Monday, June 30, 2008

Sorry to Keep You Hanging

Posted by Mandy at 12:40 PM 8 comments Links to this post

So, I lied when I said I'd post pics of the house "tomorrow." My hubby keeps running off to work with the digital camera and I keep forgetting to load the pics onto the computer when he's home. Eventually, I will share the pictures.

To change the subject totally, I must take my hat off to all moms that work at home. I never could have imagined what a challenge it was! I have been slowly entering into the world of becoming a writer. Yeah, like a real one. I'm even possibly going to look into going to school for 2-4 years for an English or Journalism major once I find my niche in writing and what I want long term for myself. (possibly major in one, minor in the other?) If any of you have majored in these areas, give me some love and tell me what classes it would entail and what kind of work is necessary. None of these life changing things would happen until Samuel goes to Pre-K. So three years from now. (unless I find a great online course that transfers college credits to a college of my choice... we shall see.)

In the meantime, I am actually being published and getting paid for articles I have written. I am stunned to be honest. I've always been a "writer" at heart. As a little girl I had to have a journal from the time I could spell out words to form a sentence. I wrote down everything. My thoughts, what happened that day, my fears, and fictional stories to boot. I was probably the only teenager in high school to love those mandatory essays we had to write. For some reason, I find it exciting to get a topic that I know little about, research it to death, and write an article, essay, or story about it that makes total sense and is enlightening to someone that is in the dark on that topic like I was before I wrote about it. (and that, my friends, is a writing no-no. That sentence was much too long and wordy. Hey, this is my blog and I say it works here.)

This brings me to how hard it can be to be a mom and work at home at the same time. I REFUSE to be "that mom" that stays home with her kids but spends her entire day at the computer, cleaning house, or doing things totally not related to her children. When I start to think that my children would get more attention and more structured playtime at a daycare than here with me, I have a problem with it. So, I'm having to learn to balance all of this. It's new, and a challenge I'm ready to accept. So far, so good.

So, I suppose my best work title right now would simply be a freelance writer. It's great for me. I can do it in my own time, whenever I want, as long as I meet my deadlines. As I get published more and more, I hope to get more regular "jobs" instead of the "Hey, I need someone to write 10 articles by Friday!" gigs. I'm getting braver now and starting to write things to submit to big name magazines, and lesser known ones as well. I might even try my hand at writing for some newspapers. I'll never know if I don't try!

Isn't it strange how scary it is to just try? I have to keep reminding myself that I definitely won't get selected for a particular job if I don't apply. I hate the feeling of rejection. The only good thing about not trying, is you have zero chances of being turned down. But, you also never progress.

I've never had feelings like I have now in my adult life. All I've ever wanted before was to have children and be a mother. While that is still #1 on my list, I'm slowly creeping up there too. What do I want for me now? I feel complete in the parenting department. The stronger my urge to succeed as a writer becomes, the more I'm sure I'm done having babies. I'm praying for God to direct me to opportunities that will glorify him, not just me. (this is a very hard thing to pray AND MEAN for me, I admit.) Amazingly, the very first article I ever had purchased by a publisher was to a christian resource magazine and it was about overcoming low self-esteem. It's a little ironic that my self-esteem when writing that, about myself as a writer, was nil. But, God guided my words and helped me succeed! I pray he continues to guide me.

How weird to be embarking on a career... I never saw this day coming. It came from NO WHERE.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Blue is Gone!

Posted by Mandy at 3:03 PM 3 comments Links to this post
Those of you that have had the pleasure (I hope) of coming and hanging out at our house, will know what I mean by the title of this post. My completely wonderful, hard-working, will do anything to make his wife happy, husband went all out today and finally painted over the hiddeous blue siding on our house. Our home is actually brick, but our master bedroom was an addition, and it was added in blue! Ack! I've hated it since we first saw it, but the house itself was so fabulous (to me) that I knew it would be an easy enough fix and I could live with it to get this home. So, THREE YEARS LATER, the blue is G-O-N-E!!! I have pics, but no time to get them on the puter and post them...tomorrow you can all get the first glimpse of my new diggs. I'm super excited! Clayton picked the color out himself.. and though it's not the exact color I wanted, anything is better than blue! (well, not pink or orange or green...) It looks much more like 'our' house now. Ahhhh.... life is good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Why Keep Breastfeeding?

Posted by Mandy at 3:06 PM 9 comments Links to this post

Since the anniversary of my baby boy's birth, I've started getting the "are you still nursing" and "when are you going to wean him" questions. Often times it's from simply curious, nursing their babies still, mommies. Other times it's from people that are obviously thinking I'm some sort of pervert, sicko, weirdo, or over-protective-one-of-those-kinds, mom. Many do not understand why anyone would continue nursing past the nutritionally necessary one year mark. I'd be happy to shed some light on the topic.

First, to answer those controversial questions:

Are you still nursing? Yes

When are you going to wean him? I have no idea. I do believe in child led weaning, though I've never been in a position to nurse past 15 months since that is when Carter weaned himself. I can easily see us making it to two years. GASP I know... I told you I was a sicko. But, only time will tell.

Now, the more important question is, why continue nursing past a year?

When you breastfeed past your infant's first birthday, you are entering the time known as "extended breastfeeding." I'm guessing that's a term only used in America... I can't imagine how old a child would have to be in other countries for it to be considered so out of the ordinary that it needs a special title like extended.

One of the big reasons to continue nursing is purely emotional. Why take away what has been your baby's complete source of nutrition and comfort since the moment he or she was born? Just because a book says to? Because people look at you weird? (maybe they just look that way all of the time... they may not be directing that weird look at you at all...) One of my favorite quotes, from I can't remember where, is "the baby hasn't read the book.." This can be applied to labor and delivery, sleeping, eating, sitting up, crawling, walking.. anything! Breastfeeding is no different. Your one year old doesn't understand that there is some wacko societal reason that he can no longer breastfeed... and even if he could understand, I assure you he would not care. So, taking my cue from my new toddler, I am choosing to also not care.

The second reason to nurse past a year is medical. Breastmilk changes its makeup EVERYTIME you breastfeed your baby. It changes in water, calorie, and fat content depending upon what your baby needs each feeding of the day. As your baby grows and ages, your body sends different signals to the milk factory to change it more. No matter how old your baby or toddler is, your breastmilk is still being produced to be the most optimal source of nutrition.

It is probably not new news that breastmilk is packed full of antibodies. (especially colostrum - babies first milk that is produced in the days before actual milk production begins in new mothers. It typically takes 3-5 days for a new mother's milk to "come in.") These antibodies do not go away just because your baby turns into a toddler. Your 16 month old that contracts a stomach virus will benefit just as much from being a nursing tot as your 4 month old would. You can even prevent your toddler from catching those nasty virus's by continuing to offer mamma's milk to them.

A nursing mother will actually reap more health benefits the longer she breastfeeds. Uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer risks can all be reduced simply by breastfeeding. The longer you do it, the more you cut your chances down. Many women can keep the "old hag" away as long as they breastfeed. No PMS? Isn't that a reason to keep nursing? Moms that breastfeed, especially to and after one year, also reap vanity rewards. All of that maternal fat you store up during pregnancy is stored for one purpose: making milk. The more milk you make, and the longer you make it, the more of an opportunity your body has to burn the stored fat to take the rolls off of your tummy and put them onto your baby's thighs. Combine this with a healthier eating plan and a bit of exercise.. and you can be one hot mamma! (it's definitely one of my diet secrets. Guess the cat's out of the bag.)

So, call me what you will... but with all of the benefits to mother and baby that extended breastfeeding has to offer... I just can't think of a single reason to stop!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Belated Birthday Post

Posted by Mandy at 7:43 PM 8 comments Links to this post

I didn't forget, but I just got around to posting about my oldest baby turning 7 on the 17th! Oh my.. when did seven years go by, someone please tell me? How on earth have I been here for EVERYTHING and yet I feel like it all still passed me by?

This picture definitely doesn't do my beautiful girl justice, but it's the only one I have on the computer right now. This is her with her 89 year old great grandpa (clayton's grandfather) and of course that's Samuel with them.

Looking at her now just fills me up! Thinking back to when I found out she was coming, and remember the horrible things people said to me in response, just shows God's grace and love and greatness that she is the best kid I know. Who would have ever thought that two teenagers could have, and raise, such a great little girl? I often look at her when she sleeps and get a tear or two in my eyes thinking about how so many said I should abort her or put her up for adoption; like she wasn't a real person. I look at our family, the family that God put together through Madison's conception, and praise him that he has brought us where we are.
All statistics show that we should have failed. Clayton and I should be divorced, or miserably married, and Madison should be living with a grandparent and barely making it through school. Instead, she has been blessed with a mother and father that not only truly love each other, but are HAPPY together. She has been blessed with a soft heart and abundant love. She has been blessed with super smarts... the TOP reader in her class, and above average in all school subjects. She is a beautiful dancer, an up and coming artist, fantastic big sister, wonderful friend, lover of animals and nature, and a future environmentalist. I look at her and I can just see the things God is setting her up for already. The desires he's already putting into her heart to save animals, to care for people, and to worship him.... I just cannot thank God enough for all he has done for us and for my Madison. She is starting to talk about Jesus in a way much different than she ever has before. I can see her relationship with Him starting to develop.
In her short seven years she has done more for me than I could ever - ever- do for her. She made me a good wife, she made me a good mother, and she's made me a better person. I am forever thankful for that positive pregnancy test I took on October 19, 2000. From that moment until now, she has been my little miracle and my huge blessing. I love you Madison Leigh!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Green Our Vaccines

Posted by Mandy at 7:15 AM 3 comments Links to this post
Going Green is a word we're all hearing quite a lot in present day, but one thing you may not think of greening-up is our infant and children vaccinations. Since my little guy is still receiving vaccinations, this is a hot-topic issue each time I visit the doctor's office.

I made the controversial decision to slightly delay both of my boy's vaccinations. I will only allow, at maximum, two shots at a time. They push for the standard four and I simply put my foot down. With my first child it never occurred to me that I had the final say over what happened at the doctor's office. If the doctor said, "She needs four shots today." I silently disagreed, but went along with his decision because I assumed he knew best. After doing exhausting research, reading views from both sides of the vaccination debate, I have decided that not vaxing is not an option, but neither is vaxing on the standard schedule.

I found a snippet from a website that explains fairly well why I am joining the movement to green-up our vaccinations. It is explaining the harmful chemicals found in MANY brands of vaccinations.

Some of these chemicals and elements include formaldehyde which is commonly used to embalm corpses and is a known carcinogen (capable of causing cancer), thiomersal, a derivative of mercury which is a toxic heavy metal, aluminium phosphate which is a toxin used in deodorants. Other toxic ingredients include phenol (carbolic acid), alum (a preservative), and acetone which is a volatile solvent used in fingernail polish remover.

In many children, the retention of vaccine poisons within the body may not cause any acute or noticeable symptoms, but it will cause a lowering of the child's vitality, which in turn, weakens and impairs it's intellectual, creative and imaginative powers, it's physical energy and strength, and all of its internal metabolic functions and immune activities. What this means is that the child will operate at a level well below its true potential.

Medical professionals and some scientists continue to convince us that there is no link between autism and vaccinations; considering they are hand in hand with the pharmaceutical companies makes me wary of believing them. How can pumping this amount of chemicals into our INFANTS at such young ages cause absolutely no harm or change to their little bodies? I'm not buying it.

Since the 1930s, when children often received just one vaccination, many immunizations have contained a 49.6 percent mercury preservative called thimerosal. Most children today receive 33 doses of 10 vaccines by age 5, generally receiving several vaccines per visit on their immunization schedules. Reports surfaced in 1999 that infants being vaccinated using multi-dose vials, such as hepatitis B and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), with thimerosal can receive 62.5 micrograms of mercury per visit. This is 100 times the exposure federal Environmental Protection Guidelines consider safe for the average-sized infant, as mercury is known to cause neurotoxicity and brain damage that mirrors the symptoms of autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, is encouraging the development of thimerosal-free doses and has withdrawn its recommendation that infants receive the thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccine at birth. However, the CDC maintains that mercury in vaccines never has caused an adverse reaction and is not pulling thimerosal-containing vaccines off the shelves.

If this isn't cause for concern, then what is?

With my fears overwhelming me, I took my little guy to our favorite place to get immunizations... our county health department. The nurses there are simply wonderful. They have more information to share on a variety of topics as compared to the nurses at our Dr's office that simply tend to shrug and say, "Umm..I really don't know."

I spoke with two nurses when I went to get one of Samuel's shots a few weeks ago. We talked about how he had four immunizations he needed and I explained to them my fears, especially taking into consideration one was the MMR. (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) We talked about what brand of vaccines they use there and what ingredients they contain. They admitted they had no idea... but they did assure me that the health department ONLY buys thimerosal free products. They offered to get the ingredient information for me the next time I came in.

Yesterday was the next time I was there, and true to their word they had pulled the ingredient lists for two of the vaccinations I was possibly getting for Samuel that day. We reviewed it together and I was delighted to see that this brand was completely preservative free. The nurse said that that wasn't surprising to her because, "these immunizations have a very short shelf life, and we have to be extremely careful with the temperatures they're kept in and how they're handled." THANK YOU HEALTH DEPARTMENT! Samuel received his two big mean shots and we will go back in a month or so for one more, and I will possibly delay his MMR until next year. More research on my part will help me decide.

So, you might be wondering, why don't all doctor's offices buy the same kind of vaccines as our health department?

The answer: money and convenience. Would you want to buy a cheaper, longer lasting product that requires less caution when handling, or a shorter lasting, more work on your part product?

Thankfully, many responsible doctor's offices are signing up to go as green as possible with vaccinations.. but you need to be sure your doctor is one of them. Simply ask for the ingredients list off of the vaccinations your infant/child needs. It is really that easy. This easy request could potentially make a difference in the overall health and life of your child.

If you are interested in a delayed vaxing schedule, Dr. Sears and Dr. Cave both offer them. (Dr. Sear's site is linked on my site.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Two for One Special

Posted by Mandy at 1:41 PM 4 comments Links to this post
As a special treat I have combined two great posts into one for your viewing pleasure. They will come in order of importance.


How on earth has it been an entire year since I first got to see my little man? He has been a constant blessing from the time his presence was known by two lines on a little stick, to the day he was in my arms for the first time. I still cry if I talk about how much he means to me, I still cry at times when I nurse him to sleep, and I still cry from thinking about how much I love him and what a huge part of life I would be missing if God wouldn't have given him to me. The road to conceiving him was hard and full of tears, but knowing today that had we gotten pregnant even one month sooner we would have had a completely different baby, makes me fall on my knees and thank God for his ultimate knowledge. His ultimate timing. His will for our lives. He could see down the road at what huge blessings he was going to provide when I could not. He knew that Samuel was THE baby for us and he waited until Samuel would be produced before allowing our trying to conceive journey to end. And now I have this perfect, curly-headed, blue-eyed, silly, happy, loving, little boy. I won't lie; I am a bit heartbroken over his one year birthday being here so soon. It's simply a shame at how quickly they grow up. My bottle of Dreft is quickly running out and I'm struggling with the seemingly simple decision of buying one more bottle to savor that baby smell that I will forever miss, or letting go and throwing his clothes in the wash with the big kids'. I just don't know if I'm ready to let go just yet.

The second post is about the elusive puppies I mentioned in a past post. This is Bella and Lincoln.

Bella is the girl and the one that is golden with the black mask. Lincoln is the boy, the lighter of the two with the oh-so-cute floppy ears. I cannot tell you all how much fun and joy these two silly pups have brought to our family. They both now mostly enjoy our twice daily walks and only protest every so often. At only 9 weeks old, they are simply growing into being wonderful dogs. I'm doing all of the "Dog Whisperer" techniques and wow, they really work! They wait to eat until they're told, they seldom jump up on anyone anymore, and if they begin to chew on something that is off-limits, a simple snap of the fingers is all it takes to make them drop it and back up. Cesar would be so proud.

All I need is to order my shirt that is printed: PACKLEADER

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She's so my daughter

Posted by Mandy at 7:16 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Reading Madison's journal from school this past year has given me so much insight into how very much the same she and I are. Especially with this entry:

Rainforests are endangered.
Here are some of the animals names, toucan, boa, monkey, crocodile.
There are not manny golden lions, tamarin, and monkeys.
It would be nice if the men would quit cutting down trees.
Thar are manny animals. Peopol need to try harder to save the rainforest.
I wish I cold save the rainforest.
Do you want to save the rainforest?
I kept the spellings the same b/c I find it pretty cute that she can spell endangered and tamarin
yet mispelled people and could.
She has such a heart for animals and the environment already... I vividly remember having those same feelings at her age. My parents were so great, most of the time, at letting me adopt random dogs and cats that would wander up to our house. We're the same here. We feed pretty much every dog in the neighborhood that is in need.
Madison and I talked about recycling the other day, as I had her help me carry cans and cardboard to our recycling 'bin.' She said she is so happy that she gets to help save paper so that animals homes don't get destroyed. Ditto.

Monday, June 02, 2008

School's Out!

Posted by Mandy at 11:46 AM 2 comments Links to this post
At the blissful hour of 7:00am I opened my eyes to realize that it is Monday morning, and I am still in bed. I then realized that what had awoken me was Samuel's sweet babbling coming from the baby monitor. I hear Clayton's voice come over the monitor, telling him good morning and playing peek-a-boo, Samuel's favorite game to play in the crib. After being brought my sweet little guy for our favorite early morning, snuggle-up close, nursing session, I remembered that it is indeed, now 7:15, Monday morning, and I am still in bed. SCHOOL IS OUT!

To celebrate the first official day of summer, I let the kids indulge in a sinful bowl of chocolate puffs with marshmallows cereal for breakfast. I joined them and I even gave Sam a bite or two. Though the house was a disaster from having so many good friends over last night, we left our bowls on the table, put our shoes on with our PJ's, and headed out the back door. It was time to let our new puppies out to play. (I'll blog on them soon, with pictures) We leashed them up, put samuel in the stroller, and headed out for an early morning walk. The boy puppy is the more active, but the more submissive. He walks lovely on a leash already. The girl pup is much more calm, but much more bossy. She is content to be drug for at least half of her walk, before she finally submits and walks at my side. (I am the pack leader, I am the pack leader.)
Thank you Cesar Millan. A.K.A The Dog Whisperer

After our walk with the pups and many a minutes spent romping outside and removing Samuel from the water bowl, we came in to just be lazy. We built castles with blocks, read books, had a quick clean-up time, and then the kids got to go play those terribly brain deforming video games while I did some writing. It was lovely.

Lunch time came and we had pizza with a side of carrot sticks and pineapples (I'm TRYING to make pizza healthy) and after our food settled I set outside to tackle the water slide. My dear responcible husband always puts it away, all rolled up, in the storage building. I, personally, do not care if the grass dies "in that spot" and would rather keep it there all summer long to avoid hauling the oh so heavy thing around the yard each day.

Once assembled, I spent an hour sliding with the kids while Samuel played in the puddles of water that collected on the tarp around the slide. I came in to put little man down for a nap while the big kids continues to climb and slide for another hour. I sense movies and naps in the near future.

This evening we have Madison's 4th softball game. We are responcible for the drinks this go round... amazingly I remembered. The boys get to play in the dirt while our sweet girl swings, hits, and runs on the field. She makes me so proud.

Though the heat is almost unbearable at times, there is just no season I'd rather be in than summer. Fun in the sun, tank tops and flip-flops, icies and hotdogs... it just doesn't get any better than this.

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