Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simple Secret to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan


•Grate or dice the vegetables and add them to chili, hamburgers and meat loaf.
•Don't forget muffins and quick breads as vehicles for grated carrots and zucchini or mashed squash and sweet potatoes.
•Make your own pasta sauces by pureeing flavorful vegetables like red peppers. Kids who won't eat plain cauliflower might eat pasta with cauliflower sauce. (Or, then again, they might not.)
•Kids love finger food, so serve small raw vegetable pieces with low-fat dips and salsas. (Or with that ever-popular kids' dip, ketchup.)
•Sneak leftover vegetables into your child's favorite soup.
•Melt cheese on top of vegetables before serving.
•Use wraps. Try mashing up beans, spreading them on a flour tortilla topped with grated cheese, rolling it and heating in the microwave. The result is a delicious, healthy lunch dish or snack disguised as a fast-food burrito.
If after all your best stealth efforts your child still detects a pea in his soup and threatens to run away to a distant star planet, don't be discouraged. Did you like olives when you were a child? Coffee? Eggplant? Wine? Tastes change and mature as we do. Luce suggests introducing the loathed vegetable again at a later time. "Have patience and expect a lot of trial and error," she says.
And may the Force be with you.

Tracie Richardson and Monique Hooker are the authors of COOKING WITH THE SEASONS: A YEAR IN MY KITCHEN (Henry Holt).


I've made these for my kids a number of times and they never did know until one day they caught me adding the spinach to the batter! They are just as yummy as regular brownies!


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 9"x13" pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Squeeze out the liquid from the spinach.
  4. Place spinach, vegetable oil, milk and carrot juice in a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the brownie mix, 3 eggs, and the spinach mixture until well blended.
  6. Spread batter into pan and bake 40 minutes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Depression turned into purpose

With two babies at home my day was extremely busy. They took turns waking me up throughout the night. I made a huge mommy mistake by letting DeAna fall asleep with the TV on. There wasn't anything out yet on stats for why parents should let a child do just that and I was exhausted. With her kicking around on my bed all night and waking up for cups of water or diaper change. Then every time her video tape ended, she woke me up ti rewind it and play it again because I couldn't afford cable. Giovani was waking up to nurse all night, at least every hour. I was totally exhausted when morning came!

In the morning, I'd get up and bathe and change both of them. We'd get dressed, eat breakfast and head out the door. With it being winter, I'd have to bundle them, and also pack a ton of diapers and change of clothes and snacks for the day because we had to walk 2 1/2 miles to take my adult education classes.
Then cross the street and attend playgroups, and walk 2 1/2 miles back home.
When we got home, I'd fix a lunch, usually we met up and did lunch with Stephanie who'd moved into the apartment across from mine with her baby and boyfriend. We'd watch soaps and then I'd take my kids back to my place and we'd nap. We'd wake up in time to fix a dinner, I;d take them out to play for a while, give them a bath and then clean.
 The only changes in our routine were when my parent aid came or friends or family came to visit. Once a week I'd put Giovani in a baby carrier that held him to my chest and DeAna in the double stroller and walk to the grocery store or the laundry mat.

At the time I got state assistance, I paid my bills on time and all were current, I even set aside a 20 a month sum to send to Feed the Children. When all that was paid, that left us with 20 a month and 40 I recieved in child support. I was able to buy diapers and wipes for the two kids and that was all. I needed a job but couldn't get daycare.

I started noticing I was getting depressed. I was still trying to work things out with Giovani's dad who was spending alot of time with us, and then suddenly wasn't..and then would..and then ended up meeting someone else. So my heart was all over the place.

I felt so guilty for having a second baby, because DeAna was now showing signs of sibling rivalry. She'd gotten a hold of him twice and put him on the floor, I felt like a horrible mother. The lack of sleep was really getting to me. I was constantly having to give her time-outs because she was doing all kinds of crazy things for attention. Trying to balance the kids and study and clean and cook. Having no time for friends at all anymore. I was stressed. My friends had graduated High School and were off to college and I was home raising two kids alone.

I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I also was worried I wasn't bonding with my new baby. Which was non-sense made up by my post par tum depression but I cried a lot about that. Worried I was doing it all wrong.

A few moms had told me if I switched to formula or gave him a little cereal in a bottle before bed, he might sleep longer and maybe I would feel better too. That I couldn't be the mom I wanted to be if I was exhausted all the time. The bottle gave him a bellyache and when I tried to give him cereal he projectile vomited. I ended up feeling like an even worse.

I was lucky that he hadn't developed colic like DeAna had. Other then the sleep factor he was an easy baby. Which was a very good thing because DeAna was in the midst of her terrible twos. I'd taken a very short lived position in a hell hole of a daycare center but could bring her with me, and she'd taken to biting other kids right away. She'd not bitten before. When i got my first paycheck and I got no pay at all, because the cost of having her in the daycare while I worked was more then I made. I quit and they said they were letting me go anyway because she was biter. After that she really took to biting me every chance she got. Having tantrums and refusing to go to sleep until two in the morning.

Giovani's dad and his new girlfriend moved out of state to Florida. Which ironically was where DeAna's dad had moved to as well. You know the song, all my exes live in Texas..well all mine moved to Florida I guess.  I hated her, the new girlfriend. Not just because she was with my sons father, at a time where he and I were close to getting back together and because they'd moved away where he didn't see his son but because when DeAna was a baby I'd dated her daughters father for a short while. I didn't know of her at the time but when I learned he had a baby, I ended it telling him he needed to work things out with the mother of his child. Just to have her take my son's father away from me in future. It was a double blow and it hurt.

I was too scared to go to counseling ever again after what that woman had tried to do to me. I talked to my family and friends which helped of course, and my parent aid was a great support. I feel guilty now for all the time she took out of her own life to help me get on my feet. It was a struggle. I took my GED test and failed, totally.

Around that same time, I could have really just messed up, gave up, or quit. I was overwhelmed. Then God put someone on TV who changed my life. Sylvia Browne was on Montell. Between Montell everyday and the days he had Sylvia, I heard words that changed me for the better. Something as silly as a TV talk show renewed my hope.

I started buying Sylvia Browne books and became in touch with God fully for the first time in my life. I had not grown up with any religion. Not that we didn't believe in God but didn't as a family go to church or claim a label to any religion. Throughout my childhood I attended all different types of religious services with friends and family on my quest to find who God was to me. It wasn't until i heard Sylvia speak and looked into Novus Spiritus, did I finally hear what felt like truth to me.  My new found hope in God suddenly turned me from a depressed and hopeless feeling person, into a powerful warrior with a great purpose. There indeed was a purpose for what I was going through, and through prayers every night, God slowly unfolded what would be an amazing plan and journey ahead for us.

Taking DeAna out for a stroll in 1998

conspiracy? corruption? and panic!

My second child, my first son, Giovani, arrived January 11th, 1998.
His birth was happy and joyous event, and yet there was so much going on in that hospital that was just not right. I couldn't make sense of it.

After his birth, I finally demanded that they allow my son's father in to see him. Why they hadn't allowed him in? That was still baffling to me. I was 18 years old, not a minor and had made no request of them that he be kept out. I couldn't understand why no one would listen to me or answer my questions but I remained calm and rational. I knew that still.. even at 18, I was watched like a hawk as a young mother and did not want to do anything to make myself appear anything less then a perfect mother.

 We had visitors in and out all day when he was born. The nurses took a special liking to Giovani, they adored his name for one and paid much more attention to him then I'd seen with DeAna and my other friends babies I'd visited in the same hospital upon birth. Of course that was a good thing, but they also kept giving me the oddest looks. Have you ever just noticed when people aren't looking at you in the way you expect them to? When there eyes seem to be saying something but you can't understand what? It put me on edge but I dismissed it. Being tired, still having medication in my system, it could have been anything making me feel that way.

My sons father was there for a lot of time in. He signed the birth certificate and all those things. We finally agreed on circumcision which was something I couldn't make up my mind about and once it was done, I  instantly cried hearing my newborn cry in pain. He posed for pictures holding him and all was good.

Later when he called me from the place he lived, I could hear his girlfriend making comments to me in the background. This happened at the same time a nurse was taking my blood pressure. It was something like 186/110... outrageously high and she told me to get off the phone. That talking to him was too much stress and I needed to rest.

Now babies slept in the same room as mom in the hospital but the nurse offered to take him for a little while so I could rest. I didn't see anything wrong with it. If I was a nurse working in a hospital I would want to borrow the babies, of course. Isn't that the best part of being a neo-natal nurse? Getting to spend time with the babies? I knew they adored him and I also knew I was going home on my own to not just a new born but my two year old little girl, so i should rest as much as I could. I agreed. I trusted the hospital and the nurses. I told her to bring him back so i could nurse him.

When I woke up, it was morning and my baby was not in my room. Nor had they woke me to feed him. No one was there but me. I remember how bright the sun was in the room as a warm streak of panic swept through me. I rang my bell and a new nurse came in, shifts had changed. I asked for my son, she snapped at me that she had instruction to keep him with her. I said I knew that, that I had requested that he stay the night at the desk so i could rest but I wanted him back now, he needed to eat.

She refused to bring my son back to me!!! She walked away saying she would look into it. Tears poured down my face but i refused to give in to the panic attack stroking its way through my upper torso. I wanted to sob but I was exhausted and so confused. Surely there had been some big mistake. God blessed me in that moment, because my children's Doctor, Dr. Curi, came into the room to see me and my son. He'd been my doctor my whole childhood and was now also caring for my kids. He always told me how he held me in such high regards as a mother. I explained to him what I'd been told about my son being held from me and he said he would find out.

Moments later a nurse came in and said Dr. Curi was giving my son a check up and he would be brought back to me as soon as he was done. The panic passed but moments went by so slowly. It felt like hours when in reality it was minutes, before I held my son in my arms. After that I was scared to even get up and take a shower for fear they would come in and take him. I will always be thankful to that doctor, he was an amazing man who touched my life and the life of my children in so many great ways for decades.

Only month before my own step sister had given birth to her second son only to have him snatched from her in the very same hospital by DCF. She would later regain custody of both her children was it was a long and painful battle. One I didn't want to go through myself, and one I didn't see reason for them to put us through.

I was a good mom, a young mom, but a very good mom. They had no reason in my eyes to target me but what was going on??

The rest of our hospital stay was glorious. Friends and family poured in from all over. A favorite memory of mine was having my high school girlfriends serenade my son with a duet of KC and JoJo and Boys 2 Men songs I loved.

DeAna was unsure of what to think of her mommy being in the hospital with a new baby. I tried to make their introduction as smooth and bonding as possible but it was obvious she was a little unhappy with the whole thing, In fact she was much more interested in the single serving sized box of cheerios then her new baby brother.

When the day of discharge came I was more then ready to get home and back to my new life. It was taking for ever for my discharge to happen. An older nurse, who had been overly kind to me saw the worry on my face. She told me she'd been a teen mother too who had gone through much of what I was facing. She told me not worry, things would play out but be okay. I asked her what was going on. Why had there been security outside of my door? Why had they held my son from me?

She closed the door and explained. The counselor I was seeing had called the hospital and given instruction for my son's father to not be let in. I'd even been checked in under a fake name. I later learned a friend had called and let him know that yes, I'd gone into labor, what room and the phone number to reach me. When my son's father showed up at the hospital with his new girlfriend in hand, panic broke out amongst everyone.
That was the commotion I'd heard in the hallway.

When I allowed him to come in to see his son, that's when the counselor was contacted. She in turn had called the Department of Children and Families, which is why my son hadn't been given back to me right away!

Now mind you, my sons father was just 18 himself at that time with no criminal record, no problems with the law. We never had a domestic violence issue. Other then being young and immature in our relationship, there was no big issues, no threat of harm..ever!! I mean ever, ever..even to this day he is one of the greatest people you could know in life and our son is 14 years old and I still consider him a great friend.

DCF didn't respond, and didn't see what the issue was. Because it was a mandated reporter calling..that certainly says a lot about the fact that she was reporting on nothing. But why?? I will never know. I will never know why she did those things to me. I would love to say after that I never crossed paths with her again but that didn't happen. I can say that DCF never showed up at my door based on her false report and she made one last visit our house with her daughter by her side, it was uncomfortable and she said she was closing out my case because I was doing "so well". She never made mention of her calls to the hospital or DCF. I never confronted on all the heartache she caused or tragedy she tried to bring to my family.

What did happen was I brought my precious baby son home with my adorable little girl, and made a happy life for all of us. Ignoring everything and anyone who would have wanted otherwise.

Giovani Matthew wearing the shirt his daddy bought him while I was pregnant

Started playgroup almost right away!

Monday, April 23, 2012

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A New year, A new baby

In my mind I was ready for my son to be born. Again I had a labor plan. The maternity ward at the hospital I used had been moved to newly renovated floor. I toured it and put in a written request to both the hospital and my doctors that I would like to use the new labor pool, whirl pool bath style during my labor. I also refused to have a repeat c-section which took a lot of convincing but I was finally able to get the doctors to consent.

 Although my labor with DeAna had been long and traumatic, there would good points. They'd given me and my children's godfather (since I didn't have a spouse) a nice little "couples dinner" with shrimp and everything to celebrate her birth. This time, they'd done away with that but had a beautiful new rooms you didn't haven't to change from after delivery which was great.

I went over my due date and was hugely pregnant. When I finally did go into labor, it was just as slow a process. My water didn't break right away like it had with DeAna so I was able to stay home longer. My mother and my parent aid stayed with me off and on in turns even after getting to the hospital. DeAna stayed with family which was hard because I had not really been away from her. I was worried and yet in so much pain, I had to put my worries to the back of my mind. I missed her though.

As with every happy event in my life, there were shadows of darkness just floating around close enough that I can never fully enjoy every moment of what should be so blissful. I didn't want my son's father to know the exact moment I was in labor, we'd been having some major arguments. At one point he'd threatened to take custodu of our son when he was born and bring him back to Puerto rico, when I'd called a lawyer, they told me I really wouldn't be able to stop him.  I wanted to get through the rough labor without the emotional strain of seeing him so I didn't call him when I'd gone into labor right away but I did want him there for the pushing part, to see his son born. A friend of ours had called him anyway.

Again it was three days of brutal labor. I ended up with the one doctor I didn't want from the group of doctors so I was upset. The same doctor who'd not given me the ultrasound picture of my daughter, he had no bedside manner. Yet, God has a reason for everything and in the end I was blessed that he was the doctor on-call, because he worked a miracle to get my son here safely. His skill more than made up for his lack of personality.

The labor was brutal. My son was kicking the monitor wrapped around my stomach so hard it went flying off. I kept requesting to use the whirl pool and they told me it was broken ( brand new and broken?)  In my third day of labor, I again agreed to drugs and gave in to taking any medication the offered, I was getting drained of any energy and just weak. I had a shot of pain killer, and medicine to speed up the birthing process. This did nothing but make my head dizzy and my contractions a thousand times more painful. I begged for an epidural and got one. I was terrified of the needle going into my spin again but then..sweet relief.  I was able to go in and out of sleep while the labor continued on. I was really confused from the drugs.

I heard a lot of commotion in the hallway but when i asked no one would tell me anything. A few minutes later the phone rang. It was my son's father. He wanted to know why he wasn't allowed in the room. I told him he could come in, but he told me a security guard was outside my door! A security guard!! Why? I asked those around me, but everyone hushed me and rushed me to get off the phone. I told him to try again to come in and see his son born, he asked me to name him after him. I told him I would think about it and hung up. I was too confused to make sense of anything and I still had a baby to deliver. I kept seeing two old woman in polka-dot dresses in the corner of my room watching me, they weren't really there. It was still a policy to not allow you anything to eat or drink, I occasionally got a Popsicle or ice, and an I.V. kept me hydrated.

When it finally came time to push I couldn't believe it. I'd ask in my birth plan for a mirror to be able to watch him enter the world. At first they did provide it, but his entry into the world was so difficult that they took it away in fear i would go into shock. For one thing, they had to cut, and I mean really cut me to get him out. When that didn't work, they used suction. When that didn't work, they used forceps. I could see the doctor sweating, I could see my mother looking pale. My parent aid had gone home for rest, she'd driven her son back to college in between sitting with me and was exhausted.

Then finally, he was out. I reached for him, he had his little hands over his cheeks Home Alone style. They put him in my arms. He had jaundice and was a dark yellow. His hair was long and black, his head was elongated from  pulling him out by suction. His rotator cuff had been injured, I'd later learn but he was perfect. They let me hold and nurse him a few minutes and then they cleaned him up. He was 8lbs, 5oz. 21 inches long.  I knew he wouldn't be a Matthew like his father. Matthew Raymond Morales didn't suit him. The names I'd floated around with were Carlito, Keenan, or Giovani. One look at him and he was a Giovani all the way. Giovani Matthew and I gave him me and his sister's ( my daughter's) last name because WE WERE A FAMILY.

IN THIS PICTURE:About five or six months along at my baby shower at Stephanie's house.

Breaking my own blog rule


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding our way in a place of our own

I was now eighteen, with a two year old little girl and a baby boy due any day, living in my own apartment. Living on your own for the first time, I mean truly on your own..(because the in-law apartment attached to my mother and step father's house wasn't really on my own) was both lonely and exciting.

It was a townhouse style in a complex of over 80 apartments just like it. I had advocated to get myself in. Collecting each of those reference letters had been both tiresome and delightful. Reading each letter of recommendation renewed the faith I had in myself, as the counselor I had entrusted with was still steadily trying to knock me down. As if her sole purpose was to pull down the curtains of confidence I had built and expose me as what she was prejudiced to believe a teen mother must me.

The letters the community wrote on my behalf were beautiful. They really kept me from being discouraged. Between the counselor and on-going issues with the father of my unborn baby, it would have been easy to get mad and give up, because at time I felt like I was just being attacked every time I turned around.

I had a very special parent aid at that time  who took me on as more than a case, but treated me as family and looked after me as such. She was a great advocate, and a pillar of support to me at that time. She would call and check in with me and I could call her day or night. Again, with the support of her, my family, my friends and others in the community I was fighting the battle against this counselor as I prepared for the birth of my son and started my new life in my very first place.

I still walked everywhere. I went on and off again to adult ed classes and we went to playgroups everyday we could find one. We took walks over to my friend's houses. Usually Stephanie who'd had a beautiful baby girl or to my friend Caryl's, who lived in the same complex, her parents lived in the complex as well. We walked to the grocery store whenever we needed groceries or to the laundry mat when ever we had dirty laundry which was a lot. Sometimes to my dad's house which was not too far away and sometimes to bigger playgrounds if it wasn't too cold, but by that point it mostly was. It was winter in Connecticut, we'd moved in in November, celebrated our first Christmas in our new place and my baby was due in January.

We didn't have much at first but I enjoyed cleaning the house everyday. I loved taking DeAna to the playground to play with other children anytime of the day. I was slowly and cautiously meeting my neighbors. I signed up to be on the neighborhood crime watch. I also attended Resident Counsel Meeting where we planned events for our little community.

I was learning to cook although I unsure of my self. A usual dinner was chicken breasts and a vegetable for me and Deana. I could make homemade mac and cheese, and collards. I was too scared to try to cook anything like steak or a ham or a turkey. Someone gave me canned ham, I tried making that but was so worried I cook it wrong and would get sick, I threw it away. At lunch we would have rice and beans or pasta. Lots of Cheerios and Kix and fresh fruit. I craved orange juice all the time and still drank about a gallon of milk between me and DeAna a day. DeAna's favorite snack was a can of red beans or Garbanzo beans with a piece of cheese melted on it and a cup of Juicey juice.

I made mistakes with my first place, I didn't know not to use bleach on hard wood floors. I just knew I wanted our home clean and sanitary. So I quickly managed to ruin the freshly lacquered wood floors in our living room. I fell down the stairs on the way to the laundry room, going down with DeAna and a basket of clothes. Thank goodness I was just a little sore, Deana didn't fall and my baby was safe inside my belly.

Our first Christmas was so happy and peaceful. I could hardly wait to wake her to open her gifts from Santa Claus. At 2 1/2, she understood more what it was about, and she was thrilled with her baby dolls,toys and books. We of course saw family Christmas Eve and Chrsitmas day, but Christmas morning was ours alone. She'd made cookies for Santa and he left her a letter in return.

Although we didn't have a lot, we had everything we needed and those first months are some of the happiest times of my life despite other obstacles. I couldn't afford cable so we watch the VHS of the Jungle book at least a hundred times over and over again. DeAna and I could be seen almost any night dancing together in the living room to the that movie. Her room of course was filled with toys and because family and friends had been so good to us, and I had been smart about keeping lay aways going throughout my 2nd pregnancy as well, my new baby would have everything he needed when he arrived.

 When he arrived, things in life got worse around us, but his addition was one of the greatest blessings God could have given us. His inclusion to our lives, to my life, was the final push I needed to be all the mother I could be and get this woman and those against us gone for good.




Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A quick word from this blogger!


“If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.” John Heywood quotes

Thirty-one Gifts Large Utility tote Giveaway!!

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

GIVEAWAY! FREE BOOK! How to LOVE your Labour

I have two copies of

How to LOVE your labour
By, Tracey Rose up for grabs!  Just use the Rafflecopter below for easy entry!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Review: How to LOVE your labour

Today I am reviewing :
how to LOVE your labour  
one woman’s journey from freaking out to fearless birth
A book by, Tracey Rose

This book is for: Expectant Mothers and their birthing partners.

Amazon summary: Not available yet. Book yet to be released.

My Review: 
I was hesitant to read yet another book on childbirth. All woman who have given birth have a story to share. Each as unique as the child they create, and still all labour stories are the same in many ways. Yet, as I read through the pages of "how to LOVE your labour" I was quickly engrossed in the Author Tracey Rose's story. A tale entertaining and funny as well as highly informative. It wasn't the type of book you put down and forget. The information she shares is told with charm, easy to understand and hard to forget.

Not only is the author honest about the many fears she faced as a first time mother in regards to the pain factor, she is quick to fess up to both her mistakes and her secrets for overcoming those same fears. Her advice to  all pregnant woman in my opinion is priceless because it easy to understand and apply to just about any one's pregnancy.

This is not a preaching author shaking her finger and shaming fellow mothers about the rights and wrongs of the labour process. This is a mother whose experience we can all relate to and whose solutions are both practical and encouraging to anyone looking for a drug free child-birth. She educated herself and is willing to share the wealth o knowledge she found with others.

The main purpose of her book seems to be that natural child birth can be both pain-free and actually enjoyable. I know many of you are shaking your heads in disbelief, but I challenge you to pick up this book and see for yourself. The techniques offered by the author can really work!  I enjoyed reading this book and that's with being past the pregnancy stage of my life . It truly is a good, heart-felt read, I hope all my blog readers take the time to enjoy both this book. I also encourage those expecting a baby to look into this author's natural child birth ideas for a better birth.

About the book:
Quoted from the Author's Web page,
Here’s what you can expect to read and learn from my book …

This is what you will get:

  • A real life birth story that tells it how it is with all the emotions, facts and gory details! … you will soon learn I am no hippy chick!
  • I will share with you my fears, my hopes, my mistakes, my victories, my darkest hour and my moments of bliss … you will laugh, cry and come out inspired … guaranteed.
  • The shocking facts about medical intervention … this should be public knowledge!
  • The REAL PAIN behind pain relief … you need it … like a brick in the head.
  • What I learnt week by week in my childbirth classes … I went to gain knowledge and gained a whole new perspective on life.
  • A birth story where everything goes perfect … dreams do come true
  • A birth story during my darkest hour … there is hope no matter where you are at
  • How your childbirth can change your life … do it for you!
  • How your childbirth can set your kids up for life … do it for them!
  • An emotional journey that will scare you, prepare you and leave you with practical steps to move forward … do it now!
~ Quoted from Author, Tracey Rose.

Release date: The OFFICIAL release date is May 1st 2012.

If you are one of the first 100 to reserve your copy you will receive:

1. Your advance copy of the book now
2. Your complimentary webinar invitation
3. Your final copy of the book on May 1st 2012
(Downloadable PDF version)
US$37 US$27
as a pre-release customer you are also very welcome, if you like, to provide a testimonial or feedback that can be considered for the final copy.

Where I got the book:  I got these E- book(s) for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. Both the E-book I read, and the two I will be giving away to my blog readers $27.00 value each.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In the wake of adversity

With the pregnancy of my second child, I had a lot more to handle than with my first. Overcoming a broken heart with my hormones surging, raising a toddler, going to school, working..not working..not sleeping because DeAna was still up numerous times a night..and all the other teenage drama that goes along with being a teenager was a lot. I was a smart girl who knew when to ask for help. In addition to all the playgroups we attended just to get out of the house and socialize, all the parents aids who came in each week..I had called for counseling for myself.

I wanted to get over the break up, as I said, the father of my 2nd child was my first real boyfriend and my first real love. That is hard enough for anyone to get over, never mind someone with all the other things going on in my life, including a baby who was half his, on it's way. I needed someone I could talk to about me stuff, other than baby stuff.

I called and set up to meet with a woman who was recommended because she worked hand in hand with a lot of agencies I was already involved with. She and her adult daughter worked in the same office. I went in for an intake with the woman. She was a grandmotherly type with a warm smile. I briefly explained to her some of the challenges I was going through and she listen and as typical, made notes on a clipboard. I had no reason not be honest, as none of the things going on in my life would really be considered a huge deal to anyone but me. Because I did not drive and because I was pregnant and her office was an hour walk from our home, she arranged to come out for sessions. She did this with some families she said.

Despite my ache, I did what I needed to do. I put down a big layaway at Kmart planning ahead for Christmas and My baby who was due in January. I was planning for a boy and thank goodness an ultra-sound would later confirm it. I was trying my best to do all I could on my own. After one doctor's appointment, me and my son's father put a double stroller on layaway at Reibman's store. He agreed to pay half. With hard work and payments I was getting somewhere. Determined that I would still provide for my now two children, on my own as best I could.

I kept a very clean apartment and cooked very healthy meals. Although my cooking skills were very limited, I did my best. The kitchen to the in-law apartment was being renovated so with the exception of a refrigerator, microwave and a cabinet, I did most of our cooking in my mother's house and we still ate most meals with them.

I'd gotten DeAna a toddler bed and set her room up in the dining room and of course it was all Winnie-the-Pooh. I had my bedroom, a living room with a couch and TV. There was another bedroom, a bigger one, which was still being renovated and so I used that for storage. The size of the apartment was perfect for one mom and a young toddler. I'd also gotten DeAna her first pet. A small black kitten who kept things cozy with her cuddles and DeAna adored her. It was a comfy kind little place.

None of this flew with the counseling woman when she came out. Although the apartment was clean, she said an apartment under partial construction was not. She also said it wouldn't be suitable for bringing a newborn home to. She hated the kitten who'd left scratches on DeAna's hands and arms. She demanded the kitten go, she demanded we move, She wasn't nice about any of it.

The fact that none of the other home visitors that came had taken issue with our living conditions didn't matter to this woman. To make it worse she let it be known that if I didn't move promptly she would report me to DCF. When the woman left and my parents came home, I cried to my mother. She of course couldn't see what this woman's problem was either.

This woman had me locked in. When I tried to get out of appoints with her she said she would report me. After seeing babies taken from friends time and time again I was terrified. I felt like I wouldn't have a leg to stand on against her. I got rid of the kitten. Better the loss of a kitten then my child.
I went back to the apartment complex I'd applied at with a ten page letter telling them how I needed to move and fast. They agreed that because I turned eighteen in November, a few months before my sons birth, I would be able to move in on my eighteenth birthday as long as  I came back with 10 references from people of stature in the community. Most people only needed a few, but because of my age and because I had no previous rental references to us, I had to get 10 letters!

That's when all my time with parent aids and playgroups paid off because these people knew me well. I was able to get my letters in. The woman who demanded I move refused to write one.  The woman did not call DCF just then. She stayed an annoying part of my every week. Even after the move.

The new apartment was wonderful. What we owned hardly filled it but I loved it whole heatedly. I was hugely pregnant, much bigger then I'd been with Deana. Yet, I loved cleaning and decorating every inch of it with what we had. Staying our first nights there across town from my family was at first scary and then a little lonely. I called every night and all my family was good about coming to visit. My friends also came over but I was careful about how often and who. I knew I was being watched and closely, I didn't want to blow the chance that I had. I didn't want to make the mistake so many young parents make with their first apartment and let it be a hang out or party zone.

It was yet another new chapter for us, unfolding in the wake of chaos. It turned out to be a good one, but there would be some upsetting undertones.
This woman wouldn't quit, she let me know she not only didn't respect me but didn't like. She thought I was fake and trying to fool everyone. She had the power and a vendetta. At one point, her dislike of me was so bad, she almost cost me everything.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A baby forming

Monday, April 9, 2012

The stereo type

 WOULD I EVER BEAT THE STEREO TYPES???  From 14 and pregnant, to a mom of a daughter at fifteen. Pregnant again at 17, a son born at 18. A married mommy at 20. Losing a pregnancy that same year. My last baby son born  at age of 21. Now in my thirties raising 3 teens. Find out how I survived raising my children and myself. Follow my Blog to find out how as my story slowly unfolds.


I took a hard fall emotionally. Within weeks of finding out I was pregnant I again, I quit my second job at Red Lobster. I stayed on at Tacobell but every shift I worked was a struggle. My new baby's dad quit and was living a few town away with his new girlfriend. That had happened very quick for me. I don't know if my reactions would have been so strong if it weren't for the pregnancy surges through my body but I was a wreck. The crew I worked with stayed in touch with him and would tell me what was going on with him even when i didn't want to hear it. Then I'd be left standing behind the counter swallowing back tears. Once, I'd unknowingly served the new girlfriend and then was told by co-workers who it'd been. She'd wanted to see who i was. I was shattered.

I did what i did best and threw myself full force into motherhood. I put my full focus on my daughter. When I had alone moments I cried. He called me, he showed up. He came to the doctor appointments with me and we had lunch together afterwards. I always stayed hopeful he'd have a change of heart. Sometimes we'd part and I felt in my heart it was a matter of time. I knew I had hurt him bad and deserved not to have him in my life but that didn't make it easy.

Two of my middle school/high school friends became pregnant around the same time as me. One before me, Stephanie and one after me, Caryl. All of us had also worked at Tacobell together at one point. Having two friends I was close to, to go thru pregnancy with, made me feel less alone.

Stephanie was still in High School and most days DeAna and I would be waiting at her mother's house for her to get home. Stephanie and her baby's father were still together and building a life together. Sometimes I felt like the third wheel but we still did things together. One thing we did a lot fo together was eat. Stephanie came home everyday straved, she ate alot of apples and bagels. I remember that well. Eventually she and her high school boyfriend got their own apartment and we ate all the time their too.
We both gained like crazy in our pregnancies.

My parent aids and parent educators were great supports. Emotionally, I had a hard time getting over my first real boyfriend. My heartbreak was awful and when the depression didn't pass, I called for counseling. The woman I saw would change my life and not in a good way. This woman would try to push me further in my fall and lead me to distrust a system I had put faith into until that point.


The same year I moved us into the in-law apartment and found a job, I made some other big changes in my life. With the small income of my job I was able to furnish our apartment, cheaply but cozily. I mastered the art of lay-away and purchased many things I both needed and wanted for us.

I was taking adult education classes. Wanting to further my education, and I struggled. Every week day, I put Deana in the stroller and took an hour walk to the YMCA to take my classes. Then we'd go off to play group. At night, I'd study when she was playing or sleeping. I wasn't retaining much of the knowledge.

To work the weekend, I had to make numerous calls and balance babysitters, sometime having to set a small sum of my paycheck aside to pay my younger brother to watch her.

Then a met a guy. I tried to avoid guys for the most part, with the exception of those I kept as friends. I had dated one briefly when coming home but kept him at a distance. This guy was different. He won me over quickly. The first time he came to see me outside of work, he brought me a rose. He also brought Deana toys and a balloon. I avoided him for a few weeks but he was persistent. He was also wonderful to us.

When we weren't working, he spent all his free time with us, occasionally even coming to playgroups with us. He signed up for the adult education classes with me. The relationship would last a year or so. It wasn't that it couldn't have worked, or that he was wrong to me or my daughter in anyway. We had stresses, like Deana's dad, who decide to give him an awful time for being in our lives. There balancing parenthood, work, school, and then the added relationship. It was a lot on me. I just wasn't ready. We were engaged for a while, he'd bought me a beautiful little ring. I was happy and yet terrified.

To say I wasn't ready is an understatement. When ever I looked at that ring on my hand I felt the warmth of love and the terror of commitment. The idea of another life long commitment when I was already committed to my daughter felt like a whale swallowing me down under the water. Marriage , commitment to a seventeen year old felt like someone had cut off my air supply. I felt horrible, it was the whole "It's not's me" and how lame was that? Because it wasn't that it was him at all..and so whenever he pulled  I pushed. I picked fights to gain space because as much as I wanted the relationship, my own fear consumed everything.

After a year together, working together..going to school together..I called it quits with him for the last and final time. I'd picked up a second job at Red Lobster by that time as a hostess. I didn't have a real reason. I needed space. Shortly after he started seeing someone else, and I found out I was pregnant..again. Even though I wanted him back, it was too late. I'd burned a bridge I would never have back. I was beyond consolable. I was near hysterical. I wanted him in my life so badly suddenly that I became stuck on him as my ultimate goal. I lost focus on what I was trying to accomplish. I'd also failed my first try at the G.E.D. test. My world began to crash down. I would fall and hard. It would take a long while to get myself back on track. I would only do it, again because I had family and friends to hold me up.

Do it yourself!

Because many of the playgroups that were around when I was raising my children are now gone due to funding cuts or now have specific criteria requirements..Many parents have decided to start their own. This video tells how:

The getting of a J-O-B..eyes crossed??

The list of what I needed on a material level for my daughter was growing as her age did. DeAna and I got a small sum of cash from the state and food stamps. Although holidays and birthday she was spoiled beyond spoiled, by myself and our family and friends, there were still things I wanted to give her and couldn't. I needed a job. I didn't want to be on State. I wanted to be more than that, I didn't want to fall in the trap. My parents put a roof over our head, but everything else was my responsibility because I took on the challenge of raising a baby, she was my responsibility alone in my parent's eyes.

The story of me getting my first job makes me laugh out loud. Again, it is a testimony that although I was a determined and caring mother, I was still sixteen and trying to figure out how the world worked. I decided I wanted a job at Taco bell. I really wanted a job at Taco bell! One day when I went to eat there I filled out an application, the next day I called and followed up, landing an interview.

In my previous blogs I talked about my belief in personal appearance playing a roll in getting what you want. So I stood in front of mirror, rehearsing what I might say and what an employer might want to see in a person they'd be hiring for Taco bell. Now this is where my shenanigans get out of hand. What i decided to do was approach my first interview as a "casting call" for a role. Previously i;d wanted to be an actress, and spent hours studying up on the subject of landing a role.

The outfit...oh boy. Pulling through my clothes I put on some type of older woman's business like suit with of course the heels. It was a bit much. I didn't want to appear to be just another irresponsible teenager looking for a job. What I did next..oh my goodness!!

SO I had this pair of glasses that belonged to a friend. She'd gotten them from someone in her family and one way or another they ended up at my house. The were those old style type of prescription glasses that wing up in the corners, and the type of bi-focal that makes your eyes magnify.

Now mind you, I have beyond perfect vision or at least I have gotten older I wonder. Anyway, I don't wear glasses. I put the glasses on and changed my role. I took off the suit and put on a turtle neck, tucked that into a pair of jeans. As if a job interview were a costume contest, I dressed up as nerdy as I could. When my mother drove me over I kept the glasses off until I got out of the car. Then I put the glasses on. I sat down with the manager and he start interviewing me. Every time he looked up at me, I kept my eyes crossed!!! Why, I still don't know what my exact thinking was on the issue of crossing my eyes.

A few days later, I got the phone call. I got the job! Now I ditched the whole act the first day and he didn't call me on it just then. I worked weekends and between my friends and younger brother I was able to cover child care. I would work on and off again at Taco bell until I was 21 years old. My last year there was when the general manager finally said to me, "You know what?? I thought you were crossed eyed when I hired you." I just laughed. I thought he'd forgotten. The joke was on me.

Play time

The days of being a stay at home mom are some of the most precious memories I will ever keep. Everyday I watched as my daughter discovered something new. We set up routines that defend our days and although I wasn't becoming book smart like my peers..I was becoming mommy smart.

I kept a log of all her happenings in a baby book. Now as I write this, I am skimming through the sacred memories of my little girl's firsts.

I moved us from inside my mother and step father's house to the small two bedroom apartment above the garage. At sixteen I was ready to raise her on my own , to live on my own and still could not afford a place of our own totally on my own.

When we came home from St. Agnes I called and set up for a parent aid to come out and see us. At that time, you could do so on a self referral. Once a week we had an angel of a parent aid come and visit us. She brought small activities I could do with DeAna and talked about what mile stones she should be reaching at what age.

We also attended playgroups almost everyday. The play groups run by the agency that my parent aid came from, play groups from Birth to Three, because my parent aid referred her to them. She wouldn't talk in front of the woman because she was she, and I guess she didn't believe me when I said she could talk, so Deana started receiving Birth to three services for her speech, which meant a home visit from them as well as playgroups. I also signed her up for playgroups run through the Family Resource center at the school. Then there was a twice a month playgroup run just for teen mothers.

Playgroups were a wonderful thing. Being one of the youngest mothers, I had older mothers to ask questions of. DeAna got to participate in activities with other little ones and we attended many field trips to places. I became life long friends with a few of these moms. We swapped free child care and our kids grew up together. DeAna now in her teens is still friends with the children she played with when she was still in diapers.

Outside of playgroups, I ran our day as if it were an extension of. We were always blowing bubbles outside, singing songs, playing with play dough or boxes of dry noodles, playing with water, making crafts, or dancing to music. I was still young enough to remember how to play and wasn't tired from a job or school, so I had nothing to do but play.
In someways, for all the struggles, there were advantages to being a teenage mom.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Put away that potty..for awhile

For a while we lived with my parents again. I fought hard to find my way back into school. I had my teachers begging me to come back and the strive to do so. Sadly the funding wasn't there for daycare. All of my parents worked days and my friends were still in school. I had no income to put my daughter in daycare.

My days were spent with her. Teaching her, playing game with her, helping her learned little songs. Changing diapers and preparing meals were all I did. I knew if I could get I decided to start potty training her at 1 1/2. I read bought her a plastic potty chair with child support. I bought her "Once Upon A Potty." every night.. a about a million times during the day.
I had a vhs cassette tape about using the potty we watched. I tried everything to convince her sitting on the potty was a good thing. Of course..this didn't work..none of it did..although some people have managed to master the art of potty raining their children at a year and half..not my daughter. Sometimes she peed and I gave her a small treat.

The potty training process was a long process for us. She would be three before she finally got the hang of it. When I finally look at her..much like I did with the weaning and told her "No more diapers." I finally took the diapers and had her help me through them away in the trash outside. Two days later she was trained, she didn't like the feel of pee on her leg. I never got made about "accidents". I don't understand why some people get so upset when their little ones mess. Maybe God blessed me with more patience than some, I don't know. What I do know is that the 3 years of teaching were well worth the trouble, as she never did have an accident or wet the bed when she finally trained.

I wouldn't recommend early potty training to anyone. I think the books and articles that promote it are baloney. Either you have a toddler who trains early or you don't. If all it took was time and effort, she would have trained because all I had was time and all I did was stay home and teach her. I think each child has their own will or way when it comes to potty training. We all know when we see that first pregnancy test come back positive that diapers and butt cleanings are ahead. So why stress yourself or your baby when we all know it will happen in time. A little teaching doesn't hurt, but getting frustrating or frustrating your child seems pointless. I learned better when I had my next two children.

So in a way I spent much of my high school years teaching my little girl how to use a potty.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The first year of motherhood really is hard!

Someone made mention to me that I made that first year as a teen mom seem to easy. That a teen mother making the right choices will not have bumps. That couldn't be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, I have had nothing but hurdles and mountains to climb my entire life..a series of not stop struggles. Anyone who knows me on a personal level can vouch for the fact that my name may be Cassidy but it might as well be Chaosity..seriously.

Its just that those small bumps in the road that may be such great tragedies to those with nice normal lives, were mere drops in the bucket for me. A colicky baby was hard. Night without sleep were endless and awful, those lasted for years by the way. She didn't sleep through the night til she was three and either did my two boys I'd have later on.

Teething or the after effect of immunization shots.. talk about a helpless feeling when you do everything and can't take the pain away. There was the normal teenage stuff, the bickering with other girls, the heart break. There was always a boy..if not two.. ALWAYS a boy who I was either sky high in love with or dropped dead depressed over. I haven't really touched on the boy factor because I did my best to keep that and them separated from my daughter. My daughter was my every minute, everyday focus while the guys..well, they were just like friends.

Strangers gave me disapproving glances. Some were just outright rude to me for having a baby. A lot of people assumed I was her sister or babysitting and flat out told me I was lying when I said she was my own. That felt awful! Someone telling you that your child isn't yours!

Everyone felt they had a right to tell me something about parenting. Strangers were awful and rude in their judgements. Always assuming the worst. Family sometimes said things that caught me off guard. I had a family member put me on blast when the one time I decided to try to give DeAna a bottle at a gathering I didn't feel comfortable nursing at. This person yelled at me for putting that stuff in her bottle. I am glad I asked "What stuff?" Because they assumed it was a powder juice drink..this was when powdered formula was brand new. Yet another reason why I just didn't even bother with the bottle. People, even those that love you, imagine the worst of a fifteen year old mom. Its hard to shatter the stereotypes, very hard. Many tears have been shed over just that, trust me.

I had the usual teenage disagreements with my parents, with my teachers, stressing over homework, hoping I would get invited out on the weekends. Feeling alone because I couldn't do what my friends were doing. Disappointment when I couldn't get someone to watch her so I could do something I was invited to. It wasn't easy, it just wasn't anything I couldn't bring her and I both through. In her first year,  my ultimate goal was to form a bond to my baby, for her to bond to me. To give her a chance to learn much and grow healthy. To prove to everyone that I could be a good mom. We accomplished that and did it with both determination and success. .

Going home

We would eventually reach our time of discharge at St.Agnes. I would have no follow up with DCF as I had more than proved myself as a mother. It'd been well over a year. She and I had survived the colic, the teething, the weaning.
She was walking and talking.

I'd wanted to stay but it didn't happen that way. The day we left St. Agnes was flipped with good-bye's and tears and promises to stay in touch that didn't last long. We would go home to my mother and step father's where we started out.
That first year had flown by, as every year after would. Babies grow, mommy's get older. I started off as a fifteen year old mother of new born, I left there well into sixteen, with a toddler. It was a new beginning for us, both scary and exciting. A real baby step towards our life as mother and daughter.