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Four months

I close the garage door behind me and tip-toe into the living room—a useless effort, as it turns out—because he is still awake. The sound of muffled crying hits me like a wave; my husband sits defeated on the couch.

“I tried to give him that bottle half a dozen times,” he starts.

I glance at the bottle on the counter, quickly doing math in my head. Two-day-old breastmilk warmed and re-warmed half a dozen times. Ugh.

“He’s waiting for you.”

“I know. You can toss the milk,” I say quietly.

We brush past each other in the living room as I make my way to the audible cries. I glance back at the microwave clock just in time to see four ounces swirl down the drain, along with any shred of independence I could foresee.

9:47 p.m.

I open the bedroom door and float to him like a magnet. We retreat to the rocking chair and he nurses hungrily, desperately, clutching my t-shirt in his tiny hands the entire time.

Eight months

I walk into the living room with my iPhone in hand, ready to tackle a few e-mails over breakfast. Rounding the corner, I brace myself, but it’s too late. I’ve been spotted.

He starts to softly hyperventilate. A grin stretches across his face while he army crawls as fast as he can to my feet, hurling his body over toys in the process like a 12-pound baby soldier. He glances up at me with hopeful eyes, placing his hands on my shins desperately, as if he hasn’t seen me in days.

I pick him up and place his body on my hip against my faded floral nightgown. He melts into my side like pie filling conforming to the crust.

He last saw me 14 minutes ago.

12 months

He clings to me tighter as a few guests trickle in, digging his nails firmly into my bicep. I loosen his grip on my arm and kiss his cheek, reassuring him that I am not going anywhere. I try to distract him with the shiny birthday balloon, but he is too panicked to play.

Grandma tries to take him; he screams. Daddy tries to take him; he screams.

I eventually escape to the bathroom for a few minutes of solitude. My husband whisks him outside to play, and I make my way back to the kitchen cautiously. I dart in front of the sliding screen door, grab a burrito, and finally sit down at the table with my friends.

“I think I’m safe!” I joke.

The second the words leave my mouth, a familiar wail follows. I glance out the window and see him, safe and secure in my husband’s arms, anxiously looking at the screen door.

My husband locks eyes with me through the window.

“He heard your voice!”

I can’t help but roll my eyes, placing my burrito back on the plate. I open the screen door, and within seconds we are reunited, his body back on my hip, his nails back in my arm, his head resting on my chest.

He grins.

My first son had normal spouts of separation anxiety, usually lasting a few weeks at a time. It was sweet, welcome even, and barely affected me outside of needing to take a momentary break from the gym because childcare became insufferable.

But this? My second baby? I have never known attachment like this. I have never so much as witnessed attachment like this.

Picture me holding this baby while I do dishes, while I prepare meals, while I type e-mails, while I pee, while I do anything.

Picture me handing him to other people and his face turning beet red while he screams bloody murder.

Picture me walking towards the front door while he buries his face in the carpet sobbing hysterically as if I will never return.

Picture me darting around my own house like a ninja to stay out of his sight on the rare occasion that he’s preoccupied with a toy in the living room for two whole minutes.

When he’s not in my arms, this baby lives at my feet, parked next to my toes like a relentless puppy dog. He’s not content unless he’s next to me, in my arms, on my hip, in my lap, breathing the same air that I breathe.

He is my Velcro Baby; I can practically hear the ripping sound when I pry him off my hip to put him down or hand him to someone else, at which point he completely falls apart.

How can someone so tiny possibly adore me so much?

On the one hand, this attachment is straight up suffocating. Between nursing around the clock and holding him on my hip or strapping him to my chest in a carrier, I have felt at odds with my own body this year, as if it doesn’t belong to me anymore. We seem to be lacking...what do the therapists call it? Oh yes, boundaries.

On the other hand, I would absolutely be lying if I said this attachment was not the most loved and needed I have ever felt in my entire life.

I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but I genuinely feel a sense of pride when I walk into a room and he cries for me with outstretched arms. In these moments, I actually feel the sacrifice and sanctity of motherhood, this complete lack of personal space that transcends my body straight down to my soul.

Who cares if I never eat lunch in peace? Who cares if I have to hold a baby while I pee? I am needed! And it is a glorious feeling.

I look at my 3.5-year-old, the confident boy who casually waved, “Bye, mommy!” on the first day of preschool without looking back. He needs me less and less every day. Just last week, he informed me that he can go to the bathroom by himself, closing the door in my face.

“I need pwivacy!” he shouted.

I was simultaneously amused and devastated. Is this where we’re headed?

I don’t know how much longer this Velcro stage will last, but we all know it’s temporary. Someday he won’t sob when I leave the house. Someday he'll prefer the company of his dad, or his brother, or his (God help me) girlfriend.

Someday he will need space from me, while I cling desperately to every sight of him, to every conversation with him, to every encounter we share. We are heading toward those days, like a freight train that won't stop.

Perhaps this is all a dress rehearsal, a preview of what's to come. Perhaps this is all a glimpse into my own future, and he is paving the way for my emotional expectations. The day he gets his driver's license. The day he leaves for college. The day he gets married. At some point we are bound to trade places, and I might be the one burying my face in the carpet, sobbing hysterically.

Everything will come full circle, and the Velcro will rip once again.

This story was originally published on Coffee + Crumbs. Check out their book, The Magic of Motherhood, for more heartwarming essays about motherhood, love, and the good kind of heartache.

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Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day, but in many households, it's also the most hectic. Many parents rely on pre-prepared items to cut down on breakfast prep time, and if Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links are a breakfast hack in your home, you should check your bag.

More than 14 tons of the frozen sausage links are being recalled after consumers found bits of metal in their meat.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall of 23.4-oz. pouches of Jimmy Dean HEAT 'n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork & Turkey with a 'Use By' date of January 31, 2019.

"The product bears case code A6382168, with a time stamp range of 11:58 through 01:49," the FSIS notes.

In a statement posted on its website, Jimmy Dean says "a few consumers contacted the company to say they had found small, string-like fragments of metal in the product. Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages, out of an abundance of caution, CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product. Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA. No injuries have been reported with this recall."

Consumers should check their packages for "the establishment code M19085 or P19085, a 'use by' date of January 31, 2019 and a UPC number of '0-77900-36519-5'," the company says.

According to the FSIS, there have been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the sausage links, and recalled packages should be thrown away.

If you purchased the recalled sausages and have questions you can call the Jimmy Dean customer service line at (855) 382-3101.

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Flying with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old isn't easy under optimal conditions, and when the kids are tired and cranky, things become even harder.

Many parents are anxious when flying with kids for exactly this reason: If the kids get upset, we worry our fellow passengers will become upset with us, but mom of two Becca Kinsey has a story that proves there are more compassionate people out there than we might think.

In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Kinsey explains how she was waiting for her flight back from Disney World with her two boys, Wyatt, 2, and James, 5, when things started to go wrong, and the first of three kind women committed an act of kindness that meant so much.

After having to run all over the airport because she'd lost her ID, Kinsey and her boys were in line for security and she was "on the verge of tears because Wyatt was screaming and James was exhausted. Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says 'here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!'" Kinsey wrote in her Facebook post.

Within minutes, 2-year-old Wyatt was asleep on the airport floor. Kinsey was wondering how she would carry him and all the carry-ons when "another mom jumps out of her place in line and says 'hand me everything, I've got it.'"

When Kinsey thanked the second woman and the first who had given up her place in line they told her not to worry, that they were going to make sure she got on her flight.

"The second woman takes evvvverything and helps me get it through security and, on top of all that, she grabs all of it and walks us to the gate to make sure we get on the flight," Kinsey wrote.

Kinsey and her boys boarded, but the journey was hardly over. Wyatt wolk up and started "to scream" at take off, before finally falling back asleep. Kinsey was stressed out and needed a moment to breathe, but she couldn't put Wyatt down.

"After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says 'you look like you need a break' and holds Wyatt for the rest of the flight AND walks him all the way to baggage claim, hands him to [Kinsey's husband], hugs me and says "Merry Christmas!!" Kinsey wrote.


It's a beautiful story about women helping women, and it gets even better because when Kinsey's Facebook post started to go viral she updated it in the hopes of helping other parents take their kids to Disney and experience another form of stress-relief.

"What if everyone that shared the story went to Kidd's Kids and made a $5 donation?! Kidd's Kids take children with life-threatening and life-altering conditions on a 5 day trip to Disney World so they can have a chance to forget at least some of the day to day stressors and get to experience a little magic!!"

As of this writing, Kinsey has raised more than $2,000 for Kidd's Kids and has probably inspired a few people to be kind the next time they see a parent struggling in public.

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Ah, the holidays—full of festive cheer, parties, mistletoe... and complete and utter confusion about how much to tip whom.

Remember: Tipping and giving gifts to the people that help you throughout the year is a great way to show your appreciation, but it's never required. Ultimately, listen to your heart (and your budget) and decide what's right for your family.

Here is our etiquette guide to tipping and gifting everyone on your list.


You can decide if you'd like to do a class gift.

  • Ask people to contribute what they can, if they'd like to
  • Sign the gift from the entire class—don't single out the people that weren't able to contribute
  • Idea: a small gift and then a gift card bought with the rest of the money, and a card signed by all the children

...or a personal gift.

  • Amount/value is very up to you—you may factor in how many days/week your child is in school and how much you pay for tuition.
  • Anywhere from $5-$150 has been done.
  • Idea: a personalized tote bag and gift card, with a picture drawn by your child

Babysitters, nannies + au pairs

  • Up to one night's pay for a babysitter
  • Up to one week's pay for a nanny or au pair.
  • Homemade gift from the child

Daycare teachers

  • $25-70/teacher and a card from your child

School bus driver

  • A non-monetary gift of $10-$20 (i.e. a gift card)

Ballet teacher/soccer coach

  • Consider a group gift or personal gift (see teacher gift above)
  • Up to $20 value if doing a personal gift

Mail carrier

  • A gift up to a $20 value, but they are not allowed to receive cash or a gift card that can be exchanged for cash.

UPS/Fed Ex

  • A gift up to a $20 value, depending on the number of packages you get. Avoid cash if possible.

Sanitation workers

  • $10-30 each
  • Make sure you find out if the same people pick up the recycling and the trash—there may be two different teams to think about.

Cleaning person

  • Up to one week's pay

Hair stylist

  • Up to the cost of one haircut/style

Dog walker

  • Up to one week's pay


  • $15-80 each depending on number of doormen


  • You are not required to give your boss a gift. In some instances, it may be inappropriate to do so—so you'll have to think about what seems right for you
  • Never give cash
  • Consider giving an office gift—bring coffee or donuts to the office for everyone, buy an assortment of teas for the staff lounge, replace the microwave that everyone hates, etc
  • Organize an office Secret Santa—it's a great way to boost morale and have fun, without needing to decide who to buy for. (Hint: We love Elftser for easy Secret Santa organizing!)


Hey mama,

It's the time of year again.

You know what I'm talking about. From Halloween to New Years Eve, where all the sweets and treats come out in full force, and it seems like the universe is plotting to take you down.

You may feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all. After all, history has taught you that you can't make it through the holiday season successfully.

Maybe you can't get by without eating all the holiday treats and feeling like a failure. Maybe you end the holidays vowing to be a better person and start the New Year on the latest detox diet. You are all too familiar with the guilt and shame that comes with holiday eating cycle and how this robs you of joy of the season.

You may have managed to contain some element of self-control over the year. Maybe you carefully avoid those treats that you know you can't simply eat one of, or maybe you've skipped dessert and stayed clear from all the sweets. Maybe you've felt like you're doing well on your latest diet and are worried about how this incoming holiday treat wave will sabotage your success.

Whatever you're worried about, the fear is real and paralyzing, taking up that precious mental space as your thoughts are consumed about food and your body.

It may be hard to think about anything else when you mind is controlled by the rules that dictate what you should and shouldn't be eating. Maybe seeing your spouse or kids eat those holiday treats creates more anxiety for you and sends you on the brink of losing your mind as these food issues become all consuming.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, where is this fear coming from and why is it controlling your life?

Do you ever feel like a failure at eating because you inhaled that bag of fun-sized candy bars or scarfed through a dessert faster than anyone could say, "Trick or Treat?"

Are you embarrassed that something as normal as food feels like such a struggle?

Does overeating or an emotional eating episode send you on a downward tailspin in self-loathing?

How many times have you stepped on the scale, only to feel miserable about yourself for the rest of the day?

I want to let you in on a secret.

You are not failing, mama.

That desire to eat all the holiday foods or binge on sweets doesn't mean that you've screwed up or that you have no self-control.

You're not a failure for wanting to eat all the things you don't normally let yourself eat or for breaking all the food rules you've set in place to give you more "control."

You don't need more willpower, another diet or more ways to become disciplined.

What you need, sweet mama, is permission.

Permission to eat those foods that you crave every year, like a slice of your Grandmother's special holiday dish or the piece of pumpkin cheesecake everyone's eating at your office party.

Permission to decorate holiday cookies with your kids and actually enjoy eating one too, not pretend like you don't want one, only to eat a plateful once they've gone to bed.

Permission to actually keep food in its proper place, so it's not stealing your joy, energy and mental space.

And you know what?

When you've given yourself permission to eat, including all those sweets and treats that are normally off-limits, they suddenly lose their power over you. And when food doesn't have power over you, you will have freedom to live a life that isn't bound by what you can and cannot eat.

Let me tell you something else: feeling like a failure around food is NOT your fault. It doesn't mean you don't have enough self-control or will power. There is nothing wrong with you.

What's to blame are the abundance of food rules: unrealistic food rules that make you feel unnecessarily guilty for eating or shameful in your body. (i.e: "Don't eat sugar", "Don't eat carbohydrates", "That's not allowed on the diet", "Don't eat anything too high in fat", "Don't eat after 6pm", "Don't eat all day if you're having a big meal at night").

You are not the problem.

Food rules, diets, etc. THAT is what is wrong.

You weren't made to live or thrive under a list of rules of what you should or shouldn't eat. It's not an issue of self-control.

The truth is that trying to follow a diet or a rigid set of food rules is like trying to negotiate with your toddler—you just can't win. And it's not for lack of trying, it's that the rules of the game are created for you to fail. So why try to play a game where the odds are against you?

You can opt-out of diet culture NOW to enjoy a truly peaceful holiday season that doesn't end with self-loathing or a New Year's resolution to diet and start the cycle all over again. Because the truth is, there are no good and bad foods or rules you are have to follow. When you can let go of all those judgments and emotional hang-ups that you've attached to eating, you learn to trust yourself to make your own choices and view food for what is really is - just food.

So choose being present over being perfect with the way you eat (because no such thing exists anyway). Calm the food chaos by giving yourself permission to eat, taste, and celebrate.

Enjoy the treats, if that is what your body is craving. Take back for yourself what all the obscure food rules and dieting have taken away from you all these years. Take in the memories, the flavors of the season - because you deserve it.

This holiday season, commit to putting yourself on a new path, one that doesn't end in self-destruction.

Give yourself permission, not only to eat, but to embrace a new way of living that isn't defined by your body size or what you can or cannot eat.

You can choose food freedom over food rules, and by doing so, you are choosing to live. You are choosing to be present for your children and experience the moments and memories that might otherwise be missed when your mind is imprisoned by food rules.

It's never too late, mama. The time to start is now.

Remember—you are not failing. Start by giving yourself permission today.

Originally posted on Crystal Karges.

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