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    Of all the bugs that accost us during summer, ticks strike fear in the heart of most moms. Every black dot on our kid's skin is cause for alarm. Every dot that turns out to be a freckle, a sigh of relief. Not only do these tiny bugs bury their heads under our skin, they carry a plethora of tick-borne illnesses including the very serious Lyme disease, which can drag on for years with symptoms ranging from joint pain to fatigue to neurological disorders, learning disabilities, even death.

    Here's what to do if you find a tick embedded in your child's skin.

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    Natalie Blais, a parenting strategist, founder of A Passionate Parent, and a mom of three from Calgary in Alberta, Canada considers herself a natural-born researcher. So it's no wonder that after delivering her eldest daughter via C-section and deciding she wanted to go natural for her second, she hit the books. She made up her mind early on that she would do everything she could to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (also referred to as a VBAC).  

    Natalie talked to The Stir about how she came to this decision that's often seen as controversial in the medical community, how she faced her fears about the potential risks, and how she ended up doing it all over again for her third -- at home nonetheless!

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    In the eyes of many natural moms, commercial bug spray presents more dangers to their kids than the insects they repel. And they have some reason to worry -- studies have shown that pesticides like DEET can cause a host of problems in children. So what's a holistic-minded mom to do, short of letting her kids get bitten to death? One option is you can make your own bug spray at home. As is the case with all-natural remedies, it's best to consult your doctor before trying them, and test for allergies on a small area of skin first. But since the ingredients are all-natural, the odds of an adverse reaction are slim. Here we highlight five all-natural recipes from holistic bloggers and explain what makes them effective.

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    When pediatrician and childcare expert William Sears, M.D., coined the term "attachment parenting" over 25 years ago, he was referring to a parenting style many moms all over the world have been following for thousands of years. Sears observed that these mothers cared for and raised their kids in a natural, loving way, which, in turn, helped them form a strong, secure attachment. And it's this strong, secure attachment that much research has pointed to as the ideal foundation for a child to grow into a loving, trusting, and empathetic adult. No wonder so many moms gravitate to, incorporate, or fully follow the principles of attachment parenting.

    Here, all moms need to know about the basics of practicing attachment parenting -- from A-Z.

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    Like many overprotective moms, I slather my kid in sunscreen all summer. The irony? According to the Environmental Working Group, many store-bought sunscreens contain potentially dangerous ingredients, from allergens to toxic chemicals. In an effort to shield their kids from these health threats, a growing number of holistic moms are swapping recipes on how to make your own natural sunscreen at home.

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    Excited to go watch Megan Fox on the big screen in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this summer? Savor the moment. You won't get that many.

    Fox grew up with a crush on Michelangelo and took a dream role as April O'Neil in one of the season's most highly anticipated movies. But her favorite role these days is being mom to toddler Noah and infant Bodhi, and as she told The Stir -- acting is a very distant second ... even when she's covered in pee.

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    New and expectant moms are constantly fielding questions about what baby name they've picked out, and pretty much 99.9 percent of the time, it's assumed that the inquiry is about the kid's first name -- not the last name. That's obviously going to be the father's, right? Not necessarily! More and more, parents are choosing to give their children the mother's maiden name, a hyphenated name, or even a blended name (in addition to going the traditional route and using dad's, of course).

    Research done over a decade ago, published in The Social Science Journal, found that while about 90 percent of women with an unconventional married name still gave their kids their husband's last name, sticking to a cohesive family name seemed to be declining in importance -- for a variety of reasons.

    Here, moms explain which route they chose to go with their little one's surname and why.

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    When you hear vaccine advocacy, what's the first thing that comes to mind? A doctor in a white coat? A scientist with a microscope? How about a couple of moms, fighting for kids across America?

    Karen Ernst is one of those moms, and with partner Ashley Shelby, she has helped turn Voices for Vaccines, a fledgling website about infectious diseases, into the number one source for parents looking to fight anti-vaccine fear-mongering. With a scientific advisory board that includes world renowned pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit, they're an arm of the Task Force for Global Health that's completely parent-driven ... and completely parent-focused.

    The Stir asked Ernst, a mother of three from Minnesota, why she thinks every mom in America needs to announce to her family and friends when she gets her kids vaccinated -- and how to deal with anti-vaccine rhetoric.

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    Giving up a child for adoption is probably one of the hardest decisions a mom has to make. What's that like, and do these women have any regrets? For some perspective I spoke to Vicki Hoefle, 57, a parent educator in East Middlebury, Vermont, and author of Duct Tape Parenting. Hoefle decided to give up her child for adoption after getting pregnant at the age of 18. Here's a look at the hard-won lessons she learned about the nature of love, public attitudes toward moms who give up their kids for adoption, and a surprising twist that allowed her and her son to meet 32 years later.

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    For kids, summer comes with the added risk of injury, from scrapes to bug bites to poison ivy. But according to holistic health experts, a bunch of natural treatments can be found right in your own home, and even cobbled together into your own kid-friendly summer first-aid kit. As with anything, of course, you should consult your doctor first to make sure these treatments are right for you. Here are a few worth considering:

    Photo via Jessica Lucia/Flickr

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