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.

Electricity

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.

Ameca

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.

Sleep

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!

Work

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.

Dogs

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.

Ambition

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!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin's Daughter

Posted by Mandy at 7:51 AM 8 comments Links to this post
John McCain's VP pick, Sarah Palin, has a 17 year old daughter that is expecting a baby. This news has swept through the press like wildfire, each having their own view on this "situation."

Having been a teen mother myself, I cannot help but listen closely to how people react to Sarah Palin and her daughter.

Something that I have personally found to be true is the fact that many very pro-life people are the ones that degrade and belittle teen parents the most. This leaves teenagers that become pregnant in quite a predicament, doesn't it? If you choose to keep the baby, as soon as your belly announces your pregnancy to the world, the dirty looks and mean remarks begin. If you choose to have an abortion, the same people scream at you that you are a murderer. (and, I would agree that abortion is murder.. this is not my point.)

My point is, neither choice will make the supposed "pro-life" group happy.

When digging into the reasons behind that, it's fairly simple, yet terribly complex. Let's do a quick run-down, shall we?

*News Alert* Sex out of marriage is a sin. Knowing that teenagers typically wind up pregnant outside of marriage means that oh-so-SELF-righteous "Christians" must show their utmost disgust at the resulting pregnancy. Being supportive, or God forbid LOVING, to a teenager that is pregnant would be like condoning the premarital sex! Now, we surely cannot have that! I mean, Jesus would surely spit on a pregnant teenage girl, not hold her and comfort her. I'm sure our loving Christ would speak horrible words both to and about the girl so she would realize how wrong she was for having sex and how stupid she was for getting pregnant.

Does that sound a bit wrong to you? It should. Those last sentences were dripping with sarcasm.

#2 on the rundown - Teenagers make horrible parents!

The main focus of many, in regards to teen parents, is how there is no way for two 'kids' to raise a child. That always interests me... it seems to me that my husband and I raised our daughter quite well. We made very adult decisions and took responsibility for our daughter from the start. From our decision for me to stay home with her - that was so NOT the popular decision to make - to our decision for Clayton to sacrifice working full-time for more money to finish his college degree. Clayton graduated from college, WITH HONORS, when Madison was 2 years old. Oh yes, having a baby ruins your life! You can never accomplish your dreams once you give birth!

Do all teen parents make good choices? Are they all good parents? Of course not. However, I'd give anything to look at the average age of the parents that DHS takes children away from because of their horrible parenting choices. How many do you assume will be over the age of 20? How many will even be much older?

In my opinion, teens that are horrible parents would likely be horrible parents no matter how old they are. Some teens will need a lot more support and guidance than others, but there is absolutely no reason they cannot do a stand-up job at being parents. I have three friends that all had babies in their teens and have done fantastic jobs raising their kids!

So, let's say that a teen girl that knows her family, friends, and even strangers are going to shun her, make fun of her, call her names, avoid her, and even disown her when they find out she is pregnant. Let's say she believes all of the crap she hears about how she can never have the "right" life if she has a baby. Perhaps this girl has never seen Christ's love in her life... that supposed Christians around her are all quick to judge, to spout off, to belittle. In her fragile state... she makes what seems like the best choice. She chooses to have an abortion. She thinks it will simply wipe away the "problem." Later in life she will realize what happened and will likely suffer depression because of a choice she made when she was too young and scared to make it.

What happens to that girl when people find out she had an abortion? Basically, the same thing that would happen if she had kept the baby. The exact same group of people will have horrible things to say to her no matter what she chooses. This girl cannot win.

The point of this post isn't to say that teenagers should be getting pregnant. Goodness knows I am a big advocate for education and spiritual support so kids will not make the wrong choices in life. I know far too many girls end up single mothers with no support because of the circumstances surrounding the time they got pregnant. Teen pregnancy is not ideal, and it never will be. However, it is not the end of life. It is the beginning of a new life, and a new phase of life.

How many people look at young parents and ridicule them, even if only in their own heads? How could we change a teenager's life if we stopped judging and starting loving? What if we thought about how that teen already feels about him or herself because of the upcoming arrival?

I, personally, was on top of the world before I found out I was pregnant. I was that sickening oh-so-perfect (seemingly) popular girl that had everything in life handed to me on a silver platter. I worked hard, and I earned a lot. I ran with the group that just didn't have bad things happen to them. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt my world go completely upside-down. I knew I was a major disappointment to my entire family. The shame I felt is something words cannot express. It is the shame I would imagine almost every teen mother feels. Teen fathers don't show the physical signs of becoming a parent. They don't carry the literal weight that shows the world that you are having a baby. They don't experience the dirty looks, the horrible words, and the questions of why on earth you don't "just have an abortion."

The internal feelings I had were hard enough to handle without the outside world also bombarding me with criticism. I made the decision quickly to pretty much tell the world to shut up and to hold my head high and be proud of my baby. God gave her to me... I have no idea why. I was, and still am, so completely undeserving. He gave me Clayton... and I have no idea why. Again, I am so completely undeserving. He made us a family and I will forever be grateful.

The next time you see a teen girl that has a baby on her hip or a belly to show her pregnancy, examine your heart when thoughts enter your mind. Are they what Christ would think? Would Christ say to her what you are about to? Does asking her things like, "That's not your baby, is it?" and saying "You're too young to have a baby," really do nothing for her. She knows she's young. She knows you do not approve. Knowing all of the horrible things she had coming from the outside world, she still made the brave decision to give life to her child. Not knowing how she would do it, where the money would come from, or how her family would react, she chose to choose life. Doesn't she deserve at least a smile from you or a kind word for making the right choice?

Like it or not, abortion as a choice is not likely to leave our country any time soon. To help reduce abortions, one thing we can all do is simply be loving. You have no idea how one person's support can change someone's life. Your support could save an unborn baby's life. Your ridicule could help cause its death. What choice will you make in your own life the next time you are in a situation to help or hurt a teen parent?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dakota

Posted by Mandy at 10:34 AM 2 comments Links to this post

This is Dakota! She is our newest foster pup. She is a white pit/mix that is around one year old. She possibly the sweetest dog I've ever had the pleasure of being around. She is scheduled to be spayed this Thursday and is totally up to date on shots/worming/heart worm preventative, etc.


She has been turned into an even more "calm-submissive" dog by our Dog Whisperer techniques and she loves our dogs, our cats, and our kids. She had some very minor food aggression issues when we got her, but she's only shown it by growling. Never bitten. (and that's only with our other dogs, not with us.) I've been supervising all meals and letting her know that aggression, over anything, is a no-no. Other than with food, she is a totally easy-going dog! She's never had a family before us, at least not in a LONG TIME. She's still underweight, weighing in at 28 pounds currently. Her entire life has been filled with neglect. She is a very loyal dog... that's a trait you can usually find with a well handled rescue. They simply long to be with someone.


She's not a barker, not a digger, and is super low maintanance. She's an outside dog but, with her nature, I'm SURE she could easily be housebroken if anyone wanted to try. (I simply do not have the want-to.)


If you're interested in Miss Dakota, email me at pupfostermom(at)gmail(dot)com and we can get the ball rolling.


It will be super hard for me to let her go. She is just so easy, and so wonderful. She'd be a great dog for anyone.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Go Away Gustav!

Posted by Mandy at 7:54 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Today is the day. Hurricane Gustav is pounding our neighbors in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi as I type this. We should all keep them in our prayers and do all we can to help them get back on their feet once the waters subside and they return to see if they still have standing homes.

I can't help but be a bit selfish in my request for this big bad hurricane to disperse quickly. My husband is on the second round of troopers that will be deployed after the hurricane dies down enough for them to drive into the surrounding states.

When Katrina hit, three years ago, he was on the first round and left within two days of the monstrous hurricane. He was gone for two weeks. What he saw there is something that will forever haunt him. I pray that this time he escapes having to go at all. For my own sake and for his.

Last night he got the call that we were waiting for from one of his Sergeants to say to pack up and be on stand-by. The call came as we had a house full of our Journey friends over for a Settler's tournament, followed by hours of playing the Wii. (our first time playing with 4 players.. it was really fun!) My worry and anxiety over the phone call came in waves. I was very thankful to have so many fantastic friends over to take our minds off of the upcoming events.

The more I was sad for myself, the more I realized that I am the least of people to be affected by this hurricane. Yes, it is incredibly hard to be without Clayton indefinitely. I especially don't want him in a situation like the one approaching where people are desperate and act out worse than ever. I know how difficult, physically and emotionally, it will be for Clayton if he must go. Seeing death and destruction is something that has to leave a scar on one's soul.

No matter what we'll go through, it cannot match what the people being hit by this storm are and will go through. Can you imagine leaving your home via mandatory evacuation, having no idea where this crowded bus is taking you? Having no idea if you will have a home to come back to?

I keep trying to imagine myself being one of those mothers I've seen on the news. My toddler in my arms, my children at my sides. My husband and i praying we all get on the same bus. None of us knowing what is about to happen. What a horrible feeling. I pray that God will provide peace in this chaotic time. In times like these, he is all we have to cling to. Though we don't understand why things like this happen, we can rest assured that it is all in his hands. The good, the bad, and the ugly. He is in control even when it seems that no control can be found.
 

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