Monday, September 28, 2015

Don't hide your nude body from your children

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

Growing up, I was one of 5 children in our household.  We lived in a 3 bedroom apartment with 1 bathroom in Brooklyn.  Three girls in one room, one boy (the oldest) in his own room and my parents and baby brother in the 3rd room.  One bathroom meant no privacy, ever!  Even if the door was locked (with a latch hook), a butterknife was used to unlock it and barge in.  Showers and baths were usually shared too, just for convenience.  It wasn't anything weird or inappropriate.  Just normal routines amongst family members.

My mom was not shy at all about her body.  Many times we'd catch her walking completely naked from the bathroom after her shower to her bedroom on the opposite side of the apartment to get dressed.  She call regular meetings with random kids in the bathroom while she was doing her business, just as part of her multi-tasking.  We never found any of this to be weird or awkward.  The only one we never saw nude was our dad.  I'm sure we can all agree we are fine with that.

What's the point of all this?  To prove that nudity is a natural, normal, healthy thing.  There is nothing wrong with children seeing their parents nude, especially their mother.  I am often nude around my children, whether we are showering together or I'm just in the process of getting dressed.  The same is true for my husband.  My kids, all boys, learned to pee standing up by using the toilet alongside my husband.  They learned by example.  It teaches children that there is nothing to be ashamed of.  I DO teach modesty in the sense that my children know privacy with others.  They know that nudity is something restricted to the privacy or our own home (or hotel room, etc.).  Because of this, my kids don't pay any attention to our nudity.  The may ask questions or make random comments, but it doesn't bother them one bit.

My mother once told me a story of her friend who had two sons.  This woman (D) always hid her nudity from her boys.  One day she noticed her 6 year old son staring at her body oddly one day as she stood in her nightgown.  Almost as if he could see through it.  It made her feel very awkward.  When she told my mom, my mom explained that he is probably just curious.  She advised D to allow her boys to see her naked body and explain the differences between her and them.  She did this and that solved the problem.

It's not always perfect.  You still have to teach limits.  Once my 6 year old squeezed my breast while I was nursing my baby.  He said he was helping the milk come out.  I explained that a woman's "boobies" are her private parts, just like the bottom is private.  He felt bad that he touch me that way and was sorry.  I told him it is ok, but it was something he had to learn.  My children are very clear about "private parts".  They know it is NOT ok to touch people's private parts and the same is true for their own parts.  NO ONE is allowed to touch their parts, unless Mommy or Daddy says its ok, which will only be a doctor.  They also know that even we are not allowed to touch them if they are not comfortable with it.  When we shower them, they must wash their own parts.  They know that some "tricky people" may want to try to touch them inappropriately or ask to be touch by them.  They know this is NOT ok and to tell a trusted adult immediately.

The point is, there is nothing wrong with nudity between a mother and her children.  Why is it ok for children to watch people being killed violently, heads being blown up, bodies being mutilated on tv, but a nipple is considered offensive?  Violence is appalling!  Sexualizing the naked form is inappropriate for children, but there is nothing wrong with nudity itself.  It's all about what children are taught.  They are a blank slate and need to be filled with good, healthy, useful information.

The pic below is me with my preemie son Logan.  I am giving him Kangaroo care which is when the mother holds her baby skin to skin.  This helps the baby's health overall.  It is also great for mom.  In this case, nudity is beneficial for mom and baby.  When each of my children were born, I'd breastfeed them the same way.  Skin to skin.  It was so beautiful and definitely helped with the bonding experience.  Human health depends on skin contact!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maybe it's not all in my head

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

I'm not writing this to get sympathy from anyone.  Everyone who knows me know that is NOT how I work.  I actually almost never talk about what is wrong with me.  I don't like to complain about how awful I feel or how much pain I'm in.  It's just not my style.  That being said, I decided to write this to share my story with anyone who may also be experiencing these problems.  I'm sharing this to help support and guide others who may be going through something similar.

I have an autoimmune disease.  I have a few actually.  At this point in time, my diagnoses are Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Sjogren's syndrome, Raynaud's Disease and erythromelalgia.

What initiated the need for testing for these illnesses was my constant severe fatigue, body aches, joint pain and stiffness.  These feelings were almost continuous for about a year.  I just didn't feel right and after doing my own research, I decided to visit a rheumatologist for testing.  I already knew about the Raynaud's and erythromelalgia, but not the Hashimoto's and Sjogren's.

If you look up the names, they consist of the following (briefly):

Hashimoto's- the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing an overactive or under active thyroid, which leads to a whole other list of problems.  In about half of the cases, the thyroid is unaffected, which is the case for me.  However, I do have to keep an eye on my thyroid function in case that changes.

Sjogren's- the immune system attacks all moisture producing glands creating a whole host of problems.  This is where most of my discomfort comes from.  It causes dry eyes, dry mouth (with sores), dry nose (with cracks and sores), dry skin, digestive problems, breathing problems, joint pain and stiffness, muscle aches, and severe exhaustion and fatigue.  There are other body systems that are affected, but these what affect me.

Raynaud's- Extreme sensitivity to cold temps resulting in blue or yellow hands, feet, ears and nose.  It is extremely painful and very dangerous due to the risk of frostbite.

Erythromelalgia- An extremely painful vascular disorder affecting extremities, face, nose, ears.  More commonly affecting the legs and feet.  Also called "man on fire" syndrome because that's what it feels like!  Affected areas also swell up and turn bright red.  Usually triggered by heat, stress and activity.
*I diagnosed myself and confirmed diagnosis with a doctor after years of not knowing what was wrong with me.  For many years I didn't even know it was abnormal to have these feelings.

Of course I'm not happy to have these issues, but I am so relieved to have an actual diagnosis, proving that what I've been feeling is real.  For years I've struggled with all of these illnesses and even after seeing many doctors and having multiple tests, I still didn't have a diagnosis.  I was so frustrated and had given up altogether until about 3 years ago.  Looking back on all of my issues, they all make sense now that I have names for my conditions.  Now at least, I know what to expect and how to manage it.  More than anything, I know it's not all in my head, as many doctors implied.

My home business - lavender products

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

Being home all day with my kids is a blessing.  I know how lucky I am to have the opportunity to be home with them rather than work a full time job.  However, it can get a bit dull.  I don't know about you, but I get very antsy not earning any money.  I've been working since I was 14 years old.  Before that, I'd have yard sales, lemonade stands, take polaroid pictures at the beach, and anything else I could think of to earn a buck.  To me, it was magical to have money handed to me for my services.  I've never gotten rid of the itch to make money for myself.  Even when I was working full time, I was always looking for ways to earn cash directly for my services.

Since I was a kid, I've tried many things.  Now, as a stay-at-home-mom, I'm back to finding creative ways to earn a buck.  Not that I need to, but I LIKE to.  I've done everything from selling adult "toys" at home parties, cleaning services, face painting to my latest of lavender spa and beauty products.  The problem is I lose patience and get discouraged easily.  I have big dreams of success but no patience to give success a chance.  I'm gonna try to be patient this time.  I have some stuff made and I'm gonna just wait to see if it sells.  If it sells, I'll make more and go from there.

So my latest venture is making lavender spa and beauty products.  I have lots of lavender plants that I never know what to do with when I harvest the flowers, so I did some research and found some fun recipes for making beauty products.  I've already made a bunch of stuff, so I'm just trying to sell it.  I have a Facebook business page and an store.  I'll keep an eye out too for local craft fairs and flea markets.  I don't expect to get rich, but it will be nice to have cash in my hands in exchange for my work.

Here's the info if you're interested...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Recipe: Candied Yams

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

Candied Sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar, oatmeal and marshmallows.  Easy and DELICIOUS!!

4 large sweet potatoes/yams roasted and peeled (you could probably boil them too)
1 stick soft butter
2-3 tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 whole raw oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsps melted butter
*Combine above ingredients to a crumbly mixture.

about 1 cup small marshmallows

Mash sweet potatoes till smooth.  Add butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
Spread them out in a small glass baking dish.  I used a Pyrex 7x11 in. dish
Sprinkle half of topping (not marshmallows) over top.  Use a butter knife to mix just slightly.
Add the rest of topping and bake at 375 degrees about 35 mins.
Add marshmallows and return to oven about 10-15 mins until marshmallows are golden brown.

That's it!  Very easy and SOO delicious!!

This picture is after it sat in the fridge overnight, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Potty training boys

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

I'm sure I speak for most moms when I say that I hate potty training.  The constant supervision, the pee pee puddles and the extra laundry from all the pee pee accidents.  Unfortunately, it's something we all have to tackle at some point when our kids are in that 2-3 year old range.  I have all boys, so for me, it's an evolving process from sitting on the potty seat to the toilet, then to standing. 

I'm definitely no expert in this field, but I've survived this awful phase with my twins who are now almost 6 and now my 2 1/2 year old.  I'll go over the steps I've taken that have worked for me.

The first and most important thing is makings sure your child is ready for this next big milestone.  If you start too early, it just creates a lot of frustration for you and the child.  I personally think it may even delay the process by making the child dislike the potty before they are even ready for it.  I knew my boys were ready when they could say "pee pee" and understand that it has it's proper place.  It was helpful with my toddler now because I have a puppy who is still potty training so when he has an accident, my toddler sees that it's bad.  He now has become the pee pee monitor and tells me with the puppy does pee pee or poop on the floor.  I also feel that 2 1/2 is a good time to start.  For me, they seem to have a basic enough understanding of what's going on.  Another sign is when they ask you to change their dirty diaper or announce before they dirty it.  

You have to be determined and make up your mind that it is time.  It is a commitment and giving up too early doesn't help anyone.  It just creates frustration, confusion and prolongs the process.  I started on a Saturday, just because my husband was home and I felt ready to tackle the challenge.  I took off my son's diaper and explained that he can only do pee pee on the potty.  Not on the floor or couch.  I sat him on the potty and told him "pee pee on the potty".  He didn't go, but he made the connection.  For the next 2 days, I let him stay in the playroom (with the potty) completely bottomless so he can realize that there was no diaper on him.  After that, I let him use underwear.  I explain that he can't do pee pee in his "big boy underwear" and I showed him how to pull them down and up again.  Pooping comes much later.  Some kids don't get the hang of that till a year after they are potty trained, but most get it within a few weeks or months.  Night time is another story.  I keep my kids in pull ups until they make it through the night completely dry for a few months.  That may be overkill, but I hate changing bedding during the night.  Even after that, I keep a moisture liner on the mattress for about 2 years after they are completely trained.

Some people swear by a reward system, but I don't think it's necessary, though it certainly can't hurt.  You can use m&m's or chocolate chips as a reward whenever the potty is used.  As far as the type of potty seat, I got the most simple seat by Baby Bjorn.  I feel like the fancy seats can be too distracting and even a little difficult to clean.  Even if you don't use candy as a reward, you have to make a big deal out of every success.  When accidents happen, you can't punish the child.  I tell my son that he has to make on the potty and its not good to go on the floor, couch, his underwear, etc.  Make a correction without punishment.  This is very important!!

It has now been 5 days and he's done really well, with very few accidents.  The key is to expect accidents and be prepared to handle them.  I find that after soaking up the pee pee, spraying white vinegar on the spot helps to neutralize the odor (until you can do a deep cleaning).  I had to figure out a solution for my new couch so it didn't get completely hosed with urine.  After 2 bad pee pee's on the cushions, I decided to take drastic measures and cover each seat cushion with a clear garbage bag and then with a blanket or towel for easy cleanup.  I told my son that he has to sit on the towel and so far, he's followed the rules.  The rug is a little harder to cover, but I will will use my rug cleaner on the couch and rug when all is said and done.  I've included some pics of my couch cover below.  

I expect this whole process to take about 2-3 weeks of solid training, but I know we'll get there.  Just have patience!!

Once you feel like the child has mastered the potty seat, it's time to move on to the toilet.  Get a simple step so the child can get on the toilet without assistance.  Also, have him/her get on the toilet backwards, facing the wall.  It is easier for them to get on and off themselves this way.  It is also great for boys because it forces their penis to point down since their legs are spread so wide.  Otherwise, they tend to pee over or through the seat, which is very frustrating.  Sitting on the toilet can last a while.  Maybe about a year.  At the point that you feel like your boy is tall enough, he can practice standing to pee.  I have them watch my husband do this so they'll want to copy him.  This is a very messy process because a toddler's aim is terrible.  Some people put cheerios in the toilet to aim at, but I never did this.  Even at almost 6, my boys still miss.  It happens.  You can use vinegar and peroxide to neutralize the odor that can linger around the toilet.  I have another blog dedicated to bathroom cleaning that explains this process.

Good luck and be patient!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why my children don't know God or religion

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

I realize this is a controversial topic for many people, but I feel it is important to talk about because I know there are other moms out there who feel the way I do and may be looking for support.  Today there are more people than ever who share my thoughts on religion, so I know I am not alone.

I am not at all religious.  I consider myself an atheist because I don't believe in God or anything related to religion.  I personally believe it was made up in the beginning of time to explain the unexplainable and as a means of controlling people.  I believe in science.  We can explain things now through science, which is enough for me.

Jus so you have a little background on me, I was raised with religion (not strictly).  Some of my family is Catholic, some Jewish, and I was raised as Christian.  We didn't rely heavily on religion, but we were aware of it and "God" was the answer to many questions that we had.  As I went to church and asked more questions, the answers I was given just weren't good enough anymore and I came to the conclusion myself as a teenager that religion seemed outdated, untrue and just not for me.

That being said, I teach my children based on my own beliefs (or lack of), which is what everyone does.  When they ask me "how" or "why" I answer with science, not with religion.  However, I do make them aware of religion so they can be respectful of other people's beliefs, even if they don't share them.  I think this is a critical point that most people forget about, or simply just don't care about.  My kids have heard of heaven, angels, prayer and souls.  They've never learned about God or Jesus or the beliefs or rules surrounding them (yet).  They understand that people go to church to pray, which is like making a wish in their head.  They know that some people believe the wish comes true. They also know that when we die, some people believe that our souls become angels and go to heaven.  However, I make it very clear that no one knows for sure if this is true and it is mostly just a belief.  They know nothing of hell.

I've had many religious people question my teachings and even accuse me of "damning my children to an eternity of suffering in hell" because I did not baptize them and teach them to love and believe in God and Jesus.  I'm not going to get into my thoughts on that, but I will just say that I politely say I don't believe in that and it's my choice as a mother to not teach/brainwash my children to believe in something that I feel is nonsense.  I've had heated discussions with my own mother in law about how I need to "save my children's soul".  I simply thank her for her concern and move on.  This has been the biggest challenge for me as a non believer; the opinions and input of relatives and friends.  Sorry, but I am firm in my beliefs and that's just how it is.  I'm not going to bend to please others.  It's just not how I work.  They all have the right to follow their beliefs, so why can't I?  I'm not putting anyone down for their beliefs, I'm just saying that they have theirs, and I have mine.

If my children decide to be religious when they grow up, that's their choice.  I have no problem with it.  That's part of why I teach them what others believe, so they can make their own decision.  I'm just not going to force a belief and essentially brainwash them to believe in something, as most religious followers do.

The point of this is, if you have a belief, stick to it no matter what others have to say.  That's our right as citizens of a free country.

You may find this link helpful:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The SAHM uniform

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

At 33 years old, I've come to the conclusion that I am in a fashion slump.  I've fallen victim to the SAHM uniform.  You know the one... yoga pants, tank top, sports bra, flip flops. In the winter, just add a hoodie and sneakers.  I don't like that it's come down to this, but I like to be comfy.  Plus, I never leave the house for more than 2 hours at a time for appointments, so what's the point of getting dressed up anyway?  Who am I seeing?  Why waste a nice outfit for only 2-3 hours.  Why put on a bra and real clothes, only to come home and change back into my "uniform"?  I'm sure not gonna stay in my real clothes while at home.  That would just be too uncomfortable and impractical.  What if someone wipes their boogers on my nice clothes or I get splashed with something that stains?  It's just easier to stay in my crappy house clothes.

I have also found that my original style has changed due to the preconceived idea of what a mom should look like.  I'm ashamed to admit it, but I got sucked into the stereotype.  I believed I had to look girly, sweet and mature... like a "grown up woman" (whatever that is).  You know the kind.  The moms in commercials who smile while cleaning up spilled juice.  She's wearing mom jeans or dress khakis, and a tank top with a button down shirt or cardigan over it.  Her hair is nicely done and she's wearing basic sneakers or ballet flats.  Mainly, she's very boring, modest and average looking.  I don't know where this image came from, but I believed I needed to look similar to her in order to be taken seriously as a mom.  I'm a bit embarrassed, but I fell for it.

Before I was a mom, or even married, my style was skateboarder/rocker.  I wore relaxed fit cargo pants, loose tanks or t-shirts.  I also had "rock" accessories like small chains, chokers, leather bracelets, messenger bag or backpack, etc.  I also had dark reddish/burgundy hair.  I wasn't too heavy into the look or goth by any means, but you could definitely tell that I was kind of a badass with my own style.  I had girly looks too, but they were also very rock inspired.  You didn't see me and think "wow, she has issues", but you could easily tell what my style was.

This worked well as a teenager and young adult, but not as a "grown-up".  Once I got married, I changed all of that.  I started to change my look to appear as a "wife".  I started wearing nice clothes and looking girly and pretty.  When I had kids and I was home, I just wore sweat pants and t-shirts.  My hair was always back in a ponytail and I never wore makeup.  Then I went back to work for a year and a half and had to pull myself together.  I couldn't experiment too much with fashion because as a Funeral Director, I had to wear dress suits and be super professional.  That was fine.  I didn't mind it, especially since I never had much of a style anyway.  When I stayed home again after my 3rd baby, I fell back into the trap of sloppy sweats and t-shirts.

I tried to reinvent myself again and I went and bought a bunch of really pretty girly clothes and fancy accessories.  Pretty ballet flats and nice flashy bags.  The only problem was, I never felt comfortable when wearing these clothes.  I don't mean physically comfy, I mean I never felt quite like myself.  I felt like I was being something I'm not.

Recently, I got my nose re-pierced, dyed my hair dark red again, and I started to feel more like myself.  I started wearing my black winged eyeliner again and I felt more like myself.  Then I wore something that looked a bit "rock" and I felt great.  It was like a light went on in my head all of a sudden and it just occurred to me that THIS was who I really was.  I've been pretending, or trying to be someone else for 15 years.  I need to be myself again, if only I could remember how.  I've had to do some looking around to re-learn how to look the way I felt inside.  Of course I had to modify it a bit because the way I used to dress just doesn't work anymore at my age.  I had to learn that I could still enjoy my "rock" style, but I had to learn the "adult" version of it.

I generally don't care what people think of me and I am very confident in myself, but I had to remind myself that I can enjoy my own style and still be taken seriously as an adult, a wife and a mother.  It's ok to be who I am and still have my shit together.  It will be a work in progress, but at least I have a direction now for the first time in years.

...Although I still have to deal with the problem that started this blog, which is not having a reason to get dressed.  Sometimes I wish I could get a part time job doing anything just to have a reason to get dressed and look like myself.  Oh well.  Maybe when all the kids are in school.  Either way, it's nice to be me again.

Hubs and I at a Soundgarden/NIN concert last week: