Good Deeds 2012: Week 22 Gay Rights Petition to Boy Scouts of America

Good Deed: Signed petition to the Boy Scouts of America to reinstate a Cub Scout leader who was removed for being gay.

Did you hear that crap about the Cub Scout leader who was removed from her position for being gay? It's flat out discrimination, teaching bigotry to young boys, and - ultimately - convinces people like me that the Boy Scouts won't ever be a part of our family or receive any of our money.

Here is part of the petition written by Jennifer Tyrrell, the mother who was removed from her position:

"Shortly after registering my son for Cub Scouts, I was asked to assume the role of den leader and was persuaded by a platform of tolerance, acceptance and support. Throughout the year, my cubs performed volunteer service at a local soup kitchen, collected canned goods for area churches to distribute in food baskets, participated in bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, and, at the time of my removal, were working on a conservation project for a state park. My Tiger Cubs earned multiple Scout badges for service and skills, while learning and exercising the 12 Core Values of Scouting: citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health & fitness, honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect, and responsibility.

The revocation of my membership came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack's finances. Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I'm gay, I did "not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks."

There was an outcry of support for me by the parents of my Tiger Scouts, many of whom waited for hours to voice their concerns to members of the council and the pack's charter organization, but were turned away without the opportunity to do so."

As a mother who believes in volunteering, as well as supporting and embracing your children's interests as your own, I can only imagine how heartbreaking this must be for this family.

What was your good deed this week? How about you go ahead and sign this petition?


May is National Strawberry Month:A Giveaway From Stonyfield & Tom's of Maine

W's most favorite food are strawberries. No matter what the season he craves them and has an endless appetite and ability to consume them with incredible speed. Needless to say, strawberries don't last too long around here. Right now strawberries are in season, and I found some great ones at our Farmer's Market last weekend. It's feels much better buying them there than it does when I buy them in the middle of winter. We try to buy according to what's in season, but we'll always have to bend the rules when it comes to strawberries for W.

YoKids is teaming up with Tom's of Maine on strawberry flavored goodies and I'm excited to have package for one of you lucky readers... A YoKids lunch sack filled with several Tom's of Maine products including a full 4.2oz tube of Silly Strawberry children's toothpaste, as well as samples of their Naturally Dry deodorant and Daily Moisture soap.  The bag also includes FREE YoKids and YoKids Greek coupons, YoKids temporary tattoos, and YoKids Strawberry-flavored Eco Lips chapstick!

We've been using Tom's strawberry toothpaste for William since we started brushing his teeth and he totally loves it. I've been trying to switch over to as many of their natural products as I can and have been happy with what I've tried so far, including the deodorant. Being a Yo-Getter allows me to try fun products like this and enjoy coupons for Stonyfield products, like their Yo-Kids Greek Yogurt.

Here's how to enter:

1. Comment on this post and share your favorite strawberry treat. Be sure to include an email address if it doesn't connect back to your blog. (You must comment to be entered!)

2. Follow Hannemaniacs. (Look on the right side bar to follow.) Click on the "Join this Site" button.

3. Like the Hannemaniacs Facebook page.

4. Follow Hannemaniacs on Twitter.

5. Mention this giveaway to your network on Facebook and/or Twitter (one entry for each) by pasting this in your status: Enter to win a package of strawberry flavored goodies from Stonyfield and Tom's of Maine at www.hannemaniacs.com

Please let me know which of the above actions you have done to be counted.

So, that's SIX possible entries per person. Contest ends at 9 am Wednesday, June 6th. Enter now!

Disclosure: I received one complimentary package of strawberry flavored goodies for my family and one to give away to a reader. All opinions are my own.


Beckett: Age 1

Beckett is a year old, which marks the fastest year of our lives. Matt and I used to joke around that at least we'd know that our children would all have big brown eyes. And then we had this adorable little blue eyed, blond haired boy. I still look at him and wonder where the heck he came from.

If we are going to believe gender stereotypes, then Beckett is ALL boy. He loves cars, trucks, and balls. He picks everything up and throws it across the room... hard. Beckett is always going. He climbs on everything he can without fear. He crawled early, walked early, and now confidently runs around the house. He growls when playing with dinosaurs.

Beckett is playing with language, but is still limited to "dada" and "buh bye." He lets out tirades of babble when he gets mad or excited and I hate to imagine what he's trying to say. His spirited babbling and high pitched shrieks make me nervous about what's going to happen when he can talk.

Beckett is fascinated by his older brother and yells "wawawawa" when William is running away from him or doing anything that looks really fun, which is everything to Beckett. When picked on, Beckett definitely puts up a fight and he never backs down to wresting with his brother or pushing William aside to get to a toy.

Our boy is crazy loving and loves cuddling before bed. His sense of humor is already blossoming and he loves making people laugh. He loves baths and comes running as soon as he hears the water running. He fights like hell when we're changing his diaper or dressing him.

Beckett makes friends everywhere we go. He loves being out in public and stares at people until they notice him before breaking into a huge grin. If his stare down doesn't work, he grunts and shrieks at people until they look his way. He's an insistent little fellow.

We're dealing with a very fickle eater. The only food Beckett loves so far has been bread and shredded cheese. Otherwise he usually likes bananas and oranges, sometimes likes yogurt, rarely likes pasta and peas, and refuses to try about everything else.

Beckett cannot wait to be a big boy. He plays with William's toys, thinks he's part of William's play dates with his friends, and tries to actually play at the park.

It's hard to remember life without Beckett and he has made our family feel so much more complete in such a short time. We're incredibly lucky to have this sweet boy. We're nervous that his time as the baby of our family will be short with another baby coming 17 months after him, but know that with his spunk and energy he'll never get lost in the shuffle.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 21 Sent Coupons to Troops

Good Deed: Mailed expired coupons to a military family stationed overseas.

A month ago I registered to adopt a military family through Coupons For Troops. I had a big bag full of expired coupons waiting for a good home. It took a few weeks, but I received an email from Brittany, who has a two year old and is stationed in England. She's 23 years old with a husband in the Air Force. (When I was 23 years old I was waiting tables and partying at Wrigley Field... how's that for perspective?)

The coupons are in a manila envelope and headed to England, where they'll be put to good use.

What was your good deed this week?


L'Occitane's Angelica Instant Hydration Mask Works With My Easy Skin Routine

I am all about easy when it comes to just about everything, especially my beauty routines. If it's not fast and simple, I just can't be bothered. I wash my face and put on moisturizer. But, when I had the opportunity to take part in the campaign for the L'OCCITANE Angelica Instant Hydration Mask, I was willing to add a few minutes to my routine. And that's all it took. 3 minutes.
I haven't done a mask in about 20 years. And when I think of them I think of the crazy colored, strong scented, turn into cement masks that my friends and I experimented with at junior high sleepovers... Yuck, right? But this mask is totally, totally different.

Here is my little vlog telling you all about it. (Note: The boys were sleeping in close proximity to our bathroom, which might explain what comes across as low energy...)

See other videos on the L'OCCITANE Facebook page here. Disclosure: I received a tube of L'OCCITANE Angelica Hydration Mask for review and a basket of L'OCCITANE products for my time. All opinions are my own.


Bump Club And Beyond: Best Resources For All Moms and Moms-To-Be

When you have your first child you research products to find what's safest and has the highest ratings, labor over decisions about what will be best, and get a ton of stuff. Then as you continue to add children you kind of stick with what you have and worked the first time.

I've realized this to be especially true lately as my friends who have their first babies have asked me whether I have used a specific product and I realize I haven't even seen it before. It's not that you give up on getting the best for your kids... You just have your stuff and your way of doing things and stick with it. I definitely did this with B and know it will be harder to justify buying stuff for what I'm pretty sure will be our last little addition to the family. But looking at new baby products is fun and just because I have a ton of stuff doesn't mean I shouldn't educate myself and stay hip with the trends. Right?

So, that being said, I'll be at The Best of Bump Club and Beyond: A Day Filled With the Best Resources For All Moms and Moms-To-Be on Sunday, June 3rd at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. I'll be checking out the latest in baby gear, have the opportunity to attend sessions on stuff like feeding and sleeping, and an overstuffed gift bag. I'm especially excited about the seminars on healthy feeding and when to transition a toddler to a big bed (because it's going to happen a lot sooner with B than it did with W).

All tickets include lunch from Protein Bar, afternoon snacks from Sprinkles, KIND and the chance to win $15,000+ in giveaways including strollers, high chairs, crib mattresses, bedding, and more. Galt Baby will also be on site with a special pop-up shop selling all of the products exhibited at the event and offering special discounts. It will be a good opportunity for me to check out some new products, get a little refresher on hot subjects, and enjoy something to eat without two little guys trying to steal a bite.

And since it's a weekend and I hate being away for too long, Matt is going to take the boys to the Lincoln Park Zoo (which is practically next door) while mom does some mom stuff.

Will I see you there?

Disclosure: I received one complimentary ticket to The Best of Bump Club and Beyond. All views in this post are my own.


Yes, I'm Pregnant and Had My Appendix Removed

As you may know I had my appendix removed three weeks ago. What most people didn't know at the time was that I was pregnant. Of course I knew this and my doctors knew this, but I hadn't made it Facebook official or anything... So when I did reveal that I was, in fact, 15 weeks pregnant I received a lot of surprised reactions. So, allow me to take a few minutes to clear the air with some FAQ's.

Were you scared that there was something wrong with the baby?
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling very nauseous and had a terrible stomach ache. I spent a few hours throwing up and being miserable and then wallowed in pain for a while... And the question I get the most has been whether I was scared that something was wrong with the baby. Here is the answer: I wasn't concerned that it was something related to being a pregnant lady. Never.

How did you know it was appendicitis?
My mom showed up to take care of the boys when Matt was leaving for work. I called her into my room where I was wallowing and told her I had the most painful stomach ache ever and I couldn't move. My dad and sister had both had their appendix removed and she very clearly pointed out that I had appendicitis and had to go to the hospital.

It should be mentioned that I also had appendicitis once before (about five years ago), but it was not nearly as bad as this time. It was a crazy busy time at work (like 80 hour work weeks) and I didn't feel like I could take time off, so I convinced my doctors to give me antibiotics and watch me over night. If they re-tested me in the morning and tests were still the same, my appendix could go. And guess who beat appendicitis? Me. But, guess who learned that you can never truly beat appendicitis? This girl.

Were you scared to have surgery?
Not really. First off, I knew what I was in for... I took a shower, dried my hair, and asked my mom to pack my laptop. I knew when I was leaving the house that I would not be coming back for a while. I walked into the ER and told them I had appendicitis. I was prepared. And, seriously, it wasn't as if I had a choice. It had to come out.

I'm also a big believer in trusting that if something happens, it's meant to. This control freak accepted that the entire situation was out of my hands. I also do not allow my mind to go to scared places, which helps. But, when I was on the operating table and moment I let myself think about the boys (in a "what if I don't wake up?" kind of way) for a moment, which I very purposefully did right as they were putting me under. I had my second to freak out and then was happily asleep. This is not a coincidence.

How did it go?
It went pretty well. I had my 16 week appointment and the baby's heart rate sounded good. I have my 20 week appointment next week, which I'm excited about.

Recovery has sucked ass. I've been tired beyond what I thought possible and am still experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort. I went to see my doctor for my follow up and he said it's nerve damage. I'm basically only comfortable when sitting in a reclined position or while standing. Bending over and doing anything that puts stress on my core muscles is kind of like being stabbed by a burning knife. Matt made me laugh so hard twice this weekend while we were driving, which quickly turned into tears and me demanding that he pulled over, so I could stand up. I cannot begin to describe the feeling, just that it's intense, deep, raw, and feels totally overwhelming. My doctor said it can last up to two months. Then I made the mistake of googling, which is never a good idea, so now I'm a little freaked about how long this is going to last.

So, there you have it... My FAQ's of having an appendix removed when pregnant. Did I answer your question? If not, leave it and I will (well, if it's appropriate...).


I hate HATE

A new word has entered W's vocabulary this week: Hate. As in...

"I hate you in this bathroom, Mom."
"I hate going to bed."
"I hate this."
"I hate everything."

It's been a fun week. The first time he used it was when I was trying to convince him to climb into the bath (I still can't lift him due to my appendectomy) and he told me that he hated me in the bathroom. Not that he hated me, just hated the fact that I was in the bathroom at that moment. Huh? He's too sensitive to say that he hates me, yet he's smart enough to know how to get a reaction.

I thought about ignoring it, but couldn't. So, I asked where he heard that word. I don't like to use it and hardly ever do. Matt is much more likely to say it about silly things like a piece of clothing, a cabinet door, a remote that isn't working, but he has really tried to curb it lately.

Then I asked whether he knew what it meant... "Yes, it means to really, really not like something." 

I know kids play with language, test their boundaries, push buttons... I really do. But, I can't allow him to make this part of his dialogue, teach it to other kids at preschool, and not realize that there are boundaries with language.

So, now I am taking a super hero figure each time he says he hates something. So far I have one and his response was: "I don't care. I don't even like that one, it's old."

This should go really well.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 20 Paid Maternity Leave For All U.S. Women

Good Deed: Signed the change.org petition to encourage Congress to ensure paid maternity leave for all women. 

Most of my friends haven't been able to take a paid maternity leave. I receive six weeks fully paid and then use vacation, sick, and personal time to make up the additional six weeks. Compared to most people, this is generous. (Matt doesn't receive a single day of paid paternity leave, might I add.)

Many people rely on Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to just ensure they can take 12 weeks off and still have a job, but this doesn't guarantee any pay. I used to think that everyone was covered by FMLA, but that's not the case... There are tons of loop holes. Many women face losing their jobs for wanting to take time off after they have their baby.

Compared to just about every other country, the U.S. does not value working families or protect and and/or provide for working mothers. It's true. And it's terrible. Do yourself a favor and read this blog post. It's worth EVERY word. It's well written, personal, packed with information, and totally awesome. Just read it.

Then sign the petition.

What was your good deed this week?


Happy Mother's Day Times... THREE

Today was my fourth Mother's Day and it was gorgeous. We didn't get to do a ton of fun stuff because recovery from my appendectomy has been more difficult lately and I was really sore today. I've probably been pushing myself too much, but it's hard not to when you have two kids and a full-time job.

Anyway... I had a great time with Matt and the boys. And what made today even more amazing... Not only am I a mom of two awesome boys, but come late October I'll be a mom to THREE. Yes, I am 16 weeks pregnant. Things are about to get a lot more crazy around here!

So, while he's still our baby, here's a photo of B looking all sweet for you to gush over...


Good Deeds 2012: Week 19 National Association of Letter Carrier's Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

Good Deed: Donating a grocery bag of non-perishable foods to National Association of Letter Carriers's Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Did you hear that Saturday, May 12th will be the nation's largest single-day food drive? And you don't even have to leave your house. This is the 20th year that the National Association of Letter Carriers have held this drive and in 2011 they collected 70.2 million pounds of donated food.

To take part, leave your bag of non-perishable food at your door on Saturday. Your friendly mail person will collect the food and deliver to the local food bank or pantry.

Consider these hunger statistics from Feeding America based on their 2011 Annual Report:
  • 1 in 6 Americans are facing hunger.
  • 1 in 8 Americans are currently serviced by Feeding America.
  • 1 in 6 Americans live at or below the poverty line.
  • Nearly 49 million Americans, including more than 16 million children, are facing hunger.
  • 5.7 million Americans are served by the Feeding America network everyday.
I can't imagine having to worry about feeding my children. It's something I can't even comprehend and breaks my heart. Can you? Make a difference and leave some cans out on Saturday.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Feeding America, nor was I compensated for this post.


Produce Delivery Overwhelmed Me This Week, So I Meal Planned

Remember this year started with some serious meal planning determination? Yeah, me too... And then I got tired and busy and lost my enthusiasm. But, last week I decided to place an order with Artizone and use a Ripe Organics deal that I purchased a while back to give me a reason to plan and cook again.

Silly me, I scheduled an Artizone order, which also included a small box of organic produce from The Green Grocer (which was delivered on Monday):
Fennel, rhubarb, asparagus, apples, strawberries, portabella mushrooms and red leaf lettuce

And I redeemed my purchase of a small box of organic produce from Ripe Organics (which was delivered on Tuesday):
Cauliflower, bananas, apples, broccoli, potatoes, oranges, romaine lettuce, and green onions
We also went to Whole Foods on Sunday. So, basically, we're overwhelmed by produce - fresh, organic, cannot-be-wasted produce. Here is how I'm getting through it:

Monday: Chefdruck's Simple Roast Beef with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
Tuesday: Shrimp cocktail and a red lettuce and fennel salad
Wednesday: Vegetable fajitas (portabella mushrooms, asparagus, green onion, red and green peppers) and vanilla ice cream with strawberry-rhubarb mint compote for dessert
Thursday: Baked chicken breast cutlets with roasted cauliflower and salad
Friday: Lentil soup

And, for the record, mixed boxes of organic produce is totally the way to go! It's surprisingly inexpensive and I'm very happy with the quality of what we received! We're looking for a CSA for the summer, but I would recommend either The Green Grocer or Ripe Organics, neither compensated me in any way.


We're Not Religious, But We're Faithful

For From Left to Write Book Club we read I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits, an amazing book that introduced me to the world of the Hasidic faith and made me consider my own. This post is inspired by the book.

I'm not really the religious type. My parents attempted to raise me Catholic, but everything in my being always seem to revolt against it. We weren't an especially religious family and rarely actually attended church when it wasn't a holiday or due to a streak of guilt. Matt was baptized Catholic, but that was the extent of his involvement with a church. We're both what I've heard called "recovering Catholics."

We didn't get married in a church. We hired an officiant, who was an Unitarian minister, and included very little mention of God in our ceremony. W was not baptized. At the age of three he has yet to even enter a church. I don't question these decisions. But, when B was born, I started to question my beliefs... Is this it? We live, we create people we love dearly, and then we die? Is that what I really believe? Because, maaaaan, that is super depressing, right?

I was dealing with my own mortality, yes. (It's not lost on me that I had a son named Beckett and then suddenly seemed to have my own "Waiting for Godot" experience...) It's not faith that I'm looking for, because we're faithful people. We believe in doing good. We believe in being truthful. We believe in treating others well. We live with a strong moral compass and are raising our children to do the same. We don't cheat, we don't lie, we don't steal, or do any of the other things that most religions command you not to do. But, are we religious? No. Do we have a general sense of faith that I can't describe? Yes.

So, I asked myself some questions that I haven't before:

Are we looking for a church? Not right now.

Might we in the future? Possibly.

Do I feel like my childhood religion experience added anything to my life? Not really.

Do I feel like my children could gain something from being involved in a religion? Possibly.

I'm not opposed to religion, but as a friend so eloquently said to me recently: "Churches have very little to do with faith or religion these days." And he's right. If we choose a religion, it has to be a place that would feel like home, that would include teachings I would be pleased to share with my children, that was built on core beliefs that I share. We don't need a church or religion to raise good people, but it might be nice to meet people who share our views. I see the opportunity that churches give to volunteer, participate in family activities, and meet like-minded people, but I also see plenty of not-very-good people hiding behind church and religion. So, for now, we'll continue to raise good people who may not step into a church for a few more years. And I'm ok with that.

This post is inspired by I AM FORBIDDEN by Anouk Markovits. Though not sisters by blood but through their Hasidic faith, Mila and Atara views the rules and structure of their culture differently. Mila seeks comfort in the Torah while Atara searches for answers in secular literature she is forbidden to read. Ultimately each must make an irrevocable decision that will change their lives forever. Join From Left to Write on May 8 as we discuss I AM FORBIDDEN. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 18 OneSight

Good Deed: Donating an old pair of eye glasses to OneSight.

I buy new glasses about once every ten years. That time came a couple of years ago when I developed an ulcer on my cornea from over-wearing old contacts. I was grounded and had to spend two months in glasses. It was my prompt to get new specs and in that time I learned that my eyes are much more comfortable after a day in glasses and I have embraced my specs like I never imagined possible. I've even overcome astigmatism in each of my eyes (no joke!).

Anyway, so I tend to keep my old glasses as back up just in case the current pair goes down or something like that... But, seriously, my old glasses are so bad, I will never, ever wear them again. So, tomorrow I'm going to take them to LensCrafters and donate them to OneSight, a family of vision care programs dedicated to restoring and preserving clear vision to those in need through outreach, research and education, in order to hand-deliver the gift of sight to those in need worldwide.

I have very nice glasses with scratch-free, transition lenses (someone will appreciate that, right?), and are just begging to help someone regain their vision just sitting in a drawer.  It's time for them to go.

According to OneSight, 284 million children and adults suffer from poor vision because they lack access to proper eye care and eyewear. More than 2 million pairs of glasses are needed each year to support the amount of people in their Global Clinics, which give free eyewear, eye exams and the ability to live a fuller life. Makes that back-up pair of glasses in your drawer sound a little unnecessary, huh?

What was your good deed this week?

Note: I am in no way affiliated with OneSight, nor was I compensated for this post. All information was found on their website.


Do You Need An Appendix? This Week I Learned NOPE!

Things have been painfully quiet on the blog, which means the opposite in life usually... And this past week brought us the proof we needed that you do not in fact need an appendix. I know this because I no longer have mine.

I can get into the story later, but for now I want to take a moment to let you know that having an appendix removed and two children under the age of three doesn't work so well.

Here's why:
1. You're not supposed to lift anything more than 10 pounds for six weeks post-surgery. 
2. You are really tired during recovery and need some quiet.
3. It's hard to make kids understand why you can't lift them, put them to bed, or why they can't dive bomb you.
4. Showing your wounds to a 3 year-old kind of freaks him out... Even when you think he'll think it's cool.
5. If you have one centrally-located television and don't like to watch inappropriate shows in front of your kids, it's hard to just veg out and watch bad reality tv. 

But, there is one thing I can tell you... If you are lucky enough to have an awesome husband and great family, you will not lift a finger. I have not had to cook, clean, do laundry, perform bedtime or bathing rituals, load/unload the dishwasher, wake up early, or do just about anything. It's been kind of nice (if not making me totally stir crazy) and it's been much needed to recover.

And, apparently, lifting a finger even includes writing a more in-depth post about my appendectomy, which I'll get into later. For now, I need to go rest up and see if there are some Real Housewives on.