Birth Story – Ava Piper

Ava's 1st photo shoot!


Ava Piper 7/26/2009 Mommy and Ava, 1st night together






Pregnancy –

I am a very organized person so of course about 6 months prior to planning to try to conceive, I met with my doctor (family doc not OB) and asked her what I should be doing to prepare my body and when I should go off the pill in order to conceive the month that I had planned.  Well, I decided to go off the pill in April of 2008 hoping to get pregnant by June in hopes of having an April baby.  One thing I did not expect was that my body did not cooperate immediately; my cycle did not begin until July, thus I did not get pregnant by June.  By June I was beginning to freak out thinking that something was wrong with me.  I took several pregnancy tests thinking that maybe I was already pregnant.  No such luck.  It turns out, my body just takes a little while to adjust from the hormones.  By August I was really frustrated and sad so I bought a puppy, which was not the smartest thing I have ever done because he was not potty trained until recently (December 2010) due to lack of energy and motivation on my part.  I digress; I found a few websites that helped to track my cycle and found some ovulation detectors and pregnancy tests that were quite inexpensive.  I began using the family planning method in order to become pregnant…and it worked!! I believe we conceived on Halloween of 2008! Immediately I was reading books and searching the internet for everything I could find on pregnancy and babies.


I called my doctor and confirmed my pregnancy at 8 weeks.  She referred me to an OB friend of hers and I had another appointment at 10 weeks with the new OB who used an ultrasound to determine the due date.  I was so excited and nervous all at the same time and had certain expectations of my new Doctor.  So when she walked in and said “Hi, my name is …” “Who’s this guy?”  I was a little caught off guard.  My husband was standing near me with his work jacket on.  My first thought was “You idiot, didn’t you read my chart?” Luckily, my husband has a sense of humor and said “Hi, I’m the Cable Guy, I’m here for the show” and laughed it off.  I was a little peeved and decided not to let that ruin what I was expecting to be more exciting than it had been so far.  So I got the ultrasound and the doctor told me my baby was due 7/27/09, I was bummed already because the internet estimated 7/21/09…oh well, I was having a baby!  I forgot to mention my appointment had already been cancelled and rescheduled twice that day which added to my frustration. Meanwhile the doctor was a little energetic and she kept buzzing around the little room we were in telling me to go off my prenatal vitamins that I had been on for over a year without any problems, telling me how to get ahold of her in an emergency, telling me what I could not eat, and all within a very short time. I felt like I should have been taking notes; she was talking so fast and continued to buzz around the room.  She kept saying “Hmm, is there anything else I should tell you?” Like I would know…  So, that experience made me question whether I should seek a new doctor but I kept my appointments for a short time until I heard from a CPS worker friend of mine who told me a few horror stories about this person.  I immediately switched doctors, and thus hospitals.  Unfortunately, I had to see all 5 doctors in the practice because I was a new patient.  I ended up liking two of them but they were hard to schedule with.  I saw them most of the time but the doctor who ended up delivering my sweet little Ava was the doctor I absolutely hated.  In the one and only appointment I had with him I expressed my desire to have a natural birth without drugs and told him my fears of C-sections.  He replied very matter of factly “If you need a C-section, you will have a C-section, and you will just have to deal with it” needless to say I was taken aback by his purposeful statement and lack of consideration for my uneasiness with the whole procedure.  I swear my husband was holding me down in the chair because I felt the urge to fly across the room and strangle him.  So that flashed through my head in the delivery room.  Otherwise, my pregnancy was fairly uneventful which was a good thing.  I was constantly concerned about gaining too much weight and exercising as to prepare for the duration of labor while also hoping that it would assist in my efforts to lose the baby weight after delivery.

Ava’s birth –

My due date fell on a Monday and no baby.  By Thursday I convinced myself that I was in labor even though my Braxton hick’s contractions were not too uncomfortable.  They were less than 5 minutes apart but not extremely painful.  I told myself that maybe I just had a high pain tolerance – yeah right.  So I called the doctor’s office around 4pm (their closing time) and the nurse instructed me to come in. As soon as we got there, the nurse took one look at me and said “You aren’t in labor, you look to comfortable”.  She was right; I was still dilated to 2 and effaced 95%.  I had been effaced 95% for like a month and dilated to two just as long.  Oh, and one of the doctors told me my daughter would be born before 4th of July so I got really excited – she was 6 days late! So much for that prediction.  The fourth of July would have made her 3 weeks early.


Actual labor felt like period cramps to me so I disregarded them.  I thought I was constipated and bloated so I didn’t really think anything of it.  It was a Saturday and I was getting a head-start on my birth announcements. I make my own greeting cards and I thought this would be a great way to announce my daughter’s birth.  I remember talking to my mom during the day too and she mentioned that I should start keeping track of the cramps.  At about 6pm, I decided to go for a walk because the cramps were steady and ranging from 6 to 8 minutes apart.  It was a really nice sunny day and a lot of my neighbors were outside so I stopped to chat with them and casually mentioned I thought I was in labor so I was walking to see if the cramps would continue or go away.  I think I freaked most of them out because I was walking alone but I only went a mile very close to home and surrounded by neighbors that knew me.  I also called my dad to let him know I thought I was in labor during my walk so he wouldn’t leave town as he had planned.  My husband had consequently decided to take a nap just in case and when he noticed I wasn’t home in my normal 20-30 minute walk time frame he started to worry.  I was in the backyard talking with a neighbor that was kind of funny.  We ate dinner and I became increasingly more uncomfortable around 8pm.  I kept going to the bathroom because I thought I had to poop but when I sat down I didn’t go and it hurt to push.  I started pacing around the house, I couldn’t sit, or lie down, or relax at all.  The contractions were pretty steady at 5 minutes apart. 

We left the house around 9:45pm and got checked into the hospital by 10:30pm.  I was told to get to the hospital early so I could get the antibiotics for the Group B strep.  The nurses almost didn’t admit me because I was only dilated to 3 and when they hooked me up to the monitor the nurse told me “if your body doesn’t start showing some harder contractions, we might send you home and you can come back”.  I think something clicked at that point between my brain and my body because she came back 3 minutes later and I was having some very strong contractions.  They started the IV and it took them at least an hour or longer to get the whole process done and over with, they couldn’t find m initially wanted a water birth so this was the next best thing.  I was in there for less than 2 hours and during that time I dilated from 3 to 8! I was so excited but I didn’t want to get out of the Jacuzzi.  I did bump the back of my head against the side of the tub during a contraction. 

As a side note, I was making really crazy comments during my labor.  I noticed a sign in the bathroom about abuse put out by the Women’s Resource Center and I recognized the number first because I am a social worker and had called it several time for referrals.  Well I said “that must be from the Women’s Resource Center, I call that number all the time” and the nurse was standing right outside the bathroom door.  Later, after I had my daughter a CPS worker called me to verify some information in my case notes and I checked the number on the phone and said “oh, it’s just CPS, I’ll call them later” and of course, the nurse was standing in the doorway of my room.  I felt the need to explain myself to the next nurse to prevent a social work referral that was un-needed.

Back to my labor – So I got out of the Jacuzzi and was placed in bed on my back.  The worst position for birthing.  They also tried putting me on my side to push and it just wasn’t working for me.  I thought it was funny that they kept asking me “do you want to try pushing while on your side?”, all I could say was “I don’t know” because I didn’t even know if I could manage to move at that point.  I was in so much pain and I thought for sure the blueberries and cottage cheese I ate earlier was going to come back up.  Yuck.  Luckily the nurse reminded me to breathe and that helped a lot.  The doctor was called and I started pushing shortly after.  I pushed for 2 ½ hours!  When I saw the doctor arrive, of course it was the doctor I hated as I mentioned earlier.  So, in my head, I was telling myself “maybe he’s not the one, maybe it was the other guy” mostly to keep my cool and prevent myself from worrying.  He broke what was left of my water bag and I began the pushing marathon.  It must have been a change of shift at one point during this time because another nurse came in and the one I had in with me told the new nurse “she just needs to learn how to push”.  I was so pissed, I was thinking “wait til I push this baby out and then I’m going to push my foot up you’re a**!”.  Again, I brushed it off.  Then the ring of fire came and it scared me so I backed off on the push and the nurse scolded me and asked why I backed off.  I couldn’t answer her clearly, all I could say was “I don’t know” I wish I would have had someone there to guide me through and tell me that was normal.  So, more pushing and still no baby.  I kept telling myself “just one more push, you can do it” probably because the doctor kept saying it.  So eventually I started telling myself “maybe he meant one more after the last one”.  Eventually my contractions stopped altogether but I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid to have a C-section especially after all that work.  I took a mini break and then pushed with all that I had, after about two of those mini breaks I had my little girl all slimy and beautiful at 4:50am. 

The doctor put her in my arms and I kissed her yucky little forehead.  I was able to hold her for about 2 minutes before they swept her away from me even though I specifically said I wanted them to clean her up while she was laying on me and allow us to have skin to skin contact for as long as possible.  The started cleaning her and weighing her and I remember yelling at my husband to get the video camera and take footage of the whole thing because I was totally out of it.  Apparently I had lost a lot of blood and a lot of fluids.  The staff looked worried and I briefly remember hearing something about my blood pressure being low (it’s always low).  The doctor wasted no time before her reached his gigantic (felt like) arm up into my womb and pulled out the placenta – thanks for allowing my body to work on its own.  And then he gave me a shot before sewing up my tear.  I never was told how big it was or how many stitches but my husband said it was really bad.  He wasn’t going to watch but said that he had a hard time taking his eyes off the whole process.  I was pumped with Pitocin while they were stitching me and encouraged to drink orange juice and water.  It took 2 hours before I was allowed to be transferred to the recovery room.  They told me I was grey and didn’t look well.  Well, they were right I was exhausted and went through trauma.  I could barely sit up, let alone stand up to get into the wheel chair. 

My dad and stepmom had waited all  night in the waiting room even though I told them not to.  They were so excited I think they forgot.  I hardly remember their visit because I was so exhausted.  I had the hospital bed almost completely reclined.  I look like a dying person in the photos.  Everyone was taking turns holding my daughter and all I wanted to do was hold her and snuggle.  I did get to hold her in the delivery room before they transferred me but I hardly remember that.  The nurses continually checked my blood pressure and I actually had to stay an extra day because it was still so low.  On the day they released me it was something like 82 over 54.  I kind of wish they would have told me how low it got earlier just to have a comparison.  I also forgot to use the bathroom after giving birth.  It was noon before I realized that I hadn’t peed since about midnight when I got into the Jacuzzi.  When two nurses helped me stand up I wasn’t prepared for a lot of fluids to fall out of my body.  I made such a mess and I was so embarrassed. 

Ava slept quite a bit on her birthday and screamed all night.  I didn’t sleep at all during the day because I had a lot of visitors and was excited to show off my perfect little angel.  My husband had to go home to care for our pets and he had to work the next day before his time off begun.  So I was left alone in the hospital to care for a screaming baby. I was determined not to allow my newborn to begin the pattern of sleeping with me because I thought behavior patterns would start right away.  I continually checked her diaper, tried to feed her and wrap her snuggly but once I set her back in the bassinet she would scream. It took 3 hours before the nursing staff came in to check to see if we were alright.  I was kind of angry because I thought that they would have come in sooner than that if they were so worried about my blood pressure.  I started using my alarm button more frequently after that.  The nurse suggested that I allow Ava to sleep next to me and it worked.  We snuggled the rest of the night but I still didn’t sleep because the bed was so uncomfortable and I was worried about rolling over on my little girl.  That was the beginning of almost 9 months of co-sleeping (I do not regret, by the way).  The next night I asked the nurse to take Ava for a couple hours so I could sleep and they took her for an hour before bringing her back.  Did they really think I slept during that time? 

Although I consider this a tragic birth event, the outcome is my beautiful baby girl.  I learned a lot about what I will change next time around and I learned that birthing a child is such an intimate event and I really need people around me who I trust to coach me in ways that my husband isn’t prepared for.  He was just as traumatized from witnessing the event.  Next time will be very different.  Ava’s birth will always be special but only because I have her to show for the challenges I faced.  I also have to say that I did not realize how significant the events that occurred in my birth experience were until I started talking to other moms about their birth experiences.  Most of them felt sorry for me when I thought most women endured similar challenges.  I knew childbirth was supposed to be difficult but it shouldn’t be too much to ask to be respected and treated with consideration and thoughtfulness.


Cuppy Cake Song ~ we love it

I thought I would share one of the cutest songs that I sing to my daughter every day at bedtime and naptime.  Im not sure if I love it more than she does but it’s part of our ritual.  My mom introduced the song to me over Thanksgiving in 09 when my daughter was 4 months old.  We have been singing it ever since I learned the words.  For all of you who want to learn the song I will post the words below even though the youtube video shows the words during the song.  I’ve relayed the song to so many of my friends, I thought this might be easier.  Enjoy!

You’re my honey-bunch, sugar-plum, pumpy-umpy-umpkin,

You’re my sweetie-pie.

You’re my cuppy-cake, gum-drop, schnookum’s schnookum’s,

You’re the apple of my eye.

And I love you so, and I want you to know, that Ill always be right here.

And I love to sing, sweet songs to you, because you are so dear.

Well Baby check-ups… what purpose does it serve?

This could possibly become controversial I suppose but here we go anyway.

My daughter has her 18 month Well-Baby Checkup tomorrow and I started contemplating the purpose of this visit.  My daughter is very healthy and is exceeding expectations in development in every catagory. I will be refusing vaccinations at this visit.  So, with that said, what is the purpose of these visits if your child is healthy and on track developmentally.

I have a background of social work, as most of my regular readers might know, so I am familiar with developmental milestones and proper care of a child.  I can understand the purpose of these checkups for those who feel the need to vaccinate and are not as familiar with how to gauge developmental milestones.   When my daughter was younger, I was eager to go to these appointments to see how much she grew and I did have a few questions early on but not so much anymore.  I can weigh my daughter and measure her at home just as well, if not better than the nurses have done thus far.  I have to say, I feel like I waste a lot of time in the waiting room and waiting in the office to see the doctor just to tell me everything I already know. 

I know I sound skeptical of medical care but I think I am to an extent.  I recently spent a lot of time chatting with a group of people who dont vaccinate and who dont utilize doctors for well-baby checkups.  I never asked if they use a naturopathic doctor or if they just skip the check ups all together.  I would be interested in feedback on this topic…just for more education and perspectives.

Our First Birthing Story – Amber aka Pandapanda

Thank you Amber for being so brave and being the first to share your story!


My name is Amber, and I gave birth to my first son on 7/25/10.  

3:28am Sunday July 25th, 2010

    I awoke from a solid sleep, at first confused and disoriented. I began to roll over and slide out of bed when I felt the tightness and dull ache in my belly. There was no mistaking it, after weeks of doubt and prodromal labor. I laid back down to take advantage of any rest I could get before my contractions kicked in- this was going to be a life changing day. After what felt like a minute of sleep, I woke at 4:30am feeling the same pain I had felt before with more intensity and pressure. This was it, I knew. I got up to shower, with the help of my husband. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I had seen an obstetrician who had implanted in my mind that since I was petite with narrow hips, that I would not be able to birth this child if I went past 37 weeks. Today I was 40 weeks and 2 days. This idea came into my head and had me in a panic. My husband called my midwife about an hour after we had been awake. My contractions were a few seconds shy of two minutes and were coming every five to twelve minutes. Her voice was so calming so relaxed. She told me not to come until 4pm or when my contractions were two minutes apart. Over the next few hours I moaned, took warm showers, and did my best to keep moving. It took intense physical, emotional, and mental control to not fight my body when a contraction came. 3:30pm came and I couldn’t take the intensity of the contractions. I did some aggressive convincing of my husband and we were out the door. I don’t remember the beginning of the car ride to the hospital, only the part where traffic backed up for 15 miles leaving us with no alternate route for our trip. I hit transition while we were in the car, in 104 degree heat. Our AC went out at this point, so I drifted off into my own world and imagined sun basking on a beach. During this time I didn’t feel the rushes of contractions and I became so silent that my husband began to worry. Poor thing.

    When I next opened my eyes we had arrived and my husband was helping me out of the car. I waddled across the parking lot and into the building, catching many stares from strangers. I didn’t think it was funny at the time, but a full term pregnant woman (whom looks like she is smuggling a bowling ball) speed walking through the hospital must have been at least a little bit interesting to watch. When we turned the corridor into the Labor and Delivery unit, it took one look at me for the nurses to begin scrambling to get my room together. My midwife came to me in my room, while I was resting on the bed while my birthing tub was filled. She asked to check me. I was 8-9cms with a bulging bag of water. My nurses and midwife (we’ll call her Blanche) were amazed at how far along I was with this being my first birth. Blanche held my hand and reassured me that I was doing a good job and that she was proud of my determination to bring this child into the world naturally. She guided me into the next room where my birthing tub awaited me. I was so unable to focus that my husband undressed me while my midwife supported me. The best part of the actual labor process was when I first sat down in the tub and felt the warmth of the water, the water pressure relieving some of my discomfort. My husband put on swim trunks and got in with me. I let my body float and just let my body and the water work together to finish the transition. Hours later I had not progressed much because I was so exhausted. I hadn’t felt like eating all day. In fact, I had completely forgotten to eat or drink anything in the last fifteen hours. A nurse brought me some watered down apple juice and a few crackers. Shortly after eating, my labor kicked into high gear and I am certain this is because I needed nourishment. The biggest part of labor is having the fuel to run off of, and I had neglected this fact.

      I felt a sudden relief of pressure followed shortly by the most intense contraction of my entire labor. This one hurt. I knew than that my water had broken. My midwife came in and put on gloves just in time for me to tell her that the baby was almost crowning. Sure enough, within a minute his head was crowning- I did not appreciate comments about how little hair he had. The “ring of fire” as it is called is very accurately named. I took deep slow breaths while he crowned. I pushed and pushed for five minutes and my son did not budge. I recall saying “He’s stuck! I can’t get him out!”. Blanche thankfully trusted that I know my body and had me get on all fours. My son still didn’t budge, but the position change did turn him a little bit. I started to cry tears of frustration, and she instructed the nurses and my husband to gently lift me from the tub. As they lifted, his head slipped out. They laid me on the floor on my back and he rocketed out of the birth canal. The next few moments went in such slow motion that I will never forget them. Blanche placed him on my chest and I held him close, kissing his head and smelling his skin. Somewhere in the background I heard shocked labor attendants commenting on how big he was. They started to pat him and tried rubbing him, because he was not crying. This wasn’t necessary. He had lifted his head to look at me, eyes open and alert before placing his head down on my chest. My husband began to get teary eyes, as did I- this was such a beautiful moment that every time I think of it, I begin to cry. Elijah was 9lbs 5oz, 21″ at birth. The aforementioned obstetrician was so wrong. I gave birth naturally to a “large” baby with what I feel was ease. Shoulder dystocia aside, it was a perfect birth.

      There are a few things I feel are worth mentioning. Trusting your care provider, in my case a midwife, is a major factor in any birthing experience. On my forty week appointment two days before my birth, Blanche had told me, “Just wait it out, honey. I’m on call Sunday; you’ll be in labor then.” Sure enough, my labor began bright and early Sunday morning and I felt so at ease knowing Blanche would be attending my birth. There is only one thing I would change and that is: the number of people in my room while I was delivering. The nurses felt like they needed to instruct me on pushing and speak over my midwife and this caused unnecessary stress and frustration. In the future, I will make it clear that it is to be silent while I am pushing. I am a water birth fanatic, and all future births will be in a tub. My experience has pushed me to become a doula and water birth advocate in hopes that I can help other women have the birth they desire.

Posted with permission.  If you are interested in posting your birth story to this blog please contact us at for more details.

CASTING CALL: Birth Stories Wanted

Casting Call!  Birth Stories Wanted

I have a new project in mind.  I am hoping this project will one day turn into a book to be published…eventually.  In addition to the resource group my sister-in-law and I initiated for new moms (families) in Northern Michigan, I was hoping to incorporate a sharing of birth stories.  I hope that someday soon I will be able to hold meetings and explain the information packets we will create and possibly have guest speakers.  I was thinking that some of the guest speakers should be moms to share their birth stories.  This got me thinking after some encouragement from an informational interviewee to write a book.  I was totally intimidated by this but after thinking about it for a while, I feel like some kind of birth story collaboration would be an awesome resource for new parents.  I think hearing other women’s birth stories help us to prepare for our own experiences. 

My birth story is definitely what I imagined prior to the event but it is what it is and I am learning to accept what has happened.  I plan to post my own birth story soon to get things rolling.  I would love to have women who are passionate about this topic share their birth story if they feel comfortable making it public.  I completely understand those of you who would like to keep your birth story private because it is a very private, intimate event within the family. However, I do realize that many women are eager to share their stories.  So here is what I am looking for:


-Any mom wanting to share a birth event within the last 10 years (2000 cut off year)

-Share your story prenatally, your birth, or post-partum (or a combination)

-Please refrain from using Hospital names/Doctor’s Names etc. Any identifying information. I do not want to slander or advertise specific people or locations.

-If you use names please change them.  If you refer to the location please use a generic name like “doctor” or “hospital”. 

-Please spell check or give me permission to edit.  I will only edit spelling and grammar if I get this permission. If it is not grammatically correct, I will not post it.

-If you feel passionately about your birthing experience and it was longer than 10 years ago, I will consider publishing it.

-I would like to incorporate what you liked, what you didn’t like, what you would change if you could.

-I would also like to share experiences of different cultural practices.

-I would like to share experiences in the hospital, home births, natural births, cesareans, water births, birthing centers, etc. 

-A picture of your little one or your family can also be incorporated if you would like to attach a photo as well.

—If and when I decide to publish this information, I will need contact information including your name, address, phone number, contract/permission form signed, and possibly other information.  I have not written the contract at this time…coming soon.

At this time, please send an email of interest to; I will return your email and fill you in on more details and send you a contract/permission form to complete before publishing. 




Teenage pregnancy…epidemic or not?

This morning on my way to work I was listening to the radio and the hosts were discussing teenage pregnancy as an epidemic. I believe they stated that there were 90 teenagers in one school (Memphis, Tennessee)  this school year.  The radio show hosts were debating on whether these teen mom shows on television were contributing to the “epidemic” or not.  The female host was stating how she is more intimidated to have children now that she has seen some of the episodes of these shows.  The male host was talking about how he has heard that many teenage girls see this as an opportunity to audition to these teen mom shows and earn rediculous amounts of money to have their own segments. 

I tend to see both sides of most arguments so it can be challenging for me to have a strong opinions depending onthe subject.  I have personal experience as a mother (new mom at 27 years…almost 28), personal experience with friends who were teen moms, a sister who became a mom at 21, and experience working with teen moms as a social worker.  So, I have seen many differing viewpoints and situations. 

I have to say, I absolutely disagree with the exploitation of these teen moms on the television shows, not to mention the exploitation of their innocent newborns.  You cant even walk through a grocery store checkout lane without seeing a tabloid published about these youngsters and their problems.  If it werent for the tabloids, I wouldnt know who these girls were.  I think the temptation for these girls in trouble to put their name out there and earn boat loads of money for a television series is extremely tempting especially if they dont have a lot of earning potential (who does at 16?).  I dont think they can comprehend the challenges that comes with fame, let alone parenting. 

Speaking of parenting, I dont even think these teenagers are thinking about how they plan to parent these teenagers other than possibly financially supporting them with their fame.  My worries vary from whether I allow too much television during the day, what songs and books are appropriate for my daughters age, language used around her, appropriate toys, influences of the people around her…whether my parenting techniques are up to par…any Im a social worker by trade.   These young girls dont have a clue how difficult it is to be a new parent.  As an adult, I struggle to ask for help when I need it and when give in and ask, I feel guilty for feeling the need to have help.  If you cant support yourself you should not be having children. Okay, so I guess I have an opinion…

With that said, I do think that teenagers who are choosing to become parents, whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned must be treated as adults with dignity and offered solutions to help them make better informed decisions.  Just because they may make decisions that arent completely rational – remember teenagers brains are still forming and developing the reasoning portion – doesnt mean that we should condemn them to an eternal state of irresponsibility.  They can make good decisions with the right support system. 

I had another point to mention regarding planned and unplanned pregnancies.  While I think it is slightly resourceful (I still dont like it) for these girls to seek income opportunities when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, it is completely irresponsible for them to plan the pregnancy in order to become famous and be on one of the teen mom shows.  First of all, there is a limited number of positions that any television company is going to hire to be on the show and even if you apply for the show, it doesnt guarantee a position.  And, hello girls, there are 90 teens  in one school…have you heard of competition.  Whew!  Apparently I have a strong opinion.  I just really wish these girls would know the consequences of their actions and realize that they are completely giving up the freedom that comes with your younger years.  Once you have a child, your life should be devoted to nurturing that babe and making sure that you do everything in your power to reasonably and safely provide a healthy environment.  With that said, I will put this topic to rest. 

I hope I stirred some emotions and possibly some thoughts.  I do want to end with a clause – I think people are resilient and can bounce back from any obstacle in life (good or bad) and can create opportunities in life to provide healthy environments for their children.  I dont want to demonize teen pregnancy because some teens can be very responsible, it’s the piece of irresponsibility that really triggers me to be so passionate to advocate for children…okay, Im done.

Giveaway: Free Small Lunch Tote in Chains Ahoy


Keep beverages cold and sail away in style with our new Chains Ahoy Small Lunch Tote! Great for school or work lunches, car trips, picnics, boating, baby food…so many uses for one small tote! The free tote will not be personalized. It will be blank. Whether you’re looking for affordable, stylish, and functional products for your kids, your home, or your busy, on-the-go lifestyle, there’s something for everyone! Some of our items can be personalized with a name, monogram, or a saying to make them extra special. They make great unique gifts! Check out the catalog on

Special for January: Thermal Totes, regularly $14, now only $10 with $1.50 personalization. Small Lunch Totes, regularly $12.50, now only $8 with $1.50 personalization. Choose from any print in our current catalog or any of the new spring prints featured in the new spring catalog. You can find the new prints on Holly’s Thirty-One Facebook page under Photos. Love what you see and want it all? Host a catalog party! You could earn lots of great products for free!

Hostess special for January: Host a $350 party and you earn free products from the current fall/winter catalog AND after party bucks to spend in the new catalog coming out for spring! Holly’s Thirty-One Holly J. Kress, Independent Consultant website: e-mail: phone: (814)440-4080

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All entries will be processed through All entries must be submitted by 1/25/2011 at noon Eastern Standard Time Zone. US readers only please.

My Very First Giveaway!

This handsewn dark purple varigated in color posey is the perfect accent to any female’s hair.  I love to wear them with updo’s but they also work well to hold back flyaways.  The flower measure approximately 3.5” in diameter and is attached to an allegator clip with teeth.  I have found the allegator clip with teeth holds adult hair more securely than my basic allegator clips covered in satin ribbon with the non-slip foam (which work better for infant hair).  We recently had a bride wear a similar flower for her wedding with her hair pulled to the side at the nape of her neck and it looked absolutely amazing.

For each entry to be counted, please complete the form below with your id/username corresponding with each service in order to be identified. Thank you!

Mandatory Requirement: Go to and tell me your favorite item and why.  Also subscribe to my blog at the right.

Extra Entries:
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I will use to manage entries and this giveaway will end January 30th.  Winner will be announced with their website on this blog and will be contacted via email as soon as possible.  Hope you enjoy this giveaway. Open to U.S. readers only.

Scorpio…oops I mean Virgo…what?

So, now I feel kind of stupid posting my Scorpio horoscope outlook for 2011.  I checked out the horoscope change information on yahoo and apparently my sign has receeded two signs.  I went from Scorpio, skipped over Libra, and went back to a Virgo.  Hmm, I think I might have to post that outlook just for the sake of being accurate.  I did read the personality traits and they are quite accurate, however, I do feel slighted in the fact that I think the traits should adjust along with the signs if that’s how it works.  Its not like my personality has been altered because of the alignment in the universe.  Another disheartening change in the enlightenment of the signs changing is that I used to call my little girl “my little leo” and her sign changed too.  Im not going to start calling her “my little cancer”, that just sounds silly.  Her sign went back two signs as well.  It’s just wierd.  Anyway, here is my new sign outlook for 2011: Bring it on Virgo!

Horoscopes 2011 Yearly Horoscope for Virgo  provided by

2011 is all about showing Virgo the money. Being the bona fide workaholic of the zodiac, you have certainly earned your right to demand the six figures through long hours and heaps of your own blood, sweat and tears over the past several years. And you’ve certainly suffered enough losses and endured enough tests of faith in the financial department to prove your substance. As much as you get off on the occasional masochistic work jag, you can’t help but wonder when things are going to get easier. Well hang tight Virgin, because the bonus you so desperately need and deserve should arrive between March and June of 2011. A major conglomeration of fiery planets activates your sector of other people’s money, including the luckiest planet of them all — Jupiter. If that doesn’t bring some kind of windfall, loan or access to a serious line of credit you’re going about your business all kinds of wrong.

You’re also getting ready to shed some serious skin starting this March. With Uranus, the change god joining forces with Jupiter in your sector of psychological change: you’re preparing to face some serious skeletons in your psychic closet. Rather than applying your brilliant yet critical mind in assessing other people’s shortcomings, you’re ready to confront your own strengths and weaknesses on a new level. This year favors the clean slate approach to all matters of self-help, renewal and transformation of your personality. You’re leaving many aspects of your old self behind in order to become a better and more authentic version of who you really are.


Your love life is beyond rich and transformational again this year. After enduring a prolonged deprivation spell, where true love seemed like something that only happened to other people, your turn for real love has arrived. Chances are you’re already in the midst of a very soulful tryst that began last year. But if you happen to be one of the remaining diehard hermits, get ready to experience one of the most intense romantic encounters of your lifetime. Your birthday season tops the charts in garnishing romance and pleasure, so be sure to take some time off to properly enjoy the amorous gifts of Venus.

You’ve got two powerful planetary energies working to make your love life the stuff movies and dreams are made of (and for the long haul.) Neptune, the planet of dreams and soulful experience will take up residence in your relationship sector this April to bring you a preview of what’s to come for the next fourteen years in radically spiritualizing your relationships. And then Pluto, the god of the underworld continues the excavation begun in 2008 in your romance sector. Over the next 14 years you can count on Pluto to bring unparalleled intensity and reveal hidden aspects of your self through the vehicle of romance. Nothing light or frivolous anymore when it comes to love, Virgo. If it’s not a soul connection that will transform every fiber of your being, you’ll quickly lose interest.


Now that Chiron is finally coming out of your work sector this February after an extended seven-year saga of pushing every social insecurity button known to man, your work environment should be considerably less painful. If you’ve had trouble with co-workers or employees, you’ll finally feel like you’re getting some thicker skin compliments of Neptune moving out of your work sector between April and August. Use this planetary reprieve to take a more detached attitude towards all of the drama.

The absence of Chiron and Neptune in your work sector facilitates renewed confidence in your talents. You can stop second-guessing your skills and put more energy into furthering your assets. With a major eclipse pattern hitting your career sector in June, you can expect monumental changes to occur in your professional life between June and next January. This is the year for your hard work to pay off. Plus the lessons of compassion and heightened sensitivity you’ve learned over the past several years will only work to serve you in reading people’s subliminal motives and assess who is a true ally and who to avoid at all costs when doing business.

Between the end of January and June, Jupiter comes back to bless your sector of legacy and other people’s money. You’ll likely be gifted with a considerable karmic jackpot in the form of a donation, gift, inheritance or loan. Do you still have issues receiving? Now is not the time to look any gift horses in the mouth Virgo. You’ve more than paid your dues with the amount of free help, guidance and other such service and now it’s your time to receive and replenish the well.

The Perfect Yoga Workout

 I just finished this workout and I completely forgot how much I enjoyed it.  For awhile I had been doing the yoga and pilattes workouts on FitTv and while I enjoyed them I havent actually completed a yoga workout in a very long time.  I think it may have been last year around this time which, for me, is pathetic.  Maybe Im being too hard on myself because I tend to enjoy high intensity aerobics more than any other workout because I can feel the burn, the exhaustion, the sweat, while I engage in that form of exercise.  With yoga and and floor pilattes I tend to think of them as passive exercise because I don’t often sweat.  I think I need to change my thought patterns because I feel incredible after The Perfect Yoga Workout.  I selected the “fat burning YOGA” episode and I was definately sweating and my muscles were completely engaged.  I also feel calm and at peace with the world around me.  Let me explain that the world around me consists of laundry that needs to be folded,  a toddler play area in disarray, dishes that need to be done, and so on.  Dispite my household duties being neglected, I feel calm and peaceful in large thanks to this workout. 

I really like the instructor in this video as well.  Most of the instructors to other videos I find very obnoxious with thier fake soothing voices and tendencies.  Sarah Ivanhoe doesnt have the most perfect body, her voice is not annoying, she offers valid instruction, helpful hints and solutions to positioning.  She explains exactly what she is doing and when to breathe, and how to breathe.  This is definately a great choice for a newbie or someone who hasnt practiced in a little while…such as myself.

 Here is a descriptions below:

Instructor: Sarah Ivanhoe

Level: Intermediate

Certified instructor description:
Two complete yoga workouts led by a friendly, down-to-earth instructor. They both feature a medley of classic yoga poses (e.g. downward facing dog, plank, warrior, cobra, triangle and mountain pose) “Joy of Yoga” provides the improved flexibility and relaxation benefits of traditional yoga without the intimidating attitude. Sara’s unusually laid-back style makes it unusually easy to do (e.g. “if your knees are doing this, just flop them out” or “now just kinda wiggle your fingers”). Her emphasis is always on enjoying the movement, not perfecting each one. It has more energetic, upbeat music than most yoga videos. The second program, “Fat Burning Yoga,” also features classic yoga moves. Sara’s solid cuing and non-mystical style makes it an effective and exceptionally yoga workout. And by helping you achieve a balanced lifestyle and a deeper body-awareness, it provides a key element in weight-loss success (but it’s really too slow to immediately burn much fat…). It ends with a short, but intense, segment of traditional ab-focused floorwork. Bright, colorful, airy set. ©1997 & 2001. DVD has: Chapter menus, Music only option.

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