Because You Are Superwoman; Chapter One Freebie!

An empowering experience that likely strays far from everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about birth. Start reading now!

My newest book release, Because YOU Are Superwoman, was a labor of love.

After nine months of research, collaboration, story compiling, cover design, editing, formatting, etc. launch day is finally here.

The book has over twenty positive birth stories, paired with six evidence-based steps for a Minimal Intervention (M.I.) Birth, to provide you with the confidence and skills you need to go after the birth experience that you desire. An empowering experience that likely strays far from everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about birth.

You can check it out on Amazon Now.

Or Start Reading Chapter One Below…

Chapter One: Claiming Your Superpower

My husband likes to refer to me as “Superwoman.”

Of course, no spouse constantly feels this way about their other half. I am highly aware that I have plenty of shortcom‐ ings. But when the subject of birth comes up, he likes to remind me how amazing it was to witness his wife being so incredibly strong and capable as we welcomed our daughters into the world.

It was two intervention-free hospital births in the last two years that earned me that designation. But painting myself as a strong, brave heroine isn’t the full picture. I am also the preschool wimp who got one ear pierced and then jumped into the store’s window display to hide because I was so filled with fear just anticipating the pain of the second poke. I actually refused to get the other ear pierced until the fourth grade.

Don’t worry, my mom did take out the lone earring to spare me from looking like a tiny pirate. No one wants their little girl to have to explain that she is a big wimp every time someone notices her pirate ear. Thanks, Mom.

So obviously, anticipating the pain of childbirth for over thirty years had me terrified. I assumed that when the day came my water would break somewhere wildly embarrassing. Then, with water dripping between my legs, I’d rush right to the hospital in a panic, screaming for the epidural the moment they sat me in a wheel chair. Then I’d lay on my back with my legs spread eagle, cursing my husband’s name for DOING THIS TO ME! The doctor would rush in just in time to catch my camera-ready newborn baby, and the nightmare would be over!

natural positve minimal intervention birth book amazon

Honestly, that was one of the only common birth examples I had ever been exposed to. On the very rare occasion that someone brought up a story involving a woman going au natural or desiring minimal medical interventions, it was surrounded by snide comments, alluding to the notion that the woman and her birth were a bit…crazy, granola, hippy, old-fashioned, uneducated, unplanned or reckless in the face of modern medicine.

My own sister-in-law had two home births after a tough hospital birth, so you would think I would have some other reference point. But she also now lives on a mountain in rural Argentina, so she is obviously a unique breed. It was difficult for me to relate to her and her “natural ways” when I finally found myself in need of childbirth advice. In fact, since we were really nothing alike, I assumed birthing without intervention wasn’t for me.

 

Me (Probably a Lot Like You)

I’ve spent years learning from higher instruction, earning degrees in business and education. I’ve worked in profes‐ sional environments for a decade and a half. I have a fairly progressive husband who willingly jumps in to help maintain the details of managing our household. Our finances are in order (meaning, I at least track my spending enough to know that I have burned through way too much of my daughter’s college education money at coffee shops as I pen this book). I’ve created a modest, yet comfortable, Pinterest-worthy home for my sensible family of four and our rescue companion, an elderly red dog that looks more like a dingo.

Alright, enough with the gold stars. We’re all bored.

But all that said, it is not unfathomable that I resist my intervention-free births being categorized as crazy, granola, hippy, old-fashioned, uneducated, unplanned, or reckless.

And I’m not the only one.

 

The New Examples of Birth

In this book you’ll read over twenty stories of amazing women who had positive birth experiences, all requiring very minimal intervention from modern medicine. These women have conquered their own self-doubt. They have stared down the deepest parts of childbirth, and now, you get to be a fly on the wall as you transport yourself into their stories and see how they found their own strength to kick childbirth squarely between the eyes.

The women in this book, myself included, are strong, educated, modern mamas who wanted more options to achieve a positive and healthy birth experience for them and their babies. Just like you, we had questions. We wanted to understand the “why” of our care. We wanted the evidence, and then we wanted to feel supported to make decisions with our family’s interests in mind. We did not want to make our birth decisions out of fear. When we looked at how modern medicine had overstepped its boundaries, we insisted on something better.

Just because birth interventions are so common that they are now considered normal, we knew that didn’t actually mean they were necessary or beneficial for us. They were not accepted as our standard for care.

Alternatively, we all knew how fortunate we were to have modern medicine as our back-up in case we were truly part of the small minority that should require intervention.

 

Some Alarming Intervention Data

According to the National Listening to Mothers Survey (2013), which interviewed over two thousand women who had birthed in the prior year, interventions in labor were closely linked to increased, unplanned cesareans. Specifically, the study noted women who received an induction or epidural were more likely to have an unplanned c-section. The most common forms of induction they referenced were the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin), breaking a woman’s waters, inserting a finger into the cervix and “sweeping” or “stripping” the membranes, or a prostaglandin gel, pouch, or tablet placed near the cervix. Often times, women receive an induction concoction that includes two or more of these methods.

The idea that one intervention increases the likelihood of others, is often referred to as the “cascade of intervention.” Once interventions are introduced, the unplanned cesarean rate increases. Among first-time mothers who had term births and experienced labor, those who had both labor induction and an epidural were six times more likely to have a c-section (31%) than those who had neither intervention (5%). Get out your highlighter and make sure that last sentence is glowing.

Additionally, there are plenty of other routine birth practices that have become par for the course but show little benefit to a laboring woman: restricting food intake, using bladder catheters, restricted movement while attached to intravenous fluids, time constraints, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and lying flat on our backs to push.

 

Reserving Interventions for Plan B

Please understand, I am not here to tell you that medical interventions are the devil. I am not on some witch hunt, crusading for women to deny all assistance during birth. I would like to assume these interventions were created with good intentions in mind. The problem lies in the fact that most interventions have become synonymous with childbirth in this country. And many have become widely used out of convenience, instead of necessity. Interventions have become the Plan A; the starting point for birth. As women, we have stopped asking “Why?” and started accepting that this is just what birth looks like in this country.

Unfortunately, this passive acceptance has come at a cost.

Medical practitioners perform cesareans at approximately 32% of U.S. births. That is almost one in three births that end with major surgery. Ultimately, cesareans have become the most commonly performed surgery in this country. It feels like that should be a red flag, birth in this country is in a bit of a crisis.

In fact, our cesarean rate is more than double what the World Health Organization recommends to reach the most favorable outcomes in decreasing the maternal and infant mortality rate. Staci Berrey, a doula for almost a decade, and owner of Labor of Love Birth Services in Orange County, CA, explained, “Medical intervention is not the enemy; it is the overuse of it for reasons that show little benefit to the laboring mother that we should take issue with.”

Interventions save mothers and their babies every day, but we should question whose best interest is being put first when an intervention is the starting point for birth in modern medi‐ cine. If we prepare a woman’s mind and body, make her feel safe and supported, and then get out of her way, the body is amazing and actually knows how to birth with very little assistance or intervention. If we were able to save costs on unnecessary interventions upfront, that would leave more money available for a woman’s follow-up care after delivery. One way to do this could be reducing the cesarean rate, since c-sections are fifty percent more costly to providers than vaginal births.

It should be noted that the United States has the highest maternal death rate among developed nations. Over sixty percent of maternal deaths are preventable with regular monitoring of the mother. After giving birth twice, I fully believe that waiting four to six weeks for a woman’s first postpartum check-up is far too long, especially since in the same time frame it is common to have three or more appoint‐ ments centered around your newborn.

A Mental Shift

When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I spent the first thirty-two weeks under the care of a traditional OB- GYN, who I actually really liked. But once I started to learn that my birth choices were greater than…

  • A tree-hugging, drug-free, painful birth or medical interventions as soon as I reached the hospital?
  • A home birth with no aide or a hospital birth where someone else made choices for me based on dated practices?
  • How soon did I want to be induced or would I rather just schedule a c-section?
  • An epidural or pure hell?

I started picturing the possibility of a minimal intervention, positive birth experience, based on the principles and prac‐ tices of believing in what my body was made to do (while not being embarrassed to admit I was totally open to evidence-based medical interventions that became necessary).

With this mental shift, I knew I needed to switch to be under the care of a woman who was experienced in advocating for using only those interventions that were in a woman’s, and her baby’s, best interest. Someone who routinely saw the miracle that our bodies are capable of with very little aide. Someone who truly believed that most medical interventions did not need to be common practice and would best be saved for Plan B, after first supporting me with less invasive techniques.

I knew that for me to fully trust someone during a time when I could feel scared and vulnerable, it would be critical to have someone in charge of the show who knew what was “normal” during a birth where medical intervention was an option, but a road taken only after a number of other more natural methods were exhausted.

Because You are Superwoman back

The Birth Dialogue

If we want to change birth in this country, we need to change the dialogue surrounding it. Birth doesn’t have to be trauma‐ tizing. Each woman sharing her story in this book truly believes that. We want to empower you with confidence in your mind and body. We want to give you the courage to seek a positive birth experience beyond the horror stories that society has routinely exposed us to. This means educating yourself with new perspectives of birth and seeking out care providers who specifically align with your goals. Our child‐ birth beliefs have such a profound impact on the care choices we make, on the way we labor, on our outcomes, and ulti‐ mately how we feel about our experience.

My Great Aunt Pat shared her positive, intervention-free, hospital birth story with me long before I was pregnant. She didn’t tell me it was orgasmic. She didn’t say it was easy. She didn’t say it was painless. But she did say it was totally, one hundred percent worth it. In fact, she chose to birth the same way two more times. At the end of her story, she turned to me with delight in her voice and said, “You could totally do it, too!”

Her words spoke power into me. She believed in me before I had even considered believing in myself. Because the confi‐ dence was coming from a strong woman who had fully expe‐ rienced birth and spoke positively about it, I trusted it.

But I was still nervous. How could she believe I could do something so unfathomable? Births like that are for superheroes. They are rare unicorns. They are for totally- committed natural mamas. They are for people so much stronger than me. But words are powerful, and the notion stuck with me.

A few years later, I found myself pregnant, and I recalled her confidence in me. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but little by little, I started to put aside what I thought I knew about birth. By reading the mind-blowing stories of women who didn’t curse birth, but instead believed in their bodies and took charge of their care, I started letting go of the notion that childbirth was just some tragic event that women had to endure. Instead, I started getting excited about the life transforming power women can experience through childbirth.

By harnessing the confidence and techniques I learned from other remarkable women who had succeeded in the type of birth experience I wanted, I was able to create my own posi‐ tive examples of birth as I welcomed my daughters into the world. The same six techniques I used (laid out in detail in chapter three) can be replicated by anyone who wants their own minimal intervention birth. The journey began when someone opened my mind to the possibility of a positive birth experience and then instilled confidence in me with their positive words. From there, the responsibility fell on me to be an active participant in my care choices.

I want to pay it forward. I want to provide that same confidence to you. I believe in you. I believe in your body. I believe it is okay for you to stand up and ask questions. I believe you deserve a positive birth experience. You are an incredible, educated, strong, modern woman with a body that is capable of giving birth. Each of the women in this book believe in you. You are not too weak, too old, too broken, or too scared to just roll over and let birth happen to you. You have superwoman inside you.

It’s time you believe it.

Get Chapter Two Now.


 

If you enjoyed this preview, consider writing a review on Amazon to help spread the word!  You can add a review here.   here.

With Love – J.K. Coy

 

One More thing…

Share your positive birth posts with these tags to join the conversation and possibly be featured on my author pages: #MIBirth #BecauseYouAreSuperwoman @StoriesbyJKCoy

 

Two Years Later; My Writing Anniversary

I can now say the last two years have been worth it all.  I get to share Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster with literally thousands of parents; Parents that just need a good laugh and a big hug after a long day.

For a parent whose memory has gone to mush, I really heart the Facebook Memories feature.  Most of the time I can’t believe things happened so long ago.

Seriously?! That concert was eight years ago!

It’s been that long since I’ve been to Europe?!

Wait.  What.  I used to go out on Thursday nights.

But then again, sometimes we are glad to no longer be in that season of life that we were reminded of.  The reality is that it may not have been our best season.

On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% … and that’s pretty good. – unknown

Let that sink in.

***

Reflection can be difficult, but it can also be empowering.  Anniversaries are the perfect time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going.

A few days ago this photo popped up on facebook and it reminded me it had been two years since I wrote Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster.

BM

Adorable right?!  But those days of adjusting to motherhood were tough.  Here is the post where I shared my own reflections from the last two years:

“This huge smile takes me back to a really tough time in my life. It was taken shortly after I wrote the first draft of what became the loving children’s book: Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster.

I can picture myself sitting in the car, two months postpartum, tears in my eyes. I was trying to figure out the new roller-coaster I had stepped on to. I constantly flowed back and forth between immense love (Did you see that smile?) and silly frustrations (feeling like I was failing at everything).

Reflecting on the last two years, I am so grateful that this Beautiful Monster broke me.

Our highs are insanely high.
We like to get it all out there by silly dancing in the kitchen to Eminem and the Beatles.

Our lows are embarrassingly low. I tell her to go watch Elmo so no one loses their shi….. , even though I hate when she sits there like a zombie.

All in all, we get to practice a lot of love and laughter in our house.

Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster”

I can now say the last two years have been worth it all.  I get to share Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster with literally thousands of parents; Parents that just need a good laugh and a big hug after a long day.

 

The book is a chance  to snuggle up to your Beautiful little Monster and relax knowing that you are doing this parenting thing just fine.  Your track record is 100%.

love_you_to_pieces_B_Cover_for_Kindle
Read it Here

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Logic: Wasted Money or Amazing Deal?

So there I was, saving money for my family, and then the Lady Logic creeps in.

You know the rationale you use to validate your crazy?

Well, that’s your Lady Logic.

Let me use myself as an example.

Today I left the house to run errands.

I had showered, and left the house by noon with a newborn.  Just for that,  I was pretty proud of myself.

Gold star!

Eventually I stopped by Old Navy to make returns. We had some extra outfits that we didn’t end up using for family photos this past weekend.  So there I was getting $29.00 in returns done, saving money for my family.

Gold star!

And then the Lady Logic creeps in.

On the way home I stop by a children’s resale boutique, just for a peek.

The kids don’t really need anything…but then again, maybe they do?

And apparently they did.

Browse all the cute kids Toms Here.  One of each please!

There were the mint condition kids Toms,  because I’ll regret passing up a deal like that…

A long sleeve baby sleeper, because it’s been colder than normal here in SoCal…

The black and white Nicole Miller outfit, because everything looks cute on a toddler…

And the toddler Roxy lounge wear, because…

Just because.

My Mom is the Worst Book Cover
My Mom is the Worst available on Amazon Here

The final damage came to $32.00.  And you know what? I left feeling pretty happy.  I made those $29.00 in returns earlier, so it’s like I only spent $3.00 and got all these adorable “essentials.”

Gold star!

And that my friend, is Lady Logic.

***

Wasted money, or an awesome deal?  You decide.

 

The Difference a Year Makes in Your Postpartum Journey

I probably should have listened to my heart and bought a cupcake and a candle, and sang her Happy Birthday at home.  Not like she would have been scarred.  She was ONE.

I bought these decorations for my daughter’s first birthday.  A party I really didn’t want to throw.

IMG_1081
Working on Party Set-up.  Making tassels, blowing up balloons, trying to stay cool.

I probably should have listened to my heart and just bought a cupcake and a candle, and sang her Happy Birthday at home.  Not like she would have been scarred.  She was ONE.

But I guess I got sucked in to the mom life.  I was a year in to motherhood, and while many things had improved since the newborn days, I was still working a full-time corporate job, marketing my children’s book:  Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster,

Amazon#1spot
Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster, Amazon #1 Spot

pumping and breast feeding, figuring out my new role as a mom while trying to stay true to myself, and struggling to release anxiety and get back to my generally chill demeanor.

The party ended up being kind of a bummer.  It was at a park on an unreasonably hot day, I was stressing about the party set-up and decorations, the fact that there was an event going on at the park thus there was ZERO parking, and the fact that the cute donuts I ordered tasted like bland rocks.  That was March.

IMG_1084

Fast forward to this weekend.  My great aunt helped me throw an intimate get together to celebrate Baby Two.  We did a girls night in spa party with a Let’s Pamper Before the Pampers theme.

Unfortunately I failed and totally forgot to snap some pictures of everything set-up, but I took a few the following day before cleaning up.

It was such a fun and relaxing night.  We all wore our pj’s, laughed at our ridiculous face masks, enjoyed exfoliating hand scrub, binged on a dessert bar, and got to enjoy some kid-free hours chatting together.

Spa party, baby shower, DIY decor

Most of the decorations were reused from that first birthday party back in March.  I was so excited to use them for a second time around.  It made me notice how far I’ve come since then.  I felt happy, relaxed, light-hearted, and chill at this party:)

I knew back then that I wasn’t my old self yet, but I didn’t know how long it would take.  See, I actually love throwing parties.  I just couldn’t handle it then.  That’s how I knew things weren’t right.

IMG_1092
She was by far the best thing about her first birthday party!

I had no hindsight at that point.  I was just going through the motions, hoping that at some point things would shift.  And they did.  I just needed to give myself grace during the season I was in.

Want to throw your own relaxing DIY Spa Party?  Here’s how!

Spa party, baby shower, DIY

Set the Mood (Atmosphere):  reused tassels and signs decorations I already had, cut roses from my front yard and placed them in white dollar store vases, lite a Eucalyptus Mint Candle from World Market, turned on a relaxing playlist on Spotify, and used a difuser with Eucalyptus essential oil.

Spa party, baby shower, DIY decor 2

Set the Table (Menu): vanilla ice cream with a candy toppings bar, birthday party popcorn, fruit and donut kebabs, infused lemon and grapefruit spa water, pink fizzy champagne punch

banana bread party favors and spa masks

Now Relax (Spa and Party Details):  Store bought face masks, DIY Sugar Scrub, Warm Eucalyptus towels in the crockpot (tip: I used 15 towels, 4 cups water, 20 drops essential oils on warm setting), adult henna coloring pages, mini banana bread loaves for a party favor (tip:  one big loaf equated to four mini loaves – mini loaves cooked 40 min at 350 degrees), and A Freezer Meal Pool where guests could sponsor one of the twenty-two freezer meals we prepped last week – more details here.

For $10 guests could pick a meal and leave an encouraging card for us to read on the day we eat “their” freezer meal.  Easy for guests to play, and it really helped reduce the extra $230 we spent on groceries this month to stock the freezer.

Freezer Meal Calendar for Baby Shower

 

 

 

Natural Childbirth Sounds Insane, But You’re Still Curious

Six Resources to Help Consider if Natural Birth is Right for You, or Just for Hippies.

I’m a ticking time bomb over here at 37.5 wks. pregnant with Baby Two.

The first time I gave birth I had to learn a lot about my body.  It was a topic that I had avoided for many years (thirty-three to be exact).  So when I started to even think about natural childbirth, it felt like a bit of an ignorant pipe dream.

Could I?  Should I?  Why would I want to endure that?  Do modern women really chose such a barbaric option, or is that just for gypsy women with no health insurance?

 

First hour of life, natural birth
First Hour of Life

If you find yourself asking any of these questions, but are still intrigued whether you could achieve your own natural childbirth, we are going to first start by opening your mind to the possibility.

This post is part of a multi-post series on my experience with natural childbirth (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added):  resources I found to open my mind to the possibility, the benefits I found in favor of it, actually experiencing it with Baby One, and trying to wrap my mind around the idea of doing it again with Baby Two.

Your mind is incredibly powerful.  It will greatly help or hinder you during childbirth.   For that reason, we will start there.

Here is a list of the best resources I found to help consider a natural childbirth, and if the possibility was really for me.

Natural Childbirth, is it right for you

  1.  Book – Expecting Better – This book is a great place to start, natural birth or not.  It helps you to better understand all the “advice” (like “Don’t eat cold cuts”, “Don’t sleep on your back”, “You need a c-section if you had one before”, etc.) we receive as pregnant women, so that you can make educated decisions for yourself based on actual statistics.
  2. Movie – The Business of Being Born – you can find it for free on YouTube.  The documentary shares the opinions of doctors that are for and against births by midwife.  You get to see what natural childbirth looks like, something most women have never seen:  minimal intervention, not hooked up to an I.V., fetal monitor, catheter, and epidural.  Painful, intense, beautiful, and empowering,  There is even a story of one woman that planned to have a natural birth but ended up in the hospital because of complications with her baby.  It reminded me that I feel blessed to have the option of western medicine, when necessary, to support my birth wishes.
  3. Hire a Midwife – I liked my OB-GYN, but at 32 wks. pregnant I finally decided that if I wanted to try for a natural birth, a midwife was my best bet.  OB-GYN’s are trained in all the ways to intervene during childbirth.  Most have had minimal experience with a natural childbirth.  I thought, if it it foreign to them, how are they going to keep me calm and reassure me that everything is normal?  I found a midwife that was approved to deliver at the hospital I planned to deliver at.  I decided to meet with her, and was impressed how much we discussed the mental side of childbirth and what kind of experience I wanted.  There were far fewer rules about how things had to progress.  It was about letting my baby and body do their job, and my midwife would be there to coach me through it all.
  4. Book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This book is divided in to two parts.  The first part is natural birth stories.  The second part is observations from Midwives that live on a farm in Tennessee and have attended thousands of natural births.  I didn’t have you start here, because the book is pretty hippy, but awesome, once your mind is ready for it.  Please do not skip this resource if you are considering natural birth.  You will gain an entirely new perspective on birth from what our western culture teaches.  Plus, Ina has a bit of a sense of humor, “There is no other organ quite like the uterus.  If men had such an organ, they would brag about it.  So should we.”
  5. Positive Affirmations – Birth will be an experience like no other.  Give yourself the best possible chance of dealing with it by having a phrase or two that you can repeat when you start to doubt yourself.  For the first birth, mine was something along the lines of: You are strong, capable, and safe.  Your body was meant for this.  A similar one that I found for birth two is: Your body is not a lemon.  The Creator is not careless.  Your body was made to give birth.

That’s a lot of homework right there.  But you’ve got time.  Start with one or two of resources and see if you are still interested.  Or just come back to this blog for part two:  The Cliff Notes Version of Why I Decided on a Natural Birth (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Have you checked out the recent release of my second children’s book?  My Mom is the Worst is available now!

If you have a positive affirmation you plan to use for childbirth, please share it in the comments.

 

If I Mention Another Craft, Please Intervene

we tell ourselves it’s cool because it’s handmade.  But the truth is, it’s only cool if it comes out looking like the Pottery Barn version of “handmade.”

Holiday crafting brings out the Grinch in me.  It’s like normal crafting but on crack. You need your craftiness to be on perfect point because it’s what you are giving someone as a gift, instead of paying full price for something else.  And we tell ourselves it’s cool because it’s handmade.  But the truth is, it’s only cool if it comes out looking like the Pottery Barn version of “handmade.”  Which is so not actually handmade.

In general I like to think that I have gotten better about knowing my limits and saying no to most crafts.  In my experience they tend to cost more time, energy, and frustration, then they make up for in cost savings.

In fact, just last week I was on Pinterest and saw instructions for a Felt Christmas Tree for toddlers to decorate.  It looked totally easy.  All I needed was a bunch of colored felt, scissors, and a totally free Saturday to design all the little ornaments.  I honestly considered it for like two hours.

Then I saw it on Amazon for twenty bucks with free shipping and I was quickly over crafting it.  (Find the tree here, along with my children’s book, to keep your toddler busy for at least forty five minutes;).

felt christmas tree for toddlersMy Mom is the Worst Book Cover

So this year I told myself I was saying No to Christmas crafts, and the stress that comes along with them.

But then I went down a rabbit hole.  I read a friend’s post called Thirty DIY Christmas Gifts, and fell in love with some adorable antique framed chalkboards.  But alas, I had promised myself I wasn’t going to stress over Christmas crafts!

Fast forward two days and I’m standing in the aisle of a discount store, eyes locked on the perfect antique mirrors for only five bucks!  All I needed was a little chalkboard paint (which I already had).  It was meant to be.  This was going to be SO EASY!  Right there I abandoned all my rational thoughts and gleefully loaded up my cart with four mirrors.

This proceeded to kick off an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie scenario.

Turns out I didn’t like the finish on the chalkboard paint I had.  Too glossy.  Back to the store.

Then I didn’t like the texture that my paint brush was creating in the paint.  What I obviously needed were those foam paint brushes.  Back to the store.

I went to peel the painters tape off the first mirror and huge chunks of chalkboard paint came off with it.  WTF.  Now I need to return the extra mirrors, the cute red pompom chalk board erasers, and the decorative chalk bags I found, because I was furious and decided to abandon this horrible craft idea.  Back to the store.

antique chalkboard sign fail

In the end I turned out ONE finished antique chalkboard.  It’s sitting at my house, where it will remain, because I am too embarrassed to give it away to anyone because of all its crafting imperfections.

antique chalkboard sign

If time is money, this damn chalkboard cost me way more than any Pottery Barn version!

I will admit that I did have one craft success.  It involved buying something that was wooden christmas sign craftalready adorable and finished, and then personalizing it with a gold paint pen.  Turns out, that I can handle.

Now excuse me while I head back to the store to find the actual gifts I will be giving this year.

 

 

10 Best Books for Toddlers (That They Don’t Already Have)

We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together. No gift receipt needed!

Toddler Book ShelfReading books to a toddler can create a magical time of routine and connection, but most children have the classics.  They really only need one copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though it’s a great read.

For a new title that they don’t already have on their bookshelf, try adding one of the following books to their collection.  We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together.  No gift receipt needed!

All are available online, so you can finish that to-do task right now.

Here are The Top Ten Toddler Books (They Don’t Already Have), plus a bonus #11, just because we can!

  1. The Watermelon Seed: A short and funny read about an Alligator that is obsessed with watermelon. His obsession takes him to a point of trouble…but it’s hard to stay away from the things we love most!
  2. My Mom is the Worst: A story (from a toddler’s perspective) about how parents often try to ruin their kids fun. Parents make them wear clothes, clean up messes, learn and try new things! They really are the worst sometimes. FrontCoverJKCEditedFontThere’s also a hidden story, within the story, for parents to enjoy along the way.
  3. Don’t Push the Button: Larry is a Monster with just one rule for your toddler,]: don’t push the button. Alas, someone does, and silly antics ensue. Children love playing along with the instructions in the book: press the button, shake the book, tickle the belly. Sometimes it’s funny when things don’t go as expected.
  4. I Love You, Stinky Face: A mother’s job is to make their child feel loved, even when others might shy away. The mama is this story is top notch. She finds ways to love on her little one even if they were a one-eyed monster or a stinky skunk. A mother’s love really has no limits.
  5. Moo, Baa, La La La: A quick bedtime read that children can easily start to memorize and read along.   All of the animals enjoy making their classic sounds, except the three silly pigs!  JK Coy
  6. Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster:   Who is more emotional, the mama or the monster? This baby monster is amazing at driving her mama bonkers. But at the end of the day, snuggles heal all. A fun and honest read for an exhausted parent that can’t help but love their little monster to pieces.
  7. Hello – Highlights Magazine : These mini books are full of short songs, rhymes, and stories for little hands. Enjoy a year subscription of coated, mini magazines from Highlights (bendable and easy to wipe down). They’ve been teaching and entertaining children for years, and they have it down! Bonus, the Hello magazines are light-weight and compact which makes them easy to throw in the car or a diaper bag.
  8. Dragons Love Tacos: Did you know that Dragons can’t stand spicy salsa?! This may be the longest book on the list, but it’s also one of the most hilarious for kids and adults to enjoy together. Even from a young age, children can enjoy the humor and creative illustrations. It’s one that will be in their collection long after their toddler years.
  9. Everything is Mama: Most toddlers hit the “Mama” stage at some point. While it can drive a parent absolutely mad that their child can now only accept a banana from their Mama and no one else, it helps (a little) to find humor in it. This is Jimmy Fallon’s second book, and is the follow-up to: Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA. Now, if only parents had that kind of power!kids read
  10. Potty: Poo-Poo, tinkle, and toot – whatever you call bathroom business in your house, toddlers can’t help but giggle. A simple read about the art of going potty, perfect for those that will begin potty training soon. It’s never too early to get them excited about UNDIES!
  11. BONUS BOOK: Bathtime for Little Rabbit: This cuddly bunny needs a bath, but he’s not very excited to play along. The author makes this an interactive bathtime for readers by having them scrub, blow-dry, and lotion bunny. This tale will prep the little ones to play along with their own bathtime routine.