I am always slightly embarrassed to talk about how much I love religion (in general) and God (in particular), how important spirituality and faith are to me and my life. In undergrad, it just so happened that every single elective that I took had something to do with religion, which was how it came to pass that I was only one class (3 credits) shy of having a Religious Study major.  Even now, I confess that the idea of going back to school to earn my PhD in the study of disability within the context of religion is very appealing to me.

 Why am I telling you all this?

Because I am not a Christian and because I recently read Amy Julia Becker’s book, Small Talk. It’s all about the practical application and thought behind Christianity and daily life parenting small children. I want people to understand that you don’t have to be a Christian to like this book; you just need to have an appreciation for Christianity and people who walk the talk.

 Small Talk is structured so that Amy Julia begins each chapter with a central spiritual concept that she wants to explore – such as “forgiveness”, and talks about mistakes made in her home, things she struggles with, how she tries to apply the teachings of Jesus to her day-to-day life.

As she has a child with Down syndrome, she also talks about Christianity and disability, saying,

…what is most remarkable about Jesus’ posture toward individuals who we might call “disabled” is that it is the same as his posture toward everyone else. He makes no distinction for people with disabilities. He sees brokenness. He sees need. He sees possibilities. He sees belovedness. He treats every one of them, every one of us, with the dignity every child of God deserves.

 Questions Without Answers

Maybe another reason why I love Amy Julia’s writings on Christianity is that she does not have a lot of answers for tough questions. She puts forth her questions and struggles for her own understanding both honestly and vulnerably.

In Small Talk, she tries to understand and explain Easter and Jesus’ coming back to life to herself and to her children. She tries to understand and explain Christmas too, and how to reconcile “American” Christmas with “Christian” Christmas. The Trinity, too, falls under Amy Julia’s analytical and enquiring mind, and she beautifully writes,

 My poetic sensibilities gravitate toward the Spirit, the animating force, the mysterious, beautiful, unpredictable power and grace of God here and now. Yet I still wonder how the Spirit works, what it means to walk in step with the Spirit, to hear the voice of the Spirit, to really be so connected to God that I represent God’s activity inn the world…I like the incomprehensible nature of it, the way God can’t be defined. The way the Spirit is, as the Bible says, like wind, like water, like fire. Flickering. In motion. Consuming. Indescribable. One who can be experienced, perhaps, but never fully understood.

I enjoyed joining Amy Julia in thinking about how the teachings of Jesus can be applied to real life, when real life includes parenting small children who seem to simultaneously challenge and teach; inspire and learn.

This is a beautiful book, one in which I – a non-Christian – took pleasure reading.


smalltalk reviewed by meriah nicholsGiveaway:

Amy Julia Becker is giving away a copy of Small Talk to one reader of this blog – kindle version if you live outside the US; regular paperback if you are in the US.

Just leave a comment to enter, or answer this complex question: “small talk or no small talk?”

*winner picked by random.org in a week (- January 27th 2015, announced on this blog’s facebook page).



When I was a kid I loved Barbie.

Oh, secretly of course, I knew loving that mainstream bit of blonde freakishness with her otherworldly proportions, built-in high heeled feet and rock-hard (nipple-less!) bosoms would not win admiration for me from my parents, but...yeah. I loved her.

In retrospect, it was more accurate to say that I wanted to be her. I had scars all over my face, remember, my hair would never grow long, I was impossibly ungainly and awkward. I had thick glasses. Hearing aids! It was pretty painful.

If you had given me a doll at that point in my life with hearing aids, I would have been horribly offended and pissed off.

I thought of that many times over the years as I see more dolls with disabilities entering the market.

While I know that I would not have wanted one – struggling as I was to fit in, have friends, be accepted, I would not have touched one of those dolls with a disability with a ten foot pole. I wanted Barbie! I wanted a doll that everyone wanted because I wanted to be included and ft in. I didn’t want a doll that looked like me; I wanted a doll that was desirable, that others wanted, that was cool.

Giving me a scar faced doll or a doll with hearing aids would have felt to me even more isolating. Like, “oh, thanks. A doll just like me, exactly what I wanted. I’ll just sit in the corner here with my different-like-me doll and play because all the other kids have Barbie, but NOT ME because I’m “special.”” *weak fist thump*

Now, if I had seen another child playing with a doll with hearing aids… a child without hearing aids playing with a doll with hearing aids? That would have blown me away. Big time. Actually, that would have meant the world to me.

Dolls with disabilities

I have gradually come to think that the best part of dolls with disabilities isn’t for the kids with disabilities so much as for everyone else. That is to say, that dolls would disabilities could have an enormous impact on the adults of tomorrow by normalizing disability for children of today. Give the dolls with hearing aids, who use wheelchairs, who have a chest scar from having had open heart surgery, give the bald dolls – the cancer survivors – and the dolls that use walking crutches, the dolls with interesting facial shapes, the dolls with Down syndrome – give those dolls to kids who don’t have that disability. Give it to the kids who don’t have a disability at all even.

Give the dolls with disabilities to kids who don’t have that disability (or any disability)

mainstream the dolls with a disability. That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t think kids with disabilities need to have a doll that looks like themselves necessarily; I think it’s more powerful for them to see another kid playing with a doll that looks like themselves. To see that a representation of themselves can be wanted and included.

When Ashton Drake contacted me about “Special Joy”, their doll with Down syndrome, I was really curious and eager to see what a doll with Down syndrome would look like. I mean, how would this work? How would you make a doll with Down syndrome and include enough features to recognize the doll as having Down syndrome but at the same time, avoid negative stereotypes?

They sent us Joy and… WHOAH.



This doll is ah.mayyyy.zinggg. She is almost disturbingly life like. The part of her that express Down syndrome are her bent pinkie, her sandalfeet. She has a single crease in her palm and her legs look as if they could be low tone – the way they fall reminds me of how Moxie’s would fall when she was a baby.


Moxie loves her. Mack loves her too.

I don’t think Moxie (or Mack) loves Joy because she recognizes that Joy has Down syndrome or that Down syndrome has any part in this, really. I think she loves Joy because Joy feels like a real baby – her limbs are fashioned from some incredibly life-like substance, her weight is perfect, she feels like a genuine human baby.

I think anyone who likes dolls – adults included – would love Joy. And like I said,  I would like to see this doll, along with other dolls with disabilities, being played with and loved by people who don’t necessarily have a connection with Down syndrome. That someone with Down syndrome might at some point see a person without Down syndrome playing with a doll like Joy and feel something really warm cackle around in their heart, a fuzzy from the the delight that acceptance and inclusion bring.


With this month being Down syndrome Acceptance Month, Ashton Drake will be giving away a Special Joy here on this blog.

The doll retails for around $130 – she is thrillingly lifelike. Stunningly crafted. She’s a collector’s doll who is tough enough to handle the love that Moxie and MacQuinn wrap her in. She’s a doll that I’d encourage everyone and anyone who loves dolls to buy – or give to someone else who loves  dolls. This is about a beautiful doll that was made with care and detail (and no, they did not pay me for writing this stuff! )

Entering the giveaway is easy. Just comment or answer this question: do you like dolls?!


For more info on Ashton Drake and “Special Joy” (along with way better photos of her!), please visit their site HERE.

*giveaway limited to the US unfortunately *

giveaway winner will be picked at 5am on 10/31, Lost Coast time 😉


I feel pressured to be moving away from paper planners, but I still find something so satisfying about pen-to-paper. Don't you? I also really like the whole looking-back thing. Having a statement, proof of sorts, that I did something with a year, something visual to lay hands and eyes on.

But the thing is, I'm really picky.

I only like to write with Sharpie ultra fine points, and I loathe paper bleeding. I crave images. If a planner doesn't have one that I like, I'll draw it myself – with those ultra fine Sharpies.

I also like my dates in a variety of formats. I like the month-at-a-glance and I like room to write within each week.

The sum total of my pickiness means that it was pretty ballsy of Blurb to offer me a planner to review – because the chances were not good that I'd like it. It would, after all, have to have:

  • very thick paper (to prevent the paper bleeding from my Sharpies), and thick paper ain't cheap
  • tons of images to keep me visually stimulated
  • be small enough to carry but big enough to actually use
  • contain a variety of layouts – both month and day glances

Let me tell you this though: they nailed it.

photo 1

They have come up with some software that you have to download and then plug your photos into (which is a bit of a pain in the butt) – then you can completely create what you want in the way of a planner.

photo 3

You want photos on every page? Got it.

    photo 5

Want a photo of your baby girl with the month of October? There it is.

photo 4

Want one of you with the baby that was just lifted out of you? Ah!

photo 4

And you can do a lot more too. You can add decorations and customize each page with little doodad things, or insert dates of importance to you. You can really tweak this however you want.

Best thing about the planner – after all those pictures – is that the paper is really thick. Very strong. So I can use my Sharpies and (drumroll please) NO BLEEDING.

I am really, really impressed.

Hardcover. No bleeding. Chock full of images. Super quality. And it's $25 to make your own – which might seem like a lot of money for a planner, but I think it's a steal, given everything I've said above. These planners are well made.

Blurb is offering one free planner to a reader of this blog, so keeping with our 2013: Get Your Happy On theme from yesterday, just leave a comment on one thing that makes you happy. Extra entries available – check out the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Or just head straight over to their site and make your own. Start your year out right. Happy and organized.



*** Note: Blurb didn't pay me to write this post. I received a planner and nothing more


Like most women, I'd been lulled by cheerful photographs and happy magazine articles into thinking that the hardest thing about new motherhood would be actual childbirth.

It certainly didn't help that I had very few friends that had given birth before me.

So it came as a very rude shock that the easiest thing about new motherhood was actually childbirth; everything else came on a steep learning curve.


Breastfeeding, sleeping, those "5 s's" – even cutting my baby's nails was hard.

I thought carriers would be a cinch – I mean, how hard could it be to just plop your baby in something? Really? But it was. Remember this?  I had tried all these carriers, got lost in the New Native and finally test-drove an Ergo by borrowing my friend's. I nursed Micah while I hiked in it and was sold.


But then two things happened:

1. I didn't realize how crucial the top back strap is and

2. I had Moxie, a child with Down syndrome – and hence, low tone.


Low muscle tone changes a lot for parents when looking for the perfect baby carrier for their little one. This is the thing: you have to be careful to not splay the legs of little ones with low tone because it can cause hip problems. This is probably true of every little baby, but it's especially true for kids with low tone. We really have to be careful.


Unsure as to whether the Ergo was going to cut it, I took it along with the link for the  infant insert to Moxie's physical therapist at the hospital and asked her if it was a good option for Moxie.


Sharon, Moxie's physical therapist,  looked it all over very carefully, noting how using the infant insert keeps the legs of an infant together.

The infant insert…with infant

Inside the Infant Insert

The baby is essentially perched on a little soft stool, then snuggled like a delicious little burrito within.

Sharon gave it a thumbs up; I used it non-stop until she said that Moxie's hips and legs were all right for being in the carrier directly (this, I believe, when Moxie was around 9-10 months old).


Now, while it was all fine to have Moxie in the Ergo with the infant insert, I wasn't adjusting the Ergo top strap correctly which wrecked havoc on my back,  already weakened from Micah's c-section. It was torture! Fierce white-pain (you know the kind) would flash around and I'd be screaming inside from the agony.


Long time readers of this blog know all about that –  (read this post!) – so I simply can't stress this enough: that tiny little strap in the back? It must be adjusted correctly!


It's got to be low enough to ergonomically kick in. Which, yes, can make unbuckling it tricky, but you can do it alone once you get the hang of exactly where it is.

When you have that down, you've got yourself the best carrier in the world. The Ergo will take your baby front, back and side. You can nurse easily in it

nursing in the ergo!

There – can you tell I'm nursing in that photo? It's pretty great, isn't it?

Even if you have large Bessies, it's easy – you just undo your nursing clasp/shirt from within and hold part of the cloth of your shirt along the side if you don't care for spillage views

It's not likely to get easier than with the Ergo.

I even wear it around the house, since it's just about the only way that I can carry my baby everywhere and still get things done; I can nurse him while I cook for my other two kids.

It also stays away from my c-section incision – and have I already mentioned that I look about 20 lbs slimmer while wearing it?!

This carrier is perfect in every way.



In The Spirit of Giving Thanks:

A big 'thank you" to Ergo Baby just for creating these awesome carriers that have dramatically improved the quality of my life. And a big "thank you" to them for their generosity – they are giving away one carrier with infant insert here.

To enter, just follow the flow of the rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Want to read my earlier posts on the Ergo?

From 2008: Carrying on with the Carriers (this post was with little tiny baby Micah)

From 2011: The Mighty Ergo (from traveling in Baja, Mexico with Moxie)


Links to Ergo Baby:

Ergo Baby Website

Try it on before you buy it? Find a store


Month with Moxie: Celebration Giveaway

Moxie was born in May 2010 with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. She had already miraculously healed from her diffuse fetal hydrops and the holes in her heart. She was named "Moxie" as she had shown that she was full of it: courage. Verve. Vigor.

Moxie has challenged us to do the same: to live our life, our one precious life, with a little moxie.


October was Down syndrome Awareness Month and we are still celebrating it through a  Month with Moxieliving life with moxie.


We have a host of awesome Awareness Champions that will be helping us all celebrate by giving you really cool products they made or produce.


Today's Champion is Kenna, creator of Amathia Soapworks. A bit more about her:


Amathia Soapworks became Kenna's version of the 9 to 5 in March of 2011, after over 8 years of formulating, testing, and learning. All of Amathia's products are made in small batches with the highest quality ingredients, while being as close to the Earth as possible. Sustainability and eco-friendly business practices always ties into formulation, packaging, marketing, and sales.


Each product and formulation is extensively tested by Kenna, as well as her family and friends, before it is produced for you. If it’s not good enough for her skin, her husband’s skin, or the skin of her children, it is not good enough for anyone.

Moxie is a wondrous blend of citrus, cucumber, and jasmine for the perfect stimulating combination with a sweet undertone. Full of spunk and sass, but mellow and chill when enjoyed in the bath, Moxie was formulated with the assistance of Kenna's toddler whom the soap is named after. The little one chose the base fragrance, each of the colors, and helped paint the shimmery tops on the very first batch. Moxie quickly became her favorite soap for bathtime, and has become a standard part of the Amathia Soapworks line.


How cool is this? I mean, really.

To enter, just leave a comment on the Rafflecopter below – extra options are also available. US only. Winner selected randomly in ten days (11/12/12).


a Rafflecopter giveaway


More Amathia BodyWorks – Please check them out – awesome soaps, awesome prices.




Month with Moxie: Celebration Giveaway

Moxie was born in May 2010 with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. She had already miraculously healed from her diffuse fetal hydrops and the holes in her heart. She was named "Moxie" as she had shown that she was full of it: courage. Verve. Vigor.

Moxie has challenged us to do the same: to live our life, our one precious life, with a little



This month is Down syndrome Awareness Month and we are celebrating a Month with Moxieliving life with moxie.


We have a host of awesome Awareness Champions that will be helping us all celebrate by giving you really cool products they made or produce.


Today's Champion is Gwen, creator of Carlito's Creations. A bit more about her:


Gwen is an IT professional with a great love for crafts and recycling. What better way than to combine them both?!?! She came up with this idea while looking for a new ID Tag for her Chihuahua, Carlito, and figured out an inexpensive way to make him an ID tag made from recycled bottle-caps. She started just making them for all her friends' dogs and then decided to branch out and sell them on etsy.

Along with Pet ID Tags, she also makes personalized key-chains and magnets all from recycled bottle-caps. With Carlito as her right-hand man, she is gaining a fan base and having so much fun in the process! Please check out Carlito's Creations on etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/carlitocreations) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CarlitosCreations).

For all you Moxie fans, if you order during the month of October, you can use the coupon code GOTMOXIE15 and get 15% off your order!!!!


To enter: just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Details: Giveaway open to US residents. Open from 10/17/12 – 10/24/12, winners  announced directly via email.

Month with Moxie: Celebration Giveaway

Moxie was born in May 2010 with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. She had already miraculously healed from her diffuse fetal hydrops and the holes in her heart. She was named "Moxie" as she had shown that she was full of it: courage. Verve. Vigor.

Moxie has challenged us to do the same: to live our life, our one precious life, with a little



This month is Down syndrome Awareness Month and we are celebrating a Month with Moxieliving life with moxie.


We have a host of awesome Awareness Champions that will be helping us all celebrate by giving you really cool products they made or produce.


Today's Champion is kudu-lah, creator of whimsical characters and fun fantasy things who says:

kudu-lah is a husband-wife duo based in New York City. Harnessing the power of AWESOME, Kenny and Jenifer Kudulis, bring you monster-like characters that are inspired by folks seen traveling through the streets and subways of NYC. Each critter has its own name and bio too!

Each individual piece of artwork is lovingly handmade by us with our unique photo transfer process and finished with a UV protector. Each piece is signed, named and dated with the year. Larger pieces are numbered in a limited first edition.

Whether the critters are attacking a ship or hanging out in a picturesque sylvan scene, kudu-lah art is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. You might even see someone you know in our collection!

… I know I see a little bit of my Moxie in the "moxie"!!

It's fun and quirky

With a dash of happy

and um. "Spice"

It's the perfect little onesie for someone with some moxie

kud-lah will be giving away 4 of these handmade, pink American Apparrel onesies – thank you, kudu-lah!

They are all  infant sizes – 3-6 months – but they will probably fit older children if your child is petite like my 2-year old Moxie. Please visit the kudu-lah shop on etsy and show them some love.


To enter: just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Details: Giveaway open to US/Canada residents. Open from 10/11/12 – 10/18/12, winners  announced directly via email.


Month with Moxie: Celebration Giveaway

Moxie was born in May 2010 with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. She had already miraculously healed from her diffuse fetal hydrops and the holes in her heart. She was named "Moxie" as she had shown that she was full of it: courage. Verve. Vigor.

Moxie has challenged us to do the same: to live our life, our one precious life, with a little



This month is Down syndrome Awareness Month and we are celebrating a Month with Moxieliving life with moxie.


We have a host of awesome Awareness Champions that will be helping us all celebrate by giving you really cool products they made or produce.


Today's Champion is Sweet Redemption, and this is a message from owner/creator Jess:


What an honor to be a tiny part of such an important celebration!  A beautiful man once said, "If anything matters, then everything matters."

Life is to be lived fully… from the inside out.  Every single person on the face of the planet is a unique, perfectly crafted work of art!  We long to look in the mirror and find something to celebrate – to look into the face of another person and celebrate!  Too often we find instead disappointment, judgement, sadness and rejection.

This month we celebrate the lovely people with (as Meriah calls it) the gift of an extra chromosome – because in my experience – these amazing people reflect back to us what we long to see.  A ready smile, a unique perspective, and always… sunshine. 

I have gone through struggles… as everyone has… and I have come to hold onto that quote like a lifeline – I matter! You matter! Life is precious and worth every second of living it!  My art is a way of celebrating those moments – one step at a time – allowing room for the lament, knowing that the bitter only makes the sweet more sweet.  Sweet Redemption is about just that… that beauty can be found anywhere – if you only have the eyes to see it! 

I am filled with gratitude as I celebrate with you!  I hope that whoever "wins" one of my Moxie Scarves will wrap themselves in a little more spunk… fortify with fortitude… and BE exactly who you ARE! 

I will also be releasing limited editions of my Moxie Scarves all throughout the month of October on my Etsy shop.  I will be donating $5 from every scarf to a fund to get Meriah and her family on their way to their dream of raising awareness globally and eventually providing employment training for people with disabilities. 

So – scurry on over to my Etsy shop and get your Moxie scarf – wear it proudly and celebrate life!

x jess

Facebook: Sweet Redemption Fiber Art

These scarves are BEAUTIFUL – they are made of alpaca wool with SPARKLE – they are butter soft with vibrant, deliciously playful colours

Verve! Vigor!

You know. Kind of like a little girl I know…


There are two scarves, one that is yellow/green/grey with silver sparkles and the other is purple/pink/fuschia/magenta with silver sparkles


To enter, just answer the following question below (or on the With a Little Moxie facebook page): what's your favorite colour? There will be 2 winners for this giveaway!


[sorry, because of pricey shipping, this giveaway is limited to the US/Canada; giveaway ends October 11th, midnight Pacific, winners announced on the blog on Friday the 12th – email address MUST be attached to comment]

Happy Month with Moxie, and please don't forget to swing by Jess's shop on etsy and show her some love. AND! Did you catch the part about Jess donating $5 off of every order toward our PAN AM OVERLAND trip in which we will seek out our Inn?! YES!

Thank you, Jess!

winners chosen by random.org – #2, Deanna and #9, Jennifer

Some women just look gorgeous while pregnant.

You know the type: their taut limbs and firm behinds scream, I DO YOGA DAILY, HAHAHA!!

Their bellies are perfectly soccer-ball round, faces glow. Their hair? Mervelously arranged in a loose, “I don’t care but I’m still stunning” way. And you – with sweat clinging to your slightly greasy hair, your butt hanging out of the casings of your pre-maternity underwear, your belly wildly distended and your limbs flapping tribute to the Stars and Stripes, why you are torn between wanting to roll your eyes at that lady or find an incancantation spell that will slip you into her (fragrant) skin.

Or maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s just me.


I’ll tell you this: I don’t feel gorgeous while pregnant. I don’t feel gorgeous while I’m a nursing Mama either. I feel big and fleshy, like those Venus of Willendorf dolls.

Oh sure, objectively speaking, I know all the bits about how I’m basically a sacred earth-mother-goddess now – my body is creating another human being, after all! And then (post-birth), my body will be nurturing and sustaining a tiny baby into near-self subsistence!

But frankly, I’m too hormonal to be objective. I just want to look good. I want to feel good. I want to not cry – as I literally do sometimes – when I look in the mirror or look at photos of myself right here, right now.

31 weeks pregnant. Massive Mama.


A Mother’s Boutique sent me an Annee Matthew Bamboo Drawstring Hoodie to review. I was excited and yet a little nervous about it because on the site, the fit of the hoodie looks like it’s for those Slim-Hipped Yoga Moms. And the stripes are horizontal which everyone in the 80‘s said makes us look bigger. Like I need to look bigger, thank you very much.

The actual hoodie though – when I received it, was baby-skin soft. Luxurious. I mean, LUXURIOUS. This bamboo stuff feels like the finest, softest cloth, it just rubs right and somehow the texture of that automatically made me feel *that* much better.

Then I slipped it on. Went and looked at myself and.. fell in love. Not with myself silly; with the hoodie!

The fit does flatter – even if I’m a wide-hipped celto-teutonic peasant breed and no slim-hipped taut Yoga-Mom. I look as good I possibly can in this. And more, when I fiddled with the top part, it’s clear to see that nursing in this is going to be breeze – it just slips right over to the side and you can pop your boob discreetly out.

IN A HOODIE!! How cool is that?!

The colour is also really handy. Grey/black basically goes with everything and with stripes being trendy, you don’t even have to bother really with matching the bottoms. Oh, and clearly “they” were wrong about horizontal stripes making you look bigger. Those 80’s… guess you can’t trust a decade that also told you big frosted hair was rad.

A Mother’s Boutique – and Annee Matthew –  I owe you a personal note of thanks. I really needed something that made me feel good, and made me feel as if I’m looking good. Thank you.


As a token of their singular awesomeness, they will also give away one of the same right here, right now:

 To enter, just follow the Rafflecopter (1. Mandatory: visit A Mother’s Boutique and leave a comment here on which item you like best. Extra entry: “like” A Mother’s Boutique on facebook).

Winner selected randomly on Sept. 7th, Winner announced on Sept. 8th. A new winner will be selected if original winner does not respond in 3 days.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’d rather go straight to the source and not chance a giveaway, you can buy yours – or similar hoodies or awesome shirts and other items on their sites:

Annee Matthew: http://www.anneematthew.net/bamboohoodie.html

A Mother’s Boutique: http://www.mothersboutique.com/bamboohoodie.html – A Mother’s Boutique is where you can find the ENTIRE  Annee Matthew collection of maternity and  nursing wear: http://www.mothersboutique.com/anneematthew.html (check out my fave: the “Milk Factory” tee!! )

I want to add a million disclaimers or qualifiers to the phrase, “I am a hoarder.” I want to sputter out, “but not as bad at the people on the show,” or “I used to be so much worse!” or whatever. But the truth of the matter is that I really do have the heart and soul of a hoarder.

Hoarding and moving to the extent that I do obviously mesh like peace, quiet and Moxie – which is to say, not at all.

I try and tame the propensity for accumulation of objects that delight me by (trying to) keep only really small, useful stuff – something that I can argue my way out of an institution. When they say (in that gentle, professional voice), Meriah…you can’t walk through your place… we need to do something, I’ll respond with, “but they are SMALL! and USEFUL!

Magnets on the Cheap did not know this about me when they approached me with an offer to review one of their magnetic products. They didn’t know that the one rather massive indulgence that my hoarding heart allows with ease is MAGNETS. I save MAGNETS! 

Lots and lots of them!

 Here a magnet, there a magnet, everywhere, a magnet-magnet

I love them and it’s not going to be funny or pretty when we go on the Pan Am Overland and I have to leave them behind.

What www.magnetsonthecheap.com offered me was this:

Which is, a huge magnet the size of a place mat that we can PUT ON THE TRUCK – you know, a living, sort-of-breathing moving tribute to this blog. I love it!

It’s on the fridge now until we are ready to go. Let me say it again: I love this thing. It’s strong, it’s super magnetic-y. It’s in full colour, gorgeous imagery. They produced exactly what I wanted, which I think is pretty amazing.

They are offering YOU a giveaway too – a super-snazzy $50 gift card for stuff on their site, www.magnetsonthecheap.com . The only requirement is that you have to be a US resident (excluding Alaska and Hawaii too, because of shipping costs).

That’s it.

To enter, leave a comment – what kind of magnets do you like? 
If you don’t want to use the comment system here, leave it on facebook (under this post, so your comment doesn’t get lost) or email it.

GIVEAWAY WILL END ON JULY 9 at 12:00am (my time)


While I received a complimentary magnet to review, I wasn’t paid for this post. I said good things about that magnet because I really, really like it. And I really, really like the people at Magnetsonthecheap.com – super friendly, nice and professional. 

Car Magnets
Car Magnets

That’s it.
Okay, go ahead and leave your comment now *smile*

This is the second of a two-part series – a conversation with George Estreich, author of The Shape of the Eye: Down Syndrome, Family, and the Stories We Inherit , and Amy Julia Becker, author of Good and Perfect Gift, A: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny.

Amy Julia Becker will be giving away three copies of her book, Good and Perfect Gift. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment answering her question for you. That’s all you have to do to enter. Winner will be chosen by random.org – make sure your email address is included in your comment so that we can let you know you won.
More on Amy Julia Becker
Website: www.amyjuliabecker.com
Amy Julia’s Awesome Blog: Thin Places
Amy Julia on Facebook
Amy Julia on Twitter

My Review: A Good and Perfect Gift

The Questions:

1. You have both written memoirs related to your daughters, both of whom
were born with Down syndrome. Why did you feel the need to write about
your experiences?

The genesis of A Good and Perfect Gift was a journal. After Penny was
diagnosed with Down syndrome two hours after birth, the easiest way for me to
try to figure out what I was thinking and feeling was to write about it. I sometimes
felt like a little kid again because my mother was helping out a lot and she would
send me to my room and say, “Take a nap, or write.” She knew what I needed.
About once a month I would post an edited version of a few journal entries on
a private blog intended only for our friends and family. In time, I realized that
parents who didn’t have children with special needs nevertheless resonated with
many of the hopes and fears and doubts and joys I was experiencing. By the
time Penny was two, I felt compelled to write about the whole experience in a
more public way, in hopes that it would prompt questions and reflections about
the goodness of life and the challenges and rewards of parenting.

2. What do you hope readers will gain from your memoir and your

I think of A Good and Perfect Gift as a meditation on the nature of love,
particularly parental love, I suppose, but really love in general. So much of our
culture is built upon the assumption that our identity comes from our abilities, and
this assumption is destructive to all of us because it implies that we are only so
valuable as what we can achieve. But if our identity is based upon the fact that
we are loved and that we love in return, it enables us to see one another as gifts
and to give and receive with humility and gratitude. I hope readers come away
from this book with greater freedom to love and to be loved.

3. You have read each other’s books; in what ways do you think your books
are both similar and different?

The Shape of the Eye is broader in scope than A Good and Perfect Gift. For one,
Laura, George’s daughter, is older than Penny, so his story spans more time
and perhaps demonstrates greater wisdom because they have had more time
together. George also weaves in his own relationship with his parents more than
I do. Laura’s medical challenges in the beginning of her life were very different
than Penny’s, and the reality of Laura’s physical difficulties early on led George
to different places as a result. But both books attempt to simply tell a story of
a family. I hope both of them do so with beauty and integrity. I know George’s

4. What was the most challenging aspect of telling your story?

Writing about the beginning of Penny’s life was particularly difficult. I was working
on the book years after those early days, and I had resolved so many of the
emotions. The fear and grief and anger was gone. It was tempting to make
editorial comments, to assure the reader that I wouldn’t feel like this forever, or
even to wonder out loud how I could have been so upset. But of course I needed
and wanted to tell a true story, and the true story of my life as Penny’s mother
includes the weeks and months of confusing emotions after her birth.

5. If you had to write it all over again, would you change what you said in your
book? If so, what would that be?

There’s one passage that I often read when I’m talking about the book in public.
It happens when Penny was five months old and some high school students
come to our house and say, “You have the perfect life.” From there, I go on
to think about the meaning of perfection, the ways in which our life doesn’t
conform to cultural standards of perfection, and what it might mean to think about
perfection differently. In retrospect, I wish I had written that passage with a little
more clarity. One of my struggles since I was a little girl has been perfectionism,
which I now see as the attempt to pretend to be perfect. Every perfectionist
knows that perfection (by any measure) isn’t possible, but the pretense of it is. A
child with Down syndrome can’t pretend to be perfect. Penny’s presence in my
life knocked the perfectionism out of me, which was incredibly jarring at first, but
also incredibly freeing over time. If I were writing it over, I’d edit that one section
to be a little more clear about this perfection stuff.

6. How did you come up with the title of your book and how do you think it
reflects on the story’s overall message?

I’m terrible with titles. I had originally named the book “Just Penny.” I liked the
sentiment—there’s a scene in the book where I realize “she’s not our daughter
with Down syndrome. She’s just Penny”—but I didn’t love the way the words
sounded out loud. They also have an unintended double meaning that she’s
both “Simply Penny” and “Righteous Penny.” So my agent and I spent a few
days brainstorming, and she ultimately came up with the title A Good and Perfect
Gift. I love her choice because it mentions themes that run throughout the book
as I consider what makes life good, as I discover a new meaning of perfection,
and as I come to understand what it means to receive Penny as a gift. It’s also a
reference to a verse from the Bible: “Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like
shifting shadows” (James 1:17). In this way, the title also reflects my growing
understanding throughout the book that God has a purpose in Penny’s life, and in

7. What was your favorite part in your story?

It’s hard to pick a favorite part, but I laugh out loud every time I read the part
where I’m telling my husband Peter that Penny’s hearing might be compromised
and she might have trouble hearing the “sh” sound. He responds, “Good thing we
didn’t name her Sheila.”

8. What was your favorite part in Amy Julia/George’s story?

Again, hard to pick a favorite part of George’s beautiful book, but I find myself
returning again and again to one paragraph:

A syndrome means, at root, a ‘running together.’ When you have a child, it all
runs together: the heart defect, the eyes, the way her voice sounds, the name
of the speech therapist, the worries over the future, the joys of discovery, the
sliding sense–slow, quiet, enormous, an avalanche in the skull–that different is
not as different as you thought. The genes produce the child, who lives a story,
whose story is bound up with yours. So reducing a child to a heap of medical
fragments is, for a parent, a complicated and dissonant act. It is a necessary
fiction, a story one tells only in order to move on.

George states it perfectly, and his words have informed my own thinking about
how a diagnosis is only the beginning, and perhaps even a false, if important
beginning, to understanding a child as a full human being with an interwoven

9. What projects are you currently engaged in? Any new books from you on
the horizon?

My biggest project at the moment is moving our family of five to Connecticut!
With that said, I am working on a short ebook about prenatal testing that will
come out in September. I have two books knocking around in the back of my
head, but it will be a few months before I have time to sit down and listen to what
those ideas have to say.

10. Do you have any questions for the reader?

What is one gift that your child has brought into your life?

Thank you, Amy Julia. I am honored to have you here.

Readers, by answering Amy Julia’s question –What is one gift that your child has brought into your life?or by answering my own question – what is one gift that disability in any way, shape or form has brought into your life? – you will be entering to win one of the three (3!) copies of A Good and Perfect Gift that she is giving away.

If you don’t want to leave a comment via Disqus (the comment system), then comment via facebook on the post on With a Little Moxie’s page, or via email.

Winner will be selected by random.org and announced on MONDAY, JULY 2nd

If you’d like to just go ahead and buy your own copy, Amazon is having a sale till the end of June for the Kindle version: $2.99!! Click HERE

We were totally and completely – utterly and almost deliriously – delighted to be the recipients of not one, not two, but three (!!) clothing chains. First, with Micah, pretty much every item that we put on his little body was given to us by Stefanie. Then, with Moxie, she’s been garbed in the raiment of Camille from Day One. Both kids are now clad in Meredith’s kids’ apparel. Grateful doesn’t begin to cover the vast warm and fuzzy feelings we carry in our hearts towards Mamas Suzanne, Stefanie and Meredith…
All the hundreds upon hundreds of dollars we have saved by their generosity means that we can occasionally splurge on pure-fun items for the kids. Things that make us laugh, that we find adorable. Young Punks is the company that we have turned to time and again for those purchases.
First, there was Micah.

In his little Bob Marley onesie. We loved that thing and put it on Moxie too… Just like she got to wear his “Stop Chopping Down My Trees” onesie

Perfect for the spirited child, don’t you think?

 Then we bought the “I’m One, What’s Your Excuse?” onesie


I love it for its sassy/saucy vibe
 Chock-full o’ moxie!

The *very* best one though?

 It’s  “The Force is Strong With This One”

 Perfect for everything from blowing kisses

 to playing
 and then to napping

Completely fitting for small girls with force, verve, vigor…with moxie! Small boys too, come to think of it!

Young Punks make these shirts and a lot more. They are a really small Berkeley-based production and sell mostly online or at festivals throughout the Bay Area. Local friends, check out their schedule
They are going to do two things for readers of this blog –
1) Giveaway a shirt of the winner’s choice and
2) Offer a discount code for those that want to delve straight into the good business of ordering.
Their products are clearly excellent quality – we’ve been (heavily) using the same onesies and t-shirts for 4 years now and they haven’t even faded. American Apparel, all the way.
To Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
More Young Punks!
Schedule for Upcoming Shows (Bay Area Peeps – they’ll be at the Cherry Blossom Festival in SF this weekend)

AND: for the wesbite orders, enter the code  “moxie” and you will get 15% off – (not valid with other discounts)
They gave us the “Force” t-shirt for Moxie, but I wasn’t paid to write nice stuff about them. I only do that because I love their product love to support small businesses that are crazily-creative.
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