Monday, December 31, 2012

No Mom Should Die During Childbirth - Save a Life

Childbirth should be a happy time. A time of excitement and happiness. But that is not the case for so many families around the world. What can you do to help prevent a mom from dying? Get involved with Maternity Worldwide.

According to the Maternity Worldwide website, one mother dies every 2 minutes. That is 800 a day and 287,000 a year. Several million other women, and even girls, will suffer from complications from their childbirth for the rest of their lives. That is not even taking into account the poor babies who will never know their mom...that is if they make it as well.

Maternity Worldwide is working to change this reality. Maternity Worldwide is charity, with no religious affiliations, that works with local communities and governments to meet the needs of the women in some of the poorest areas. It started out of frustrations of a small group of public health professional who saw deaths in childbirth that could be prevented.

Since the start in 2002, Maternity Worldwide has helped women in 11 developing countries: Pakistan; Uganda; Ethiopia; Tanzania; Malawi; Zimbabwe; Zambia; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; The Gambia; and Haiti.

They use an approach that I think is amazing. They use the Three Delays Model which looks at three groups of factors that could stop females from accessing the healthcare they need during childbirth. They are: 1. Delay in decision to seek care. 2. Delay in reaching care. 3. Delay in receiving adequate health care. They then use this model to approach the  needs and take action.

They have awesome opportunities to help women. You can donate $24 dollars to help with the safe birth for one mom or $81 for the safe emergency delivery. These are awesome end of the year donations or as late Christmas presents. If you have already spent your limit this year, then please keep them in mind the next time you donate.

This post is part of the Global Team of 200 series. Follow along as we blog about today's social issues. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Together WE Are Stronger - World Food Programme

As we enjoy the last days of 2012, some of you might still be looking for places to donate and help others. Today I have an awesome video from the United Nations World Food Programme.

They are helping people all over the world who are in need. Lots of the people they are helping have lost everything. They aren't moping around because they didn't get what they asked Santa for. They are praying they will have food today. They are praying they won't have to send their child to bed hungry...again.

It's easy to become overwhelmed by all the needs in our world today. Sometimes we become so overwhelmed that we shut down, we stop caring. We feel that there is no way that "I" can make a difference in the millions of lives in need. That is true. "I" can't save millions. But I can help someone and so can you and so can another person and another person....TOGETHER...we can save millions. But it takes you and me, not just me and not just you.


Watch the awesome video here:

Click here to donate.

Check out all of the other awesome bloggers blogging about issues like this:
Global Team of 200

Monday, December 3, 2012

To Work or Not to Work

I am somehow back at the same question I was facing when I first started this blog a few months ago.

I am contemplating going back to work again. But is it what is best for our family? Just two weeks ago I was telling my husband I am so glad I didn't take a full time job because I didn't want to miss a single thing that our daughter did. As I said this, I instantly felt guilty. My husband and I have an unusual schedule and life. We don't fit the cookie cutter family mold. The hubs travels for work at least 10 months out of the year and is gone on average 4 days a week. So for me to complain about missing a few hours a day, well, he must think I'm ridiculous!

And although I am currently labeled with the SAHM title, am I really? I am a registered nurse and pick up 12 hour shifts here and there, I'm closing down the business I ran for the last year, teaching 1-3 CPR and first aid classes a week, and studying to be a childbirth educator. So yes, I am home most of the time but I am doing a lot of things from home.

Our daughter is in Mother's Day Out 3 days a week right now so I can teach classes and what not. So would adding 2 extra days to her "schooling" hurt her because she isn't with me all the time? She loves her preschool and her social life. She would do more fun things during those times than she does here at home with me.

So why go back to work full time? Money... isn't that always a big part of working? We are in a slump because of me and the business I opened and am not closing. We also need a bigger house and would like to have another baby. We are getting by but we could do better.

I also think "I" want something...more. I'm not saying my daughter is not enough, she is my everything. But I, personally, need to feel I am making a difference and contributing to our family. I am not good at cooking or cleaning but I am good at teaching. I feel like I am constantly failing at this whole SAHM gig. I'm not crafty enough or active enough. All of the "wife" things that husband think they get (outside of sex) like clean laundry, food, clean house... I struggle so much. But yet, when I am busy and have a million other things to do, I do them without much thought. It's ironic that when household chores are my main responsibility, I can't do them but when they are lumped in with other things they are just something else to get done. Anyone else feel that way?

 I have never worked a 5 day a week job. I'm a nurse, I do 3 12 hour shifts that kick your butt but then you have 1 day to recover and 3 days to play. But now 12 hour days mean I miss the entire day with my daughter. It kills me to do the 12 hour shifts. I dread going, I count the hours once I get there, and then I can't get home fast enough.

The two jobs I have applied for (haven't even interviewed yet) are way better hours. One is teaching and the hours will either be 6-3 or 7-4, off all holidays, weekends, and summer. The other is a work from home position with the same company I already work for so it is a lateral transfer.

My heart of hearts wants the teaching position but the work from home sounds "dreamy". But with the work from home, I wonder if it will be more of what I am already doing?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. And who knows, I might not ever get a interview. Last time I got an interview and got offered the teaching position at the interview and was asked to start immediately. The stars weren't aligned then and it didn't work out for us and childcare so I had to turn it down. But now, if offered a chance again, I want to have my side of the stars worked out.

At least I'll know I gave it my best shot.

Friday, November 30, 2012

In Memory of Cora: Newborn Heart Defect Screening Awareness Day

November 30 - Newborn Heart Defect Screening Awareness Day

With the incredible honor of being chosen as part of the Global Team of 200, I have had the privilege of "meeting" other moms and reading their stories. Although I have never talked with Kristine, Cora's story broke my heart when I read it. (Read it here.) It broke for the life taken so soon and it broke for her mom and family. No mom should ever have to lose her child while she holds her so lovingly. Cora's mom is Kristine Brite McCormick. 

Since her sweet, precious baby left this world, Kristine has found ways to raise awareness and keep her daughter's memory alive. Although she was only 5 days young when she left this world, her story will outlive us all. Cora's story and influence is saving lives. 

Cora died from Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). About 1% of babies are born with congenital heart defect (CHD) or malformation. 

Newborn Heart Defect Screening Day is to encourage you to ask your doctor (or your pediatrician) to do a simple, external test of the oxygen level in your newborns capillaries. By doing a simple check of a newborns oxygen reading by pulse oximeter (pulse ox), doctors can detect low oxygen levels which can lead to finding a heart defect in your child. 

Have you ever had your vital signs taken and they place the probe on your finger with the red light? That is the pulse oximeter. It is painless and non-invasive and takes only seconds. A painless test that takes only seconds that could save your baby's life and save you a world of pain. 

Take time to educate yourself and ask your doctor. We plan for months awaiting the arrival of our little bundles of joy, why not ask for this simple test. 

Please note that not all CHD or malformations will can be detected by the pulse ox. This is just a broad over view and should be used to help catch something. If you have a family history of CHD or serious concerns. Please talk in more detail with your doctor. Although some CHD and malformations can be missed, you at least know you did everything you could do to detect it. 

Honor Cora's Memory by pledging to have your newborn screened. I pledge, if we have another child, to have the Newborn Heart Defect Screening performed. 

My thoughts and prayers are with Cora's parents as they celebrate her birthday without her.  

Kristine, what a legacy your angel is leaving behind. All thanks to her amazing mommy, who loved her so much that she doesn't want another mom to feel her pain. As a fellow mom I am inspired by your work and love. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The REAL Awards

The REAL Awards are awards given to deserving healthcare workers who go above and beyond to help others in their jobs and helping others in their communities.

Save The Children, The Bill & Melinda Children Foundation and Frontline Health Workers Coalitioned have come together to help people honor and thank health care workers who are making a difference in peoples lives every day.

A quote from Mary Beth Powers from the Save The Children Website explains why these awards are important.
"Every year, awards are given to recognize the accomplishments of celebrities, actors, singers, athletes and entertainers," said Mary Beth Powers, Campaign Chief for Save the Children's Newborn and Child Survival Campaign. "Alongside the Oscars and Golden Globes in January, we will begin to honor a group of people who rarely receive recognition or accolades — health workers."

As a registered nurse, I am quiet fond of healthcare workers. Healthcare workers see people at all stages of life and in all emotional states. We see you when you are at your worst and sometimes when you are at your best. We help you when you do not want help. We help you when you cannot help yourself. Helping you is not just our job, but our passion.

Think back to when you had your children or when a loved one was in the hospital or you were under the care of a healthcare worker. Did anyone stand out to you? Did anyone help your stay more pleasant? Did you have anyone come into your home and help you once you got discharged from the hospital?

Healthcare workers take on many roles and have many different job titles. Think through those you have met and if you feel any are worthy of nomination, pick a below to nominate them!

The categories to nominate healthcare workers are as follows:

Newborn and Mother Care
Pediatric Care
Chronic Disease Care
Hospice Care
Emergency Care
Veteran Care
At-Home Care
General Health Worker

You can find a the Official Rules here.

You only have until tomorrow, November 29, 2012 to nominate the special healthcare worker in your life. Take time to show them they made a difference in your life by nominating them for this amazing award.

(Voting will begin taking place on November 30, 2012).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Malala Day

Today is Malala Day.

Malala Yousafzai has become the face for Global Education.

Malala is a 14 year old girl that lives in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. This area was taken over by the Taliban in 2009. She was asked to keep a blog about how the Talibans presence effected her life. Malala blogged under the name Gul Makai to protect herself and family from the Taliban. She blogged for 10 weeks and then her family moved to another area when military operations began in the area. The Taliban did not want any girls attending school so there was constant threat of school being cancelled or banned. Malala became very vocal about her right to an education. She began speaking up for herself and other girls and children around the world who do not have access or are just denied the ability to go to school.

Because of her continued fight and perseverance for the right for education for girls and children everywhere, she was runner-up for the International Children's Peace Prize 2011.

On October 9, 2012, a man came onto the school van and asked who Malala was and then shot her and two other girls. Malala was shot in the head and neck. All of the girls are still recovering from their physical, mental, and emotional wounds.

Today on Malala Day, we stand with Malala to show support for her, the two other girls shot alongside her, and all of the other children who are denied access to an education.

Look at these stats:

61 Million children shut out of primary school
34 Million adolescent girls not in school
16 Million children with disabilities not in school, with 1/4 of these children being blind.

Every child deserves a right to learn. When we educate children, we create a future for them.

I stand with Malala and all of the other children around the world longing for an education.

Take action today and sign this petition to call upon all the countries to outlaw discrimination against girls. Sign the petition to help ensure that the 61 million children who are not in school will be by the end of 2015.

Sign it for Malala. Sign it for the girls of the world.

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Help and Chat with a Child in Bolivia

Imagine being a child in an extremely poor country and getting a message from someone across the world. All of a sudden you feel like someone knows you exist. You somehow don't feel so alone.

This is part of a new program the World Food Programme has started with the school children of Bolivia.

First a few facts about Bolivia:

-It is one of the poorest countries in Latin America with nearly two thirds or 80% of the country living below the poverty line.
-Stunting in children under 5 years old remains at 27-37% and has for ten years, due to lack of nutrition.
-The income of 40% of the population (once again hight in rural areas at 59%) is insufficient to meet the basic food needs.
-63% of households cannot provide the MINIMUM caloric intake needed for adequate growth.
-They depend mainly on agriculture so in lean seasons or natural disasters they cannot make money nor eat.

You can get more involved with the children of Bolivia. WFP has an amazing tool that allows you to ask questions to these children and then they will reply back. I am just trying this out today and I look forward to their response! This is an amazing tool to use with older children to help open their eyes that the world is much bigger than your family, home, town, or country. It helps them put a face to a need.

Words have so much power, especially to children. Just a simple note or question can make a difference. Imagine someone asking your opinion or what your hopes or dreams are?!

Send your message or question through this site:

The World Food Programme is working to help the children of Bolivia by reducing malnutrition in children. This will allow them to concentrate and learn in school. This will help all children, even those not in school. They are working to enhance emergency preparedness and how to respond during emergencies.

You can donate to the World Food Programme here.

**This is my second post as part of the Global Team of 200! Follow us!**

I would love for you to share your question/message and the response you get from the children of Bolivia!

Trick or Treat with Purpose

I had no idea that you could help other children by Trick or Treating but you can!

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF was started in 1950 during the aftermath of World War II. It encourages children to collect coins to help those still affected by the war. It is still going on to day and helping children around the world. This program helps show children that they can be active global citizens and help other children all while having fun and dressing up!

It is one of UNICEF's longest -running youth volunteer initiative and is 62 years old this year. In it's 62 Halloweens, $167 million has been raised. This has helped children in over 190 countries and territories. The money goes toward health care, immunizations, clean water, sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. Without the money raised during Halloween, children would have to do without some of the basic necessities of life.

They have fun boxes you can use to collect money if you order their free kits in time. Obviously, today is Halloween so you most likely will not have one of their boxes but you can make a box or envelope of your own or help your children make one.

Here is an awesome, short video that introduces the program a bit more:

A few other ideas to help raise money for UNICEF before or after Trick-or-Treating:

-Have them assign a value to each of their candies and treats they get tonight. Then have them "sell" their candy to you for money that can then be sent to UNICEF.
-Have your children go through their piggy bank or chore money and left them buy some of the candy back from you.
-If you have time to set up a cider or hot chocolate booth in your neighborhood, you can collect the money raised from that and send it to UNICEF.
-You can also make a donation online.

I wish I would have known of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF when I was younger but my daughter will grow up with this as much a part of Halloween as pumpkins!!! This is such an easy way to show children that helping others can be fun and easy!

***This is my first post as part of the Global Team of 200!! Please follow along with us as we blog throughout the next year sharing amazing programs and organizations!!****

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where to Shop Wednesday: FuzziBunz

FuzziBunz is one of the most widely known cloth diapering names. Tereson Dupuy is the inventor of FuzziBunz and founder and CEO of Mother of Eden. She invented FuzziBunz in January of 1999 after her son was suffering from chronic diaper rash. She couldn't find a solution that was easy or convenient. So became the birth of modern cloth diapers. Some people refer to Tereson Dupuy as "the mother of the modern cloth diaper."

If you aren't familiar with FuzziBunz, here is a brief overview of their diapers and products: Pocket diapers with a fleece lining and snaps. Super fun colors. One Size (Birth to Potty Trained) and Perfect Size (sized XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL), Trainers, Nursing Pads, Hanging Diaper Pails, Diaper Totes, Diaper Sprayers, Mama Pads, Inserts, Detergent, Changing Pads, Mattress Pads. Did I miss anything?

FuzziBunz diapers are amazing diapers. Their products are amazing. And their company is amazing!

Here is a list of the organizations they have helped:

  • Aid for Orphans (Ukraine)
  • Amani Baby Cottage (Uganda)
  • Healing Hands of Haiti
  • Malayka House (Uganda)
  • Miracle Diapers (USA)
  • Raising Malawi 
  • The Home of Hope (Malawi)
  • The Crisis Nursery (Uganda)
  • Autism Speaks

FuzziBunz has given to several different organizations through the FuzziBunz Gives Back Program.   They have provided thousands of cloth diapers to several orphanages around the world. These include orphanages in the U.S., Africa, Haiti, and the Ukraine.  They also raised funds to donate formula and cereal for these babies. Then in their free time (not sure where they find it!) they have sewn blankets and other items to give these precious children something of their own. It that doesn't give you warm fuzzies about this company, nothing will!

When natural disasters hit here in the US and over seas, they also raise funds and help out as they can. Being a Louisiana based company, they see their fair share of natural disasters. During the floods and tornados of 2011, they helped collect and send baby supplies including diapers to families who lost everything.

They have also raised over $13,000 for Autism Speaks through the sale of their Light It Up Blue diaper. If you purchase this diaper $1 of each Light It Up Blue Diaper sale will be donated to Autism Speaks. Tereson's son Eden was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at 8 years old so this charity is very dear to her and her family.

What if every company cared this much? They care about their products, their employees, their customers, and their world!

Doesn't shopping feel good?!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Where to Shop Wednesday: gDiapers

gDiapers are incredibly versatile diapers. The company was started by Jason and Kim Graham-Nye while living in Australia. When they found out that regular disposable diapers were the third largest contributor to landfills in the world while only 5% of the population uses them! That fact gets me too! How does it not make everyone want to use reusable diapers!!

They decided right then that disposables weren't an option. They were living in a drought stricken area of Australia so they had to be extremely water conscious so they couldn't do 100% cloth either. So what's an eco responsible couple to do?! They heard about a company in Tasmania (very near Australia) that made flushable diapers and from their the idea was born. Fast forward to gDiapers.

They are a hybrid: part reusable (the shell) and part biodegradable disposables. You can also use hemp cloth insert inside to make it 100% reusable. They are great for traveling. Did I mention they are super cute?!

gDiapers is involved with many different charities and organizations.

Here is a list of the many different non-profit organizations gDiapers helps out:

Who knew shopping could feel so good?!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Where to Shop Wednesday: Happy Heinys

Happy Heinys was started in January 2002 by Linda Byerline after the birth of her third child, who was born prematurely. Her doctor suggested cloth diapers to her after the birth of her child and she desired different options than what she found available and so was born Happy Heinys!

For those who aren't familiar with Happy Heinys: They make several different kinds of cloth diapers but their most famous for their one size pocket diapers. They have options for Hook and Loop (velcro) and Snaps. Many moms (and dads) are huge fans of the Hook and Loop option. Happy Heinys is made exclusively in the US (except for Hemp products).

Happy Heinys is very involved with giving to those in need. Here is a quote from the owner about how she started helping orphans around the world:

“Happy Heinys has actually been working with several different orphanages in Africa, Kenya, and Haiti over the last 8 yrs.”, states Linda Byerline CEO. Byerline continues, “It all started 8 yrs ago when we received a picture of an infant no more than 3-4 months old sitting on a small glass pitcher. We soon learned that these babys sat on these homemade potties for hours each day due to the lack of diapering products available. Those who were lucky enough to have a diaper actually had an old worn rag wrapped around their diaper area. As a mom this broke my heart!” Byerline continued, “We quickly realized that we were in the best position to take care of these babies behinds and we have done so ever since. As other companies sell off their seconds, Happy Heinys sends them to babies in need all over the world.”

If the thought of infants sitting on glass pitchers doesn't stir something deep inside of you, check your pulse!

Here is a list of organizations Happy Heinys has helped:

  • 9/11 Red Cross Fund
  • Aid for Orphans 
  • Timothy House in Haiti
  • International Federation of Human Support
  • Autism Speaks
  • Guatemala Stove
  • US Natural Disasters : San Diego Fires and Hurricane Katrina
Most recently, Happy Heinys, has started their own charity called The Heiny Project. 100% of the money collected goes toward providing diapers for families in need. The families take a 1.5 hour course of how to take of the diapers and then receive a certificate to purchase $250 worth of cloth diapers.

Shop for your baby and help other babies!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hate: We aren't born with it, we learn it.

I started this post on August 6th. It was the day after the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. I felt it might be too heavy a topic for one of my first few posts so I saved it and didn't finish writing that night. Honestly, I think I was scared to address this topic. Partly because I know I am guilty. But this week, things keep happening that keep stirring this topic in my head and my heart so here it goes. (I apologize if it is really long.)

The founder of World Vision, Bob Pierce, prayed a prayer when he was starting World Vision. In Richard Sterns book, The Hole in Our Gospel, he introduces you to Mr. Pierce and his prayer. I prayed that prayer 3 years ago this Fall and all I can tell you is that, God answered.

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”Bob Pierce, World Vision founder

I am a Christian but a lot of things about my own religion leaves me befuzzled and full of questions. I don't agree with everything I have been taught. To some people, maybe I am not Christian enough.

But to me, my God is love, He is not hate. He does not promote hate. He gave His Son so we could all know love. When I think of hate, I see God sad. I see it breaking His heart. I think He looks down and shakes His head at us saying, "You are missing it. LOVE. L-O-V-E. The greatest of these commandments is LOVE."

Hate manifests itself in so many different forms. Hate because someone is a different race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, gender, weight... Hate simply because "they aren't like us."

I looked at my daughter the day of the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin. It hit me that one day there will be a time when I have to explain to her that someone killed another person simply because they are different. Watching her play so innocently and thinking of her playing with her friends at Mother's Day Out or the park, it occurred to me: Hate is a learned.

Hate is learned, so that means someone else teaches, whether intentionally or unintentionally, hate.

Some times children are told to not like certain people because they are different. Other times they aren't told directly but rather observe their parents or families behavior and words and learn it that way.

Why would I do that to my daughter? Why would I do that to this world? What I teach my daughter affects this entire world in one way or another. (Hint the name of the blog.)

If I teach her to look down on others because they are different for whatever reason, I am not doing my job as a parent and I am definitely not doing my job as a Christian parent.

Here are some situations and thoughts on hate with example from my perspective.

Sexual Orientation
The same week I launched this blog was the huge Chick-Fil-A thing. (I am not bashing their company right now, I am just talking about my take away from the situation. I still eat there as I still drink Starbucks). Initially I really thought it was just about freedom of speech. Then I realized that some people participating weren't realizing the underlying message they were sending while others knew good and well what they were doing.

I am a Christian but I also believe homosexual couples should be able to marry. I am glad we are from a country with free speech so yes, Chick-Fil-A can state their beliefs. I am glad I ca shop where I want and eat and drink what I want. But on the day of support Chick-Fil-A, I didn't participate because the majority of the gay community didn't see this as a "free speech" thing, they saw this as a "we hate you" kind of day.

This verse stayed on my mind all week, "Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble." 1 Corinthians 8:13

When I read this verse, I could see this as, "Don't eat that sandwich today because that might make someone feel hated, not loved."

Religion confuses me. It makes me sad. But it also gives me hope.

When killings happen because someone believes the wrong thing, something different from whomever is doing the killings, the reasoning escapes me.

When people protest a center in a town from being built because it is a different religion than what they are used to, that is hate. In America, we have freedom, freedom to worship whom we choose and how. To teach your child to grow up hating someone because they are a different religion than you are makes no since to me.

This video has been floating around the web and news, of a newscaster who addresses a man who wrote her a degrading email about her weight. I love her reply to him and her message for young people who are being bullied.

Parents, your children are watching and listening to everything you say. They hear the words you call people. The things you say to other adults about other adults and even other children. They learn to think like you. "If my mom and dad say these things then it must be okay to do."

So many kids are bullied and it is so sad. Why must we always pick on people?

Set an example for your kids. Remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Talk about others the way you want others to talk about you. Talk about others the way you want your children to talk about others.

This week's episode of Parenthood addresses the "N" word. This episode was incredibly powerful to me. For those not familiar with the show, their is an interracial couple who have a son. He hears the word in a song. His dad is white and he thought he had fully explained to his young son why this word was inappropriate, until the mother states she needs to address it. I know this was a tv show with a script but it really made an impression on me. I'm a white girl so I can never understand what it feels like to be called that word. To be degraded in such a fashion and to be made to feel you are less of a person or human as said by the actress, breaks my heart. How can this be ok?

The book and movie, The Help, also helped bring this to the surface. How could we treat other human beings as less because of the color of their skin. Growing up in Northeast Louisiana, I am all too familiar with that word and how it can be used and how people can be thought of differently because of their skin color.

There are things I have done and said in my past that I am so incredibly ashamed of. Things that hurt people and promoted hate. I have said things that discriminated on all levels from race, weight, looks, sexual orientation, religion, and even gender. I have said horrible things in my past. I am so sincerely sorry for those hurtful and hateful words I have uttered.

Sometimes I look back at myself and I don't even recognize me and I thank God for that. I am not same Samantha I once was. I am so thankful that my heart has been changed and my eyes have been opened. How did I live that way for so long? How did I walk around with such an ugly heart and think I was really serving my Jesus?

As a mom, I will do everything in my power to make sure my daughter learns love and acceptance. I want to teach her to stand up for her beliefs but not to degrade someone else because of theirs. I want her to believe in herself and not be scared to be different. I want her to not be scared to be friends with people who are different from her. I want to teach her LOVE, not hate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Introduction to Where to Shop Wednesdays

In June of 2011, I began to get a little stir crazy. I had a 4 month old baby and was now a stay at home mom. Becoming a SAHM meant a big pay cut for us. We thought we were ready for it but we weren't. It was also a huge adjustment to me not bringing home money. We are also normally a charitable couple but all of a sudden we needed every cent we were earning. I figured we couldn't be the only people who had this huge change to our normal life by having a baby and one person of the couple deciding to stay home. 

Late one night after getting our daughter to bed, I was browsing on of my favorite sites: Made By Survivors. They are an incredible organization/business that empowers women. Some women have been rescued from sex slavery and trafficking and others live in poor communities with no rights. They teach and train these women to become artisans and then the items they make are sold around the world. So you buy a beautiful necklace and you empower a woman you will never meet. It's  incredibly powerful for these women, yet so simple for the consumer. 

I started thinking, why couldn't there be a online store or better, physical store that did this geared towards parents. Every baby needs essential items and almost every baby gets gifts. I started researching and planning and then told my husband of my grand plan: I wanted to open a store that sold all things baby but only from companies who were charitable. I also wanted the company to give back. The planning was bumpy but I had some good advisors. After realizing bank don't like to give money to start ups we scaled back and it became simply a cloth diaper store with room to expand. And that is when Teal Elephant was born. 

The name was chosen because Teal was in the green family and our company was "green" just not 100%. Elephant was chosen because elephants are matriarchal animals. If a mother elephant dies, the other female elephants help raise the orphaned elephant. They also work together so no one is left unprotected. These facts amazed me and I fell in love with elephants.

My business would have been open one year on paper this month. I am in the process of closing it because I figured out that I love cloth diapers but I don't have the passion that is needed to help push a business along. I won't say it was a waste of time (maybe a little money here and there). I learned a lot about business and a lot about myself. I met some amazing women and mothers and I loved it. 

Even though I am closing it, I still have a interest in businesses that are charitable. If I know a company gives to others when I purchase there items, I will pay more and I will have a deeper following to that brand. 

I figure there are some other mama elephants that like to shop and like to help people. When money is tight people want to make their dollar stretch as far as it can go. What if we looked at that a little differently? What if we shopped for items that we needed that also helped people in return?

Each Wednesday I will give you a different business that I love that gives back. The first few will be cloth diaper related because, well, I already know about them. 

I have to give credit to an amazing website I found last year in the process of all the business research. They do this same thing except it's almost daily and it is more in depth than I will be doing. It is MilkShake. Check them out and bookmark them (and me too!!) and let your shopping help empower people!!

What is your favorite business that gives back?

Monday, October 1, 2012

October = Breast Cancer Awareness

October seems to be a month with two colors: Orange and Pink.

Today we are discussing the color Pink. You see pink, you think boobs.

As a woman, I am a owner of 2 of them, as are most humans (men and women)!

Breasts are those things that you don't think a lot about unless they are an issue. I will be the first to admit, I rarely do my monthly self breast exams.

According to John Hopkins Medical Center, "Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important."

I went in for my yearly check up in August and during the routine visit my doctor found a small lump that he couldn't figure out if it was anything to be of concern. He pointed it out to me and told me to keep an eye on it when doing my monthly exams. I said yes even though I can't even recall the last self exam I had done.

I breast fed my daughter for 13 months. During that time I would check for clogged ducts after getting mastitis when she was two weeks old. Can you say, ouch?! During that time I would massage any lumps until they were soft but that was the end of anything remotely like an exam.

Well, since August, which means one month has past, that being September, I can say I have done my monthly exams!! I have had these breast for going on my whole 29 years. As I was doing my exam I realized two things:

1. I didn't even really know how to perform it. Sure I new one way and that I was searching for a knot or lump but I didn't realize it had three parts (see below).
2. I have no idea what my breasts feel like.

The second realization made me laugh. My dog was just looking at me as I fondled my breasts laughing. How have I had these things so long and I don't know that they feel like this?!?! I bet my husband would notice a change in my breasts faster than I would.

This really made me think. Why is this not something that is automatic to us as women?

My spot hasn't changed but I am watching it. I think it is just normal tissue (dense tissue) as my doctor assumed but I will watch it as I was told. I also want to make this a normal thing for my daughter to see. If she grows up with mommy doing her self breast exams then it won't seem like such an odd idea.

Below are the directions, along with an image, for doing a Self Breast Exam which should be done monthly. I found these on the National Breast Cancer website.



Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.


Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women's breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.


When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
If you need more details, please visit
Who else will agree to set a monthly plan for self breast exams?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Incredible Honor

Last night I was discussing this blog with my husband and telling him what I want it to be about and how I feel like this is what I am suppose to be doing at this time in my life.

I told him how I guessed I was not chosen for a place on "this mom blog group" I had applied for. I went to bed feeling a bit defeated. Granted, I am a very new blogger so I completely understood. There were plenty more moms with lots more blogging years and motherhood years who deserved these spots.

This morning, I received an email about the status of that application and I was ACCEPTED!!!

I am so incredibly honored to be part of the Global Team of 200!!!! I will be writing along side 199 other amazing women and mothers about issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Here is the description:

The Global Team of 200 is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

Please follow along with all of the bloggers! This is going to be an incredible year!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our First Service Adventure

I love volunteering. It makes me incredibly happy. I love the feeling of helping. All that said, in the past few years I haven't made much time to do it. I think of ideas and don't follow through.

Well, now that I have a child, I want to set an example for her. I also am finding that I am not whole without volunteering and service in my life. So I took my daughter with me to volunteer with our community and the Nashville Day of Service which is sponsored by Hands on Nashville.

I live in the Donelson area of Nashville. This area is coming to life. There has been this huge movement toward community and helping one another. This is a whole other post for later on.

Our community adopted one of the local middle schools which is right when you come into the area. We planted plants and flowers at the driving entrance and exit and the front doors of the school. This might not seem like a big deal for those of you who do not enjoy flowers and plants. But stop and think about when you see a beautiful flower, doesn't that make you smile?

I figured this would be a good first step volunteer project for a 19 month old. It involves digging and dirt which happen to be two really fun things for toddlers.

We arrived and they were removing sod and prepping the areas. Our sweet girl only had to be shown one time. I walked over with her and said, "Help mommy pick up this dirt and put it in the wagon." She bent down, picked up dirt, walked it over, dumped it, and came back. It was so stinkin' cute!! Now granted, a toddler handful of dirt might not be that much but to me it was huge! She was so happy doing it.

We also got to plant a flower together. She helped me pack the dirt in and then we found a worm! If you know me, you know that I am incredibly scared of worms. But thanks to all the children's shows we watch, in particular Wild Kratts, I now understand that worms are good and help plants grow. I also couldn't very well run screaming in front of a group of strangers, not to mention my 19 month old. If mommy is scared of them then she might be too. So I took a deep breath and picked the worm up and showed it to her. She thought it was cool for .2 seconds then threw it down and started playing with the dirt again, which I was happy about.

If you are interested in volunteering with a toddler for a gardening project, here are my tips:

  1. Check with the group first. Some people are extremely serious about their plants and only want the best. This group was laid back and let us help when we could.
  2. Bring water. Toddlers will eat dirt. Rinse and repeat throughout the day.
  3. Where gloves so if your toddler gets something in their eye or mouth, mommy has clean hands to get it out with.
  4. Bring a snack. Gardening can be hard work, especially for a toddler.
  5. Think about your clothes. You will both be covered in dirt. And you will both be squatting and bending repeatedly. Also, dress in layers as mornings are cooler and then the sun comes out.
  6. Bring a plastic bucket and shovel like you use at the beach. Or a dump truck. I wish I would have thought of this before getting there. It makes it easier for then to help with pick up. 
  7. Cheer little one along. Even just picking up a twig is a huge help.
  8. Explain what you are doing with your little one. Get them to smell the flower or pack the dirt.
  9. Be flexible. You won't be the one planting the most flowers or digging the most holes. You will most likely spend the majority of your time chasing or reorienting your little one. 
  10. HAVE FUN!! 

When was the first time you volunteered with your child and what did you do?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Swimming Upstream and Fighting Superhero Toddler Strength

As a first time mom to a toddler (18 and half months right now), I feel like I am constantly swimming upstream. Some days are good and some days are hard and rough. I know that isn't momlitcally correct to admit that some days are bad but they are. Sure they have sweet moments which I will share and I still love her from the bottom of my heart but some days make you want to stick a straw in a tequila bottle and have at it!

Like today....This is my day. 14 HOURS.

We got a late start on our way to our Zoo Tots class (incredibly great class for toddlers). We get there, all of the other kids are sitting on their carpet squares learning about the animals. AG would have none of the sitting mess. She wanted to color at the table, oh wait, no play with the stuffed animals, no look out the window, ooo-blocks. We get back to our square in time to pet a bearded dragon and touch the feathers of an owl.

I looked around at the other moms and their kids and they are all sitting and listening. For a second I am convinced I am in the wrong age group.

AG is not a bad kid. She is good and curious and a toddler. But with all of the other "mom" eyes on me, I felt as if I was a failure in that 30 minutes of my life.

Then we have our FedEx trip:

I was smart enough to put her in the stroller to keep her confined. Well, we get to the counter to fill out the envelope and she starts asking...whining...and it progresses to screaming for the pens on the counter. I go into panic mode. I give in. I give her a pen. I look down to see her legs COVERED in ink. Oh well, it washes off, right. I go to put her in the carseat and she uses the superhero toddler strength to prevent me from doing so. I'm sweating profusely at this point and exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I cry. I cry in the parking lot. I cry while I'm driving. How in the world do I get through 10 more hours until bedtime?

So I decided we need to burn some more energy off. We go to the park near our house which is surrounded by a lake. It's beautiful and peaceful.

She is running and having a great time. I watch her climb the stairs toward the slide and I am in awe that just a year ago, she couldn't even sit up by herself. Now she is climbing and sliding and running. Wow, where has that little baby gone? We swing and I here her sweet, "Wees" as I push her higher. I am so thankful for this moment and so glad I stopped here.

She decides she wants to walk down by the water. I am totally for that. I love walking by the lake. What a way to unwind and let the stress go!

We take off and as a toddler does, she runs off. She runs straight toward the water. Not to walk beside the lake, but to walk on or in the lake or who knows what was going through her mind. I grab her right before she falls off into it. She then decides to use her superhero strength powers to wiggle out of my arms. How is it possible for toddlers to be stronger than a 29 year old woman?

She then goes into tantrum mode of wailing on the a puddle. I just let her go. She stands up, calmed down. And then runs toward the playground.

I decide we should secretly head to the car. Somehow I can't let her know that's the plan. Well, we get close and then my smart child figures it out. Oh well,

We get home and I change her diaper and clothes because they were wet and put her down for a nap. She looked so peaceful. I decide to rest on the couch. 30 minutes later I hear her talking. I chose to ignore it because I want her to go back to sleep. I know that she usually takes 2 hours naps.

I hear her say, "Dada" and think to myself, "Oh, how sweet is she?" She talks more and then I realize it sounds more like "dirty" than "daddy" this time. I start walking to her room. She sees me round the corner and she does the sign and says the word at the same time..."POOP" and points.

Yep...You guessed it. Clean diaper laying next to the crib. Poop laying in the crib and on the rails and ALL over her. We go immediately to the bath.

The rest of the evening goes well, until 15 minutes before bed.

In less than 1.5 minutes I said all of these phrases:
"That's not how we use chairs!"
"NO! Don't sit on the dog!"
"That's a sweet hug for the dog but get off of him!"
"What are you doing on the table?! Get down from there."

Did I mention my husband is in the middle of three week trip for his work?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Am I doing this right?

I have sat down to right a new post almost every day. Some days I write them and don't publish them. Other days I write them and delete the entire thing because I don't think it is good enough.

I want it to be "perfect".

I have been reading the blogs that are participating in Blogust which is helping support Shot@Life.

It's an amazing thing they are doing. They have chosen 31 bloggers to write posts. Then for every comment that is left on their post, money is donated to give lifesaving vaccines to children in need around the world. You should go over there immediately and comment!

Reading all of their blogs has been so incredibly inspiring and well....intimidating. All I can think is what an amateur I am. Why do I think I have anything important to say?

Maybe I don't for you, but maybe someone else can use what I write. Maybe no one else will benefit. Maybe I will see what I am suppose to do with my life. Who knows?

All I know is I fill led to do this. I woke up in the middle of the night with a blog name. So there has to be some reason for me to be typing something.

I will leave you with two quotes I found on Pinterest last night. It sums up what I need to do, or not do!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mommy Guilt Coaster

Last week was a crazy week. One minute I was up and the next I was down. And then add Mommy Guilt in the mix and it was the craziest roller coaster week ever.

We found out we had a couple grand in needed expenses. Then I got offered a job. Down. Up. Mommy Guilt.

I got offered a great job that seemed perfect for me. But in two days, I had to give them an answer, find childcare for my daughter, take a class the next week, and start teaching the next. It seemed crazy but it seemed possible.

I had so many emotions going through my head. I was looking for a sign. I thought I had had one with the job offer a day after I learned of some great expenses.

All the while, I had mommy guilt going on. If I go back to work I am putting work ahead of her. If I don't let her get to know other kids in daycare she is missing out. Oi Vay! No matter what I chose, I felt like I was losing or messing up someone else's life!

Any other moms experience that? I know you have.

I wish there was a a magic button to see which is the correct answer to your situation but there isn't.

I received 3 really good pieces of advice during that week, especially over the job option.

1. What is the right thing for your family situation today, next year, but today, with everything as it is?

2. Which option would you regret the most if you had to choose at this moment? Missing out on the job or missing out on moments with AG (my daughter).

3. Go with your gut.

It all came down to AG.

(I know a ton of moms who work and they are incredible women and I know that they love their kids more than life itself. So I am NOT saying that they chose wrong. They chose what works best for them.)

My thoughts that week were: I should show her a mom can work and still keep up with things at the house even though I don't keep up with things at the house now. I had the whole fall planned for us and now I have to cancel it. My hubby works away a lot so when he is home, I would be working. But then I would have an income. I could help pay for the debt I incurred for my business.

But I couldn't find childcare that wasn't more than our house note and that I trusted that had the hours we needed (at the time). Maybe I will find the perfect childcare soon. I just didn't have it when I needed it. I would regret putting her in a childcare I wasn't one hundred percent happy with. And that was my gut feeling.

I was sad about missing out on the job but at peace with the decision I made.

I hate when life gets in the way of life...but that's life, huh?!

What are some mommy guilt stories you have?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Tragedy of Vehicular Heat Stroke

Within one week, 3 children have died of vehicular heat stroke here in middle Tennessee. The last one was just miles from my home.

My heart goes out to these families. Especially the one close to home.

The most common questions I have seen and heard are, "how could this ever happen?" or "how can you forget a baby in a car?"

To those questions, I pose this question. Have you ever driven down the rode and realized you have no recollection of driving to the point you are at?

I heard a doctor on the news commenting that our brains have autopilot and we just do some things without ever thinking of them. When something new comes into play, such as a new stop sign on a road we have traveled a million times, we don't stop, because it isn't in our autopilot. So accidents happen.

When a busy parent or caregiver is going through their routines, something like an extra stop can be missed.

I only have one child and sometimes I can barely keep up. This latest mom had four. One that was still waking up in the middle of the night. And she was working from home.

I remember seeing an episode of Oprah about this topic. A mom, who this tragedy had happened to, recommend that parents put something in the front seat of their car when a child is in the back so that they always have a visual reminder that the child is still in the car.

I have held on to that advice and when it is just my daughter and I in the car, I put her diaper bag in the front seat. It is a small thing that can have life altering consequences.

My daughter's Mother's Day Out is now starting a new policy where they call us if our child has not arrived by 9:30 and are scheduled for that day. I have been thinking of other cues busy parents can give themselves.

Here are a few of them:

-Set an alarm on your phone for 10 minutes after you should have dropped the child off.
-Keep their diaper bag or toy in the front seat while they are in the carseat.
-Hang something on your mirror just for when the child is in the car. (Remember: it can't stay there all the time or your brain will eventually miss it.)
-Tie a small ribbon on the top of the steering wheel.
-Have a parent friend that agrees that you both call each other after drop offs.
-Set an alarm clock in your house or office for 10 minutes after you should arrive back from dropping that child off.

What other ideas for cues do you have?

Monday, August 6, 2012


This blog is my journey as a wife, daughter, sister, friend, pet owner, business owner, nurse, christian, human, and mother. Most importantly, my journey as a mother.

I have a beautiful almost 18 month old little girl. She is the perfect combination of my husband and I. She has a laugh that can cure heartache, a smile that is infectious, and the sweetest voice in the world.

I wanted to start this blog last year but didn't think I really had anything to add to all the other information out there. Maybe no one will read this or maybe someone will, but I decided to start it now because I need a place to think out loud.

Being a relatively new mom, I know I have so much to learn. I know there are other women out there who can teach me. I know some parts I will have to learn by going through it and others I can avoid by heeding others advice. I look forward to learning from this blog as well. I would love any readers to comment all you like!

As I (well, we, my hubby helps with her too but this isn't his blog!) raise our daughter, I realize that this whole parenting thing is tougher than it looks at times. What is becoming so evident to me is that we as parents control the future of our world. Not just my daughters world, not just our families world, but the ENTIRE world.

This blog is my journey but I also hope to inspire other moms to see that we are carrying the world on our hips. As moms, we need to see that the things we teach our children will affect our world.

What are we showing them with the way we live, the we talk, the way we love?

Welcome! I hope you don't get bored here!
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