The Mystery of Growth Spurts…….

As a professional doula I have the privilege of shepherding new mommies and daddies in the adventure of parenting.  It is a miraculous process!  Babies arrive immobile and totally dependent.  They turn the lives of their parents upside down and their parents absolutely fall in love with them, anyway!!!  It is a life long growing, learning, laughing process.

There are a million and one books directing new parents on how to do this, perfectly.  Ha!  Ha!  The first thing I impress on the families with whom I work is “There are no perfect babies.” and “There are no perfect parents.”  The books that lead parents to believe there is a proper way to do almost anything do them a great disservice.  This adventure of becoming a family is individual.  Certainly there are goals to reach and things that will happen along the way to let you know you are proceeding well.  However, believing you can do this perfectly will only make you crazy.

Today we approach the mysterious process of growth spurts.  All babies go through them.  Some have a rough time and some barely even notice a change.  Until you walk this path with your individual baby you will not know which is for you.  If you have a second child there is no assurance he will follow the same program as his sibling.  Truthfully, it is a total gamble!  Below find several articles discussing the symptoms, the duration, and the outcomes of infant growth spurts.  I wish you the very very best as you proceed!


TODAY’S PARENT                                                     

WHAT TO EXPECT                                                          

THE BUMP                                                                              

Movie Review of Maleficent, the Mistress of Evil

Movie review of Maleficent, Unplugged Review Magazine‘Maleficent%202’&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl_focusenews

As Halloween approaches the usual horror movies make it into the theaters.  The scenes, themes, and topics of these films are specifically designed to create terror in the hearts of viewers.  And they do a great job of it.

Your little ones need your protection.  If you don’t look out for them, who will?  I personally encourage you not to allow small children to see such films.  Be sure you watch what ever films you plan to show your little ones first.  No one knows better, how your children will receive them.

Below find a thorough review of the film Maleficent, Mistress of Evil.  This review contains an evaluation of positive and negative elements; spiritual, sexual, drug &alcohol and bad language incidences.  It discusses violence and there is a complete overview and evaluation.

The evaluation is positive for mature audiences.  In other words, Maleficent 2 is a good movie for grown ups.  Anyone over the age of 13 should be able to see the positive elements and not be terrified by it’s delivery.




We all know the tale of Sleeping Beauty. A dark fairy cursed a princess to prick her finger upon the spindle of a spinning wheel and sleep forever. A prince battled against dark forces and a dragon to bestow true love’s kiss upon the princess and thus wake her. Then they lived happily ever after… Or so we’ve been led to believe.

Now, we know from the previous Maleficent movie, that wasn’t quite how it really went down. Maleficent did curse the princess. It was actually her own motherly love for the child that released the girl from her enchanted sleep, not the prince’s kiss.

But somehow, in the human Kingdom of Ulstead, that little detail has been deliberately omitted in the retelling of this now legendary story. No wonder most folks wrongly believe that Maleficent is the mistress of all evil. And frankly, with those huge horns, wings and scarily spikey cheek bones, who could blame them for their trepidation.

Well, it’s time for that to change. Philip and Aurora are going to be married. Philip’s kingdom of Ulstead and Aurora’s fairy kingdom of the Moors will be united. And Maleficent is coming for dinner, courtesy of a surprisingly magnanimous invitation from Philip’s mother, Queen Ingrith.

Maleficent, for her part, isn’t particularly thrilled about Aurora’s choice in husband. As she reminds her adopted daughter, “Love doesn’t always end well, beastie.” But Maleficent is grudgingly willing to make the effort. She practices niceties and even covers her horns with a shawl for the highly anticipated dinner with the King and Queen.

But relationships between in-laws can be prickly things. And so they are here, as everything that can go wrong quickly does.

In a blink, fragile affection morphs into open hostility, old prejudices erupt, and joyful talk of impending nuptials turns to grim talk of war between two kingdoms suddenly at deadly odds with each other once again.


The war that unexpectedly explodes between the humans and fairies is characterized as a tragedy born of fear, mistrust and prejudice. (As well as some outright evil, as we’ll see below). And as each side unleashes violence on the other, all of those tendencies get reinforced. That’s the backdrop for Maleficent: Mister of Evil’s main theme: the importance of love and peace, both of which are strongly emphasized throughout the story.

After all, Maleficent’s maternal love for Aurora is what saved the young woman from an eternal slumber in the first film. This love can be overprotective—Maleficent sarcastically wishes disease and calamity on Philip in the hopes that her daughter won’t marry him—but Aurora takes it good-naturedly. And in the end, Maleficent recognizes how much Philip loves Aurora and consents to walking her daughter down the aisle at their wedding.

In its turn, Aurora and Philip’s love for one another is what unites their kingdoms in peace. Philip’s father, King John, is especially proud of this feat since he has been trying to broker peace for years. Furthermore, Philip’s choice to let a dark fairy live (even when the fairy tries to kill him and his best friend) causes Maleficent to stop attacking soldiers (who are just following orders).

Aurora’s love for Maleficent also plays a huge role in convincing Malificent to choose peace instead of war. Maleficent also meets another key character who tells her that if she can love and raise a human as her own daughter and have that love reciprocated, then there is hope for peace.

As the story unfolds, various fairies make brave and sacrificial choices to save and rescue others from certain death. One especially poignant scene finds a fairy giving her life to ensure that her two closest friends are spared.


As in many Disney films, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil takes us to a magical realm populated by both humans and fairies (who are often described with the uncommon word fey in the film).

Maleficent, with her wings and horns, has an undeniably ominous presence. Human Queen Ingrith calls her a “witch.” Indeed, Maleficent can blast through walls and toss people around like sacks of flour with the green flames that flow from her body. She can also turn the shapeshifter, Diaval, into any creature she desires—such as a raven and a giant black bear. In one pivotal scene, a friend of hers is killed, sparking a deep rage in Maleficent. Her eyes, typically bright green, turn red as she uses her powers to wreak havoc upon Ulstead in retribution. It’s no wonder that Maleficent (as well as others) are sometimes called “dark fairies.”

Even though Maleficent does unleash her powers on some unfortunate human victims as war commences, she (and others) also use their magical abilities for good, turning thorns into flowers, for instance, as well as saving a group of human children by flying them to safety during a battle.

As a dark fairy dies, his elders kneel by his body and perform a pagan-feeling ceremony to absorb his body into the earth and produce a bed of flowers. “Tomb blooms” (glowing flowers with magical properties) grow from the graves of fey people in the Moors. Aurora and Philip’s wedding is set to be in a church. Their wedding is performed by a bishop. A christening is mentioned. Someone speaks the phrase, “The truth will set you free.”

[Spoiler Warning] After Maleficent is killed while saving Aurora, she turns to dust, and Aurora sheds several tears over her ashes. The powerful expression of spontaneous love in turn resurrects Maleficent, causing her to literally rise from the ashes as a phoenix. The dark fairies (who believe the phoenix is the mother of their people) bow to her reverently, essentially treating her as a goddess.


Philip and Aurora share several kisses, including a passionate one after she accepts his proposal. Queen Ingrith attempts to wake her husband with true love’s kiss. The morning after Aurora and Philip’s wedding, Maleficent leaves but says she’ll return for the christening and winks.

Many female fairies (including Maleficent) wear tight and/or cleavage-baring outfits. We also see some bare stomachs and backs of both male and female dark fairies.

At the very end of the film, a porcupine-like fairy kisses the cheek of a mushroom-type fairy, and it’s unclear from the film exactly what the gender of either creature actually is. Immediately preceding that scene, someone says, “We’re not defined by where we’re from, but by who we love.” Those two scenes, combined, could be interpreted seen as subtly affirming any kind of romantic relationship for those who want to connect the dots between them.


A pixie (who we later learn had his wings shorn off by the queen) creates a red powder that kills fairies on contact. He then tests it on a dandelion fairy, destroying the creature but keeping the dandelion. Soldiers trap a multitude of fairy creatures in a church and use the red powder to kill them (although like the dandelion, we simply see them revert to their plant forms). One fairy sacrifices herself by flying into the source of the powder, her reverted flower form blocking it.

When the dark fairies attack Ulstead, they use vines to grab, throw and trap soldiers. The soldiers use their iron weapons and bombs made of the red powder to fight back. Scores of fairies turn to ash upon contact with the powder. Although we don’t directly witness any soldiers’ deaths onscreen, they are implied since several humans are picked up by flying fairies and dropped from great distances. We see a woman lose her balance and tumble off the edge of a balcony (presumably to her death). A group of dark fairies are ambushed by soldiers in the Moors and one is shot by multiple iron bullets while saving another. One character gets impaled by a crossbow bolt at close range.

A fairy bites a man to prevent being kidnapped, causing the man to fall and drop a lantern painfully on his accomplice’s head. Two men are strung up with tree vines by a dark fairy. It is implied they are killed since we hear their screams offscreen. A man threatens hanging for any soldier who leaves their post. The queen wants Maleficent’s head. An injured fairy struggles to fly straight, bumping into walls and falling several times.

A woman uses a weapon to shoot an iron bullet at Maleficent, badly wounding her and causing her to crash into a river and then go over a waterfall. A woman is thrown off a tower and screams as she falls (she is rescued before she hits the ground). While flying as a raven, a shapeshifter suddenly turns back into a man and crashes, though his resulting injuries aren’t serious. A group of fairies accidentally crashes into a tree. Peasants arm themselves with pitchforks against Maleficent—those who aren’t screaming and fleeing her ominous presence, that is.

Fairies have been kidnapped and placed into jars so that the pixie employed by the queen can perform experiments on them and find a way to destroy them. Soldiers desecrate the graves of fairies by stealing the “tomb blooms” that grow from them. A fairy child seemingly falls from a cliff but finds her wings at the last moment.




At a family dinner, everyone drinks wine and a toast is given. During a particularly awkward moment, Philip requests more wine to help him get through it.


Aurora repeatedly compromises her values to match those of Ulstead and the queen. She consents to wearing the queen’s gaudy and extravagant wedding gown rather than the simple one made for her by the fairies. She asks Maleficent to cover her horns with a veil to make everyone feel more comfortable. These choices eventually lead a spurned Maleficent to (temporarily) disown her adopted daughter. It isn’t until Philip reminds Aurora that he fell in love with the girl from the forest that she realizes how badly she let Maleficent down by agreeing to all these changes.

[Spoiler Warning] The queen is highly prejudiced against fairies because she believes her brother was killed by them. When others talk of amity between humans and fey, she states icily, “Peace will not be our downfall.” She secretly manufactures weapons in the dungeons and hides the spinning wheel that Maleficent used to curse Aurora. It is revealed that she is the one who put the king to sleep and started the rumors about Maleficent being evil. And it is further revealed that she does not love her husband since true love’s kiss fails to wake him. She also cunningly engineers all of the major circumstances that lead to the brief-but-intense war between the fairies and the humans. It should also be noted that Maleficent eventually turns the queen into a goat … and there’s no hint in the film that she ever returns to her human form.


As was true in 2014’s Maleficent, love is this sequel’s saving grace. It stops Maleficent from reducing the kingdom of Ulstead to a smoking pile of rubble—even when the dark fairy feels she’d be completely justified in doing so. But in the end, the harmonious love between her and Aurora convinces Maleficent to stand down.

But this is no whimsically delightful fairy tale. This film’s happily ever after conclusion only arrives after scores of characters—fairy and human alike—have met nasty ends.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil echoes the darkness in Disney’s original Sleeping Beauty. We see characters betrayed by loved ones. We witness prejudice between different races. And even though there isn’t a drop of blood on screen, characters are still battered by bullets, pierced by crossbow bolts and reduced to ashes by bombs.

So despite its strong redemptive themes, this sequel’s intense-but-sanitized violence might still be too much for sensitive viewers.


Stroke Indicators

The possibility of someone you are with having a stroke is always there.  Knowing how to discern if it is actually a stoke is vital.  There are medications available in our country that can diminish the long term affects of stroke if administered with in a few hours of the incident.  Here are some simple ways to diagnose a stroke.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  If you believe someone is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms call an ambulance tor get them to an emergency room.  The medical staff will know what to do.

  1. Smile – Ask the person to smile – a stroke victim will have a crocked smile
  2. Ask them to speak a simple sentence -“chicken soup”.  If they garble the wording consistently there is a problem.
  3. Ask them to raise both arms at the same time.  If they can not do this easily there is a problem.
  4. Ask them to stick out their tongue – if the tongue is crocked there is a problem
  5. If someone has stumbled for no apparent reason check for others of these symptoms.

It is alway good to be aware of the people around us.  You would certainly appreciate it if someone did so for you or someone you love.  Lets take care of each other!!!

Ways Your Loved Ones Interpret Love

Each of us have different ways in which we see love and acceptance.  For some of us kind words make us feel valuable.  For others the giving of gifts or special time with our loved ones makes us happy,  Understanding the way those close to you feel loved makes it much easier to bless them.

The book The Five Love Languages describes these ways of showing love.  Dr. Gary Chapman, has written several books on this subject.  He discusses ways to show love to your spouse, children, friends, and family.  Below look over the love languages and decide which are yours.  Which make you feel understood and appreciated?


Words of affirmation

One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up. Solomon, author of ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21, NIV). Many families have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other.  Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as:  “You look sharp in that suit.”  “You are such a loving son!”  “I really like how you think of ways to help me.”    “You can always make me laugh.”

Words of affirmationare one of the five basic love languages. Within that language, however, there are many dialects. All of the dialects have in common the use of words to affirm your family. Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.

Quality time

By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. When you spend time that way, Netflix or HBO has your attention — not your child. What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, devices put away, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.

Time is a precious commodity. We all have multiple demands on our time, yet each of us has the exact same hours in a day. We can make the most of those hours by committing some of them to those we love. If your child’s primary love language is quality time, she simply wants you, being with her, spending time.

Receiving gifts

Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five love languages challenge us to give to our family, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest.

A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him or her a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him or her. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.

But what of the person who says, “I’m not a gift giver. I didn’t receive many gifts growing up. I never learned how to select gifts. It doesn’t come naturally for me.” Congratulations, you have just made the first discovery in becoming a great lover. You and your loved one speak different love languages. Now that you have made that discovery, get on with the business of learning your second language. If your child’s primary love language is receiving gifts, you can become a proficient gift giver. In fact, it is one of the easiest love languages to learn.

Acts of service

Michelle’s primary love language was what I call “acts of service.” By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your child would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her.

For adults consider actions such as cooking a meal, setting a table, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, changing the baby’s diaper, picking up a prescription, keeping the car in operating condition — they are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.  For your child it can be as simple as reading a book, playing peek-a-boo, taking a walk together, going to the park, playing catch on the floor with a big ball, the possibilities are endless!

A willingness to examine and change stereotypes is necessary in order to express love more effectively. Remember, there are no rewards for maintaining stereotypes, but there are tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of those you love. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, then “actions speak louder than words.”

Physical touch

We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Numerous research projects in the area of child development have made that conclusion: Babies who are held, stroked and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.

Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating love. For some individuals, physical touchis their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their family members.

Implicit love touches require little time but much thought, especially if physical touch is not your primary love language and if you did not grow up in a “touching family.” Sitting close to each other as you watch your favorite television program, sit in the car, or wait at a restaurant requires no additional time but may communicate your love loudly. Touching your spouse as you walk through the room where he is sitting takes only a moment. Touching each other when you leave the house and again when you return may involve only a brief kiss or hug but will speak volumes to your spouse.

Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination on ways to express love.


Dr. Gary Chapman is a family counselor, radio host, associate pastor and author of several books, including The Five Love Languages and One More Try.

Stress and Life With Little Ones

I am reminded of this issue again through many recent incidences in my practice.  Learning how to diagnose stress in your life, and conquer it is a must.  Unless you are better than most, you live in a stressed out home where way too much activity is the norm.  You and your spouse require more of yourselves and each other than is humanly possible.  The problem is sooner or later something has to give.  Either you will be upset with yourselves or each other.  It is a huge discipline to avoid this madness.  It takes work!

On a regular basis your family needs to assess this issue.  The goal, peace and rest in your relationship and your home.  Your children are learning about life as they watch you.  Help them learn how to manage their lives wisely.  Slow down when you realize you are over extended.  Evaluate the important things, say “No” to other activities when you need time together as a family.  Learn how to read the signs in yourself.  Are you easily upset? Does the thought of another activity sound awful?  Do you miss just sitting the the backyard or park chatting with a friend while the kids entertain themselves?

When my kids were little the only time I found myself screaming at them was when I had too many responsibilities on my plate.  I stressed myself out through over commitment, and then was frustrated with the situation.  Little ones could not keep up with the schedule I created, so I took my frustration out on them.  Not O.K..

Take time to listen to your little ones.  Sit on the floor and look at them eye to eye.  Cuddle with them, hold them in you lap as you read them their favorite book.  This relaxed calm time is vital to them and you.  As much as possible push away the frantic pace our world accepts and enjoy these moments with your kids.  They are irreplaceable for you both.