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Love it!

By Laura Richards

As a lifelong New Englander and lover of all things autumn, I cherish the first glimpses of green leaves with a hint of yellow and orange. And I feel absolutely giddy when I see the first offering of the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte (or PSL to those in the know). Some are downright obsessed with anything pumpkin spice flavored or scented as it means fall is finally on its way and, yes, I will admit that I am one of those people.

Even though the official start of fall isn’t until late September, pumpkin spice season seems to creep up earlier and earlier. This year it was late August when the ads started running with some places respecting the end of summer and not starting to serve PSL’s until September 1. A quick Google search will give you dates of every major coffee chain in the country and when they release their first pumpkin spice-flavored coffee and lattes. And it’s not just drinks we’re talking here, we’ve got pumpkin spice donuts, muffins, bagels, and more.

I saw a few dismayed Facebook friends post about the early arrival of pumpkin spice season and, in particular, the new pumpkin spice Cheerios with a “just NO” written next to it claiming that it will land on the clearance rack because no one will want it. I want it! Another Facebooker said her daughter thinks that pumpkin spice tastes like “dirt and vegetables.” As a gardener, I love both so, yes!

Not all pumpkin-related posts are negative, though. A fellow lover of all things pumpkin spice gleefully posted the photo of a limited edition pumpkin spice instant oatmeal from Quaker. I even saw someone post a photo of pumpkin spice-scented Charmin toilet paper but, upon further investigation, I saw that Charmin itself debunked such a thing by tweeting, “While we love it, we can promise you this. You will not be seeing #PumpkinSpice Charmin anytime soon. #StopTheMadness.

But wait, they said, “while we love it,” so even Charmin loves pumpkin spice and the door has been left open. They do have a chamomile-scented toilet paper so maybe R&D will be discussing this for a future product?

Despite many, like Charmin, wanting to #StopTheMadness of pumpkin spice season, I say bring it! I love it, I love it all. I will happily switch out my regular coffee for a pumpkin spice version, fill my house with pumpkin spice candles and dream about my family’s backsides smelling like pumpkin spice someday because seriously nothing beats this season.

I personally find fall to be a cozy time to break out the sweaters and candles and snuggle up with my family in front of the fireplace. A friend said that the taste and smell of pumpkin spice is a trigger for autumn and that it gives her a warm feeling on those first cool mornings and nights. Another friend said, “It’s the ‘smell and taste of fall!’ Once pumpkin spice coffee comes out I can’t wait to pull on a hoodie!!” Yet another said it was full of nostalgia for starting school and paired well with the crisp air and colors.

Nothing is better than when my four kids come rolling in from school, open the kitchen door and say, “It smells SO good in here!” because I’ve got a pumpkin spice candle burning or a simmer pot of potpourri on the stove (organic of course, no worries for artificial chemicals or lead wicks, folks). The arrival of pumpkin spice means I’ve got the green light to buy my mums and break out my soup pot. The best season has arrived!

Many consider pumpkin spice to be uncool, appealing to the ignorant masses – and that may be true – but I join them in the love of its taste and smell and I am able to keep up with 99% of the obscure references on the Hulu show “Difficult People” which makes me feel slightly vindicated.

Pumpkin spice represents more than just a flavoring or scent. In the same way that the smell of coconut tanning oil triggers summer memories for many, pumpkin spice is a welcome aroma for those of us who love this season of the year.

So embrace the pumpkin spice train as there’s no stopping it. It’s firmly here to stay. And you may want to watch your backsides in homes of friends who buy Charmin.

Hate it!

by Amber Leventry

I was at Costco a few weeks ago with my twins. I mindlessly grabbed a box of waffles and moved on to the next aisle. As I took a closer look at the box I had just placed in my cart, I groaned. I turned around and huffed my way back to the frozen section to return the tainted Eggos.

“What, Mama? What happened?” my son asked.

“Pumpkin spice season happened,” I said. There were no more questions, just my daughter adding, “ew!” to the conversation. Exactly. Ew.

I hate pumpkin spice season – mostly because it’s not a season, but is treated as such. I’m waiting for the pumpkin spice decorations one can hang on the front door, or some sort of PS paraphernalia to adorn the hoods of cars, much like the Rudolph nose at Christmastime. Maybe a wheelbarrow with pumpkins or magnetic ribbons for those who support the mass-produced products which contain varying degrees of actual pumpkin and whatever spices go with it.

That’s another thing: What is it? And how is it equally good in ice cream, coffee, chocolate, kale chips, yogurt, and beer? That is the work of witchcraft.

I don’t like the flavor. I may enjoy a muffin once a year that has some pumpkin scent to it, but I don’t like pumpkin-flavored things. Actually, the only thing pumpkin I like is the little pumpkin candies that the fine people at Brach’s make. I could eat a whole bag of candy corn’s cousin, but not its PS flavor infused evil twin.

To be clear, I hate the game, not the players. I would be a big, fat hypocrite for judging the many people whose taste buds cannot get enough of this flavor. I feel the same way about peanut butter. Get yours. I hate the fact that I am BOMBARDED with all the things turning into pumpkin spice bait for those who feel pressured to get their once-a-year flavor fix. I just want regular waffles. Regular Cheerios. Regular cream cheese. Regular vodka. I don’t have time to verify that my usual staples haven’t been turned into a Thanksgiving side dish.

People get anxious when products are labeled Limited Edition, Seasonal, or Special Edition. No one needs that stress. So why has this become a thing? And why do we need so many options? Do we need pumpkin spice panettone? Are enough people eating the regular, dried fruit-filled panettone bread at Christmas that the shelves need to be stocked in August with bread stuffed with candied pumpkin?

It’s as if pumpkin spice has replaced the natural signs of seasonal shift to indicate fall has arrived. The PS-flavored candy corn would lead me to believe it’s not only October but also Halloween. It’s neither. I live in the northeast. The nights are certainly getting cooler, but the leaves are still green here. I have yet to hear the geese honking their way south. And I can still smell the chlorine in the air from the neighbor’s pool. Our snow blowers are being tuned, but it is still summer here in Vermont.

Pumpkin spice signifying fall is like Easter initiating bathing suit season. It’s not right. Apple picking, college football, and the calendar are the true signs of autumn. And when I am stuffing my face with deviled eggs and ham, I don’t want Kohl’s ads to show me the latest trends in bikinis. I am no more ready to let go of summer in August than my doughy, pale belly is ready to walk on the beach in March.

(Okay. My doughy, pale belly is never up to society’s standards for being seen on the beach, but I don’t need the reminder when there is still snow on the ground.)

Speaking of Easter, shame on you Peeps. I will also debate that Easter candy is the best seasonal candy of the year. I love Peeps, but at no other time of the year, and certainly not dipped in white fudge and made to taste like a Yankee Candle. This purist likes her bunnies and chicks in their natural pastel form. Just like I like all seasons, food, and drink – without pumpkin spice.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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For most breastfeeding mothers, being away from your baby means lugging a breast pump with you to work or through airport security and painstakingly packing up your milk to bring or send back to your baby. But a mother who made headlines this week can't take her milk to her baby because she doesn't know when she will see her again.

Maria Domingo-Garcia is among the hundreds of workers picked up by ICE at food processing plants in Mississippi on August 7. When she left for work that day she said goodbye to her husband and three children, including the 4-month-old daughter she was nursing. All three children are U.S. citizens, CNN reports.

Mom's lawyers say she was not able to nurse or pump since being detained 

Earlier this week, when Domingo-Garcia had been separated from her daughter for 12 days, her lawyers told media that she was in a lot of pain as she had not been able to breastfeed or pump for nearly two weeks.

Not being able to drain one's breasts can lead to engorgement, which can lead to mastitis. Both engorgement and mastitis are painful, and mastitis can even be deadly if mothers cannot get medical help.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that a nurse has examined Domingo-Garcia and that she's not producing milk. Her lawyers say they were not present for or aware of this examination, and one of them, Ybarra Maldonado, suggests that the stress Domingo-Garcia is under may have impacted her ability to lactate.

"If during a test she didn't produce milk, perhaps it's because she's been detained for 12 days and going through a horrible situation," Maldonado told CNN.

Indeed, it is possible for a mother to stop lactating if she is separated from her baby for as long as Domingo-Garcia has been. Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, says that "the process by which lactation ceases varies so much. It depends on many variables including how long and how frequently a woman was breastfeeding or pumping, how slow or fast she stopped, her emotional state, and simply her individual anatomy. It is 100% possible that Domingo-Garcia had been lactating prior to being taken by ICE."

While attorneys and ICE officials continue to debate whether or not this mother was lactating, her husband continues to try to bottle feed their daughter, an American citizen who is now going without her mother and without breastmilk.

The children are being hurt

One in four children in America has immigrant parents, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. What's more, 75% of those children (including Domingo-Garcia's) have parents who have been in the US for more than 10 years. Like Domingo-Garcia's kids, 91% of the children of immigrants are citizens. But only 61% of the parents in these families can say the same.

That means there are more than 7 million kids in the US (most of whom are American) who have non-citizen parents and are extremely vulnerable to the same kind of trauma Domingo-Garcia's children are going through. And to call it trauma isn't speculation—it's science. We know that separating children from their parents does long term damage to kids.

"The effect is catastrophic," Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School told the Washington Post last year. "There's so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this."

That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stands against the detention of immigrant children, who may soon be detained indefinitely if a plan announced Wednesday proceeds. The AAP also warns against separating children from their parents or primary caregiver unless that person is abusing the child.

"It is the position of the AAP that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained, nor should they be separated from a parent, unless a competent family court makes that determination. In every decision about children, government decision-makers should prioritize the best interests of the child," the APP noted in its 2017 policy statement Detention of Immigrant Children.

Domingo-Garcia's children are not being detained, but they are being hurt by their mother's detention and child advocates say far too many children know their pain.

​When mom or dad is taken

Domingo-Garcia was far from the only immigrant parents working in Mississippi food processing plants the day of the ICE raid that changed her family's life. There were so many more parents who didn't come home that day. The day that also happened to be the first day of school in Scott County.

School superintendent Tony McGee told The Clarion Ledger his staff were working hard to help the children who were displaced or impacted by the ICE raids, and he acknowledged that the situation will impact students' academic abilities. "We'll worry about the school part of it after we get all this sorted out," he said. "You can't expect a child to stay focused on the schoolwork when he's trying to focus on where Mom and Dad are."

Indeed, research links parental incarceration with children developing attention deficit disorders, developmental and speech delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems.

And yet, in some ways, parental incarceration may be better for children than parental detention, which is what Domingo-Garcia's experience is defined as. Incarceration is something that follows a conviction and is a long-term thing. Kids whose parents are convicted of a crime and sent to prison often know where mom or dad is and may even get to maintain a relationship with them.

Detention, on the other hand, is a temporary, more slippery state. The children of those in ICE facilities don't know when or if they are coming home or if they will be deported.

There are other ways in which having a parent incarcerated in prison is different than having one detained in an ICE facility. In some American prisons, moms are permitted to nurse their babies. If Domingo-Garcia had gone to prison in New Mexico she would have the right to breastfeed and the right to pump milk for her baby. But she went to work in Mississippi instead.

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If you're about to be a parent, whether it's for the first time or not, then you've probably thought about all the changes in your life that are coming—especially in the area of finances. Having a baby alters your financial picture. If you take maternity or paternity leave, those changes can be even more pronounced.

If you have student loans in repayment, you may find it difficult to make monthly loan payment with a new baby, and you might be wondering how to make it work.

So how do you handle student loan payments while on maternity leave?

Here are the options available to student loan borrowers:

Family leave deferment

If you have a federal student loan, you can ask for a parental leave/working mother deferment, which offers you time without payments. Becoming a new mother isn't cause for an automatic deferment, like a job loss or serious illness, and so you'll have to work with your servicer directly to request this type of deferment. Navient, one of the largest federal loan servicers, offers information about this deferment on their website.

To be eligible, you'll need to either be pregnant or have a baby less than six months old. You must prove this via a birth certificate or doctor's statement confirming your pregnancy.

In addition, you cannot be working full-time or attending school during the deferment period. If you're hoping to ask for a deferment without taking the time off work, you'll find your request denied. The maximum length of a deferment is six months.

Forbearance

A forbearance allows you to either make a smaller payment or postpone payments completely. Like the deferment, you'll need to contact your servicer and request it. If it's approved, you can take some time off of your student loans while you're off work. Just be aware that even during forbearance, interest continues to accrue, which means your total balance will increase during that time.

Income-based repayment plan

If you'd prefer to keep making payments but just need the amount reduced, you can apply for a new income-based repayment plan. The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan caps your monthly payment at 10% to 15% of your discretionary income. And since it's also based upon the size of your family, it will account for the fact that your family size has changed, and your discretionary income has decreased. To apply, contact your loan servicer.

Pay as you earn (PAYE) plan

Another option is the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan, which allows you to pay 10% of your income, but only up to the payment amount you would have paid on the standard plan. Because the income and family size are reassessed each year, this plan is great for growing families. It allows you to get a temporary reprieve with lower payments. Then, as you further your career and increase your income, your payment gets back on schedule. Your servicer can help get you set up with the PAYE plan. Your spouse's income is only counted if you file taxes as married jointly.

Revised pay as you earn (REPAYE) plan

Under the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, you'll pay the same 10% of your income, with annual reassessment of your situation. You won't, however, get a break from counting your spouse's income. With REPAYE, all income counts regardless of how you file your taxes. The good news is that anything left on your balance will be forgiven after 20 years. Talk to your servicer to see if it's a good fit.

Income contingent-repayment (ICR) plan

The Income Contingent-Repayment (ICR) plan is either 20% of your discretionary income, or what you'd pay on a fixed repayment for 12 years, whichever is less. Just as in the other options, you must update your income and family size each year even if nothing changed. In addition, you may have to pay taxes on any amount that is forgiven because the government considers it income. It does, however, work on subsidized, unsubsidized, PLUS, and even consolidation loans, and can be applied for with your servicer.

Budgeting for a baby

There's no way around it—having a baby brings a lot of new expenses. From the things you'll need to buy before the baby comes, to the amount of diapers, bottles and other things your child will need in their first year, you'll need to figure out how much that will cost and how to correctly budget for it. Babycenter.com has a calculator that can help you break down what your child will cost in a given year. You can divide that number by 12 to understand the monthly costs.

Then, you'll want to identify where you can cut back, if possible, to continue meeting your monthly student loan obligations. For some, that might mean eating out less and bypassing the afternoon latte. For others, it'll require a full restructuring of the budget, especially if you plan to take maternity leave that's not fully paid. Since most maternity leaves are unpaid, you'll need to consider expenses, monthly bills, or other obligations that normally comes out of your paycheck and add those to the budget for the time that you're home.

After you get a handle on what your finances will look like and you have a functional budget, don't wait for your child to arrive before trying to live on that budget. In fact, the sooner you start cutting back, the better. That way, you can get a head start on saving, and you'll also be able to adjust any facets of your budget that prove unworkable.

The bottom line

Having a baby is a joyful experience. But caring for a newborn brings enough stress without the anxiety of how you'll pay student loans while you're on maternity or paternity leave. The best time to plan for your new family member is long before you bring them home. Take the time to talk to your servicer, make a budget and prepare your finances for your baby.

Originally posted on lendedu.

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Learn + Play

Michael Bublé knows how to make music that makes us feel all the feels, and his viral lyric video for his song "Forever Now" proves it.

If you've got kids heading back to school, watch this at your own risk and with some tissues handy, mama.

Michael Bublé - Forever Now [Official Lyric Video] youtu.be

The video is a simple animation of a child's room as it transforms over time from a nursery to the packed-up bedroom of a young adult leaving the nest. We held it together until it got to this part: "It wasn't so long ago, we walked together and you held my hand. and now you're getting too big to want to."

The video reminds us of the classic children's book Love You Forever, and that the babies in our arms today will one day be in someone else's arms.

Right now, when our days are filled with bottle washing and shoe getting and making sure that no one falls asleep in their car seat the days sometimes feel so long, but Bublé's telling us something that we sometimes forget: One day we will be looking back and wondering why these long days went by so fast.

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News

It would be easy to look at one of Tori Roloff's (of Little People, Big World) stunning maternity photos and think everything is going perfectly for the soon-to-be mother of two, who is expecting a baby girl with her husband Zach. But Tori is keeping it real: Though the photos may show her in a pretty dress, cradling her baby bump against a stunning backdrop, Tori isn't loving every second of her pregnancy. And you know what? That's okay.

The pregnancy is so rough, Tori initially didn't even want to commemorate it with photos (though we bet she's glad she did upon seeing the finished product!).

"I'm not one of those women who loves being pregnant," Tori writes alongside one maternity photo, which she posted to Instagram. "In fact there's not a lot of times I do love being pregnant. Don't get me wrong. I thank God for this amazing gift every single day and I know how blessed I am but it definitely hasn't made me feel my best."

But let's make one thing clear: Just because Tori is clearly finding parts of pregnancy unpleasant, that doesn't mean she isn't immensely grateful for the chance to carry her baby.

"This photo truly embodies what I LOVE about pregnancy. My growing bump is a symbol of a healthy girlsie [sic]. It's a reminder that I'm in a position that many women dream of and trust me—I do not take it for granted," she adds.

One Instagram user sums up our feelings on this post pretty perfectly. "Pregnancy is so hard and I think some people assume that if you don't love it, you're ungrateful. I think you can recognize the difficulties of pregnancy and still be grateful for it — they're not mutually exclusive. This photograph is stunning and you are glowing. Embrace your feelings, no matter what they are. You're valid in them! Sending you big love," she writes in the post's comments.

Our take? Pregnancy is not easy...at all! Morning sickness, exhaustion, back pain, hip pain, belly pain...let's just say expectant mamas can be in a lot of discomfort and voicing that discomfort is totally acceptable.

Yes, pregnancy is an amazing blessing (and one that not every woman gets to or wants to experience), but not enjoying every single second of it doesn't take away from the gratitude an expectant mom feels. So to Tori (and all the other uncomfortable preggos out there), here's what we'll say: Don't beat yourself up for not loving pregnancy. It doesn't mean you love your baby — or the privilege of carrying them—any less.

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