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Mother-In-Law Demands To Be In Delivery Room, Internet Promptly Roasts Her

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 07:46 AM PST

In-laws and delivery rooms can be a touchy subject

Ah, the delivery room. Where everyone in your immediate and extended families feel they belong, and have no problem telling you so. It can be a battle, to be sure. But in a recent “Dear Prudence” advice column, one mother-in-law took her delivery room demands a little too far.

OK, way too far.

Writer Nicole Cliffe often finds controversial tidbits like this online and shares them on her Twitter account. So when she came across the “advice” this mother-in-law was asking Slate‘s Dear Prudence for, she had to share it with the world.

“My son, Steven, and daughter-in-law, Julia, are expecting their first child and our first grandchild next month,” the woman, dubbed “Second-Class Grandma” begins in the column. “I had what I thought was a good relationship with Julia, but I find myself devastated. Julia has decided only Steven and her mother will be allowed in the delivery room when she gives birth.”

Which is not totally unheard of, is it? Most women I know feel a thousand times more comfortable with their own moms. And most hospital delivery rooms only permit two people in there with you — your birth partner, and a guest of choice. That’s how mine operated, anyway. Well Grandma wasn’t having it.

“I was stunned and hurt by the unfairness of the decision and tried to plead with her and my son, but Julia says she ‘wouldn't feel comfortable’ with me there,” she writes. “I reminded her that I was a nurse for 40 years, so there is nothing I haven't seen. I've tried to reason with Steven, but he seems to be afraid of angering Julia and will not help. I called Julia's parents and asked them to please reason with their daughter, but they brusquely and rather rudely got off the phone. I've felt nothing but heartache since learning I would be banned from the delivery room.”

Um. WHAT.

So. True. While I will say my own mother-in-law was in the room with me, and she is also a nurse, she’s also the closest thing I have on this planet to an actual mother and it was a last minute decision to invite her. But my husband and I were terrified and I just needed a mom, you know? But poor Julia in this story ALREADY HAD ONE, and her mother-in-law is behaving rather beastly about it.

Grandma wasn’t done. “Steven told me I could wait outside and I would be let in after Julia and the baby are cleaned up and ‘presentable.’ Meanwhile, Julia's mother will be able to witness our grandchild coming into the world. It is so unfair.”

Yeah. That’s the thing about birth. If you’re not the one giving birth or being born — it ain’t about you, toots.

Twitter seems to agree, with many sharing similar delivery room dilemmas.

OMG. The mere idea of that scenario playing out has me reaching for my smelling salts.

Grandma Guilt Trips are real, y’all.

Without a doubt. How is this a difficult concept to grasp? Labor and delivery isn’t, like, getting lip injections. It is a very serious medical procedure where lots of bodily things happen you don’t want everyone to see!

Luckily for all of us, “Dear Prudence” had no problem shutting Grandma down and bringing her back to earth by telling her she was “entirely in the wrong.”

Because giving birth is the most intimate process on the planet. Women have every right to decide who they wish to be present, and how it’s all gonna go down. The personal comfort level of the mother and what’s best for her and the baby should be non-negotiable. Here’s hoping Julia and Steven have exactly the birth experience they want to have.

BOUNDARIES, GRANDMA. BOUNDARIES.

“Let this go,” Prudence advised. “Do not rob this moment of its joy by keeping score and demanding more.”

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Joanna Gaines Shares Adorable Pics Of Her Bump On Instagram

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 06:47 AM PST

Of course the ‘Fixer Upper’ star looks absolutely gorgeous pregnant

While Chip Gaines may have initially shared the news that he and wife Joanna Gaines were expecting baby number five with a hilarious “double bump” pic, Joanna herself hasn’t shared any photos of her bump.

Until now — and as always, she’s absolutely adorable.

Whether you’re an avid Fixer Upper fan or you have no idea what “shiplap” is, you can’t deny there’s just something so endearing about Joanna Gaines. Especially pregnant Joanna Gaines.

Instagram Photo

“Photoshoot today and there’s no hiding this baby bump anymore,” she captioned her photo. Can we just talk about her endlessly perfect, flowing locks for a second? Because #HairGoals. OK, back to baby business.

While there’s nothing bump-related to see in the above photo, there were a couple of sweet shots in her accompanying Instagram story.

Image via Instagram/Joanna Gaines

Cutest. Ever. Even if her “non-hideable” bump looks like my own stomach at zero months pregnant. Prior to getting pregnant, Joanna and Chip hinted around that they’d like to have a fifth child — and would even occasionally chant “number five” during Fixer Upper outtakes.

Image via Instagram/Joanna Gaines

Love the “#I’mHungry” caption — no doubt a familiar feeling now that she’s in the middle of her fifth pregnancy! Chip and Joanna’s newest bundle of joy will join older siblings Ella Rose, Duke, Drake, and Emmie Kay.

Gaines’ most recent Instagram post proves it doesn’t matter how many kids you have, pregnancy cravings are no joke.

Instagram Photo

Last fall, they announced plans to end their hit show, Fixer Upper. “This is just us recognizing that we need to catch our breath for a moment,” they wrote on Joanna’s blog. “Our plan is to take this time to shore up and strengthen the spots that are weak, rest the places that are tired and give lots of love and attention to both our family and our business.”

Instagram Photo

While we’re still not over the fact that Fixer Upper is currently airing it’s final season, here’s hoping the Gaines family remains as candid as they are now while their family grows.

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A ‘Taco Cleanse’? Sign Us Up!

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

Okay girls, truth time. When I hear the word “cleanse,” I think of juices made out of beets and fish eyes and having to shit every 20 minutes. I mean, I’m sure you feel absolutely fab afterwards, but I’m not really into blending up kale and then living on the toilet. Plus, Mama likes her Doritos, and I’m pretty sure they aren’t on the approved detox list.

But a taco cleanse—now here’s something I can get on board with.

We all know that anytime you put the word “taco” in front of something, it sounds 100x better. Ughh, all we have to eat is this boring flavorless chicken. Wait! Throw it on a tortilla with a little salsa and onion! Boom. Taco. And fish tacos are genius. That’s the only way I was able to get my kids to try fish. PUT IT IN A TACO. Seriously. I’d probably eat a pile of sticks from my backyard if they appeared on my plate in taco form.

So a taco cleanse sounds like the perfectly delicious way to rid my poor intestines of the excessive amount of buffalo cheese dip I ate last weekend. Let’s learn about it.

According to the LA Times, “The Taco Cleanse” is a book written by self-proclaimed “taco scientists” (and now I finally know what I want be when I grow up), that is based on a “tortilla-based diet proven to change your life.”

The plan is to eat three meals a day for 30 days, and all of those meals are vegan tacos. Now, I’m 179% un-vegan, in the sense that I almost put bacon in my coffee this morning, but still. Tacos, guys. Stay with me.

Before you meal plan, the book offers a “taco quiz, in which you answer a series of questions to discover your taco-eater personality,” LA Times reports. “You can be a taco purist, taco sentimentalist, taco adventurist, or taco contortionist.”

What’s the word for “one who grossly shovels tacos into her face?” Asking for myself.

Once you’ve determined your taco style, you can peruse the recipes. Some options include jackfruit brisket, tempeh picadillo, and ion-charged refried beans and drinks include “variations” on an avocado margarita and an agave margarita. Okay, so none of those sound like actual tacos or margaritas that I’ve had before. But this is a cleanse, people. We are ridding our bodies of excessive fried cheese and alcohol consumption. So I’m guessing chorizo, jalapeno queso, and tequila aren’t on the menu…

BUT! Tortillas, refried beans, and guacamole are included. So there’s hope.

The Amazon reviews are out and mostly positive. With a title that uses both “taco” and “cleanse,” it’s not surprising to learn that the book is a bit tongue-in-cheek. One commenter says, “Each time you indulge in any combination of tortillas, fillings, and toppings, your chakras will shed their toxins. Your aura will glow with the radiance of taco spices. You will feel peace.”

Another review reads: “The book provides a variety of vegan ‘fillings’ for tacos. It also provides the recipes for the associated sauces/toppings/condiments as well as the tortillas themselves. The recipes are amazingly flavorful and fun to make. Cleanse? Not so sure… Change my life? Without a doubt!”

So, if you’re someone who actually takes the cleanse thing seriously, this may not be your jam. But for gals like me, who include beer and pizza as basic food groups, this sounds doable. I didn’t know there were so many ways to make vegan tacos, but to be honest, I’m quite intrigued and will consider this book for a birthday or holiday gift this year.

What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll learn how to make a bunch of new tacos. And that’s never a bad thing.

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Sometimes We Need To Drop Everything To Talk To Our Spouse

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

The other day, I was chatting on the phone with my wife, Mel, while at work. I was mostly speaking in, yeahs and okays, but not giving her my full attention. Then I said something to the tune of, "Sounds good… I better go" and she cut me off with, "I'll let you know when I'm ready to get off the phone."

We've been married for almost 14 years, and she'd never said that to me. It had been a long week for both of us. I work at a university, and it was the start of the term. The first week is always the worst. I'd been working 9 to 9 for four days. Mel works part time at our kid's school, so when she wasn’t working, she had acting as the only at-home parent.

She had some things to tell me. She only calls me at work when it's important. Obviously, she hadn't been able to discuss anything with me at home because I hadn't been there. And the thing is, I knew all of this, and yet, I was pretty eager to get off the phone.

Thinking back, I don't have a good excuse for it. In fact, earlier that day a co-worker came in to tell me about their weekend plans, and I gave them my undivided attention, the two of us chewing the fat for 20 whole minutes. But for some reason, when my wife calls, I can't seem to press pause for a minute to give her my attention.

I know there are some working parents out there who literally cannot take a phone call at work, but that isn’t the case here. I have an office. I can shut the door. I can take a break from work for a few minutes to listen to my life partner. Sure, I had work to do, but we were never on the phone for more than 10 min, tops. Never.

But for some reason, whenever she calls me at work, I am always in a hurry to get off the phone — and it's silly. Wait, it's not silly. It's rude. It probably makes her think that I don't have time for her, particularly during those stretches when calling me at work might be the only chance she has to discuss the needs of our family.

If you are like me, and you have the luxury of shutting your office door to give your spouse — husband or wife — the full attention they deserve, why not do it? It's honestly not that hard.

When Mel said, "I'll let you know when I'm ready to get off the phone," I didn't get mad. I didn't take it personally. I didn't feel that pinch that working parents often feel when they are stuck in the tug-of-war between work and home. In fact, when I think back, so much of this moment came down to respect.

I know my wife well enough to know that she wouldn't say something like that unless she was frustrated, needed something from me, and I was being ridiculous. And she wouldn't call unless it was important, so I let her talk — because that's the respectful thing to do when the love of your life and mother of your children calls, right?

I got off my butt and shut my door. I sat down at my desk, put my work to the side, and gave her my full attention. We talked about a few things concerning our kids. She asked if I was free later in the week so she could schedule an appointment with our daughter's teacher. We discussed something odd that was going on with our bank account that needed to be resolved ASAP.

And once it was all said and done, we were on the phone for 10 minutes, like we always are. Then Mel said, "Sorry for getting mad. I just hate when you do that."

I let out a breath. I thought about how little she was actually asking of me.

"Don't apologize. I'm the one who should be sorry," I said. "I'll stop. I promise."

"Thank you," she said.

Then we hung up, and we both got back to work.

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Don’t Let Anyone Else Define Gender Roles For Your Relationship

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

My mom believes in traditional gender roles. She also believes being married is one of the highest achievements in a woman's life. I'm not saying she's right or wrong. I am saying not even my mom knows what's best for me. Like many moms, she draws from her own experiences and failures. She wants me to have a better life than she did. She wants me to have a good life. She doesn't understand that I do have a good life — just not the one she envisioned for me.

Putting my own needs first got me what I wanted, and I don't regret anything.

I'll give you an idea of how my mom thinks. She was proud when I earned my degree. She was thrilled when I finally got married.

Let me back up a bit.

After college, I moved across the country. She was worried. I was only 21 and had never been on my own. I don't blame her. I struggled those first few years. I wasn't making much money, so I had roommates. My immediate goal was to live by myself. I'm an ambivert. I can be outgoing, but I need my own space to regroup and re-energize.

I finally got my own apartment, and I loved it. I was 22. About this time, my mom started asking me about getting married. I said I was too young. I wasn't thinking about marriage right now.

Age 27 was the earliest I wanted to get married. I had no opinion about having children. At that point, I was trying to figure out my life. I wasn't ready for marriage and children.

I dated a lot in my 20s. I had two serious relationships that could have turned into marriage. Neither did.

The first man asked me to marry him. We were both 22. We grew up in neighboring towns and had known each other since we were 13. I told him no. I think I said, "Hell no." We were too young and had only been dating for about nine months. I was already tired of him. He acted like a 16-year-old boy. I could just imagine spending my days picking up his socks and reminding him to comb his hair. No, thank you.

The second guy was a little better. I was 25 when we started dating. He was 26. We dated for two years and spent almost every day together. But in that entire time, he never invited me to the home he shared with his family. It was something we argued about, but he never budged. It was an interracial relationship, and I figured his mother didn't approve of me.

The final straw was my 27th birthday. It fell on the same day he was to attend a family celebration. I suggested I go with him and then we go out once it was over. He said no, that he would come over and take me out afterwards. I declined and said, if he was ashamed of dating me, we were finished. He denied he was ashamed, but obviously the relationship wasn't going anywhere if he didn't want me to meet his family. I broke up with him.

My mother was even more disappointed than I was. She hoped I would finally get married. I was 27, so now the question became, "Don't you ever want to have children?" I said I wanted to make sure I could take care of myself. I didn't want to depend on a man to do it.

This wasn't what she wanted to hear.

I entered my 30s. Mom had the same questions. Now she believed I was doomed for spinsterhood if I didn't marry soon. I wasn't worried. I liked being alone.

I was tired of renting and started looking for a condo. When I was in escrow, she said, "Don't you want to wait to buy something with your husband?" I understood what she was saying, but at the same time, why should I hold off being a homeowner because I was single? Actually, I was excited and terrified at the idea of having only my name on that piece of paper. I was a first-time homeowner, and I was 35.

The next few years, I worked and dated. My next serious relationship was at 37. I married this man when I was 40. Looking back, I'm not sure I loved him or that he loved me. But he was nice enough and we got along pretty well. Maybe my mother's words were finally affecting me, too. I still loved my solitude, but I was lonely too.

My mom was thrilled. Now I had someone to take care of me. She also changed her script from "Don't you ever want to have kids?" to "You know you're too old to have kids." By then I realized I didn't want them. I stayed married for almost eight years.

I knew early on, even if I wanted children, I would be parenting by myself. He believed women should do the child-rearing. I worked 12 months out of the year. He worked in film and television and had breaks between projects where he was home for months at a time. Considering his unwillingness to even plan dinner, grocery shop, walk the dog or clean the house when he was home… well, that told me he wasn't going to be a particularly helpful father. He already wasn't a helpful husband. I saw an unhappy future with him. This wasn't someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We had little in common and as time went on, I realized it wasn't working. We divorced.

Here I am, several years later. I'm in a committed relationship with a man I've known for years. We're getting married next year. We laugh together, and we're best friends. We've discussed how we each feel about gender roles. We both believe they're fluid and subjective. He's a better cook than I am, and he loves it. We'll cook together when we can. We'll both clean since neither of us minds doing it. He's extremely handy, and I'm pretty handy. So we'll work on household projects together unless we decide to pay someone to do the work. If something needs done, one or both of us will take care of it.

My mom adores him.

This relationship is right for me. Whatever works for you is right for you. Don't let anyone tell you how to feel about gender roles. If you want a traditional relationship, go for it. If you don't, that's great too. As long as you both agree, there's no right or wrong decision.

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Don’t Be A Selfish Jerk — Keep Your Family’s Sick Germs At Home

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

First, I would like to establish, I am a stay-at-home mom and caretaker to a family of 5 with three littles ones, ages 7, 5, and 1 1/2. I am aware that being able to stay at home with my children when they are sick is a "luxury" others may not have, but it also puts me in the trenches, with lots of personal, real time experience. Working parents have some very difficult choices to make when their children are sick. They are sometimes forced to go into work sick for the sake of a paycheck or leave their sick children in the care of someone else. In reading this, please know, that fact is not lost on me.

Second, I am not a germaphobe, but I do like to consider myself germ-aware. As the daughter of a PhD in microbiology and a biology major myself, during my childhood and well into adulthood, I have been immersed with discussions about microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses. I remember growing bacteria on petri dishes in my father’s lab as young as age 4 and loving it. Epidemiology has always interested me, and I have always gotten overly excited, in a total nerd way, about how bacteria and viruses spread, mutate, colonize, and operate biologically.

So with that said, I'm not a germaphobe, just rather passionate about this topic and now, as a mother, extremely protective. So here goes:

PLEASE DON'T SEND YOUR SICK CHILD TO SCHOOL!

The holidays have come to end and all the family togetherness has definitely spread more than cheer. This sweeping flu epidemic has probably effected someone in your family or someone you know. As I write this, we are now going on week four — yes, four — of quarantine and have now battled a terrible strain of Adenovirus (one of the "not flu" viruses), Influenza type A, and now are onto type B.

When the doctor came in yesterday and confirmed our worst fears — that yes, in fact, our daughter has type B now — all I could say was, "YOU'RE KIDDING RIGHT?" I assure you we are all healthy people, with no immune system problems and, yes, we wash our hands all the time, just at the wrong place at the wrong time this season, even though I feel like we've been living in a bubble this whole time.

I, like you, are more than ready to put this cold weather in the rearview. I completely understand that everyone is ready to get back to their regularly scheduled activities. The walls are closing in and the kids have probably been driving you bonkers. I know you're ready to just feel normal again, but this, unfortunately, is something you can't rush.

If you or your family have been struck down by any of the rampant illnesses plaguing our country right now, please make the good and right decision not to push the recovery to fast and please keep the kids home from school while they are still symptomatic. Fever and completely symptom-free for 24 hours is the rule of thumb.

Sick happens, it doesn't matter how careful you are, how much Purell you tote with you, or how "germ aware" you are. You can't hide from germs; they are everywhere. Some are good, some bad, some help keep the bad in check. We ingest them, they live on you, in you, everywhere.  So sick is going to happen, like it or not, but you'll get through it.

This month, understandably, has been really hard on us. My husband travels for work a lot, and that makes having a sick family, especially one with young kids, very difficult. It's hard for him to leave us behind, knowing we are hurting, and it’s difficult for me to manage alone (single parents and military peeps — shout out to you). Just keeping the fever med dosing schedule for our family is an Olympic sport.

With my children’s temps spiking to 104, on ibuprofen, with chills and body aches, I better be on point, on time, no slacking, even at 2 a.m. One of the first difficult lessons of parenthood is no matter how sick you are or how tired you are, the care of your sick child comes first. We've had three humidifiers and steam showers running routinely and we actually set off the fire alarm with all the steam. Warm apple juice, honey, cough suppressants, expectorants, vitamins, minerals, elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D, tea, coffee, more coffee, zinc, fever reducers, hot compress, and cold compress is the regular lingo getting tossed around our house. I could write a book on every type of cough known to man and any wild remedy you could possibly use to cure it right about now. Have you heard the one about onions on your feet?

Endless Google searches, and midnight calls to the nurse’s hotline fill the night, and worry — ugh, we're maxed out on worry. Every time the news comes on and reinforces how deadly the flu is, I shutter. Early on, we had to take my son to an after hours clinic because his cough developed into croup. We were worried that if we didn't get him seen quickly we may end up in the ER by midnight, which because of the flu epidemic we were trying to avoid (eye roll). We managed to squeak in at 4:58 p.m., and the attendant at the front desk locked the doors on the dot, at the 5:00 closing time. About two minutes later my husband reported to me that there had been several others trying to get in, realizing only once they were at the door, that it had closed.

Kids were crying, parents were crying; it was brutal to watch, sickness takes a toll on all involved, truly. Mentally, physically and emotionally, its draining. Nobody wants to watch their children suffer through sickness — its dreadful, and nothing can make you feel more helpless.

Please remember how difficult sickness really is on everyone and stay home if you are ill. You know that old Smokey the Bear saying, "only you can prevent forest fires”? Well, only you can prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Look, nobody is perfect. I'm sure at some point, we've passed along a few "unfavorables." My kids have puked on the playground; it happens and it sucks. So please know, I'm not judging you. I'm not that person. If anything, I'm rooting for you to make it home before your kid pukes again on the way home. The key words there being "on the way home."

When you realize your kids is sick, it's time to go. The point at which I get frustrated is, when parents see that their child is ill and do nothing or allow them to continue playing. Again, not a germaphobe, just talking real now. Your kid is obviously sick — you know it and we know it — and everyone at the play place would appreciate your swift action and departure. Additionally, I'm sure your child would appreciate it too and be much more comfortable at home.

Occasionally, there will be times when you're gonna have to do what you've gotta do. Meaning, if everyone is sick and you need supplies from the store, you gotta go, sick kids in tow. Sniffles, sneezes, coughs and all, sometimes Walmart has to happen (reference point #1 as to why I'm the lady you see wiping my entire cart down). However, that point, right there, is where the fork in the road happens. At what point does “doing what you have to” become a selfish act? Yes, I said it — SELFISH.

What do you really have to do? I know how hard it can be to tell a kid, who has been excited about a birthday party for a month, that because they're sick they can't attend; it's heartbreaking. Or that they are going to miss the field trip, the dance recital, the fair, the movie, or bowling, whatever it is. It's hard to disappoint them, regardless of the situation or circumstance. I was told, a long time ago, that sometimes the right choices are the hardest to make. I understand how hard it is to stick to a family routine when it is continually interrupted by random things, but it's still not okay to take a symptomatic kid to a gym daycare, play place, zoo, balloon festival, or Chick-Fil-A playground, for goodness sakes.

Take ice cream stores, for example. Ice cream is great for a kid with fever, it'll knock their fever down at least 0.5 degree, if not way more, but that's what drive thru's are for. Don't bring your sick kid into a Baskin Robbins. It's not okay. The promise of ice cream after you've been at the doctor is a great way to cheer them up when they feel bad, had a shot, or had their throat swabbed. I've done it a million times, but go through McD's and grab a hot fudge sundae; it's just as delicious, I promise. Plus, it'll keep you from having to watch your kid take down the yucky, colorful sherbet they chose because it looked cool. Eww.

You know that guilty gut feeling you get when you're trying to make a decision about something like this? That little voice that says, "Hmmmmm, I don't know if they're well enough to go," LISTEN TO THAT VOICE.

If you at all think your kid may be sick enough to infect someone else, DON'T GO! Just don't. This goes for after school activities, lessons, games, celebrations, dentist appointments, play dates, shopping, etc. And people who go to the movies while sick, you're the worst. There are way too many streaming services available these days, so please keep your germs and yourself on your own couch. Did you know the department of health inspects movie theater concessions stands, but not the actual theater part? Who knows how often those seats are getting cleaned, so please assume that if you or your child has strep, a cold, whatever, that you'll be leaving it there for the person who comes in after you, not to mention those in the theater with you.

Places like these are very optional. So, ask yourself: do I really need to take my kid there and possibly risk getting another family sick? Another family who may have just brought home a newborn, or have an immuno-compromised family member, or needs to be with an elderly or sick family member at the hospital, those are the people who you are willingly putting at risk for your own selfish act. Ask yourself in that moment, am I being selfish? What do I really have to do? Is my family's “optional” activity more important than another persons health?

The gray area, to me, comes in when you look at school, work, and daycare. Not even gray, really, just tougher, because these aren't as optional, but there are also clear rules on the matter. Daycares and schools have sick policies in place and usually apply the above rule of thumb — 24 hours symptom and fever free — before returning. Simple, if adhered to.

The sad truth is that a virus that seems like merely a simple cold to most older kids and adults can be extremely serious and problematic for young children, and cause a host of secondary issues, like pneumonia. So please don't assume that because you feel a little under the weather and have "just a cold,” that it's okay to run around spreading those germs. Also "just a cold" to the parent of a bottle or breast-fed infants is a slap in the face.

When a baby has a cold, they can't eat (try sucking down a bottle and hold your nose), and when that baby is struggling to eat, that baby gets mad, and cries, and then can't rest, in addition to feeling the pains of being ill.

To a breastfeeding mother, it means the baby will repeatedly have to "pull off" to breathe (very painful), making it more difficult to remove the correct amount of milk, causing engorgement (not as fun as it sounds) and results in a drop in milk production and supply.

"Just a cold" can really mess up a family with a infant. I totally understand that kids and adults can't miss 2 weeks of work or school every time they get a cold. This is just something to keep in mind when you decide you're well enough to return to work or decide to take your child who has “just a cold” around others. Don't mix up have to and optional.

So lets recap:

Rule of thumb: symptom- and fever-free for 24 hours. That means normal temp for 24 hours before going back to school. So if they have their last bit of fever at 4:30pm on Sunday, they should return to school on Tuesday! Not, Monday, as 8:00am Monday morning would not have been 24 hours. Runny noses and coughs should be easily controlled. Vomiting and diarrhea should be completely ceased. That means seeing normal stools return. Sometimes that may take a few days.

Even if the fever and bad diarrhea has stopped, you may still have loose stools days later, and you guessed it, you are still shedding the virus and contagious. With many viruses you continue to shed the active virus days — and sometimes weeks — after your symptoms have left. So, I'm just saying, don't rush into any heavily populated areas once you're feeling better. Which can also be healthier for you too.

Your immune system needs a chance to recharge after a bout of sickness. When in doubt with diarrhea, follow the same rules as fever and give it 24 hours after normal stools return. Many different types of viruses, even respiratory viruses, can be spread through feces, and considering the rate at which people don't wash there hands after using the restroom, that’s a significant source of transmission.

Ever wonder why your supposed to shower before you get in the pool? A single gram of human feces can contain 3 trillion germs! Showering before entering the pool is important to wash off fecal particles that stick to your backside after using the bathroom. Even small bits of feces washing off in the pool releases enough pathogen to potentially infect many people with the same illness. Also, it doesn't matter how many days worth of antibiotics your kids has taken, if they aren't fever free and symptom free, the right answer is: stay home.

We have spent this first month of the new year sick, but together, and I'm thankful for that in spite of it all. We watched Harry and The Henderson's together! That was definitely a family win, played tons of games and we've had time to really lay low and talk with the kids on a different level, instead of the usual — yep, sure, uh huh, okay sweetie, you got it — conversations that fly by during a busy week sometimes.

Our family is fortunate enough to have access to wonderful health care, insurance, and a loving support system of friends and family who have offered to help us if needed. Not all families have that though. So please remember that not everyone has the same level of care that you do the next time you decide it's okay to send your child to school sick, when you opt to go into the office sick, or when you really want to take your sick child to that birthday party, the movies or out for for ice cream.

Parenting is full of really difficult situations and choices, but using your best judgment, though not always easy, is the key to it all.

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What I Learned After A Nightmare Trip Across The Atlantic

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

A week after my perilous journey across the Atlantic with my two small children, ages 4 and 15 months, I'm only finally starting to feel like myself again. Traveling with more than one tiny human being is not for the faint-hearted. I thought I could handle it. I mean, I know a thing or two about traveling with babies. I've done it. A lot. Hell, I even started a community about it when my firstborn was 18 months old.

We are 6,000 parents around the world who discuss on a daily basis the joys and the fears of traveling with our little ones. We share travel hacks, local secrets, and tips. But most importantly we support each other. Because support is something that we parents really need these days. Whether we are traveling or not.

Juliet Perrachon

The day after I had survived my journey, I shared my emotional story with my community and was stunned by the empathetic response I received from a few hundred of my traveling parent friends. It seemed my story had really resonated with my peers. There is clearly something wrong with the travel experience today. Traveling has become increasingly stressful, and, for parents in particular, it can be a total nightmare.

Why does it have to be this way? And why does the U.S. have to be perhaps the most un-family-friendly country at airports? It seems that in all other countries, traveling with kids is somehow easier. Expectant mothers and moms with small kids have access to priority lines no matter where they are, no questions asked. Small playgrounds or little play areas are more easily found, at least across Europe. These are just a few of the questions that I pondered after sharing my difficult journey.

When I finally arrived home, I felt like I'd been to battle and had just barely survived. While helping me re-pack my bags the night before our trans-Atlantic trip, my mother jokingly suggested that I consider wearing a bathing suit for traveling  with my kids. Maybe I should have taken her more seriously.

I flew back alone with my two from Paris to Chicago with a stopover in Philadelphia. I know perfectly well that I should have never agreed to that layover, but it was that or we would not have gone at all. Budget is a factor, after all!

The eight-hour flight from Paris to Philadelphia alone would have been enough to exhaust me to no end. During the interminable flight, my 15 month-old daughter could not sit still. I spent the better part of the eight hours rummaging through the various bags I had stuffed into my carry-on searching for books, toys, food, anything to keep her busy. Although older, my nearly four-year-old son still very much needed me for things like finding the right cartoon, taking him to the bathroom, turning the sound down–you get the idea.

Juliet Perrachon

My baby ended up sleeping a total of one-and-a-half hours, chopped up into two segments of 45 minutes, the second time awakened by her brother. She screamed, shrieked…a lot to fall asleep. Then, when I thought we were nearing the end, my son had a screaming meltdown as we started our descent into Philadelphia because he refused to buckle his seat belt. I had to force it on him and raise my very broken voice (I was coming down with a cold) to get him to understand while making my daughter scream herself as she was sitting on my lap and highly uncomfortable with me trying to handle her brother. It took a solid twenty minutes before he calmed down.

When we landed, I was a wreck, but I still had to get myself through the Philadelphia airport, meaning through Customs, baggage claim, baggage drop-off (yes, on top of handling my two kids and my carry-ons, I had to pick up my luggage), go back through security while scrambling to make my connection. My fun was just about to begin.

When I arrived at Customs, I hurried over to the Global Entry line. Last summer, when I had returned to the U.S. via JFK, an officer there assured me that while my kids do not have Global Entry, I could still go through with them, no problem. In Philadelphia, that was apparently not the case. To the back of the line I was sent.

At this point, what little energy I had left in me was running desperately low. Tears started running down my face as I realized I might not make my connection. I started breathing very heavily to calm myself down. A few passengers from my flight recognized me and allowed me to jump the line. An employee moved me to a shorter line, but all employees and officers there told me with vacant careless stares that they had no control over whether or not I’d make my flight. I was literally in tears on my Customs photo they now make passengers take when entering the U.S.

At baggage claim, the passengers who had helped me jump the Customs line, also helped me get my luggage and car seat to the baggage drop-off. There is no way I could have done this alone with my carry-ons and my kids (and the stroller no less). We then went back through security, which meant getting my baby out of her stroller (and folding it) and unpacking a bunch of stuff, getting her back into the stroller (nightmare). I then ran to the gate with my baby in her stroller and my son running ahead of me.

When we got there, I paused in front of the bar by the gate and got two glasses of water, one for my son and one for me. My daughter had been sipping away at her milk for a while. People were staring at me. I must have looked like a stressed out mess. In that moment, I didn’t give a damn about what I looked like, nor what anyone thought of me. I had been in fight-or-flight mode (no pun intended) that whole time. My son, who had been a nightmare at the end of the Paris-Philadelphia flight, at this point, was visibly concerned for his mommy, and asked me why I was crying.

People really did look concerned. And so many helped me on this trip. I must not forget to mention the lovely  gentleman who helped me on the first flight and loaned us his iPad which had a coloring app for a half hour, gave me loads of parenting advice, and checked up on me three times during the flight.

At the bar, while I was sipping on the cold water calming myself down, a father of two noticed us, and told me he would do whatever he could to help. Just when I asked him if he could watch over my stuff while I went next door to grab some food, my daughter’s passport went missing. I started to panic again, and the nice man told me to take deep breaths. And thankfully, it had just fallen under my massive backpack. But during those three minutes, I truly thought we wouldn’t be able to board our flight home.

Juliet Perrachon

But not everyone was nice. Just when I thought it was all over and while trying to figure out the self-pay machine while buying the food, a lady with huge sunglasses in her 60s came to me claiming to be a pediatric nurse and explaining to me that my baby girl looked like she was in great “distress” and that she was extremely concerned for her wellbeing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Yes, my baby was crying, she was tired, it was an extraordinarily long day for a 15-month-old. I was going to take care of her. But I needed my two hands to pay for the food first.

Since, at this point, I was a shell of a person, I exploded into tears with no shame. The airport employees at that mini mart immediately asked me what they could do to help and if I was OK. Utterly vulnerable at this point and desperate, I broke down saying, “No, I am most certainly not OK!” The lady returned apparently even more appalled by my awful parenting skills and exclaimed that she was concerned for the wellbeing of my daughter and that she could now see why, that she was frankly outraged, and that someone should do something about me. The employees immediately defended me, telling her to back off, and with whatever was left inside of me I told her to just leave me alone, and she finally left.

I was a mess, but once again, I was met with some very touching acts of kindness. The manager of the mini market gave me a huge free goodie bag of cookies, muffins, bananas, and water. With the help of a few different people, I somehow made it onto the flight back to Chicago where my husband (thankfully) took over.

While I stared blankly into the distance on the flight home watching the sun set over Chicago, I wondered at this world we live in where Instagrammers in the travel and family space all share the perfect pictures of their babies around the world marvelling at how "easy" it all is. Of course, I support traveling with little ones, I started a community and website promoting it. I'm actually deeply passionate about exposing kids to the world at a young age.

But if there are two things that I learned from this trip it’s: (1) America particularly makes traveling with little ones an intensely stressful experience and someone has got to do something about it. And (2) we are not perfect, ok? Instagram and other social media networks have pressured us parents into sharing to the world how perfect we are at parenting. But, it's just not true. We are human, after all. Let's embrace being imperfect, please. We do the best we can, and that is all we can do. Shame on those who judge us for not being perfect parents.

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I Used To Spank My Child, But This Is Why I Stopped

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

I grew up in the heart of spanking culture, in a southern, small town.

As a child, I knew that if I was gonna do something naughty, I’d better be sneaky or prepare to pick my own switch. I didn’t find myself in the hot seat very often, but I have very intense memories of the few times I did. I remember walking the long, Green Mile to my room in fear, stuffing my pajamas with washcloths, and covering my butt with my hands while screaming for a last second reprieve. Honest to God, the memories make me sick to my stomach.

I never considered the impact spanking had on me, until I was a new mother. It was my first night home from the hospital with my baby boy, and I had been in the rocking chair for hours. There he was, a seven pound human, snoring quietly against my chest. In that moment, I was struck by how profoundly helpless this baby was in my arms, and what an incredible responsibility motherhood was going to be. I still can’t tell you where it came from, but as the tears streamed down my face, I leaned in and whispered, “Mommy will never lay a hand on you, I promise.”

Three years later, I spanked my son for the first time.

It just happened one day–a visceral reaction to him running into the street. In the heat of the moment, I grabbed his arm and struck his butt. I can clearly remember the look on his face: confusion, anger, and betrayal. I instantly justified the choice in my mind because this is what parents are supposed to do, right? Tough love, even when it feels wrong?

I had heard “this hurts me more than it hurts you” enough to actually believe it. So, even though every fiber of my being hated it, a standard was set, and I continued to physically discipline my son.

His behavior didn’t improve by spanking. In fact, it worsened. My boy was physically escalating conflicts, and one particular day, he lashed out and hit his little sister. I was so horrified that my son would do that, and I raised my voice to let him know it.

“We do NOT hit in this family, son. You know better!”

With tears in his eyes, my son gritted his teeth and yelled back, “But Mommy, you hit me!”

My son was right…and it broke my heart. That was the first time I was confronted with the logical fallacy of spanking. I comforted my son until he scampered back to whatever toy he had been playing with, but for the rest of the day there was a heavy feeling in my gut, and growing conviction that what I had done to my child was wrong. Deeply wrong.

That evening, when my husband got home, we had a long heart-to-heart. Even though we were both raised in spanking households, it wasn’t something we intended to do with our own children. Spanking was something we fell into by default, because we never had another game plan. After a long discussion, we discovered that it never felt right for either of us and that, in fact, we both felt it was abusive. We were heartbroken, and committed to doing better.

We spent that evening researching the long-term impacts of different forms of discipline, something we both wish we had done sooner. We discovered that the scientific community agrees that spanking is not only ineffective, but also harmful. That the large body of evidence proves that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting, and other means of causing pain — can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, and even mental health problems for children.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, knowing that you’ve harmed your child in a very real way. Especially when you thought that what you were doing was for their benefit. I always assumed that my cultural and moral justifications for spanking were enough. But the whole premise fell apart when I looked at physical punishment, logically. Later that evening, I stumbled across an anonymous quote that put all of my feelings about spanking into words. It simply said this:

“Is the child old enough to understand reason? Yes? Then reason with them. No? Then they’re not old enough to understand why you’re spanking them.”

The truth is, it never made sense to hit my child; it was just something I had always known. And well, “my parents did it” isn’t a very good justification for abuse.

My husband and I agreed, it was time to break the cycle.

That evening, I tip-toed into my son’s room and kissed his forehead. He was already asleep, and though his cheeks had thinned significantly over the years, he still had that cherub-like appearance I remembered from his newborn days. I ran my fingers through his curly hair and leaned in to whisper in his ear.

“I promise you, son. Mommy will never lay a hand on you, again.”

And this time, I kept my promise.

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