Dec 30, 2016

This Toddler Just Became the Official Bottle-Flipping Champ of 2016

2016 brought us many things: A new president, Chewbacca mom, Pokémon GO … and yes, the simple yet addicting game now known as bottle-flipping.

If you’re unfamiliar with the craze, it goes a little something like this: You take an empty plastic water bottle, fill it up with a few inches of water, and toss it into the air — thereby “flipping it” — with the goal of landing it perfectly, standing straight up.

The practice is so addicting that it’s spawned thousands, if not millions, of YouTube videos featuring ecstatic tweens and teens landing “the perfect flip” — many of which are actually quite impressive:

Watch More Videos >

And while plenty of parents have openly griped about having to hear the irritating, repetitive “thud” noise ring out in their homes for hours on end, others have argued that the harmless game is in many ways an improvement over the alternative: begging their tweens to step away from their video games and emerge from their darkened rooms.

But it looks like the bottle-flipping craze may have spread beyond just the tween and teen years — because the Internet has declared a new bottle-flipping champ, and she’s not even in preschool yet.

Meet Sam, a 2-year-old who landed her own impressive bottle flip on the kitchen table last week, and got so adorably excited about it, she’s warming hearts everywhere. Just take a look:

Watch More Videos >

How cute is that?!

Little Sam just so happens to be the daughter of Matt Rogers, the country singer and co-host behind the Hallmark Channel show Home & Family, who originally shared the video of her trick on his personal Facebook page December 23. But at the behest of some friends, he decided to share it on his public Facebook page, too — where it’s since been viewed over 11 million times, racked up 174K likes, and officially secured Sam’s spot in Internet stardom.

“It’s been unbelievable,” says Rogers, who says the video originally received around 1K likes from his usual fanbase, which was normal. “[But] by Tuesday afternoon, within four hours, I had over 20K likes, over 1K shares … I’m like, omg I think this is going viral.”

Like most parents, Rogers says his house has been taken over by the irritating sounds of bottle flipping for months now, thanks to his two older sons, who are 8 and 10. And yes, it typically bugs him to no end. “I’m always yelling at my kids, ‘Quit flipping bottles in my house!'” he admits.

But on Friday, when his sons told him they taught Sam how to flip bottles too, any irritation he may have had over the craze quickly flew out the window. He took out his camera to capture her first few attempts — though he admits that after he put his phone down, she went on to land seven flips in a row — and the rest is viral history.

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Watching “Baby Sam” go viral has left Rogers in awe, to say the least. But it’s also warmed his heart for other reasons. Amid all the social media frenzy this week, he says he can’t help but think of how this happy little 27-second video captures the true essence of his daughter — a little girl who was born a fighter.

Two years ago, Sam was born with Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that negatively impacts the lungs, as well as the pancreas, liver, and other major organs. Though treatment options have improved over the years, the life expectancy for most sufferers is, on average, mid-30s. It’s a that the Rogers sadly had plenty of experience with, long before Baby Sam came along: Their older son had been diagnosed with Cystic fibrosis six years prior, and it was part of what led the couple to delay having a third child.

But after two sons, they wanted to try for their baby girl.

During his wife’s pregnancy, Rogers remembers how the doctor broke the news of Sam’s diagnosis to them, giving the couple the option to terminate if they felt it was too much. But to the Rogers’, there was no decision to be made.

“‘Absolutely not,'” Rogers recalls thinking. “‘This baby has an unbelievable God-given destiny, whatever that is, we’re going to walk this thing out.'”

The experience has taught him what he feels is one of his greatest life lessons: “You never want your adversity to speak louder than your baby’s destiny,” he says.

Image Source: Matt Rogers
Image Source: Matt Rogers

And so, the Rogers welcomed their “miracle baby” with open arms in 2014. She was a ball of fire from the start, Rogers says, soon growing wild, curly red hair to match her vibrant personality. (Despite the fact that no one on either side of the family had red or curly hair, he notes.)

Now a bubbly (and hilarious) 2-year-old, Rogers says his daughter is “crazy smart” and pretty much always camera-ready. “This is just one video, but I have dozens more videos of this girl” he shares. And each one is more entertaining than the next.

Image Source: Matt Rogers
Image Source: Matt Rogers
Image Source: Matt Rogers
Image Source: Matt Rogers

No matter what becomes of his toddler’s sudden viral stardom, Rogers feels that the last week has been a heartwarming reminder that Sam’s life has purpose; and that even at 2, she is already bringing all sorts of happiness into the world.

And even if bottle-flipping isn’t her life’s calling, bigger things may just lie in store: Thanks to her dad, Sam now has her own Twitter handle — you can follow her at @therealbabysam for more adorable updates. And her dad hasn’t ruled out a possible YouTube channel for the tot, either.

Watch out, world!

Image Source: Matt Rogers
Image Source: Matt Rogers
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Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week

Image Source: Babble
Image Source: Babble

If you’re a parent with a Twitter account, chances are you tweet about your kids — and often. Some of the things we’ve seen (the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly) are just begging to be shared, and who has the time for more than 140 characters? Not us. So here you go, the funniest tweets from __parents on Twitter this week. #yourewelcome

1. Good recommendation.

7: are you taking hints for your New Year's resolution?
Me: sure.
7: good, so say yes to us more when we ask for stuff you want to say no to

— Mike Reynolds (@EverydayGirlDad) December 27, 2016

2. Trust us, you’re going to need this.

*Friend opening iPad I gave her for her baby shower*
Her: But screentime is-
Me: -Shh
Her: Not until they're 2-
Me: *smothering her* Shhhhhh

— Mommy Cusses (@mommy_cusses) December 29, 2016

3. __parents will do anything to avoid a tantrum. Anything.

My kid's banana fell on the ground, so excuse me while I perform a quick memorial service.

— Sara Says Stop (@PetrickSara) December 27, 2016

4. Until next year, advent calendars.

There was no denying 8 was my son as he woke up on Dec 25th, devastated by the thought he would no longer be getting a chocolate every day.

— Carbosly (@Carbosly) December 26, 2016

5. So. gross.

My toddler just drank spoiled milk he found in a sippy cup under the couch.

So yeah, I'll take that nomination for 2016 Mom of the Year.

— MyMomologue (@MyMomologue) December 28, 2016

6. It’s a vicious cycle.

If you give a mom a movie, she's probably going to want 10 cookies to go with it.

And then she's going to want to Google all the cast.

— Walking Outside (@WalkingOutside) December 29, 2016

7. Questionable life choice #372.

Family vacation. So instead of having my hubby in the jacuzzi with me, I have my kids.

And I'm pretty sure at least one of them just peed.

— Unfiltered Mama (@UnfilteredMama) December 24, 2016

8. Close enough.

My wife said she's starting to feel like she wants another baby, so I bought her a Hatchimal.

— Real American Dadass (@R_A_Dadass) December 28, 2016

9. Lolz.

Remember back when we didn't have kids and thought we were busy?

— Stella G. Maddox (@StellaGMaddox) December 30, 2016

10. We need useful information. 

Thanks, pregnancy sites. All this focus on carseats but NOTHING about which monsters a T-rex could kill in a fight. My 6yo thinks I'm a fool

— Lurkin' Mom (@LurkAtHomeMom) December 24, 2016

11. Please?

"Children hibernate at some point in the winter, right?"
-parents over Christmas break.

— No Idea: Daddy Blog (@byclintedwards) December 23, 2016

12. Seriously, she’s not mad.

The kids were up at 5, but it's cool. I'm not mad.
*aggressively stirs coffee*

— Stacey Sordahl (@DrunkAtThePTA) December 27, 2016

13. Get it together, man.

Our family about ready to leave:

My wife: Is that what you're wearing?

Me: Of course not. This is…my getting ready to leave outfit.

— Beau Coffron (@lunchboxdad) December 26, 2016

14. Family time overload.

It's day… "my kid and I are no longer speaking but relying on grunts and hand gestures to communicate"… of winter break.

— Jules (@SaltyCorpse) December 28, 2016

15. That works, too.

If I just stuffed a couple of marshmallows in my kid's mouth I'd probably get a more natural smile for the camera.

— Charlie N Andy (@HowToBeADad) December 25, 2016

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Dec 29, 2016

I May Have Adopted Each One of My 4 Kids — But Please Don’t Call Me an “Adoptive” Mom

Image Source: Rachel Garlinghouse
Image Source: Rachel Garlinghouse

Recently, I took three of my four children to a new pediatrician. Our first round of appointments were back-to-back physicals. My toddler son grew restless in the waiting room, finally succumbing to laying face-down on the germ-infested floor and wailing like he had just received news that Jake and the Neverland Pirates would cease to exist. I began to sweat, alternating between breaking up arguments between my eldest two children and trying to lure the toddler off the floor with an old cell phone and a granola bar.

Finally it was our turn. I herded my children into the exam room, arranging them in the available seats with objects from my Mary Poppins bag of fun, before turning my attention to the nurse. She began asking questions about the children’s health, and then she paused to ask, “And are you … a foster mom?”

This wasn’t the first time (nor would it be the last) that I’ve been asked this question. As a mom whose children were adopted — children who are black, while I am white — we are faced with many questions about what “category” our family fits in, which boxes can be checked, what label can be placed on us.

“No,” I replied.

“So you are … let me see. I mean, I have to put something in the file. You are, an adoptive mom?”

“I am their mom,” I replied, looking directly into her eyes.

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Later, I replayed the situation in my mind, reflecting on what my family knows as truth.

First, we’re a real family. And real families — authentic families — don’t need to qualify their “type.” There is no word that needs to be in front of my title as mom. I’m the boo-boo kisser, the puke-catcher, the food preparer, the bedtime storyteller, the classroom Christmas party planner, the encourager … You know, the person who performs all motherly duties — because I am the mom!

Which brings me to my second point, which is that my kids know me simply as “Mom.” Period, end of story. When they have a bad dream in the middle of the night, they don’t cry out, “Adoptive mom! Adoptive mom! I’ve had a bad dream!” When they are angry with me for telling that no, leftover Halloween candy isn’t one of the dinner options, they exclaim, “MOM!” not, “Adoptive mom!” When one falls down and needs a reassuring hug, they cry out for “mom,” not “Hey, adoptive mom! Can you get me a bandage?”

Third, the “othering” is an unwelcome interruption. As anyone can see, I’m doing what moms do: rushing about, trying to keep the kids content and attempting to maintain some sort of personal sanity. A demand for a label, for information, for a category is annoying and unnecessary. I’m just trying to keep my son from opening every single drawer of no-touch objects in the exam room.

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The fact that we adopted is no secret, and it’s definitely not something we are ashamed of. But it certainly isn’t the thing our life revolves around. Our life, as shocking as it may seem to some, is normal. Our day-to-day existence is similar to those of every other growing family. We argue, we laugh, we play, we cuddle, we drive, we talk. We plan vacations, we have sick days, we do laundry, we have playdates.

So when we someone tries to qualify us, I always meet such demands for justification with simple, direct answers. I am proud to be the one my children call mom — the one who was entrusted to raise them, the one who refuses to let another person’s uncertainty or curiosity impress up upon me that I am anything less than a full-fledged mother.

And that will never, ever change.

6-Year-Old Spends $250 on Amazon Using Her Sleeping Mom’s Thumbprint

image source: bethany howell
Image Source: Bethany Howell

When Arkansas mom Bethany Howell discovered her daughter Ashlynd had used her thumbprint to buy Pokémon toys on Amazon Prime — while she was sleeping — she was understandably shocked. Especially once she saw the price tag: According to Baby Center, the 6-year-old racked up quite the bill, spending a whopping $250 when all was said and done.

It all started one busy Monday night earlier this month. Bethany tells Babble that she could barely keep her eyes open, but Ashlynd was wide awake. (We’ve all been there.) So Bethany started a movie to calm her down. Instead, after about five minutes, Bethany fell fast asleep. That’s just about when the little one used her mom’s thumb to unlock her phone and purchase 13 Pokémon toys — from plush characters to figurines to trading cards — to be delivered right to their door.

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Bethany didn’t find out until the next day when she received email confirmations. She and her husband were surprised, as Ashlynd had never done anything like this before. Bethany tells us:

“Usually when she plays on my phone she will look at YouTube videos, play games, or pull up my Netflix app … When I first learned that she had ordered toys on Amazon I thought it was not intentional. Then later when she told me she was shopping and it was all going to come to the house I was shocked. I had no idea she even knew what Amazon was.”

image source: bethany howell
Image Source: Bethany Howell

Bethany and her husband sat Ashlynd down to explain what she had done, and decided to use the incident as a teachable moment.

“Before this all happened she did not have a concept of money or that what she was doing was wrong,” says Bethany. “… Once she understood she apologized and promised to always get our permission to get on our phones or open any apps.”

There was only one hitch: When Bethany looked into returning the items, she discovered she could only return four — meaning she was stuck with the other nine. But that’s when she got a clever idea.

“We told Ashlynd that the Elf on the Shelf found out and told Santa,” recounts Bethany. “So Santa was going to intercept some of the toys and bring them for her on Christmas.”

This worked out perfectly for the Howells, considering they hadn’t yet purchased any of her Christmas gifts. Now this is genius parenting. Good work!

h/t: Baby Center

17-Year-Old Signs One-Day Contract with Chicago Bulls Thanks to Make-a-Wish

When asking young kids what they hope to be when they grow up, it’s not surprising to hear answers like: a basketball player like Michael Jordan! Or, a tennis player like Serena Williams! Or, a boxer like Muhammed Ali! Such was the case for 17-year-old Bennie “Trey” Flowers.

Ever since he first learned to play basketball, he’s dreamed of playing on the same court as his Chicago Bulls idol, Michael Jordan.

And yesterday, that dream became a reality thanks to his friends at Make-a-Wish Oregon and Illinois.

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In 2015, Trey suffered from acute liver failure and underwent an eight-hour liver transplant. While this sounds like it would be anything but easy, the doctors at Stanford University were shocked to find that Trey recovered three months earlier than they anticipated, thus earning him the nickname “The Rockstar.”

After hearing about Trey’s dream to play in the same arena as Jordan (and his new favorite player Dwayne Wade), the Make-a-Wish Foundation worked to get 17-year-old Trey a ceremonial one-day contract with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls tweeted out a photo of Trey signing his contract yesterday with the caption: “Official: #Bulls sign Trey Flowers to a one-day contract from @ORWish!”

Official: #Bulls sign Trey Flowers to a one-day contract from @ORWish!

— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 28, 2016

And Trey could not be more ecstatic. He told The Chicago Tribune:

“I’m excited to be a part of the organization. I’ve always admired Dwyane Wade and am eager to experience the game at the United Center. They tell me I’m a fighter because of what I’ve overcome. I look forward to bringing that fighting spirit to the Bulls.”

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So what exactly did this one-day contract entail? According to KGW, Trey got the chance to meet the players, tour Untied Center, and watch their shoot-around in preparation for their game against the Brooklyn Nets. Oh, and he was also obliged to high-five his teammates upon reasonable request.

In a statement issued by Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman, he had nothing but positive things to say about the signing:

“I am thrilled to welcome Trey to the Bulls, as I know he will be the perfect teammate and professional on and off the court. Trey brings an unprecedented level of toughness and strength to our team after what he has been through, and we know he will be able to inspire his new teammates with his story. I am confident that he has all of the intangibles to be a real contributor to this team right away.”

And we are, too.

You can check out the full press conference and signing here:

23 Feel-Good Stories to Remind You That 2016 Wasn’t All Bad

With 2016 coming to an end, it’s time to finally take a deep breath and reflect on everything this year gave us. Sure, the past 12 months were full of ups and downs, but while it seemed like there were many negative stories in the news, there were also amazing acts of hope and positivity.

Throughout the year, we here at Babble have had the pleasure of covering stories of generosity, kindness, and just plain human decency that never failed to astound us. Here are just a few of our favorites that kept us going strong.

1. This family who spent Valentine’s Day delivering roses to 200 widows.

Image Source: Widow Wednesday
Image Source: Widow Wednesday

What started with Jimmy Chouteau helping out widows in his community turned into a non-profit organization that is providing 200 roses and handwritten notes to widows on Valentine’s Day, while also helping them out with anything they need all year long.

2. These men who rallied around a little boy who was mocked for wearing heart socks.

Image Sources, L to R: Serge Bielanko, Tom Burns, Greybeard D
Image Sources, L to R: Serge Bielanko, Tom Burns, Greybeard D’Agostini, Clint Edwards, Georgie Giancamilli, Jeff Bogle, Sara Macdonald, Will Trowbridge, Drew Taylor

When 3-year-old Harry was mocked at school for wearing socks with hearts on them because he’s a boy, his mom posted her frustrations on Facebook, and the response was amazing.

3. This midwife who rode an inflatable swan through flood waters to deliver a baby.

Image Source: Cathy Rude
Image Source: Cathy Rude

Cathy Rude, a midwife in Texas, had to get to her patient who was in labor, but heavy rains had flooded her street. When the laboring mother saw a neighbor taking a leisurely float by in an inflatable swan, she asked her to go pick up her midwife. Believe it or not, she made it to the birth (and no, we’re not making this up).

4. These hundreds of dads who showed up to cheer on elementary school kids before their exams.

At a school in Mississippi, hundreds of dads, uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, and other male role models formed a tunnel of high-fives and cheers to help get kids pumped up for the day of exams ahead.

5. These Texas high school graduates who took a “senior walk” through their local elementary schools to inspire younger students.

Before their graduation, the high school seniors of Van, Texas, took a walk through the elementary, intermediate, and middle schools to give them a sense of accomplishment, and inspire the younger students as well.

6. This teacher who wrote all over her students’ desks for one awesome reason.

Fifth-grade teacher Chandni Langford wanted to do everything she could to help her students with their upcoming exams, so she wrote an inspiring message on every one of her 19 students’ desks to help boost their confidence.

7. This policeman who was photographed comforting a scared toddler in the hospital, saying: “It was just human instinct.”

As police officer James Hurst would put it, he was just doing his job when he offered to comfort a toddler who he had found and brought to the hospital. He held the little boy, who quickly fell asleep in his arms, for two hours while he received medical care.

8. This 54-year-old custodian who worked nights to put himself through college, and finally graduated.

Image Source: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Image Source: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

After the recession left Michael Vaudreuil, a married father of three, without many options, he took a job as a custodian at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He eventually started taking free courses that he was eligible for as an employee of the university. Sometimes only getting four and a half hours a sleep a night, he worked as a student by day and custodian by night. But it all paid off in the end.

9. These triplets and their heartwarming bond with their local garbage men.

No one will ever be as excited for anything as these 2-year-old triplets are for garbage day. The viral video of the identical twin boys Heaton and Wilder, along with their sister Holden, greeting and playing with their favorite garbage men is just too cute to handle.

10. This mom who unboxed a Chewbacca mask in a Kohl’s parking lot and became an overnight Internet sensation.

Oh, Chewbacca Mom. Possibly the funniest video to come out of 2016 was the hilarious laughter of Candace Payne trying on a Chewbacca mask that she purchased at Kohl’s. Her infectious laugh combined with the unmistakable cries of Chewbacca was an instant hit. The video, posted in May, now has over 164 million views! Thanks to her newfound fame, Payne got to hang out with James Corden and J.J. Abrams, visit the Facebook headquarters, and get a private tour of Lucasfilm Studios. Guys, I think she won 2016.

11. These celebrities who made a special trip to meet young Avengers fan who was battling cancer.

Today @ryanwilcox0303 got a little surprise. Thank you to the incredible #chrisevans and my better work half @robertdowneyjr for being the men you both are. And thank you to the Wilcox family for your hospitality! #ryanstrong

A photo posted by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on

Eighteen-year-old Ryan Wilcox, who was diagnosed with leukemia for the second time, got a special visit from Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., and Gwyneth Paltrow after students at his school made a plea on his behalf. Paltrow was the first to see the posts, and brought along some of her famous co-stars for a surprise Wilcox would never forget.

12. This 10-year-old who knit 50 hats for kids battling cancer.

Image Source: Sheryl Lowry
Image Source: Sheryl Lowry

Although he’s widely known among his friends as a great baseball player, the children battling cancer at the Children’s Hospital Colorado know Garrett Lowry for his generous donation of 50 hats that he knit himself. This initiative started as a school project with the goal of making 15 hats, but he soon decided to “mega size it.”

13. This mom of twins who was “blessed” by a rent-a-car employee’s small act of kindness.

Mom Coty Vincent was trying to get a rental car after a hit-and-run incident, and when she literally ran out of hands to hold her twins, an Enterprise employee offered to help. The employee, named John, held one of the babies while she sorted out the paperwork, and Enterprise even made the story better with an extra gift.

14. These two Chick-Fil-A employees who stepped up when kids refused to play with a young Star Wars fan.

Eight-year-old Caleb Merriken, who has spinal muscular atrophy, was excited to attend a Star Wars-themed event at their local Chick-Fil-A. When he asked to play with a couple of other kids, and they refused, he was upset. But two Chick-Fil-A employees engaged him in an epic lightsaber battle that changed everything.

15. This grandson’s sweet surprise for his nan’s 86th birthday.

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David Goodings gave his grandmother, Iris Howard, the best birthday surprise she could’ve asked for. She thought she was just driving around with her grandson, but then the radio started playing recordings of all of her family and friends wishing her a happy birthday. Grab the tissues.

16. This local police department who walked a little boy to school on his first day of pre-K.

Image Source: Amarillo Independent School District
Image Source: Amarillo Independent School District

For 4-year-old Jackson Scherlen and his family, his first day of pre-K was both exciting and tinged with sadness. Scherlen’s father, a police officer, had passed away from an injury sustained in the line of duty just two weeks earlier. But when it was time for him to go to school, he was surrounded by the family of police officers, showing him that he will never be alone.

17. This heroic 7-year-old cancer patient who raised over $20K to help other kids battling the disease.

Image Source: Brave for Benjamin Facebook Page
Image Source: Brave for Benjamin Facebook Page

Benjamin Burke, while in the middle of ongoing treatment for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, teamed up with the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation (ARFF) to help other kids battling cancer. He set up a lemonade stand that raised $10K, which was matched by The Case Law Firm. Thanks to Burke’s hard work and the support of thousands, over $20K was donated to ARFF.

18. This 10-year-old boy who grew out his hair for nearly three years to donate to kids with cancer.

Image Source: Angie Polus
Image Source: Angie Polus

After learning about cancer and the tough side effects of chemotherapy, Thomas Moore decided to grow his hair out to donate to kids battling the disease. Although his growing afro was hard to tame, he stuck it out for two years and five months, finally cutting off enough hair to make three wigs for children in need.

19. These college students who bring magic to children with cancer by dressing up as Disney princesses.

Image Source: A Moment of Magic Foundation
Image Source: A Moment of Magic Foundation

Margaret McAndrew and Kylee McGrane started a volunteer organization at the College of Mount Saint Vincent that visits children who are battling cancer, bringing a little magic with them everywhere they go. When they’re not visiting hospitals in costume, they are holding princess lessons for all of the volunteers on how to give the children the most magical experiences.

20. Tommee Tippee, who gave this teen with autism a lifetime supply of his favorite discontinued sippy cup.

Reward for cup like this! Son has severe #autism & would rather go to A&E dehydrated than use ANY other cup – colour shape etc PLEASE SHARE

— Grumpy Carer (@GrumpyCarer) November 14, 2016

One dad’s plea for his son with autism went viral on Twitter and had the perfect happy ending. Marc Carter took to Twitter to ask if anyone had any of these discontinued sippy cups left in their cabinets. His son, Ben, has autism and will only drink out of this exact cup, and their supply was quickly diminishing after constant use. In an amazing turn of events, the manufacturer of the cup searched their warehouses and found the mold for this cup, and promised Ben and his dad that they would make as many cups as he needed, for the rest of his life.

21. These police officers who bought a bike for a teen who was walking two hours (each way) to get to work.

Jourdan Duncan didn’t want to burden his family with driving him to work every day. His __parents thought he was getting a ride from someone, but he was actually walking two hours to get to and from work every day. When police officers stopped to ask why he was walking so late, they were shocked to hear about his dedication. Together, the Benicia Police Officers Association gifted Duncan with a bike that would cut his commute in half, and change his life.

22. This all-female biker crew who deliver breastmilk to babies in need.

Watch More Videos >

When the New York Milk Bank was having a hard time quickly delivering breastmilk throughout Manhattan, they turned to The Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club, New York City’s oldest and largest all-female motorcycle club. These amazing ladies strap donated breastmilk to their motorcycles and deliver liquid gold to thousands of babies all over the city, and they do it all for free.

23. This single dad who donated his frequent flyer miles to strangers who couldn’t fly home for the holidays.

Image Source: Peter Shankman
Image Source: Peter Shankman

For the second year in a row, Peter Shankman racked up so many frequent flyer miles that he decided to donate his extra miles to those who couldn’t afford to be with their families for the holidays. He left it completely up to the Imgur community to choose the winners, and invited others with extra miles to donate them as well. While he originally wanted to send two to four people home, thanks to other donations he was able to fly 10 lucky people to be with their families.

Dec 28, 2016

“Angel Gowns” Offer Solace to Families Whose Babies Never Come Home from the Hospital

Losing a baby during the latter stages of pregnancy is a situation that few are prepared to experience. When it happens, it’s soul crushing and often all-consuming. But having the comfort around you of those you love can serve as the first step in restoring hope; and sometimes, even the kindness of strangers can help.

Such was the case for Natasha Clune, who delivered her son Elijah stillborn at 20 weeks in 2015. After delivering the small, precious baby, Natasha said she wasn’t sure what would come next — so it took her breath away when the nurses brought Elijah back to her fully dressed in a beautiful “angel gown,” specially made for a baby his size.

Image Source: Natasha Clune
Image Source: Natasha Clune

“It was such a meaningful gesture that they took the time to dress and treat our son with such love and dignity,” says Natasha, who lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and three older sons. “He was dressed and treated just like any baby born and this will stay with me forever. I have pictures of him dressed in his beautiful clothes and these are some of my most treasured possessions.”

Touched by the gesture that helped lessen her grief in a small, but meaningful way, Natasha began to volunteer for her local angel gowns organization, Ava Grace No Footprint Too Small. She says the gowns are lovingly handcrafted from beautiful materials such as donated wedding dresses for babies as small as 15 weeks.

Image Source: Natasha Clune
The memory box where Natasha stores Elijah’s angel gown, along with other keepsakes of her son.

In the United States, the March of Dimes reports the stillbirth rate of babies older than 20 weeks gestational age affects more than 23,000 families each year — with many more experiencing second-trimester miscarriages. Although volunteer-based organizations that create angel gowns exist around the world to help families in these situation, they are often in need of materials and volunteers.

Image Source: Natasha Clune
Natasha’s sons hold the teddy bear keepsake they have in memory of Elijah.

However, some who are involved say they don’t receive much publicity because pregnancy and infant loss isn’t something most people consider until it affects them. In fact, the Australian website KidSpot reports that one angel gown organization was even barred from setting up a booth at the Baby Welcome and Family Expo in Far North Queensland in October because the booth wasn’t deemed “suitable for babies and young children,” despite assurances from the organizer that she would leave anything “controversial” at home.

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In a statement, the Cairns Regional Council spokesperson said of their decision:

“After careful consideration, it was determined that this particular stall did not fit with the theme of what is a fun, light-hearted and celebratory civic event aimed at __parents with babies and young children.”

Natasha tells Babble she understands that sentiment — but believes it’s still important to confront something potentially uncomfortable because of all the ways the angel gown mission could ultimately benefit families like hers.

“These precious babies are the ones that seem to be forgotten the most,” she says. “Knowing how much it meant to my family to have our baby dressed I would hate to have a family miss out on that.”

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Here in the U.S., there are several programs like the one Natasha volunteers for — like the Angel Gown Program run by NICU Helping Hands in Fort Worth, Texas, which hand sews angel gowns and ships them to grieving __parents for final photos and burial services.

While the costs of running a volunteer program like the Angel Gown program are sizable, considering the material and shipping costs that come into play, the dedicated group of volunteers take their job very seriously.

“We’ve never had to tell a family no,” NICU Helping Hands President Lisa Grubbs shared on the program’s website. She and other volunteers often spend hours ironing, folding, wrapping, and boxing up gown after gown.

If you would like to support Ava Grace No Footprint Too Small, you can do so by visiting the organization’s official Facebook page here. You can also donate or volunteer your time to the Angel Gown Program of Fort Worth, via the program’s official website, here.

Dad’s Sweet Christmas Present to Bisexual Daughter Is the Definition of Love

Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb
Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb

Dakotah Whitcomb of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, added something to her Christmas list that may not have been on many lists this year: a gay pride flag. The 20-year-old came out as bisexual to her parents, who both served in the military, earlier this year. When she opened her present on Christmas morning, she was surprised to find not only the rainbow flag, but a touching note from her father.

The note reads:

“Merry Christmas Dakotah,

When I saw that a gay pride flag was on your list, at first I thought it was an odd request.

But after thinking about it, I think I know why.

I reckon that you feel that everyone else in the family, except grandma, has a flag that represents something we were/are a part of. I have the Marine Corps, Grandpa and Mom have the Navy, and Darr has the Army. So it makes sense that you would want a flag to represent something you are a part of.

I present you with this flag, to display how you would like. In the spring, when I hang the flags up, I would be proud to hang yours up.

Love you,


Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb
Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb

The note is amazing not only because her father, who served in the Marines for 20 years, accepts her sexuality, but also because he understands the reason why she would want such a flag. He wanted to make sure that she feels welcome and accepted not only within her own family, but within the gay community as well.

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The letter meant even more to her, Dakotah says, because she suffers from two chronic pain disorders and is unable to serve in the military like the rest of her family. Still, she feels like she also belongs to something larger.

Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb
Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb

Dakotah told The Huffington Post how she came out to her father in January “completely by accident.” She was eating at a restaurant with her father, Ron, and her brother, Darr, when their female server “began hitting on her.”

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“My dad was like, ‘Yeah she likes you,’” she told HuffPost.

Darr (who already knew she was bisexual) then said, “Well, it’s not like Dakotah minds.”

Dakotah says her dad looked at her, and she said, “‘Yeah, I like girls too.’ [Then] he smiled really big and said, ‘That’s so cool!’”

Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb
Image Source: Dakotah Whitcomb

Her family was already so supportive, and this Christmas present just showed Dakotah how much she is loved and accepted.

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“I was really happy and shocked,” she told HuffPost. “When I read the letter and saw the flag, I cried. It wasn’t just that he got me the flag, but that he was willing to hang it up in front of our house with the rest of our flags.”

She posted photos of the gift and the note on Twitter on Christmas Day, and it quickly went viral, with over 61K retweets and 245K likes so far.

This is what true love and support looks like.

h/t: The Huffington Post

Foster Mom Pens Beautiful Letter to Her Daughters on Their Adoption Day

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ
Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

The decision to become foster __parents and bring children into your home — fully knowing they may be leaving you within months, or even days — is not one to be made lightly. But for Jamie and her husband, the calling came on a spiritual level, and it was one they couldn’t refuse.

The couple, who already had two biological children, saw becoming foster __parents as an opportunity to serve, and it was through their faith in God, and each other, that they decided to dive into this scary, yet exciting new journey. Jamie tells Babble:

“I was compelled by the stories of children, just like mine, living right across town from me who were hurt, starved, raped, ignored. I was compelled by the statistics that predict these kids’ futures: jail, pregnancy, homelessness, further abuse. I was compelled by admitting what is true: God created them, loves them, and values them.”

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So the couple handed in their application, took the foster parenting training classes, and went through the home study process. After everything was approved, the couple then just waited to hear from a social worker.

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ
Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

The first call came on August 19, 2014, when they welcomed “B” (or “Big Sis”) into their home, and then just four months later, they welcomed “E” (or “Little Sis”) on December 23.

Since the ultimate goal of foster care is always to reunite the children with their biological parents, Jamie knew there was a chance they would have to say goodbye to their two foster daughters. But as Jamie tells us, that wasn’t how their story would go:

“As time went on and it became clear that their parents weren’t doing what they needed to do to be safe, stable parents, the conversation with the worker changed and adoption began to look like the best option for them. The goal was changed to termination of parental rights, at 15 months for ‘B’ and 12 months for ‘E,’ termination occurred, and the adoption day was set.”

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So just two years after welcoming the two girls into their home, Jamie and her family were able to officially adopt “B” and “E” earlier this month on December 1.

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ
Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

On her blog, Foster the Family, Jamie wrote an emotional letter about the momentous day, and what it means to officially welcome them into her family.

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ
Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

She begins the letter:

“To my daughters on the day of your adoption,

I’ve called you by that label, that sacred name, ‘daughter,’ many times. But today is different.

Today there’s no prefix, no subtext, no ‘sort of but not really’ as there has always been before. You’re not my foster daughter, I don’t love you ‘like you’re my own.’ Today you are wholly, completely, for forever my daughter.”

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

Jamie goes on to write that since the first moment her girls were dropped off at her home, there was no doubt that they were loved, and that they were her daughters. But now on their adoption day, she finds herself feeling the same types of emotions she did on the day she married their dad.

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“I met him. Then I fell in love with him, knew I would spend the rest of my life with him,” she writes. “And then came the day to make it official. Papers were signed, names were changed, ceremonies were had, but I didn’t love him any more than I had the day before. He was the same. I was the same. Nothing had changed. But everything had. After that day, we belonged to each other, officially, forever.

Today is our day, my dear, when I take you as my daughter, when I vow to love you forever. Today is our day when nothing and when everything changes.”

While the two girls are still too young to fully understand what is happening, Jamie says that they’re mostly just really excited about their Frozen-themed adoption party.

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ
Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

And this isn’t the end of Jamie and her family’s foster journey: They picked up a 2-week-old boy from the hospital about six months ago, and soon he’ll move to his adoptive family. While Jamie admits she loves him as her own son, and that she’ll miss him terribly, there’s an especially happy ending to this story.

“My best friend babysits my kids, fell in love with him, and when the division started looking for an adoptive family, she stepped up! She lives two minutes away and we see each other a couple of times a week. I’ll get to be a part of his life forever!”

Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ
Image Source: Hannah Marie Photo, NJ

The family plans on welcoming another foster child after he leaves. And to anyone considering going down the amazing journey that is foster care, Jamie wants you to know that while yes, it’s hard, it is so worth it.

h/t: PopSugar Moms

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The Inspiring Reason Why This 6-Year-Old with Terminal Cancer Is Painting People’s Nails

It breaks our hearts to see anyone diagnosed with terminal cancer, but when it’s a child, it’s especially devastating. However, when these brave warriors turn their struggles into something positive for others? It’s heartwarming and a true inspiration for all of us.

Such is the case of 6-year-old Tijn Kolsteren, a Dutch boy who is suffering from brain cancer and was told he has less than a year to live. According to radio station 3FM, Tijn has one request: to raise as much money as possible to make other kids’ lives better.

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Tign’s father told several publications that his son was inspired to raise money for other children who might not even make it to the age of 6.

He’s doing so by partnering with 3FM Serious Request — an annual six-day, ’round-the-clock event where radio DJs come together to raise money for important causes. Tign offered manicures to listeners in exchange for a donation to the International Red Cross.

The 6-year-old painted nails at the station for a 1 euro donation and challenged those who left their nails bare to donate 10 euros. He encouraged others at home who couldn’t make it out to the event to paint their own nails and make a donation online, and then he asked them to challenge three of their friends to do the same by tagging them on social media using the hashtags #lakaan (which means “paint on” in Dutch) and #SR16.

Tijn’s selfless act is inspiring people all over the Netherlands to get a mani — from firefighters to local celebrities to even the Prime Minster, Mark Rutte! All of this has helped them raise over 2.6 million euros.

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This has us counting our blessings and wishing the best for Tijn and his family.

h/t: Refinery29

Meet the SAHM Who Paid Off $15K of Debt in 13 Months and Now Lives in Her Dream Home

Image Source: Jordan Page
Image Source: Jordan Page

When I talked to Jordan Page, the 30-year-old mother of five behind the frugal living website Fun, Cheap, or Free, I have to admit that I felt a little … well, like a loser.

Here is a woman who is my age, has five children under the age of six, a successful business, seemingly endless amounts of energy, can do a full face of make-up in less than five minutes, and just moved into a home that has its own tennis court.

Image Source: Jordan Page
Image Source: Jordan Page

Oh, and a life-sized chess board too.

Image Source: Jordan Page
Image Source: Jordan Page

What makes Page’s story all the more impressive is that she and her husband, Bubba, a sales technology entrepreneur, bought the house after spiraling into over $15,000 worth of debt only a few short years ago.

While living on Bubba’s salary of just over $31,000 a year and dealing with a real estate investment that went south, Page (a stay-at-home mom at the time) took charge of the family’s finances and invested all of her time and energy into saving money and living frugally.

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When Page began learning more about their finances, she was surprised to discover that although she and her husband were both frugal people, they weren’t actually good at managing their money.

“There’s a difference,” explains Page. “We really didn’t know how to properly budget realistically and how to set up systems that would last forever.”

So Page decided to change the way they were living and start saving to pay off their debt. They had planned to accomplish this goal in five years. Instead, it only took 13 months.

Image Source: Jordan Page
Image Source: Jordan Page

Finding a lack of financial advice for moms like her who are “not naturally good with numbers [and] really like Target,” Page started a blog and used it to share her learnings.

Her tips, tricks, and energetic personality have landed her everywhere from the now-cancelled Extreme Cheapskates to Good Morning America. Her next dream? To have her own Extreme Makeover: Finances Edition, where she helps struggling families overcome debt. (Now, who wouldn’t watch that?)

“Whoever stays home is the most important person to be involved in the family finances … it’s the day-to-day decisions that make or break a family’s financial situation.”
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Page says that the principles she and her husband learned changed everything about the way they manage money and it has also allowed them to live even better than they were previously.

According to Page, it’s all about learning to say “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to other things. It’s also important to understand that it’s never about saying you can’t afford something, but challenging yourself to find out how you can afford it.

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For instance, Page really wanted an iPad for her birthday, but it wasn’t in their budget. So her husband entered every business giveaway he could at his work’s trade shows until he won not one but two iPads.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the year the Pages climbed out of their debt was also the year they had the most fun of their lives. They challenged themselves to find fun, cheap or free activities to do together and discovered there are lots of options — everything from free movies in the park to going on free vacations in exchange for attending timeshare presentations.

“Sacrifice,” she says, “is about giving up something good for something great.”

Eventually, her husband found success with new business ventures. That, coupled with her own success as a frugal living expert, helped them get to where they are now: living in a sprawling 8,600-square foot dream home in Utah.

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When Page and her husband first purchased her house, she was faced with some criticism about advocating for “frugal” living while also living in a virtual mansion. But Page says that her new home is really a testament to what she’s been preaching all along: managing your money well can help you achieve your own individual financial goals, whatever those goals may be.

“I’m really open with my readers,” says Page. “Why would I feel like I have to hide this? No one handed us anything … it was all hard work and discipline. My readers started realizing: like if I had a fitness account but never lost weight, they might not listen to me. Success inspires hope.”

Page explains on her website that they previously bought fixer-upper homes that they flipped for significant profit. That, combined with her husband’s new-found business success and years of saving, enabled them to buy their dream home.

Image Source: Jordan Page/Mary Kay Photography
Image Source: Jordan Page/Mary Kim Photography

Page has built a devoted following on social media (who dubbed themselves “Freebs”) and believes that for women and stay-at-home __parents especially, it’s extremely important to take part in the family’s finances, even if they are not earning an income.

“Whoever stays home is the most important person to be involved in the family finances,” she says. “They are the ones making most of the financial decisions for the family. A lot of people think it’s the big financial decisions that make a difference … but honestly it’s the day-to-day 5, 10, 20, 50-dollar decisions that make or break a family’s financial situation.”

And most importantly, Page says, managing your money needs to be a responsibility shared by both partners.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the one who makes the money or manages the money, it’s definitely a group effort,” says Page. “And you can’t really find major success unless you do it together.”

Image Source: Jordan Page/ Chelsea Peterson Photography
Image Source: Jordan Page/ Chelsea Peterson Photography

In the end, Page is not ashamed of living in what she laughingly calls an “ostentatious” home, because she believes that the principles and strategies that she teaches work — whether you are saving for your dream home or an indulgent trip to Target.

“[My tips] show people exactly how they are able to do it, with your own financial situation and your financial goals … Whatever it is, there’s no shame in it, as long as you work,” she adds. “Rock what you got.”

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Dec 27, 2016

NICU Nurses Sing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to Preemie, and the Internet’s in Tears

For many parents, getting to celebrate their babies’ first-ever Christmas is a pretty exciting milestone full of family, friends, and lots of festive photo ops. But for __parents who have recently given birth to a premature baby, it’s likely that this year’s holiday was actually spent in a hospital NICU. That’s not exactly somewhere most families anticipate spending Christmas (or any other day of the year, really), but with a little help from two talented nurses, the staff at a hospital in Toronto, Canada recently gave one very tiny patient an incredibly heartwarming Christmas present her __parents will never forget: a holiday serenade.

Watch More Videos >

On Dec. 21, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre posted a video to YouTube showing NICU nurses Marieneth Montenegro and Lisa Sampson singing a beautiful version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” while cradling a preemie named Anya, who was born on Dec. 11. Like many babies born too early, Anya lies in an incubator, hooked up to breathing and feeding tubes, with her vital signs closely monitored at all times.

While it can be hard to see such a tiny baby attached to countless machines and monitors, the loving care and attention of the nurses — coupled with their heartfelt Christmas carol — is a definite tear-jerker. And for those of us who have been there ourselves, it’s a reminder of the eternal gratitude many NICU parents carry with them for the medical professionals who have cared for their children during what was likely one of the scariest times of their lives.

In December 2012, my own children were born at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, when I was only 25 weeks pregnant. We, too, spent our first Christmas in the NICU, feeling overwhelmed and terrified; and while nothing could have truly made that experience easy, knowing that our tiny babies were in such good hands at least made it easier. This year, we celebrated Christmas with our now healthy and active 4-year-olds — something which wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the doctors and nurses at Sunnybrook who cared for them.

Image Source: Sunnybrook Hospital
Image Source: Sunnybrook Hospital

And that’s a reality that Sunnybrook’s NICU parent coordinator, Kate Robson, understands well. Robson tells Babble that she came up with the idea for the video “as a little gift for our NICU community of families and staff members,” during a time of year that can feel extra challenging and isolating. But when the video hit social media, it quickly went viral, with thousands of users on Twitter and Facebook sharing the sweet clip. Robson said that the Sunnybrook NICU staff was “happily surprised” to see that the video has resonated with so many people, and that she has received “hundreds of overwhelmingly positive messages from people” since it was first uploaded.

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Robson tells Babble:

“I think people love it because they see kindness and caring in action, and they see how the baby responds to the beautiful singing. I also think many people responding to this video have never even seen a preemie before, so although it wasn’t really intended to be educational, we have managed to teach people something anyway.”

That unexpected educational opportunity is an important one for many in the NICU community, who know that caring for premature babies is about much more than simply giving them extra time to grow. Premature babies are at risk of a variety of complications after birth, including breathing problems, heart problems, brain hemorrhages, gastrointestinal problems, and infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. And even after leaving the NICU, preemies are at a higher risk for long-term complications, like cerebral palsy, developmental delays, learning disabilities, vision, and hearing problems.

Watch More Videos >

Although baby Anya certainly seems to be enjoying the nurses’ singing in the video, Robson notes that the care provided by the NICU staff is meant to reduce the risk of complications as much as possible, and one of the most important aspects of that is following each baby’s cues.

“Premature babies are exposed to so many artificial noises in the NICU,” Robson explains, “so hearing human voices can act as an important counter-balance and help reduce their stress. But very premature babies don’t like a lot of stimulation, and some may not respond well to singing — they might prefer humming or just quiet talking along with hand hugging or kangaroo care [being held skin-to-skin].”

Image Source: Sunnybrook Hospital/YouTube
Image Source: Sunnybrook Hospital/YouTube

Luckily for Sampson and Montenegro, Anya seemed to be a big fan of their soothing voices, and in a statement to the CBC, Anya’s parents wrote that their little girl “is doing very well” — so well, in fact, that they are looking forward to bringing her home in the new year.

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3-Year-Old’s Christmas Gift Disappears at the Worst Moment and We Can’t Stop Laughing

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Sometimes, the best-laid plans go horribly awry … and find themselves on YouTube where we can all laugh for days over them.

When Heather Brooker, an LA-based mom, gifted her 3-year-old daughter Channing a cat this Christmas, she wasn’t expecting the moment to go viral. But as you can see in the video above, at the exact moment Channing opened the box, the cat slipped out. Which meant a perplexed Channing was left there with an empty box and a whole lot of questions.

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Soon, however, Channing spots the cat in the corner and has the most precious response. But her __parents — and all of us watching — are left in hysterics over the brief confusion.

According to a post on Brooker’s blog, Motherhood in Hollywood, she and her husband had planned for months to get Channing a cat. After researching local animal shelters and deciding on the perfect moment for the surprise, they told Channing she had one last gift to open from Santa.

Once Channing eventually found the kitty, she instantly fell in love and named her Gracie I Love You Brooker, naturally.

The next day, Brooker posted the video on YouTube with the caption:

“We gave my daughter a cat for Christmas but it didn’t go exactly as we planned. Some times life’s imperfect moments are more perfect than you could imagine 🙂 enjoy!”

The 40-second clip now has over 114K views and climbing as viewers everywhere can’t get enough of the perfectly imperfect Christmas moment.

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My Friends Always Ask Me How I Do It All — the Truth Is, I Don’t

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

Almost 10 years ago, I experienced a life-altering, soul-shaking, rock-bottom moment in my life. I’d been suffering through a year-and-a-half long bout with illness, during which I’d visited five different medical professionals seeking an answer to what was wrong with me. I finally got one, from an ER doctor: With his eyes wide as he skimmed the paperwork cradled in one of his arms, he told me that the reason I had been sick for so long — experiencing sudden weight loss, chronic thirst and hunger, depression, tingling in my legs and feet, bed-wetting, and breathlessness — was because I had undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease.

Had I waited just a few more hours to seek medical attention, I would have died.

I spent five days in the hospital where I went from the ICU to meetings with nurses, who would teach me how to dose and inject insulin, check my blood sugar 10 times a day, count the grams of carbohydrates I consumed, and test my urine for ketones. I learned that my disease had no cure, and I would be responsible for keeping myself alive. The littlest error could wind me back into the hospital — or worse, kill me.

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Since that day, a lot in my life has changed. My husband and I bought a house, I graduated graduate school, I started my teaching career, we adopted four children, we bought another house, and I left my teaching job. All the while, I’ve been managing my disease. When I left my teaching job to be a mostly stay-at-home-mom, I took on a new career: writing. I’ve written five books, and I’m on track to complete a sixth. I’ve also penned hundreds of articles on health, adoption, and parenting.

It’s for those reasons, I assume, that many of my friends have asked me over the years how it is I “do it all.” How do I manage my home, parent my kids, be a wife, sister, daughter, and friend, volunteer in my child’s class on occasion, run an adoption support group, and write? What’s my secret? They want in.

Here’s the secret: I don’t do it all.

My disease has taught me many valuable lessons that have now become unwritten life rules — ones that I’ll never compromise on.

1. Say no often, and say no well.

If an opportunity doesn’t excite me, fuel my passion — or benefit my family — then answer is no.

But don’t get me wrong: When I say “no,” it’s with grace (thank you for thinking of me) and with confidence (it’s not something I’m going to do at this time). It’s also without explanation. I’ve found that the more details you provide someone, the more they can resent you, argue with you, or dislike you.

2. Say yes to what matters.

For me, if I don’t take care of my health, I am literally unable to take care of others. My children depend on me to be strong and available; therefore, it’s crucial I say yes to getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and taking time to unwind and relax. Often society believes that a person who doesn’t have a jam-packed schedule is lazy, unmotivated, or untalented; but really, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe a person who knows what matters and sticks to those things is a wise, mature, and happy individual.

3. Allow change when it’s necessary.

I don’t hide from change, but I don’t switch gears on a dime, either. If an opportunity or an idea presents itself, I consider it and I decide if it’s for me or not. If something isn’t working, it’s time to change. If something is working well, I let it be for this season. I’m open to newness, but I’m also not pursuing the next great opportunity at all times.

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So no, I don’t do it “all.” I do what matters. I love my kids and my spouse, I write what I want and when I want, and I take care of myself. I don’t have a crammed schedule, I don’t say “yes” to every opportunity that knocks, and I’m not afraid to say “no.” I relentlessly pursue what matters, and I let go of everything else. Do I have a life of perfect balance? Absolutely not. But am I mostly at peace? Yes.

And I strongly believe that we all can reach that place of contentment, too.

New Recommendation Calls for 30-60 Second Delay in Umbilical Cord Clamping Post-Birth

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released an update to their 2012 Committee Opinion on umbilical cord clamping, now recommending that all healthy term and preterm birth procedures employ a 30-60 second delay post-birth. As emerging studies have consistently shown benefits to waiting — for both mom and baby — medical professionals from around the globe are beginning to implement it as a standard practice.

Prior to the 1950s, early clamping typically occurred any time within one minute of birth. But after research claimed that 90% of blood volume is transferred within the first few breaths a baby takes, this ultimately led to a shortened standard, which has continued until now: cord clamping within 15-20 seconds of birth.

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But new research clearly shows that in full-term newborns, delaying the umbilical cord clamping procedure actually increases hemoglobin levels and improves the ferritin levels (blood cell protein that contains iron) for the first several months of a newborn’s life. And that’s a pretty big deal: Iron deficiency for infants and small children can lead to irreversible impaired motor, cognitive, and behavioral developments. This extra boost of iron right after birth also reduces and prevents iron deficiency during the first year of a baby’s life. Rates of pre-term newborns requiring transfusions were also lower when cord clamping was delayed for at least 30-60 seconds.

Dr. Maria Mascola, lead author of the Committee Opinion, explained in a December 21 ACOG press release that delayed cord clamping does not typically hinder early infant care practices (like skin-to-skin contact or stimulating infant for the first breath).

“While there are various recommendations regarding optimal timing for delayed umbilical cord clamping,” says Mascola, “there has been increased evidence that shows that the practice in and of itself has clear health benefits for both preterm and term infants.”

The Committee Opinion’s research also found no increase in risks of hemorrhaging for the mother or any interference in the management of the third stage of labor.

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The new update is certainly a progressive move forward, but it’s one the American College of Nurses-Midwives and the World Health Organization have long been advocating for. For __parents about to welcome a new baby, the biggest change they’ll see in the delivery room (provided the new guidelines are being applied by their hospital or birthing center) is that following a vaginal birth, newborns will be placed on the mother’s chest immediately, with the cord still attached.

Considering the growing number of studies that have found proven nutritional benefits to delayed clamping in pre-term and full-term babies, this new update certainly reinforces an argument that many medical experts have been touting for years — and will undoubtedly alter health strategies for neonatal policies worldwide.

Courageous Mom Hikes 26 Miles in Freezing Temperatures to Get Help for Her Stranded Family

Last week, Karen Klein had been looking forward to getting away for a little pre-holiday vacation. Along with her husband Eric and 10-year-old son, the 46-year-old Pennsylvania mother packed up her car and set out to see the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

But according to Pennsylvania’s CBS affiliate WTTV, the family of three was driving along State Road 67 when they came upon a road closure and — following their GPS — took an unexpected detour down a service road that runs through the forest. As it turned out, the service road was covered in snow, which forced the family to turn their car around. But when they did, they found themselves stuck in a ditch and unable to move.

With snow continuing to fall and no other cars on the road or people in sight to flag down, Karen set out on foot to get help on Thursday afternoon. She was armed with little more than some water and a few snacks, but believed the entrance to the park was not far away.

It would be two days until she would be seen again.

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Meanwhile, her husband was panicking. Back in the car, he was beginning to suffer from frostbite, and worried whether Karen was able to reach help or if she was somehow lost in the wilderness and in danger.

WTTV reports that by Friday afternoon, Eric decided to leave the car with the couple’s son and set out for help himself. Once he reached higher ground, he was able to finally get a cell phone signal and call for help. But sadly, he soon learned that Karen had still not been heard from.

After hours of searching, she was finally found by authorities on Christmas Eve — barely conscious and suffering from exposure, but alive. Rescuers soon determined that she’d hiked an incredible 26 miles for 30 straight hours before seeking refuge inside a guard shack that had been closed for the season.

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To her family, that remarkable feat wasn’t actually a surprise.

As her twin sister Kristen Haase later told WFMZ, “She would make a decision and she would stick to it and never give up. She would do it or she would die trying.”

And that she did.

It’s that fierce determination that ultimately kept Karen alive, as she now says she survived by eating berries and twigs, and even by drinking her own urine.

And if you’re wondering just how she managed to pull those badass survival skills out of nowhere, she luckily did have some practice: Karen is a seasoned triathlete who, coincidentally, has taken wilderness survival classes in the past.

Image Source: ABC Action News/YouTube
Image Source: ABC Action News/YouTube

Still, the grueling nature of her trek towards safety is unlike anything she ever thought she’d encounter; and as her sister later shared, Karen carried two thoughts in her mind throughout her entire journey; two thoughts that kept her going.

“She didn’t want her mother to bury her daughter,” explained Haase. “She didn’t want her son to be without a mother.”

And so, she refused to give up. Even when her eyelids hung heavy after staying awake for more than 45 hours; even after losing a shoe and being forced to continue hiking for miles without it.

“I was determined not to fall asleep and kept walking, even when I became delirious,” Karen told PEOPLE. “This might sound trivial, but I kept thinking of Ellen DeGeneres’s character, Dory, in ‘Finding Nemo’ saying, ‘Just keep swimming.’ It dragged on forever, it really did. But love and strength saw me through.”

The final few miles, she later told reporters, took over nine hours to hike, as her body seemed to give out every 10 feet. It wasn’t until she broke into the guard shack — a small cottage intended for park rangers during the summer season — that she was able to finally rest, and warm herself under blankets she found inside.

It would be six more hours until rescuers found her, but eventually, she was reunited with her family at a nearby hospital.

Though Karen remains hospitalized and may have to undergo surgery to remove two of her toes due to frostbite, WTTV reports that she’s overjoyed to be with her family, and remains grateful that her story — which could have easily ended in tragedy — was ultimately one of survival, hope, and the power of determination.

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Dec 26, 2016

Is It OK to Love Your Kids and Hate Being a Parent at the Same Time?

“Is It OK to Love Your Kids and Hate Being a Parent at the Same Time?” originally appeared on Ivan Siladji’s personal blog and The Fatherly Forum, and was reprinted with permission.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

I often find myself throwing the joke around that I absolutely love my kids, but hate parenting. Although the latter part of this statement regarding the hate for parenting is certainly not true (at least not in its entirety) there are certainly things about parenting that I am not a fan of. These can range from any combination of the following:

  1. Assuming various tones and forms of grammar to explain to my child multiple times why not doing what they are about to do anyway is a bad idea. This leads to my explanation being interrupted by a crash, drop, crack, spill, splatter, bump or self-inflicted injury. At this point I highlight the fact that I explained why it wasn’t a good idea in the first place while tending to the tears of my child that stands before me. Anyone have any secrets?
  2. Repeating point #1 again only moments later in light of the saga that had just unfolded anyway.
  3. Picking up half-eaten, now brown apples and bananas that have been meticulously placed in no recognizable patterns across different parts of the house. Then … treading on a bitten off piece of apple with my fresh socks on the way back from the rubbish of which just became the new house of the half-eaten brown pieces of fruit.
  4. Giving “one more chance” and praying in hope that the bath I just ran for the kids will be different this time, noting the promises that were given to me that water “won’t go all over the floor this time.”
  5. Having to mop up all the water that just went all over the floor (see: point #4).
  6. Putting my feet up to catch my breath from all of the psychotic pacing up and down the hallway picking up perfectly clean clothes, wiping spilt water off the floor from various drink bottles that have been filled throughout the day, and packing up endless amounts of broken toys only to be interrupted by the pitter patter of feet up the corridor saying they are hungry. At 11 PM. When they said they would eat their dinner even if they had just one afternoon snack. See point #3 as to the true fate of those afternoon snacks, which subsequently meant the little ones didn’t eat all of their dinner and now demand toast or some other form of snack to beat the exaggerated, world-ending hunger they are facing, even if it comes in the form of a biscuit, chocolate, or lollipop. ‘Cause they are hungry.
  7. Advising in various tones not indifferent to those stipulated under point #1 that jumping off the counter onto a pile of pillows is definitely not a smart thing to do. At which point one child rebounds off the pile of pillows and hits the floor, then cries, and I say something along the lines of, “See, How many times does Daddy need to say, ‘Stop jumping’?” This then is shortly followed by a phenomenon known as déjà vu.
  8. Assuming a state of utter self concern brought on by long bouts of self-questioning whether or not it’s me actually going insane or whether little people just don’t understand big people’s talk. Or even going as far as wondering if they are actually not doing anything wrong at all and maybe I’m simply in a state of exaggeration. Unlikely. But plausible. Re-read point #8 … 40 times. Welcome to parenting.
  9. Laying my head on my pillow at 12:10 AM only to hear a child cry at nearly the same time every. single. night just as I’m assuming R.E.M. sleep. Literally the same time, but I’m yet to find the troll waking them up at 12:10 AM on the mark. Please – someone explain. (See: point #8 as I fear I’m going insane.)
  10. Begging a little person not to bring the four toy cars, three dolls, five books, and an unnecessarily large superhero figure with us to the store as there is nowhere to put the toys and in advance I stipulate I don’t intend on carrying them for them. Rest assured I’m promised they will carry them all, themselves. As soon as I enter the store I’m in a predicament where by I can no longer carry my groceries because my hands are tied up holding four toy cars, three dolls, five books, and and unnecessarily large superhero figure. (Surely … you’ve experienced this at least once, right? Or do I need to revisit point #8?)

But! There is a but! As I lay here at 12:30 AM, having just passed the first 12:10 AM on-time random wakeup by child number one, my heart feels a sense of warmth and love for the two kids I am blessed with. There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for them. And I’m very well aware they won’t stay little forever.

When trying to find an image for this post, I looked back through hundreds of photos that I’ve obsessively taken over the years in an attempt not to miss any moment and I was in absolute joy. But also somewhat melancholy having realized how fast they have grown. Like all our kids, they are fantastic, intelligent, enthusiastic, eager, and so full of life … they truly are. I’m gifted beyond words for mine.

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I fear not being the great dad that they so naively admire. To them we are the greatest. To us we can’t even put words to how brilliant they are. Unquantifiable amounts of love. Parenting comes at a cost — rather, the privilege of parenting comes at a cost and those are transacted via the at least 10 points noted above. The reward however is an infinite amount of joy, love, memories, gratitude, laughter, tears, smiles, and squashed apple piece on your socks that illuminates from the little people in parents’ lives.

They absorb everything we say and do even if we feel they are ignoring us. It’s evident when they recall things you said that you didn’t even realize they would pick up on. On the flip side, they also absorb all of the love you give them, too. And there is no limit to the amount they can soak up.

If you’re a parent – hug your little one(s) tight. Let them know how wonderful they are to you. They might not totally understand. But do it anyway. It’s your responsibility to say thanks for the honor of dealing with the 10 points noted above. It truly is.

More from Fatherly:

  • What you should do in almost every toddler accident situation
  • Everything I had to unlearn to become a stay-at-home dad
  • The case against forcing your kid to share their stuff