Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Obligatory Annual Photos

Declan's Christmas PJ's FINALLY arrived yesterday (Side Note: Disney Store failed me this year and was out of stock of the PJ's I always buy immediately. Land's End saved the day for 5 of the kids... They didn't have Declan's size, so Personalized Creations saved the day for him [His name is on his butt. So cute!]... They still matched good enough.) and I took their obligatory annual "in front of the Christmas tree in their pajamas" pictures. I started this tradition years ago.

Here they are, in all heir glory.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Seriously.. Don't I have the cutest kids!? (Being the weirdo that I am, yes they are in order from youngest to oldest.)
I wonder if they'll always be good sports about this Pajamas in front of the tree thing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Saving Charleston Birth Place

I am writing about this because Charleston Birth Place is dear to my heart. It is not only the place I gave birth to my youngest, but it is a place where Midwives who I care about pour their heart and soul into.

Charleston Birth Place is a free-standing Birth Center. One of 6 in the whole state of South Carolina. It is owned and operated by Lesley Rathbun RN, MSN, FMP, CNM as well as 4 other Certified Nurse Midwives.  They fulfill all national standards for Birth centers and up until DHEC decided to reinterpret a 20+ year old policy, they also met all of South Carolina's standards. The SC DHEC recent reinterpretation requires a physician to respond onsite at the birth center if a patient experiences complications. The American College of Nurse-Midwives Director, Jesse Bushman writes, “an overly stringent interpretation that this regulation requires a physician to be physically present at a birth center in emergencies would hinder rather than promote appropriate transfer of care by mandating unnecessary delays.” This reinterpretation is putting all 6 Birth Centers at risk of losing their licences. This is just unacceptable. Women deserve the right to choose where they birth their children. Losing those birth centers will force mothers into hospitals where routine c-sections are the norm and constant monitoring is required. Laboring while hooked up to all kinds of machines and unable to move very much is not how we were made to labor and give birth! (If it is what you choose, that is perfectly fine, but you should be able to CHOOSE.) Hospitals are necessary and some mothers do need to give birth there for medical reasons. Some women do need c-sections. However, for a normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery, all of the extra medical intervention is absolutely unnecessary.


Here are some statistics about Charleston Birth Place:

CBP is nationally accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Birth Centers (CABC) and is an AABC member.

They have assisted in the birth of over 1,100 babies.

From their opening in 2007 until June 2013, only 13% of mothers in labor had to be transferred to the hospital where CBP's overseeing OB-GYNs care for them (Trident Medical Center). (Just an FYI, the dedicated midwives stay with the mother all the way through it)

The newborn transfer rate to Trident Medical Center is 1.5%, with only 0.3% cases being an acute emergency. Of those 1,100 births, there have been no maternal or neonatal mortalities.

CBP’s c-section rate is currently 7%. Compared to Medicaid patients’ c-section rates of 35% and privately insured patients’ rates of 39%.

They save people and the state of SC money. Birth Center births on average cost $2,277. Compare that to hospital births with no complications at a cost of $8,920 or c-sections with no complications at $14,900. Birth centers are by far a cost effective option.

Successful exclusive breastfeeding rate is 80%.

I am currently living in a state that has ONE birth center that is 2 hours away from me. They also do not take our insurance. So if I were to finally get pregnant again here in CT, I would not have the option of a Birth Center. There needs to be MORE Birth Centers! We all deserve the right to choose where we give birth!
I waited months for DHEC to give me approval to birth at CPB because I was pregnant for #6 and apparently that is too many babies by their standard.

Government agencies take note: Stay out of our vaginas and our uteri! Women have been birthing babies since the beginning of time! It's natural. We have this.




Charleston Birth Place was by far the best Prenatal and Birth experience I had out of the 6. I felt comfortable going there. I felt that the midwives truly cared for me. I felt they truly had my best interest at heart. Every. Single. Thing. from beginning to end was excellent. I love them all and each of them have a place in my heart. I never had that with a single one of my other birth experiences. CBP is just wonderful in every way and I can't stand to watch them being threatened by DHEC.


Please go to savecbp.org to see what you can do to help. Every one of our voices can make a difference! This is about more than just a birth center, this is about women's rights, human rights and the attack on small business.

Here is the website for Charleston Birth Place charlestonbirthplace.com


Declan with Tony and I, fresh out of the womb ;). He was born in the birth tub and then we moved over to the bed. (This is the first time I've ever shared this photo)

4.5 hours after giving birth, we were HOME with all of our children. Exactly what I wanted.



I wish I had the chance to have given birth to my first 5 children with them. Please help support Charleston Birth Place through this!





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods

Ok, so this isn't necessarily about Whole Foods... but.. it is... kind of.

Anyway. Why is it that every. single. time. I go to Whole Foods people are rude? I know there are rude people everywhere, but every trip there I encounter rude people. 

As I walk through Whole Foods all happy, looking at the beautiful displays of overpriced food and natural items. Smelling the handmade soaps and gawking at the drool worthy fresh, never frozen, organic free range meats (and I don't really care for meat in general btw), there has to be at least one dick that crosses my path. Is it because I am shopping in my VS yoga pants and my Sons Of Anarchy sweatshirt? Is it because I am there with my 6 well behaved children, shoving my big family in your face while clearly undermining your great concerns for global overpopulation? OR, is it just because you're a dick?

The other day while shopping at Whole Foods, very diligently making sure my brood does not get in the way in the very tightly packed store, I stopped at a display to look at an item. One side of the display there was a small area of walking space. On the other, there was a greater amount of walking space. I stopped at the side with less space while I read the ingredients of this said item. A women decided to pass on my side of the display, despite the fact that there was no one in the path on the other side. That in itself isn't an issue, except she shoved by me with her basket on her arm, nearly knocking me over and hitting me in the head with the basket (You see, I am barely over 5ft tall and she was quite a tall woman herself). She didn't even as much as look back, never mind apologize. WHY? I was out of the way, minding my own business. Something along these lines happens every time. 

Look here Whole Foods dick. I drive nearly an hour to get there in my giant gas guzzling bus (yeah, take that!) with my army of children, while living in a State (CT) that everything is incredibly overpriced, so I can buy specific items I am unable to get locally. I keep my minions tightly filing behind the cart as to not block the way for other customers. They are quiet and they keep their hands to themselves. *I* am courteous of other customers in the store as well. I'm sure I have accidentally gotten in the way without realizing it, but I make a concerted effort to be conscientious of those around me. Why be a dick? Surely you have heard of common courtesy? 

I apologize if this comes across as me stereotyping Whole Foods shoppers. That is not my intention at all. I am after all, also a Whole Foods shopper. Albeit on occasion because we are a family of 8 on a single military income, but I am still one.

For the love of fresh organic food, learn some common courtesy!


Oh and while on the subject of my recent Whole Foods trip... While checking out, the bagger commented on my sage smudge stick. She said that when she burned one it made her see god... in a hawk. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A lesson for a former "boy mom"

As a former "boy mom"  I never fully understood the moms who put leggings under their little girls dresses even if it wasn't cold out. I mean I got it... but I didn't. If that makes sense.
Now, I really get it.
The other day, while we had 2 maintenance men in the house (in my bedroom to be exact), my daughter was wearing a dress. I looked over at her and she was twisting weird and had her dress all pulled up. This is the conversation that followed.
Me: "Annabella, put your dress down. Why are you doing that?"
Annabella: "My pony panties." (My Little Pony underwear)
Me: "What's wrong with your underwear?"
Annabella: "They are in my butt hole" *giggles*
This all happened while standing in my room with both maintenance men. (I always watch them in my house) I could see one of them trying not to laugh and pretending he wasn't hearing the conversation.
Ahh, my little girl is such a lady...


This is her... farting on one of her brothers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Family Photo

A couple of weeks ago I made an attempt at a family photo on my own... you know, with the tripod, wireless shutter remote etc.  Considering how spur of the moment it was, it's a decent picture! I had planned to actually put more thought into it last weekend, but then my husband's part of the boat suddenly lost their weekends... sooo... I took advantage of that one day we had together. I'm obviously not a pro and have a lot of room for improvement.

Anyway, here it is.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Broken People

As I have gotten older and have had more experiences, both good and bad, I have learned and realized a lot of things. One of those things is that broken people, break people.

So many times I have wondered what it is that makes someone want to or even enjoy or get fulfillment out of breaking other people. Tearing them down, breaking their spirit, hurting their feelings... just being mean because they can. It has recently really clicked with me, that those people are broken. Something in them is broken in some way.

I teach my children to have compassion. That is something I really want them to grow up with. True compassion for others. I've realized that we have to have compassion for those broken people, even if we are the ones they are trying to break. And I'll admit, it's hard. I'm still working on that. It's easier to be angry than it is to find compassion within myself for that bitter broken person. It's hard to find that compassion when you see them doing it to others as well.

So here is my advice, that *I* also need to take. When you see that broken person trying to break you or trying to break others, search within yourself to find even a small bit of compassion for them. Think about what it might be that has them broken inside and is making them that way. We can't fix everyone and sometimes I think some people can't be fixed. But a little compassion might be a little glimmer of hope for them to try to fix themselves.

We're all a little broken sometimes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just Thinking

I'm sitting here a little down, missing my husband and annoyed that my husband's sister is a wack-a-doo, having her friends spread lies and be hateful toward us for no reason. I guess it makes her feel good? Who knows. 

Anyway. I'm just doing a lot of thinking. We're trying to mentally prepare for my husband to be leaving soon. We have spent the last 2 years with an incredibly difficult schedule (he is basically never here anyway) and that leads into him going to sea. It's part of his job, but still makes us so sad. My husband is very literally my best friend. He is the one person who completely gets me and accepts me and loves me for exactly who I am, just the way I am. My quirkiness is part of why he loves me.

I am thinking about how I have never quite felt like I fit... anywhere. I have a handful of people who I consider friends and I care about them and I think they care about me. But I still don't feel like I "fit", which leads to me feeling pretty lonely. I just feel like an outsider over all. I am *so* thankful for the people who can accept that we are Atheist and still love us even though they are devout Christians and those who aren't bothered by my piercings or funky hair. I just wish I felt like I fit and can still be me. I removed my piercings years ago because I thought it would help, but I have realized it's just me, not my appearance really. Over the years that I have been a Navy Wife, I have become close to a few people who wound up really hurting me in the end. So I think there is a degree of fear also.

For the most part I'm an open book. I am honest to a fault. I am loyal to a fault sometimes too. I'm generally quiet, but my upfront approach with my thoughts and feelings is abbrasive or a bother to some. That has made me withdraw a bit and be more quiet. I care, feel and love fiercely. That also means I can hold onto past hurt like no other. Hey, I'm far from perfect. On the flip side of that though, I try so hard to show people that I care when I can.

I'm not even entirely sure where I am going with this rambling, really. So I apologize for the mental vomit here before you.

I never thought that at my age I would still feel so out of place. I know I am not the best friend a person could have. But I really honestly have so much on my plate. I just hope people realize I don't mean to be so absent. I am so very happy with the things that do keep my plate full though. I guess I just wish I wasn't left with a lonely outsider feeling when my husband, my best friend, can't be around.

My final thought.... What kind of fulfillment do people get from hurting others intentionally? Are there actually people who get the "warm fuzzies" from talking badly about others, making up lies and just being hateful? Those are the people I don't ever want to fit in with, if so.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I love you all :).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Measure of Success

Different people measure success in different ways. Some people measure success by how much money you make, some by how many awards you have, some by how famous you are... Success is so much more than that, yet so simple. 

In the end, in the big scheme of things when you're old and you're nearing the end of your life, money, fame, awards, none of that will matter. That job evaluation wont matter. The nice car you have wont matter. The cushy bank account wont matter. The relationships with the people who love you are what will matter. Those relationships need to be nurtured all through your life. When the wrong definition of success is what you're striving to achieve, those relationships will suffer.

Yes, you need to be successful in your job so you can live. But a balance must be made. The people who love you have to be a priority for true success. If you're doing excellent at work, but neglecting the people who love you, are you really successful

I happen to be writing this on September 11th. The 12th anniversary of the attack in New York. It is especially in the forefront of my mind today that the people we love the most, might not always be there. Tomorrow is not promised. Don't forget to nurture the relationships with the people who love you. Don't forget to make that phone call just to say "I love you". Don't forget to put them first, often. Don't forget to leave work, at work. Don't forget to go home to the people who love you with a smile and a good attitude, even if you had a bad day. Don't forget to show them that they matter. Don't forget to listen. Live in a manner that if you lost one of those people who love you too soon, that you will not have regrets and you'll know they felt like a priority and felt loved.

Get your mind in the right place and really, truly be successful

Thursday, September 5, 2013

There is clearly a disconnect here

I don't like to talk about politics on my blog or at all really, but this is something that is bothering me.

There is clearly a disconnect between the US military and a good portion of the nation. Quotes and comments I have seen, in regards to the possible strike are disheartening to say the least. Insensitivity, disregard for the military and sheer ignorance is what much of it has been.

A lot of people have the misconception that action like this is no big deal for the military/military families and wont have much of an impact at all. It is a big deal and it will have an impact! A strike like this has the potential to become something bigger than the president wants us to believe. That means it has the potential to take the lives of more of our military members. Who are still out risking their lives and being killed in Afghanistan by the way... Things like this also cost a lot of money. The military has already been cut and reduced in numbers because the government lacks the necessary money.

So, this comment from Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent has me pretty annoyed. You'd think she would be a little more connected to reality with the job title that she holds.
"...I don't think it's really going to affect military families at all. This is going to be, if it is ordered, a cruise missile strike, no U.S. troops on the ground, Navy ships out in the eastern Mediterranean that would be on deployment anyhow."
Oh really?

Then you have those clever marketing people who are so insensitive that they would use the president's catch phrase "No boots on the ground" to sell things.


Come on now.... What poor taste....

Anyway, back to my original point. A large portion of our country is obviously disconnected from the military and their families.

Please take a moment to remember that our military members are not robots or empty beings. Our military are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters.... They are people. People who chose to serve our country and keep us safe and protected. Those of us that love people in the military are reminded every day of this. When the potential for military action arises, it tugs at our hearts and we feel a pit in our stomach knowing that if it happens, it will affect us in one way or another. A military strike against another country is not something that is no big deal. It's not like running an errand on the way home. It is also not something that is funny, witty or otherwise good to mock in the name of business.


ETA: This has nothing to do with my opinion on whether it should be done or not. That is a whole other subject that I do not plan to get into on my blog :).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I'll be just fine if one of my children is gay

The answer to this is really simple. I mean REALLY simple. For me it is anyway.

The short answer: Because it doesn't matter.

The long answer: My children's sexuality does not/will not change a thing. They are amazing, caring little people and they will grow up to be amazing, caring adults whether they prefer men or women. There is so much more depth to them than their sexual orientation. Right now, my older boys express (and exhibit) that they like girls, but if that is different for any of them, who cares? I don't. What I DO care about is them growing up to be caring, tolerant, accepting, kind, driven, successful people. Above all, I want them to be happy.

I was raised in a time where being gay wasn't as widely accepted as it is now. I was raised in a home, where had I been gay, it would not have been easily accepted. My parents are Christian and old fashioned when it comes to this topic. They believe it is a sin and a choice. Both of which I wholeheartedly disagree with. "Gay" doesn't rub off on you from someone else. You can't cure "gay". You can't just decide to change your natural attraction to one sex or the other.

My husband and I have been and will continue to raise our children in a way that displays there is no difference. Gay or straight we are all the same. It's not even necessary to really talk about it, just our actions and the way we treat everyone the same, regardless is enough. Not pointing out a couple that happens to be gay, for that reason, is enough. Not shielding them from gay couples and only allowing them to see straight couples, is enough. Not giving people we know or come across a label, either way, is enough. My friend Eric is my friend, not my gay friend. That couple in the store holding hands is a couple, not a gay couple. My friends Jack and Jill are a couple, not a straight couple. I think removing the labels, either way, makes a big difference. We are all people.

So, if I happen to have a gay child., my wish for them is to just be happy with who they choose to be happy with. I don't ever want them to fear rejection from my husband or I. I also wish that by then, society will be more open minded and the labels will be less prevalent. I want to see every one of them who wishes to get married, be able to marry whoever it is they choose.



I hope that rather than friends and readers who disagree with this, getting upset... that maybe it will make you think a little. Open your heart and mind a little.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

My birthday with my favorite people

Yesterday was my Birthday (our oldest son's also) and my husband was actually HOME... Shocking. Seriously. Anyway... The weather was absolutely gorgeous so I wanted to go somewhere outside. We went to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, CT. I took some pictures of us all there, we went to get the kids ice cream at Cold Stone, then we drove to Fall River, Ma on a whim to have a picnic at Battleship Cove and watch the sunset. It was just so nice to have my family whole for a day (Yeah, just 1 day. My husband has duty today). I couldn't have asked for more :).

My favorite people in the whole world!



My trusty Galaxy S4 was there to take pictures at Battleship Cove ;).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Letter from my 2 year old (If he could write a letter)

Dear Mommy,

     I love you, but I am very disappointed that you just threw that booger I gave you away. I worked hard at getting that out for you. When I saw that you were asleep early this morning, I was quick to wake you up because sleeping is soooo boring! I'd hate for you to miss something cool! Why do you tell me to stop when I am jumping in my bedroom? Do you realize how awesome it is!? I mean, come on.. I'm 2 and I can jump up and down, actually off the ground and land, without falling! I'm a bad-ass, really. Oh and one more thing... I wait until you sit down to eat to make a poopie, because that's the one time you're not busy. I'm doing you a favor! Why do you not appreciate this!? You're such a funny Mommy. I tell you that I have "dirty balls" because it makes you giggle. You're so silly.

I better end this letter now, I need to go scream at my sister to make her cry.

Love,
Decky

PS. I made another poopie for you. XOXO


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Things that make me happy

One of the things that make me happy is Farmers Markets... especially when the weather is beautiful. You know, besides my freaking adorable kids and awesome husband, of course.

We went over to the Denison Farm Market is Mystic, CT earlier this afternoon. Picked up a few things, listened to a sweet man play guitar and sing (He even knelt down and sang Johnny Cash to Declan. Sooo sweet.) and talked to nice people. It's a decent size Farmers Market and the people are fantastic! It makes me miss the South a whole lot. Days like today, when my husband is actually here with us (A rare occurrence the past couple of years), the weather is wonderful and we go to a Farmers Market or something like that... really makes me feel so happy inside.









Look at her tiny little hand holding Daddy's finger <3.


Declan was just making friends with everyone! He received tons of compliments yet again on his hat. 



Listening to the music.

Singing Johnny Cash to Declan. Can I go back and take him home, PLEASE?

Friday, August 9, 2013

I'm screwing up

I'm screwing up and I know it. I need to fix it. Not like a monumental oh. em. gee. kind of screwing up, but the subtle kind that I imagine could do the most damage in the long run.

My life right now is full of things that I have no control over. My husband's work schedule is grueling, which sucks for him and it sucks for us here, we've been struggling with infertility for *looks at calender* 22 months now (I have almost zero emotional support for this) and we have a set of neighbors who are literally out to get me (Like really... making stuff up to cause problems).

But like I was saying... I'm screwing up. With all of these things that are out of my control, I am just wishing the days away. The days turn into weeks. The weeks turn into years. I have days where I really do see the beauty in my life and I thoroughly enjoy all of the little things with my children. I look at their freckles, their blue eyes, listen to their laugh... I take it all in. But then I have days, too many days, where I am just wanting the day to be over because I am so tired of being alone and taking care of the kids, the meals, the house... almost everything here... alone. I constantly think how I "can't wait" for the next 5-ish years to be over, so my husband can retire and we can live a more normal life. A life where we actually get to see him and I feel much less like a single mother. Then I realize, I am wishing away 5 years of my childrens childhood. My older boys will be teens... nearly adults. That realization is gut wrenching.

I NEED to focus on all of the beautiful things in my life. I need to slow down and enjoy each day with my children. I need to let the negative things that I can't control go and not dominate my life. This is a lot harder than it sounds and I know that, but I know I need to do it. I need to stop screwing up. My kids deserve better. *I* deserve better. I am going to make a conscious effort to allow myself to be sucked into the beautiful moments with my family. I'm going to smile. I'm going to be happy. When my children grow up, I don't want to feel like I wished the years away and missed everything. I don't want them to ever feel like they had anything less than a happy, loving mother. Their Dad is already missing so much of it, their mother, who is right here, can't miss it too.

I'm pissed at my broken body, I'm pissed at people who have nothing better to do than try to hurt others and I'm pissed at the Navy for taking my husband away from us so much, but I can't let those things overwhelm me anymore.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Babies don't come with owners manuals

When we give birth to our children, they do not come out with an owners manual or an instruction sheet on how to properly raise them. Wouldn't that be awesome? A manual that tells you exactly how to raise that specific child? (though, the thought of a manual coming out of my vagina is a little scary)  Well, there is no manual because all children and all families are different. No manual, parenting book or website can tell you every step you need to take. Parenting is not a one size fits all type of thing. Different things work for different people and different families. We learn as we go, we learn from other people as we go. Getting advice is a great thing to do, because it gives you other options to try or new things to do, but if they don't work for you, don't stress over it! Something different will work for you.

I see you new moms with that look in your eyes... that look of fear that you aren't doing it right. I see you everywhere. I even see you, not so new moms with that same look. I'm sure *I* have that look now and then, even now. Raising human beings is some serious business. It's scary, it's frustrating and it's wonderful!

We all have a very different journey with the hopes and intention of achieving the same result. Happy, healthy children, who grow to be happy, healthy adults. Or some version of that, right? It'll be ok moms. We'll be ok. Ours kids will be ok. Lets keep doing our best to achieve our common goal. We're going to have good days and we're going to have bad days. That's ok! When we're having a bad day, lets remember, that we're doing our best and that is what matters. Lets remember that we're learning as we go too. Lets remember that parenting isn't one size fits all. All that matters is that we are trying our best. There are a few out there who don't try, but that's not us!

Babies don't come with owners manuals and that's ok! You're doing ok, mom. We're doing ok.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!


July 4th 1776, the United States of America adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

Please remember the men and women who uphold our enduring freedom every day, patrolling our waters, airways and land, and protecting us from threats that most of us will never even hear about. Many of them are not going to be attending BBQ's or get to enjoy a long weekend to celebrate with their families, because they are doing their job and keeping us safe. So many before them have also given the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we remain the free nation that we are and to help free others as well. Celebrate your Independence and remember those who protect it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let me tell you why

Let me tell you why my camera is like my 7th child. Let me tell you why I constantly take photos of our every day life that are probably boring as all get out to most of you. Let me tell you why...

My children are growing up in a family where there is constant change, constant, upheaval, lots of disappointment and lots of unknown. We move often, friends around us come and go often and Daddy isn't around much. Daddy.... my husband... that's what this is about the most. He misses so much. Family time is scarce, dinners together are rare and days off are few. He is gone before the kids are awake and often comes home after bedtime, on the days he does come home that is. There are duty days, there is time away, Navy schools, underways, deployments etc. He misses the day to day boring things with us. He doesn't get to see the baby learning to feed himself like a big boy at breakfast or dinner. He doesn't often get to see the kids run around in the sprinkler on a Saturday. He doesn't get to see his little girl dress up as a princess or fairy very much. He doesn't get to see the older boys building things and learning on a regular basis.

My husband has watched most of our children's childhood thus far, through photos and videos. The rare family time we have, I take pictures of him with the kids. I don't care if it's us on a walk or eating ice cream... he's with them and those moments are so valuable.

I photographically document our boring mundane life for my husband, for myself and for my children. I also do it for the family that we never see due to the distance that the Navy has created. When my children look back at their childhood and remember that Dad wasn't around much, I want them to see that photo of him eating ice cream with them, taking that walk or him sitting on the couch with them, and remember that the little time he was able to be with them, he cherished and made the best of.

That is why.

Me being the mamarazzi with my camera and my smart phone, has it's purpose. In my mind anyway. Those pointless, boring, every day pictures have so much more meaning to us. Every time my husband leaves work/the boat (you know, because he isn't allowed to have his phone with him), he looks at facebook or instagram and scrolls through the pictures of the kids that I shared that day. They make him smile. He gets to see our children grow up, even if it's mostly through photos.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Impromptu photos are always the best!

Yesterday, I drove all of my children crazy by telling them they all had to come with me to take a picture. Whenever I PLAN to photograph them, in a nice location with good lighting... it's always a bust. When I do it very last minute, they always come out great... just with crappy lighting, in a not so pretty place.

I love this picture though, crappy lighting/location and all.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Blueberry Muffins - Allergy Friendly! (Not Gluten Free)

These Blueberry Muffins are delicious! I adapted a couple of different recipes to be allergy friendly for my 8 year old. This was a WIN! The allergy friendly Brownie attempt I made this past weekend, on the other hand.... lets not even talk about the fail that those were. Here you have, another one of my NOT healthy, but yummy, treats!

The things commonly found in baked goods that we have to avoid are dairy, barley (in most all purpose flour), soy (vegetable oil is soy), rice and nuts. So, this is why my recipes are the way they are.

You're drooling, right!?


Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use an organic brand without Barley)
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal mixed with 6 tablespoons of warm water in a separate bowl (allow to sit a few minutes before mixing everything together.) This replaces 2 eggs.
2/3 cup and 2 tablespoons coconut milk. (If using eggs and regular milk, just use 2/3 cup of milk.)
1.5 - 2 cups of fresh blueberries

1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread cut/broken up into small chunks.
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions 

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or line standard size muffin cups.

2. Combine 3 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, salt and baking powder, then add flaxseed meal mixture, canola oil and almond milk. Mix together. Fold in blueberries. This batter is very thick, but bakes up excellent. Fill muffin cups to top and sprinkle with crumb topping.

3. Crumb Topping: Mix together 1 cup white sugar, 2/3 cup flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and combine that with the crumbled buttery spread. I use my hands to smash/crumble it all together. This makes a very generous amount of topping.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes


This recipe should be just as good with eggs, regular milk and butter for those who aren't concerned about allergies.

Hazelwood and Amber Necklace, from Baltic Creations - Review

I had the pleasure of reviewing a Hazelwood and Amber Necklace from Baltic Creations recently. What was originally intended for my almost 2 year old, ended up being used on my 8 year old, who has the worst eczema out of my 6 and severe food allergies.



Now, I'll admit, we're already Amber and Hazelwood users here. We love them and swear by them (Really, I was totally skeptical until I saw the results myself). I do already own an Amber Teething Necklace from Baltic Creations that has been used on my younger two children over the past 3 years (I also own several from another reputable seller as well. Baltic Creations is in the US though, which I like.)

As soon as the Necklace arrived, pretty quickly might I add, I tore that package open and put it right on my youngest. I took off the Amber Necklace he was already wearing. He was in the middle of cutting some molars at the time and became cranky over the next couple of days. I realized, there just wasn't enough Amber on the Hazelwood and Amber Necklace to do the job for him (The Baltic Amber is what gives the most natural pain relief), so I put his full Amber necklace back on. However, my 8 year old was in need of a new Hazelwood necklace because his was old. I put it on him! As I expected, I did see an improvement in his skin within a day! He has been wearing the necklace for a couple of months now, I believe. It's holding up well and still working for him.



So here's the bottom line:

The materials are authentic (no plastic "amber", which obviously will not do anything for you.).
The quality and craftsmanship is very good.
The item was shipped well and arrived intact.
It works.
If you're looking for a TEETHING necklace, go with full Baltic Amber.
If you're looking for something for skin ailments, heartburn etc. Hazelwood is excellent.
I will definitely be a return customer of Baltic Creations.

Click Here to view this necklace and the benefits of Hazelwood.

Both Hazelwood and Baltic Amber have a wide range of ailments they can help with! Just check them out! :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Allergy Friendly: Cinnamon Rolls - Dough prepped in Bread Machine


Here it is! An allergy friendly version of my cinnamon rolls! The dough is prepped in a bread machine.

*Dairy Free
*Soy Free
*Egg Free
*Rice Free
*Barley Free

*No nuts, with the exception of Almond Milk. (Almonds tend to be in their own category as far as nuts go and the only nut my son isn't allergic to)

I may try this again with coconut milk and see if that is another substitute that will work well.





Dough

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of Almond milk
3 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal, mixed with 6 tablespoons of warm water (to replace eggs)
1/2 cup of sugar
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of organic (without barley) flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons rapid rise yeast



Filling

4 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance *Soy Free* Natural Buttery Spread
1/4 cup of sugar
2 - 4 tablespoons of cinnamon
*I honestly don't measure the cinnamon and sugar, I just sprinkle it until it looks good to me.



Icing

3 teaspoons of Almond milk
1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance *Soy Free* Natural Buttery Spread
1 teaspoon of vanilla
*Adjust milk if it's too thick to fully mix well.



Put the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order that they are listed above and run on the dough cycle. After the dough is finished, roll it out into a large rectangle. Spread the melted butter substitute over the rolled out dough and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar evenly over it.

Roll the dough and cut into roughly 1 1/2 inch sections. I get 12 out of this. Lightly grease the pan with Palm Oil Shortening. Place cut cinnamon rolls onto the baking sheet, close together, but with enough space for them to expand. Bake at 325 for about 24 minutes (remember that ovens vary. So watch them and take them out when they begin to get a light golden brown.) Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven.


**The Earth Balance *Soy Free* Natural Buttery Spread is a little bit of a pain to find locally for me, so we usually get a few containers at a time when we find it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Steubenville Rape Case - Yes, I'm Blogging About It

I generally prefer not to blog about things in the media, however I feel as if it's my responsibility as a woman and a mother, to speak up.

If you have not heard about this horrifying case, a quick Google search will give you endless results to brush up on it, if you wish.

I'd like to start this with stating my disgust with CNN reporters for how they expressed sympathy for the 2 rapists after they had been sentenced a couple of days ago. I know I'm not alone with this feeling of disgust. I've seen many other people expressing a degree of sympathy for the rapists. People have talked about how their lives are ruined, how they were promising football stars, how hard it must be for them etc. How about the victim? The girl who while incapacitated was raped, urinated on, dragged around and photographed. That girl will have to deal with this in one way or another, for the rest of her life. With the support of her friends and family, she will get stronger, she will get better, she will move on and have a good life. But nothing will make that event go away. The emotional and mental toll that this type of thing has on a person is tremendous. 

There is NO EXCUSE for the actions of those two rapists that night. There is NO EXCUSE for the teens who took photographs and videos. There is NO EXCUSE for all of the witnesses who watched and did nothing. There is NO EXCUSE for the authorities who attempted to sweep the case under the rug.

Kudos to Anonymous for being an advocate for the victim and getting this story out there. And also to the blogger who captured screenshots of the twitter conversations about the event.

In regards to the sentencing, I have read many things that have said something along the lines of, What difference would a harsher sentence/more time really make? A harsher sentence would drive home the fact that what they did is absolutely inexcusable. Not only for Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, but for everyone. Furthermore, it would give a more profound sense of justice to the victim. That justice is just another piece in the healing process. People stress the fact that they will have to register as sex offenders. Of course they will! They ARE sex offenders! They earned that title all on their own.

Lets not forget, not only did Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond digitally rape, urinate on and photograph this girl, they also joked and bragged about it on twitter, as well as shared the images of the girl after the fact. Many other witnesses discussed the event as well, all negative toward the victim. Even other teen girls. They called it rape, they KNEW it was wrong.

There is an enormous problem here. This problem goes beyond just these teens lacking basic compassion and morals. This is an issue with the football culture there in Steubenville, where the "stars" are regarded as above the law. This is an issue with lack of parental involvement where it matters. This is an issue with society. There is so much that urgently needs to be addressed and the Steubenville Rape Case has brought it to light. Things MUST change.

We're in 2013 and it astounds me that victim blaming in rape cases is still so prevalent. There is absolutely no excuse for rape. No. Excuse.

The sentencing in this case was a slap on the wrist. Just look at it all together. Go read the tweets. Go watch the video.


EDIT: Friday, March 22, 2013
I watched the Steubenville special on ABC's 20/20 tonight. I am so deeply disappointed in the clear sympathy garnering for the rapists and the little compassion expressed for the victim. Comparing Ma'lik and his past to "The Blind Side"? Come on now ABC, that was in poor taste and if I were Michael Oher, I'd be furious.

The thing I am much, MUCH more disappointed about is what I saw while following the #ABC2020 hashtag discussion on twitter. I think sickened by, is probably more accurate actually. Women were calling the victim a "Ho" and other names along those lines. Both men and women were blaming the victim.

We need to teach our children better. We NEED to. This needs to be a discussion with your teens. We need to raise our younger children knowing better than this teen generation does right now. There is another similar case going on in CT right now.

The victim blaming mentality too many people have toward this type of situation is just unacceptable. The perpetrators need to be held fully responsible for their actions. No excuses.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dear Moms

Dear Moms who think I am an over achiever. Moms who think I am crazy. Moms who think I do things the way I do, to try to be better than you or make you feel less than.

I don't cook most things from scratch to be better than you. I don't keep my home the way I do, just to make you feel bad about yours. I don't homeschool and think you're bad if you don't. I don't do anything at all to be better than you or to "out mother" you. Nothing I do for my family is about you at all.

I'm a mother, just like you. I'm a mother to 6 children and we have 2 dogs. I'm a mother who homeschools. I'm a mother who is just doing her best, just like you. I'm the mother of a child with a long list of severe food allergies.

The truth is, I cook the way I do, because I have no choice. Of course I'm happy that my kids are eating healthy to go along with that, but I would love if I could heat them some frozen nuggets now and then or order a pizza on a night where I just really don't want to cook. But, I can't do those things without risking my son's life. I don't share new things I make just to bother you, I share them for those interested.

I keep my home organized and clean because I have trouble getting through my day successfully otherwise. It makes my day run more smoothly with the kids and homeschooling and I feel less stressed out. Keeping the floors clean sure does help when the baby has dropped his cheese stick on the floor for the 20th time and I don't have to throw it away because of dirt or dog fur. The five second rule totally applies here. Some of my kids and myself also have environmental allergies, so keeping everything dusted and vacuumed makes us all less uncomfortable. Unless my feet are getting stuck to your floor or my kids come home filthy from just sitting on your couch, I don't notice how clean your home is or isn't, so quit thinking I am going to judge you.

I homeschool because it's right for us. Between the moving and food allergies, right now, it works for my family. It's not for everyone and I don't ever think otherwise.

Cloth diapers.... breastfeeding... those are also things I choose for my family. I don't care if you choose them for yours or not. If I share a link now and then, take it or leave it. I'm only sharing for those interested, not to offend those who aren't.

I share things I do, sometimes because I'm excited that I came up with another allergy free recipe and other times because I do have friends who are genuinely interested. Never do I share pictures, recipes, details about my day or anything else like that, to offend/upset/annoy/bother/judge you.

And one last thing. Keeping a clean home does not mean I am neglecting to spend quality time with my children. My entire life is devoted to my children. A clean home is not a sign that I must be pushing them aside to achieve it.

At the end of the day, I am no different than you. I'm a mom, just like you. I'm tired, just like you. I'm doing my best, just like you. I love my children, just like you. We all do things differently and that's ok.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to take little kids out to play in the snow - AKA "slow torture"

Moms and Dads, any of you who have bundled up kids, especially toddlers and young children to go play in the snow... you all know what I'm talking about here.

Lets begin...

First, if you're so lucky to have thought ahead and have all of the snow pants, jackets and gloves together and readily available, then this part isn't so bad. Otherwise, you must go frantically searching the house/garage/vehicle, while the kids whine to go out, looking for everything. Tell everyone to go pee! Even if they do, they will need to again once they are dressed, don't worry.

Once you get everything together, now it's time to bundle them up. Oh this part is fun. You begin to break a sweat as you struggle to get their boots on and the snow pants on properly, so that snow doesn't get up in their pants or down into their boots. "Mommy! My socks feel funny!" "My pants are twisted!"

Then the gloves and jacket are equally as fun. You also want these on properly to keep their hands and arms warm and dry. "My sleeve in bunched up! Ahhhhhhhhh!" "My fingers are in the same hole!" "Heeeeelp!"

Lets not forget the hat and hood! You need to keep those heads and necks warm and dry too! "My hair feels funny!" "You buttoned the hood too tight!" "I can't see!" "I'm hot!"

Finally! They are dressed and ready to go out into the snow!!!

"I have to pee!" Take them pee... and start over again.


Ok NOW, an hour later, they are ready to go outside!

Yay! They are having fun! They are diving through the snow and laughing and happy! Oh. Em. Gee... This was so worth all of the trouble! Woohoo!

About 2 minutes later, the youngest will begin to cry because it's too cold. The only thing to do, is to hold him, in his 50 lbs of snow gear, so you can watch the rest of the kids have fun. But then the other toddler is pissed that she can't walk through the snow because it's too deep, so you have the little toddler on one hip (but it really feels like you are toting around a grown man with all of the damn snow gear) while using your other hand to lift her tiny body with the 65 lbs of snow gear through the snow.

Within minutes, a kid is crying that their hands are cold, another gets snow up their sleeve, another falls face first into the snow... 15 blissful minutes in the snow and the little ones are saying screw this, I want to go inside.

The undressing process, while stressful, is much easier than getting them dressed. "Come on guys, you look like you're ready for a nap!"

"Did you have fun!? I bet you did! SNOW IS SO FUN!!!!!"


Well, Mom and/or Dad, you just had one hell of a workout, go eat some chocolate. Seriously, go eat some before you hurt someone.


                                                          Don't they look THRILLED?


When do we get stationed in the South again?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vegetable/Vegetarian Lasagna

This is my healthier spin on Lasagna that my family loves! Even my meat loving husband (That sounded bad didn't it?). It's obviously not a diet recipe, but it has some good stuff in it. However, it's not allergy friendly for my 8 year old :/.

I like to make this ahead of time and have it in the fridge ready to bake a couple of hours-ish before dinner.

Ingredients

- 1 box of Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles.

- 3 24oz jars of marinara sauce (or roughly 72ozs of homemade etc.)

- 1 2lb container of Ricotta Cheese.

- 6 cups of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese.

- 1 1/2 cups of Grated Parmesan Cheese.

- 3 cups of fresh Spinach.

- 2 medium size Zucchini.

- 2 medium size Summer Squash.

- Olive Oil

- Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano (dry or fresh, finely chopped) and Basil (dry or fresh, finely chopped).

- Large Deep Lasagna Pan

Preparation

Thinly slice the zucchini and summer squash. Half or quarter the slices depending on the girth of the vegetables (heehee). Saute with roughly a tablespoon of Olive Oil until soft.


While sauteing the zucchini and squash, finely chop the fresh Spinach leaves (I use a Pampered Chef slap chopper thinger) and cook the Lasagna Noodles.

Tip: After draining the lasagna noodles, rinse and lay them out flat so they don't stick together and tear while assembling the lasagna!

Combine the container of Ricotta, 4 cups of Mozzarella, 1 cup of Grated Parmesan and the chopped spinach in a large bowl. Season to taste (we all like things a little different!) with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and basil. Mix together thoroughly.



Assembly

Preheat oven to 350.

Use the large deep lasagna pan.

Pour a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan before laying out your first layer of noodles.

After the first layer of noodles is down, using half of the cheese mixture, spread it over the entire bottom layer of noodles. Liberally poor marinara on top of the cheese (more or less depending on your preference), Lightly sprinkle some shredded mozzarella on top of the cheese and sauce.

Lay out another layer of lasagna noodles, this time laying them in the opposite direction of the first layer (You'll need to cut the noodles for the short direction of the pan). Take all of the cooked zucchini and squash and spread it over the entire second layer of noodles. Pour sauce over the zucchini sauce. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

For the third layer, repeat the first, exactly. Top it off with a final layer of noodles. On top of that final layer, pour a good amount of marinara and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan. Just remember to alternate the direction of the noodles with each layer you put down. It makes the lasagna more stable.

Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.