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:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shoe organization - front entry

**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!!

Seeing a pile of shoes near the front door, or having shoes scattered around drives me nuts.  It looks very sloppy and it is easy to lose shoes.  Especially with 3 young children, it is easy to lose track of shoes.  With a little effort, it is pretty easy to keep shoes neat and organized.  It also teaches the kids to be responsible for their belongings.

It's taken me a few tries, but I think I've finally gotten the shoe mess under control.  I use a few methods...

In the winter, I use one basket for my kids'  sneakers, boots and slippers.  The other basket is for their winter gear like scarves, gloves and hats.  I use two separate baskets for myself and my husband for our winter gear.  They are stored on the shelf at the top of my front closet.  Our sneakers, boots and slippers are nearly organized on the closet floor.  I have a third basket for our sandals and flip flops that I keep in the closet.  I usually keep it in the closet during the winter and bring it out to swap with the winter basket containing the gloves, hats and scarves for the summer.

In the summer, I use one basket for the kids' sneakers and the other basket for everyone's sandals and flip flops.  You can see this arrangement in the picture below.  The small basket in the middle is for the kids' sunglasses.  The two baskets on the floor are for the baby's toys.  All of the baskets are stored in and under the console table in the front entry.  Dressy shoes for myself and my husband are stored in our bedroom closet. 

When my twins were small, they had the same shoes.  For that, I gave them each their own basket.  Once they had different style shoes, I started using my current system.  

It's simple, but it makes a huge difference with organization.  I also almost never lose shoes anymore.  The trick to that is to make sure the kids remember to always put their shoes in the right place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's ok to let your kids watch tv. I recommend it!

**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 know many new moms who say "my child will never watch tv" and I'm sure they really mean it.  They feel that tv is bad, it poisons the child's mind, creates laziness, etc.  For some, this is very true.  However, as the parent, we are in complete control of what our children are exposed to, at least until they are teenagers.  With some limitations and the right choices, tv can be extremely beneficial to young, growing minds.

I have twins, so tv was a wonderful distraction for them when I needed some time to fold laundry, prepare meals, go to the bathroom, etc.  I only allowed them to watch very specific shows that were designed to benefit my growing babies.  They watched mostly Nick Jr., Disney Jr., and now Sprout.  I chose educational shows such as Sesame Street, Team Umizumi, Bubble Guppies, Dora, Max & Ruby and Special Agent Oso, to name a few.  If you watch these shows with your children, you'll see that they teach letters, numbers, colors, shapes, science, geography, language and life lessons.  By 3 years old, my boys knew all of their letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and even told me about the planets in the solar system.  At times, I learned things from them that I didn't even know about.  I can say with absolute certainty that these things were learned from tv.  Of course, I teach them things as I go, but I can credit a lot of it to them watching tv.

I strictly limit the content of what they watch.  I don't allow "grown-up" shows, which includes violence, sexual content, foul language, heavy drama, etc.  There is no need for them to see these things so young and it won't benefit them in any way.  My husband and I don't watch our own tv shows until the kids are in bed and they know they aren't allowed to watch grown-up shows or movies.  My only exception to this is when I'm watching my science or medical shows on TLC, NatGeo, Science or Discovery Health.  I let them watch people brought into the ER with gunshots, stab wounds, car accident trauma, and anything else that is cause for emergency.  This allows me to teach them about anatomy, healthy, medicine and danger in general.  This also includes death.  Because of my profession as a Funeral Director, I am very open with my children about death.  I've been questioned about exposing my kids to these things, but I see it as education, as do my kids.  It doesn't help anyone to shelter them from reality.

I've had to loosen up some of my restrictions as they get older.  Now they are into super heroes, so I allow them to watch the new superhero movies that have come out, like Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, Hulk, etc.  These are still kid friendly movies, but they do have some violence.  I just don't let them watch "gore" in movies.  I don't mind them seeing blood, especially since they watch my medical shows, but I don't want it to be extreme violent gore.  They don't need to see someone's head being blown up with brains splattered everywhere.  This is also so they don't think violence is fun or entertaining.

I make sure to remind my kids regularly of the difference between tv and reality.  They know that a lot of what they see on tv is fake or pretend.  They know that the characters are played by actors pretending to be that character for the movie.  They know the difference between my real medical shows and pretend movies.  Too many kids today don't know the difference and I think that is the cause for a lot of violent acts and crimes committed by kids and young adults.  They see people on tv kill others and think its ok and even fun.  My children know the difference!

The same is true for video games.  They ONLY play kid games like Disney Infinity, Lego Marvel, Plants vs. Zombies and a few other similar games.  My husband is not allowed to play his adult games until they are in bed.  I absolutely do NOT allow them to see violence in video games.  I do not want them to learn that killing is fun.  It is NEVER ok to view shooting, beating, hurting someone as fun!

My twins are 5 now (the baby is 2) and to this day, they have never seen anything inappropriate on tv.  There was one exception... when they stayed at my sister's for the night, she let them watch Sharknado.  I didn't know till the next day and I was NOT happy, but I can't change what happened.  However, I made sure they were very clear on the facts.  Sharks cannot be sucked up into a tornado and fly around and it is NOT ok to go around killing things with a chainsaw!  The movie was pretend and it was funny to them.  Other than that, their exposure has been strictly limited.  I can say that they have benefited from this practice overall.  It doesn't take that much effort as a parent to control their exposure.  If more people did what I do, I think our youth would be a little more well rounded and less aggressive.  TV can be a wonderful tool for learning if used correctly.  It doesn't take much, but it needs to happen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Teaching my children Tolerance of those different from them

**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!!

In a world where everyone is so different, it is important that we teach our children tolerance and understanding of others.  Whether it is race, handicaps, religion, language, body shape, sexual orientation, rich or poor, it is an important lesson that too many people don't teach.

I was bullied terribly as a child, starting in the 2nd grade till the 9th grade.  If stopped when I finally stood up for myself and got into a fist fight with the bully.  Everyone gained respect for me after that and the bullying stopped from everyone.  I had glasses, crazy hair, buck teeth, and I dressed a bit crazy.  I was also very thin, quiet and just an easy victim.  It was very traumatic and painful, so I make sure to teach my children that bullying is NEVER ok.  I also teach them that if they see someone being bullied, they should get involved and defend the victim, as long as it's not dangerous for them.

I teach my children that everyone is different, and that's ok.  They know that they have their own differences (one wears glasses), and those difference make them unique.  They know it is never ok to make someone feel bad for being different.  They know that people have different religious and cultural beliefs, even if we don't agree with those beliefs.  They know that some men marry men and some women marry women.  I don't call it weird or strange.  It's simply different from what we do in our family.  When we see someone in a wheelchair, they know it's because their legs don't work, or they are too sick or weak to walk.  They know that it's ok to be polite and say hello to them.  Especially if that person is a child, because it will make them feel happy.  We've come across deaf children and I explain that they cannot hear and they communicate using sign language.  Just like a blind person uses a long stick to help them navigate since their eyes don't work.  Most people hush children whey they ask questions about "different" people an the child is left wondering what is going on they it becomes a dirty word.  That's not helping anyone.  I use those opportunities to explain these differences to my kids in a respectful manner.  I've noticed that the person in question is appreciative of this.  I even encourage my kids to ask people of their differences, rather than hide it.  If they have a better understanding of things, they will have more respect for people.

There have been instance where talking about a person's difference is unacceptable, and I try to teach them that too.  They know that they shouldn't talk about people who are fat, bald, smelly, "ugly", etc.  I tell them it's ok to notice and think of these things, but it's not ok to talk about it, at least in front of them.  They know that it can hurt someone's feelings and that's not nice.  They seem to get it.

Children learn from the adults around them and it's important that we set a good example.  Tolerance needs to be taught so we can all exist peacefully together.  I'm not perfect when it comes to this.  I was raised with certain ideas about different groups because that's what I learned from my family.  I know these ideas are wrong, so I can only try to change my thinking.  That's why it's important for me to teach my children complete tolerance so they are not programmed with unfair ideas about people.  It's one of the ways I can contribute positively in this world.

How I trained myself to NOT yell at my kids

**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!!

Let me start by saying, this is a relatively new thing for me.  I'd say I've been using this method for only the last 2 years.  As with everything about parenting, I learned this through trial and error.  Unfortunately, my twins were the guinea pigs along the way.  Also, with the birth of my third child, I didn't want to expose a newborn to yelling, so it was a good time to start changing my ways.

I'll admit, I was a yeller.  I would shout and yell at my boys for nearly everything.  If you think of the toddler years and all the trouble they get into during that time, there was a lot of yelling.  I first noticed something needed to change when I wasn't getting the result I was looking for when trying to correct and discipline my kids.  They'd usually ignore me more and carry on with their activity.  After a while, they started to show fear at my yelling.  I wasn't happy with that reaction at all.  Even though I wanted them to stop what they were doing and pay attention to me, I definitely did not want them to fear me.  I'd also felt very guilty for yelling at them.  I even tried giving a smack on the hand or tooshie, but all that did was hurt me more than them, so I stopped that pretty fast.  Yelling was also an automatic reaction for me (and my husband).  I think its a normal reaction for most people who are frustrated, angry, stressed, etc., so teaching myself not to yell has helped me in other parts of my life as well.

It took training on my part to stay calm and not yell as a first reaction.  I had to constantly remind myself of this.  I taught myself that when I feel the urge to yell, instead I should lower my voice and speak more calmly.  This is great for a few reasons.  One good thing is that it helps me to just stay calm in general.  When you yell, you get more anxious and aggressive.  My children also respond better.  They listen better and they are more responsive to my requests and demands.  If you yell, children shut down and block you out.  When I lower my voice and speak slowly, they pay more attention and listen better.  We also gain mutual respect for each other.  Because I'm not yelling at them like animals, they know I respect them as little people and they respect me more as an authority figure.  Many people don't think this is important with kids, but it is.  When you respect them, they respect you.  It's also good for their self esteem and confidence.  I don't want to break them down.  I just want them to respect my authority.  This has improved our relationship too.  We all have a better understanding of each other.

In addition to NOT yelling, I explain things so they can understand and learn to use their own logic.  Even if you don't think your child will "get it", explain anyway.  Eventually they will understand.  For example, instead of telling my kids "Don't touch that", I'll explain "Don't touch that plug because it is dangerous.  You can get electrocuted and it will hurt a lot."  Or instead of saying "Don't go in the pool", I'll explain "Going in the pool without a grown up is very dangerous.  If you go in, you will sink and you can die because you can't breathe."  Some people think it's harsh to use death as a consequence, but it's important for them to know serious consequences.  I taught them this from day one and so far, they have never attempted to go in the pool alone (they are 5 now).   They understand true danger.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not perfect.  There are definitely days when I'm a bit frazzled and overwhelmed and I lose my temper and yell.  When that happens, I apologize for yelling after I've calmed down a bit.  My kids also get offended when I yell because it's not normal for me anymore.  They understand that sometimes they make me a little crazy, but I will continue to try to control myself.  They also understand that they have to help me by cooperating and behaving.

On a few different occasions recently, I've had comments from different moms telling me how calm I am and asked me how I manage to not yell, especially when my 3 kids are driving me nuts in public. I explain this method and they seem impressed at my level of self control.  It is very reassuring and makes me feel great.  Maybe I'm doing something right.  That's why I decided to share this with everyone.  Hopefully it helps you too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Teaching kids about "Tricky People" instead of fear of strangers

**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!!

This is a fantastic read for parents.  I taught my children about tricky people and it definitely makes more sense.  Also, because I didn't teach them that "strangers" are bad, they are more friendly and outgoing.  I always tell them, "it's ok to be polite and talk to strangers.  You just can't go anywhere with them."  I also teach them the power they have over their own body and "private parts."  I always reinforce that NO ONE is allowed to touch their private parts and they are not allowed to touch anyone else's private parts.  Even if they are uncomfortable with Mommy or Daddy touching them (to wash), it's ok to let us know and we will respect their privacy.  They know that there are some creepy or "tricky" people out there who may want to hurt them or do inappropriate things to them and they know that they are in control of their body. They know if anyone tries anything, they have to say "NO" and tell me immediately!

Here is the link:

"Tricky people are the new strangers"

...I'll write a separate blog on how I handle potential sexual threats to my children and how we handle that.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I had a miscarriage at 17 weeks

**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!!

 It was a normal Thursday for me.  I was running around doing my regular daily duties and taking care of my 3 boys, ages 4 1/2 and 19 months.  My mom and brother were visiting for the day and my sister was coming after work to visit.  I had started dinner in the crockpot so my late afternoon OB appointment didn't interfere with having dinner on time.

My appointment was supposed to be quick.  I just had the 16 week measurements only 4 days before and found out that I was having the girl I dreamed of for so long.  Everything was normal and the baby looked great.  At this appointment, my doctor measured my belly, asked the usual questions, including if I felt any movement yet.  I said not yet.  She then used the doppler to check the fetal heart rate.  Except, she couldn't find it.  I wasn't worried.  Maybe the baby was in a weird position, so my doctor suggested we use the sonogram machine to get a visual.  And there it was... My usual bouncing baby was completely still and the heart was just a hollow space.  No heartbeat.  In that moment, everything just stopped for me.  Everything that was in our future, which included this new baby girl was just gone.  In that instant, my pregnancy was over.  I was stunned.  Confused.  At first, I wasn't upset, just shocked and in disbelief.  These things only happen to other people, not me.  How could this happen when the baby was perfect only 4 days ago?!  It just didn't make any sense.  The doctor explained what was going to happen and left me alone for a few minutes while she made a few phone calls to set everything up.  In that few minutes, the reality of the situation finally started to sink in.  I called my husband to tell him what happened.  I also texted my sister, who I am extremely close with.  Then I cried.

I wasn't overly emotional because I generally don't get attached to my baby until I'm at the end of the pregnancy.  I also have a very scientific/medical approach to these things, so this is just a "process" for me.  I wasn't even sad that my baby was dead.  To me, it was just a fetus.  I was more upset at the loss of the whole event.  The pregnancy, the new baby and the daughter I was so looking forward to.  I was also upset that this was happening to me.  That I had to experience this.  I had already been through so much with my first pregnancy, with my twins being born at 26 weeks after 20 days of strict hospital bed rest.  Then there was the 77 days in the NICU, breathing tubes, blood transfusions, infections and surgeries.  I couldn't believe that I was going through pregnancy trauma again!

The 10 minute drive home was very hard.  I called my sister, who was also pregnant (only a few weeks behind me) and we both broke down.  All I kept saying was, "I'm carrying a dead baby".  When I got home, I had to face my family and give them the devastating news.  I told my mom and brother that there was no heartbeat and it was going to be taken care of the next day, then I just walked away.  I couldn't be there when they got emotional.  Especially since my mother had also experienced a traumatic miscarriage at 16 weeks.  I just couldn't handle it.  Then I asked my twins who were almost 5 to come to my room so I could talk to them.  I knew they would understand what death was because I've never hid it from them.  I am a Funeral Director, so I am very open with death and I make sure my kids are aware of it.  This was also a twin pregnancy until 6 weeks, so they know that one of the babies "died" early on.  I told them that I went to the doctor and the baby in my belly had died.  I explained that there was no heartbeat and that these things just happen sometimes.  They seemed to understand.  One was a little sad, but handled it well.  The other was very upset.  He cried and expressed his disappointment at the loss of a little sister.  He was the one who wanted a girl.  His reaction broke my heart.  I didn't expect him to be so upset.  Then my husband came home and I had to face him.  I felt terrible for giving him a dead baby.  Obviously, I know I'm not responsible for what happened, but I still felt guilty since I was the one in charge of taking care of the baby as it grew.  We just hugged each other in silence.  The rest of the evening was just very awkward.  No one wanted to talk about this giant elephant in the room, but everyone was obviously upset with the news.  I was still visibly pregnant, so it was just a constant reminder.  We all had dinner and tried to carry on and be as normal as possible.  We got the kids ready for bed and my husband drove my mom and brother home, an hour away.  Normally, I drive them home, but I just couldn't handle sitting in the car in silence for the long drive.

The next day, I went to the hospital to begin the process of "getting rid" of my failed pregnancy.    I was to be admitted to the maternity ward, have labor induced, and give birth to my dead fetus.  I'd always had c-sections, so this was a new experience for me.  I'd always felt like I missed out on having a vaginal birth, but this was definitely not how I wanted to experience it.  My husband took off from work (it was Friday) and stayed home with our kids while he waited for my sister to come take over so he could be with me in the hospital. The nursing staff was amazing.  As soon as I walked in and gave them my name, my nurse put her arm around me and walked me to my room.  They got me set up in my bed, and explained everything, including how they'd do their best to control my pain during the labor process.  This was good news, especially since I was looking forward to being stoned so I could be as far from reality during this process as possible.  I also asked for another sonogram before we started, just to be 100% sure.  They had no problem with this.  A few hours later, my husband arrived.  Shortly after that, I received my first dose of Cytotec.  It took 3 doses, each 3 hours apart to get things moving.  By 8pm, I'd started experiencing labor pains, and by 4am, I was in full labor.  I'll admit, I was disappointed by how little the meds worked to control the pain.  I was given Stadol and Dilaudid, but they only helped a little with the pain.  However, they did keep me nice and loopy, which I was happy about.  Eventually, the pain was so bad, I gave in and got an epidural.  By this time it was 5am and the contractions were constant, with no breaks in between.  I was exhausted!
It took about 15 minutes for the epidural to numb me enough to not feel pain anymore and I fell asleep.  About 2 hours later I woke up, still completely numb from the waste down and looked over at the monitor to see what was going on with my contractions.  I was in a daze and needed to assess the situation.  I noticed that the line was flat, which meant it was over.  I was a little confused by this.  I put my hand down next to me and realized the pad I was laying on was wet and when I looked, I saw that I was sitting in a puddle of blood and fluid.  I panicked and woke up my husband.  I reached my hand between my legs and felt skin that wasn't my own.  Then it hit me...  While I slept, the fetus passed through me and was resting between my legs.  I was very relieved that I didn't have to experience pushing it out.  I jumped and immediately pressed the call button for the nurse.  Within 15 seconds, 2 nurses hurried into my room to take the fetus and clean me up.  It happened very quickly and quietly.  They were very sensitive to the emotional state of me and my husband.  Surprisingly, we weren't overly upset, as we expected.  We were just both in shock at what had just happened, especially since we just woke up to this.  One nurse cleaned me up, while the other nurse attended to the fetus.  She asked if we wanted to see and hold it.  I said yes.  The nurse wrapped it up in a nice blanket and handed it to me.  I didn't snuggle or hug it.  I didn't cry.  More than anything, I was just curious to see what it looked like at this point.  I examined it like a medical specimen.  It was simply a dead fetus.  It looked worse than I expected.  There was a lot of bruising, with 2 large blood blisters.  One on the head, one on the abdomen.  The head was also an odd shape, probably from the birth.  The hands and feet were the only things that looked ok.  They were beautifully formed, with nails.  I noticed that the skin was starting to peel too.  This led me to believe that it had been dead for days and was beginning to decompose.  I held it in my hand for a minute, making mental notes of the size and features.  I noticed that the hands were the size of my fingernail.  The head was about the size of an egg.  My husband eventually agreed to just look at it for a second, to acknowledge it, but he didn't want to hold it.  The nurse asked if we wanted to name it.  We said no.  We didn't want to forget it existed, but we didn't want to hang on to the experience either.  Just naming it would have made it too real.  We just wanted to move on with our life.  Then the nurse took it away, and it was over.  The doctor came in to make sure the placenta came out whole and that was it.  We just waited for the epidural to wear off, and we went home a few hours later.  Looking back, I think the birth happened about an hour before I woke up and found the fetus because it was already cold when I found it (which doesn't happen immediately).  I also partially woke up at one point and found a nurse standing in the doorway looking at me, but I went back to sleep and she left.  I think they noticed on the monitor that my contractions stopped, realized it was over, and when they came to check on me, decided not to disturb me as I slept.  Then when I woke up and hit they call button, they knew what happened and came running.  I'm ok with that method.  The doctors called this whole thing "induced labor due to fetal demise".  I didn't actually call it a miscarriage until someone had to tell me that it's what actually happened to me.  We had genetic testing done on the fetus, but as of now, there is no specific cause.  It was just a random occurrence.

When I got home, I hugged my 3 boys extra tight, and went on with my day.  My husband and I were both pretty down for about 2 weeks and I had moments of depression that lasted about a month.  During that time, I experienced a range of emotions.  Sadness, confusion, guilt, anger, fear, failure.  I had so many feelings I didn't expect.  Every time I looked down, I saw my empty womb, that only a few days ago had a life in it.  Our plans for our near future baby had completely stopped and changed.  It was too abrupt.  My breasts filled with milk, as if I just had a live baby, which felt weird emotionally.  Because I was so used to eating and feeding my baby, it felt wasteful for me to eat and just feed myself.  I could now eat things that were forbidden.  I could drink and take medications again.  My mind and body were so confused.  I could only describe it as weird.  I had NO desire for sex (after the bleeding stopped).  Just the thought of sex was repulsive to me.  My womb had just created death, why would I want to feel pleasure down there?  My husband tried to be patient, but there's no way he could possibly imagine what I was feeling.  Eventually, my hormones shifted and I was very eager again after about 6 or 7 weeks.  My hormone fluctuations were crazy and it took almost 2 months to feel normal again.

The hardest part was dealing with everyone else's reactions.  That was worse than our own feelings.  The morning of the "birth", I posted a Facebook message to my friends and family, explaining what happened and requesting that no one contact us about it.  We know everyone is sad and concerned for us, but we don't want to hear from anyone right now.  Most people respected our wishes, though some sent private fb messages to us.  At first we were upset about it, but then we learned to appreciate it.  Some of my friends sent over dinners for us, which I appreciated greatly.  Seeing people for the first time afterwards was very awkward.  There was the fear of their reactions, but everyone did their best to just be normal, which is exactly what we wanted.  That's how we got through it.

Now, it's been 2 months since everything happened and we will be trying to get pregnant again soon.  We feel almost completely normal now and are just trying to move forward with having another baby.  This whole bitter experience is just a memory now and we are pretty much back to normal.  I'm not going to say we are completely healed, but we have learned to live with it.  Although, it has left some big scars.  Between my first traumatic short pregnancy, and now a miscarriage, I don't think I will find any joy in the next pregnancy.  We won't feel the normal excitement and happiness that comes with creating a new life.  There will be so much fear and worry every step of the way.  Even finding out the gender will be meaningless till the end.  I was so excited to find out I was finally having a girl, only to have it end just 4 days later.  I feel that we won't be able to enjoy any of it until there is a healthy baby in our arms and that's very sad.  Pregnancy is supposed to bring great joy, happiness, excitement and hope.  We won't feel any of that for fear of it disappearing again so quickly.  I'm even hesitant to try again, but I feel incomplete since we started the process last time and it got cut off.  All we can do is just try again and hope for the best.  Life goes on...

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bored out of my mind as a SAHM

**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 am forever thankful for the ability to be a SAHM and be with my children every minute of every day.  However, I am SOO bored on a daily basis, I feel like I'm gonna lose my mind!  If there is a SAHM out there who says she isn't bored with the monotony of caring for small children and maintaining a home, she is lying ...or maybe just completely insane!

I love that I can witness all of the "firsts", that I can go to every event, I control everything my children eat, experience, learn and so on.  It's nice to not have to leave to go to work when I'd rather spend the day with the most important little people in my life.  I love that they rely on my completely for everything.

Unfortunately, I also find my daily tasks to be extremely boring and I long for mental stimulation beyond cooking, cleaning, laundry, organizing, changing diapers, feedings, wiping boogers, breaking up fights, and all the other duties that belong to MOM.  I'm not saying I have nothing to do.  In fact, I'm exhausted from nonstop work that I do daily.  It takes an endless amount of energy to care for 3 small boys while maintaining a clean and organized home (plus a large dog).  By the middle of the day, I am ready to claw my eyes out from boredom!  I find myself walking around aimlessly trying desperately to entertain my brain with something other than what I do every single day.  By the evening, after all the kids are in bed, I feel terribly anxious from the boredom. I try to relax and enjoy my regular tv shows with my husband, but that is only a temporary fix.

Every day is the same.  I Drag myself out of bed, make breakfast for everyone,  brush my teeth and change from my pj's to my house clothes (sweats, t-shirt and sports bra), change diaper and entertain the kids for a few hours.  Then 12:00 is nap time for the baby while I do some misc housework.  The baby wakes up around 2:00, which means I have to entertain everyone for a few more hours.  Then I start dinner, then baths and bed.  Occasionally there's an appointment thrown in here and there.  The winter is the worst because we are all stuck in the house.  At least in the summer, we can sit in the back yard and play.  About once a week, I muster up the courage and energy to bring everyone to the park for a few hours.  Every day is the same.  Boring, tedious, monotonous!

I love my children more than anything, and I know how lucky I am to be home with them.  I love to be home with them, but a little mental stimulation would be nice.  Some social interaction wouldn't hurt either.