Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pineapple Hill Designs: Hangin' Out

So you really have to go check out the "how to" for some adorable hanger covers featured over at Pineapple Hill Designs today. They are really very cute. I wonder, too, if you put some potpourri or a sachet in before gluing if it would also make your closet smell wonderful. Hmmm. I bet it would. Check it out:

Pineapple Hill Designs: Hangin' Out

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Random Thought


If I made iced tea with flavored water, something like an Auquafina Splash for example, do you think it would taste yummy? I think it would. Seems like an easy way to get a flavor splash to me. Yeah, yeah, I know.... I can also buy flavored teas. Consider this option B.

Mother's Day Rally

Click on the smiley face logo at the top of the page to learn more about Postpartum Progress' Mother's Day Rally for Mental Health. Every hour you'll be able to read stories from survivors and experts.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Happened Again

The part of my brain responsible for coming up with some sort of creative blog content seems to have run temporarily (I hope) dry. So, that makes it time for another blog hopping rundown. Check out a few of my recent blog destinations:

Gorgeous Giveaway!

Cookie Girl is giving away a gorgeous jewelry set in honor of Mother's Day. If you aren't interested in the jewelry, check out her blog anyway - her recipes are tantalizing. Check it out here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

8 is Enough

I was tagged for this meme by Katie Lane over at the blog Sunshine & Bubblegum...

Here's the rules--mention the person that tagged you. Complete the lists of 8's. Tag 8 of your wonderful blogger friends. Go tell them you tagged them!

8 Things I am Looking Forward To:
1. Lazy summer days
2. My vacation (back home) to San Diego
3. Building my business
4. Summer activities with my little boy
5. Sleeping.
6. The home made chocolate I just remembered I have in the kitchen.
7. Losing weight ( I WILL do it.)
8. My birthday

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
1. Vacuumed
2. Laundry
3. Took my son to the pediatrician
4. Chatted with a friend
5. Helped with a fundraiser that raised over $5K for SIDS research!!!
6. Went to the pharmacy (twice)
7. Filled up the gas tank.
8. Drank lots of coffee (actually this happened first)

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
1. Stay on top of clutter
2. Keep my desk clean
3. Remember to make phone calls (I'm not good with the phone)
4. Win the lottery (but I never buy tickets)
5. Meet more people
6. Be less reserved/more outgoing
7. Say no.
8. Sleep more. Much, much more.

8 Shows I watch:
(My TV watchin is limited these days, but...)
1. Curious George (with my son)
2. The Today Show
3. Big Bang Theory
4. How I Met Your Mother
5. Two and a Half Men
6. Ugly Betty
7. Days of Our Lives
8. Clean House

My 8 Tags:
1. Small Town Girl - Small Town Girl in WNY
2. AutumnMommy - New Beginnings
3. Turtle - Inside the Shell
4. Lady Di - Di's Daily Dish
5. Beth - Beth's Home Stuff
6. Neen - Ramblings from a Stay at Home Mom
7. RJ - Three Hour Tour
8. Jamie - Trips & Travels

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday


I am so very thankful for my son who is growing and thriving and can always bring a smile to my face. I feel so lucky and so blessed.

I am thankful that I am feeling more and more like myself every day after my recent (perhaps ongoing) battle with postpartum depression.

I am thankful for my wonderful, supportive, generous, loving friends.

I am thankful that I found a local mom's group that has helped me more than they will ever know. In some ways, I think finding that group saved me from some dark days.

I am thankful that I'm learning how to let go and not hang on to every possession I have ever owned. Memories remain even if an object does not.

Finally, I'm thankful that this weekend is predicted to be sunny and warm. (Finally!!!)

Let Melanie's Battle Become Our Mission > HeidiM's Blog

Heidi Murkoff, author of the well known What to Expect series of pregnancy and parenting books, offers her support of the Mother's Act in her recent blog post:

"Melanie Stokes had everything to live for. A loving husband, a supportive family, a successful career - and the beautiful baby girl she'd always dreamed of. But Melanie didn't live. Instead, she leapt from the 12th floor of a Chicago hotel to her death -- a victim of an insidious, under-diagnosed, poorly understood, and utterly devastating disease suffered by at least 15% of new mothers: postpartum depression.

Tragically, Melanie lost her battle with PPD, which had progressed by the time she ended her life to postpartum psychosis. But her mother, Carol, turned Melanie's battle into her own crusade -- a crusade to break the silence and end the ignorance that has kept women with postpartum mood disorders suffering needlessly, sometimes harming themselves, sometimes harming their babies.

And that's where we come in."
Read the full story: Let Melanie's Battle Become Our Mission > HeidiM's Blog

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Postpartum Depression Is Real But Still Stigmatized | World of Psychology

Postpartum Depression Is Real But Still Stigmatized World of Psychology

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It's More than Just the Baby Blues - originally posted July 2008

***This item is being re-posted from an earlier time***
I have post partum depression. There. I said it. I initially tried to hide the fact from everyone around me (except my husband) but it’s too exhausting, not to mention counter-productive, to keep doing so. After all, isn’t the first step to recovering from anything admitting its existence? I’m sorry if this makes you feel awkward. It makes me feel awkward, too. Yet I’ve come to realize that every time I tell someone about my PPD, I feel just the slightest bit better. (And here’s a little tip for you: you don’t have to know what to say or how to respond. Usually I’ll speed right along into another topic. I’m not asking you to fix things; I’m just giving you an honest update on how I’m (we’re) really doing.)

You know what the most difficult question is? It’s the “are you just loving motherhood” question. No, I’m not. But that’s ok because it doesn’t mean I don’t love my son; I love him immensely. Don’t feel guilty for asking. After all, society has trained us to do so. I’m sure I’ve asked the same question tens of times before.

My depression is mild compared to some and I have to be thankful, not only for that, but for the fact that I allowed myself to recognize I was suffering, and for a very supportive and encouraging husband and doctor. My symptoms actually started about two months before the birth of my son. In my gut, I knew what it was but tried to brush it off as normal anxiety about becoming a new mother. During this time I’d get what I could only describe as a “twinge of sadness” most every time I felt the baby move (essentially any time I had a physical reminder that I was pregnant). My son’s delivery was difficult. There was meconium present when my water broke so we knew that this technically classified us as a high risk delivery. Four and a half hours of pushing later (I’ll skip the other details), my baby was whisked away to be suctioned so that none of the meconium could make it into his lungs. My husband didn’t get to cut the cord and I didn’t get to hold my baby, or even really see my baby for probably twenty minutes. Yes, I know, that’s not an eternity but it affected me, immensely, and only contributed to my feelings of sadness. Something just didn’t feel right.

We brought baby home and, as in the hospital, nursing was difficult. He was tongue tied and more interested in sleeping or screaming than latching on. I cried every night. No, make that sobbed every night, for weeks. We had his tongue fixed and he eventually picked up the nursing thing but I kept crying. The lack of sleep was literally painful and exhausting yet I often had trouble falling asleep when baby would sleep and would frequently only begin to finally drift off just as he would awaken. I went to my six week post partum appointment and told my doctor that I had been having a difficult time but, at this point in time, really felt that I was better and that I just had a really bad case of the baby blues. Johnathan was nursing great and I was learning to get through the day even though he was immensely fussy (we’d recently found out he had reflux and would later find out he fits the definition of a “high needs” baby). I know she was skeptical but she didn’t push me to admit I had anything more. She just gave me some good advice, not only as a doctor but as a mother of three, and a reminder to call her anytime I felt I might be sliding backwards emotionally. Later this week, my son would decide, literally overnight, that he didn’t want to nurse anymore and would scream every time we tried.

By the time he was about two months old I was back at my doctor’s getting a prescription for anti-depressants. I spent about four months on the medication before I felt well enough to wean off of them. I don’t like taking any medication unless I absolutely have to so I was anxious to come off the meds. It has been about a month since I took my last pill. Am I well? No. Am I better than I was? Yes. Sure, I wanted to believe that as soon as I was done with the pills I’d be normal again; that I’d instantly enjoy motherhood and be this happy, well-adjusted stay-at-home-mom. I’m not there yet. The key word here is yet. I’m learning that recovering from PPD is a process. It’s a process I’m learning more about every day. I’m educating myself, talking about it, and (as of this moment) writing about it. I’m confident I will recover. I don’t think I need to go back on the medication but I do know that every day is still a challenge. Some days are good; some days are horrible; others are just in-between. Perhaps the strangest thing is that while having PPD probably means I could use a little extra help around the house or with baby or that I should be leaning on friends and family more, it also makes it more difficult to ask for help or to reach out. I think about my friends and family every day. Sometimes I pick up the phone but can’t dial. I hope they have the patience to accept that reaching out, and re-connecting, is difficult for me even though they don’t understand why. Of course, I don’t really understand why either; perhaps it’s too much of a reminder of how I used to be. I’m learning to remind myself every day that having PPD does not make me a bad mother or a bad wife. It may make mothering more difficult but, who knows, maybe in the long run I’ll be stronger for it. This isn’t easy on my husband either but he’s doing the best he can to understand and support me. (Even when he’s out of white socks because I haven’t figured out how to fit laundry into my day for a week and a half.) I’m continuing on the road to recovery and I know I’ll get there. I don’t know yet what tools I’ll need as I go through this process but I’ll figure it out along the way.

PPD Quick Facts (some snippets of info I've read along the way)
  • PPD affects 30% of mothers (probably more since many go undiagnosed) and can even affect fathers and/or adoptive parents
  • PPD is really an extremely generalized term encompassing many different mood disorders - most of what you see on the news is extreme, known as postpartum psychosis (e.g. the mother who drove her car into the lake). Just because someone has PPD doesn't mean they want to do harm to themselves or their baby (in case you're wondering, NO, I never felt the need/desire for either; thank God) and even for those that think it, most wouldn't act on it.
  • PPD depression doesn't occur because of something the person does or did. It's likely hormonal and there is often depression in the person's family somewhere. It's curable when acknowledged and treated (treatment options will depend on the person)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wow!

I can't believe I hit my 1,000th visitor today! Of course, I don't know how many hits were myself checking formatting, etc. but, since I had the blog a while before I added the hit counter, I think it's safe for me to celebrate.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog! I wish I had a giveaway for today but, alas, I don't. Rest assured, though, that I'm working on one (I just don't know, yet, when it will be). I'd love to "meet" my readers so leave me a comment or become a follower and let me know who you are.

Thank you all!

~Julie
*Photo credit to Camera Slayer on flickr.

Sharing the Journey with Mary Jo Codey «

Sharing the Journey with Mary Jo Codey «

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Blog Week for the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act


Today is the 2nd annual blog day for the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act which, this year, will actually turn into a week long event. What is the Mother's Act you ask? "The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, sponsored by Senators Menendez, Durbin and Snowe, will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis."

Why do I care? I care because I, too, suffered from Postpartum Depression and I can't tell you how lucky I feel to not only have a supportive husband, family and friends, but also to have a doctor who recognized the signs and helped me make the right choices for me and my family.

Postpartum depression is often a misunderstood illness and I feel it is important to get the word out so that women understand that not only is it not something they "did" but it's something that they can recover from.

That being said, this legislation is finding a difficult path in the senate and we need your help to get it passed. View Susan Stone's blog over at Postpartum Progress for more information and links and sign up to support mothers everywhere.

Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother's Act full text here.

Best Artichoke Dip Ever (and it's super easy)

Recipe credit for this one goes to my dear friend Susan Morrison.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained (un-marinated)
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened (You can substitute 1/3 fat but don't use non fat. Trust me on this one.)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 round loaf Shepherd's bread (may be called country french depending on where you live)
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • In a large bowl, mix the artichoke, cream cheese, mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese.
  • Cut the top of the bread and scoop out the insides to make a bowl (set aside bread for dipping later).
  • Pour the mixture into the bread bowl and place on cookie sheet
  • Bake for 30 minutes stirring once half way through.

Serve warm with saved bread pieces and/or tortilla chips for dipping. Yum!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It's "Thankful Thursday" and that means taking time to find at least five things I am grateful for:

  1. That my 1 year old son, who hasn't been feeling well for a week, can still find ways to smile, be happy, have fun and make his parents laugh.
  2. That, even though money may be tight, we have a roof over our heads and feel safe and secure.
  3. That my marriage is filled with love, respect and trust.
  4. That I have recently been able to re-connect with so many old friends.
  5. That I survived postpartum depression and have finally learned to enjoy motherhood.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My 2009 De-Clutter Challenge


As spring arrives we all begin to at least talk about spring cleaning, right? Some of us actually follow through and others of us (ahem, me) may start the process but never truly finish. My basement is a true disaster and, with a one year old in the house, our living space isn't far behind. I need to do something so I'm challenging myself: between now and the end of the year I vow to find at least one item per day to either throw away, recycle, give away or sell. Who's with me?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Autism Awareness - Part Three


The following is the final piece in the series in honor of Autism Awareness month written by AutumnMommy-Laura. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your story with us. If anyone would like more information on Autism and how you can help, visit Autism Speaks.


Now What Happens


We had a diagnosis of Asperger's but now what. We called area autism organizations and often they had many programs for autism but not much for Asperger's. When I found programs for Asperger's it was for older children. I sent the diagnosis to his school and felt like they also didn't know what to do.


He was having trouble in school. He didn't like any change in school or home for that matter. I tried walking a different way home a few times and he would get upset. I finally got a meeting with the school and was told "He is too smart for special ed." Okay I wanted him in a regular classroom anyway.


But still I knew he needed something more. I thought that a plan was put in place for him at school. It seemed to be helping. I should have paid more attention to what it was called, a handshake plan. Nothing was in writing. He was in kindergarten and it seemed to be working so I went with it.


This year we find out that he is overwhelmed with sensory issues. Too much noise or visual stimuli can make him act out. Gym, lunch, or any class he needs to leave the classroom for would be a trigger for his poor behavior. Our handshake plan wasn't working anymore. Then I find out that his school is closing. He starts acting out more and what I thought was a 504 isn't one. There is nothing in writing.


A 504 allows for special accommodations be made for him to be able to get his education. He was moving to a new school and would move at least one more time it seems before middle school. I fought for him to get accommodations in writing. Today I got a 504 for him, coincidently during Autism Awareness Month.


My son, my nephew, cousins and most children on the “spectrum of autism” look like any other child their age, some days they might act like most children their age. Other times people turn and stare and think, "That poor mother has such a misbehaved child.” or something similar. Each one has their own unique story to be told. It’s up to each one of us to pay attention to that story.


Our children “on the autism spectrum” need your understanding, acceptance and support like any other child. They need it this month and next month and so on. Autism Awareness Month should be every month and is for my family and other's like mine.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday


I saw this idea on a blog a few weeks ago (sadly, I can't remember which one; sorry) and then forgot about it. Today I was reminded when I visited the blog This Day! Here's how it works: each Thursday think of 5 things that you're grateful for and share them on your blog.

Here are mine (ok, so this week they're probably the more obvious choices):

1. My beautiful little boy
2. My supportive, loving husband
3. My health
4. My friends
5. My faith
*Photo credit: kimberlyfaye on flickr

Autism Awareness - Part Two

The following is part 2 of 3 in the series in honor of Autism Awareness month written by AutumnMommy-Laura. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your story with us. If anyone would like more information on Autism and how you can help, visit Autism Speaks.

My Son and Asperger's Disorder
Written by: AutumnMommy - Laura

His first word was a sentence the day before he turned 5 months old. It happened in a mall and he clearly said, "I want my Mama!" It was clearly enough for passing by shoppers to understand his words and comment on how unusual it was to hear a baby say this.

He could say "quesadilla" when he was 7 months old. When he was turning three he wanted his birthday party theme to be "Dirty Jobs". That was his favorite TV show, Mike Rowe was his favorite person and He insisted on that as his party theme.

When he was potty training he needed to know where the water from the toilet went. We said into pipes under ground. He then wanted to know where those pipes went. This continued until we went for a car ride to see the water treatment plant. Then he wanted to go inside.

Being the fun mom that I am I called the plant and arranged a short tour for him. Yes my three year old went on a tour of a water treatment plant. He loved it. He asked great questions and only didn't like one large room because it smelled funny. No not that kind of smell, but it was different.

He is fascinated by how things work. He has to feel different textures; often it was our uncooked pasta, rice, and coffee. Unfortunately this fascination often led to big messes. That was "the straw that broke our backs." We went to a family psychologist for answers.

By this time I was aware of Asperger's and other mom's that I was a friend too had children "on the spectrum". Some of their children were labeled autistic, some high functioning autistic and some were asperger's. Each one was a unique snowflake. Autism manifests itself differently in every child. Each one is special in their own way, just like neurotypical children.

Asperger’s is what I saw in my son when I watched him. Three months later the psychologist also thought that might be the case. One more month and we had a diagnosis.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

By the way...

I promise that one of these days I will remember to spell check BEFORE I publish. Promise.

Book of the Month

I've added a new feature to my blog:

Every month, beginning now, I'm going to choose a book of the month and feature it on my side bar. This month I've chosen Brooke Shields' Down Came the Rain which chronicles her battle with postpartum depression. I thought this was a wonderfully written book and found it immensely comforting having read it during my own battle with postpartum depression. I even asked my husband to read it and he told me later that he was glad he did. To learn more, or purchase a copy, click the side bar link.

April is Autism Awareness Month


Since April is Autism Awareness Month, and this is a cause that means a great deal to me, I've asked a friend to guest blog for me about her family's experience with autism. Here are her words:

Autism Awareness Month - Part One

Guest post by AutumnMommy-Laura
This month is Autism Awareness Month. What do those three words mean? What is Autism Awareness and why do it only one month? For me every month is autism awareness month. Not just for me, but my brother, many of my cousins, my parents, and so many others. We are the ones who live with or are close to an autistic child, teenager or adult. We are the ones who get stared at in public and people wonder why the people with them make too much noise, or are brats, or are rude.

Autism Enters My World

My brother has a son who is autistic. He was the cutest baby. His eyes were filled with wonder. I would show him photos of nebulas and planets and others from outer space. He would sleep through the night so soundly that when I would baby-sit him at my house my housemates wouldn’t even know a baby was there. Then I went away for a year and when I came back he wasn't walking or talking, we were told it was a hearing problem. My nephew got ear tubes and a wait and see. So we waited and still as he got older he wasn't acting like a typical toddler. Potty training wasn't working and fewer words were spoken.

Finally it was time to start thinking about school and special education was needed. My nephew was classified as mentally retarded. He was not retarded we all knew this. We had heard of autism and started learning more about it. We all clearly saw that my brother’s oldest child, my nephew was most likely autistic. It took my brother and his wife a long time to get him classified as autistic. I think when he finally was classified as autistic we cheered because he could finally get the assistance he needed.

That was over a decade ago. Today my nephew is still in his own world but there seems to be a crack in his world that lets him ever so slightly to enter into ours to interact. Those moments are priceless and we have found that he has a sense of humor. He also is a typical teenager. He wants his own space his is my nephew and I love him. He also was my first exposure to autism.

My autism experience expanded when I was a camp councilor at a camp for the blind. One of my campers was deaf, blind and autistic. I still remember how happy she was. She loved to run and play with the other campers. Then we heard that the oldest son of one of my cousins had Asperger's Disorder.

Asperger's Disorder or Syndrome was new to us. We knew he had some quirks. His speech was different. It was very proper and advanced. He liked to use big words. Then another cousin also had a child with possible asperger’s. Then another cousin, there seemed to be a trend happening. I too had a son and he had his quirks. I started to pay attention to them now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Love Bug Kids: NEW BLOG GIVEAWAY!

Ok, since I LOVE Target and maybe you do, too, I'm letting you in a little secret: You can enter to win a $20 Target gift card by visiting the blog below. If you do, please say I sent you. Good luck! Click the link below to visit Love Bug Kids and enter to win. Don't forget to browse around the blog, too!

Love Bug Kids: NEW BLOG GIVEAWAY!

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Postpartum Progress: MOTHERS Act To Drug America's Moms For Fake Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Progress: MOTHERS Act To Drug America's Moms For Fake Postpartum Depression

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One of the coolest things...

This is one of the coolest artwork displays I think I have ever seen. We were in the small town of Meadville, PA the other day (where, incidentally, I was supposed to attend college many, many years ago but then changed my mind) and we drove by the Pennsylvania DOT buildings which were surrounded by atrwork comprised of discarded road signs. I really couldn't believe how beautiful it was. What a great way to not only recycle but to enhance the beauty of the community as well. I only wish I had my camera handy at the time. I did find a couple pictures online although I do believe it is more developed now. Here's the scoop:

"Initiated in 2002, this ongoing roadside intervention is located along Route
322 at the gateway to Meadville. Read Between the Signs (RBTS) involves the
design and fabrication of a 1200' x 9' sculptural relief made of discarded road
signs and featuring solar- and wind-powered kinetic components. RBTS is attached
to an existing chain link fence surrounding PennDOT's storage lot and depicts
images and forms that reference the Allegheny Mountains, the French Creek
watershed, roads, PennDOT workers, farms and forests. This sculptural “fence”
beautifies the gateway to Meadville, while creating a unique sense of place and
identity for our community. Since 2002 RBTS has evolved into a participatory
community-based public art project led by Arts & Environment Initiative
Director and artist Amara Geffen. It also has become a landmark for the
Meadville community."

Visit Read Between the Signs for more info and great photos.