Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year In The Making

It's that time again, where we are forced to sit down and reflect on the year. This year I reflect not only because we are entering 2011, but also because Holliday will turn 1 on January 4.

I truly cannot tell you how quickly this year has flown by for me. It seems like just yesterday I was huge and pregnant, whining about how I wish this baby would make his appearance. Bouncing on an exercise ball in attempts to lure him out. Promising him handsome gifts if he would just be done already. After an unsuccessful VBAC, a legitimate emergency c-section brought my baby, Holliday, into the world. He was big, beautiful and healthy.

Over the course of the year we have climbed mountains. We worked through postpartum depression, feelings of inadequacy, breastfeeding challenges, hospital stays away from my boys, finding our groove as a family of four, poop showers, pee baths and serious sleep issues. We made it!

Almost a year later, Holliday is a big, happy, brilliant, incredibly cute, funny, loving little boy. He has a smile that can make grown men weak in the knees. He is cuddly and affectionate. He knows how to make his older brother laugh.... and cry. He's strong willed and stubborn. He is both a mama and daddy's boy. He is particular in what he wants and likes. He is amazing. Truly amazing.

I never in a million years ever thought I would be a mom. I didn't think it was something I wanted. I was perfectly content living a care free lifestyle with my husband. Things change and people grow, thankfully. I can't imagine my life without these boys.

Hours of rocking, burping, nursing and soothing. Sniffing his fuzzy hair. Smooching his warm, chubby cheeks. Playfully biting his pudgy hands. Pinching his beefy thighs. Battles on the change table. Hearing his contagious laugh. Having him kick his wonky, sweaty, salt tasting feet up to my mouth for kisses. I have enjoyed so many incredible moments watching this little man grow. My heart swells with love and joy when I think of how lucky I am to have him. He has made me grow not only as a mother, but a person. He taught me great patience and understanding, things I desperately needed to work on. I truly believe he was sent to me for a reason. He has brought so many laughs, tears and WTH moments to our lives. I wouldn't change one thing; not one.

Thank you for the great ride, Holliday. It has been absolutely amazing. I feel privileged to watch you as you grow and blossom into an impressive little man. I love your everything.

Happy Birthday Holliday!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Response To 5 Common Myths About Attachment Parenting

Attachment Parenting isolates mothers and/or is anti-feminist:

I would have to agree with the observation that mothering is often an isolating experience in North America, and I will agree that there is overwhelming and unfair pressure on women to be perfect mothers. But I would encourage those who blame Attachment Parenting to take a closer look. 

It is not Attachment Parenting that isolates parents, but the social and cultural constructs that serve to keep children out of sight and many acts of mothering out of public view. Attachment Parenting is a very natural way to parent a child, and in a society so removed from nature I get how it could be seen down right contrary to what we commonly view as the advancements of our civilization. Gone is the village it takes to raise a child and in its place stands a collective obsession with independence. It is not the Attachment Parenting community that stresses perfection under these isolating circumstances, but rather a society that would judge, condemn, and measure a woman’s worth by her children, while in the same breath devaluing her parenting as lesser work.  
More importantly, I call foul on absolutely anyone who would suggest that Attachment Parenting is somehow anti-feminist or oppressive to women. Attachment Parenting does require a lot of time and care, but that could be said about parenting in general. We are raising children, not scheduling a minor inconvenience into the fold of our lives. It is life changing, it is challenging, but it does not mean that we give up everything we have and everything we are to do it. The principals of Attachment Parenting do not even require the presence of women. Why assume that the person anticipating and fulfilling the attachment needs of a child MUST be that child's mother?  Any caregiver, be they mother, father, grandparent or legal guardian can foster a secure attachment to the child for whom they care.  There is also nothing that says a child cannot form secure attachments to more than one caregiver (in fact I believe it is crucial that they do).  Anyone assuming that the basic principals of Attachment Parenting apply only to the mother is themselves incredibly sexist.

Attachment Parenting creates spoiled and undisciplined children

I believe that this myth has its roots in two assumptions. First, that anticipating and fulfilling a child’s needs is the same as giving them whatever they want whenever they want it, and second that people, and therefore children, must suffer in order to learn. I do not believe either of these assumptions to be true.

While the first assumption may be true in the first year or so when a child’s wants and needs are the same thing, Attachment Parenting an older child is most definitely not the same as giving them their every whim. The basic principal of Attachment Parenting is to create a secure attachment with my child, and in an effort to do that I have excluded punitive discipline from my bag of parenting tricks. That does not mean that I cannot teach my child responsibility and self discipline in an age appropriate, supportive, and gentle manner.

I also believe that Attachment Parenting allows me to be more engaged and connected with my son and therefore better able to tell the difference between his wants and his needs, and to recognize the needs hiding behind arbitrary toddler wants. I believe that to ignore some requests over others or use punitive discipline would muddy those waters and make me a less effective parent. 

I think Elizabeth Pantley said it best in her book “The No-Cry Discipline Solution”

“As defined by Webster's, discipline means 'training that develops self control and character.' This definition might lead you to believe that the process is all about teaching, and in a sense it is. Teaching is your part of the discipline equation. and there is no substitute for quality lessons. However, your child's part of the equation is the most important - learning. ... Teaching that fall son deaf ears is lost, and we have learned that crying plugs a child's ears almost every time it occurs. Crying gets in the way of accepting, understanding, and learning.”

You have to breastfeed to practice Attachment Parenting:

It’s appalling to me that such an obviously untrue statement could come up multiple times in the same week, but I’ve heard this myth a lot lately.

While it is true that the closeness and supply/demand nature of a breastfeeding relationship fit nicely with the Attachment Parenting style, it is absolutely NOT a requirement.

No matter how you feed your baby, feeding time, and every other time, are still wonderful opportunities to bond with your baby and foster attachment. You can still cue feed your baby when they show early signs of hunger; you can practice baby-led bottle feeding or bottle-nursing. To safely feed an infant with a bottle the infant is still in your arms and you can have your baby skin to skin during feedings if you choose to.  You can still wear your baby. You can still co-sleep (Though there are safety concerns that I would suggest be fully researched when contemplating bed sharing with a non breastfed baby). You can still commit to parenting in a way that is mindful, compassionate, gentle, trusting and natural.

If anyone tells you differently, send them to me. No really.

Attachment Parenting suppresses growth, development, and independence.

I think this is one that pretty much every Attachment Parent has heard before. “How will your baby ever A, B, C if you X, Y, Z?” It seams that there is a widespread and persistent rumor going around that children need to be independent as early as possible in order to grow and thrive. From sleeping through the night, to eating, walking, and talking, if they’re not doing it without your help before a mythical date on the calendar they will miss the boat entirely.

The truth is that children need a secure attachment to their caregivers in order to grow and develop in an emotional and physical environment that is safe and supportive, and where they know that their needs will be met reliably by someone they love.

There are many studies that suggest well attached children excel in all areas, social, academic, and physical, and every Attachment Parented child I have ever met (ranging in age between 0 and 16) has been a delightful, well adjusted, happy, and perfectly INDEPENDENT person. (You can find countless studies and publications about child development and attachment on the Attachment Parenting International Website)

 “It’s a good thing we suppressed his development’ my husband said on the subject, “if we hadn’t he’d be ruling the world right now, and then we’d really be in trouble!”

Attachment Parenting is the same as helicopter parenting.

I have to tell you, I don’t really even know where to begin on this one. It’s a really common myth, and I can kind of see where some may get the idea from. I can actually kind of see where some attachment parenting practices could slip into helicopter territory, but only if I squint really hard and turn my head ever so slightly to the left.

Helicopter parenting, as I understand the term, is a kind of hovering paranoia over scraped knees and food that might have maybe come into contact with unpronounceable chemical byproducts that have been shown to cause an increased risk of leprosy in lab rats and therefore cannot be consumed by my child at his best friend’s birthday party.

Maybe I am being a little bit harsh, I do understand and have my own concerns about the chemicals my child comes into contact with, and no one likes to see someone they love injured or hurt. But for me, this has nothing to do with Attachment Parenting, or any type of parenting at all. It is a symptom of the culture of fear we live in, and not of the way we choose to parent our children.

Attachment Parenting is about building a secure attachment and a relationship with your child that is built on the foundations of trust and respect. While I do my best to protect him, part of that trust and respect is earned by providing a safe place for my child to return to when he gets hurt, scared, or accidently ingests red dye #40 so that he can explore the world on his own with confidence. To create unnecessary anxiety for my child and deny him valuable experiences out of fear would not be respectful to him, and in my view, would not be consistent with Attachment Parenting practices.

What kind of myths about Attachment Parenting have you encountered? How do you choose to approach these misconceptions when they come up?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Money Talks - Homebirth vs Circumcision

In Southern Utah where I live, there are a lot of college students, most of them married, and a lot of them, even the ones out of college, are uninsured. The vast majority of families use Medicaid.

Everywhere around here are smaller towns, so the job market isn't that big, and the jobs we do have don't pay very much, so it is really hard to find affordable health insurance for families, and Medicaid is always there as a fall back, especially if they are pregnant since it covers basically everything without a copay or denial.

I was on Medicaid with my daughter, and in our first appointment they told us what was covered and what wasn't so we would know. The one thing that didn't really shock me was circumcision. This was also back when I thought it was the better thing to do, and when they said that they would not cover it since it is considered a cosmetic surgery, I didn't bat an eye. If we had a son, we would figure out how to pay for it out of pocket.

Medicaid also doesn't cover out of hospital birth except for one Birthing Center in Northern Utah, but that is the only insurance they are allowed to accept and they have a very tight licensing agreement to keep their Medicaid agreement.

Working with my midwife, I am always shocked at how many people talk about not affording a homebirth, but considering if they birth in the hospital with Medicaid, they pay absolutely nothing except a circumcision if that is what they choose to do to their son.

This last weekend I found out how much a circumcision costs a family on Medicaid.

As a bit of back story, the midwife I work with charges $900-$1500 for all of pregnancy, the birth, and postpartum. We have all the instruments needed to give you the same care you would have in the hospital, and an amazing back-up OB in case more tests are needed or if they want an ultrasound. Women on Medicaid get a discount, and she barters, so you are getting a steal for everything she covers for so little.

A circumcision if you are on Medicaid and pay out of pocket is $800-$1500 depending on your pediatrician, what anesthetics are used, and other factors.

I have yet to hear the excuse from people that they didn't circumcise their son because they couldn't afford it, yet I hear women that want a homebirth on Medicaid say they cannot afford to pay.

I find it absolutely amazing that they are able to come up with the money to cut their child without a second thought, yet money is the very first excuse they give not to birth at home when they are the same exact price.

Why do they not question cutting their child's genitals when even Medicaid considers it an elective cosmetic surgery? Do people not read the fine print or are they just going along with what they have learned their entire life, that circumcision keeps the penis clean, and foreskin is there to be removed?

Does it truly come down to money as the reason to not have a homebirth, or is it just another excuse to use?

If you had the choice to have a homebirth or cut your son's penis, which would be more important to you? Having your son look like his father, or have less infection as some people believe against the research, or having a peaceful, natural birth?

Does it come down to importance, or is it again just an excuse that we hide behind so we don't have to make the choice between the two?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Giveaway winners - GoGreen and Ella's Kitchen!

The winner of the GoGreen Pocket diaper is Kris H!

The winner of the Ella's Kitchen is Miranda!

Don't miss your chance to enter our Inspired by Finn giveaway!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Teething Inspiration: Inspired by Finn (Giveaway)

We've been teething at the Connected house, and like most moms I am not a fan of this stage.  Poor Sydney decided to get her teeth in sets of three and with sore gums, even nursing made her howl at times.  I'd heard of amber teething necklaces, but to be honest, I didn't really understand how they worked.  So after one particularly rough night I checked out Inspired by Finn for more information.

Inspired by Finn is the first name you'll hear if you mention amber teething necklaces to a natural parent, so I knew they would have all the info and I was right.  Amber teething necklaces are not, as you might assume, something for your child to chew on, but rather fossilized tree resins that contain natural oils that release when laid against warm skin.  These oils, including succinic acid - a natural component of plant and animal tissues, are a natural form of pain relief.

Inspired by Finn offers hand-knotted amber necklaces with screw or magnetic clasps.  Necklaces should be worn next to baby's skin for maximum benefit and should not be teethed on.  I was very concerned that Syd would constantly have hers in her mouth, but I've only had to take it out of her mouth twice in the last month.  I usually just tuck it under her shirt, and for some reason, she isn't interested in mouthing it.

So does it work?  I have to give this a big YES!  I'll admit I wasn't convinced when I ordered, but after a semi-scientific experiment, I'm a believer.  When we received the necklace Syd had cut 3 teeth already and was getting ready for the next set.  I put on the necklace and her discomfort seemed to go away.  After a few days I removed it and left it off for a few days, the fussy discomfort returned.  We put it back on and repeated the experiment.  The last time we put it on, we left it on and a few days later, there were three new teeth, her top two and one incisor, poking through one morning.  I was surprised because she hadn't seemed uncomfortable at all and those are some big teeth!

Inspired by Finn has offered to give away one item from their shop (any 16 inch or under in-stock Baltic Amber necklace) to one lucky reader.  Can't wait?  You can follow this link to get up to 20% off your order!  Giveaway will close at Dec. 29 at 11:59 pm CST. (U.S. Only)

Mandatory Entry:  Go to Inspired by Finn and tell us what your favorite product is.

Extra entries:
1. Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to the tweet (click on the timestamp). You may do this daily.
2. Follow us publicly on google friend connect.
3. Subscribe to our RSS feed.
4. Follow @theconnectedmom on twitter
5. Share this giveaway on Facebook using the share button at the top of this post.
6. Follow Inspired by Finn on Facebook.
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8. Add either our Connected Mom button or one of our Breastfeeding on the Street buttons (2 entries if you do both)
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Disclaimer: Inspired by Finn provided a sample for my review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fun Toddler Holiday Craft

**Spoiler Alert** Mom and Dad: This post contains Christmas gift spoilers! Please go stalk me elsewhere on the internet, or at least act surprised on Christmas day!

Connected mom Jenn wrote a fabulous 'how to' a few weeks ago for a holiday that doesn’t break the bank, and reconnects us with community and loved ones in a way that is truer to the original spirit of the season. One of her many awesome suggestions was to make ornaments and decorations with your children.

The Christmas trees of my childhood were far from the shimmering glamorous monoliths in stores and catalogs. Our fake tree stood barely 4ft tall. None of our ornaments matched any others on the tree, and no one cared whether they were evenly placed, or even if they were still intact. It just mattered that they all made it on the little tree, because almost every single one of them was made with love and enthusiasm by us kids. Among my favourites were the painted green bow-tie pasta wreath with my little sister’s dorky grin picture in the centre, my brother’s prized clay teddy bear that made me giggle because I thought it looked more like a Christmas turd than a Christmas bear (but I wouldn’t actually TELL him that to his face), and the genius Rudolph reindeer I fashioned from pantyhose, pom-poms and pipe cleaners.

I dream of one day hanging Oliver’s home made ornaments from the branches of my tree, whether they are beautifully crafted or look more like Christmas turds, I just can’t wait to retell their stories every year, and to see his skills and creativity grow and change from one ornament to the next. As well as filling my own tree with Oliver’s creations, this year I want to supply my parents with more home made goodness to add to the collection (my dad doesn’t set up the tree every year anymore, but I know those ornaments are still packed away somewhere). So about $20 at the craft store and a few hours* later I have made 6 (one for me & one for each set of Oliver’s grandparents, and one extra in case I break one) of these cute and simple hand print ornaments.

Please note that the use of these as holiday ornaments is totally optional, they also make great keepsakes to hang in your office or home all year round!

*I say a few hours, and in total it was maybe an hour or two worth of work, but it was completed over the course of an entire day. For younger children I highly recommend breaking the project into several manageable tasks to avoid them (and you!) loosing interest or becoming frustrated!

You will need:

• One package of oven-bake clay
• Rolling pin
• Round cookie cutter or cup just bigger than your child’s hand
• Small alphabet stamps (optional)
• Small metal eye hooks
• One glass or metal baking sheet
• Soft sponge or paint brush
• Acrylic craft paint in colour of your choice (optional)
• Glitter, gloss, or shimmer finishing paint (optional)
• One roll of fabric ribbon to match your paint choice

Your child can help with any one of these steps depending on their age, with the exception of step 4, I’ll leave you to decide which parts you will need their help for!

Oliver 'rolling' baking clay
1) Carefully read the package instructions of your oven-bake clay as preparation may vary from brand to brand.
2) Work your clay until it starts to soften up then roll it out to about a quarter to half an inch thickness and cut rounds with cup or cookie cutter.
3) Place eye hooks into the top of every round at about “10 and 2”
Oliver wasn't so sure about this part!
4) Wash your child’s hands thoroughly then gently press into the centre of each clay round. (Make sure to wash them thoroughly afterwards as well! I learned the hard way that baking clay leaves a greasy residue that can ruin clothing and furniture!)
5) (optional) Using stamps, or the end of a toothpick or pencil, write your child’s name and the year (example: Oliver 2010) either above/below the hand print or on the back of each round. I started out using a pencil to carve Oliver’s name into the ornament. I didn’t really like the result and ended up using a Gold craft marker to write on the rest of my ornaments after the fact. I think I would have preferred the effect that alphabet stamps would have.
Our first ornament ready for the oven
6) Place rounds on a glass or metal baking surface and bake as per package instructions to set the clay.
7) Once rounds have been removed from oven and cooled you can paint them, or leave them plain and skip to step 11.
8) Using acrylic craft paint and a small sponge or brush, paint the front of your ornament. I used a rag to lightly wipe away some of the paint after application to create more contrast in the hand print and make it more visible.
9) Let paint dry then flip ornaments over and paint the other side.
10) When all paint is dry repeat steps 8 and 9 with a glitter/gloss/shimmer finish if desired, and let dry. I used a “diamond effect” sheer acrylic glitter paint to finish mine and I love the way they catch the light.
11) String your ribbon through the eye hooks to create a nice hanger for your ornament.

Finished ornaments hanging in the afternoon sun

What are your favorite holiday crafts to do with your children? Do you have any holiday traditions designed to create memories and keepsakes?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spotlight on a Breastfeeding Partner #1

The Spotlight on a Breastfeeding Partner series aims to highlight the fathers, partners, or cheerleaders behind a breastfeeding mom.  This celebration of breastfeeding support underscores the role support people play in successful breastfeeding and provides encouragement for future breastfeeding partners.  To nominate someone in your life for the spotlight, click here.

Role: Dad
Supporting breastfeeding since: 2007

Josh is my husband, and the inspiration for this series.  When our son was born via unplanned cesarean in 2007, Josh worked with me to beat the booby traps. He helped finger feed my pumped milk to fix a latch problem with the help of a lactation consultant and helped check our son's latch at every feeding during those critical first weeks (lower lip flip!).  He's been known to spoon feed me during those early, extended nursing sessions and he gladly cooks meals, even preparing things for me to heat up when he'll be away for the night.

12 Days of Connection: Cookie Baking

Nothing says holidays to me quite like the smell of cookies baking, or maybe swiping a little cookie dough to eat.    We're kicking of the last 12 days to Christmas with daily holiday activities that focus on connection and with a baker and 3 avid cookie fans, what better way to kick things off?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Mama Manifesto

Being a mom and a blogger has had its ups and downs this week.  I'm reminded that as Connected Mom gains visibility, scrutiny of it increases.  I'll be the first to admit I'm not the thickest skin blogger on the block, but I also know my philosophy does not match up with every visitor who reads this site.  So I'm laying it on the line.  This post is my own philosophy, what I hope to achieve with Connected Mom, and the things I'm most proud of about this site's community.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sleep Problems: Choose your own adventure

It seems like the #1 issue we discuss on the Connected Mom Facebook page is sleep issues.  I've done two rounds of Ask the Mentor with Natural Parents Network and both have included sleep problem questions.  So I've whipped up a little guided adventure for your reading pleasure.  If you're struggling with bedtime, I hope this gives you some ideas, some laughs, and some perspective.  If you're lucky maybe even some zzzzzz's.


My child is under 18 months of age.

My child is 19 months or older

If you enjoyed this please share with your friends! And remember every adventure is different!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

5 Easy Activities for Indoor Fun

Winter is upon us and that means little ones stuck at home with a lot of energy to expend.  Here's some fun, easy ways to pass the time when the weather has you inside.  So whether it's raining, snowing, or just too
darn cold to go out, there's still plenty of things to do inside!

1.  Puppet theatre

You will need:
- an old curtain
- a bistro curtain rod
- stuffed animals
- a silly toddler

No sewing necessary!  Just run the curtain along the rod and flip the extra length over the rod.  Your child will entertain himself (and you) for hours!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Do Women Truly Have Options?

I have been reading a lot of birthing stories lately, and most of the natural women had to fight for their births. I have never read a story where a woman wanted an epidural and had to fight to get it. They are readily available, as are all drugs for a laboring woman. What truly makes them different? Does not wanting drugs make you crazy, so your opinion truly doesn’t matter?
Is choosing to give birth naturally a realistic option today?
There are 2 views on birth:
1. It is a normal, natural process
2. A medical event fraught with the possibility of things going wrong.
Why are they so completely different?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nurse-Ins are for Everyone (Guest Post)

Note from Jenn: Today's guest post is from Erin at Nine Davids.  I first "met" Erin on a board for women trying to conceive after pregnancy loss.  We enjoyed getting our positive pregnancy tests together, gestating, and having our babies within the same month.  Erin who is unfailingly generous and kind offered to let me repost this awesome post for you all, and I think you'll agree it's a must read!  Erin is a working mom to the ninth David in her family.  She blogs about attachment parenting, living with IBD, and being a first time mom.  
P.S. You should all leave a comment convincing her to become a regular contributor here.

Credit: (Click to support her awesome art.)
Often, the only outspoken lactivists are mothers who are currently nursing their children, or have nursed them in the past.  The lactivist community is strong, but insular - demonstrations are often nurse-ins, and understandably, conversation in lactivist groups tends toward the ins-and-outs of being a nursing mother.

Breastfeeding is more than a mom's issue.  It's an everybody issue.

Right now, there's a controversy spreading on Facebook, across the internet, in cafes, stores and churches.  Facebook has recently banned a number of users for posting photos of themselves breastfeeding.  They have deleted an event for a national "Nurse-In", which calls for mothers to post breastfeeding pictures.  Why?

"It's obscene."

I cannot breastfeed my son. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yes, James, there is a Santa Claus

Two generations of believers on Christmas Eve
As a gentle parent I've been privy to some interesting debate regarding the Santa Claus ruse.  Do you tell your child there is a Santa, do you parade them out for Christmas pics, write letters, and set out a tray of milk and cookies every Christmas Eve?  Or is it a breech of trust between you and your children to engage in a lie, even if it seems harmless enough?

I'll be honest, the issue has never really existed for us.  In fact, this is the first year it ever occurred to me that some parents might not do the Santa thing.  Don't get me wrong.  I get it.  The blatant consumerism.  The coercive message of the naughty or nice list.  The inevitable reveal of the truth.  Yes, I can see why one might choose not to do the Santa thing.  But I guess when my son asks, I'll respond, "Yes, James, there is a Santa Claus."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fluffy Rumps (Giveaway)


When I started cloth diapering, I opted to use PUL covers over our beloved fitteds. I feared leaks. I feared being out in public and having my son soaked from the waist down. I have a strange phobia of wet wool, so the idea of woolies kind of lost me.

I stumbled across Fluffy Rumps on Facebook. I "liked" them, and then snooped her selection of fabrics. Prior to this I had never considered fleece. My husband has a strange dislike for fleece the way I have for wet wool. However, I was intrigued. I needed to try them out!

Go Green without Going Broke: GoGreen Pocket Diapers (Giveaway)

Want to win one?  Enter below by Dec. 16th at 11:59 CST.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me something interesting you learned about Go Green Pocket Diapers

Extra entries (leave a comment for each w/ email address)
1. Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to the tweet (click on the timestamp). You may do this daily.
2. Follow us publicly on google friend connect.
3. Subscribe to our RSS feed.
4. Follow @theconnectedmom on twitter
5. Join our community.
6. Follow GoGreen on Facebook.
7. Follow us on Facebook.
8. Add either our Connected Mom button or one of our Breastfeeding on the Street buttons (2 entries if you do both)
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