Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why I Finally Gave In To Disney Princesses

Cinderella & Her Mouse
I was never opposed to Disney Princesses... but I did make a conscious effort not to push my daughter towards them. I wanted her to figure out on her own what she liked, with as little influence as possible from culture's preconceived notions on what a little girl should  like. I wanted to see what she was drawn to, whether it was cars, trucks and trains, dinosaurs, pirates, Curious George... or Princesses. And for the first 3 years of my daughter's life, she happened to steer clear of Princesses. She would see them from time to time, but she never clung to the idea like I saw so many girls doing. And that made me happy - not because I thought there was anything wrong with the other little girls dressing up in Princess dresses or wearing little tiaras, but because I liked the idea that Paige was making up her own mind. I patted myself on the back for officially bypassing the Disney marketing machine.

That is until one day this summer... I picked my daughter up from my gym's child care area and she was just beaming - "Mommy! I played princesses and it was so much fun! I love princesses now!" The next morning as we were getting dressed to head to the gym, Paige picked out the most ruffley and pink dress she owned "so my friend will want to play princess with me again - I want to look pretty like a princess!" My heart sank a little - 1. she already thought she had to dress a certain way for kids to play with her : ( and 2. she only thought she was pretty if she dressed like a princess. I held my tongue and smiled and told her what I always do - "You are pretty inside and out. Your kind heart is your prettiest part!" Well - things didn't go as expected at the gym for my little Princess. Ends up her new "friend" was in a bad mood and didn't want to play Princesses or anything or that matter with my daughter. Paige was heartbroken - she had dressed the part... was she not a good enough Princess? That was 4 months ago, and Paige has still never worn that dress again.

And even though that friendship didn't stick, her new fascination with Princesses did. I couldn't fight it anymore. BUT - I could influence her mindset towards Princesses. Yes, they were pretty with long flowing hair, big eyes, skinny waists and always lived "Happily Ever After". However, they had more to offer my little, impressionable 3 year old daughter. Because I'm not going to tell my daughter she can't play with princesses or watch princess movies - just like I wouldn't tell her she couldn't play with trucks or read dinosaur books. So I started talking to her about how Princesses are BRAVE, KIND, STRONG-MINDED & INDEPENDENT. How they love to SING & DANCE. How they MAKE MISTAKES & ASK FOR FORGIVENESS. How they often have HUGE HEARTS & LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. And - thankfully - it is starting to stick. Yes, she still wants to dress up in fancy Princess costumes (definitely not the shunned pink ruffely dress though!), but she climbs tot he top of the sofa and jumps off while dressed in them - "Just like a Princess does, Mommy!" And that makes my girl-power heart happy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Healthy Halloween? See Which Sweet Treats Are A Smarter Choice (But Still Make Your Kids Smile)

Have you seen the hilarious video that shows what happens when Crest replaced typical Halloween treats with "veggie fruit chews" and "tofu ghost-mellows"? The kids' reactions are PRICELESS! It's Halloween - give the kids their candy!

Visit Doc Wellbee Dental Plans Today!
Did you know there are *better* candy options for your teeth? When it comes to Halloween candy, Doc Whitney Troope, Atlanta-based dentist and founding partner of the innovative Doc Wellbee dental plan - a new dental plan that rewards members for smarter oral care -  offers tips on Halloween candies to avoid this October, as well as Halloween candies that will make your dentist (and kids!) smile.

Scariest Candy Choices
  • Sour Candies (i.e. WarHeads, Sour Patch Kids): Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down tooth enamel quickly.

  • Sticky & Chewy Candies (Laffy Taffy, Air Heads, Sugar Daddies, Dots, etc): Sticky and chewy candies get stuck in the grooves and pits of teeth. Saliva has a hard time washing the gooey mess away, so these candies sit on your teeth, acting as a feeding frenzy for bacteria and decay.

  • Hard Candies (Lollipops, Jawbreakers, Lifesavers): Hard candies don’t stick to your teeth per se, but they take a while to dissolve. The longer a food stays in your mouth, the more acidic your mouth becomes, which can wear down a tooth’s enamel.

 Smarter Candy Choices
  • Sugar-Free Gum or Sugar-Free Lollipops: Go for candies sweetened with Xylitol, a substance that occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. This sweetener actually protects your child’s teeth by reducing the acids produced by bacteria and increasing the salivary fluids that rinse away excess sugars and acids. Plus, chewing gum can actually prevent cavities, not only because it helps to dislodge food particles from the teeth, but also because it increases saliva.

  • Powdery Candy (i.e. Pixie Stix and Fun Dip):  Pour the sugar directly on the tongue, so it avoids touching your teeth – this leaves nothing for the cavity causing bacteria to feed on. Powdery candy also dissolves quickly and doesn’t stay around to cause cavities.

  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains cocoa which inhibits the growth of the bacteria that is responsible for the creation of plaque. An added bonus: dark chocolate contains heart-healthy antioxidants!

Doc Wellbee is a new kind of dental plan that  not only reduces dental bills up to 60%, but also rewards its members for regular dental visits. After every six month cleaning, members receive an annual subscription to their choice of popular consumer magazine.  Additional reward options, like health and beauty products will be added soon.

Doc Wellbee members pay a yearly membership fee for access to deeply discounted rates from hundreds of Georgia  dentists and specialists. Virtually all procedures are covered – even cosmetic and orthodontics.  Members pay dentists directly – no claim hassles, no annual limits and no waiting periods.  
Visit Doc Wellbee today to begin earning rewards for going to the dentist! Plans start at $12 per month for individuals, $18 per month for families. Click here to find aDoc Wellbee dentist near you

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bi-racial Baby Dolls - The Loch Ness Monster of the Doll World

The Loch Ness Monster. Big Foot. Aliens. And Bi-Racial Baby Dolls. What do these things have in common? No matter how hard you try, you can't find them. People claim they exist. Someone, somewhere has a fuzzy picture of one. But try and see one for yourself? Good luck.

My hunt for a mainstream bi-racial baby doll began when Paige was born. It was 2009... mixed race children were one of the fastest growing racial groups. There must be at least a few bi-racial baby doll options available. WRONG! No Barbies. No Cabbage Patch Dolls. No American Girl. NADA. All the available dolls were one of two extremes - blonde hair, blue eyed, pale white skin or jet black hair, black eyes and dark brown skin. And a few brunette white dolls thrown in. But nothing that even could pass as mixed-race. So what did I get Paige? A Dora the Explorer doll - because it was the closest thing I could find.

Fast forward nearly 4 years and my hunt continues for the elusive bi-racial baby doll. Even my go-to source of wisdom - Google - has trouble finding any. Here's what my Google friends came up with when I searched "bi-racial baby doll" - brace yourself for it...

 SERIOUSLY?! This is all you've got?!

A few months ago, Paige found a blonde haired Barbie doll that she started to play with. I don't mind if she plays with dolls that don't look like her, but I think every little girl wants/needs to feel like she is "normal" - and that means seeing herself reflected back to some extent in at least ONE of her dolls. So I headed to Target to find something a little bit closer to her reality. Think I could find something? NOPE! I came home with an African-American Barbie doll with a little bit lighter skin, hazel eyes and straight black hair. They didn't even have a Hispanic Barbie, my go-to baby doll race when all else fails. Mattel - I beg you - PLEASE get with the times and make a few different bi-racial Barbie dolls. Medium skin, tan skin, lighter hair, curly hair - SOMETHING. ANYTHING! I can't even imagine what Asian or Indian families go through. At least I can buy a Hispanic doll (although they are pretty elusive too). What do other races go with?!

And then there is the Fisher Price play house families. They sell a Black family (black mommy, black daddy, black baby) and a White family (white mommy, white daddy, white baby). And nothing between. The least they could do is sell each part of the "family" separately so we can mix and match as needed.

I feel like what I'm saying is common sense - cookie cutter families are a thing of the past. Paige is still too young to realize, but in the very near future, she is going to start asking questions. Maybe - just maybe - some of the major toy companies (not expensive specialty!) can offer a solution soon. Although maybe it's like the flesh colored BandAids that have been around forever - unless you are white, they aren't really "flesh" now are they? Daniel and I laugh about that all the time - yes, you can buy specialty, off-brand band-aids. But why hasn't Johnson & Johnson figured it out? Seems pretty simple to offer flesh-toned Band-Aids in multiple flesh tones.

By Christmas 2014 (a full 12+ months from now), I want to be able to buy my daughter - who will be turning 5 at that point and significantly more aware - a baby doll that looks like her. A Barbie. A Cabbage Patch. A Fisher Price Family. Heck, I'd even buy a store brand. So who's going to step up to the plate? Bueller? Bueller? I don't think it's going to happen. But I'd love someone to prove me wrong - please, prove me wrong!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave: Take the Time to Write a Letter for Bert's Big Thank You!
For the past few years, The Bert Show - a morning radio show based in Atlanta, GA (but now broadcast all across the country) has collected handwritten thank-you letters for US Troops. And not just a handful of letters for a select few troops. We're talking HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of letters for EVERY SINGLE US TROOP stations abroad. But they can't do it alone. Will you take a few minutes to thank a US serviceman and servicewoman for their sacrifice?

The first year I wrote 10 letters by myself and dropped them off. Then, the next year, Paige was old enough to color a picture so I had her color 10 sheets of paper, and wrote my letters on top of her beautiful artwork : ) Then, last year, both Paige and Deacon colored pictures, and I wrote thank you notes on top. This year, I'm getting the kids more involved. I asked them each to color a picture, and then asked them what they wanted me to write for them. They said it, and I wrote it. Here are the finished products that I'll be dropping off at Jersey Mike's later  (along with 8 letters I wrote myself) today:

Bert's Big Thank You Letters from
Paige and Deacon #Proud Mama
With all the nonsense our kids are exposed to on a daily basis, this is something REAL - something that REALLY MATTERS - something that can MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the day of one of our brave men and women serving the United States of America. Take the time to have your children draw a picture for the troops - or use one of their favorite drawings from that day's preschool class like I did - and have them dictate (or write themselves if they are able!) a thank you note. It's that simple. Simply beautiful : )

Here's what you have to do (as written by The Bert Show's Big Thank You 2013)

Each letter should be heartfelt, handwritten, original, and free of any political statements. The purpose of the letter is to express thanks to the military personnel currently deployed outside the United States. We reserve the right to eliminate those messages that are political in nature and do not reflect a positive message in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
  • All letters must be on 8.5” x 11” paper or smaller.
  • Do not use glue, tape, staples, cardboard, glitter or otherwise attach anything to the paper.
  • NO construction paper.
  • Decorate using crayons, markers, pens or pencils.
  • Use both sides if you like, but use one page per letter only.
  • Do not send greeting cards or photographs.
  • Feel free to include your mailing and email address.
  • Individual letters should not be sealed in envelopes.
  • Do not send anything except letters.
  • When submitting 10 or fewer letters, the letters can be folded to fit into a standard business-size envelope.
(We cannot accept donations of any kind (monetary, products, etc.), and they should not be included or attached to letters.)


Drop your letter/s off at any Jersey Mike's location!
Jersey Mike's is collecting letters - find a location near you!

Or, mail your letter to any of the following radio stations - Be sure to label your envelope with "BERT'S BIG THANK YOU LETTER":

ATLANTA - Q100 (99.7 FM)
780 Johnson Ferry Rd NE
5th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30342

Washington, D.C. - ALL THE HITS 107.3
4400 Jenifer Street NW
Washington, DC 20015

Charleston, SC - 95SX Hit Music Now
4230 Faber Place Drive Ste. 100
North Charleston, SC 29405

Savannah, GA - Y107.9 WXYY 90s, 2K and today!
401 Mall Blvd, Suite 101D
Savannah, GA 31406

Indianapolis, IN - i94 (93.9 FM) 90s to NOW
6810 North Shadeland Ave.
Indianapolis, In 46220

Nashville, TN - i106 WNFN (106.7 FM)
10 Music Circle East
Nashville, TN 37203

Birmingham, AL - 99.5 the Vibe-WZRR  (99.5 FM)
244 Goodwin Crest Drive-Ste 300
Homewood, AL

Fort Wayne, IN - HOT 1079 / WJFX (107.9 FM)
Oasis Radio Group
9604 Coldwater Road, Suite 201
Fort Wayne, IN 46825

Huntington, WV - Hits 97.9 – WMGA
555 5th Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701

Lubbock, TX - 102.5 Kiss FM KZII FM (102.5 FM)
4413 82nd St. Ste.300
Lubbock, TX 79424

Amarillo, TX - KISS FM 96.9 (102.5 FM)
6214 W. 34th
Amarillo, TX 79109

Abilene, TX - Mix 92.5
3911 South 1st
Abilene, TX 79605

Brunswick, GA - Magic 105.9
Golden Isles Broadcasting
185 Benedict Road
Brunswick, GA 31520

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Think You May be Pregnant? Check Out This List of the Top Early Pregnancy Symptoms from the Baby-Making Experts

Before you even pass the test (the home pregnancy test, that is) and know for sure that you've got a baby on board, you may get a heads-up in the form of early pregnancy symptoms. If you've been trying to conceive (or... SURPISE!) and you've got some (or all) of these symptoms, it may be time to pull out a home pregnancy test. But first, check your early pregnancy symptoms based on these baby-making authorities that I gathered all in one place - What To Expect, Clearblue Easy (makers of the Clearblue® Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator) and WebMD:

What to Expect - Early Signs You May Be Expecting
  • Tender, swollen breasts: That tingly, sore, and/or full feeling in your breasts that makes you want to wear a "Look, but don't touch!" billboard on your chest is one of the first signs of pregnancy. The dazzling hormonal duo — estrogen and progesterone — deserves most of the credit (or the blame) for this breast (and nipple) tenderness. It's pain with a gain, though, since they're preparing your body for the milk-making mania to come.

  • Fatigue: Imagine running a daily marathon (without training) or climbing a mountain (ditto) while carrying a backpack that weighs a little more every day. That's pregnancy in a nutshell. In other words, it's hard work! During early pregnancy, a huge amount of energy goes into building a life-support system for your baby (aka the placenta). And all that baby building can zap you of your usual get-up-and-go right from the get-go.

  • Bleeding and cramping: Light spotting or implantation bleeding before you'd expect your period (around five to ten days after conception) is sometimes a sign that an embryo has implanted itself into the uterine wall. Some women also experience abdominal cramping in the first few weeks of pregnancy, similar to menstrual cramps. Only a small percentage of women experience implantation bleeding or cramping, however, so you can miss these symptoms and still be pregnant.

  • Nausea and heightened sense of smell: That tell-tale queasy feeling in your stomach, also known as morning sickness, can hit you anytime of day beginning just a few short weeks into your pregnancy. Hormones mainly increased levels of progesterone, which causes the stomach to empty more slowly — are, again, largely to blame (though estrogen and hCG can also take some credit for your nausea). You may also develop a heightened sense of smell, making previously mild odors strong (and unappealing) enough to make you run for the nearest bathroom to puke!

  • Food aversions and cravings: Almost all expectant mothers experience cravings, and most experience at least one aversion as well (thanks, again, to hormones). And that's not a bad thing: Many cravings and aversions have an uncanny way of keeping you away from the bad stuff (coffee and alcohol, for example) and drawing you to the good stuff (like rocky road ice cream — it's loaded with calcium, really!).

  • Frequent urination: Two to three weeks after conception you may notice an increased need to pee. This new gotta-go feeling is due to the pregnancy hormone hCG, which increases blood flow to your kidneys, helping them to more efficiently rid your body (and eventually, your baby's body) of waste. Your growing uterus (yes, it's starting to grow already!) is also beginning to put some pressure on your bladder, leaving less storage space for urine and making you head for the toilet more frequently.

  • Bloating: Having trouble buttoning your jeans? Early pregnancy bloating is hard to distinguish from pre-period bloat, but it's definitely something you'll feel early on (for most women, that is). You can't blame that   puffy ate-too-much feeling on your baby yet, but you can blame it on the hormone progesterone, which helps slow down digestion, giving the nutrients from foods you eat more time to enter your bloodstream and reach your baby.
ClearBlue Easy Pregnancy Tests - Signs You May Be Pregnant:
There are various pregnancy symptoms that can indicate you might be pregnant. They differ from woman to woman, and from pregnancy to pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, you may notice one or more of these symptoms. Don’t worry; you’re unlikely to get them all at once. Equally, you shouldn’t worry if you don’t experience any of them. It’s perfectly possible to be pregnant without noticing any of the ‘classic’ signs of pregnancy listed below.

  • Missed period. This is the earliest and most reliable sign if you have a regular monthly cycle. Though it is possible to have a little light bleeding or spotting around the time you expected your period, even if you’re pregnant. If you don’t have a regular cycle, you may notice some of the other pregnancy symptoms before you notice a missed period.
  • Feeling tired. You may feel unusually tired in the first few weeks of pregnancy. This is probably due to rising levels of the hormone progesterone.
  • Feeling sick. You may start feeling sick, and even vomit, between about the 2nd and 8th week of pregnancy. Although this is often called ‘morning sickness’ it can happen to you at any time of the day or night.
  • Changes in your breasts. You may notice your breasts getting larger, feeling tender, or tingling (the way some women’s breasts do just before they get their period) in the early weeks of pregnancy. In addition, the veins on your breasts may show up more and your nipples may get darker.
  • Going to the bathroom more often. About 6-8 weeks after conception you may find that you have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom. Some pregnant women also find that they ‘leak’ a bit when they cough, laugh or sneeze.
  • Mood swings and stress. You may feel rapid changes in mood in the early stages of pregnancy, and even start to cry sometimes, without knowing why. This is probably because of the changes in hormone levels taking place in your body.
  • Changing tastes in food. You may find you go off certain things like tea, coffee or fatty food. Some women also feel cravings for types of food they don’t usually like.

WebMD - Am I Pregnant?

Every woman is different. So are her experiences of pregnancy. Not every woman has the same symptoms or even the same symptoms from one pregnancy to the next. Also, because the early symptoms of pregnancy are often like what happens right before and during menstruation, those symptoms aren't always recognized. What follows is a description of some of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy. You should know that these symptoms may be caused by other things besides being pregnant. So the fact that you notice some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. The only way to tell for sure is with a pregnancy test.
  • Spotting and Cramping: A few days after conception, the fertilized egg attaches itself to wall of the uterus. This can cause one of the earliest signs of pregnancy -- spotting and, sometimes, cramping. That's called implantation bleeding. It occurs anywhere from six to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. The cramps resemble menstrual cramps, so some women mistake them and the bleeding for the start of their period. The bleeding and cramps, however, are slight. Besides bleeding, a woman  may notice a white, milky discharge from her vagina. That's related to the thickening of the vagina's walls, which starts almost immediately after conception. The increased growth of cells lining the vagina causes the discharge. This discharge, which can continue throughout pregnancy, is typically harmless and doesn't require treatment. But if there is a bad smell related to the discharge or a burning and itching sensation, tell your doctor so they can check on whether you have a yeast or bacterial infection.
  • Breast Changes: Breast changes are another very early sign of pregnancy. A woman's hormone levels rapidly change after conception. Because of the changes, her breasts may become swollen, sore, or tingly a week or two later. Or they may feel heavier or fuller or feel tender to the touch. The area around the nipples, called the areola, may also darken. Other things could cause breast changes. But if the changes are an early symptom of pregnancy, keep in mind that it is going to take several weeks to get used to the new levels of hormones. But when it does, breast pain should ease up.

  • Fatigue: Feeling very tired is normal in pregnancy, starting early on. A woman can start feeling unusually  fatigued as soon as one week after conceiving. Why? It's often related to a high level of a hormone called progesterone, although other things -- such as lower levels of blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and a boost in blood production -- can all contribute. If fatigue is related to pregnancy, it's important to get plenty of rest. Eating foods that are rich in protein and iron can help offset it.
  • Nausea (Morning Sickness): Morning sickness is a famous symptom of pregnancy. But not every pregnant woman gets it. Here's why it happens. A pregnant woman's hormone levels can slow the emptying of her stomach. That contributes to nausea, often called morning sickness, though it can happen at any time during the day. Also, some women crave, or can't stand, certain foods when they become pregnant. That's also related to hormonal changes. The effect can be so strong that even the thought of what used to be a favorite food can turn a pregnant woman's stomach. It's possible that the nausea, cravings, and food aversions can last for the entire pregnancy. Fortunately, the symptoms lessen for many women at about the 13th or 14th week of their pregnancy. In the meantime, be sure to eat a healthy diet so that you and your developing baby get essential nutrients. You can talk to your doctor for advice on that.
  • Missed Period: The most obvious early symptom of pregnancy -- and the one that prompts most women to get a pregnancy test -- is a missed period. But not all missed or delayed periods are caused by pregnancy. Also, women can experience some bleeding during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor what you should be aware of with bleeding. For example, when is bleeding normal and when is it a sign of an emergency? There are reasons, besides pregnancy, for missing a period. it might be that you gained or lost too much weight. Hormonal problems, fatigue, or stress are other possibilities. Some women miss their period when they stop taking birth control pills. But if a period is late and pregnancy is a possibility, you may want to get a pregnancy test.
  • Other Early Symptoms of Pregnancy: Pregnancy brings changes in your hormonal balance. And that can cause other symptoms..
    • Frequent urination. For many women, this starts around the sixth or eighth week after conception. Although this could be caused by a urinary tract infection, diabetes, or overusing diuretics, if you're pregnant, it's most likely due to hormonal levels.
    • Constipation. During pregnancy, higher levels of the hormone progesterone can make you constipated. Progesterone causes food to pass more slowly through your intestines.  To ease the problem, drink plenty of water, exercise, and eat plenty of high-fiber foods.
    • Mood swings. These are common, especially during the first trimester. These are also related to changes in hormones.
    • Headaches and back pain. Many pregnant women report frequent mild headaches, and others experience chronic back pain.
    • Dizziness and fainting. These may be related to dilating blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Shooting on Capitol Hill - Post Partum Depression or Just Plain Crazy?

I'm no psychiatrist. But I am a mom. More specifically, I am a mom who has gone through my own version of post partum depression. And because I experienced it, I can say with 100% certainty that post partum depression is real. It's not a made up disease or condition that moms use just to get attention. It alters your thoughts and feelings and actions. It feels like it's a never ending cycle when you are in the midst of it. And you only realize how severe it was once you are cycling out of it - looking back and finally realizing what was happening to you. I wrote about my issues with PPD (coupled with the stress/shock of having my son go through a full craniotomy at 4 months old) in these two posts: The Aftermath of a Baby Born with Birth Defects and The Truth About Post Partum Depression. CAUTION: RAW EMTION CONTAINED WITHIN THOSE POSTS

So then, while perusing my Facebook page just a few minutes ago, I come across this article from Capitol Hill Shooting Reminds Us How Important Postpartum Depression Treatment Is. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?! Is October 4 the new April 1? Stretch Armstrong couldn't even make that connection.

Like I said, I am no psychiatrist. But I feel like "rationalizing" Miriam Carey's behaviors by saying she was dealing with Post Partum Depression has created a black eye on the issue of PPD education and awareness. I understand people are looking for answers as to why Ms. Carey acted so irrationally. But I feel like people are making the leap of "woman acting crazy" = "post partum depression" because she is a new mom and hormonal. Even though it makes absolutely zero sense, it's something for people (note: the media) to latch on to. Just because a new mom acts crazily or out of sorts, it doesn't mean she's suffering from post partum depression. When a woman acts irrationally, it's not always connected to her hormones. She could very well just be bat sh*t crazy. Because, folks, there IS a difference.

Here's an excerpt from the article on The Bump:

Yesterday, news broke that a high-speed chase had taken place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., amidst the government shutdown. The driver of the car, identified later as Miriam Carey, was 34-years-old and was mom to one-year-old daughter, Ericka. Miriam was a dental hygienist from Connecticut. After driving directly into a gate in front of the White House with her daughter in the car, Miriam was chased down Pennsylvania Avenue and stopped in front of the Capitol.

After her identification had been released, her mother, Idella Carey, came forward to speak about her daughter. “She had postpartum depression after having the baby. A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed… She was hospitalized.” And though Miriam had “no history of violence”, her mom and other close loved ones were admittedly at a loss for why Miriam and Erica had traveled so far from Connecticut to the nation’s capital. Idella had believed that the two were off to a doctor’s appointment. Miriam’s boss said in a statement, “I would never in a million years believe that she would do something like this. It’s the furthest thing from anything I would think she would do, especially with her child in the car. I am floored that it would be her.”

During the chase, two police officers were injured. Miriam was shot and killed by police after driving “very erratically and very dangerously.”

So, at one point in time, she HAD (past tense) PPD. According to her mom, the PPD became so bad that she was hospitalized for it. And maybe I'm just being cynical, but the idea that she had "no history of violence" doesn't mean a thing. People who have know terrorists say the same thing. And think about the neighbors of Ariel Castro - they BBQ'd with the man! Blaming her actions on post partum depression is a stretch... Next they are going to say that she was also on her period - because, after all, don't ALL women act crazy when they are on their periods?

I feel badly for Miriam Carey's family, especially her baby girl. Ms. Carey was definitely (hopefully?) not of her right mind. And I'm thankful no one else was hurt. But blaming it on her hormones? I just don't buy it.

My Favorite Halloween Finds on Etsy: So Chic It's Scary

Check out these great handmade Halloween d├ęcor items that are so chic, it's scary!

Seams Delightful
Once a Witch - Halloween Tea Towel

Mint Loft
Rhinestone Spider Necklace

The Sew Believable Shop
48' Halloween Spider Burlap Table Runner


The Gingerbread Shoppe
EAT DRINK and be SCARY Sign/Halloween Party Sign/Halloween Decor/Ready to Ship

Clementine Designs
Halloween digital paper 12x12"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How To Find A Preschool Close to You

First day of preschool 2013
I started Paige off in preschool last year when she was 2.5 years old. That may seem a bit early to some, but I felt like she 1) was  ready for a bit of independence from me, 2) needed to socialize and develop her interpersonal skills, and 3) mama needed a break : ). She went two days a week. This year, I started Deacon in preschool 2 days a week, and Paige is now up to 4 days per week (4 hours each day). They absolutely LOVE it and I am seeing amazing progress in both of them. Plus, it has given me the opportunity to jumpstart my freelance PR business, working 20 hours each week for a brand I am wild about.

But how do you know which preschool to send your child to? We started out at one last year, and then switched to a different one this year. I chose both based on word of mouth and recommendations from other mamas. And recently, I cam across a preschool search engine from where you can enter in your city, state or zip and see a comprehensive list of preschools close by. It provides student to teacher ratios, as well as an opportunity for parents to review their experiences. I think this "Preschool Search" tool is invaluable to parents who like to do their own research, see all that is available in their town, and then gauge other mama's experiences at that preschool.
Here is a link to check out the Preschool Search tool on

Paige's first day of preschool 2013 - 3.5 years old

Deacon's first day of preschool 2013 - 2 years old


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sweet Leigh Mama’s Super-Secret Veggielicious Faux-Ketchup

What is it with kids and dip? In my house, EVERYTHING gets dipped. Pretzels, carrots, scrambled eggs, potatoes, tomatoes… even sandwiches. The two top dip requests? Ketchup and Ranch dressing. Sound familiar? : )

One long and frustrating day a year or so ago it hit me: if dip is going to be a staple in my children’s diets, why don’t I use it as part of my “Stealth Health” mission? (Stealth Health defined: Actively seeking ways to counteract the way-too-often chicken nugget and French fry consumption in an effort to be the next “Mama of the Year”) Lucky for 99.9% of us mamas, we didn’t pop out mini food connoisseurs. When it comes to ketchup, as long as it’s red, tomatoey and squirts out of a ketchup-looking bottle, our kids are happy. Same with ranch dressing. And that’s how Sweet Leigh Mama’s Super Secret Veggielicious Faux-Ketchup was born. Here is the recipe – share it, Pin it, love it, live it! And feel good knowing that at least those French fries are being dipped in the most veggielicious dip possible : ) And Check back soon for another Stealth Health recipe: Sweet Leigh Mama’s Super-Secret Protein-Fabulous Faux-Ranch

Sweet Leigh Mama’s Super-Secret Veggielicious Faux-Ketchup

Note: Because this faux-ketchup contains no extra preservatives, you may not get through the bottle before it needs to be replaced. I remake the faux-ketchup every two weeks, discarding the leftovers from the previous batch. We eat a lot of ketchup, so we do come close to finishing a batch : )
  • 1 can (15 oz) of sliced beets, drained (sub fresh beets if you are a super mama). Keep the beet juice to add later on.
  • 1 can (15 oz) of diced tomatoes (just the plain, no salt added, no flavoring kind – and definitely not Rotel unless you’re trying to burn your kids tongue off)
  • 1 can (15 oz) of sliced carrots, drained (sub fresh carrots if you are a super mama)
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Onion powder, salt & pepper to taste
  • A blender
Put all ingredients into blender and puree until it is 100% smooth. No lumps or bumps. Add the beet juice as needed to thin out your faux-ketchup and make it as close to the consistency of real ketchup as possible. Sprinkle onion powder, salt & pepper to taste. Carefully transfer faux-ketchup into the ketchup container (I use a funnel with a large opening).