Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back on Track

Posted by Mandy at 7:56 AM 2 comments Links to this post
The holidays are over (almost.. one more round of Christmas to go for us...) and I can honestly say that I am tired of eating! By the fifth Christmas dinner, five days in a row, I felt like I might develop sudden on-set high blood pressure or Gout from consuming way too much, in much too short of a time span. Each night I went to bed feeling completely sick and vowing to not eat that much again the next time. Each following day, I failed to resist eating ALL of the yummy food, and so suffered again another night of sluggishness and stomach pain.

Now, we are almost done visiting people, and entertaining people, and I am getting back to my normal eating pattern. I've started back with what I call my "feel good" shakes, that I get from the Shake Shack. I have one for breakfast almost every morning and it just starts my day off so well. I've also managed to lose several more pounds since trying them out! So, back on those for breakfast... and I feel the water weight starting to melt away. When you cannot get your wedding rings off after your third day of crazy eating... you know you're eating way to much!

Clayton, the kids, and I headed to Petco when we were visiting my mom for Christmas and picked up two Dog Backpacks to try to drain Brooklyn's - our Pittie girl - energy on walks. So, she and I have been one walking-jogging duo the past couple of days. When she sees the backpack, she just sits down and waits for me to hook her up. It's amazing how it calms her immediately! The one thing it doesn't cure, unfortunately, is her wanting to chase and kill cats. Ugh... this issue is the ONLY issue she has that I have not made a dent in. She's the first dog I've ever had that I have, so far, failed to stop the cat crazies! This might actually cause me to give her back to the pound... it's a serious problem that's taking a ton of time. When I think of all of her progress though.. I just cannot give up on her, yet!

Life is slowly getting back to normal for us here... especially in the eating department. I think back a couple of years ago when we were trying to get pregnant with Samuel and how I used to eat like that several days each week. It was what I turned to when I was sad, frustrated, disappointed, etc. It also became what I liked to do when friends were over or I was happy! I felt so awful, all of the time back then. Low energy, expanding waist-line, and the lack of caring to do anything about it. I don't know what kicked me in the rear after Samuel was born, but I am so thankful to be back to my old self! Feeling good feels good!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Knew We Should've...

Posted by Mandy at 4:11 PM 2 comments Links to this post
... made Christmas cards this year.

For whatever reason, we never got around to making Christmas cards to send out to friends and family. I would have been okay with this if it were not for the fact that we received a record number of cards from people this year. Our refrigerator is literally completely covered with cards, held by Leap Frog Fridge Magnets, on both of the double doors. It has been so fun to find one or two almost every single day in the mail! Some are from old friends that we haven't seen in a good while and some are from our really new friends - and we were so wonderfully surprised that they thought to send us one! Next year... for sure.. we will be hanging on someone else's fridge! All of you that were so nice to wish us a merry Christmas via cards this year... we will return the favor in the future.

Speaking of having a merry Christmas, I got another surprise this evening when I checked my work email. An article that I wrote around a month ago was purchased by a publisher... HOORAY! They have two more they are reviewing, and they would make it a very merry Christmas if they'd pick up at least one of 'em. I shall wait patiently and see, and try not to get my hopes up too high. You can never tell what these publishers will buy and what they will shove aside.

I've not had as much time lately to devote to writing, but I am making time for it again. Working at home can be extremely tough! I'm still learning the ins and outs of balancing playtime, housework time, cuddle time, and working time. Samuel's now routine afternoon nap is making things a lot easier... but I know plenty of you have had the work-at-home craziness, as well. One day... I will find a system that works.

Any tips for making working-at-home more manageable? Send them my way!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Shopping and Nausea

Posted by Mandy at 7:55 AM 3 comments Links to this post
Yesterday Clayton, the kids, and I headed to the mall to finish up most of our Christmas shopping. It was SO much fun. There is little that I love as much as shopping. It doesn't have to be for me, or for my kids, but just spending money in general gives me way too many thrills. I love that feeling of searching and searching for the perfect gift for "that person".. and then.. you spot it!

"It's PERFECT!! They'll love it!"

Ahh... shopping victory is so sweet.

After buying clothes for the cool teens of my family, and oh-so-classic books for some of the younger ones, I headed to my favorite gift giving, and receiving, store. Bath and Body Works. Oh... How I Love Thee...

After a mere five minutes I was literally nauseous from smelling way too many fragrances. From some funky winter peppermint scent - ugh... - to a delicious Karma Cleanse -ummm..... I was all sniffed out by the time I grabbed every gal in my family their goodies. I managed to make it to the checkout counter pushing a double stroller (with only one tot in it) and carting all of the lotions, body washes, hand soaps, and lip glosses I could carry. Oh the pure merriment of purchasing girly feel-good products. I am still shocked that I bought all of that stuff and not one ounce of yumminess for me. (Perhaps I will unwrap some in one of my own Christmas packages!)

We made it home after many, many hours of shopping, eating, playing, and spending right up to our allotted budget on Christmas gifts. I was so excited over the entire event. The kids were great, Clayton didn't get stressed out and start rushing me, and I got to get almost everything I wanted for everyone I wanted to buy for. Again, I say, sweet shopping victory!

The best part of the entire day came when we unloaded our bags into the living room and sorted through them. I got giddy all over again when I'd run across a forgotten bought present for "just the right person." I was so excited that I immediately sat down and wrapped six packages and stuck them under the tree with the others.

Knowing that having a tree stocked full of gifts is *not* the important part of Christmas fills me with guilt over the pleasure that sight brings me. I justify it to myself by looking at all of the name-tags on the presents and seeing that none of them currently show my name under "To:"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Debate: Most Harmful Parenting Style

Posted by Mandy at 7:14 AM 12 comments Links to this post
In the parenting group I attend twice monthly, we've been discussing different parenting styles. There are typically three styles of parenting that we all can fit into: Permissive, Authoritative, Authoritarian.

Permissive parents would be those in which strive to be "friends" with their children, have little to no rules and do not provide consequences when rules are broken. A common phrase of the permissive parent would be, "Aww... it's okay, they're just being kids." This phrase could be applied as easily to accidentally spilling a cup of juice as it could be to them punching their friend in the eye.

Authoritative parents would be considered the "middle ground" parents and the type that is deemed most healthy for children. Parents in this group know how to pick battles, how to be attentive but not overly protective, know how to let children fail without making them feel like failures, and also stick to their guns on important issues.

Authoritarian parents would commonly be those in generations past, but many parents today still use this method simply because it was what was taught to them. These would be "I'm right and you're wrong" parents. No explanation for "being in trouble" is typically seen as necessary from parent to child, children's emotions are often overlooked or deemed unimportant, and parents in this category can often be verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive. (not always.. but it is common.)

So, up for debate today: Which extreme parenting style, Permissive or Authoritarian, is most detrimental to children long-term? Is being allowed to live without rules and consequences more harmful once you become an adult than never learning how to make mistakes without being extremely hard on yourself? Is having your way most of the time going to make your life harder as an adult than having your self-esteem constantly beaten down?

What do you think?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Giving God the Glory

Posted by Mandy at 5:18 PM 0 comments Links to this post
I had to post this because God is so amazing. So amazing it almost makes me laugh.

After having three really busy dog training weeks, I was a bit upset to find that last week resulted in zero training sessions. Zero, zilch, nada...

Today, I was feeling particullary upset by my lack of work, despite more advertising than ever at vet's offices, and I just said out loud, "God, you led me here... help me out!" You see, I fought the idea of starting Canine Corrections from the moment people started hinting at it. I just did not believe in myself enough, and I did not believe anyone else would believe in me either. God kept sending me one problem pound puppy after the next and he kept helping me turn them right around and get them into simply fantastic homes. A few times, on my way home from the pound, with an insane pooch tethered to a bar in the back of my van, I'd shake my head and tell God, "You better be with me when I get home... I don't think I can handle this one." He always was.. from second one.

So, I finally got up enough courage to start my own dog training business. It got off to a great start with much interest, support, and appointments. Now, my first round of pups are doing so well.. I'm seeing much less of them! Though this is GREAT news... it also means work has slowed down. (hence my fisted prayer earlier today...)

So, a mere hour after speaking like a fool to the Almighty, I met with some of the Humane Society ladies to help out some up and coming people in Warren with grant money information. As soon as I got there, the newbie asked, "Hey, aren't you the dog trainer that I heard about at the vet?" One thing led to another, and now I have two sessions already booked with her! She even gets a nice discount because she's doing it for foster dogs that they cannot place due to behavior problems. (boy.. I've had my share of those!)

I had to laugh as I left that meeting. God was so in my face - it was just so obvious! To top it off, I got a call this evening for another appointment as well.

I just wanted to publically give God credit and thanks for today and for the past year. He knows everything that he has done.. and I know all too well everything I have *not* done. It's awesome... once you FINALLY let go, put yourself out there, and accept that you may end up looking like a fool.. God does show up. Trusting him to show up is the hard part!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Fosters Pictures

Posted by Mandy at 3:06 PM 6 comments Links to this post

Here our the two newest babies of the family.

The first one is the "horse" I spoke of yesterday. She is a brindle colored Pit Bull. She is SUPER sweet! She loves the kids, loves other dogs... but not so hot with the cats. I'm working with her on it. If the cats are simply by her, she's fine. However, if one makes the mistake of running past her... her strong prey drive kicks in and she simply wants to catch them and probably mangle them. So, I'll probably be recommending a home with no cats for this girl. Other than the cat issues, I've seen no others. Today we went for a jog together and she barely pulled on the leash at all after the first few minutes. (she pulls A LOT at first.. working hard on it! She's much improved already.) I can see that she is really going to turn into a fantastic pet for someone. So far a name for this powerful yet gentle girl escapes me. If you'd like to help name her, drop me some doggie girl name ideas in the comments! I don't do 'silly' names so please avoid "Cookie, Princess, or Tiny." She needs a big dog name that still sounds sweet... any takers?

The second is the one we've had the longest. This is Lilly. Though I'm not certain of her breed, she resembles a Chihuahua. She is only around 4/5 months old and quite the little squirt. She is likely to grow to be a bit bigger than a standard sized Chihuahua, but I cannot see her getting past the "small" size. Lilly is SWEET. No other word can describe her. She's just a jolly, happy-go-lucky, ready to go everywhere you go, kind of girl. She is in love with Samuel and follows him everywhere, tail waggin'. I cannot picture a wrong family for her. As long as she gets plenty of exercise and attention... she'll be happy as can be!

Both of these dogs were rescued from our city pound. Both would have been put to death simply due to overcrowding... please help find homes for these sweet girls so that I can go rescue more before their "time is up." They will be be put on the national websites.. but word of mouth is helpful as well. A friend of mine helped find Lilly's brother a home within the first week I had him simply by asking people in her office if anyone knew of someone looking for a puppy. ANY help you can offer is greatly appreciated.

Interested in adopting either pooch? Drop me an email at pupfostermom(at)gmail(dot)com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rescued a Horse Today

Posted by Mandy at 11:31 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Today I went to the pound and rescued a wild horse... I mean a huge dog. She is a Pitt Bull Terrier that appears to be pure-bred and has been in there for around two months. She was SOOO excited to get out that she nearly drug me down the driveway! I ran her around the pound area for a while to try to get SOME of her energy out and then opened the back hatch of the van. To my shock she leaped right in and lay down on the towel I had for her! She looked completely relieved to be going away from that place. (away from constant concrete, freezing weather, and barking dogs...)

Realizing that she is definitely the strongest, though not the largest, dog I've ever rescued, I had to devise a plan for what I would do when we arrived home. She had to know from second one that she is NOT in charge.

Clayton took Samuel into the house and I opened the back of the van. She tried to leap out and I blocked her..making her calm down. After several minutes she finally sat down, gave me eye contact, and her body language obviously changed to show she was calmer. Then I called her out. After that she actually walked fairly well on the leash, considering she's likely never been on one. She was really excited to meet our dogs and they all got along really well! She is super playful, silly, and sweet. I think I need to hook her to the van and let her run about 15mph down the road for about 10 miles to make up for all of her confinement at the pound. She definitely wants to RUN.

So, I have pics of two new foster dogs to show soon. One is a puppy, her name is Lilly. She is SO SWEET and very cute. The newest is the one I was just discussing. I'll have to work with her for a bit before I'm ready to place her for adoption. Lilly has been with us for two weeks and is coming along wonderfully. She's typically the picture-perfect calm-submissive girl. Her brother was with us for a short time before he was adopted... now we just need to find her a good home. She's a great "portable pet" since she LOVES being inside, and LOVES riding in the car. She would do great with someone that wanted a pup to cart around everywhere.

Pictures to come, once I can snap a few!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Guitar Hero

Posted by Mandy at 9:53 AM 3 comments Links to this post

If you know terms such as "star power ready," "YOU ROCK!" "50 Note Streak!," and "Hot Start!" then you have joined the many many people, such as my family, that has become addicted to Guitar Hero.
As a very early Christmas present, to himself, Clayton brought this game home for Wii last weekend. I looked at the price tag, raised an eyebrow, and threatened that, "This better be the best game in the entire world."
Thankfully for my husband, it possibly is! I'm not a 'gamer' but this is so much fun. Clayton likes for us to play in the same band, but I enjoy competing against each other much more. Amazingly, I typically beat him... which eventually frustrates my man. I suppose that men are assumed to be better at all video games, especially "guy games", but this time around I'm actually whooping his hiney. He would beg to differ... but come on over and watch us in action if you'd like proof.
What I've found so strange about this game, is how it actually brain-washes you into believing you are the Guitar Hero. You hear songs on the radio and become convinced that you could actually play them if you had a guitar handy. After playing a few songs in a row, you get into a Rock Star zone... you really believe that the fake people cheering on the game are cheering specifically for you. You, ummm.. I...., become a bit arrogant at your fancy guitar playing talents after you, umm.. I.., play a song fifty times in a row to finally get a 99% accuracy score. Oh yes... I am so gifted. A muse perhaps...
Soon we shall have to have a crew of people over for a Guitar Hero face-off. I know a few of you have guitars of your own you could bring... and Michael claims he can now play on 'expert' level. I shall never believe that until I see it! (I just started trying 'medium' and even moving up to 'hard' will be many moons away.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas Countdown!

Posted by Mandy at 10:05 AM 5 comments Links to this post
I cannot believe that my calendar already reads December 2. Only 23 days until Christmas! I am so excited... Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, for so many reasons. The most important, of course, is that we are celebrating Jesus's birth. How amazing that Christ himself came into the world as a weak, helpless, and humble newborn. The faith that those who worshipped him there in the manger must have had, to know that he was the Savior, is hard to imagine. Can you picture yourself bowing before a newborn baby, basically born in a barn amongst animals? Can you imagine the smell that must have been in the air with huge animals like Ox there? Could you have gone there, looked at the face of this small infant, and believed that he was, indeed, Christ?

On a lighter note, a few nights ago we decorated the church for Christmas. Christmas trees, lights, ornaments, ribbon - it turned out to be quite a beautiful sight! After our hard work we retired to what we call the "Cool Back Room" to scarf down pizza and visit with each other.

Michael brought up a really fun topic: "What was the best gift you ever got for Christmas when you were little?"

Thinking back to what the #1 favorite gift I received as a child was harder than I thought it would be. I finally remembered what it was, though. A doll - a Baby Alive to be exact. I had begged for this doll with blue eyes and curly blond hair for months and months before I unwrapped her on Christmas morning. I can remember how thrilled I was! I tore open the box that had been her home in the store and immediately filled her bottle with the fake formula she came with, put one of the few diapers included in the package on her, and sat to cuddle and feed my oh-so-loved baby. I could not wait to change the wet diaper that followed. I'm not sure any other gift ever compared to her. I loved her so much that my dad actually still has her, safely stored away. (Isn't it funny how we parents can become even more attached to our children's favorite toys than our kids are?)

Our discussion then changed a bit into: "What was the gift that you always wanted but never got?"

I had to think REALLY hard on this one. Then, I remembered. A telescope.

Oh, how I begged and pleaded for a telescope. For some reason, one never showed up on Christmas day. I had forgotten my past obsession until last Christmas, when Uncle Steve gave the kids one! I think I was more excited than they were! My old feelings of longing came right back to me. It is time to pull it out now that the sky is so clear on these cold winter nights, and the bugs of summer are gone.

So, can you answer those two questions? (some of you will have to think back farther than I had to!) What was the best thing you ever unwrapped on Christmas morning as a kid? Was there something that you REALLY wanted but never got?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Belated Anniversary Post

Posted by Mandy at 11:23 AM 4 comments Links to this post
My week has been pleasantly busy, so I'm just now getting around to posting that Clayton and I celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary on the 25th. I cannot believe how quickly 8 years has gone by! It is so strange how, when I think back to how we were when we married, we seem so much the same, yet so vastly different. I love how everyone makes you believe that your first year of marriage is the happiest, and you're only happy together because you're in Newlywed Land. Isn't that lovely how often newly married couples are told how incredibly unhappy, boring, and stressful their lives are soon to be? I look back and cannot help but laugh. (Bwahahaha...)

I can honestly say that we are happier and more fulfilled with each other now than ever before. I am sure it is more because of what an amazing man, father, and husband Clayton is than because of anything I have done over the years. He loves peace and harmony, and I love him for that. He loves being a good provider, a good comforter, a good listener, and most importantly, he loves making me happy!

We read a book by Joyce Meyer called Help Me, I'm Married! several years ago. One thing that we both deeply internalized from the book was the seemingly simple advice, "Live each day to make each other happy." Practicing this advice has proven to be much more difficult than it first seemed.

When I'm tired, and he's tired, and Samuel needs a diaper change - changing it myself just to let my husband rest is a small, yet sometimes difficult, act of love I can share.

When I know he's had a horrid day at work, and worked much harder that day than I have, and he still happily cleans up the dishes after supper - it is a huge act of love from him to me.

When I decide I want to do dog rescue and adoption, and he doesn't really even want ONE dog, and he still agrees to support me in my quest - it fills me with joy.

I jokingly said to our good friends, Taylor and LeeAnn, a few nights ago, in regards to a shopping trip I had gone on with my mom and sister, "It's beneficial to him that I go shopping while he watches the kids because it makes me happy. I'm a happier wife and he gets to be happier husband!"

While I said this laughing and a bit snotty, it really is the truth. Doing those small, daily acts of love and kindness for each other, even when we might not want to, goes a very long way in keeping a marriage HAPPY and strong.

I am so blessed to be married to my husband. Having a man like him that makes me feel secure, loved, beautiful, appreciated, and safe is such a gift from God. Our marriage is certainly not without its times of struggle - but I'm so happy to see that as the years go on, and we practice being loving to each other, the struggles become less and pass much more quickly.

I am also happy to report that we someone managed to miss the "Seven Year Itch." I hope it wasn't just delayed... ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Canine Corrections

Posted by Mandy at 7:44 AM 3 comments Links to this post
I finally got up my courage and created my own Dog Behavior business - Canine Corrections. Taylor created an amazing poster and some super cute business cards for the cause. I will show them off as soon as I get my scanner to work properly.

I had my first client visit this past Sunday. Our first session with their two Standard Poodles went great! Their main problems were with the puppy - who is 15 weeks old. He is simply an overly excited guy that turns a bit dominent when in that state. He was jumping, nipping, pulling and zigzagging on the leash.. you name it. Within the first 2 minutes of our walk, he was at a heel and walked like the prize Poodle he is! After our hour and a half long session, he was the picture perfect, calm-submissive, young guy. His behavior was so good, that they asked me to come back this coming Sunday to work with the older Poodle. Before, they thought she was perfect. :)

This Thanksgiving I will be keeping a young pup for another client while they go away for a few days for some intensive, in-home, training. He's a power breed seeing to be a German Shephard/Rottie mix and is already showing some signs of being overly powerful and dominent during play, which can QUICKLY turn into aggression as he ages. I'm excited to have a puppy in the house.. the kids are going to love him!

So, Canine Corrections is open for business! Need help and want to set up an appt? Call me at (870)308-1403 or email - caninecorrections(at)gmail(dot)com

I'd love to help!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Are Siblings Good For?

Posted by Mandy at 8:57 AM 4 comments Links to this post

Being silly around a campfire...

Spinning with until you want to puke...

Eating popcorn and acting completely ridiculous with in the fort...

Keeping Mommy on her toes and on the look-out for the newest weapons...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Debate: Gender Selection

Posted by Mandy at 8:04 AM 6 comments Links to this post
Technology has done amazing things in the lives of many that have struggled with infertility. From medications that help a woman's body finally mature and release an egg to procedures to actually fertilize egg with sperm outside of the body and then place an embryo into the mother's womb. When does technology go to far?

There is a procedure now where infertility specialists can analyze and take a 'xy' (male) or a 'xx' (female) sperm with the specific purpose of giving a couple a child with the gender they request.

Debate: Should couples be allowed to choose their child's gender when undergoing IVF?

1. Play Nice
2. Stay on Topic - only debate the question presented and do not go into other areas of the topic.
3. Debate format - no fighting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

You Know You're Succeeding As A Parent When...

Posted by Mandy at 8:35 AM 5 comments Links to this post

  • You hear your 7 year old say to your 4 year old, in the back of the van, "You better stop aggravating me before I hit you and get in trouble!"

  • You tell your 4 year old not to pick the cat up by the throat and he asks, "Why?"

  • Your daughter's friend says, upon entering your van, "Wow, you're car is even messier than ours!" That prompted a mandatory once a week internal van cleaning.

  • Even the largest of the dogs fears for his safety at the mere sight of your 1 year old.

  • Everyone in the house fears for their safety at the sight of your 1 year old.

  • Your 4 year old routinely makes crowds of people shake their heads and laugh.

  • Your 7 year old still has to be reminded, hourly, to say "ma'am" and "sir."

  • You have to say to your 4 year old, hourly, "How do you ask?"

  • You find yourself yelling, "NO YELLING IN THE HOUSE!"

  • You wonder why your daughter is so short and bossy with her brother as you scold her, "Stop bossing him!" You cannot figure out where she learns to speak to him that way...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Asking For Bigger Things

Posted by Mandy at 5:37 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Monday - Wednesday we had a time of renewel at Journey. It was a fantastic few evenings spent in prayer, worship, and scripture. We sat in candlelight and spent our time seeking God desperately. Not only asking him to show up, but expecting him to.

Last night, I realized that often times I am settling for "lesser things." My wants and my desires are probably often times not the same wants and desires God has for me. I had an awakening of sorts. I need to spend some time seriously talking to God and reading his word to get more in line with his will for me. While I'm asking him for small financial desires to help us reach certain goals or praying feverishly for our children at Journey, he's likely shaking his head wondering, "Is that all ya got? Is this 'really' all you are asking of me?"

While God can really never be challenged, I realized last night that so often we really do ask so little of him. I thought of this while we were driving home and I had to tell Clayton that I know that often times I hesitate to ask big things of God. For some reason, I become afraid. What if I pray this heart-felt prayer, asking God to work a miracle (be it financial, relationship, church-related, etc) and he doesn't? What do I do with that? Can I handle it if he simply says, "No."?

I've decided that I simply need to make sure that I am praying that HIS will is done. That HIS wants for me are my wants for me. That he equips me to handle whatever path he sends me down.

I've realized that, though I trust God much more than I ever have in my life, I still cling to the false sense of control I have. I am afraid to truly turn my entire self over to him. Doing such a thing would mean I would have to possibly give up things that have become far too important to me, it might mean having to leave my comfort zone and do things like talk to strangers about Christ, or even travel abroad to talk to complete unbelievers about him. It might mean something as simple as cutting out a much loved hour of TV to spend an hour with him.

I have to laugh at myself.. and my silly worries. Isn't it odd how easily we trade time with The Creator of Heaven and Earth, The Messiah, The Almighty... for an hour of mindless television. The time has come, for me, to become more devoted to what really matters. Now, for God to show me what really matters.. I fear I really have no idea!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Debate: Seat Belt Laws

Posted by Mandy at 10:07 AM 6 comments Links to this post
This is a debate that even my husband and I have had, so I thought others might enjoy telling their views on the topic.

Debate: Are seat belt laws fair? Do you feel the government has the right to tell you that you must wear your seat belt or face a fine, or do you believe it should be each individual's choice to take the risk to not wear his or her seat belt?

Different note: As soon as my computer will upload it, I will have a picture of our newest foster dog. A gorgeous, white, Border Collie mix.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sad But True

Posted by Mandy at 7:18 AM 2 comments Links to this post
I try to avoid posting too much of the sad realities of dog shelter and rescue... I like to keep a positive attitude with the few dogs that we are able to save. However, a good friend and fellow dog rescuer emailed me this article and I had to at least link it. If you can ignore the poor writing quality and simply listen to the message, I think the impact will be great. Everything this person is writing is what I am seeing myself in our small town. I can only imagine how much worse the problem gets in bigger cities.

You can read the article here if you are interested.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Girls Are So Fun!

Posted by Mandy at 3:19 PM 5 comments Links to this post
The past few months have really packed a big punch to my brain that my daughter is turning into a big girl - with real friends. Our van serves as a taxi for many of her bestest buds a few days each week, and our home a fun house for after school playtime. When Madison was a toddler, I used to try to imagine how this point in parenthood would be. It's more fun than I could have ever imagined!

Sunday we brought home two of Madison's favorite gal pals, Rachael and Adelyn, from church. Those three were simply hilarious! They giggled, sang, and chit-chatted the entire way to our house. It brought back memories of my own friends riding home with me for play-days.

Once here, they took off to the back yard. Clayton has built a "playhouse" (more like "play-mansion") for the kids and it has been a huge hit with all of the boys and girls we've had over. Actually, even our own friends have enjoyed it! The girls had a field day sweeping each room, decorating the ramp railings, and sitting down to discuss all things girl. They even let Carter tag-a-long and were super sweet to him the entire afternoon.

Today we brought home another of Madison's best friends, Gracen. Gracen is actually Madison's first friend ever! They met when they were a little over a year old, and have been best buds since.

Before making the drive home, I had to take all of the kids to Wally World to pick up some things. The girls each had their little coin bags to carry in. They had a great plan to combine their money to buy something incredible! Upon entering the store, we took some time so they could sit on a bench and count their cash, only to discover that Madison's $2 and Gracen's $0.14 really did not buy very much. I told them that between now and next week, maybe they could do a little extra around their homes to earn some spending money and we'd come back when they had some more green to go around.

Even though they could not buy much more than a pack of gum - to share - they still asked to look at everything. So, we did. For the first time, I took Madison down the hair and make-up aisle as a big girl. Not because she's a tiny tot that just things it's fun to be like Mommy, but because she's growing up and wants things of her own - things her friends have. They picked out every shade of pink lip gloss to be found and every make-up bag with a bit of sparkle on it. We looked at head bands, pony-tail holders, clips, nail polish, YOU NAME IT. It was a blast! Thankfully, the boys are young enough to enjoy seeing pretty girly stuff, too.

It is just so amazing to see the transformation Madison is making right now. She's still so much my little girl. I am clinging to that! At the same time, her friends are becoming very important to her. She wants them here with her, or to be with them in their homes. She has no idea right now how incredibly blessed she is to be starting out in life with such good friends. Friends from stable, loving, Christian homes. Friends that will no doubt help keep her on the right track in those tough teen years. Friends that will hopefully always be there to laugh with, pray with, and pick out pink lip gloss with.

The fun is really just beginning with her. I am both excited, and scared to death, to see what the next several years bring!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post Election Day

Posted by Mandy at 6:40 AM 4 comments Links to this post
And the winner is.... OBAMA!

Wow, history was made last night as the first African American was selected by the folks to be our next President. I watched the numbers roll in and his electoral votes go beyond 270 with a mixed feeling of excitement and disappointment.

Excitement because of how far our country has come. Excitement because this man might truly make some needed changes - especially in regards to environmental issues and hopefully he will reform health care in a positive way. Excitement because years from now I will be able to tell my children how I remember watching the first African American President, Barrack Obama, be elected into the position. It fits right into my brain with other major events that have happened in my, life like when the Twin Towers were taken down... you will always remember seeing it, where you were, and how you felt. Watching history unfold is an amazing experience!

Disappointment because he wasn't "my" guy. Disappointment because I'm unsure of what's about to happen to our Supreme Court. Fear over what will happen with several important issues to me like abortion, gay marriage, and gun control. What is to happen in the next four years? Is it "change we can believe in" or "change to fear"? I suppose only time will tell.

Clayton and I, both a little disappointed with the new President, but optimistic because we have to trust the majority of America, decided last night that we would simply pray. Praying for our upcoming President and the people he is about to elect as his "go-to-guys" is extremely important. Praying that he selects grounded judges and not extreme left-wing crazies, that he is able to help us with health care costs without making it government run, and that he is praying.

My main prayer is that he is a true Christian man that is not only praying in front of the cameras, but in his daily life. That he is close with Christ and is led by him. Having a President that really desires to do God's will... wow! What a great country we would be!

Monday, November 03, 2008


Posted by Mandy at 2:42 PM 6 comments Links to this post
I don't know where time is going. I was shocked a few days ago when I had to flip the calendar page over to a new month. I got a bit stressed when I realized that we're soon to be on the Christmas countdown and I'm behind on my shopping. How behind? Oh, you know, behind as in I have not bought ONE thing for anyone yet.

I do this every single year. For one reason or another (lack of time, lack of funds, lack of wanting to take three kids shopping due to my husbands lack of days off...) I always seem to wait until the last few weeks before Christmas to start shopping. This makes life much too crazy for someone like me! I do not enjoy chaos and avoid it if at all possible. Being in any store with every other Christmas-shopping-procrastinator like me is not my ideal scenario.

In all honesty, I haven't even given much thought to what we'll be getting the kids this year. Madison is easy - books. That's her only request. She loves to read, and she wants a million books for Christmas. Carter, I have no clue. He's so easy going that he really never gets very much into anything. He likes books, he likes sports, he likes some toys... but he doesn't seem to just LOVE any one thing. The good news is, he'll be completely thrilled with anything he unwraps. I can almost guarantee an equally giddy reaction from a new pack of plain, white socks or from the biggest and coolest toy ever created.

Samuel, he couldn't care less. He'll likely just throw his own gifts down to try to take away Madison and Carter's. He is going to be 17 months going on 2 years old by then. I can, however, already picture him completely enthralled with tearing open packages and finding the prize inside!

So, the next few weeks will hopefully open up an opportunity for me to at least start on some gift buying. Per the kids' request we have already pulled out their favorite Christmas CD in the van, and I am already growing weary of Carter's favorite, "Number 1!" which happens to be the Disney characters overly-excitedly singing "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." Thanksgiving hasn't even hit yet and we all have Christmas-brain already! It is the best holiday of the year... I suppose starting the celebrations extremely early is acceptable.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Posted by Mandy at 7:46 AM 3 comments Links to this post
I talked to my doctor's office this week, and just now have a minute to let you all know what the biopsy results are.

To put it simply, I have exactly what they thought. "Mild dysplasia." Results can come back as:

Low Dysplasia
Mild Dysplasia
High Dysplasia

So, praise God we got it before it turned into "high dysplasia" or cancer. It can go from mild to high or cancer in a matter of months if left untreated, so I am extremely thankful that God put it in my head that it was important to be seen.

It's not great news, but isn't horrible news, either. Great news would have been for it to be normal. The hope is that he got all of the abnormal cells with the original biopsy. Time will tell. I go back in 4 months for another pap and I pray that it will be normal. If it is not normal (is the same or worse) then more evasive procedures will have to be done to remove more tissue. So, for now, the plan is to simply wait, be rechecked, and pray that a normal result follows. I will let you know!

To change the subject, please visit Shelley's blog to read about Baby Brooks that was born prematurely. He and his family need our prayers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Feature

Posted by Mandy at 8:28 AM 1 comments Links to this post
You may notice the new picture of the cute black lab on the right hand side of my blog. This is the section that you will likely be seeing several dogs over the coming months that are all looking for new, and permanent homes. You can click on the picture of the dog to find out more information about him or her, and to find out how to complete an adoption application. Live out of my area? That's okay! Dogs can be adopted out to nearly anywhere, so if you fall in love with a cute face, let me know.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Foster Adopted

Posted by Mandy at 11:31 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Well, Ruth has already gone to her new home! A great family that lives on 80acres down our road saw her and fell in love with her. I got an email from someone that saw her on the pet adoption websites that really wanted her, and I had to tell them she was already adopted! I am a bit surprised she went so quickly. The bigger dogs can be really hard to place... she's just so gorgeous, people couldn't help but want her.

So, now we're down to just our two dogs again! That's so weird! I'm enjoying a few days just spending time with them before I go get another foster. I saw a very pretty white male dog, looked like a shepherd mix, at the pound last week. If he's still there, I think he'll be the one I'll be bringing home.

Amanda posted on her blog that a big Chihuahua hoarder/breeder was shut down in NM. Once they get some more info on those pups and dogs, we might be fostering one or two of them. I have a hard time with the smaller breeds, for some reason. It takes me a while to realize they're dogs, too. lol I'm so used to big labs and dogs of the sort.. a tiny lap dog takes some adjusting for me!

So, Moss Dog Rescue, Adoption, and Rehabilitation Center is going quite well! ;)

Friday, October 24, 2008

True Story

Posted by Mandy at 8:44 AM 10 comments Links to this post
I am in Wal-Mart this morning, buying those circle stickers to put prices on for our church's rummage sale this Saturday morning, when a complete stranger started a conversation with me.

While looking for some boxes of brownie mix (for our lunch at church Sunday) a woman, probably in her late 50s, started remarking on the high prices of the products on the shelves.

strange lady - "I've never seen such prices! This is crazy!"

me - "I know, I hope the gas prices going down will trickle into lower food prices soon."

strange lady - "So, what do you think about the Presidential Election?"

me, surprised at the question, - "I'm not sure. I like them both, and don't like them both, depending on the issue."

strange lady - "Well, I'm voting for McCain. That Obama... there's no way a black man is going to be able to run this country."

me - stunned silence

strange lady - "You know that those other countries don't like him. They don't like him because he's black... he'd ruin us!"

me - trying to be polite - "Well, have a good day! I better finish my shopping!"

YIKES! Do people today STILL think this way? Wow... what a thing for someone to say to a complete stranger! For all she knows, my husband is black! I just walked away shaking my head.

Am I the only one that has almost forgotten that Obama is even black? He's just become a household name for most of us... and I guess the issue of his race isn't something that my family (immediate or extended) has talked about.

Am I a magnet for crazy people or what? I swear... when I go into public places, people just seem to feel free to tell me all kinds of things, good and bad! Maybe I need one of those "bad attitude" shirts, that I hate so much, to wear the next time I need a loaf of bread....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things You Can Use As A Weapon

Posted by Mandy at 12:10 PM 3 comments Links to this post

He may look sweet, but this 15 month old has learned how to turn seemingly innocent looking items into very dangerous weapons. Some of his favorite things to use as objects of torment are:

*His Hands

*His Feet

*His Head

*A Hairbrush

*Tinker Toys

*Puzzle Boards


*Sippy Cups



*The Remote Control

*The Phone

*Lunch Boxes

*Anything that he can lift and swing - striking an innocent victim.

To think, we're not even close to age 2 yet...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Filling you in

Posted by Mandy at 6:11 PM 9 comments Links to this post
I sat on posting this or not over the past few weeks, and especially the past two days, but I finally decided that I can.

To make a long story short, an abnormal pap smear test result resulted in me going in on Tuesday for a more invasive exam. Unfortunately, the exam did reveal an area of "concern" that required a biopsy to be taken and sent off for further testing to see if it is cancerous or not. Thankfully, I am faithful with going to my OB/GYN yearly so we caught this (whatever it may be) very early. Even if it does come back as cancer, the hope is we got it so early that the biopsy itself took care of it. If further treatment is required... then we'll just cross that road when we get to it. No need to send myself into all of the potential "what ifs" just yet.

For now, my prayer is it comes back as a "false-positive" and I can go on with life as usual with simply having to go for pap smears every few months for a while.

I am nervous, but I know that whatever the outcome - God has me. He's got it under control now, he had it under control before I knew about it, and he'll have the future under control as well.

So, please pray for my peace of mind as I sit and wait for the results. Hopefully I'll know something next week. I will keep you all updated - but for now, I'm going to think positively that the worst is over.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Posted by Mandy at 10:45 AM 5 comments Links to this post
As we were coming home from an outing last week, Clayton and I heard a few songs from "back in the day" that made us start thinking back to all of the songs, movies, and TV shows that always remind us of each other. I thought it would be fun to share some with you all and have you share some with me!

Movie: City of Angels - 1998

Clayton and I had been dating for a while, and this was the first movie we ever saw together. It was a great movie, but can I tell you how embarrassing it is to boo-hoo in front of a boy on your first 'official' date with him? Sheesh!

Just for fun - Titanic was the second movie we saw together.

Songs: This could be quite a list!

Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers version.
I believe the year was 1999... it was the first song we danced to at Clayton's Senior Prom. It is still my favorite song to dance with him to today!

The early songs by the Dixie Chicks like I Can Love You Better and Wide Open Spaces. They came out in 1998 and though Clayton wasn't thrilled about my new and obsessive love with the Chicks, he was sweet enough to go out and buy their first CD for me anyway. Now that's love!

Anything by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Credence Clearwater Revival. They were the first two concerts we went to together, and we still love listening to the old school music when we're driving around and the kids have all gone to sleep. It reminds us of all of the time we spent riding in that great ford pickup truck of his, singing horribly to all of the songs.

I could go on and on... some of our other memory filled bands are Stroke 9, Barenaked Ladies, and almost every single "oldies" group or singer out there. Clayton's dad is a huge fan of the great classics and so each time we traveled together somewhere, we spent all of the time in the car listening to the Oldies stations or the CD's his dad had. Those were some really fun times! His dad is the first person I had ever heard say, in regards to a slow love song,
"This is belly rubbin' music."
Translation for you youngin's - "This is a great song to slow dance to!"

We still say that when slow songs come on the radio.

TV Shows

Some of the TV shows that we watched together were pretty tasteless, but simply hilarious to us back then, if I can be honest! Some of the most detestable would be the ones on MTV like The Tom Greene Show and Jackass. In all honesty... for some reason.. those shows still crack me up today.

Friends was one of my favorites when I was a teen and I will always remember how Clayton hated it so much, that he simply refused to watch it. Yes... even with me.

Cops - Oh yeah, like anyone is surprised that our entire lives togther have been filled with cop stuff. Before he could do it in real life, we watched it together as if we were doing homework for his dream career.

Since we dated long distance, we rarely got to watch TV together, but these few shows always found a way to show up when we were around each other.

I'd love to hear some of you and your spouses memories! Think back... WAY back for some of you!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ruth and other doggie news

Posted by Mandy at 8:47 AM 4 comments Links to this post

This is Ruth! She is approximately 2 years old and is a 66 pound white lab. She is BEAUTIFUL! She is in desperate need of a gentle, patient, and loving home. Her previous home was full of abuse and neglect and has left her with a lot of fear of people. We have had her for two weeks now and she loves our children, our dogs, our cats, and me! She is still afraid of Clayton, but his lack of time to spend with her is the reason. Even with him not being around her very much, she is much better around him than she was.

Even though she has been so mistreated by humans in her life, she is absolutely a gentle giant. I have not seen one second of aggression in this girl - even when she was very afraid. She loves to be loved on, and is desperate to belong. She now likes to go for walks and she is happy to jog or stroll. I cannot stress enough how incredibly sweet this girl is.
She was just spayed a few days ago and is recovering very well. She is soon to get all of her shots and will be completely vetted before being adopted. As soon as she heals from being spayed, I am going to start some more complex psychological obstacles for her, like taking her to the park to walk amongst other people and strange noises. These things make her want to shut down, and I have to make her face them and learn that she can trust people so that she will be a great dog.
If you are interested in Ruth, email me at pupfostermom(at)gmail(dot)com.
Also, Justin Dreyer emailed and said that a large Chihuahua puppy breeder/hoarder just got shut down. There are MANY puppies and dogs in desperate need of a good home. If you are interested, email me at the same address.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate: Animal Testing

Posted by Mandy at 7:39 AM 4 comments Links to this post
Your debate question for the week is:

Is it morally acceptable to use animals for experimental testings for things like vaccinations, new medications, make-up, etc.?

Run Down of Rules:

1. No anonymous comments. Please put your name if you must post anonymously.
2. Debate - don't fight.
3. Stay on topic.
4. Think about what the other side says with an open mind, and have fun!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A week of F-U-N!

Posted by Mandy at 3:45 PM 2 comments Links to this post
We've had two pretty big outings in the past 6 days! On Saturday of last week we took the kids hiking on one of Cane Creek's nature trails. Our original plan was to make the long drive to Petit Jean, but rain in that part of the state curbed that destination. So, Cane Creek it was!

I had forgotten how beautiful Cane Creek Park is. Our nature hike had us wide-eyed with the wonder of the beautiful surroundings God has blessed us with. Creek beds, rocks, trees, flowers, wildlife... all of it can be overwhelming with emotion if you take a few minutes to just really take it in. (Stop and smell the roses... so to speak.)

The kids loved the hike. They climbed numerous fallen trees, sat on every boulder, examined every rock and bug, and eventually began asking, "Are we almost finished?" It was 2.5 miles from start to finish. They were doing great until the last half mile, so I felt that was a success!

Amazingly, we ran into a good friend out there as well! Imagine that. Two miles deep in the woods, the first time we've ever taken our kids out there, and we run into a friend from church that's also there for the first time. It's a small world! He was a lifesaver. I had carried Samuel in the Ergo for quite a distance, once his little legs could go no more, and Clayton had carried him for quite a ways himself before we ran into Michael and he offered his shoulders to hold Sam and finish the trek.

So, Cane Creek was a blast and we will definitely be going back. Maybe in another month when it's cooler!

Today was another big outing. Carter's school had a field trip to Grady to Hardin Farm's Pumpkin Patch! We let Madison miss school and the whole family went to play in the pumpkin fields.

We drove from home and met the classes there. Carter was so excited to see all of his friends coming in the gate! I got some really sweet pictures of him with his best friends.. none of which I can post because I don't have permission from their parents.. but take my word for it - THEY'RE SWEET. It was so neat to see Carter run and play with his pals and then run back to us. I think he was in heaven having both his favorite friends and his family together for a day of running, playing, and pumpkin hunting. Madison kept saying how she was so happy to meet the kids that she's heard so much about from her baby brother.

"Ohhh... so you're Kade! You're Carter's best friend!"

All of our kids had such a good time. We looked at every single thing out there. We read every sign, felt every fur, talked to all of the animals, and even got licked by a brand new baby calf. (I did... yuck!) We found the most perfect pumpkins in all of the pumpkin patch, and had a fabulous lunch with a bunch of wonderfully silly kids and their parents, that are quickly becoming great friends. There was no stress - it was perfect!

On the way home, all three kids passed out from hours of play, I told Clayton how glad I was that we're able to go and do stuff like that now. We went to the Pumpkin Patch last year, when Samuel was 4 months old. It was hot, but I had to hold him in the Ergo the entire time to keep him happy. Changing diapers, breastfeeding, and fussing were a part of the fun we had for those hours. Though it was a great time, and I'll always cherish that day, this year was so much easier and so much more enjoyable! Every now and then I get a pain of realization that my very last baby is growing up, but this kind of day makes any baby itch I ever feel totally disappear. I can't wait to take our kids to the beach, to the mountains, and to the canyons and the deserts! I can actually imagine us going on a really cool and long distance vacation soon. There is so much fun to be had.. and so few years in our short lives on earth to have it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Favorite Shows?

Posted by Mandy at 8:04 AM 10 comments Links to this post
Is anyone else just in heaven now that there are so many new seasons of shows on TV again? I was curious as to what my reader's favorites are this year.

We keep all of our favorites set to record on the DVR since we rarely have time to sit down and watch them when they come on. Also, we're working hard to not spend too much time sitting brainlessly in front of the television when we could be doing much more beneficial activities.

So, set to record for the week on our DVR are the shows:

HEROES - Clayton and I both LOVE this show. We've been faithful followers of the series since it started and it liked to have killed us when the writer's strike put it on hold for so long. Now it's back, and we make sure to find time to watch it each week.

GHOST HUNTERS - ooohhhh... eerie! We love Ghost Hunters as well. It's such a cool show.. and the stuff they find is just crazy! Makes me wonder who might be looking over my shoulder as I type this...

GREY'S ANATOMY - I can't help it. I love this show. Clayton hates it, so thankfully he's often gone at night so I can watch it after I get the kids to bed.

JACKED - This is a new show.. I'm pretty sure that's the name of it. It's about a task force that only deals with stolen vehicles. It's really exciting and we both love it!

VERMINATORS - Have you seen this show?! It's about exterminators and shows the ins and outs of their job. Wow... it's so disgusting you cannot help but watch!

DEADLIEST CATCH - It's on break now, but it is possibly our most favorite series when it's on. We're anxiously awaiting next season!

JOHN AND KATE PLUS 8 - Another that Clayton simply hates. HATES. He cannot stand this show, the sound of Kate's voice, or hearing more children than our own whining in the background. For some reason.. I cannot get enough of it! When you see someone with two 7 year olds and SIX 3/4 year olds... it makes most people's lives seem quite tame.

That's all I can think of right now. I'm sure there are a few more that we like when we catch them on... but that's a fairly good list. Of course, right now football has taken over our lives. Especially now that the Journey guys have totally corrupted Clayton and gotten him obsessed with Fantasy Football. (thanks a lot!) Now he has an actual REASON to watch every single NFL game that happens across our TV. I finally said to him one evening that after the game went off I was making him sit through a marathon of John and Kate Plus 8 so he could feel my misery.

What are you current favorites and what shows are you waiting in anticipation to begin again?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

New Foster

Posted by Mandy at 10:07 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Well, we have been back to the pound and rescued another. Our 4th foster is a giant white lab. She is a female, around 2-3 years old, and was taken from her owners. She was at the pound for over a month before I took her. I assumed someone would adopt her from there, but no such luck.

She is definitely going to be the hardest foster we've ever had to date. I've handled aggression, house training, jumping, barking, destruction of property, and those kinds of troubles, but this girl has deeper rooted issues. She is very VERY fearful. Of what? EVERYTHING.

She loves the fenced in area of the yard we keep our fosters in because she feels safe in there. When not in the fence, she typically has her tail tucked tightly between her legs and her head held down to the ground, as if she's just waiting for something horrible to happen. Any noise will make her want to run and hide. Cesar Millan always says that the hardest thing to deal with in dogs is low self-esteem. This girl is an extreme case of that. I am up for the challenge, though! I'm excited to see if we can turn this dog around and show her how to enjoy life!

She's already learning to walk properly on the leash after only three days with us, and she's never been on a leash in her life. (and she was terrified of that whole experience at first.. just like every experience!) Having a good pack of dogs to influence her has proven to be more beneficial than anything. All of the dogs sleep in the fence together at night, and this morning I saw her finally playing with them. Three days and she finally played. I could have cried watching her wag her tail, bark playfully, and pounce around with the other dogs.

I'll post pictures of her when I can. She is simply BEAUTIFUL.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bail Out

Posted by Mandy at 2:03 PM 12 comments Links to this post
It is amazing to me how just when I think the economy cannot get any worse, it does.

With huge businesses being bought out by other businesses and mortgage companies going up in smoke, I think I have come up with the perfect solution to the current economic crisis. Actually, Clayton told me he heard the solution on the news this morning... so I am just relaying what I thought to be a great idea.

The failed "bailout" proposal was going to solve the Wall Street problem by handing over $750 BILLION to the companies that have gone under to get them back on their feet. (generally...)

Am I the only one that thinks the real problem is constantly being ignored? The REAL problem is not the big companies. The REAL problem is not Wall Street. The REAL problem, my friends, is Main Street.

Everyday people like you and me stand around grumbling and complaining about the economy - pointing our fingers at Democrats or Republicans and placing the blame on everyone that we deem more financially secure than we are. Let's get real, folks. The economy is in our hands. If the stock market plummets.. it is our fault. Not Wall Streets.

This problem has been snowballing for many, many years. It starts with your average Joe seeking out the American Dream. A transvestite comedian named Eddie Izzard (he's British) defines the American Dream in one of his comedy sketches as, "Making all of the money in the world and then sticking it in your ears."

We Americans have slowly created the disaster that is in front of us today. We've purchased houses that we knew we could not afford. Why? Well, because we're Americans and it's our RIGHT to own a home! It's even more of a RIGHT to own THE home we want.. the one of our dreams!! So what if we have credit card debt up to our eye balls, student loans we cannot pay back, late fees each month from bills we currently cannot pay... we deserve it daggummit! (I'm definitely in the credit card debt situation... working our tails off to try to right that major wrong!)

So, once the war in Iraq happened and the oil companies began making RECORD profits by jacking up gas prices like no one has ever seen... those of us already in a bind became in quite the pickle. We could no longer shuffle bills.. we just simply could not pay them. Mortgage companies lost more and more money each year.. causing the big catastrophe we saw this week.

So, you see, WE are responsible for the current crisis. Seeing as how we are responsible, I think it's only fair that the Federal Government bail US out. They are willing to throw ungodly amounts of money to corporate America... but what about us little folks that actually make the world go round?

If the $750 billion was rationed out evenly amongst the American people, instead of thrown into big business, I heard an estimate that we would all get a nice sum of around $450,000. Hmm.. do you think THAT would stimulate the economy? Do you think that would turn Wall Street AND Main Street around? I sure do!

That will never happen.. only in my dreams, but it makes me a little nauseous to know that the money is apparently there to throw around.. but the folks that need it most will simply never see it. They won't offer it to us to pay for our gas for the next two years, or to pay our insurance costs and health care costs for the next one year, or to offer to pay off our mortgages so that we can free up money each month and hopefully help ourselves get out of other debts we have. Oh no... that would not make sense! Instead, we should give it to the people that are really hurting! You know, the ones that live on Wall Street.

**disclaimer: I am not a financial expert or whiz kid. I'm sure I have no idea what I am talking about and feel free to let me know how wrong I am.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Debate: Child Beauty Pageants

Posted by Mandy at 12:32 PM 13 comments Links to this post
Here is this week's debate topic. It was brought on due to the pageant season and seeing all of the little princesses dolled up to ride on floats in our town's parade last week.

The question up for debate is:

Are beauty pageants harmful to children?

Remember the rules of debate.
- No anonymous comments. All anonymous comments must be ended with your name or they will be deleted.
- No attacking. Please state your opinion in a thoughtful and organized way that makes each reader think about what you are saying - not become offended and want to attack you back.
- Try to back up anything you state. If you can give first hand experiences with the debate topics, it will help your cause.
- Have fun! Debates are supposed to be thought-provoking and enjoyable. When debates turn into fights, the debate has ended and turned into something else. Stick to debate-format, please.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs!

Posted by Mandy at 11:42 AM 3 comments Links to this post
My days lately are completely filled with dogs and I love it! Yesterday was no exception.

I met with Christina at her lovely home to see what I could do to help her with her BEAUTIFUL 4 month old Cocker Spaniel. This was no ordinarily 'cute' Cocker Spaniel, by the way. This is possibly the most gorgeous Spaniel I've ever layed eyes on. I can see why it is hard to discipline such a sweet and gentle little girl.

The only major issue I could find with Miss Sui (how do you guys spell her name?) was her low self-esteem. On walks, she first threw quite a temper tantrum (she apparently hates a collar style leash system) but was calmed once we switched her to a harness system. Now, I typically do not use a harness because it is incredibly hard to control a dog with one. With this girl, however, her problem was one of hiding behind us when walking, not pulling and charging ahead, so it was okay in this situation. The harness seemed to make her feel safe and comfortable, so it was the best option.

Within a few minutes she was greatly improving on the leash. Four month old puppies that have little exposure to leashes do tend to resist and fight. Knowing how to properly control them during that period of time is vital in teaching them to become great walkers in the future. It's all about patience and consistency.

Christina was very comfortable with her pup and did a great job making her stay at her side and not allowing her to hide behind her. After a few romps around the backyard, I could see the dog's confidence building. She started looking to Christina for further instructions instead of having her nose pointed to the ground and she held her head up to look around on walks instead of trying to bury herself into the backsides of our legs. Dogs are great because they are so good at just simply moving past their issues.

We did a few simple 'pack-leader establishing' food exercises so that Christina and her family could have numerous times a day to show the puppy that they are her leaders and she is the follower. She was a pretty easy case. I wasn't able to help, in person, with her problem of jumping on the children, because they were all napping. Hopefully with proper use of the leash and timely corrections, the jumping will gradually improve and eventually totally stop. (If it remains a problem, let me know! I can come when the kids are awake to work it out with you.)

So, my first 'practice' case was quite easy. Dealing with small cutesy breeds is a bit harder for me than the big dogs I'm used to around here. I have to make myself remember that the small breeds are to be handled in the same way as large breeds to make them good, calm-submissive dogs.

I have more things coming in the future with other people and their dogs. We'll see how they go! Thanks again, Christina! I loved getting to meet your gorgeous puppy.

After leaving her house I headed to Warren to meet Ruby's adoptive family. We spent an hour at the park together walking her and they were super eager to learn more about how we managed to make her the dog she is. They are just a super family. They are NATURAL pack-leaders and I know they are going to continue keeping Ruby a calm-submissive follower for the rest of her life.

Another foster dog adopted... time to move on to the next!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tips to Strengthen Hands?

Posted by Mandy at 2:28 PM 3 comments Links to this post
Before I get to the intention of my post, I want to thank those of you that commented and emailed and are willing to let me try my hand at helping you with your dogs! I'm sure some crazy blog posts will follow each interaction!

Now, to get to the point.

Carter is still doing simply marvelous at school. His one problem seems to be poor hand strength. Thankfully, I know he is one of about half of the class that has this same problem. Things like holding his pencil and crayons correctly are incredibly difficult for him, and even using scissors for very long get him frustrated and he wants to stop.

The crazy thing is that he can write his name and the entire alphabet holding his pencil completely wrong. Not only can he write it, but he can write it WELL. It seems his little hands were allowed to do it the 'wrong' way for too long. (yes, I know, that's my fault.)

Everyone assured me he would learn on his own to hold things the right way. I always tried to correct him... to no avail. I bought big fat crayons hoping they would help. Nope.

His teacher gave me a few simply suggestions like letting him play with clay and just simply practicing even more with scissors and such at home. She showed me some really neat 'ball' style things that fit on their pencils where they are supposed to hold them. I will definitely look for those the next time I'm at the store.

We're doing more scissor work and I'm going to dig out the Play-Dough and help him make actual things with it. I always thought his reluctance to make an actual shape out of his dough was due to his young age and his lack of caring for art. Now, I am starting to realize it has more to do with his being unable to make his hands work correctly to form shapes and do what he wants. He is so his mother... if he can't do it perfectly from the start, he doesn't even want to try. Poor lil' guy.

Have any of you dealt with similar issues with any of your children? Do you have any suggestions other than the ones I have already mentioned?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Calling All Dog Owners!

Posted by Mandy at 2:32 PM 5 comments Links to this post
Do you have a dog? Do you have a dog with annoying behavior issues like jumping, dragging you on walks, making you drag him on walks, trying to attack your cats or other dogs, or any other behavioral issue? If you do, and you would like some help, perhaps we can help each other.

In order to better hone my dog behavior-altering skills, I need dogs to practice with. I would appreciate any experiences I could get with dogs of all breeds and it would be wonderful if I did manage to really help a dog owner with an issue or two. (or more...)

If you'd be willing to let me use your beloved pooch as a "guinea pig," let me know! Leave me a comment or email at: pupfostermom(at)gmail(dot)com.

Keep in mind, you are possibly doing this more to help me than for me to help your dog. God has given me the ability to transform dogs in my own home, but working with dogs in THEIR homes is an entirely different situation. It is one that I'm really looking to learn more about.

Also, I am not a dog "trainer." My goal is not to teach dogs to sit, roll over, and play dead. My desire is to transform relationships between humans and dogs. The "training" will really be more from me to the owner.. not me to the dog. Sound interesting? If you live relatively close by and are willing to let me experiment with your dog, let me know! I would greatly appreciate it!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

House Revamp

Posted by Mandy at 8:32 AM 3 comments Links to this post

After doing a complete food overhaul in the kitchen, I decided that my entire house needs a redo. Many people delight in Spring Cleaning, but I tend to do Fall Cleaning as well. Fall cleaning has taken an even more important meaning this fall, considering that I somehow missed spring cleaning a few months back.

The decision to totally deep clean my house came to me a few days ago. Before leaving to take dogs to the vet and pick up the kids from school, Samuel and I had spent the early afternoon doing some pretty heavy-duty cleaning. Floors were swept, mopped, and vacuumed. Counters were wiped until they shined. Shelves and all of their contents were dusted. So, imagine my surprise when I walk into my home and expect to smell that "oh so clean" smell... only to smell something totally different. The smell is hard to describe. It's not a foul "yuck" smell.. but a "something's not clean in here" smell.

This lead me to snoop around my house like a dirt investigating detective. My thorough research led me to discover curtains that haven't been cleaned in an unimaginable period of time, windows that hadn't been wiped in around a year, and even lamp shades and free standing lights that were simply covered in unnoticed dust.

"No wonder this house doesn't smell clean! It isn't!"

So, this morning I took down completely dirty curtains and threw them into the washing machine. I have three more bedrooms of curtains to go, but I know that alone is going to make a big difference in the smell factor when you first enter this house. Next on my list of previously ignored cleaning will be:
- windows
- lamps
- computer "area"
- kitchen cabinets
We shall see where these tasks take me on my cleaning journey next.
Thankfully, I love to clean. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't love daily mundane cleaning like constantly picking up toys and sweeping the kitchen floor. I love that deep down, "wow this looks great!" cleaning. The kind that makes you sit back, totally exhausted and filthy, and take a deep breath and feel good about your home. The kind of cleaning that requires you to shower after completing. Oh yes... I am a sucker for things that sparkle and shine!
My goal is to not let these things go neglected in the future. How great would it be if I could get on a better cleaning "schedule" so that all of these things were simply part of my 'light' cleaning and did not require an entire day to accomplish? One can dream...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pantry Revamp

Posted by Mandy at 8:47 AM 7 comments Links to this post
In a quest to save money I have been trying to spend much less when shopping for groceries. This is no small task in today's economic climate. I reluctantly stopped paying double for organic apples, yet stuck to my guns on cheaper organics like carrots, celery, raisins, applesauce, and other veggies. Cutting back on items we typically keep in stock did help us save money. Sometimes, quite a bit of money.

The problem with all of this saving money showed up yesterday. While standing in the kitchen, going back and forth between the refrigerator and the pantry, I finally threw my hands into the air and asked aloud, "What's all of this crap?!!" My once healthy and colorfully festive fridge shelves and drawers were now much more bare and only held things like hot dogs and cheese. The pantry that was once full of dried fruits and whole wheat snacks was now housing off-brand potato chips and cheap, sugar-filled, bagged cereals. "What happened here?!"

So, deciding I would no longer settle for such poor quality foods for my family, I carefully wrote out a shopping list for this morning. Time to get back on track! I planned out the meals I would make, complete with healthy proteins, veggies, and whole grains. Then, off to Walmart I went, afraid of what the cost would be at the end.

I walked the aisles, looking for my once regular healthy words on labels. I opted for Whole Wheat Ritz crackers over the regular. (same price, just healthier!) I paid a bit extra for some organics, like those mentioned above, but not enough to break the bank. I swapped regular hotdogs for turkey franks (much fewer calories, no fat, and great taste!) and white bread hogdog buns for whole wheat buns. Cereals were carefully examined for sugar and fiber content and picked according to what tasted the best, for the best health value. Amazingly, the ones I selected were the same price, or cheaper, than the sugary alternatives.

Now comes the budget breaker. THE PRODUCE SECTION. It is astonishing how much certain fruits and veggies can cost. I scanned each row carefully and decided to save some money by picking Romain lettuce that was simply tied up and unbagged (the less packaging on any product, the cheaper it will be) that I can wash and chop myself. I spent a bit extra for the organic raisins and such, so I figure it all balances out.

I had some larger purchases to make as well, like a huge bag of dog food. (about $18 for Maximum Nutrition.. which is probably the best brand Walmart carries and very comparable to high dollar Feed Store brands.)

I walked to the checkout line, with my stomach feeling a bit knotted with fear I would have spent way more than usual. As I put my healthy purchases on the conveyor belt, and watched them all being scanned, I held my breath. Checkbook in hand, I almost wanted to close my eyes when I knew the total was about to flash. $140 later I had stayed close to our budget (dog food included!) and had a basket full of healthy food. This will feed our family for the week - breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. Hooray!

I could have gotten more food for the same amount of money if I would've gone with the choices I was making over the past few weeks. However, this amount of food is plenty for our family... we'll just have to re-learn how to balance meals and snacks and not allow constant eating "just because."

Has anyone else realized they are settling for less quality for better prices when it comes to food shopping?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Debate: Are you a believer?

Posted by Mandy at 8:16 PM 9 comments Links to this post
I thought that it might be fun to have a debate once a week or so. Sometimes it might be serious and others just for fun. I love hearing every one's opinions on all kinds of crazy issues! One rule: NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS! If you're not a blogger and have to use the ann. option to comment, include your name at the bottom. Come on.. the rest of us are out here for the world to see. It's only fair!

So, first debate: Are you a believer.. in aliens? Do you think Earth is the best thing in the universe and we humans are "it" when it comes to intelligent beings like us? Are people just crazy that think there could possibly be flying saucers and little green men visiting our planet from time to time to abduct people and snoop around?

Do you think it's ridiculous to assume that we are the most advanced beings in the entire vastness of space? Do you just know you saw something that had to be UFO material in the past?

Be brave, post your opinions! I'll post mine after a few roll in. Don't worry, I won't change mine to suit the majority. When do I ever do that?

Happy debating!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

School Updates

Posted by Mandy at 8:55 AM 1 comments Links to this post
So, we're a few weeks in to school now, and I thought it was time for a quick update on my two big kids.

First, my only baby girl! Madison is doing great in second grade. (Every time I say she's in second grade it makes me shake my head!) The first two weeks were filled with complaints about how much math they were doing, but all of that work paid off. She is sailing through math now and is even beginning to enjoy it! Reading is still her favorite and she loves library day. (closely followed by art and music day) Her group of friends is steadily expanding. I am so happy to see that my shy child is doing so well socially.

Her dance class is in full swing and she is in class with the same girls that she started with three years ago. It's amazing to see how they are actually doing real dances now, and learning real skills. The bond they are all forming is really neat, and I love getting to hang out for 30 minutes chatting with the moms while the girls are twirling about in their room. It's so fun and relaxing!

Carter has proved everyone wrong in his few weeks of Pre-K. (myself included!) Being a boy, a middle child, and a late birthday (May), everyone told me that he'd probably have a hard time sitting still, minding the teacher, playing with the kids, and doing the required work. HA! My little man is also sailing through and I am SO GRATEFUL!

I cannot tell you all how worried I have been about the day he would enter school. Don't get me wrong, Carter is a well-mannered and super loving little boy... he has the kindest heart I've ever seen. Carter's "issue" is his extreme personality! He loves to run, climb, jump, and just be all over. Amazingly, he is able to sit still and do his "work" in class, sit still and listen on the carpet during story time, walk in the line to eat lunch, and sit and eat nicely and clean up after himself when he's finished. My heart is so relieved!! Even better - he loves it! Each morning he is so excited to go to school to see his friends and "play." He has the most awesome teacher... she really understands 4 year olds and all of their learning is play-based.

When you ask Carter what his favorite part of the day was he typically says one of three things:

"I got to have CHOCOLATE milk!"
"I played in the sand box."
"Hearing a story."

It's really neat to see him making good friends already and knowing that one or two of them will likely remain his friend until he's grown! I'm not sure how Kindergarten will treat Carter Man... but so far, he's loving school.

I suppose I can't leave out little Samuel. I was a bit concerned that he'd be missing his brother and sister.. but NOPE. He loves that I'm all his while they're gone. He shows out so much when they're not here to distract him. He talks more, plays different things, and enjoys reading his favorite book over and over and over and over again. (and one more time after that.) I'm soaking up every second with him. His babyhood went by much too quickly and I know his toddler-hood will as well. He's the sweetest baby in the whole-wide world and I'm just so happy God gave him to us!

So, one month into school and all is well. With fall and the fair and Pumpkin Patch season approaching, I know we have a lot of fun parties and field trips coming up.

How is school going for your kids? (home school parents.. you too!)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another New Addition to the Family

Posted by Mandy at 2:00 PM 8 comments Links to this post

This is not the best picture in the world.. but this is RUBY! I rescued her from the pound yesterday and she had to be banished to the pen outside until I could get her properly bathed and brushed. Now she's all beautiful and fluffy, and gets to enjoy living indoors. (I am without a camera or I'd show nice, fresh, cute pics of her.)

Ruby is an adult dog, probably around ages 1-3. She appears to me to be Cairn. (think Toto from The Wizard of Oz) She actually is possibly pure-bred. She is quite small, probably topping out at around 7 pounds. Her cute little frame and that super expressive face have made her quite a comical dog! You've got to love that red hair she's sporting!

The only issues I've seen from her in our two days together are some serious food aggression. She will actually try to bite other animals if they get near her food. She has spent most of her time around the food pinned down, on her back, by me. I make her lay this way until she calms down and can sit close to the other dogs while they eat. She's only had two eating sessions with her new pack so I'm not expecting miracles anytime soon. Her otherwise TOTALLY sweet disposition lets me see that she is absolutely mold-able and I can work her through that one mean issue.

Get this: She is HOUSEBROKEN. She goes and sits by the front door anytime she needs to potty. Zero accidents in the house.. ZERO.

She LOVES to ride in the van. Someone toted this sweet girl all over the place. When I open the door for her she just does this cute little hippity-hop (is that a word?) into the front passenger seat. Then she either looks around or lays down and sleeps during the drive.

She loves the crate! After making her submit to the crate the first day, it is now her favorite place to hang out. If you show her a place to stay, she will. Awesome indoor dog!

I have no idea why this dog was at the pound. I don't know if she ran away or if she was causing trouble because someone did not know how to handle her issues when they arose... but she is the equivalent to a move in ready house.
She really loves all of the kids and likes the other animals too! (until eating time.)
If you're interested in Ruby email me at pupfostermom(at)gmail(dot)com. I've already received one email of interest so email fast if you even THINK you might want her. These small dogs go quick!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

You Know Sunday Service Was Good When...

Posted by Mandy at 6:02 PM 7 comments Links to this post
... You can't stop singing the songs that the BCM band played. They joined some of our praise band members and the collision of talent was simply amazing!

... Talking about how great church was trumps talking about how hungry you are.

...You absorbed so much of the Biblical teachings that you collapse onto the couch when you arrive home and contemplate a nap. (until your one year old rises early from his...)

... Both of your older children go on and on about how much fun they had.

... Both of your older children have a hard time waiting for their turn to tell you what they learned in class that morning.

... You leave actually starting to believe you can be useful to God, even though you are far from the Christian you should be.

... Knowing you get to go back that evening is exciting!

... Evening service was equally as powerful as morning, even though you mainly hung out, played, and had a blast!

... You arrive home and your toddler had such a fun day that you have to carry his sweet sleepy-head right to bed.

... You cannot wait until next Sunday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

All Ye Thankful

Posted by Mandy at 7:39 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Have you ever had a day that was so great, it made you reflect on all of the things you are thankful for? Perhaps you've had a day so horrid that you had to remind yourself of all you have to be thankful for.

The past week for me has just been pretty nice. Nothing special, in particular, has happened, but I've just felt immensely blessed. I thought I'd share my thoughts with the world.


Hurricane Gustav left our entire city (almost) without electricity. I don't believe anyone expected us to be hit so hard, for most of our Entergy guys were long gone, down south to LA and other areas. We were so blessed to only go 14 hours without electricity at our house. Is there anything more exhilarating than being in the dark, hot and sweaty, with three kids, and you hear the 'whoosh' of the lights coming back on? I always have to do a little happy dance when that happens.

The Sun

The big HG also left us with dark skies and massive amounts of rain this week. The first morning it hit, I actually elbowed Clayton very accusingly when the alarm clock went off at the seeming hour of around 2am. Imagine my shock when I read the time for myself... it was indeed wake-up time! I am not sure the last time the sky was that black in the morning.

Today we all awoke to a sun-filled sky and fresh, autumn teasing air. Nothing boosts my mood like walking out into cool, crisp air after miserable weeks of heat and humidity and rain.


In a small town like this, there are limited options to choose from when selecting your evening eatery. Our family has its two favorite options: Mazzio's and Ameca. Last night we loaded up the family and headed to Ameca. While there we had great food, laughs with the kids, and even ran into the Englishes from church. (They are a bright spot in anyone's day!) How great to end our evening meal with conversation and laughter with friends.

Healthy Legs

Anyone that was around us last week knows where this one came from. Madison had a horrible staph infection on her leg last week. Oh my... it was huge, gross, and extremely painful for her. During our "Journey Party" last Sunday evening, she managed to scrape the gross thing completely off while playing outside. THANK THE LORD! Peroxide and antibiotic cream sealed the deal and she's finally able to walk, run, and jump again.

I hate that she endured such pain, but it was a great lesson for her. Since then she's mentioned repeatedly how thankful she is that God healed her leg. She's talked about two kids in her school that are unable to walk and must ride in wheelchairs, and how she's so happy that her legs work. I am so pleased that she is already thanking God for the basic ability to just live a 'normal' life. How often do we take that for granted? I know I do.


For the first time in numerous years, no one wakes me up in the middle of the night. Not Samuel, and not even Carter. The first few nights we slept all night, I woke up with a jolt, almost afraid of why no one had cried or come to my bed. I would wake up feeling exhausted the next morning, no matter how much sleep I had gotten. It is amazing how quickly the nights fly by when you stay asleep for the duration! My energy level is up, my stress level is down, and my desire to eat ravenously has even gone away - all thanks to more sleep! Sleep is a beautiful thing, my friends!


After being a stay at home mom for the past 8 years, I am really thankful that I now have numerous things going on outside of the house. One is my work. I have had fairly steady writing gigs for the past two months, and for that I am so thankful. It gives me a big sense of accomplishment to get an email with all of these article or job requirements, rules, details, and deadlines and know that the person sending it totally trusts me to get it done. My jobs are getting bigger and more complex. I love a challenge!

Another thing I do is I am the Children's Ministry Coordinator at Journey. I spend a few hours each week at the church, and home, working for the kids (and parents) at our church. I LOVE IT! From preparing lessons to setting up meetings and all of the ins and outs of children's ministry, I get to take charge of so much of it. I am such a "take charge" person... I need this!

I love being on the front lines of teaching our kids about Christ. The people that have stepped up to wholeheartedly volunteer to help by teaching classes are just angels! In a world where it seems so many are anti-children, being totally surrounded by a church family that has kids and their spiritual growth and well-being on their brains all of the time, is just so refreshing.


Dog Rescue is quickly becoming a major part of my life. God has placed a rescue and nurture (in that order lol) personality in my soul, and I am thrilled to finally get to act on it. I have always been "that kid" that was bringing home the most random animals. I was so blessed with parents that pretty much always let me keep my finds. From stray dogs to a fish I found flopping by the lake - my pets were endless! Now I get to make the decisions about what animals I will bring home. Clayton is pretty open to whatever I want, which is another blessing. I just visited the local pound yesterday and left almost in tears... why can't I just take them all? Why can't I have a huge load of money fall in my lap to buy a house with huge amounts of land where Clayton and I can start our own "official" dog rescue? One day... I have faith! One day it will happen.

A house with plenty of land for however many pets we need to take, and a home with numerous bedrooms for the day I pray my husband will come around to the foster care/adoption idea. I don't know when, or how, but I do know that ONE DAY, this will be a reality.


Whether all of my dreams come true or not, I am thankful that I have gotten a rush of ambition to at least try to accomplish them. It's so fun and thrilling to get a goal in my head and think through, "how can I make this happen?" So far I've done it with writing and with dog rescue. I have a few other things in my head now... we will see where they go. Having new goals is something that makes life fun!

When is the last time you made a big goal for yourself and then really mapped out HOW to get there? Before now, the biggest goal I had to work to achieve was conceiving Samuel. Now that the having babies part of life is past, it's time to set new goals.

Some of my goals for the future are:

- Take all three kids to the mountains
- Take all three kids to the beach
- Become a substitute teacher
- Find a fantastic writing job
- Make children's small groups at Journey the best thing Evah!
- Fit into "those" jeans
- Become the best listener around.... hard one!

These are just a few of mine. Do you have any small or large goals you want to work on? If so, share them!

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