Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Help Refugees While You Shop

Americans and Syrian refugees
are experiencing two very different types
of camp-outs this Black Friday.
The shopping season is upon us. Coming up is our beloved Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Oh, and there's a massive refugee crisis happening that you can help with during any and all of those days.

Head to Made for Refugees, satisfy your shopping needs (or, more accurately, wants), score unique deals, and do your part to help those in need. It's a multi-fer! (That's like a two-fer but not.)

from the Made for Refugees Facebook page

From the site:

How does it work?
Very simple. Browse our shop. Purchase your items. When we receive the funds, we will donate them in their entirety to the International Rescue Committee.

Oh, and did I mention I'm one of the makers? I am. Check me out. I don't have a lot of disposable income, but I have a strong desire to help those in need, a crafty inclination, and a friend who has friends, so I got to be involved. And now you do, too. Lucky you!

The IRC was carefully chosen and vetted by the Made for Refugees founders, but please feel free to check them out on Charity Navigator (which I recommend doing for all your charities). You'll see they have top status, so your money will be going to all the right places.

Maybe you're an early bird, like me, who has all their holiday shopping completed. (Way to be!) You can still help by donating at the bottom of the Made for Refugees website through your PayPal and/or sharing this blog post encouraging your friends and family to shop and share along with the #madeforrefugees hashtag. Oh, and don't forget to like their Facebook page, too!

It's hard to see the travesty going on around us and feel helpless as so many struggle. We can't all do the big stuff, but we can and should do what we can with what we have. This is our little way of helping.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rage: The Unspoken Symptom of Postpartum Depression

I remember vividly the day I finally learned that rage is a symptom of PPD. I read an article posted by a favorite FB page of mine and it was like the clouds parted and angels sang on high. Until then, I had NO idea that my rage was a result of anything other than my husband being an asshole. Or was he? Was anything as asshole-y as I thought? I couldn't have PPD. I mean, I was so blissfully enamored with my son. I didn't feel sad, cry uncontrollably, feel apathy toward or want to hurt my son. I was pissed off, though. I could've cheerfully choked out my husband most days of the week for the better part of a year. Now, in fairness, this was not the first period of time I was miffed at my husband and it was surely not going to be the last, but my feelings during this time were not the same. The intensity of the rage I felt for him was terribly real and strong.

Upon researching this finding further, I decided to head to a therapist. After the first session, she diagnosed me with both PPD and PPA (postpartum anxiety, which is also not talked about nearly enough) and suggested I talk to my doctor about getting a prescription for meds to help while we continued with talk therapy.

The effects of the Zoloft were almost immediate. No longer did I feel violent urges which I painfully admit I sometimes acted out on in a way I could not control at the time. No longer did I feel inexplicably furious the moment my husband walked in the door after work and every time I saw his face or even thought of him in the other room. The black cloud lifted from me and it was glorious.

Unfortunately, it took longer for it to lift from our marriage. The effects of my PPD on my husband have taken years to heal and fade. Still, there are times when he struggles with wrapping his brain around my rage being an effect of an illness as opposed to me just having been a terrible person.

We must speak about this. It's a silent symptom not because it doesn't present itself, but because we're more ashamed of it than we are of the other symptoms...and that's saying something, since PPD is still seen as shameful, thus we're silent about it. If you're feeling rage during the postpartum period, you are not alone. I am here as a testament to that. I am also here to tell you that there is help. You are not a bad person, you can get relief, you are not being judged.

I ask you to share this far and wide. I ask this not as a means of self-promotion, but in effort to spread the word, to get it out there to that one person who is on the brink of destruction because she doesn't know what she doesn't know. Help her. You can help her.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: Sex is a Funny Word

First things first: GET THIS BOOK.

Ok, now, let me back up a bit and tell you why.

Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU
covers the basics. By basics, I mean such crucial topics as:

- consent
- trust
- masturbation
- secret touch
- sex vs. gender
- respect
- and so much more!

What it doesn't cover is the mechanics of a penis entering an orifice or other forms of copulation. There is another book that came before this called What Makes a Baby? that covers reproduction and a book that will come after which is set to cover intercourse. Without even having to read them, I'm already recommending them. This book is so superb, I'm giving the authors a recommendation on any book they've ever written or will write just because of it.

There are precious few hard and fasts in this text. "There are many ways to be a boy or a girl. For most of us, words like boy and girl, or man and woman, feel okay, and they fit. For some of us, they don't." They then go on to discuss being called a boy, but feeling like a girl, vice-versa, feeling like neither or both, feeling unsure, and just being all right with who you are. Sweet fancy Francis, thank you for this book!

One of the only things they write about for which there is no bend is "secret touching." "Secret touching might feel good like helping touch or bad like hurting touch. It might feel strange or weird or scary, or it may just leave you with questions. But one way you can tell it's wrong is that the person doing it makes you keep it a secret." Me likey.

Everything is frank and direct, which is exactly what I like. "Some people use the term private parts to describe parts of the body that have to do with sex. Because any part of your body can be private, in this book we don't call them your private parts. We call them your middle parts, because they are in the middle part of your body. Just because we choose to keep our middle parts private and covered most of the time doesn't mean they are bad." No shame. You will find absolutely zero shame in this book. Hallelujah!

I could go on, gushing over the stellar quality of the words, message, tone, and graphics on each and every page, I could go on quoting all the fantastic excerpts, but I'd simply end up giving you the entirety of the book, which might peeve the authors ever-so-slightly, so I'll leave you, once again, with a link to the book HERE. Get it. Get it and encourage your library to get it, as well, because this book needs to be in every child's hands post haste.

If all of this isn't enough to convince you, just check out my 4-year-old son reading it to himself after I read it to him the first time and started the second round until my throat literally got sore from reading aloud so much in one sitting. If that isn't high praise, I don't know what is.

Got questions? Hit me.

Review: Baby Foot

A friend of mine posted pictures of herself going through the Baby Foot process and I immediately knew I just HAD to have it, do it, love it, roll around naked in it (ok, maybe not that last part, although.......). She was thoughtful enough to post "warnings" to those in her feed, in case they'd be too grossed out to look at her photos. I will do no such thing. If you read my blog or are my friend (hopefully, there's some overlap there, although, again.......), you already know I'm going to be nothing but honest and direct with my review and my experiences.

As such, let's get started. My Baby Foot arrived on Saturday via Amazon and I wasted no time in getting it on. The instructions are straightforward, the application is easy, and the bonus is that you get one hour of down time. Three-fer! The instructions mentioned that you might want to wear socks over the booties and I chose to do so, because the booties are fairly loose themselves and I wanted all the goodness making as much contact with my skin as possible, so socks went on, too, and the fit was much more snug. I waited my hour, I washed my feet with warm water and soap, then I waited. Given my level of patience, the waiting part was the hardest by far. I pestered my friends (I later found that a second friend is currently in the process just about 6 days ahead of me) shamelessly about how much longer I needed to wait to start seeing results and then whined like a newborn puppy when it wasn't happening NOW.

Well, the day I've been waiting for has finally arrived! It's day 5 of the process and day 1 of the peeling. Here's what I'm looking at:

After this: nada. All progress halted. A week and a half later, I did another treatment, because I simply refuse to be the ONE rare case that showed no effects. I need my peels, damn it!

Second treatment: still nothing.  What. the. hell?  Now, I was both pissed and resolved.

I ordered two more boxes. I WILL PEEL. Seriously, at this point, I was bordering on obsessed. It wasn't healthy. I know.

Treatment number three: rousing success! Huzzah! This time, I not only soaked my feet for the hour a day they suggest, rather I put a pot of water down in front of the couch and every time I sat, I soaked. Every. single. day. For, like, five days in a row. And POOF! Peel they did! Finally! And it was glorious. Glorious, I say! It was every disgustingly satisfying pimple popping, cyst-bursting, skin peeling video I've ever watched all on my own two tootsies. Oh, Mama!

Then, I couldn't stop. The first (well, third) try was so good, I had to have more. MORE! So, I did my fourth treatment another two weeks after that. MORE PEELING! MORE SATISFACTION! MORE GROSS-FACTOR!!!

I've stopped...for now. I'm not going to show you the picture of my smooth feet. A) They're just feet and it's hard to see how smooth they feel, so it'll have to suffice to say that they are smoother than my son's feet. I cannot stop feeling them. It's like that feeling the day after you get a wax or when you first get your braces off. You know the feeling. So good. B) Nobody really wants to see the smooth result anyway, right? You really just wanted to see the peely-grody-ick shots. I'm onto you. You're so gross.

Final word: GET BABY FOOT! Get it, use it, try to have a healthier relationship with it than I have. (I'm off to order my next box. Oh, shush.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Maple Holistics Conditioner and Lip Balm

You know one of my biggest principles on this blog and in my life is honesty, so I'll be no less than brutally honest about these products from Maple Holistics.

Let me start with the Argan Oil Conditioner.  Overall, I'd rate it a 7 out of 10.  There are so many factors outside of the control of Maple Holistics, though, that go into this rating.  My hair is uber-thick, curly, and dry.  There are two conditioners I've ever truly loved and I have tried a LOT in my quest to tame my mane.  Given my hair, I need conditioner that forms "stiff peaks" when squeezed into my hand.  This conditioner formed "soft peaks," which puts it leaps and bounds above the other "raw egg, no peaks" brands I've had the misfortune of trying.  I truly believe that without hair like mine, hair that has led to the nickname "Mu" (short for Mufasa) being bestowed upon me, you'll enjoy the product.  So, bad news: not so perfect for my hair.  Good news: totally worth a shot for yours.

Now, the lip balm is a whole other Oprah.  This stuff makes me want to buy stock in the company.  It makes me want to slather over my whole body and run through the rain naked while clicking my heels.  From the moment I tried it, I was in love.  It has the perfect glide-stick ratio.  It's not too glossy, not too waxy.  And the scent is heavenly.  It's lasting power is perfection and it doesn't make for icky kisses, which brings me to my next point.  My 4-year-old son has also fallen in love.  "Mama, you like to share with me" is what he says right before he's about to steal it.  I accidentally made the mistake of letting my mom try it and she almost confiscated, too.  We all need the Acai Berry Natural Lip Balm.  All of us!  NEEEEED!  I thought I lost it on vacation last week and I almost wept.  I almost don't want to write about it, because I fear that I'll try to order some and it'll be sold out.  (That's giving my blog a WHOLE lot of undue credit for readership, though, so I think I'll be safe.)  Get this.  Seriously.  Get it.  You're welcome.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: "It Works!" Wrap (aka "That Crazy Wrap Thing")

As my cousin said, "Wrap yourself in thirty $1 bills and
you'll get the same results."
I thought long and hard about writing this review, because it seems like every other person I know online sells them and I'm bound to offend at least a fair percentage of them. I've never shied away from truth for my readers before, though, so here goes nothin'.

Several months ago, I was given a free wrap in exchange for hosting an online informational session. I was dubious, but treated it like a science project. I had seen vast quantities of "before and after" photos that seemed to show drastic differences, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Upon getting my wrap, I read all instructions carefully and got to work. I tried it on my chin area, because it was as good a place as any and the distributor said it would work as well there as any other place. I was asked to check in regularly with her to update her on my progress. Suffice it to say, after the first message to say that I did it, I didn't initiate contact with her again, because "progress" was not something I was noticing.

Snotty ecard made by wrap-pushers
who don't quite get science yet.
Truth be told, because I had no expectations, I had no feelings about it not working. She, however, was miffed and got quite pushy. Clearly, it was user error. Well, let me back up a bit. In reading the instructions, I noticed that it included copious amounts of notes on diet and lifestyle changes. I didn't do those. If you're running a science experiment, you can't change several of the variables at once to determine which created the change, you have to change one at a time. If I start drinking vast quantities of water, cut down on caloric intake, and increase exercise, I'm sure to see results, but I'm not sure (in fact, I am sure, but I'm throwing them a bone here) whether it was the wrap or the other modifications to my life. So, I did the wrap and only the wrap. Science works. The wrap doesn't.

If the only way this sucker creates weight loss and body reshaping is by following its instruction to change ones diet and movement, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're wasting your money. Save your cash on the wrap (and myriad other gimmicky pills and supplements they also try to push), get a good reusable water bottle, sports bra, and pair of tennies and skip the wrap. Or be happy with your body as it is. Whatever you want, as long as it is what you want, not what someone else wants based on their beauty standards.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Lesson in Customer Service for Marcy's Diner

I'm going to approach this whole Marcy's Diner ridiculousness from another angle. Sure, there's the whole childism aspect, but those in Zen Parenting-esque circles have done this to death. Besides that, we're preaching to the choir. None of her throngs of supporters give a gnat's eyelash about kids, as demonstrated by their myriad brilliant comments and I'm too tired of asinine people to worry about trying to educate them. So, let's chat about customer service instead.

Among other things, I have a strong background in customer service and public relations. I have worked in those areas and been educated in them for years. I can speak with 100% confidence when I say that the owner of this family eatery did everything WRONG when it comes to customer service and public relations. Everything. E V E R Y T H I N G.

Good customer service is scarce enough these days. That as many people are supporting her as is the case, supporting that piss-poor customer service blows me away. And yet... I mean, folks, don't wonder why you get such awful customer service yourself when you support it for others. Don't once complain about a bad experience at a store, on the phone, or in a restaurant again, because you're all out there supporting that same crappy service for other people.

You know what, don't take my word for it. Let's look at some (more) pro words of wisdom. says that there are 10 rules for stellar customer service:

1) Commit to quality service. Nope. Per her own words, she snaps at kids who displease her with their kidness and has no problem with screaming at them. This is not a first. She's committed to something, but not quality service. Or, perhaps that shows a need to be committed......

2) Know your products. In this case, her product is food. If she can't handle a short stack of pancakes, it's pretty clear she doesn't know anything about her product or business.

3) Know your customers. If you'd like an adult only establishment, perhaps go into a more fine dining business. If you're a down-and-dirty, cash only, family diner, you're going to get kids. If you want to know about kids, you might wish to take a couple classes on child development. Then take a class or twelve on customer service itself, because customers like being treated nicely. Weird, huh?

4) Treat people with courtesy. She doesn't even think she's done this. I mean, do I really need to break this one down for anyone?

5) Never argue with a customer. Ummmmm.......

6) Don't leave the customers in limbo. Again, if you can't handle a short stack, maybe it's time to hire some help or, if that's no possible, at least communicate with the customer so they know what kind of wait they're in for.

7) Always provide what you promise. Pancakes. Pancakes in a timely manner. If someone asked for this at Fry's Electronics, that would be silly, of course, but I don't think it's out of bounds to expect a few of them on a Saturday morning at your local diner.

8) Assume customers tell the truth. I'm directing this to loyal Marcy's supporters. There's not a big reason for the parents to lie about this. There would be a reason for the owner to lie, but, as outlined above and below, her customer service skills are so lacking that she doesn't even care that people know how horrid she is. And, sadly, you all back her up. Again, don't be surprised when you cross her. Nobody's going to feel sorry for you then.

9) Focus on customers, not sales. People are loyal to you. Their money follows those loyal people. The funny thing about customer service is that good service will spread via word of mouth to just a couple people, BUT poor service will spread like wildfire. It may not seem fair, but it's reality, so you better be on point with those people who have no problem telling their friends when you're not.

10) Make it easy to buy. The best servers will always offer to put the kids' orders in first and tell the cooks to rush it. Why? Kids are kids. That means that they're sometimes impatient, irrational, and just plain pissy, especially when they're hungry. Want to circumvent a problem with the aforementioned? Get those orders out to them stat. Make it easy for the kids, the parents, and, in turn, the other customers and yourself.

You may weather this storm, Marcy's. It is guaranteed, though, that if you continue to bring the rain upon yourself, you won't be in business for the long-term. Customers quit. Word of mouth spreads. People matter. All people. are people, too.