Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We all know about 'THAT MOM'...

Now I know you all know 'that mom'. 

The one who gives you unsolicited parenting or reproductive advice.. that leaves you shaking your head wondering what would make them think that your reproductive abilities are any of their business. 
Or maybe it's your parenting.. 
Or even your family size. 

The mom that makes you sit in your car at the grocery store and write a 'WTF' 'vent' post to all your friends. This crazy person said WHAT to you!!??

To that crazy person....

I'm Sorry!! 

Now I know that the 'reasonable' thing say is something more along the lines of 'what were you thinking?'.. but after being confronted with a situation in which I am fairly certain I am the person considered crazy.. I have come to an understanding about this.

Now to be fair, the other party in this conversation initiated. She said something to me, about appointments and getting in nice and early (mind you it's 8:30am and I am still barely awake). I just smiled, nodded, and said something insignificant in return. She initiated again, talking about it being better that way with two kids, and I think my brain just kinda went 'kaboom'

I blame it on the early hour. I"m usually home eating breakfast at that time or putting O down for his first nap. 

Maybe I can blame it on the lack of caffeine in my life right now while I am detoxing. 

But really, I don't know what the heck I was doing. 

Words were coming out of my mouth about having three children and that I am so tired I sometimes wish my youngest was in daycare so I could do something other than spend all my time with babies. 

Words that resembled 'don't be like me' and 'stop while you can'. 

Words of a borderline anxious and depressed mother who hasn't gotten a moment of alone time in the last 9 months.. who just finished a hemoglobin test with a sensitive, and now very upset, baby. 

This, people, is what a woman on the edge looks like. 

When my mouth had finished rambling off all my stress and exhaustion from having a baby on top of two school age children, and urging this poor woman to cease reproducing lest she end up like me, I looked up, saw her face, and realized that I had, in fact, become 'that mom'. 

It looked a bit like this ^

As I hurried myself into my seat and started my car I smiled awkwardly and shouted a 'have a nice day' as I willed my minivan to magically transport itself across the street where I could be saved from the embarrassment. To say I panicked and left.. well that would be pretty accurate actually.

So, to all those 'that mom's out there that I have silently judged through Facebook posts or friends' recountings I really am sorry. 

Maybe you got no sleep the night before and your brain is on the fritz like mine. Maybe someone set you off earlier and you never really properly defused. Or maybe you have a very valid point and are just not a great communicator (again, something I'm at times guilty of).  Whatever it is, unless you are just a nasty person in general ... and I don't believe most people are.. you probably meant to be a lot more helpful and friendly than you were. 

I can honestly say.. I don't think anyone becomes 'that mom' on purpose. 
And if they do.. well then they probably don't feel bad about it. 

But this mom, I am starting to see how these mis-communications happen.. and often. All of us wandering around in this state of constant chaos from having children and no sleep and lack of proper nutrition or adult conversations. 
It takes a toll! 

So today I am going to encourage each and every one of you reading this to share a time when you have blundered through an encounter with another mom or child. 
Write it down, and then burn the page 
(or rip it up and let the pieces fall into a river if you prefer). 

Let go of the guilt over not being the perfect role model for parents of young children, or people with 'x' amount of children. 
Go do something nice for yourself instead. 

With a little self-care and (hopefully) the support of your loved ones, you too can avoid becoming
'that mom'

Monday, July 18, 2016

Babies in the Sun! 5 Tips for keeping babies safe on the sunniest of days

Summer can be one of the greatest times of the year for families who like to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  A day at the beach can mean lots of fun for everyone, but it can also turn ugly. For all children, sun protection is something important to be considered, but especially for the youngest ones who are not recommended to use sunscreen! Here are my top 5 tips for having your little ones out in the sun! Please subscribe to get more from me on health, nutrution, exercise, holistic treatments and alternative care for pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

1. Sunscreen. If you can, use it! I recommend Badger sunscreen. The non-nano particles of aluminum in the formula mean that the toxins of aluminum don't absorb into the skin. If your child is younger than 6 months, or if you want to avoid aluminum altogether, many people suggest a homemade sunscreen of coconut and carrot seed oils. These oils have a natural SPF, but the extent of protection from using them alone is not known. 
2. Shade: Bring your own shady spot and ensure everyone has a place to sit and take a moment out of direct sunlight!

3. Sleep spot: If you have a little one that naps, having a safe space for them to sleep is an absolute must!!

My secret?
Dig a child-sized crater in the sand BEFORE putting down your shaded tent. Put the crater near an outside edge, and lay a blanket over it. Presto! Instant comfy spot for the little one to nap. <3
4. Hat: Make sure light-skinned and light-haired children have a hat to wear when they are in direct sunlight. While the hat only has a 50 % chance of staying on while the child is in the sand, and probably less than 10% once they hit the water, the more protection you can give, the better especially for those younger ones with less hair to protect them. 

5. Food: Don't forget the most important part! If you're going to the beach, or the pool, or even the lake with kids, you MUST bring food! Bottles of water are also important. Bring sandwiches, granola bars, fruit, veggies, and whatever else is portable that your children will eat. Expect them to be hungry.. but realize they may be so 'busy' they don't want to eat too! Keep after them to drink water at the very least.

And of course, water safety is paramount in any location that has it available. My older children have been taught the buddy system, and while it's not perfect (I've had one incident of a child wandering off this summer) and I will have a life jacket on O when he is old enough to put himself in the water.
Most of all, be safe. Children can develop heatstroke very easily, especially those with boundless energy who refuse to rest in the sun all day. My own daughter is this way, and finding her limits has been hard.

So from my family to yours, Happy Summer!! I'm so glad it's finally here and we are loving every moment!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

When all else fails.. just be you

Hello Everybody!!
Crystal Kelley, The Baby-Guru

This blog has laid dormant for years. I had given up, in a way. In the midst of the mommy life, I had forgotten the writer that laid beneath the surface. The sleepless nights, endless obstacles, financial and emotional pain that I experienced; it all led to this person that I am. For a long time I remained quiet, scared to speak up for myself, lest someone feel inclined to make speculations about my life or my character because of the choices that I've made or the things beyond my control and my personal decisions on how to handle the situations presented to me. It was safer to keep my true self quiet, and be who everyone thought I was. During this time, while my children were very young, I lost myself quite a bit. During that time I stopped creating, something I"d loved in my school days. I wasn't able to write; something that had brought me great joy for a long time. I began writing again during my surrogacy; briefly until things went haywire, and more significantly after the birth of my surrogate daughter. The words poured out of my hands while I sat in the hospital with her for the time when she was legally mine; I finally had a reason to write. Telling her story was jumbled, and broken at the time, nothing like the book that now graces the pages of Amazon . It was like learning how to walk again, and it helped me remember that I had a voice. My voice; my true voice with its years of pondering and deciding and challenges and achievement, had been silent for so long that it almost was reduced to term papers and research arguments alone. In my sad state I had really forgotten how to bring my voice alive and my surrogacy was a vastly significant moment in my personal development.

But a part of me was gone, for that time. I really struggled with living with someone full time.. even someone I loved and shared a blood relationship with. I struggled with depression and anxiety. As long as I found myself unable to write, I also found myself less able to do the other things that I had enjoyed in my pre-child life. I didn't do art projects with my kids. I didn't always treat them with the love and respect that I do now. It was difficult, this different life of actually having sole responsibility for these little people. The childcare model of how a child is cared for and the real-life models in front of me were very different. We struggled, we fell, but we always got up; and we moved forward. And I sit here tonight, in the tin can silence of a little postage stamp sized house, with my two daughters asleep upstairs, and my son in my bedroom snoring like a puppy. Rain beats on the house and the cool breeze fills the night. This is good.. this is home.

 I feel as though I've come back to myself, in a way. The person that I was before I had children, and when I was on my own in a two room apartment on the third floor of a historic building. I liked myself then, and there. I was dabbling in crystal work and energy healing. I knew how to cook my own meals, even though my nutrition at that point was horrible, it was a step above tv dinners and I was proud of that. I held a job, I paid my own bills, and I actively worked to live a positive life and do good in the world.

So you'll believe me when I say that having my children rocked my entire existence. I fell apart; and at times I feel as though I'm still falling apart a little bit. I've gone from one to two, to nearly three, and then four children in under 10 years. Most of my sanity is gone, and my hair is a little darker and a little lighter all at the same time now. But those 3 little spawn that inhabit my home, and my heart, they taught me what is important in this lifetime. Or at least, what I think is important. And that is to leave this world a little better than how I found it. That means raising healthy and happy and educated and empowered kids who can challenge the status quo and make a difference for their fellow man. Of course, that means that they have to make it to adulthood first. So far, so good.


I would say that my children are lucky. It hasn't always been this way, but today they are lucky. The littlest is very lucky. My love of children in general has always led me to want to look into research regarding how I handle different aspects of parenting, and so I've always been aware of the research behind the different parenting choices that I"ve made like extended rear facing in the car seat, babywearing, attachment based parenting, breastfeeding, and baby led weaning.

You'll be surprised what happens :)

Here is some meditative music to listen to while you try this exercise. Deepak is a great meditation guide and I find his channel on YouTube to be a great help to my meditative practice:

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I could be depressed, but at least my baby is cute!

The morning is gloomy, as I drive through the drizzling rain to my local Whole Foods grocery store. I don't usually shop here, but there are a few things that I need for my favorite meals that I can only find here. I find that a lot of 'typical' grocery stores have become much more diverse in their organic and non-GMO options, allowing me to only have to drive to the other side of town once a month these days. But my diet requires a few specific items, and so here I am. It's 8am, and I just dropped off the girls at the bus stop. I can't help but feel a little bit relieved. They have so much energy, and I am just so.. drained.

A fuss from the backseat snaps me back to reality. Little O is in the back, and he didn't fall asleep yet. He doesn't like to be alone or without entertainment, so I gather myself together and climb into the back seat. My body really doesn't like to bend like this.. but the little whimpers will soon turn to all out screams and so I will myself to squeeze into the booster seat beside him. "Hey there little guy" I remark as he cranes his neck to see me. He squeals and smiles. I can't help but smile right back. He is such a little ray of sunshine when he's feeling happy and cute. It makes up for all the time when he is screaming and nothing will make him happy, or when he's fighting sleeping for the tenth time today. It can't fix the belly-aches and projectile spitups.. but O sure does look cute when he smiles.

I pull him into my lap, and put my head back. I remember this feeling. I remember wondering if getting out of the car was worth the hassle; if the good food inside was really worth the extra time and money that it took to get it. I remember sitting in the car willing my body to move and hoping that I could find the energy to get up, never mind having to walk around a store and deal with other people while I'm still in my sweatpants. The last time that I felt this way was after my 8 year old had her heart surgery at 3 months old. Nothing was normal, nor would it ever be again. It was my introduction to the world of motherhood, and it hit me like a ten ton pile of bricks.

Back then I didn't have my awesome baby carriers or the years of advanced study in behavioral science as it pertains to pregnancy and the first 5 years of life. I remember that point vividly, as just a month ago I was still carrying the infant bucket seat in and out of my car daily while cold wind and a very chilly spring came late to the northeastern corner of the US. Today I am grateful that I have learned so much about alternative parenting techniques like babywearing, and I tuck little O into the Tula that I have left in the car for just such outings.

We head across the wet parking lot into the store. I grab a cart. There are just 3 things on my list. It should be a short little task, easy peasy, right?
Well, today one of the things that I have to get I am buying in bulk. Shouldn't be too hard, right? There is nobody to be found in the 3 aisles near where I need to get the item down from the top shelf. That's ok though, because I've never backed down from a challenge and I'm always ready to prove that I don't need anyone to help me. So I reach up and very carefully start to lower the item I'm buying down off that top shelf. Out of nowhere a pair of arms reach around O's head and take it from me just as I"m getting to the bottom. I'm surprised, and let go. As the woman puts the item into my cart she gently scolds "you shouldn't be doing that yourself",  I laugh and retort with my usual "well I never let that stop me before". 

She seems nice enough, and asks about the baby. We have a few moments of general chit chat before the conversation begins that always makes my heart sink. 'Is he sleeping through the night?'.. no. 'Is he a happy baby?'.. only when we're not home and he's smiling at strangers. 'But he doesn't cry all the time does he?.. well yeah, he kind of does. He's got a yeast rash in his diaper, gas in his belly, and lots of people trying to help him heal but not enough relief just yet. 

It always starts off so simply. I don't smile quite broadly enough when they ask if he's a happy baby, or I'll brush off the question about if he's 'good' because I don't think there is such a thing as a 'bad' baby. Then they prod a little more, and find out he's colicky.. and then there's that phrase. 

"Well at least he's cute"

Slam. Right there. Well yes, thank goodness he's cute. Thank goodness all babies are cute, because if they weren't so gosh darn adorable they wouldn't survive infancy. Thank goodness he's a cute baby, and the baby next door is cute and  your cousin's baby is cute and thank goodness you were cute as a baby too. Mothers have a biological imperative to think that their baby is cute. It is the little coos and smiles that keep us getting up in the middle of the night to feed the wailing children instead of putting them out for the wolves to get them so they can get some sleep. It's the adorable toes and sloppy kisses that implores us to change their diapers and clean up all of their messes when we would much rather be sleeping or eating or working or doing anything other than being a parent to this very needy and obnoxious little thing that depends on us to do absolutely every single thing.. PLUS they are whiny, cranky, colicky and spit up 20x a day. Thank every sacred good thing on this earth that he's cute. 
Can I go home now? 

On a different day, that would have broken me to pieces. Every bit of my worth as a mother used to depend on what others said and thought about my children. The 9 month old having a tantrum in the grocery store aisle used to make me have panic attacks. The hungry baby who needs to nurse NOW in the middle of the checkout aisle would have me cowering in my car hoping nobody was offended by what I needed to do. Thank goodness that person is gone and was gone a couple of kids ago. I hated being that person and I vowed when my surrogate daughter was diagnosed with birth defects that I wouldn't let the thoughts of others determine my self worth or pressure me into compromising my personal integrity. The children are my reason for being on this earth. They are our hope for the future; our chance at the survival of the human race, our legacy. Their well being trumps anyone else's preferences 1,000% in my book. 

Today I'll stand there and smile. It's a little sideways smile; mostly just because I am glad that I am here. I am glad that I can stand on the other side of postpartum depression and feeling judged and uncertain about every move I made as a parent despite years of practice in childcare. Today my 6 and 7 year olds are healthy, strong, and amazingly well mannered children. I don't know how that happened. They fight, they have big personalities and they don't always use their words, but they are good kids with good hearts and very full schedules and big stomachs. I hope that they don't remember me as the depressed person that I was during the first few years of their life, and I hope that I never falter to that level again. Whatever my mental hangups may be, I don't want to share those with them. Instead it is my motivation to research and tackle child emotional health proactively with my own children. This motivation has turned into a business helping other families do the same for their own families. 

'Cuz cute only lasts so long.. 
and being tired is real.

Monday, May 30, 2016

In My Kitchen: Gripe Water

 Homemade Gripe Water

My little boy is 5 months old now. He is sweet, and smiley, and much less fussy than he was when he was born. But in the beginning, we had quite a hard time. Mr O wasn't a happy camper when he was first born; and we tried a lot of things to get him to settle. Since tea is easy to come by in my house thanks to my sister who used to live here and my own herb collecting I had all of the most common ingredients in gripe water readily available. 

I used one of my re-usable tea bags and put some fennel in it. Brew all the teas together and they make a great gripe water from home! 

You can make this too! I used some pre-bagged teas, but you can use fresh or dried herbs as well: 

1bag Chammomile tea
1bag Lemon Ginger tea
1bag fennel seed (approx 2tsp)

I let the bags steep in a full pot of water for approximately 30 minutes, and then strained it all and put it in a glass jar. 

Prepared in this way, this gripe water is good for 2 weeks at room temperature. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Meet Ashton

While I was pregnant with my little O I was part of a very active and supportive Facebook group. They kept me going through the debilitating morning sickness throughout the first 30 weeks, and the extreme exhaustion that I experienced near the end. So many women were part of this group. Many of us were very active, and got to know each other pretty well.

Our due dates ranged from November-February.We were all shocked when Tara, who was due in January, delivered her son on November 20, 2015

Ashton is almost 6 months old now. He is such a little fighter. He has been through so much in the short time he has been on this Earth. Unfortunately, the hospital in Oregon where Ashton is doesn't have the means to care for him the way that he needs to be cared for to continue his journey of life. So Ashton and momma Tara are moving!!

"WE ARE MOVING TO OHIO!!!!!!!! I woke up freaking out because they have unfortunately run out of options here... No hard feelings, but I couldn't just say ok... And watch him die.... I got on the phone after at least 15 people recommended Nationwide Children's Hospital, they have a BPD unit of 24 beds... They have 2 left, and Ashton got one!!!!! I had a care conference with our team here and everyone is onboard..... We leave in approx 48 hours or less...... This hospital takes only babies who are out of options...there success rate is 96% discharge, but we will be there for a year or more.... 

Prepping Ashton for this could be not so good... But we are willing to take that chance... 
They are starting iv's now, emptying his stomach, paralyzing him and switching his vent out...
Prayers Ashton stays ‪#‎ashtonstrong‬ and keeps fighting!!"

A fundraiser has been set up on GoFundMe for Ashton's medical bills and the needs of Tara and her husband Mike during this time. Tara will be living in Ohio; most likely at the Ronald McDonald House, while Mike remains at home in Oregon. The hospital stay will be long and tiresome. I know this because while I left before she did, I did this with my own child. The days are long, and sometimes scary, and the nights are lonely and even longer than the days. Time slips away.. and you start to forget what normal life was like before everything that's happened. The difference was that in the end I wasn't the one who stayed. My choices were to give my daugher a better chance with her adoptive family, or spend my whole life fighting for her welfare. Tara doesn't have that problem. She has the support of everyone around her and the love of hundreds or even thousands of people. By donating just a small amount we can contribute a good amount of the costs that they will incur. Please help if you can and follow us to keep up with Ashton and his amazing family!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why such the long face? It's time to BE happy!!

I want to do an experiment.

I want to be happy.

Really truly BE Happy.

And so I'm going to do it.

Look for a blog post in the next couple of days as to what this means.. but I can promise that it's going to change my life for the better. If you want to change yours too, then I invite you to join me.