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11/5/14

{Dear Ambria}, Not All People Are Good People.


"A few years later, it happened again. A childhood camp friend disappeared. I was old enough then to remember rumors of an upsetting story, possibly a familial abduction gone awry, or maybe even the work of a serial killer, but again, there was no forthright discussion in our house or in the community. Instead, there were rumors and a silent acceptance of the girl's disappearance. Questions were not encouraged, answers not given. Perhaps it was a symptom of fear; discussing the unbelievable, the terrifying, might make it happen. But, as parents, we have a responsibility to discuss these difficult topics with our children. All kids need reliable information. Yes, of course, how you talk about tough topics differs with a child's age, but again, all kids need information. That is just common sense."
-Safe Kids, Smart Parents (Bailey, E. and Bailey, R., 2013)




Jaycee Dugarg was held in captivity for 18 years. She was kidnapped at 11 years old and suffered constant abuse. Jaycee was walking to school in South Lake Tahoe, California, when she was kidnapped by the couple Phillip and Nancy Garrido.


- - - 

Dear Ambria,

You are two now. 

The more I read about these horrible, sick cases of child abductions and torture of women and children, the more worry I have; more than I can possibly describe to you. I just want you to be safe...and that probably means I am going to have to tell you about things I don't want to in a few years, but I must for your sake.

I keep thinking how lucky I am, to have survived my 30-years as a millennial, in America, without any instance of true abuse, harm, endangerment, imprisonment, rape, assault, crime or otherwise. 

I have to agree with my friends who take active roles in ensuring their daughter's safety and survival with talks about safety, even if they may be somewhat uncomfortable, because it is the best chance of survival without being permanently damaged or scarred by sexual abuse. I would rather it be me, your mom, to warn you rather than some demented pervert or crazy coming along. 

Now, we are not here to judge; that is not our place. But we can certainly be aware, and  honest with our sons and daughters. Times simply aren't like they were 50 years ago, or, maybe they are and we are just more aware...

What I mean is, countless times... countless... I talk to girls my age, 25-35, who have never had a "sex" or "safety" or "what it means to be a woman" talk with their moms or dads in their youth. Not that their moms were bad people or bad mothers, it was seemingly such a taboo topic - sex and the body - that women didn't want to talk about it usually, even to us kids from the 90's. (Especially parents who were very religious, the "not my child" attitude.")

Ambria, I just want you to know that unfortunately, the cycle of abuse and torture continues many times without understanding. We can't possibly understand what really made the wife of that monster in the case of the Jaycee Lee Dugard go along with his perverted sense of demoralizing human torture. We may not understand the inner workings of someone so disgusting and perverse because our decade has not quite gotten to the true inner-workings of such criminals. In the case of Rachel Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, Ariel Castro was sentenced and ended up hanging himself with only a month into serving his time. He kidnapped and tortured THREE young women for a decade and couldn't take 'prison life' for even a month. 

One commentator on facebook wrote, "Ariel Castro, coward in life, coward in death."

My point is, trust takes time and effort to build. Maybe that's a wrong way to look at relationships, but the way I see it is -- trust is earned, not given. Unfortunately, like in the case of the Elizabeth Smart abduction, some Crazy given a job at their home ended up kidnapping and torturing her (14 years old) for almost a year before she was found. And another instance when another woman was involved with the kidnapping...  : / 

There is a strong sense of wickedness that is sweeping the world through the internet and the increase in human trafficking - the worst crime that can be committed on another human being - no one has such a right! 

Yes, I've been safe so far in my life, but that doesn't mean looking back I can't see situations that could have turned out worse. Like one time, I accepted a ride in the back of a truck with some people I barely knew at a party. That could've turned out worse than me just happening to get home safely and they were decent folks who didn't kidnap and murder me. But what if they had? 

I guess we all will make "dumb" choices in our teens and young adulthood, it seems most everyone I've talked to admits it. But victims, especially children, are so defenseless! Some adult messing up a child's entire life--it's so inhumane, so cruel. 

We normal members of society labeled "good people," can hardly fathom such sick people like Castro or Garrido even exist. 

My mother was the one when I was growing up who often made me watch the "Unsolved Mysteries" shows or read the newspaper about an abduction of a child and reiterate many different reasons why I should be where I say I'm going to be and to 'watch out for' strangers. Of course, as a teen, I wasn't always where I said I would be. But in the back of my mind, I did heed her warnings to some extent. I learned to look out for myself, I taught myself to be wary of people and to usually have a friend with me whenever we went out. I even took  a self-defense course at our local community college and through the police department to gain different perspectives about self-defense. 

My very good friend was brutally murdered and left on the side of the road with traumatic blunt force to the head and lacerations to her throat in 2006. This girl was my high school friend, and it doesn't seem possible she isn't here anymore... Because of a Crazy. 


In her memory, and for all girls fighting for their lives in the world... 

- - - 


Teaching our children about child predators is a very stressful, yet vitally important, thing we must do.  As parents it is our job to protect these beautiful babies we have brought into the world, and as they grow older, that means that we need to begin arming them with the knowledge of how to stay safe themselves.  These talks are often dreaded, and let’s face it, it hasn’t been that many years since parents started really accepting the responsibility to educate our children on this matter.  We are all still learning, and in many cases, no one ever had the type of conversation with us that we now need to have with our children.  As time passes, more and more technology is exposing our children to more predators than ever before.  Social media is essentially putting together a catalogue for these monsters, helping them to find the ‘weak’ and move in for the kill.  Children are trusting little beings, and they should remain so for as long as possible, but talking to our children about who they should trust is our best defense in ensuring that our children will recognize a bad situation when it happens, know who to talk to about that situation, and furthermore to have the confidence to talk about the situation."


 From abduction to abuse, Bailey explains how parents can speak to their kids about troubling topics while building their self-esteem and teaching them how to protect themselves. 


You can find every book, article or flier you want regarding teaching children about predators, but when it comes to the bottom of it, there is only one tool that can really get the job done.
YOU
As a parent, you are the single most effective tool in fighting child abuse, you alone can give your child the confidence to know how to keep themselves safe by trusting their instincts.


"No program or identification tool will keep children safe or prevent abductions 100 percent of the time. Parents, guardians and members of the community must all work together to help ensure children will be protected and have access to help if they need it. Child safety is all our responsibilities."
Nancy McBride, Child Safety Spokesperson and Executive Director, NCMEC Florida Regional Office
For a more comprehensive checklist download the Missing-Child, Emergency-Response, Quick-Reference Guide for Families.



7/29/14

Sauté Express... makes chicken delicious


I'm not the greatest cook. I try my best. 

One product I found that I keep going back to are these little cubes by LandOLakes called "Sauté Express" 


They make chicken taste as yummy as restaurant chicken, I swear. 

There are a few different flavors available.. I love the Garlic & Herb ($2.79)



To Use: 
First I heat a frying pan to medium heat and place two cubes in the pan. After they've melted, I place fresh raw chicken strips in the pan, sprinkle salt on each, then cover and begin sauteeing for about 10-12 minutes, turning over every few minutes. 


When thoroughly cooked, I have delicious, juicy, tender fillets that even the picky eaters in my family love. 

The chicken I use matters too... 
Raised cage free, no antibiotics, humanely raised -- hooray! 

If you're a mom on a budget and want something delish for your fam...try them! I hope you will love them too :) 

________________________


***this is not a paid review; just a happy consumer review!**


7/19/14

Organic dry food pouches

It's hard to always get my daughter to eat her veggies, so I find mixing them into her foods and milk is a great method for us.

With 'nurturme dried organic pouches' htf (hard to find) veggies are dried and conveniently packaged and ready to include in a baked dish or sippy cup. 




Peas, quinoa, apples, carrots, raisins, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, bananas and more, yum! 

My daughter is a picky'ish eater, and I feel so much better knowing she's getting different helpings of organic powdered foods without her even noticing. 


I just pour a bit of the goodness into mac&cheese, baked bread, sippy cups, etc. 

The pouches are around $1.60 ea at Target. I haven't seen them anywhere else, where I live. 

Definitely a winner for our household. 


- - - 

**No compensation has been made for this review. Just a happy consumer sharing an opinion.**



6/19/14

Organic Fruit & Yogurt Pouches

Maybe it's the 100+ degree temps, maybe it's my body craving extra nutrients, but whatever it is...these fruit pouches make me happy. I love to review products that I genuinely love.

My daughter (2) loves these organic fruit pouches, and somehow I got to trying them and I love them too!! They are incredibly delish and taste nothing like 'baby food.' 

For around $1.40 ea I know she is getting organic fruits, veggies and yogurt. When I'm in a hurry and don't have time for a meal, I'll throw one in my purse for me too. 



Ingredients: (Gerber pouch) 
Organic peach puree, organic apricot puree, organic carrot puree, organic yogurt, organic pear juice concentrate, vitamin C, citric acid. 
"Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth"

AAA+++ rating in our household. Love them! 


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**No compensation has been made for this review. Just a happy consumer sharing an opinion.**

6/4/14

Thank you Joel {& Victoria} Osteen


One day my mother phoned me. She knew I was going through a rough time in our financial circumstances, trying to find a good job for my husband, debating daycare costs, returning to work, moving, etc. 

She pretty much begged me to listen to that week's "Joel Osteen Ministries message." 

I had only heard him speak a few times in the past few years, but I decided to go ahead and listen again that day. His message was about having God-sized prayers. 

My mother said she had never heard the thoughts before, so eloquently put, had never been taught nor taught the principles, and I should really listen to it. Maybe it was her insistence, or the timing, or God's hand in my life...but I'm so glad I listened. 


I couldn't believe what this minister was saying... it was like he was speaking right to my heart, my own life, the VERY things I was going through! 

This happened this past March, 2014. I have been listening every Sunday since without missing a single message. I even listen to previous messages during the weekdays (the iPhone app is awesome) when I feel my life is overwhelming and I just need some clarity and perspective.

As a millennial, I recommend this minister, Joel Osteen, as a place to go without feeling judged, lacking, or insignificant. When life or people have you pushed down, listen to Joel and I promise you will find some piece of strength to stand up and keep going. 

I have been raising my daughter very alone since she was born two years ago. My immediate family is small--dad passed away, mom and brother live out of state. I am not recieved by my husband's family, and I don't really have anyone else for help; which if fine, I have to accept it so I try my best. 


But it can be a very lonely time, the first two years of parenthood. Friends are supportive, encouraging, around for their light in your life. I'm so thankful for my friends. But they are busy with THEIR OWN families, as I wish we were too. I always grew up with this notion that family is "there for you no matter what." Ah, me, what a silly millennial, I know. 

You turn 30, have a small toddler and some life lessons and you realize how other than your spouse (if you're lucky) and closest inner circle of friends, you have really no one. People can just turn on you. 

I didn't expect to be the black sheep of my family AND the black sheep of my in-laws....but I am. So I'd better just deal with it. I'd better get off my cushion of regrets and worries and stand up and face life. I can go into a corner and question why am I a failure, or, I can listen (and believe) in messages of hope and peace, like Joel's.. And believe I can be the best parent only I know how to be. I can take what I've learned, my regrets, my failures......pick myself up and keep going, even though it feels damn near impossible sometimes.  

My relationship with my mother is contradictory. She's always been shooshing me, not exactly encouraging me to speak my mind. But strong-willed little me, I had a LOT of questions about life early on and especially as a teen. That happens I think to some people when you are young and a parent (you love) dies. It's the person who gave you life, gone. How can you not live the rest of your life questioning it? Questioning the very life you live...trying to figure everything out... 

I've been trying to figure "everything out" all of my 20's. Now I just sit back and admit, "I don't know shiz." I hope I figure it out in my 30's, but who knows, probly won't. 

My husband and I agree we won't be ordering our kids around or getting "mad" at them when life doesn't go "right"--because who's to say what's "right?" Every choice has a lesson, one way or another. 

I used to sit there, wondering how much better off my daughter would be if I wasn't here. I realized, maybe my family and family-in-law probably wish I were dead so they could take over from my horrible parenting skills and they'd be happy I wasn't here. It's hard to admit that, but I've always admitted the truth, or at least tried, and this is no different. 

My journals date back to my very early teens, and (almost embarassingly) I wasn't afraid to write what I thought. 

I've been questioning whether my life is 'worth living' off and on since my early teens, per said journals. And it often seems like the times I feel the lowest are when I'm feeling judged and completely off'ed by family. Which I can accept as my own fault, but it still sucks and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. 

I guess I have to learn to distance myself from those negative energies. 

I try to cling to positive energies, like Joel Osteen messages.  


Here is a man who speaks from his heart, without judging, without condemning, just speaks as if he were in the room with you as your very best friend or father. I love the Osteens...I'm so, so thankful for how they have helped my life and thousands and thousands of others. I feel like a better person, like my life is worth living, one day at a time, because this man presents ideas and messages from the Bible and real life. Joel wasn't afraid to say "yes" when his father asked him to speak in 1999, even though he knew he'd probably face ridicule and question it all. I figure, if he believes in me, I've got to keep trying. 


- - - 


"Embrace the place where you are. See the good. Be grateful for what you have. Remember, there is a blessing and a burden for every season. Don't focus on the burden, you have the grace to enjoy the blessing." - Joel Osteen (2014).



"I've heard it said, 'disappointments are inevitable, but misery is optional.'" (Joel, 2014)



"The truth is...we all go through the valleys, but the valleys are what lead us to higher mountains. They're only temporary, they're not permanent." - Joel Osteen (2014)



"When you invest your time the right way, in helping others, those seeds that you sew will create the harvest you need not to just get out of the valley but to come up to a higher mountain, a new level of your destiny. It's important, not only how we spend our time, but whom we spend it with. To redeem the time, may mean, you have to prune off some relationships that don't add anything to your life." - Joel Osteen (2014)


- - - 


Joel's other messages (March, April, May 2014) have been so inspirational and amazing... he talks about how it's okay to keep the toxic, negative people out of our lives. It's better to be true to ourselves, right with God in our hearts than waste time on people who will never help or believe in us. 

It's been so enlightening, to see who is really there when you are "down and out" in life.  Joel explains how to choose to always be content, no matter what season or burden we are in. He explains that "while we are waiting for things to change, don't miss the beauty of today."

- - - 


"We think when we reach a certain goal, then we will be happy... and yes, you'll be happy when you accomplish your goals, but there are challenges that come along with it. I've heard it said, 'with every blessing comes a burden.' You'll never come to a place where you're problem-free; no conflict, no bills to pay, everybody's celebrating you... that's not reality. If you don't learn to be content where you are, you won't be content when dreams come to pass."   - Joel Osteen (2014)



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5/24/14

Ever thought about sponsoring a child?


My mother showed us videos of orphans when I was growing up in the 90's. Often they were malnourished, abused, completely alone in the world...and I wanted to help them. But because there were so many conflicting stories of greedy people/companies taking donation money and it never getting to the poor, it was hard to know whom to trust and where to give. 

I'm so thankful to have found an organization (I believe) is truly out there helping. WorldVision. 

This past June, my family started sponsoring ($35/mo) a little girl from the Dominican Republic who's birthday is exactly one month apart from our own daughter's. The money will go to her parents to help with food, shelter and clothing for their family. 

When we log in to WorldVision, we can see her "scrapbook," photos, email communication, etc. 

We can mail her small packages, write letters (my husband knows Spanish, but otherwise World Vision would translate for them), even set up an actual visit to meet "our family" if we were to ever travel to the DR. We recieve letters and photos in return about the child and her family. 


World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children, families, and communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Give a Meaningful Gift

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As a sponsor, you’re an important part of World Vision’s work around the world. Thanks for joining with us to help children grow up healthy and have better lives.  
  • Discover what sponsorship looks like in other countries.  
  • See how World Vision fights poverty in the United States.  
  • Learn how World Vision responds to local and international disasters
  • You have a very important role in your child’s life. Be their encourager! Extreme poverty tells children they’re not important—but you have an amazing opportunity to change that.
    When you reach out to your child, you can cheer them on as they face struggles in their life—and tell them you believe in them. Knowing someone far away loves them could change their life.

An Organization You Can Trust

In 2013, 83 percent of World Vision's total operating expenses were used for programs that benefit children, families, and communities in need. Learn more >
  • 83% programs
  • 12% fundraising
  • 5% management & general
















More info on World Vision:

Mailing address: World Vision, Inc. P.O. Box 9716 Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
Email address (U.S. only): info@worldvision.org
Website: http://www.worldvision.org/sponsor-child
Toll-free phone (U.S. only): 1 (888) 511-6548
1-888-511-6598 to make a donation


5/7/14

How to dye your hair at home..


Here is a video for how to dye your hair two different colors at home, for pretty cheap. Under $20. 








Video Tutorial HERE


4/24/14

And Another Thing


So my mom emails this to me which I had sent to her two years ago, when my daughter was first born. Idk why but it made me tear up a bit.

- - -


And another thing....how joel osteen said the farmer doesn't just plant a seed and sit back waiting for it to grow...he's out there watching and still caring for the crop ..and getting things ready and polished for the next..
And I thought about little ambers and how I am like the farmer, and while she is here growing, she will need lots of tlc each and every day....and if I'm sad I'm sure she can feel it so I can't be sad!
You may notice the late hour of this email.
Usually during the day she nurses a lot but I never mind because I'm awake and energized, somewhat! But at nighttime..I'm so tired when I wake up with her I just kinda want her to hurry so we can go back to sleep! I don't rush her, but I don't really sit and enjoy our time together fully.
So tonight, I just stroked her little arm and hand and I didn't even feel tired..I just thought, there will be plenty of years ahead that I won't have a little baby/toddler/kiddo...these years are going to fly by I am sure of it....so I have to and want to ENJOY this time with her. All parts of it. 
I love how at 2 1/2 months she's such a little PERSON..I am thankful I do get to be with her every day and see everything.  "Bills will always be there, but children won't." 
So true..so painfully true!




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