiveness...Or, mix and match some of the above - no SPD is the same. There are no "typical" SPD cases. And, that's why Sensory Processing Disorders are quite often misdiagnosed, leaving parents and teachers baffled, confused, and frustrated with the child.

Basically, Sensory Processing Disorder is a chronic difficulty with processing information from the senses. The brain and the senses aren't working together like they are supposed to. Occupational therapist and neuroscientist, A. Jean Ayres, PhD, called SPD a "neurological traffic jam", referring to how the disorder prevents specific areas of the brain from getting the data that is necessary in order to correctly make sense of the sensory information.

But, it also causes issues that may seem absolutely strange to people who do not have the disorder. For example, my daughter cannot stand the sound of keys jingling like most of us cannot stand the sound of fingernails scraping down a chalk board.

Additionally, the frustration that a child with SPD feels may lead to what we would usually categorize as "behavior problems". This is exactly what made me feel so bad when I found out that Veronica had SPD...what I once thought were "behavior issues" was actually her way of getting out the frustration of not being understood or not being able to understand herself.

Being an SPD Parent

I will say that, in my experience, being an SPD parent does get easier over time. You will learn coping strategies and, as time goes on, you can teach your child how to cope, too.

And, while this is easier said than done, ultimately, this is your only choice, because you want your child to be able to thrive in this world without you holding their hand for everything they do. You want them to be able to live a fulfilled life.

Check out the Mommy Rantings Facebook wall today for a question from an SPD mommy.

When Your Daughter's Hair Isn't Your "Type"

When you're a mom that has straight hair with a tiny bit of natural wave in it, like mine, and you have a daughter with seriously thick, spiral curls, like my daughter's, you realize quickly that you cannot do the same things to your daughter's hair as you do to your own. Quite often, you cannot even use the same types of products on the different types of hair.

While it's obvious to anyone that there are many different hair types, there was a point in my life when I didn't realize that there was a hair typing "chart". Have you ever heard of Type 3c hair? Or, Type 1 hair?

What does it all mean and how can you make it work for you and your daughter's hair? 

I'm not going to explain each "type" of hair, because it can't be said much better than the explanation here. If you are not familiar with the different hair types, to put it simply, straight hair is categorized as Type 1, while the thickest, coarsest, curliest hair is categorized as a Type 4. Then, a's, b's and c's are used under each number to differentiate between the types of curls or waves in the hair.

My Daughter's Hair is NOT My Type

I would say that my hair is a mixture of Type 1 and 2. That's because I have long, straight hair, but it does have a bit of a natural wave in it, which will make my hair a bit frizzy if I don't use some oil in the back of it (never in the roots, though! That would make my hair look greasy!).

My Type 1/2 Hair

My daughter, on the other hand, has enviously thick, spiral curly hair. I would say that she falls into the 3c group, which at one time did not exist as a category, but needed to be added, because poor 3c-haired girls didn't fit into the 3b or 4 category descriptions exactly. In the picture below, I used a popular LOC method for curly hair, but doubled up on the oils, rather than using a cream. L=water, O=argon oil and coconut oil. Then, I separated the curls apart to give it body and style.

My Daughter's Gorgeous Hair

The characteristics 3c hair has that others don't? 

Corkscrew-like kinky or very tight curls with a straw or pencil sized circumference (in other words, you could insert a straw or a pencil and it would fit perfectly inside one of the spiral curls). This type of hair usually has tons of strands of hair that are dense and packed together.

My daughter is just like every other curly haired chick that despises their hair. She has straightened it for something different (and it actually came out beautiful!) Of course, straightening 3c hair is more difficult than straightening 3a or 3b hair because it is thicker and curlier. Surprisingly, though, even though there are lots and lots of strands of hair that makes the head of hair of a 3c girl or woman appear to have thick hair, the thickness is usually due to the amount of strands, rather than the strands itself, because 3c curls are usually, contrary to what we would think, fine-textured strands. 

Using Hair Typing to Understand Our Daughter's Hair

I read reviews on myriads of different products, regardless of which hair type it is for, for two reasons:

1) I have to look for products for both my daughter's hair and my hair.
2) Even though someone with super curly, thick hair gives a product a bad review doesn't mean that it's bad for every hair type. What works for my hair may give bad results to my daughter's hair.

By knowing about the categories of hair types, you will better understand which products to use for your daughter's hair (and even your hair!) and which types of styles, which types of tools, etc. While scanning around the Internet, I realized that these hair categories are mentioned a lot, and if someone doesn't know about them, they aren't going to completely understand why certain utensils or products work and don't work.

For example, let's say I read a review about a specific brush and a styling gel that someone swears by. If I don't know anything about the hair categories, I might run out and purchase the products and be totally let down with the results on my hair. However, if I know that the reviewer has Type 4 hair, though, I might think twice about purchasing the products for my hair, because what works for a Type 4 won't necessarily work for a Type 1/2.

To further explain, some of the products that Type 4 hair gals use that wouldn't work well on mine are the oils. Coconut oils, argon oils, etc. help to define the curls and provide much-needed moisture to the Type 4 hair (even Type 3 hair), but these oils can weigh down my hair and make it look greasy. I do, because of the waviness and potential frizziness, use a lightweight oil called BioSilk to keep my hair smooth and shiny.

Hair Types and Styling

It's a similar concept for different types of hair styles. While it would be extremely easy for me to straighten my hair (and it takes no time) and I don't require any styling products while I straighten it, I would have to set aside several hours to straighten my daughter's hair and know which products to add while I'm straightening it, too.

Just like products, some styles will work for some hair types and some will work for others, but not all hair styles are going to work for all hair types.

The same goes for styling utensils. A brush that works wonders for my hair will probably wreak havoc on my daughter's hair and vice versa.  

This is why learning about the different hair types and how each one works with different products and styling utensils will help you not only understand and work with your own hair better, it will also help you when you are working on your daughter's hair.

How is your daughter's hair the same or different from yours? What helps you?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Co-Sleeping Controversy - Why I Don't Obey the Rules

Despite the warnings and scare tactics, thirteen years ago, I decided that bed-sharing was the best option for me and my first son.

Back then, I wasn't the educated mom that I consider myself to be today, after bearing and raising eight children. Back then, I wouldn't DARE tell the pediatrician that they should check their facts. Back then, thirteen years ago, I would either lie and say that my child slept in a bassinet or a crib or I would try to avoid the question altogether.

Just recently, though, when I took my eighth child to her new doctor, I once again received the brow-beating that pediatricians now give co-sleeping parents. Basically, her standpoint was that I was taking a HUGE risk and was putting my baby's LIFE in harm's way! And, I also had a recent conversation with another "child advocate" about my choice to co-sleep and was again told how dangerous it was and that I should get a crib, just in case my pediatrician called CPS on me for admitting that I co-slept with my baby. To this, I asked, "Why? Where is the LAW that states I cannot co-sleep with my baby? In addition, SHOW ME the real, hard statistics that say that the adult bed is less safe than the crib. Too many babies have died in cribs, too!" I knew she couldn't produce these laws and facts, because they don't exist.

Today, unlike when I was a new mother with my first few children, I will be honest (for a long time, I was forced to be what I call a "closet co-sleeping parent". I would lie to the doctor, the WIC office, etc. about our sleeping habits. Yes, my child slept in a bassinet or a crib. Now, I openly, honestly and self-righteously tell the pediatrician that I co-sleep with my babies. (Yes, we think that the so-called "family-bed" is the right choice for our family.)

Today, I'm far more educated and can back up my parenting strategies and techniques with hard facts, statistics, and research.

Today, I'm going to tell you why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the majority of individual pediatricians are WRONG and how they are sadly misinforming parents. I have yet to take my children to a pediatrician who agreed that bed-sharing was SAFER for babies, and they certainly won't talk about what a great bonding experience it can be.

Well, I have done my research and I'm going to tell you why I believe that the family bed IS SAFER. And, I'll also elaborate on the bonding experience that it provides, even when we're sleeping.

Bed-Sharing Deaths vs. Crib Deaths

If you're a parent, then you probably know that the co-sleeping controversy stems from the infant deaths that have occurred in adult beds. But, did you know that the scare tactics that are being used to persuade parents into using cribs, which has become a national campaign against bed-sharing, actually started as a joint effort of the USCPSC and the JPMA?

Let me spell that out for you...the USCPSC is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the JPMA is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. Well, isn't that a hoot, considering that if we parents believe that our beds are unsafe for our babies, then we would have to...purchase a crib (otherwise known as a product - or juvenile product)!

But, I'm not going to base my entire claim that co-sleeping is safer than cribs on the fact that two associations who fair to gain from the "you have to use a crib or your child will die" campaign are ahead of it all. I have hard facts and statistics for you, too.

The Crib vs. Adult Bed Research

Let's talk about the research. And, let's start with Dr. Sears, who was the first person to say that co-sleeping was good for babies - and parents! Dr. Sears also co-slept with his children. He says that when parents ask him, "Where should my baby sleep?", he responds by telling the parent that they should have their baby sleep wherever baby and parent sleep best. Period.

Dr. McKenna is a well-known SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) researcher who will testify that the adult bed is safer than a crib. His testimony is the result of 30 years of research and you can read his article "Co-Sleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone". But, basically, if you don't want to read the article, Dr. McKenna discusses several topics, including how sleeping next to your baby is "biologically appropriate", different organizations that DO support bed-sharing, and that the family bed environment can be made to be SAFER than the crib.

According to Dr. McKenna, the following organizations support the family bed:
  • The Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine 
  • The USA Breast Feeding Committee 
  • The Breast Feeding section of the American Academy of Pediatrics 
  • La Leche League International 
  • WHO
The common thought amongst these groups, as well as Dr. McKenna, is that our ancestral mothers bed-shared due to breastfeeding. Why shouldn't we?

Dr. Margot Sunderland, the director of education and training from The Centre for Child Mental Health in London agrees with Dr. McKenna's stance on co-sleeping, as well. She says that children whose parents co-slept with them tend to grow up to be calmer, healthier adults, and they also may experience less amounts of stress than children who slept in cribs alone. Her book, The Science of Parenting, explains her opinion on bed-sharing.

In Dr. Sunderland's book, she uses evidence from 800 different scientific studies to prove her theory, that co-sleeping is by far healthier than an infant sleeping alone. Many of the studies that Dr. Sunderland examined included brain scans to find out how infants' and kids' brains react in particular situations. She says that cortisol, a hormone that is related to stress, is increased in the infant body when they are separated from their parents.

One neurological study even revealed that the brain activity of an infant who is separated from a parent showed similarities to exhibiting physical pain! (And then we have the parents who let their babies CIO - "cry it out"! I'm not trying to judge here, but just imagine putting these two concepts together. Infants who sleep alone in cribs exhibiting signs of physical pain in their brain scans and then the parents practicing the CIO method. What exactly does the baby LEARN from this? When they are in pain, they cry and no one comes to comfort them?)  

Dr. Sunderland says that children should sleep with their parents up until they are 5 years old for maximum benefits and that this long-term co-sleeping is much healthier for children than sleeping alone.

Meredith F. Small, the author of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, says that according to studies, when a mother co-sleeps with her baby, the infant learns how to regulate his or her heartbeat, breathing, muscle movements, and brain wave activity. These same studies revealed that infants who sleep alone experience a difficult time regulating their body functions. These infants are also fussier and have more sporadic breathing.


The Biggest Co-Sleeping Fear

I can understand that some people may sleep like logs, but I am not one of them. One tiny inkling of a whimper from one of my children, and I'm wide awake. This goes right along with how Dr. McKenna describes bed-sharing mothers. As long as they are not inebriated with alcohol, sleep medications, or endless nights of sleeplessness, the doc suggested that "breastfeeding mother-infant pairs exhibit increased sensitivities and responses to each other while sleeping, and those sensitivities offers the infant protection from overlay".

This takes care of the biggest co-sleeping fear - or scare tactic, if you want to call it - that you will roll over on your infant during the night and suffocate him or her.

The Statistics

I told you that I would back up my choice with real, hard statistics, so you're probably wondering at this point,"Where are the REAL facts and statistics?" After all, all I have done is talk about some doctors' opinions, which goes against the majority of doctors and organizations across America.

First, let's talk about Japan. In Japan, the bed-sharing is a normal practice in their culture. You won't hear a Japanese pediatrician (unless they are practicing in America, of course) claim that the family bed is a big no-no.

Get this: Japan has the lowest SIDS rates in the world. Additionally, the SIDS Global Task Force conducted an international survey which revealed that cultures, like Japan, that practiced the highest amount of bed-sharing and co-sleeping produced the lowest SIDS rates. Food for thought...

Are these facts still too vague for you? No problem, I have more.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study about SIDS that was released in 1999. Here's what they came up with:

  • There were 515 cases of accidental deaths of infants in adult beds between 1990 and 1997. If broken down by year, there was an average of 65 infant deaths each year in adult beds.
  • During the same period of time, there were 34,000 total SIDS cases. That breaks down to about 4,250 cases each year. 
So, to look at an average year, we would compare the 65 deaths that occurred in adult beds versus the 4,250 total SIDS cases. I'll figure it out quickly for you. That means that only 1.5% of the total SIDS cases each year occurred in adult beds. And, where did the other deaths occur? The study didn't say it, so we can't necessarily assume that the other 98.5% of infants died in cribs, but wouldn't you say that this "Bed-sharing Is a Big No-No!" is a bit unfounded at this point?

What needs to be done is a REAL comparison of SIDS deaths in the adult bed versus SIDS deaths in a crib to ensure that there are no misconceptions. Until this type of study is conducted, I still would wager that the majority of the 98.5% of deaths did, in fact, occur in cribs, bassinets, playpens, and other products that were being used in order to avoid the family bed.

How Is A Crib Safer?

I understand that there are numerous SIDS cases that still haven't been solved. The parents will never know what the exact cause of death was for their infant. However, I am also well aware that crib deaths have occurred due to all kinds of different safety issues.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study that was outlined in the report "Hazard Analysis: Crib Related Deaths". Here are just some of the crib safety issues that posed a threat of death:

  • Positional asphyxia/suffocation due to bedding in the crib (including bumpers!)
  • Hardware problems
  • Entrapment between object and crib
  • The child was entangled in blind cords hanging too close to crib
  • Entrapment between side rail and mattress
  • Improper mattresses
  • Structural failure
  • Entrapment due to improper slat placement
So, how can anyone say that a crib is safer than the family bed at this point? Obviously, more specified research needs to be conducted to compare the exact amount of infant deaths in the adult bed versus the crib (and other recommended sleeping products for babies) before we continue to brow-beat co-sleeping mothers!

The Benefits of Bed-Sharing

Besides the fact that it's been so much easier and faster to tend to an infant (especially my breastfed infants) during the night when they are right next to me, there is actually a list of benefits that both mothers and children can reap from co-sleeping. Some of these benefits were already discussed earlier in The Research section, like the baby's ability to better regulate their body functions and the lowering of stress of an infant. 

First, as I mentioned, the breastfeeding. Because the baby is right beside Mommy, it is much easier for the mother to breastfeed her baby as many times as the baby wants during the night. The more she can breastfeed, the more "good stuff" the baby gets, the healthier the baby. And because co-sleeping makes it so much more convenient for the mother to breastfeed, she will be more likely to breastfeed longer, and the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her chances are of getting breast cancer.

Dr. McKenna also pointed out that "irrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation." They cry less frequently and sleep longer. What mom doesn't want that?

In layman's terms, co-sleeping increases the amount of time that an infant will sleep, because they are subconsciously content and tend to be in sync with their Mommy when they are sleeping next to her. After all, they've been inside of your body for 9 months. What makes anyone think that a baby would want to be very far away from their "home"?

This makes sense, because there's this thing called "nature". And, if you think about other mammals, like dogs and cats, you will realize that most mammals sleep curled up with their young. Why shouldn't we do the same?

Another benefit of bed-sharing is that you can tend to your baby's needs more quickly. If your baby is sleeping in a crib in another room, or even across the bedroom, it takes more time to get to them, and you may not even hear their cries when they first start calling for you. When they are right next to you, you not only hear them right away, you are right next to them to comfort them immediately, and this is the exact type of reassurance that your new little person needs. Additionally, your baby doesn't have to wake so fully when they are right next to you and they are attended to quickly, meaning they can get back to sleep faster and easier.

Bonding time is increased to include all night long when you choose the family bed. While you may not be interacting, the baby can still smell and feel you, hence increasing that bond.

Co-sleeping babies also develop better sleep habits next to mommy.

Long-Term Co-Sleeping Benefits

In the long-term, research has also shown that co-sleeping promotes higher self-esteem. For example, boys whose parents co-slept with them them between the ages of birth and five years had much higher self-esteem. They also experienced less anxiety and guilt.

Women whose parents co-slept with them as babies showed less discomfort with affection and physical contact when they became adults.

A study of military based parents (Forbes et al., 1992) also showed that co-sleeping children's teacher evaluations were significantly higher in the behavior category, as opposed to children whose parents did not let them sleep in the family bed. To compliment this study, another study in England (Heron, 1994) revealed that children who did not enjoy the family bed tended to be less happy, harder to control, were more fearful, and exhibited a larger amount of temper tantrums than their co-sleeping counterparts.   

Another study that was conducted amongst 5 ethnic groups from large U.S. cities revealed that co-sleepers in each ethnic category were generally more satisfied with life than those whose parents did not let them sleep in the adult bed (Mosenkis, 1998).

What Stance Should Pediatricians Take Then?

So, now we come back to the subject of pediatric recommendations. What should pediatricians be telling parents? First of all, let's stop the scare tactics and brow-beating!

This is not strictly my opinion. All of the researchers that I have mentioned earlier would tend to agree that instead of brow-beating parents who co-sleep, they should be EDUCATING ALL PARENTS. Otherwise, we are still going to have the "closet co-sleeping parents" who refuse to admit that they sleep with their babies for fear of being judged or getting a visit from Child Protective Services.

My recommendation, like so many other INFORMED researchers, parents, and educators, is to educate parents on their choice of sleeping behaviors. If a parent chooses EITHER the crib or the adult bed for their infant, that is their choice, but we need to remember that babies have died under BOTH circumstances, so we need to educate ALL parents, regardless of their choice in sleeping with their baby or putting them in a crib.

In case you would like to make sure your sleeping choice is made the safest for your child, here is a list of safety measures for the adult bed and a list of safety measures for the crib.

To You Parents Who Do Co-Sleep:

If you feel like putting your baby in a crib is like putting your child behind bars...if you feel like your warmth and comfort throughout the night in the adult bed is much better for your baby...if you feel like it's more natural and safer to co-sleep, then do it!

Don't feel like you are backed into a corner by any so-called "child advocate" who wants to brow-beat you about co-sleeping with your child! It is the most natural thing to do, after all! Stay informed, follow all safety guidelines, and don't feel like you need to do something, like putting your child in a crib, just because of the scare tactics that have circulated for so long now.

Do what is comfortable for you and your family. And, if it comes down to it, arm yourself with the ammunition in this article to show how educated and informed you are about your decision to co-sleep!

Monday, March 18, 2013

New York City's Teen Pregnancy Campaign Creating a Stir

For many of us, it's too late to discuss the hardships that come along with teen pregnancy. Although teen pregnancy statistics have dropped to historic lows in 2010, according to the CDC, there are already thousands of teenage parents in the U.S. alone. In the CDC's brief, they stated that "fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s".

But, despite these figures, there are still already thousands of teen parents out there, and we have to think about these parents and children when we're making posters for teen pregnancy awareness campaigns.

Take a look at this poster, which is part of New York City's new teen pregnancy campaign:

Human Resources Administration
The advertisement above can be found around New York City in neighborhoods that have higher rates of teen pregnancy. “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” the poster is captioned.

And, this is another advertisement in the NYC campaign:

How do you think it makes teen parents feel when they see it? Or the parents of the teen parents...or even better, the children of teen parents?
Although they certainly capture the attention of passersby, they do not offer a bit of encouragement or information for teenagers! All they really do is tout negative stereotypes that are associated with teen pregnancy!

Going one step further with the stereotypes, Michael Powell of the New York Times mentioned in his column that teenage pregnancy is a "problem of poverty".So, Sarah Palin must be poverty stricken?

Of course, we don't want to encourage teen pregnancy, but this campaign seems to be going a bit overboard. And, the stereotypes that are associated with teen pregnancy? It can happen to anyone, and merely saying that teen pregnancy is a "problem of poverty" is misleading and misinforming.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easter Baking With the Kids - 21 Easter Cupcake Ideas!

Easter is so wonderful in many different ways! Beyond the religious meaning of Easter, the marking of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the holiday also signifies to many of us that Spring is here! Easter events, like egg hunts and celebrations that include lots of food and beverages and deserts are also fun for families and children. And those with creative and artistic minds really enjoy the holiday baking that comes along with Easter.

Cupcakes are easy and fun little projects to bake and decorate with your children or grandchildren, and you don't even really have to have a creative mind of your own. As a matter of fact, you could simply bake some boxed cupcakes, as opposed to baking them from scratch (like I would) and then have fun with the decorating! Before you do that, though, run to the store for different types of candies, like jelly beans, licorice, gummies, sprinkles... don't forget the dried coconut pieces and food coloring to create grass!

Before you run to the store, you're going to want to have some decorating ideas. Those of you who cannot spark a creative thought without visual inspiration can simply look at these Easter cupcake decorating ideas, purchase the candies and the frosting required, and then mimic what you see.

Here are 30 awesome Easter cupcake ideas we've found around the web for you to enjoy making with your kids:

The Girl Who Ate Everything


Food Network

Disney Family

Cupcake Lovers

Mia's Pieces

Babble - Tory's Spelling's Cupcakes

Megan's Munchies

Sugar Bun

The Cupcake Blog

Hungry Happiness

Zen Cupcake

Pikkos House


Cupcakes Take the Cake

The Wicked Noodle

Simple Cake Decorating

My Family Loves It

Cupcake Lust

The Catholic Toolbox

Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams


Enjoy decorating!

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