Maressa Brown


I am a writer and occasional editor. My work has appeared in Better Homes & Gardens, First for WomenWoman's World, AOL, YourTango, and various other publications. Interests include holistic health/fitness, beauty/style, reading, pop culture, astrology, summer, baking, and cooking with lots of veggies and spices! I've lived in Chicago, Boston, London, L.A. and Manhattan and now reside in north NJ with my Jersey boy husband. In our free time, we frequent BYOB spots, buy overpriced (but so yummy!) eats at Whole Foods, and do bizarrely huge loads of laundry.

Sipping on:

Organic coffee with coconut milk and stevia

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    Before even becoming a mom, one of the most common warnings you'll hear from other parents is how expensive it can be to raise children. As it turns out, they're right.

    Families who had a baby in 2013 can expect to spend on average $245,340 until the child is 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's just-released annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families. That's between $12,800 and $14,970 a year for a middle-income family with two parents, depending on the kids' ages.

    Angela Hawkins, 33, a mom of three in the suburbs of Houston, is living proof that the numbers don't lie.

    She shared her household budget with The Stir and estimated that she and her husband Shane will spend about $270,000 per child by the time they turn 18.

    "The figures can be overwhelming," Angela admits.

    So where exactly does all that money go?

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    Weddings are not only expensive and labor-intensive, but they also have a way of bringing out the most raw and intense emotion in almost everyone involved. For that reason, most brides-to-be go into damage control mode from the minute they're engaged, trying to keep the peace with everyone leading up to the Big Day -- most of all, their fiance!

    But stressful situations are bound to arise and can occasionally bring out the ugly in both partners. No sane bride would ever fan the flames when that happens, right? Well, believe it or not, some couples are doing exactly that -- on purpose -- by having a shadow wedding.

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    The most famous "human Barbie," Valeria Lukyanova, and her predecessor, Alina Kovalevskaya, better watch their backs, because there's a brand new living doll in town. And she's the youngest yet! Lolita Richi from Ukraine is just 16 years old. Richi, who has popular followings on both Facebook and the Russian version of the social network, VK, says she's even never heard of Lukyanova, but it doesn't matter anyway, because, as she tells The Daily Mail, "I think I've achieved this image better than anyone else."

    And as if that wasn't audacious enough, get this: The 5'4" mini-bombshell claims that she owes none of her 20-inch waist and 32F bra size to plastic surgery or Photoshop. Apparently, she's attained her look simply by pilfering a few of her mom's wigs, a reasonably priced pair of contact lenses, and a push-up bra she claims to use to "enhance" what Mother Nature gave her. Uh-huh ...

    Here, two of the most shocking shots of the unbelievably Barbie-esque teen.

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    If you're trying for a baby, you've probably hit your local pharmacy for a prenatal vitamin. Most OB/GYNs will tell women to start taking these supplements as many as one to three months before they're even pregnant! But which one do you choose? And are they even necessary?

    "I do believe in a high-quality prenatal vitamin for every woman trying to build her family," says reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Josh Hurwitz with Reproductive Endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. The fact of the matter is that, try as we might, most of us don't get all of the essential nutrients out of our everyday diets, let alone all of the must-haves for a healthy pregnancy, so it's best to take a supplement.

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    We all have sex dealbreakers! For most women, it doesn't take much for us to decide sex is just NOT going to happen. Whether your husband's stinky feet have you kickin' him to the couch or a date's political beliefs have you kickin' him to the curb, guys -- for better or worse -- run the risk of turning us off for a night or forever! And it's really no surprise.

    After all, though men and women reportedly have at least 237 sexual motivations, women's reasons for having sex tend to be much more varied than men's -- from curing a migraine to getting their partners to take out the trash, according to David M. Buss and Cindy M. Meston, Ph.D.s and authors of Why Women Have Sex.

    So it stands to reason that we have just as many -- or more! -- excuses not to jump into bed with our men.

    Let's be honest: Everyone has them. We asked that 12 women reveal their own sex dealbreakers. Just wait 'til you see what they said!

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