Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lunch Box Battles

Posted by Mandy at 7:41 AM 7 comments Links to this post
Madison has always been a lunch box carrier. She's always sworn that cafeteria food was "disgusting" and so I have joyfully taken the roll of lunch maker for her each morning before she heads off to school.

At the end of the last school year, I started noticing more and more food coming back home with her. Her excuses ranged from, "I didn't have enough time to eat," to "So and So was talking to me the whole time and I couldn't eat." Uh-Hu...

Finally, the truth came out. She basically was tired of everything I would fix her to eat. It seemed that no matter what I stuck in her little lunch tote, she would decide it was inedible. Finally, I threatened to make her eat the "disgusting" cafeteria food if she continued to avoid even tasting her lunch box meal.

This year, the battle has begun much earlier. As early as the 4th day of school she was bringing home complete sandwiches, totally untouched. When asked about it she said, "I am so tired of sandwiches!" She hasn't eaten a sandwich in MONTHS.

So, I've found things she loves to eat. Any fruit and vegetable will be eaten, and any type of cracker or chip. The problem is, I feel she needs protein! For a while, making a home-made lunch-able did the trick. Putting separate containers of turkey slices, cut up cheddar cheese, and Wheat Thins or Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers delighted her. Now, not so much.

I stuck a turkey sandwich in her lunch this morning and gave her a good talkin` to about how she better eat at least half of it, or cafeteria food, here she comes!

Does anyone else struggle with making varied lunch-box meals each day? Have you found some cool foods that are healthy and kid friendly that your kids love? If so, share the knowledge!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Arkansas's Proposal to Ban Unmarried Couples From Adopting

Posted by Mandy at 8:03 AM 12 comments Links to this post
This is hot in the news, both state and national. Arkansans will vote in November on a proposal that seeks to ban unmarried couples from being eligible to adopt children. From what I've read, it doesn't seem to indicate that SINGLES cannot adopt children, but if you live with your partner and are unmarried, then you are being singled out.

Let's go ahead and get the pink elephant out of the room here. Obviously, this is simply a way to ban gay people from adopting children. Since there is no way for a gay or lesbian couple to legally marry in Arkansas, this bill would succeed in keeping them from adopting children. Of course, the people submitting it say that this is not just about gays not adopting, since they've made it equally discriminating against homo and heterosexuals.

I've read a few news reports on the issue, and have come to the decision that I think this is a bad idea.

In a totally idealistic world, only people with loving and stable marriages would adopt children. Our foster parents would do it just because they love children and feel the push from God to care for those with no one else to care for them, and not for a state check. I am blessed to know two families that are awesome foster parents. (and adoptive parents.) Brandy and Maury. But let's all get real, if only for a moment.

From the latest facts I could find online, there are around 3,600 children in foster care in Arkansas. Some live with families while awaiting adoption (that may never happen) and others that are not fortunate enough to find a foster home, live in state-maintained group homes. The people in support of this bill seem to think that because IDEALLY a married mother and father home is optimal for a child (and I completely agree,) that no one that is unmarried should be able to care for or adopt a child.

So, Mr. Jones and Mrs. Smith. Though you have lived together, out of wedlock, for over 14 years and both have respectable jobs and can provide a fantastic home for a child that otherwise will go without, you should not have the chance to do so. So what if a child or two or three that you would love to adopt are, instead, in a group home, which is possibly the least ideal setting for a child to be raised. This is a moral issue we're talking about! We can't let something like rationalization get in the way of our personal religious beliefs!

And, as a Christian, of course I am not in support of couples living together outside of marriage. Of course I agree that if we had more than enough married couples to foster and adopt the 3,600 children in our state's custody that there would be no reason to consider options outside of this Utopian arrangement. However, that is just not reality.

I look at a child I know personally that came to her now adoptive home, from a foster home. She was in a FOSTER home, not a group home. To say she was not being properly cared for is a vast understatement. Though this person or couple went through classes and got their stamp of approval from the state, they were NOT qualified to care for a child. Being a married couple does not equal stability. Married couples scream, yell, cheat, hit, and get divorced. It would be nearly impossible to know how the home really is that you're sending a child to. The same is true for unmarried couples that live together. Though, morally, they do not have the upper hand with living arrangements, why is one to assume they cannot raise a fantastic child and give him or her all of the love and attention and discipline he or she could ever need?

I, personally, was brought into this world by a married couple that divorced when I was 5. I eventually then lived with my dad and stepmother in another married couple's home. It was less than ideal at times. To me, marriage is not a magic act or word that makes a family good and stable.

What do you think about this proposal? Should religious beliefs about family trump all? Should the state be able to pass their own religious/moral beliefs onto our state as a whole? Is it discrimination and even going against unmarried couple's rights?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Child's Salvation

Posted by Mandy at 7:55 AM 0 comments Links to this post
With Madison being a big 7 year old now, I have been much more purposeful in my approach with her on the subject of Christ. We have been reading a lot from Romans and Matthew about how to become a Christian and what is expected of you once you do accept Christ as your Savior.

My heart nearly skipped a beat the other night when Madison came to me and said,

"Mommy, I prayed tonight that Jesus would come live in my heart."

I just smiled and hugged her. I thanked God for the awesome gift of faith he bestowed upon children. Since that night, we have been talking a lot about what being a Christian looks like in the life of a Christian child. From how she should treat her brother to how she should act at school, our conversations have been meaningful and exciting. The hardest lesson to learn, at any age, is the one concerning loving those that you may not feel deserve it. She questions this often and I simply try to explain to her that Jesus loves us, no matter how much we sin. Being a Christian basically means living like Christ and following him, so we must love as he loves to the best of our human abilities.

It is amazing to see Madison already beginning her walk with Christ. Knowing the freedom she can have in her life now, thanks to accepting the gift of salvation that is readily available to us all, gives me such peace.

We are having a big shindig at Journey to celebrate baptisms and to kick-off our small groups on September 7, at 5:00pm. (anyone is welcome to attend! Food and fun for all!) I am talking to Madison about whether or not she wants to be baptised or not. She seems unsure still about what exactly baptism is and what the purpose is. Unless she grasps the concept better before then, she will be waiting a while longer to make that choice.

Considering both she and Carter were "baptised" in the Presbyterian church as infants is confusing to her. Though I loved the beautiful ceremony surrounding infant baptism, to me it was merely a dedication to the Lord. Baptism, in reality, comes after salvation and is a choice for each to make and is a sign of repentance. One example the Bible gives stating such is Matthew 3:6.

"Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." (Him being John the Baptist.)

As my children grow, I feel more and more pressure to provide an outstanding Christian role-model for them. I wonder if I'm cut out to lead them to Christ. I pray that God guides me and allows me to tell them what they need to hear.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Smallest of the Trio

Posted by Mandy at 7:41 AM 5 comments Links to this post

A few people have been asking for new pictures of Samuel since I posted pics of the big kids on their first day of school. Here ya go!

This is Samuel doing his 3rd favorite thing outside. He LOVES his baby swing. Favorite #1 is a tie between sitting on the lawn mower (not riding, just sitting,) and being pulled in the wagon. Favorite #2 is Chasing - and being chased - by the pack of dogs.

Another of his favorite things is that thing in his mouth. Notice the smile he gave me while it was inserted, and the good talking to he was giving me when I took it away for a better pic. That outreached hand is a constant around here. Pointing isn't necessary... just simply stick out your hand towards what you want, or the direction in which you wish to go, and string together your best babbles.

It is amazing to watch him begin his transformation into a full fledged toddler. A few days ago he threw his first big fit. He woke up from his nap in a perfectly jolly mood, only to begin the most intense and drawn out fit in his entire 14 months of life. Amazing how a simple diaper change can send a one year old into an inconsolable rage.

This fit was so amazingly loud and dramatic that I had to pull out my phone to video it and send it to Clayton. It was lunch time and I figured he could use a little screaming with his meal like I was receiving.

The fit lasted for 30-40 minutes. He screamed so long and loud that he ended up getting his "angel kisses" all red across his forehead for the first time since he was an infant. Nothing would soothe him. Not holding, rocking, offering food or drink, or even laying him in his crib. I finally just continued about my afternoon as planned, allowing him to follow behind wailing at me through his beloved pacifier.

After I finally convinced Sam that he was not yet a two year old, he calmed down and returned to his layed back, totally happy, self. I have been given my first warning of what may be coming down the road. I've always said that easy babies make horrible toddlers... and vice verse. That has been true with my first two. Maybe Samuel will break the mold and be his sweet and cuddly self at every age.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Foster Dog

Posted by Mandy at 8:18 AM 4 comments Links to this post
Clayton and I went to the dog pound this morning, after dropping the kids off at school, to see what lucky pup would be joining our family for a while. I stared at them all and kept noticing a medium-sized, light yellow dog sitting at the fence, looking out with sad eyes. She was the only one not jumping and not barking.

I walked over to her and knelt down to let her smell me and "feel my energy" as Cesar would say. She stuck her nose through the fence to sniff me and gently reached her paw out to try to pull me closer. That was a great sign. When dogs 'paw' at you in a gentle and submissive way, it is there way of saying, "I want to be in your pack," or "I want to be close to you."

That sealed the deal for me. I looped a simple black leash around her neck to make a collar/leash combo, and walked her out of the gate.

She was so unsure of everything, but after a few moments, she was following me and accepting me as her new pack leader. She was gentle and loving with Samuel from the start. I loaded her up in the front seat of the van and we headed home.

When we got here, I immediately put Samuel in the stroller and put Bella and Lincoln on their leashes to go for our first walk as a pack. My two dogs were a little taken aback by this new pooch that had been thrust into their family. Within five minutes of a fast paced walk, they all found their stride and were following like champs. Even the pack of four small, yappy dogs down the road ceased to phase them. They were in the zone!

We got home and I bathed the stinky foster dog with the water hose outside. She wasn't too fond of being sprayed off, but loved the attention that came from being soaped up. One rinse and towel dry later, she smelled much better and her coat was much healthier looking.

Currently I think she has some health problems that have stemmed from her growing up without proper nutrition. According to the pound, she had been running around there for months before she finally came to the overhang for shelter from the rain. He said she was extremely thin when he got her. I'll take her to the vet next week and hopefully he'll say with love and food she'll be good as new.

I'll post pictures of her as soon as I can. She appears to be a yellow lab/pit mix... but, who knows. She's a mix for sure. Those make the best dogs! Especially the ones that have never had the love of a family before. They just appreciate each pat on the head and each bowl of food.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Highlight of My Day

Posted by Mandy at 7:12 AM 3 comments Links to this post
Any of you that reside in my hometown, that happened to be driving down Main Street around 3:30pm, might have assumed there was some sort of emergency happening at Dr. Hopper's office. With a firetruck and city police car surrounding a silver van in the parking lot, you might have even assumed some sort of criminal activity had taken place. Well, rest assured, it was just yours truly.

While driving down Main Street and talking to the kids about their days at school, we all suddenly here what sounds like one of the windows is cracked and air is rushing in. After shushing everyone, I notice the sound getting louder and then feel the steering wheel start shaking. Ah, yes... a tire blew out.

Thankfully, I am right by the turn-in for the dentist's office. I pull in and get out to access the damage. There sits my 3 month old tire, completely flat. Resting on the rims even. I look at my watch and realize that Clayton had court at 3:00 that afternoon and the chances of him answering his cell phone were slim to none. I called anyway.

*ring, ring, ring

"What's up?" In a whisper... obviously in court


laughing "Let me call someone, I'll call you right back."

*a minute or two pass

*ring ring - my phone


"Okay, I called the PD and they're sending someone to help."

I was so relieved... the guy that was coming was someone I knew and that makes things easier!

He pulls up IN THE FIRE TRUCK. Not the super-sized fire truck, but the smaller red one that I suppose is used to haul equipment. I get out and immediately start expressing my utmost gratitude for him coming to help me. He laughs and says, "Not a problem."

He starts jacking the van up, and you can hear roars of laughter from my children inside. They were enjoying this ride immensely.

He gets the new - but now old - tire off and begins trying to figure out how to dismount my spare tire from under the van. We even pulled out the instruction manual.

About this time, I see a city police car coming our way.

"Oh my gosh..."

What a spectacle this was turning out to be!

Thankfully he was also someone I was familiar with and he was just being another nice guy to come to my rescue. It took the two of them to figure out how to get the spare tire down, and once they did they put it where my other tire was and lowered the van.

After the van was lowered, I heard the fireman say, "Hmmm... spare's low."


Well, OF COURSE THE SPARE'S LOW! Why on Earth would the tire that's supposed to be my saving grace in times like these have the proper amount of air inside of it?

They assured me I could make it down the road to the tire place and they'd air it up for me. Clayton calls at this time and I had to just laugh at the entire situation. I explained to him that we were all leaving the parking lot - the fire truck, the police car, and the mini van - and I was on my way to get air. I made it to the tire place and they were super nice. Within a few minutes they had the tire filled and I was on my way.

Turns out I had run over a HUGE chunk of metal. Of all of the cars that had driven on that road before me.. I hit the metal. Clayton and I agreed that I was the best person for that job, considering I had every rescue person in the city ready to come save me.

Jeff, if you read this, you got off the hook this time. Someone else was around to help the damsel in distress and it saved you from being the next person called.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sadie Update

Posted by Mandy at 11:36 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Sadie's adoptive family emailed me today to let me know that they are a perfect match. They have had her since Saturday and have greatly enjoyed each other. I am so glad to hear that!

The woman said that she can tell Sadie was used to quiet, country living because the noises of the city scare her a bit. I gave her some advice on how to squelch dog fears and I think that, their only issue, will go away very fast. She said that they have gone on walks everyday that the weather has allowed, and that Sadie has already become very attached to all of them. She has been the perfect dog for all of their children and everything seems to be going great for them!

We miss Sadie so much around here. She is such a sweet girl... not having her to cuddle with in the evenings leaves a bit of a hole in my heart. I just keep thinking of the fact that soon we will rescue another dog, and the cycle will continue.

Something For Nothing

Posted by Mandy at 8:15 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Each time I end one writing gig and look for the next, I am appalled at what people expect writers to work for. Though there are many great editors and job providers that see writing as an art and skilled profession, it seems increasingly apparent that several people want massive amounts of work done by completely unrealistic deadlines, and they want it for next to nothing.

One example would be a job that wanted 20 SEO (search engine optimized) articles written on the exact same topic, but each had to be completely different from each other. They needed to be completed, free of errors, in 3 days. The payment was $0.01 a word, for articles of 500 words. This comes to $5 per article. Are they serious?

Making an article SEO and still a great read is incredibly difficult. Making 20 unique articles on the same topic SEO is extremely difficult. To be offered a payment of only $5 an article is pretty offensive to me. Of course, I turned down the job offer. A typical article that I've written lately will sell for closer to $100... and if i can break into print that number will rise substantially.

This makes me wonder what is going on in the world? In the writing world, it seems that many publishers just want content that is "okay" to save them money. Knowing that they can afford to pay for GREAT copy, but would rather not, makes me shake my head.

Are we becoming a society that is perfectly comfortable settling for okay? Do we no longer strive to be the best and the brightest?

I can't help but think that if it were my magazine or online publication, I would only want the BEST. Being the best is what makes you stand out and what makes people flock to your product. The reason publishers are offering ridiculous job offers like these more and more often today is simply because more writers are taking them.

Of course, sometimes you really are just desperate for work. In times like those, any job is better than no job. When you're starting out you often will settle for these crummy jobs just to build a resume and have something to put in your portfolio. I get it.. I just came out of it. To continue to settle for low paying jobs that overwork you and make you suffer "burn out," will only lead to more low paying jobs.

Dr. Phil has a great saying that I use a lot in my life. "You teach people how to treat you."

Once you teach people that you are willing to work yourself to death for mere pennies, they will continue to treat you that way. It can make some wonder why people stay in this position.

In the writing world, the answer is simply the same as in other areas of work. Desperation. The economy is horrible, everything costs double what it used to, and earning one cent per word is better than zero.

Sometimes impatience is the answer. It's really hard for me to not yank up a low paying job sometimes. It's a for sure gig, it will generate some cash, and that can be hard to turn down. The higher paying jobs are a lot harder to get. There is fierce competition and being turned down stings.

I, personally, have decided to totally turn away from low paying jobs. I have the blessing of being able to do so, considering that I've never had an income and we're used to only having Clayton's paycheck. It is a scary place to be... trying to advance. Knowing that no matter how good you are, someone is going to be better. Knowing that no matter how much work you have done, someone else has done more. It can feel impossible to catch a break. I will keep trucking on and I know that when the perfect big job comes up, God will hand it to me. He won't hand it down on a silver platter, for I am working my fingers to the bone to do my part. He will, however, make an opportunity available when the time is right. Waiting for him to provide is incredibly difficult for me. Waiting for his perfect timing, and his perfect situation, is such a learning experience.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Presidential Candidates Announcing VP Choices

Posted by Mandy at 9:51 AM 3 comments Links to this post
If any of you have been waiting on pins and needles like I have, waiting for the Presidential candidates to announce who their running mates will be, the time is near!

According to Fox News, John McCain will announce his VP pick on August 29, on his 72nd birthday. Barack Obama will announce his pick this Thursday or Friday.

The buzz is that McCain will choose one out of the following:
Tim Pawlenty
Mitt Romney
Tom Ridge
Joe Lieberman

Some are even saying that Arkansas's own Mike Huckabee is in the running! I can definitely imagine a hot presidential ticket featuring McCain-Huckabee.

As for Obama, his pick is speculated to come from this group:
Tim Kaine
Joe Biden
Evan Bayh
Kathleen Sebelius

I assumed that Hillary Clinton would be his top pick, but now it looks like she might not be in the running at all. Perhaps that's because she was not keen on being VP. After striving to be the President of the Free World, being knocked down to VP didn't sound so appealing. There is still a chance Obama will surprise everyone and show up with Mrs. Clinton on his arm... but it's looking doubtful.

So, who are you rooting for? If you could choose the candidates VPs yourself, who would you pick and why? Would the VP choice sway your decision in who to vote for?

This information was taken from an article on Fox News. You can view the complete article here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School

Posted by Mandy at 6:46 AM 6 comments Links to this post

Though I'm sure Blogland is filled with countless "first day of school" posts, mine seems like the most important. As I got the kids ready to take their annual back to school pictures, my heart was both excited and saddened by the addition of Carter into each picture. Helping them stand where I wanted them, with backpacks and lunchboxes arranged, seemed a bit surreal. How can it be that I now have two children in school?

Madison was so excited about entering second grade. While we were writing her name on every school supply of hers last night, she began to squeel each time she grabbed a new folder to put her mark on it. She had the pleasure of picking out whatever notebooks and folders she wanted for school. Each had a different picture of a puppy on the front. I have no doubt that she will be talking about animal rescue in her class. Her teacher will probably wonder what kind of family this child is living with.

We made it to town and onto the main school road at 7:30am on the nose. I wasn't able to drop her at the front door of the school until 7:45. Fifteen minutes to go about one mile! Traffic is always terrible the first day of school... and it lingers that way a bit the entire week. Thankfully she was on time and was excited to be a 'big kid' that was walking in all on her own. She pointed to the younger kids holding their parents' hands walking into the building and commented,

"I remember being too little to walk in by myself, too. Now, I'm one of the biggest kids at school!"

She's right, she is now in the biggest grade allowed at her elementary school. How did that happen so fast?

Carter couldn't wait to go to his class this morning. When we arrived his best friend Jessie was there. He ran up to greet us and the two boys walked around each table, wide-eyed as can be, searching for the perfect 'before class' activity. They settled on scissors, paper, and glue sticks. Jessie's mother and I watched them together, both of us with our one year olds in our arms. I think we were both in disbelief that this day had actually come and our baby boys were in preschool.

A few minutes after the boys started playing it was clean up time. I was afraid Carter would be a little upset since he had just gotten going on his project, but he is such a good cleaner that he happily cleaned up his spot, and every other spot around the entire class that he thought needed tidying up a bit. The children were instructed to "push their chairs in before sitting on the carpet," but many forgot, so Carter went around pushing all of the chairs in as well. At this point, I realized, he would thrive in this class! He walked to thr colorful carpet and picked his favorite color square to sit on. Seeing him following instructions and being so incredibly well-behaved made me so proud!

It was music and dancing time and I wasn't sure if Carter would want to participate. He did! He did all of the motions and sang all of the words to the three songs and kept looking back at me, obviously proud of himself. During the song "If you're happy and you know it," he looked back at me to make sure it was okay if he actually shouted hooray like the other kids. We have been having the "be a little quiet at school" talk for the past week. A reassuring nod from Mommy made him clap and jump with excitement as he got to shout the next HOORAY with everyone else.

Finally, they lined up to go wash hands because it was breakfast time. (they eat breakfast together every morning, so Carter will eat twice each morning! He'll love that...) I watched him stand nicely in line and walk out of the door. I followed behind with two other moms and I hugged and kissed him goodbye. After our hug I said, "I love you, Carter! Have a fantastic day!" He replied, "I love you too, Mommy! I'm going to go eat with my friends and I'll see you later."

He is going to be fine!

Samuel and I went back to the van, and as I started buckling him into his carseat, I couldn't help but stare at the two empty spots in my van that have been filled all summer. I'm fairly used to Madison being at school, but having her home was so fun. I will definitely miss our lazy mornings together and our late nights up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Seeing Carter's empty carseat brought tears to my eyes. I thought I would hold it together and avoid a tear fest, but I couldn't.

How is that seat empty? How is he already four years old? Where did the time go?

The drive home was much too quiet. Samuel fell asleep (he did have to get up two hours earlier than he has in months this morning,) and I was only left with my thoughts and the radio station taking calls from other mommies that had dropped their babies off at school, too.

I realized that I wasn't sad that they were at school. I'm not sad that they're not here at home. I know that I will go get them in a little while and we'll have fun all afternoon and evening. School starting is sad, for me, because it is just a huge reminder of how fast children grow. Taking Samuel into Carter's class was so strange. He is the same age that Carter was when Madison was in that same classroom, with the same teacher. (per my request!) How could it have been three years ago that Carter was on my hip and we were taking Madison to class? How can Madison now be in second grade and not sitting at the table cutting and pasting like Carter was?

Time just goes too fast. Today is a great reminder to make each moment count. Not only with our kids, but with our friends, our spouses, and people in general. I know that today when I pick up my big kids from school, I will have a new found appreciation for them. I will hug them, kiss them, and be genuinely excited to bring them home to spend time with them.

I hope everyone else's first day of school went as well as ours did!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Posted by Mandy at 7:21 AM 5 comments Links to this post
Thankfully, this post isn't about my rejection (though it may be soon enough), but about the rejection emails I just had to send to five families that wanted Sadie.

I had NO idea I would get so flooded with emails from people desperately wanting to adopt this pooch. Within three days I had to email the rescue group leader I'm working with and beg her to please take Sadie off of all websites! It took me over a week to sort through numerous adoption applications to narrow it down to six. Finally, this morning, I decided who my #1 candidate would be. I had the great pleasure in letting them know that they had been chosen so now we can move forward. Directly following that, I wrote the sweetest rejection letters known to man. I'm keeping the unchosen families on waiting lists, by their request, in case the #1 family doesn't work out for some reason. I let them know how fantastic it is that they're seeking out rescue dogs and encouraged them to continue the hunt for a dog that is greatly in need of a home. To be honest, ANY of the final 6 would have been great homes for Sadie. It really is wonderful to be in contact with so many kind-hearted, genuinely good people.

The #1 family chosen is from Little Rock and they have three kids, youngest being 4yrs old. I'm assuming one parent stays at home full-time due to the fact that they said Sadie will not be left alone during the day. This helped my decision! Sadie needs a lot of attention and is not used to being alone. They seem really ready to learn and accept responsibility for a little fur ball that loves to romp and play and have her belly rubbed.

Once Sadie is placed, we will make a decision about seeking out another dog to foster. Stay tuned! More dog rescue coming in the future.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Skulls For Kids?

Posted by Mandy at 10:49 AM 14 comments Links to this post

In a recent school clothes shopping trip, I was stunned to see how many stores now have skulls and crossbones strewn across little girl and boy tops. I would see a shirt for Madison that was a beautiful color and the perfect cut, only to find a boney face with a bow on its head staring back at me. Imaginging my little girl - my ballerina, my softball player, my environmentalist - sporting a look such as this put a bad taste in my mouth.
As store after store marketed this look, I began to realize that I must be one of the few parents that find this a bit, well, distasteful. Obviously others are snatching these styles up or they wouldn't be cluttering rack after rack. Is this just one more area in which I will be considered "that mom"?
Of all of the graphics that one can put on their child's body... why this one? Why is this so popular? What happened to non-offensive symbols like peace signs?
Has anyone else noticed this trend? What are your thoughts on skulls for kids?
This top is from Old Navy. You can view it here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Putting Myself Out There

Posted by Mandy at 10:46 AM 3 comments Links to this post
Yesterday I got a dash of courage, after a great pep-talk from my writing mentor, and called the editor for one of our state's larger newspapers.

The first phone call resulted in it being a bad time. I offered to call back later.

Later rolls around and I call again. The editor's receptionist informs me that he is in a meeting but she will give him my name and number. I couldn't help but notice that she didn't say that he would call me back...

Feeling down and defeated before even being rejected, I was happily stunned when my phone rang and I recognized the area code as being him. Unlike a previous editor I have spoken to, he was very friendly and laid-back. He didn't shoot me down, and most importantly, he didn't say, "no." He also didn't say,

"We can't afford to hire anyone else on at the moment."
"We only let our on staff writers do op/ed pieces."
"Two calls in one day? Stop stalking me, lady."

He even asked me to send him some stuff via email... which felt like a big positive. I am going to patiently wait until Monday to contact him if he hasn't gotten back to me in that time. I'm sure he has more important things to do than worry about me, so I will have to be a small thorn in his side until he agrees to publish me.

Throwing myself, and my work and ideas, out there for someone to see and possibly reject is extremely hard. My writing mentor, that I mentioned above, has already given me "it's only one man's opinion if he isn't into it..." talk. He also gave me wise words of a seasoned writer,

"A willing editor is half the battle won!"

I hesistated to post about this because I really do not want to have to come back later and post if nothing comes of it. Swallowing my pride is tough. I am being brave in hopes that my struggle to make my dream come true will encourage others to do the same. Doing nothing will always result in nothing. Christians would call that reaping what you sow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Hate Hormones

Posted by Mandy at 1:01 PM 3 comments Links to this post
I try to steer clear of talking about too many women's issues to keep my guy readers from gagging, but this one I must speak of. My new found, ultimate hate of hormones. Not all hormones - just mine.

I've had my share of run-ins with the dreaded estrogen demon that lurks unnoticed in many women. She came in the form of PCOS which, strangely, made the even more horrible female hormone testosterone kick in high gear. Women with too much estrogen AND testosterone are not happy campers.

Nothing short of God's grace seemingly took PCOS from me, at least for the time being, since having Samuel. The very thing that nearly kept me from ever having another child, seemed to be almost cured by my pregnancy. Knowing that pregnancy only makes PCOS worse, leads me to know that God simply put his hand on me and blessed me physically. Well, until this week that is.

Can someone please explain to me why I continuously feel as though I have raging PMS. Once the hag leaves, you should have a feeling of euphoric health... better than ever.. refreshed and ready to tackle the world again. I have the total opposite feeling. If I didn't just have my old friend I would even swear I was the dreaded PG word. That is almost impossible, so I must look into other options.

After days and days of having all kinds of PMS'y symptoms, (cramping, sore bbs, moody, echaustion,etc),I finally called my friend to see if she had any words of wisdom. We both decided that we had no idea what it was but stress could be a possibility. Another possibility could be that my hormones are just out of wack b/c my little man hasn't nursed in about a month. Would the effects of him weaning be this delayed? I don't recall going through any physical symptoms after Carter weaned, and his weaning was much more abrupt than Samuel's very gradual weaning. I do remember having emotional side effects, similar to Baby Blue's, but nothing physical.

So, calling all moms. What is this? Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas or input is appreciated.

I have my oh so fun yearly exam next month and if I'm still feeling wacky I'll speak to my doctor about it. If I feel worse in a few days/weeks I suppose I'll rule out pg with a test, but as of now I'm fairly certain that is not the culprit.

Give me your best educated guess... or first hand experiences.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Posted by Mandy at 9:48 AM 3 comments Links to this post
I spent the entire morning calling every vet, both in this town and in surrounding areas, to get prices on general vet care and spaying/neutering for rescue dogs. It wasn't surprising that every single vet I spoke to had no special discounts or programs available for those doing foster care for pups.

One vet clinic took my name and number and said they'd have the vet call me back. Amazingly, he called within the hour. He was the only vet, including OUR OWN VET, that actually said he was very interested in sitting down with me in person and talking about this more. He said that in the past he had been "burned" by stuff like this so he was leery of it, but wanted to talk more. It sounds like if I can convince him that all of this puppy's vet care is coming out of pocket and not from some government grant money, then he'll try to help me out. The lowest number I found for shots,worming, and spaying was $138. That wouldn't be so bad for one dog, but considering I just shelled out a few hundred dollars for our own two puppies' vet care/heart-worm meds and have to get those two spayed and neutered in about two months... well, that number is seeming more steep the more I stare at it.

Thankfully, a lady I'm in contact with that is helping me with the adoption process has offered to handle the vet bill and she will then take the adoption fee. This is fantastic! I emailed her and told her about this particular vet wanting more information and possibly doing it for cheaper and I hope she is excited over this as I am. Hopefully this would not only save doggie foster parents money, but also save adoptive doggie parents money too! If I'm only paying $80 instead of $150, then I'm only charging $80. Sounds like a good deal all around to me.

Our own foster pooch, Sadie, has only been on Petfinder for one day and I've already received an email from an interested lady in Camden. I answered all of her questions and I hope she emails back soon... her family sounds perfect for this dog!

Will let you know what happens with the vet and the possible adoptive family!

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Dryer Legacy Lives On

Posted by Mandy at 6:33 PM 6 comments Links to this post
Anyone blessed to know Amanda and Justin Dryer knows that dog rescue is a huge passion of theirs. Clayton and I found them kindred spirits in their going green quests and love of pups. We have always dreamed of the day that we could have major amounts of acreage to live on so that we could start our own, small scale, dog/animal rescue. Seeing the Dryers do it from their own backyard was inspiring!

Anyone that knows us well, remembers that just a few months ago our family was dealing with what I like to call The Great Dog Debate. The kids and I vs. Clayton. We wanted a dog, he wasn't ready. Obviously, we won out... Bella and Lincoln became ours after we saw a huge litter of puppies in a teeny tiny kennel. We just had to bring some of them home.

Imagine my surprise when, three days ago, Clayton brings home this teeny tiny fluffy ball of fur. He agreed to take her from another State Trooper that could not find a home for her. His own rescued dog gave birth to a litter of pups and she was the only one left. It's amazing that he found homes for the others!

So, I suppose we're officially getting into the lifestyle of being puppy/dog foster parents. The kids love this pooch.. she's so sweet. She even tolerates Samuel's constant grabbing and smacking. (poor thing.) Clayton, the total "anti-dog-in-our-house" guy, even lets her stay inside during the day. *gasp* She does sleep out in the fence with Bella and Lincoln at night. She's already almost 100% house broken! It's been neat having a little prissy dog... we've always had big powerful breeds and I never considered taking a small fuzzy type before. She's a lot of fun and the kids love that she gets to ride everywhere in the van with us.

She's a chiuaua mix, if you can believe that from the looks of her. She is a small, possibly even could be considered "toy" size.

She will be posted on a few dog adoption sites really soon, and there will be a fee to cover vet costs. (she will be completely vetted soon, shots, worming, etc.) If you are looking for a cutesy indoor pup that has a moderate energy level and IS NOT a typical yapper, she's a good one! (she's only ever barked one time.. when playing with Lincoln.) You can comment here or email me at: pupfostermom(at)gmail(dot)com.

She will NOT be free unless I know you very, very well. Charging at least some sort of adoption fee has been recommended to me by both the Dryers and other people I've spoken to in the Humane Society to help insure a responsible adopting party. In general, people willing to pay a fee to adopt a rescue dog will keep them up to date on shots and general vet care. I'm brand spankin' new at this so I'm following the advice of the veterans leading me.

Let the Dog Rescuing begin!

Baby Bug - Go Away!

Posted by Mandy at 8:59 AM 3 comments Links to this post
I knew it would happen eventually. I assumed it would happen now. I underestimated how it would affect me. The dreaded baby bug. The itch. The desire that will never be filled.

I felt a twinge of pain when Samuel turned one, knowing that my baby days were behind me. Though he's still much of a baby turning into a toddler, it is a transformation that is happening much too quickly. It leaves me feeling as though in another year or two I'll be wishing for another. I realize, thankfully, that it is a purely emotional feeling. In all honesty, if I were to find myself pregnant anytime soon I would be completely freaked out. I think my sadness over my baby boy growing up is morphing into a desire for another baby. In reality, I really just wish I could keep Samuel this age forever. His sweet baby face, his adorable curly hair, those big blue eyes, and those famous chubby thighs.... knowing all of these features (minus the big blue eyes and possibly the curly hair) will be fading soon is a bit heartbreaking.

Each night as I lay him in his crib for bed, I take more and more time to watch him sleeping. I study how small he is in his cave like bed with his white 'blankie' held close to his face. His little pacifier laying beside him where it has fallen out unnoticed.

I constantly flash back to a memory that is sealed in my brain of putting Carter to bed, when Samuel was soon to be entering the world. I sat beside Carter on his bed, stroking his hair, and I stared at the crib across the room. The smell of the sheets freshly washed in Dreft and the quilt perfectly folded and layed across the crib rail had me so anxious and impatiently waiting for my C-Section date. I remember opening that first pack of newborn size diapers... I looked at them and cried. I couldn't wait to finally have my baby. I thought of the many months that I had convinced myself that the Moss house would never again have those smells and sweet sights again.

And, here I am again. Slowly putting away the baby items that we have used for three children in a row. First the changing table, that my huge babies can never fit on for long. Then the bouncy seat and the baby swing. The two hardest things for me to pack away were the amazing blue swaddling blanket, bought just for Samuel, and my much loved co-sleeper. My mind again realizes that we will likely never have those baby smells and sweet sights in the Moss house again. I suppose I have to grieve the loss of this phase of life in order to move on to the next.

I have realized that I am possibly one of those women that will always miss having a baby. I think it's a bit comical how I idealize having a baby... even after just experiencing it. When I think of having a baby I picture peacefully nursing my infant, rocking him to sleep, and feeling that sweet baby breath on my neck. The reality of having a baby, at least for me, typically involved hours of crying each evening, a painful csection to recover from, a frantic nursling that can cause much stress during feeding times, and pacing the floor for hours trying to get a gassy baby to finally sleep. Amazing how just a few months can almost erase these images from my mind!

So, with a heavy heart I am trying to move ahead. I am reminding myself of how much easier life is already. How portable Samuel is becoming and how next summer we are hoping to even take a trip to the beach with the kids. We are planning on starting our, at least once a year, family vacations. Selfishly I'm thinking of staying in shape, getting more and more serious with my writing, and taking more time to enjoy lunches with friends and dinners away with my husband. Those things all sound pretty fine... and thankfully they do help ease the pain of saying goodbye to feeling a baby squirm in my belly, excitedly awaiting the birthday, and seeing that sweet face for the first time.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Summer's End

Posted by Mandy at 7:49 AM 4 comments Links to this post

It is incredibly hard for me to believe that school will be in session in a matter of two weeks. With school supplies almost totally purchased and waiting in a sack on the table, two new backpacks, two new lunchboxes, two new pairs of tennis shoes, and two of my children gearing up to enter the land of learning, my head is beginning to spin.

School starting up always brings mixed feelings of excitement and sadness. The sadness part is fairly obvious. The days sleeping in, running here and there together, and playing in the water are coming to an end. They will be replaced with the early morning rush and a fairly lonely drive home for me with just my toddler taking up a seat in our van that is typically much more full with children.

The excitement, thankfully, overtakes the sadness. Both of my children are anxiously awaiting meeting their new teachers and making new friends in the upcoming days. Madison is old enough now to understand that school will not always be full of fun, and when asked, "Are you ready for school to start?" she answers, "Yes and no."

We found out that she will be having Mrs. Hunter for her second grade teacher and I have heard great things about her. Madison is more excited now that some of her older friends have told her what a nice lady her teacher is. We also read off the class list to her and she squealed with excitement hearing several of her friends' names. It sounds like this will be a great year for my little second grader!

Carter will be going to school for the first time. His special request for a "spider man backpack and blue lunchbox" has been filled and we are all anxiously awaiting our meeting night at the preschool to find out who his teacher will be and meet some of the children in his class. He is going to love the hustle and bustle of school. His need for constant entertainment will be more than met, and I know his thirst for learning will only grow. Having other boys his age to play with on the playground will prove to be priceless. Having something that is just for him, that doesn't involve his big sister or baby brother, is an experience I know he is going to benefit from greatly. Being the middle child, I am excited for him to enter into a land that is all his own. I cannot wait for him to excitedly show me all of the neat things he has created and learned each day when I pick him up.
My days will be filled with my little man. Samuel will reap the rewards, just as the other two children before him have, of having complete one-on-one time with Mommy during the day. When he takes his 2/3 hour long afternoon nap, I will work. I will possibly write more creative and more informative articles than ever before with a quiet house to think in. My house will once again be neat and orderly. I will have time to bake something yummy before leaving to pick up my big kids from school, so that when we walk into the front door they will be thrilled to rush to the kitchen to see what goody awaits them.
Our loved after-school activities will resume. Madison is finding it hard to patiently wait for dance class to resume and we will be adding a children's small group through church on Sunday nights. Clayton and I are part of the lead team for this.. so we will get to spend lots of fun and meaningful time with not only our children, but also the other children of our church.
It is always hard for me to say goodbye to each summer that turns into fall, but I find solace in looking ahead to the fun that is coming.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Mother's Guilt

Posted by Mandy at 12:01 PM 6 comments Links to this post
My mom said something so true to me, as I cried to her over the phone, last night.

"The first thing a mom feels when she has a baby is joy. The second thing a mom feels is guilt. Over everything."

Never have truer words been spoken.

The reason for my tearful phone call can be broken down into two categories.
1. Loneliness
2. Guilt

My dear husband is such a hard worker. It's one of the reasons I love him so very much. If I never earned a penny in my entire life, I know that he would see to it that we lived comfortably anyway. The other thing I love so much about my husband is his kind and giving heart. When you need something, he is the go-to guy. The problem comes when these two wonderful traits combine and you end up with a guy that works too much, all of the time. Thankfully, this is temporary and our "normal for us" life will be continuing soon.

Having said that, last night was possibly the 7th day straight I had basically been home alone with the kids. As in I got up with them and put them to bed again that night, for days and nights on end. I can handle this scenario for a few days, but by day 5 I'm feeling the pressure.

As my husband took off his uniform from state police work, to put on work clothes to go work on a much needed and more than worthwhile project, I couldn't stop myself from breaking out into tears. (I admit it... I cried.) He drops everything to rush to my side. He asks, "what's the matter?" even though he knows the answer. I wipe my tears and try to explain that I know he has to do what he's doing, but that I'm just having a hard time at the moment watching him walk out of the door - again. Trying to avoid making him feel guilty, I put on my brave face and convince us both that I'll be fine in a minute. He leaves, I call Mom.

I tell her I'm lonely, I'm burned out, and I feel guilty about feeling lonely and burned out. I feel guilty that I want my husband home when I know what good he's doing. I feel guilty that I'm so burned out being with the kids that I don't even want to play with them much less do supper, baths, and bedtime. Apparently I had misplaced my SUPERMOM cape. As I talked and listened to my mom's wisdom on the issue (she had gone through similar things when we were little,) I started to realize that she was right. As a mother, I can feel guilty about nearly everything. No matter how much I do, I always wonder if it is enough, if it is good enough, if it's right. Do men have these thoughts? My husband seems perfectly content to spend an hour a day playing with the kids and has no guilt for plopping down to watch TV and shooing them away when he needs to rest. I'm not saying he should have guilt, but it just dawned on me that I seem to be the only one that worries about quality time with the children on a constant basis, when I'm the one home with them all of the time. What gives?

Where does the Mommy Guilt originate? Is it a comparison done in each mom's head of what she's doing vs. what she believes others are doing? Is it a genetic quality passed on to ensure that children are optimally cared for? Is it a new trend that only mother's in the past 40 or so years experience due to our society's constant lean towards more child-centered living? I'm not sure. From stay-at-home mothers to working mothers, we all seem to have guilty feelings on at least a weekly basis on a variety of issues.

Is there a way to combat a mother's guilt? I try to take a step back and look at my kids. They're healthy, happy, and well-cared for. Why do I feel guilty over the small things? So, I didn't want to play swords with Carter this afternoon; but I did take them all for a long walk this evening and read numerous books to each of them before bed. I did feed them and bathe them. I did tell them each I loved them, with total sincerity.

Am I the only mom that has guilt over these things? Am I the only mom that grows weary from child-care from time to time?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Need Urgent Prayers

Posted by Mandy at 3:16 PM 5 comments Links to this post
A couple that we are friends with just delivered their baby today at only 27 weeks gestation due to the mother becoming eclamptic. Mother had to be put under general anesthesia for emergency csection where it was discovered the placenta was already 75% abrupted. Due to blood loss, baby had a rough start, but is now reported as stable. Anyone that knows anything about babies and pregnancy realizes how incredibly early 27 weeks is to deliver a baby. Thankfully, the doctors had diagnosed her as preeclampic a while ago and administered steroid shots for the baby's lung development "just in case." From what I understand the mother is still out from the surgery and is unaware of what all has happened. PLEASE pray for this family. The baby, mother, and father. I cannot imagine what a hard road they have for the next two months. Doctors saying to expect it to be October before baby can come home, since that was his due date. Again, please, stop reading and pray RIGHT NOW. I will update on them when I hear more news.

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