Welcome to the Tales of a Kitchen Witch Blog.

JoniRae.com is also the home of the Gentle Parenting Colouring Book and Goddess Dolls, and original artwork by Joni Rae Latham, so remember to check out the Gallery and Shop while you're here.

Category Archives: Guest Posts

Guest Post: My Friend Sya

I’ve known Sya a loooooooooong time.  All the way back to when I was newly married and the mom of one little girl.  Back then I was new to blogging, I actually had never even heard the term “Blog” before!  She has always been a sweet person, she even offered to read and critique my attempts at creating a book!  I really want to help her- And she only needs another 300 or so comments.  There are WAY more people reading this blog!  So if you are reading this, please take a few minutes to watch her vlog and leave a comment?

Joni and I go way back. And I mean way back to the dim and distant days of her very first online journal when I found her blog by accident and was instantly hooked. I’ve followed her pretty consistently ever since, through the birth of several babies, house moves and a variety of trials, tribulations, love and laughter. I appreciate her humour, her pragmatism and her unadulterated honesty. However, one of the main reasons I owe Joni, is because of a small incident that happened about six years ago.

Joni, at the time, was living on what it would be generous to describe as a shoe string budget. James was working his ass of bussing tables (if memory serves) and Joni was at home with tiny children and a house that seemed to consistently have something wrong with it that the landlord would never fix. The post that moved me to tears, though, was not about the leaks or the diapers or the lack of disposable income, it was about a book that Joni had seen: World War Z.

Joni loves reading, she loves Zombies and she really, really wanted this book – but it was in hardback, it cost many dollars and it was completely out of reach. It was a throwaway post where all Joni really wanted to do was express her excitement about a book that she one day hoped to read but it broke my heart. So I looked up World War Z and, without putting too much thought into it, bought Joni a copy. Now, I’m not really an altruist, and had I thought it through perhaps I’d have decided I was being a bit weird but am I glad I sent that book because it set me on a path that is still firmly
under my feet today.

Joni’s reaction was phenomenal – she was just so pleased. She had her book, her zombies and vitally something that was just hers, that she could curl up with at the end of a bad day. I spent a lot of time then, and in the years since, mulling over Joni’s
reaction and the ability of a book to change a life – for an evening, a month or maybe, if it’s the right book, forever.

I started to think about friends, family, colleagues and what they might like to read –particularly the non-readers that I knew. I became convinced that they too could be given a book that would make them feel like they had something really special in their hands, a story that felt like it was specifically for them. Because that’s how a really good book feels, like it has been written just for you.

The years passed, I had a daughter, I continued to try and match books and people but increasingly felt like I wanted to share all the wonderful books out there with a wider audience. So I did. I started a book review blog – The Mountains of Instead
(www.mountainsofinstead.com) – and started talking about Young Adult fiction, raving about the books that I was reading and loving. And I haven’t stopped since.  Over time, my blog took on regular contributors (the awesome Cannonball Jones
and Polka Dot Steph) and we now review adult and young adult writing – all of us hopefully helping to find perfect books for our readers.

I also started tutoring a young girl who really didn’t much like reading. We talked, and talked some more, discussing covers and blurbs and first lines until we hit upon a story that opened her eyes to the transportive power of reading. Millie and Percy
Jackson remain the best of friends and, much to her credit, she asked for Kindle this Christmas. Millie proves that book matching is not only fun but vitally important.

So all is well and good. What started with a spur of the moment purchase for an overburdened friend has led to many, many good things. Yet I want a louder voice, I want to share more books with more people which is why I’ve competing to become
the voice of Mira INK, a young adult publisher that I greatly admire and who have a diverse and interesting range of titles (perfect for any book-matcher, yes?). In order to win this contract, I had to film a vlog about why I should win and spread the word far and wide. I need comments and likes and re-blogs and shares and tweets. In short, I need YOU. Go and have a look – it will literally only take a minute and, at the very end, is a BOOK FORT. Really. Help me find that louder voice – you never
know, it might change a life. It would certainly change mine.

You can find the vlog here (currently at 500 plus views, I’m hoping for at least 750 by my 11 Dec. deadline):

And here: Tumblr

And here: Bitches, Books and Baking

And here: Jeri Smith-Ready

And here: YAckers

And probably a few other places by now, too… please feel free to visit THEM ALL and re-blog, share, comment, like, tweet (#blogINK, #teamsplendibird), do a happy dance etc.

Additionally, I’m giving away rainbows, lollipops and the odd unicorn on my blog.

And you can come and tell me about YOUR perfect books on twitter!

Guest Post: Autonomy of a Tickle

Today I have a guest post from Momma Jorje!  You can find her blog here and her facebook here!  Please take a minute to follow and like her- she is one of my favorite people! 

Momma JorjeWhen I was a preteen, I remember my brother tickling me to the point of crying. I’d be yelling for him to stop, begging him to stop. He would point out that I was laughing, so I must be enjoying it. I do not ever want my children (or anyone, for that matter) to be put in that position.

Babies can’t even tell you they don’t want to be tickled. But they are so much fun to tickle! There has to be a way to respect our babies’ autonomy and still (possibly) enjoy a good tickle, right? There is! I have some suggestions for you.

The most important trick to any tickle game with a baby is anticipation. If you can give them a chance to anticipate (and to learn when to anticipate) the tickle, you give them the opportunity to object.

With Sasha, I would make tickle hands and chant “Gonna, gonna, gonna” (think Jaws music) as I got closer, then “Get you!” as I tickled her.

Sasha would also run away and back to me for more tickles.
Also? OMG Look at that chub!! I do love to fatten up my babies!

Here comes the next important tip: Short bursts of tickling. I would never tickle a child to breathlessness. It can be fun for both the tickler and the child, sure, but I want to make sure children are capable of communicating “stop” to me when they feel it necessary. It can be difficult and awkward to enforce this with other people tickling your child (even older siblings), but I really feel it is an important lesson. If any child says “stop” – that should be heard and respected. I think of this helping to prepare them for other sticky situations later in life.

Back to fun tickling! With Spencer, I hold up my thumbs and index fingers like pincers. I tap thumb and forefinger while making a “tick” sound. I do that a few times before diving my fingers to him and saying “tickle, tickle, tickle!” as I tickle him. Three “tickles” is probably long enough for one burst in the beginning. As he has gotten older (he is a ripe, old 10 months old now, after all!), he reacts to the preparation. When I hold my fingers up and make the sound, he often giggles preemptively! This lets me know that he enjoys the game!

Love to nibble your babies? Oh, I do! I love to nibble around their little, fat, ticklish necks! Find a way to help your babies anticipate the nibble. I open my mouth wide and snap it shut while making an “Om!” noise. I do this a few times before I “Nom, nom, nom!” on them. (This munching is also awesome on ribs, especially on babies that are upside down!) This is one that will surely elicit preemptive giggles if it is a game your child enjoys.

I’m sure you’re familiar with This Little Piggy and Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man. Both of these nursery rhymes are great build-up to tickle play. They offer other learning benefits, too.

How did you feel about being tickled as a child? How do you feel about it now? Do you play tickle games with your children?

Can You Spare $1 To Help Baby Sean?

On June 10th 2012, Baby Sean was born. He is truly a miracle baby and both he and his family need our help.

A fellow blogger with the Natural Parents Network shared Baby Sean’s incredible story with us and asked if we could reach out to our friends and fans. Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama is hoping to raise $1,000 over the next several days to help both baby Sean and his family as they face the lofty challenges in front of them.

Please take a moment and read a little about Baby Sean’s journey and needs as shared by Jennifer.

From 2001 until June 2011, I was fortunate enough to have five of the most caring, uplifting, generous and supportive people caring for my grandmother who suffered from dementia. This family literally fell into our lives and because of their selflessness, my grandmother lived 94 wonderful years. Without the care and support she received, I doubt that my daughter would have had the opportunity to spend two years with a great-grandmother who loved her, even when she did not have a clue who she was.

Caroline was my grandmother’s main caretaker but her entire family (husband Tony and their three young children) did everything that my family could not. They bathed her, they cleaned up her bathroom accidents, they fed her nourishing foods, they told her stories, they took her to concerts, they took her camping, they took her to family events, and the list goes on. They lived with her 24 hours per day, 7 days per week with no time off. They embraced her and together, they become an expanded family.

After my grandmother passed away in June 2011, I not only mourned her death but I mourned the loss of my extended family. Although I knew we would keep in touch, it would still be different.

Fast forward to the end of May 2012. Caroline had been experiencing a headache that defied words. She decided to go to the hospital, knowing that something serious was going on. A short while after her arrival, she learned that she was 26 weeks pregnant and in a major health crisis. That headache was the result of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Both Caroline and her unborn baby were in serious trouble.

Caroline was put on hospital bed rest where a fabulous team of doctors and nurses did all they could to keep Caroline’s baby where he should be…in his warm, watery womb. Unfortunately, Caroline’s placenta was too thick, her baby was not getting nourishment, and his life was in danger. After his heart kept stopping, Caroline underwent an emergency C-section to save both her baby’s life as well as hers.  

15 days after walking into the hospital for a headache, Caroline gave birth to a 1 pound 10 ounce baby boy she and her husband named Sean Feleti Jeremiah Mokofisi.

Baby Sean is a miracle. He is a fighter. And he has a long road ahead of him. However, Baby Sean is already breathing well on his own, a miracle and something pretty rare for a baby only 28 weeks gestational age. He has had some significant health challenges since his birth but has fought through them with the help of a wonderful and talented team of doctors.

Baby Sean is not able to be held or breastfeed but Caroline is pumping milk and the hospital has been very supportive of her through this. They are also open to supplementing with donor milk, knowing how crucial breastmilk is to a premature baby.

Caroline has had some health challenges as she recovers from not only the C-section but the preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. However, she is expected to be released from the hospital soon. Baby Sean is not so fortunate. His stay will be quite lengthy.

This is where YOU come in.

Caroline and her family were already at a financial disadvantage before this incredible journey began. They work hard, they are generous people – giving to those even less fortunate than they are. They give everything they have to care for their children and give them the best life possible. But the economic cards have been stacked against them and the financial impact of such a lengthy and complex hospital stay for both Caroline and Baby Sean will be devastating to them.

Once Caroline is released from the hospital, she will have to travel 45 minutes each direction to see her baby daily. The cost of gasoline is going to make this near impossible. On top of that, Caroline needs to begin preparing for Baby Sean’s arrival home and literally does not have the resources to purchase the most basic of baby supplies let alone some of the special supplies a premature baby with Sean’s health needs might require.

Today we are reaching out to you. Could you donate $1 – just ONE DOLLAR – to help Baby Sean? Your donation will go towards clothes, cloth diapers, a car seat, and other premature baby essentials. In addition, it will help this beautiful family make the daily trip to bond with and bring breastmilk to their precious son.

If you aren’t able to donate, perhaps you know someone who could. In lieu of a donation, we are asking for help in spreading the word.

We know that in these tough economic times, it is difficult to know when to give and what cause deserves our hard earned dollar. This baby needs our help now! Imagine if this was your baby and all you needed was a little financial cushion so you could start your baby’s life out right?

Caroline, Tony, their entire family and Baby Sean are already deeply grateful, humbled, and moved to tears by the mere fact that we are raising funds to assist them in their greatest hour of need. So thank you for your help. It literally will make a world of difference in this family and child’s lives.


To donate to the Help Baby Sean fun, please click the DONATE button below. You will be taken to Paypal where you can donate even if you do not have a Paypal account.

If you prefer, you can purchase a copy of Jennifer’s eBook, Coconut Oil For Your Skin, for $9.95. This increased price will be in effect June 20th and 21st and all sales from those days will go directly to the Help Baby Sean fund. Click the BUY IT NOW coconut below to purchase the eBook.

Together, we WILL be able to help Baby Sean and his family get off to the best start possible. Again, thank you and many, many blessings for your generosity!


Our children have a birthright- a promise that we gave each and every one of them the moment they were born, that they would be the focus of our lives. We promised that we would raise each one of them to adulthood the very best that we were able and would provide them the tools and the opportunity to meet and exceed their own unique definitions of “happy” and “successful”.Continue Reading

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on–in nine generations of 5x5x5…we could raise $2.4 Million!Continue Reading

What Pregnancy Loss Means To Her

When I posted my opinion on breast cancer games, y’all had lots of opinions. I was talking about this with a friend and she explained to me why it upset her. Her story made me really sad. I asked her to write a guest post on what pregnancy loss means to her so that maybe we can all learn to be a little more understanding. Continue Reading