12/17/2010

A Mother's Christmas Wish

This week is Dodger's birthday and so I can't help but reflect on the week he was born six years ago. Having a baby a week before Christmas is hectic and requires some advance planning. I had to be completely ready for Christmas well in advance; all the shopping, delivering, wrapping, and preparing had to be done because I knew that once that baby came there would be no time for Christmas preparations.

But, once he came, all of the bows and wrappings and gifts were just not what I was thinking of. As I looked at my tiny little boy, I couldn't help but realize the similarities between what I was feeling and what another mother felt two thousand years before:

A long time ago on a cold winter night, in a land far, far away, a Mother held her newborn son and with a full heart, said a prayer to thank her Father in Heaven for this treasure he had entrusted her with. She knew she had an important job to do. She had to raise her son to love and honor His Father and to be true to Himself. So, she vowed to her Father that she would do all in her power, and never quit, to teach her child the things she should so he could fulfill His role on Earth. She loved her baby, and she wanted Him to fulfill His mission. She didn't know everything that He was sent to do, but she knew that, though it would be terribly hard, it was also vitally important. Yet as she looked at him that night, all she saw a beautiful yet helpless, defenseless baby, that she would have to serve and teach and love.

In some way, isn't that how we all feel as we look at our new babies? Whether they are born in December, March or June, each child comes to earth with a role that, in some way, is vitally important. So, this year, don't forget in addition to the glitter and glamor of Christmas, to give your child the gift of service. Give her the gift of strength. Give him the gift of love. Because it is our job as parents to help them fulfill their missions.

Merry Christmas!




Whaddya think?

12/10/2010

How Much Should I Give Him?

A few weeks ago, my Rascal went in for a scheduled same day surgery. After it was done and we were taking him home, the surgeon wrote me a prescription for Tylenol and ibuprofen, even though I had both of them at home. He told me I should fill them anyway because they would come with a measuring syringe that was marked accurately for my child and would reduce the risk of giving him the wrong dose.

Overdosing our children is a common, and sometimes lethal mistake. Sometimes it is because we don't stop to read the bottle (a 2002 poll done by Harris International showed that only 19 percent of parents do read the bottle. REALLY????) and sometimes it is because the bottle instructions aren't really clear. The Children's Motrin bottle says that your 2-3 year old weighing 24- 35 lbs should receive 1 tsp and your 4- 5 year old weighing 36- 47 lbs should receive 1 1/2 tsp. But, what if you 4 year old weighs 33 lbs?? Do you give her 1 or 1 1/2 tsp? And sometimes it is measured in teaspoons (tsp)and sometimes in milliliters (ml) and sometimes in tablespoons (tbsp) but the measuring cup doesn't always coincide with the bottle. So now what? A kitchen measuring spoon?

One nurse said, "Paying attention is crucial, but even when you're sure you're paying attention, errors can be made. (I was a nurse for 10 years and made a few medication errors along the way...and each and every time, I was sure I paid close attention. It ...happens.)"

So, yes the drug companies should make it truly idiot-proof. But, until they all use the same measuring system and make those little cups easier to read, we parents are going to have to shoulder the responsibility. Here are some rules of thumb to keep your little angel safe.

1. If you suspect an overdose, call your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. Keep the number to poison control easily available by your phone, because when you realize that your child has eaten toothpaste or drank a bottle of rubbing alcohol, you don't need to have to look it up in your moment of panic. Trust me.

2.Read the label carefully to see what ingredients are in any medicine you give your child. You don't want to give your child a dose of Tylenol and a cold medicine containing a dose of acetaminophen. You'll overdose your child.*

3. Don't leave any medicines where your child might be able to reach them.

4. Keep all medicine in child-proof bottles.

5. If you drop a pill, make sure you find it and pick it up.

6. Don't tell children that medicine is candy.

7. Don't take adult medicines in front of your child.

8. Be sure you are giving your child the correct dose of the correct medicine. Read directions carefully. Example: a. with medications for multiple ages of children in the home, a mix-up between infants and children's dosages can be deadly. b. If your child does not fit into the age/weight chart, use their weight, the dosing will be more accurate. c. if you can't find the measuring cup that came with the medication, do not use a kitchen spoon, they vary in size so the dosing will not be accurate.

9. Don't give children younger than age 4 any medicines intended for older children.

10. Try to only have one parent responsible for giving the medicine to your kids. If more than one person is responsible for giving medication to a child, make sure good communication happens to avoid confusion and duplicate doses. Create a list that tracks the dose amount and times that medicines are to be given, and check them off as you give them.


With all of the different medications available to us today with so many different doses, it is easy for our children's medications to be inaccurately dosed, even by professionals, so take a minute to read the label and think about what you are giving your child. It could be a matter of life or death.

*FYI- Tylenol, though awesome in appropriate doses in extremely dangerous to overdose on. It can cause liver failure and even death. The symptoms are those of a normal flu virus and the medicine usually tasted like candy. So, be sure to keep it out of the reach of children, even if in a child proof bottle.

For more information, read here or follow the hyperlinks in this article.

Happy Dosing.

Whaddya think?

12/02/2010

Don't Cha Wish Your Princess Was Hot Like Me

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of the day that I would grow up and marry the prince. I would be the beautiful princess who lived in a beautiful castle. I would travel by carriage and and have lots of beautiful babies and life would be forever blissful.... with tiaras...

Laugh, I know. But, wasn't that your dream too? And wasn't it wonderful?

Maybe I don't really live in a castle and maybe I'm not really a princess. I don't even own a tiara *sigh*, but, it was a wonderful dream that helped shape my future. I was shocked and alarmed the other day when I read that Disney will no longer be making princess movies. They cited 2 reasons: 1. they want to target boys as well and boys think princesses are boring (ok, I get that one) 2. 5/6 year old girls no longer dream of being princesses, but instead long to be "hot" and "cool".

WHAT???? No more princesses????

Actually according to an interview by the NY Times, Disney says:

"Among girls, princesses and the romanticized ideal they represent — revolving around finding the man of your dreams — have a limited shelf life. With the advent of "tween" TV, the tiara-wearing ideal of femininity has been supplanted by new adolescent role models such as the Disney Channel's Selena Gomez and Nickelodeon's Miranda Cosgrove.

"By the time they're 5 or 6, they're not interested in being princesses," said Dafna Lemish, chairwoman of the radio and TV department at Southern Illinois University and an expert in the role of media in children's lives. "They're interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values."
"

Yikes!!! Scary!!!

But, are we really surprised? The last time I glanced at the clothes in "Justice", they looked more like something I would see in "The Limited" or "Express", not in a clothing store for children. Little girls are dressed in bare midriffs and low cut jeans. Bikinis are the norm even among infants. Even the cartoons and shows on the Disney Channel are showing that "Less" is sexy and sexy is cool. Ad campaigns show provocatively posed models smiling and happy. Slender, beautiful (airbrushed) models who appear to have perfect lives. So from the time they are born, society is telling our girls that the way to get ahead in life is to flaunt their sexuality. Really? Is that what we want our little girls to learn? The American Psychological Association has shown that sexualization in women and young women has been linked to "three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression."


This year my family attended a large Halloween party. I was shocked at the number of young women who I felt were inappropriately dressed. Plunging necklines and skirts so short you were afraid they'd bend over. These girls came from educated, affluent families. The interesting thing though, is that it wasn't the young men or mothers I heard whispering about the costumes, it was the men, the fathers. They were the ones saying, "I can't believe her parents let her wear that!" "Doesn't she know that it's not just the boys who noticed, but all of the older men too?" Of course she didn't! At their age, these girls and young women don't realize they are attracting the wrong kind of attention. They don't think that way. That is why they have parents !

Not only were they attracting the wrong kind of attention, but they were also inviting the wrong group. The boys who would respect her for the amazing girl that she is would not want anything to do with her, but the boys who were looking for an easy lay, were sure to be attracted. The only people attracted to her were the ones who were attracted for all the wrong reasons.

I don't have girls, but I associate with quite a bit of youth, and I can tell the ones who believe in themselves and carry themselves with an aire of self confidence. We do them such an injustice when we teach them that their sexuality is their best asset (it is only their best asset when they want their husbands to buy them a new pair of boots, or a new purse or a new car.... just kidding... I think :). The interesting thing is that the self confident young women who show their self confidence in dress, speech and actions, attract just as many boys as the sexual ones.
It is the caliber of boys that is the difference.

Our little girls are quickly loosing their
innocence, and there is no way to shield them from all of the sexuality that is thrown their way. But, we can talk to them. We can bring it to their attention and call it what it is. We can let them know how amazing they are; that the shape of their body is NOT their best asset. Their best asset is what is inside. We can tell them over and over and over from the moment that they utter their first word that the images they are seeing are not real or even realistic and that the way for them to be happy, truly happy, is to first learn to love themselves. And then maybe if we are open and honest and a little lucky, they too, will be able to grow up to be princesses... with tiaras.

"The world will teach our children if we do not... What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today." -Rosemary M. Wixom

Whaddya think?




11/28/2010

The Value of a Gem

We bundled up against the 32 degree weather and armed ourselves with rakes and lawn bags. Even in boots, scarves, hats and mittens, we could feel the biting cold as we trudged the 2 blocks up the hill to our neighbors' house. It was just after 9 am when Buster knocked on their door. She was still in her robe when she opened the door. "What do you want?", she asked gruffly. Her demeanor startled me and caught me off guard, but Buster didn't miss a beat. "We'd like to rake your yard." From the puzzled expression on her face, I could tell it was her turn to be caught off guard. She softened, slightly, as she asked, "what?". "We were wondering if we could help you out and rake your leaves.", I repeated. It took a moment for our request to sink in, but then her face softened and her words were humbled as she opened the door wider. "That would be wonderful", she said, "My husband had to leave town unexpectedly for his brother's funeral. The leaves keep piling up and I just can't rake them."

It took us an hour, in the biting cold, but the kids worked hard and hardly complained. We left their yard better than we'd found it, but most importantly, my kids had chosen to spend an hour of their Saturday, serving someone they hardly knew.

I had noticed for days those leaves piling up in the yard at the kids' bus stop and I knew something must be awry. The yard is usually so manicured. We brought up the piling leaves to the kids that morning at breakfast and asked what we could do about it. I was so proud when my boys exclaimed, "We could rake them Mom!" We'd spent hours the Saturday before raking our own yard, so they knew what this would entail, and yet they were excited to do it again for someone else.

This Saturday, we cleaned the house. It's not a small house, so alone, it would have taken me a good 4 hours, but with all of us, working together, it took 1. Even though we pulled the kids away from their toys on their precious Saturday and said, "time to clean", we hardly got any push back. They just turned and started their normal assignments. Even Rascal pitched in.

We aren't some crazy, perfect family. The kids still fight and bicker, but we've worked hard this year to teach our children the value of work. I feel it is a vital lesson for them. A year ago, these work experiences would have never happened, and quite often we still have setbacks, but we have made great strides. I looked for quite some time to find a way to teach our children the value of work and came up with a great, but simple plan. I'm not a fan of allowances, because I don't feel that my children should be paid to do chores. They do chores because they are part of the family. But, I also thought it was important that they learned to be fiscally responsible. They needed to learn the value of money and the art of saving for things they want.

So, after talking to a friend, we adopted the Gem System. For $5 from Target, I bought a bucket of gems (the marbles that people put in the bottom of vases). My kids earn 1 gem for each chore they accomplish without complaint. For example, if they get up in the morning, get dressed, brush their teeth, pick up their jammies and clean up their mess in the bathroom, they get a gem. If I have to keep reminding them, prodding them along or find clothes on the floor, they still have to get ready, but no gem. If they do the dishes, without complaining, they get a gem. If they fuss or complain, they still have to do the dishes, but they don't get a gem. Gems can either be redeemed for extra privileges (screen time, play dates, movie nights, etc) or are worth 25 cents each. If they redeem them for money, they get to pay tithing. They are now saving 1 out of every 4 gems, to help pay for the family to go to Disneyland in the spring. They've saved up gems for months so they could buy their own Christmas presents and if they want a new wii game, they can save and buy it themselves. (If you'd like more info about the gem system, you can email me and I'll attach the spreadsheet). This may not work for every family, but so far, it's working for mine. My children are learning the value of a gem. They are learning the value of work.

I read recently that children who work together as a family, do chores and help around the house, and especially children who serve outside the home, have a much less chance of developing childhood depression, which is running rampant through our self absorbed society. So, to save my children, I do not hire a house keeper or lawn company (even if I could afford them). My Sidekick and I work side by side with our children to help teach them that there is a whole big wide world outside of their perfect little bubble of a life and it takes all of us, working together to make it function well. And that is a lesson, that is priceless and worth the work.


But, when the children have grown and moved on, a house cleaner and a lawn company are at the top of my list!


Whaddya think?

11/22/2010

That Should Have Never Happened!

A couple of months ago, a Salt Lake City man was caught molesting a 4 year old girl in a store restroom. The mother lost sight of the child and while searching for her, heard her calling from the men's restroom. She caught the suspect in the men's restroom with her child. I'm sure this mother was further horrified when she found out this was not this suspect's first offence. In 1999, the suspect, Richard Randall, had pleaded guilty to the attempted sexual abuse of a 9 year old girl.

On June 9, 2010, three days before their high school graduation, 2 WA teens were killed (and a 3rd was seriously injured) in a DUI. The drunk driver was Alexander Peder, a 50 year old who had been previously arrested, twice, for drunk driving. Both times, his case was thrown out due to the dismissal of his breathalyzer evidence. If convicted of the two counts of vehicular homicide that he is charged with, he could serve a sentence of 5 to 7 years. He killed 2 kids. Good kids. Who were not drinking. And altered the lives of countless people.

So why were these families victimized? The writing was on the wall. The warnings had been made.

Randall King, the father of one of the teens killed, is trying to get a new law on the books in his son's name. The measure would require a person convicted of DUI on just the second offense to get a special driver's license that would prevent that person from buying alcohol at bars, restaurants and liquor stores for seven years. If I get the chance, I plan on voting in favor of this law.

Many great laws and practices have been born out of the resolve and drive of grieving parents. Megan's Law is a package of seven bills that requires convicted sex offenders to register with the state or county and then for the state/county to make that registry public. It was named for Megan Kanka who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by her neighbor who previously been convicted of sex crimes and was living with 2 other sex offenders.

There are also Amber Alerts, the national child abduction alert bulletins, named for Amber Hagerman who was abducted and killed in Arkansas. And let's not forget the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act that has organized sex offenders into 3 tiers to help us better understand the severity of the charges of sex offenders and also determines how monitered they will be for the remainder of their lives. It was named for Adam Walsh who was kidnapped from a shopping mall and later murdered. His father John Walsh also went on to host the show America's Most Wanted. To date, America's Most Wanted has been running for 22 years and has helped find 50 missing children and helped catch 1131 fugitives. Now that's a father who is determined to save other parents from the grief he suffered.

I've actually been studying and researching this post for a while. But, I've held off writing it because usually I have an ending to my posts; a resolve. I don't want to be the parent who gets involved due to a tragedy in my life, I would rather be proactive. It really angers me when I hear about crimes that should have been prevented. However, I am at a loss of exactly WHAT to do to help keep our kids safe from previous offenders. So, I'm asking you. What do you do? Besides voting, what can we do?

Whaddya think?

11/13/2010

The Lesson I Took 3 Kids to Learn

Let me spare you some grief. (I hope I'm not too late.) After you have a baby, your sex life will change. It will. It's a fact! But, don't despair Daddy, It will get better! In the meantime, it can wreak havoc on an otherwise loving and well adjusted relationship. It did mine. But, we recovered, and so can you.

Unfortunately, no one tells you this. Your mother doesn't, your friend doesn't, your OBGYN doesn't, (But, if you are my cousin/sister/friend, I will!) so the two of you are left... stuck. He thinks you don't love him anymore and you feel he is insensitive.

In order to fully understand why the new mom is so despondent, let's start with history. For thousands of years, there was no tiny pill to take every day or clear patch to put on your arm, tiny plastic "Y"s that were inserted right into the vagina, or even latex sleeves. There was just Mother Nature. And since Mother Nature herself had given birth to (and recovered from) millions and billions of babies, she knew that the mother. needed. a. break. And yes, crazy as it sounds, sex is just one of the things she needed a break from. After her body and hormones spiraled out of control for 9 months and then she was forced to push an 8 pound, big headed baby, through a hole the size of a cherry, and then forced to endure sleepless nights, leaky breasts and a little 8 pound bundle of chunk (cuteness) that was more demanding than even her husband was, she needed a break. Her body needed time to heal, and regulate and she needed time to focus on her new child and her own recovery. And in order to do this effectively, she needed to NOT GET PREGNANT AGAIN. So, Mother Nature decided, the best way to accomplish this, was a non existent libido.

Mother Nature decided that once baby was born, she'd make some of the post baby hormones dual active. Prolactin, which helps in milk production, also lowers sex drive. Progesterone, which also aids in milk production, lowers sex drive. Oxytocin, which aids in milk let down, lowers sex drive. So when you add that to no sleep (which makes irritable, depressed and eratic mommies), leaky breasts (which only get worst with orgasms- thanks again to oxytocin), low sex drive (really low when you factor in the fact that it takes longer and more work to achieve orgasm and remember- she's already exhausted), post baby body (now her body image has taken a dive), and to top it off, Dude, she's been filling needs and had something hanging all over her all day! Its no wonder she's faked a headache. again.

To compound Daddy's frustration, he's usually coming off of the high of a heightened pregnancy sex drive. So, post baby when the doctor ordered break is over, the Daddy is like "Hoo Ray! Let's go baby!" and the Mommy is like, "Oh crud.". Which is why, when his advances are shunned, Daddy is left feeling rejected and unwanted. For him, he's afraid that life (sex life) as he's known it up to this point is OVER! But, that's not so, once mommy has healed, recovered and finished nursing, the vast majority of sex drives go back to normal. I'm sorry to say you probably won't get the pregnancy high, but normal is good. Until then, here's what I suggest:

1. Daddy, don't take it personally. Its not you, its exhaustion, over touching, and hormones. BE PATIENT, understanding and kind.

2. Keep the cuddle alive. Even if you don't feel like sex, Mommy, you still need to keep your relationship alive. Go on a date and spend some time on the couch cuddling.

3. Mommy, you need to remember, Daddy does still have needs. You can't fake a headache EVERY TIME. And once in while, if he's been a particularly good Daddy, you can start it. Chances are, once you get started, you will want to finish.

4. And finally, Daddy, if you really want sex, try this: Make dinner, do the dishes, put the baby to bed and let Mommy have a bubble bath. Its very possible that after a good rest, some R&R and a great massage from her hubby, she may be slightly in the mood.

The most important thing to remember is Do Not Despair. Be patient with each other. You love him and he loves you and the more understanding and patient you are with each other the faster it will get back to normal. The last thing you need is for this to taint your sex life once things do get back to normal. So, never forget, that you are in love.

Whaddya think?

11/08/2010

To the Soldiers in My Life

Thursday, is Veterans Day. To some, that may mean a day off of work or school. To some, it means that they don't get their mail, or they won't be able to go to the library. For others, it means good sales at their favorite stores. And to others, it is just any ordinary day.

For me, it isn't an ordinary day. Or an ordinary week. When my kindergartener's teacher sent home a little paper star that we could use to write the name of a veteran on for their Veteran's Wall, I spent hours with Dodger making a poster with pictures and stories of the veterans we love that could go on the Veteran Wall. Dodger loves them and loved honoring them that way. And today, I will spend hours with my 3rd grader preparing our presentation for his class on my grandfather who fought on Iwo Jima. By the end of this week, my Buster will know what exactly that means.

For me, this week is my grandfather. It's my brother in law. My Cousin, my Uncle, my friend. Veteran's Day is the boy who was too young to enlist, so at 17 he convinced his parents to sign the consent. It is the "lineman", who at 18, snuck behind enemy lines and by the light of cigarette lighter would repair the communication lines so his fellow marines could effectively communicate. It is the young boy who watched his friends and comrades falling around him but kept on fighting. It is the newly wed, who leaves his new wife in the care of her parents, wishing and praying and for her sake, promising, that he will return home safely to her. It is the young husband, who kisses his wife and rubs her bulging belly, knowing that he will miss the birth of his first born child. It is the young boy, who has grown to be a man and still has nightmares about the men he has seen on the battlefield, carrying their own arms or holding in their intestines to keep them from spilling out. It is about the men and women, all of them, who have fought for the life I live today.

I am grateful for the Veterans in my life. I am grateful for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families. And I will honor them by passing on their legacy. I will tell my children, and anyone else who will listen, about my family's part in Sasebo, the battle of Normandy, Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan. My grandpa is not buried in the cemetary of the Fifth Marine Corp at the base of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jimo, he still lives at home, with my Grandmother. But, many, many marines are buried there. My brother in law did keep his promise, he came home safely to my sister, but his friend and comrade didn't. So for the ones who did return and more importantly the ones who didn't, Thank you. Happy Veteran's Day.



Whaddya think?

11/04/2010

Defining "Friends" to Kids

Here is my friend, Dr. Kristine Berrett, a child psychologist, talking about the effect of social media on our kids. Great job Kristy!





Whaddya think?

11/02/2010

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who participated in our give away! We didn't have as many entries as I expected we'd get, so I'm really grateful to those of you who did participate! So, here are the winners! Drumroll....


Darden gift card: Mary Abbott

Coldstone gift card: Miranda Christiansen


YAY!! If you guys could email your address to me at anothertolove@gmail.com that would be great!!!

Because of the Elephant in the Room

Question:
My husband was offended by something one of my Uncles said to him. He wants to have a "man to man" talk with him to tell him how he feels. I'm afraid it is going to turn into a hot head scream fest and will become a bigger issue than it already is. We see this Uncle all the time at family events so I think we need to talk about it, but I'd like to be there to try and keep it under control. What should we do?
-Stuck in the Middle

Answer:
Although I can absolutely see why your Hubby needs to beat his chest and mark his territory, we have now entered the world of adults so we should try and handle this maturely. Recently I had some negative interactions with some of my kids' preschool teachers. I was left feeling like my parenting was being judged, belittled and wondering if they even wanted my kids in their class. But, I really liked the school and especially the director. I knew that if I wanted the situation to work, how I responded could fix or permanently damage the relationship. I decided I wanted to make it work, so I called the director, briefly explained my concerns and asked what I needed to do to help the situation. It worked. The director could sense my frustration but appreciated my aproach and since then, our preschool experience has been great.

I can see how a "man to man" could be effective and maybe even necessary for your husband. So, I support him in his endeavor with three conditions. 1. He needs to have an objective before he goes in. What does he hope to accomplish? Does he just want to voice his hurt, knowing he may not get the apology he deserves? Or is he hoping to rememdy the situation? Whatever it is, he needs to know his positive objective before he gets started. 2. He needs to have a basic plan of how he is going to accomplish this goal. Not necessarily a list of things he is going to say, but a general idea of how he wants to steer the conversation. 3. He needs to take a deep breath and make sure he's calm before he goes in.

Doing these three things will do two things for you guys. 1. It will give you a better chance of actually accomplishing something positive. 2. It will give you support if it does blow out of control. "All he was hoping to do was (let Uncle Jim know he hurt his feelings/ fix the situation with Uncle Jim). So, all he said was(You hurt my feelings when you said XXXX/When you said XXXX, I felt upset, so I am going to XXXX. Is there anything you could do to help the situation?"

If he has an objective and plan, he'll have a better chance of a positive outcome (or atleast more family members on your side if it does blow up. HAHA)

Whaddya think?

10/28/2010

To the Crazies Who are Ruining My Holiday:

Dear Crazies:

Because of you and your devilish scheme to put poison and pins and needles in my childrens' Halloween candy, one of my favorite holidays, is now becoming a joke. As a result of trying to provide a "safe" alternative to trick or treating, we attended our church's "trunk or treat" last night. Although the organizers did a FAB job setting up a carnival (with a haunted house, cup cake walk, kissing booth, face painting, fishing booth and the list goes on and on...) we were able to end with the joke of "Trunk or Treating". Trunk or Treating is a lazy, boring, exclusive, and cow herding alternative to the amazing art of trick or treating! And it's all thanks to you! Because of your ruse to put a little "trick" into trick or treating, my kids are herded, along with 100 other kids, within a 30 minute time frame, from car trunk to car trunk. They scarcely have time to say "trick or treat" much less "thank you" before they are shoved out of the way by the 50 kids behind them scrambling to get their candy before it runs out due to the masses of older kids that zoom through so fast you can hardly see what they've dressed up as because they are hoping to make the trunk or treat lap 6 times before their parents catch on and shut them down. Thanks to you, gone are the days that our children come home utterly exhausted because they actually walked enough to work off some of the energy they gained from their trick or treating candy. Thanks to you, gone are the days that the little old ladies have time to ask you about your costumes or trick or treating adventures (as a matter of fact, they all hide indoors because trunk or treating is so fast paced and chaotic- they are scared to get knocked over!). Thanks to you, many neighbors aren't even handing out candy at their door due to a lack of trick or treaters. Halloween has become more of a "give me candy" and less of an experience. And even the costumes are getting lazy. A mass of store bought, no imagination costumes that oft times don't resemble the actual thing (I KNOW that I NEVER saw a nursery rhyme book where Little Red Riding Hood had a neckline that low or a skirt that SHORT!) I'm sure that this is your fault too. So, Keep Your Crazy To Yourself and leave my holiday alone, because I'm taking MY KIDS Trick or Treating!

-A Trick or Treating Mom


Dear Trick or Treating Mom,

Thank you for your concern regarding one of our favorite holidays. To set the story straight, neither I or nor any of my Crazy Friends has ever poisoned Halloween candy. After the 1982 Tylenol Poisoning scare, we kind of got a really bad rap. But, the only actually Halloween candy poisoning was the murder of Timothy Mark O'Bryan in 1974. It turned out that it was actually his Dad who laced his pixie stix with arcenic so he could collect on the life insurance. (He was later executed for his crime.) There may be some incidences that me or my crazy friends put pins or needles in candy, but the worst that ever came of that is a few stitches and since the circumstances around the cases are quite questionable, I'm not saying if we were involved or not. The hype that is giving trick or treating a bad rap is just that, hype. Because really, if I wanted to hurt your kids, trunk or treating wouldn't stop me, so dress your kids up, go to your church/school/communty's trunk or treat to show your support and have a good time, and then hit the road, because I won't be bothering you on Halloween night. And as for the hoochie costumes, that's not my fault, those parents should make their kids put some clothes on!

-Maybe a Crazy, But not on Halloween Night

10/20/2010

When the Unexpected Happens

Question:
Our good friend lost his job last week. He was president of the company, so this was a bit unexpected. His wife is a dear friend of mine, so I briefly shared your experiences with her to let her know that they can emerge from this okay. What are your words of wisdom that I can share with them?


Answer:
A few years ago, my husband worked for Washington Mutual. One Friday, he left work (amid rumors of turmoil) working for WaMu and returned to work on Monday working for Chase. It became very apparent, very quickly that his days with employment were coming quickly to an end. We would get some severance and we had savings so I sat down right away and figured just how long we could get by. I wrote out a very detailed budget and cut out all the fluff of our lives. I found a reasonable health insurance plan and made a list of all the "extras" that had to be cut. I figured that we had a year before we started to go into debt. Our tight budget was to start the very first day that unemployment started. Fortunately, we never had to use our tight budget, but I was ready. I was prepared; mentally and financially. You never know what is going to happen, but it never hurts to be over prepared. Now, I have a year supply of laundry soap, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, hair spray and 8+ months of food. We try to stay prepared for the unexpected.

Once the trials begin, I think sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in the turmoil of the every day and we forget to look at the bigger picture. The Lord has a plan for each of us, sometimes that plan has a rocky road, but he knows how best to get us to where we need to be. Despite the challenges of the day to day, we will always fare better if we have faith in his plan for us. He knows us best. Of course it would have been easier if we could have just looked into the crystal ball and seen how wonderfully it would all work out, but then what would we have learned?


And most importantly, never forget the power of positive thinking. Life is only as good, or bad, as you think it is. So, chin up, put your shoulder to the wheel and keep on pushing through!



Whaddya think?

DON'T FORGET TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR GIVE AWAY!!! YOU STILL HAVE 1 WEEK LEFT TO ENTER AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! Click here for details.

10/17/2010

Dinner or Dessert ON US!!


Don't you love a good sweepstakes!?? Me too!!
On October 31st (that's 2 weeks away!) we will be doing a drawing for a give away for a $30 Darden's Restaurant Gift Card to anyone who puts a link to our adoption blog on their blog/website! So, if you would like to be included in the drawing, use the code below our purple "Hoping to Adopt" button on the left side bar to add our button to your site, then send me an email (anothertolove@gmail.com) with a link to your site. On October 31st, one of my boys will draw a name out of the hat to select the lucky winner!

-Do you psychotically juggle multiple blogs/sites (like me?). Cool. You can have an entry for each site you post our button on. Just email me the links.

-Do you already have our button up? Cool. You can still use it as your entry. Just email me the link.


Don't have a blog/webpage???? That's okay: here's something for you!

Also on October 31st, we will be doing a drawing for a give away for a $10 Coldstone Gift Card. To be entered in this drawing you can do any (or all) of the following:

-post a link to this entry on your facebook wall (you can email me a link or leave a comment on this post with a link to your entry- don't forget to leave you email)

-blog about this giveaway, linking back to the post (you can email me or leave a comment on this post with a link to your entry- don't forget to leave your email)

-tweet about this giveaway, with a link to our adoption blog (you can email me or leave a comment on this post with a link to your entry- don't forget to leave your email)

-email your family and friends about this giveaway (send me the email too)

Did them all? Then you get to be entered 3 times!


By doing any of these, you may get dinner or dessert, but you'll be helping us find our baby, and that's priceless to us! Thanks and Good Luck!!

DON'T FORGET TO EMAIL ME YOUR LINK TO YOUR AD OR ENTRY!!! You can't be entered unless I know you've posted it!!!!!

NOTE: Due to some late entries, the drawing has been extended to Sun, Nov. 7th.

10/12/2010

Who's Your Neighbor?

A few years back, I came home one day to see my neighborhood FULL of cops and CSI agents (btw- CSI do NOT wear high heels and low cut shirts. In fact they wear full suits, like surgeons, and head coverings. just saying.). There were uniforms and suits, marked and unmarked cars, lining the entire street. When I ventured over to ask what was going on, I was told a dead body had been discovered (RIGHT NEXT DOOR). I watched them remove the body bag from my dining room window. I was so close I could smell it.
I'd seen the guy before. I knew what he looked like. But, I don't know his name.

I heard a story of a friend who found herself invited to a swinging dinner party. The house was a large, beautiful house in a affluent area. By day, the couple were businessmen/women and by night they hosted swinging parties.

Another friend was telling me how they were awakened in the early morning by the DEA storming their neighbors' house. The watched as they carried out computers and tvs and seized their cars. This same friend also shares a fence with a level 3 sex offender. You are probably thinking she lives in Scuzville, but actually she lives in a very average, relatively safe suburb.

We moved into a new house about a year ago. Since then, I've tried to get to know my new neighbors, but in this fast paced, digital society people don't venture out as much to get to know their neighbors.

When I was growing up, we knew our neighbors. We knew their names, where they worked, what the inside of their homes looked like. I could go into any of their houses for a play date, glass of lemonade or to get a band aid for my scrape. But, today, being friends with your neighbors is not as common of a thing and therefore, we are quite caught off guard when we find out there has been a meth lab next door for 5 years.

Although I have gotten to know the neighbors to one side of us; they have 3 boys too and our kids play well together, I barely know our other neighbors. I would recognize (some of) their faces in a crowd, but I couldn't tell you very many of their names. I don't know what their jobs are (although I do know which men work from home, someone has to help me move the dresser or lend me a drill when my battery dies...) Other than that, our paths just don't cross and other than a plate of cookies at Christmas, we don't try to cross them. I may not know their names, but I do expect them to watch for my kids playing outside when they drive into the culdesac....

Chances are my kids would be safer riding their bikes in the culdesac if they were surrounded by people who knew and loved them and were aware of them. Neighbors who actually knew the name of the child they were smiling and waving at. And that relationship is my job to establish, because if I do, I have more control of it. If I first establish a relationship with the neighbor, then I can use my judgement as to whether or not it is a good relationship for my kids to develop. If I know who my neighbors are then I can watch them interact with my kids. How they talk to them, how my children respond to them and even be there to catch the socially unacceptable. How are we to find out if the neighbor next door is a level 3 sex offender who hasn't registered or even something worst... if we haven't even tried to get to know them.

Jaycee Dugard was held captive for 18 years in the same home. Her neighbor spoke to her through the fence. People in town saw her. And for 18 years, no one noticed.

So, for the sake of our kids, all of our kids, hold a neighborhood barbeque, Easter egg hunt or Fall picnic. Get to know your hair dresser, your banker, your school bus driver, your mailman or your garbage man. Meet your kids' school friends' parents and ask their teachers and coaches personal questions (and tell them personal answers.) If you want to keep your kids safe, get to know your neighbors and scope out your community. Most people are great, awesome people, but you'll never find the ones who aren't, if you aren't looking.

And if you want to find registered sex offenders in your area, search here

Whaddya think?

9/30/2010

My Crib is Safe

I am all for keeping my kids safe, but it seems to me like the Baby Industry has gotten a little recall happy. It feels like every time I turn around, there's a recall on another toy, crib, food or car seat. Some of them are quite frivilous and others very necessary, but when there is a new recall every week, its hard to know which ones are truly worth paying attention to. Here are a couple I noticed (probably for the wrong reasons):


*A couple of years ago, Bumbo seats were recalled. These fabulous seats were recalled because parents would leave their 3 month old babies in them on the countertop and walk away. The babies would fall and get skull fractures. DUH!! I think the parents should be recalled, not the seats.

*A few days ago, Burlington Coat Factory recalled all of their children's hoodies, due to strangulation hazard. Seriously? Maybe we should recall jump ropes too. Or we could teach our children not to wrap things around their necks. (no injuries have been reported)

*Fisher Price just recalled a huge list of high chairs, tricycles, baby toys, and car and truck ramps. Millions of products. The high chairs have a plastic piece on the back that, if fallen on, has the potential to cut someone. (7 children have received stitches and there has been one "tooth injury". ) Rascal got 5 stitches in his forehead when he was 18 months old because he hit the corner of the wall- maybe all of our houses should be round... The baby toys have inflatible pieces, that if removed from the toy, and allowed to be chewed on, the valve can be bitten off and the baby could choke. Maybe this one is a little more valid, but still, 3 children have been reported to have "begun to choke" and the valve has been found in the mouth of 14 children. It's inflatible. There is a valve so don't pull it off. The tricycles have a little protruding plastic key that, if fallen on, can result in "serious injury, including genital bleeding". What does that mean? A child was cut? 10 children have been reported to have been injured.

But, sometimes there are actually recalls worth taking note of. Like Similac formula feared to have beetles and their larvae mixed into the powder. Disgusting- yes, uncomfortable- maybe, dangerous- no. Still, I'd want to know that one. (So did all the other mothers, the website crashed after the recall was announced because so many parents were looking up lot numbers...)

And I want to know about the products that are seriously poorly made. Cribs that pose serious suffocation risks, car seats that have faulty handles that break, causing you to drop the seat and potentially seriously injure your child or cause things of this nature.

I looked up recalls on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and I lost count of all the recalls. It just gets too confusing. I think our children would be safer if there were ratings on the seriousness of the recall. Like 1 to 5. 5 being deadly, 1 being a minor caution. Products shouldn't be recalled because parents are idiots or fluke accidents happen, maybe those should just come out as product warnings. We are the parents. We need to take some responsibility back for the safety of our children. Read the manuals when you put things together. Check your cribs periodically for loose screws. And don't put your babies on the counter, even in a baby seat, and walk away. The recalls would be fewer and easier to discern between if parents would just use plain old common sense.

On that note, you can go here and see if your crib is recalled.

Whaddya think?

9/22/2010

I Yelled At Him

A few days ago, I yelled at my Sidekick. I mean really yelled at him. (Later he said, "I've never heard you yell like that." *snicker*) We were talking on the phone while he was on his way home from work and he said something (I can't remember what now, so how bad could it have been?) and while making dinner and dealing with, "I want to help.", "I'm hungry.", "I don't like that for dinner, Mom." and "Did you get my new shoelaces today, Mom?" and all while I was running late for an appointment, so I just couldn't take whatever it was he said. So, I yelled (*screamed*) something at him and now I can't even remember what it was I said. But, I was mad enough that when he hung up on me for yelling, I didn't even care. By the time he got home, I was still fuming, but I knew I shouldn't have responded the way I did; however, I'm pretty stubborn. So, on my way out the door to my next obligation, I spouted, "Sorry I yelled at you." and ran out the door so quickly that he couldn't even respond.

Of course, by the time I returned home to a clean, quiet (kids in bed) house that evening, I'd calmed down a little so we hashed it out and ended up going to bed happy.

I've been thinking about this little event over the last couple of days. I've got an amazing husband. I boss him around like I own the place and most of the time he lets me take the lead because I run things quite efficiently. When we do disagree, I try to listen, because he usually let's me do pretty much what I want, so the issue must be pretty important to him if he has a different opinion. I've been updating our adoption paperwork lately (still looking, have you found us a baby girl?) and I've updated our marital status to 14 years. We've made it through some pretty serious life experiences: tragedies, job changes, moves, and some really great memories, and here I am still married to my best friend.

The house we bought a year ago, was up for sale because the couple was getting a divorce. A family with 4 kids whose life was turned upside down by a shocking revelation one day. Sometimes, when it's quiet (rarely), I ponder on the stories these walls could tell. The warning signs that could have been realized and the help that could have come before it was too late. The divorce rate for a 1st marriage in the US is 50%, the 2nd marriage is 67% and the 3rd marriage is 74%. Marriage can be hard. Having children can be hard. But, they are also very rewarding and worth all the effort we put into them. The odds are not in our favor, but marriage is essential to the well being and moral structure of our society. A stable family is the cornerstone of a stable community. Our children deserve for their parents to be together; together in parenting, together in ideals, together in spirit. Our children deserve for their parents to be friends.

So, next time you yell at your husband (or he yells at you), take a minute, calm down, realize the fault you have in the situation and work harder to amend it than you do to fix him. Talk to someone together before it's too late. And if you feel like the situation is already too far gone, think of the children.







Whaddya think?

9/13/2010

And I Didn't Drop a Ball

Sometimes I feel like a clown in the circus. I'm all dressed up with a smile painted on my face and juggling half a dozen items while entertaining an audience. Sometimes people throw more balls in the mix for us to juggle and sometimes some Sweet Angel comes and takes one away from us. Sometimes we drop a ball, but usually, because we have the stamina of Wonder Woman, we don't.

This morning while cutting my preschooler's lunch in a million pieces (to try and prevent him from stuffing too much in his mouth and puking again at preschool), I was writing a note for my kindergartner's backpack (the book order code I'd been given wasn't working) and trying very hard to remember to call my friend and ask if we could do a Halloween costume exchange when we swapped baby clothes sizes that day. We made it just in time to the bus stop, which meant that we were only 12 minutes late to preschool, which made us 15 minutes early to meet my friend for the clothing swap. But, today I remembered every one's shoes, backpacks and jackets. (SCORE!)

I knew that I needed to book it home in time to play the Dig N' Dinos Monopoly Jr game with my kindergartner and remind him every other turn to take a bite of his lunch so that he would be done in time to ride the kindergarten bus. He ate his apple while we walked to the bus stop.

I knew that I really needed to get to work on the lesson I'd be teaching to a group of 12- 13 year old girls in church on Sunday and I desperately needed to work on the class I was teaching at the adoption conference in November, on "Making Your Adoption Happen" (because mine seems to be... happening???? Go figure.) Don't get me started on how far behind I am on scrapbooking....

But, luckily today I don't have laundry to do, because I caught up on Friday, which means tomorrow, I'll need to catch up again, but I get a reprieve today. I know that tomorrow my adoption caseworker will be here to do a home study while I'm getting everyone ready for school and hopefully I can have everything done by the time we head for the bus stop so I can continue on to the eye doctor for Rascal's eye appointment. We'll probably be 10 minutes late. If we're lucky.

I've heard a lot of bloggers lately talking about their busy lives as SAHMs. Some are taking on extra jobs to make ends meat, others are collapsing onto the floor sobbing, overwhelmed with life. I've got the solution girls:

Let's just chill.

I've got a confession to make: My toilets are dirty. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

I don't care. Seriously. Not a bit. Because today my kindergartner creamed me at Dig N' Dinos Monopoly. (seriously- embarrassing- he CREAMED me.) We had a blast. And tonight our family will have a great lesson on what are important things in life to focus on. We'll use blocks to teach it, and we'll have a blast.

Another confession: My playroom is a disaster. And the only bed made in the house- is mine. woops. that was two confessions.

I have no idea what I am going to make for dinner tonight, but I have an adorable costume for my preschooler to wear on Halloween.

Because I (you) ROCK!! and I think I've got another solution for us.

I heard someone say once that there are boxes in men and women's minds. Women have like 10- 20 boxes open at a time and they are like bees in a beehive all buzzing around, crazy like, bumping into each other and never shutting up. Men open one box, say "work" and deal with it, and then they put it back, close the box and move onto the next box, say "dad", work on it and then put it back before opening the other box. And they even have a box labeled "Nothing".

"What are you thinking about honey?"

"Nothing"

WHAT???
seriously?? I don't even what that is....

So, today, I'm calling on all men everywhere to open more than one box at a time. Even just occasionally? Just two boxes occasionally?

Then maybe we can keep it down to 10 boxes open at a time. (And then they'd like better what happens at night when the door is closed.)

But, even if they don't, I'm still not cleaning the toilets today.

Because I'm Chillin.


(In the spirit of full disclosure: My Sidekick is pretty great! It was just a busy day- and for the record- I still didn't drop any balls)


Whaddya think?


9/10/2010

I Can Do Hard Things

Today I had a new friend tell me that her motto is, "I Can Do Hard Things". I liked that.

I think often in life we are asked to do hard things or deal with hard situations. Maybe it is to run an organization of youth while we are seriously ill or maybe it is learning how to effectively raise a difficult child. Possibly someone close to you has died or you have been unfairly wronged or hurt by someone or some situation. Maybe you have a teacher with whom you don't see eye to eye. Your challenge could be that you so desperately want children that others so easily seem to get, but are tragically unable to. Or maybe, for a million other reasons, your life is just plain hard.

But, you know what? That's ok, because life isn't supposed to be easy. If it was, what would be the point? What could we possibly learn from a life of constant ease and happiness? There would be no comparison, no contrast, no lessons to grow from or goals to work towards.

I have had my fair share of hardships in life, and I'm sure I'm not done. But, I have learned something along the way of life's roller coaster: Everything in life has a lesson and it's my job to find it and learn from it.

When I suffered a series of miscarriages, I learned that others too have suffered like I did and I gained strength and hope from listening to their stories and learning from them. I learned that one day, I too would be the success story that could share and encourage others who were suffering. I could let them know that there is hope and the end result will be every bit worth the journey.

When my mother died, I learned that life can change in an instant and so you should live life to the fullest. Tell those you love, that you love them, and never take them for granted.

When I was asked to lead a youth organization while I was so sick I could scarcely feed and care for my one small child, I learned that I am more capable than I think I am. I learned that with the Lord's help, I can accomplish anything. I learned that with His help, I too, can do hard things.

One of the biggest things I have learned from the hardships of life, is that if you look for the lessons, the hardships become more of a learning experience and less of a challenge.

So, next time you are offended by something someone has said, you are stressed about the components of your life, or you are saddened by a tragic event in your life, take courage. Everything in life has a lesson. Look for it and gain strength from the new knowledge you have learned. Grow from it and use it to build up the people around you. Because you too, can do hard things.


Whaddya think?

9/03/2010

Just Go Play!

My almost 9 year old, Buster, had a few free minutes before school this morning. He chose to spend his time playing the computer. By the time we left for the bus, he was irritable, snappy and frustrated because the computer "wasn't working". My kids have limited "screen time" and we had quite a structured summer, and still I noticed, that during "no screen" free time, they had a really hard time figuring out what to do. Without the guidance of directions and a screen, they were at a loss of exactly how to spend their time. It took encouragement and threats of locking the door to keep them in the backyard (which is quite spacious with lots of play structures and toys). They'd come in "bored" after only a few minuted of bike riding or shooting hoops. I offered them all kinds of fun activities (board games, legos, cleaning toilets, etc) but they refused to get engaged without threats of bodily harm. Sometimes we need to use a screen to babysit for us so we can get a few things done, but I've noticed that generally I pay for that because the time ends in screaming fights and ornery kids.

I think somewhere in this world of DS's, Wii's, xbox's, computers, ipods and cell phones, our kids have missed out on good, imaginative play. They haven't learned how to problem solve and think for themselves; lessons that are vital to their happiness now and as adults. They are too busy with piano, soccer, basketball and swim lessons (all adult structured activities) to help in the family's garden or spend an afternoon raking leaves. They don't know how to make change and pay cash for purchases (and be fiscally responsible) because everything is paid for with plastic. They don't know how to solve their own boredom. In short, they've missed out on the most important lesson they should have learned while being kids: how to think for themselves. I read one article that said, "[Children] are overseen, supervised, directed and micromanaged from morning until night by well-intentioned adults who claim to care about children but seem to know nothing about childhood. And so, the variable most lacking in the lives of children who currently live in the Land of the Free is freedom itself."

So, its that time of year again when I am getting into my Christmas planning mode and I am at a total loss. I don't want to buy another game system. I would rather not buy anything electronic. I want to give my kids things they will play with and think about, but I don't know where to start. (Which is probably why society is in this mess.) I would love to get them some models to build or help them find things to collect and explore. I've done this in the past and its always flopped. They never played with the toys. So, I'm asking you. How do we help our children become children again?



Whaddya think?

8/29/2010

If Only...

This past weekend, my Sidekick and I went on our first romantic getaway in over 4 years. We left the boys with friends (thanks!), and headed for the hills (literally- we went to a nice, quiet resort town in the mountains). It was beautiful, our suite was beautiful and it was fanastic eating whatever we wanted, sleeping however long we wanted, and going where ever we wanted. It was the perfect weekend, right up until we loaded up the trunk and walked around to unlock the doors. That was the moment that we realized we had just locked BOTH sets of keys in the trunk. The trunk of the convertible mustang (which has no trunk release anywhere in the car- you either needed the keyfob or the key- ALL of which were IN THE TRUNK).

We were over 100 miles from home, out in the middle of no where, with no way in the trunk. We had My Sidekick's wallet, our phones and a bottle of water (and a pack of Mamba candy- thank heavens!) It was pretty stressful, but we took a deep breath and jumped into gear, looking up numbers on our phones with the help of google and making calls. After an hour and half a dozen phone calls, we found a locksmith that could drive out and make us a new key for $150. A little over an hour later, we were on our way, with a new key and the info we needed to get reinbursed from our insurance.

As we were driving home after our mini crisis, we passed a road sign that said, "50 Days Since the Last Serious Accident. Please Drive Safely." The number on the sign was electronic and it obviously updated daily and had the ability to be reset. 50 Days ago, some one was in a serious accident on that same road. The sign was most likely there because there had been many serious accidents on that road. Possibly even fatalities. It made me start thinking, what if our mini crisis had saved our lives? What if this irritating and uncomfortable experience had put us on the road 2ish hours later to avoid a serious accident or some other tragedy?

I've seen lives forever changed in an instant and quite often when there is a tragedy, we say, "If only...". "If only they had taken another route home." "If only her mom had found her sooner." "If only the driver had had one less beer." "If only..." Have you ever stopped to wonder how many times "If only" did happen. Once we were staying in our familys' cabin. I put Rascal, who was not yet 1, down for a nap while the adults did work updating the cabin. Halfway into his nap, an annoying alarm kept going off through the monitor that I had luckily ("if only") brought. It turned out that it was the carbon monoxide detector that my aunt and uncle had luckily ("if only") brought to the cabin. It had been set off by the generator that was running right next to Rascal's room. He would have died that day, but instead, by divine intervention, "if only" happened. I will be eternally grateful to the baby monitor and the aunt and uncle that saved my baby's life.

I'm sure this is not the only time "if only" has happened in my life. It's just one of the only times that I was aware of it. So, instead of being all upset that our weekend getaway and subsequent evening was ruined and altered (we had a babysitter that we had to cancel, we missed a meeting we had wanted to attend, and we had to impose on our friends to keep our kids longer than originally planned), I am grateful that sometimes "if only" happens, even if it is irritating at the time. Chances are, we would have driven home just fine, without incident, but you never know... I imagine all of the near misses are recorded on the other side, and I bet we'll all be really surprised when we get there and see just how many times there actually were in our lives.

8/22/2010

Miracle

I am not usually at a loss for words, but recently I've been informed of something that has left me pondering more than talking.

Our good friends, Don and Joan, have suffered a loss in their lives. Their conjoined twin grand-daughters have completed their time on earth after almost four years of fighting. Every time I would hear of these little girls, the word "miracle" comes to mind.

Emma and Taylor Bailey were born almost four years ago and the doctors never gave them much hope. The doctors speculated that they would survive only a few hours. These precious little girls were joined from the waist to the sternum and shared a heart. A heart that was not large enough to sustain both of them.

I've pondered lately what exactly it is about these girls that automatically makes me think "miracle". What exactly is the miracle here? Is it that they lived almost until the age of four when they were given only minutes? Or maybe that they actually grew and thrived in spite of the odds they were given? Or possibly that they were able to touch as many lives as they did in their short time? Or was it simple that they left when they did, that the miracle was actually the fact that they were finally relieved of the pain and torment this life held for them?

I'd like to think that the miracle is that they were here and touched the lives that they came in contact with. Just like every other child who is born, the miracle is the gift of life itself, regardless of how long or short it was. I personally think it is amazing that these two little girls, who were best friends, maybe even because they had to be, were here and lived their life together. They came into this world together and they left it together, and that is the most miraculous thing of all.




Emma and Taylor Bailey


Whaddya think?

8/19/2010

Button Error

If you have copied and added (or tried to copy and add) our adoption button to your blog or website, it turns out there was an error in the code. It's working now, so you could copy and repost the button now, I'd appreciate it! Sorry and thanks!!

8/10/2010

How Will You Serve?

Before I had any of my kids, I had a tubal pregnancy. After 3 long weeks pain, ER and doctor visits, it ruptured. It took 5 days for the doctors to determine what had happened and by that point I had lost half of my blood volume. I was rushed to the hospital for a blood transfusion and emergency surgery.

I remember sitting in the doctor's office having the ultrasound. I was soo excited to see my little peanut on the screen. It would have made all of the pain and nausea worth it. I remember the nurse saying, "Is that the baby right there?" and then the doctor replying, "No,there is no baby, I'm not sure what that is." (It turns out it was a ball of blood.) I was shocked. As the doctor was caught up in the emergency of the situation, I was finding out, in a matter of seconds, the baby that I thought was growing inside of me, was not there. As I recovered from my surgery in the maternity ward, I could hear babies crying in the rooms surrounding mine.

After I was released from the hospital, physically I recovered quite well, but emotionally, I was sad and lonely. We were in school, at a new place and my family was hundreds of miles away. We would have had to deal with our grief all alone, if it wasn't for our church family. For a whole week, at lunch time, a "sister" from our church showed up with lunch and ate with me. Sometimes she did the dishes or took out the trash, but mostly, she took an hour out of her day to let me know that others were aware of my pain and I was loved. I didn't have great physical needs, but emotionally, this was just what I needed. I've often thought of that time in my life, mostly because if I had been asked what I needed, I would have never asked for that, because I didn't know I needed it. It took the insight of someone on the outside, to stop, look and think. I was changed by that experience. Not only did I indeed make it through this hard time (and end up with 3 adorable, although BUSY boys) but also I learned that often times, the person who needs service the most doesn't really know what they need and it is up to me (or everyone else) to stop, look and listen.

This year marks the 9th anniversary of September 11th, the day that America came together as one and we all became "brothers" and "sisters". Appropriately so, it has also been decided that in order to remember what happened that day, it has become a National Day of Service. There are countless organizations all across the country that are coming together to find ways to serve others. My family (even Rascal, my 2 year) has been collecting school supplies for less fortunate children and supplies for our troops. We will spend the Saturday assembling boxes of goodies for those who keep us safe and letting our friends, loved ones and those who will become our friends, "shop" for the things they need as school begins.

As a society we could all benefit from thinking less about ourselves and more about how we can help those around us. So, I challenge you to stop, look, listen and plan the ways your family can serve on 9/11. There is no better exercise for the heart than reaching down and lifting someone up.




Whaddya think?

8/05/2010

I am a SAHM

I had someone lately, refer to my current occupation as a "Domestic Goddess". Hmmm. I guess so.

I don't have a fancy law degree, although I settle disputes every day. I never went to med school, but I can butterfly a cut like the best of them and diagnose a multitude of illnesses from ear infections to pink eye. I never got an accounting degree, but I balance the budget every month, much better than the government. My psychology classes never ended with any kind of fancy certificate, but I listen to problems and offer advice on a regular basis.

I am a Mom. Everyday.

My day starts in the wee hours of the morning and goes until the wee hours of the next morning. I don't get vacation time, paid or otherwise and I don't get holidays. The pay is nonexistant and I get peed on, pooped on and thrown up on more than I care to admit.
I have to make it a conscience decision to close the restroom door in public, because I haven't used the bathroom alone in 8 years. I stay up late folding mounds of laundry while everyone else watches tv. I am constantly on the go and get the "you have your hands full" comment from strangers on a regular basis.

BUT, I get to play in the playland at McDonalds. I get to make a fool of myself dancing in my family room until I'm too tired to move. I can play kick ball in the backyard and swing so high that my feet touch the sky. I can go for a walk and marvel at the frogs, baby bunnies and birds. I can walk across a log and not care when I fall into the stream below. I can play at the beach until I am covered in sand. I can go to bed without having the dishes done because I was too busy playing games. I can read stories every day. I get paid in kisses.

I am a Mom. You can call it a "Domestic Godess" and I'll probably buy whatever you are selling if you do. But, the fact is, I am just a Stay At Home Mom. And I couldn't be more prouder or more thrilled because being a mom... rocks.

8/02/2010

A Low Cost Year

I decided a few weeks ago, that my family spends too much money. Partly because things cost too much and partly because we've been buying too many things. It seems that holidays (like anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc) have become less about the celebration of the holiday and more about the presents you buy for the holiday. When did birthdays cost hundreds of dollars a piece? First you have to rent the bouncy house ($150- $350), then buy the party games ($50+), then the party favor bags ($50+), and themed paper goods ($75+), and then on top of all that, you have to buy the new expensive toy that is out ($100+). Who can afford that? But, my kids go to parties like this ALL THE TIME! This year I told them that they could either have a pricey party/cheap gift or a pricey gift/cheap party, but since their birthdays are a month apart, it still cost like $450! OUCH! And pretty soon, Rascal will realize his party was a $10 cake and a $15 gift and he'll protest the unfairness! With so many of us, it seems there is one holiday after another. Somehow, we (and I mean my family along with society) have moved from the celebration of the event to this high cost extravagant life. So, after receiving a couple of credit card bills, I put the kibosh on our family's spending. I decided to try an experiment. For the rest of this year, we are having a low cost year. That means, that birthdays can not cost more than $20 (luckily for the boys- they've already had their parties- but even if they hadn't- I would have figured out how to make a creative, awesome, low cost party!) Anything over, MUST come out of the monthly budget! Our anniversary in Aug- $20 per person for gifts. We may head out of town for a night, in that event, we'll swap a night of babysitting and pay for the hotel out of the monthly budget (which means saving up and going without some leisurely luxuries.) Christmas has a $20 per person budget and everything must have a hand made part. (Santa will still come. He's separate) But, hopefully, this will help us get back to the family togetherness part of the holiday and focus more on the creative giving instead of the receiving part of the holidays. It will take a little more thinking, a little more creativity and and lot less money. But, I hope it will be lots of fun as we work together to find the perfect gifts. It will take a lot more time, to think, to plan, to work, but that's why I'm starting NOW!

I realized the other day as I was making my mental list of all the things we "need" (new desktop computer, movie making computer software, new camping gear) that life would be utterly boring and sad if we could just go immediately buy everything we "needed". There would be no saving, no sacrifice and ultimately no joy in the new item if everytime we wanted something, we ran out and just bought it. I hope I never have that much money.

This anniversary, will be remembered, because we sacrificed to make it happen. This Christmas, will be remembered because it wasn't about what we received but rather what we shared (without being tainted by financial stress).

I challenge you to join us. In this time of economic uncertainty and stress, what will you do to bring the joy back to your holidays? How will you bring the focus back to the art of giving instead of the oogle eyes of receiving? What will you do make the holidays less about money and more about family togetherness? I'd love to hear your ideas as well. Here are some sites for homemade gifts:

Not Made of Money

Family Crafts

Easy Homemade Crafts

Whaddya think?

7/18/2010

Today, I Am Grateful

In a day when we are plagued with all the ways in which our world and society is going down the drain, its good to know we are doing a few things right. There are ways in which we are still progressing. One of them is medical advances. Our healthcare system might need a bandaid, (or maybe even a body cast), but our life expectancy has reach an all time high. Since obesity and diabetes are still on the rise, we Americans have some work to do to improve our health. But, the advances in cancer treatments, infant mortality rates, treatments of heart disease, hypertension and infectious disease can be attributed to the great advances in modern medicine. And for that, I am truly grateful. As a result of these modern advances, today I will change diapers, make lunches, do laundry and play outside with my kids. Due to the advances of modern medicine, today, tomorrow and the rest of my week, will continue as normal.

For the last couple of years, my Dad, who is nearing 60 (which was the life expectancy of a male in 1930 and 12 years past the life expectancy of males in 1900) has suffered from shortness of breath. All of the tests and prodding only proved that he was remarkably healthy for his age. Finally, after a couple of years, he found a super fancy smancy doctor that ran a few tests and determined he had an extra heart muscle growing over a valve of his heart. It was an easy fix to remove it. Long story short, it didn't turn out to be an easy fix to remove it. Its a heart. With all kinds of intricate pieces really close together. After he coded a couple of times and spent a week in intense pain in the ICU, while we all prayed and held our breath, he stabilized and they popped in a pace maker with a defibrilator. And I say popped, because that seemed to be the easiest part of the whole ordeal. Now I tell you this long saga, because 50 years ago, my Dad would have died from all of this. The first external pacemaker wasn't invented until the 1930s and the first internal pacemaker wasn't until the 1950s. Pacemakers with defibrilators, were invented 10 years ago. There wouldn't have been a doctor that could have removed the extra muscle in the first place, so my Dad would have suffered from shortness of breath until his heart wore out and he had a heart attack. Fifty years ago, I would have been attending a funeral this week for the only parent I have left.

Ten years ago, I had a tubal pregnancy that ruptured and left me, unknowingly, bleeding internally for 5 days. By the time the doctors figured out what was going on with me, my blood volume had decreased by half. I was rushed in for emergency surgery and a blood transfusion. A hundred years ago, I would have died.

So, we may have some things to work on, but our advances in medicine are astonishing. Thanks to that, today, I'll take my kids to the beach instead of attending a funeral and then I'll call my Dad and tell him about all the naughty things Rascal, my 2 year old, did while we were there. And I will thoroughly enjoy him laughing at my stories. Today, I will be grateful for all the good things going on in our world, our nation and my life. Today, I am grateful for my family. I won't worry about fixing things, until tomorrow.

Whaddya think?

A Kinder, Gentler Nation

Have you ever seen a homeless person on the side of the road? Of course you have. What do you do? Quickly look away, lock your car doors, read their sign to see if this time there is a great, heartfelt plea there that is worthy of your money, or possibly mentally go through the contents of your car or wallet for something that would be of help to this poor soul down on their luck?

I've heard a story about a mom who had her precious baby boy with her out to lunch at a fast food joint. There was a smelly, dirty man at the next table who kept cooing and smiling at her angelic child. The baby loved it; the mom did not. She wanted this gross, strange man, to leave her innocent baby alone. She quickly ate and got up to leave, purposefully turning her back and getting as far away from her baby's stalker as possible. But, as she passed this man, her baby lept from her arms and landed in the arms of this dirty, disgusting man. While the mom was overcoming her shock, she saw a remarkable thing happen. Her baby didn't see a disgusting man, he saw a person. A person who smiled at him and enjoyed his return smile. A person who wanted to make him happy. He didn't smell him, or see the rips in his clothes. He saw a man who had a good heart. After the moment was over, this stranger handed the baby back to his mother, and said, "Thank you ma'am. I really needed that today." This mom had a change of heart.

I'm not saying that we should give money to every homeless man on the street or let them hold our babies. But, maybe, there are times in our lives, that we should look past the cover of the book to the pages inside. Because just maybe, there is a remarkable story inside.

I think there are times in life, when we don't reach out to others because deep down we are wondering "What's in it for me?". Sometimes we just don't care and sometimes we are just too plain busy to notice anything unless it is right in front of our face. I think to much is given, much is expected, and I for one, feel like I have been given a lot. So, I try to notice when a friend is having a baby, or has sick kids or is struggling with something in her life. I'm sure there is a lot I miss. But, I know there is a whole world out there that is struggling along. So I try.

I saw an elderly lady who pulled out in front of another driver today by accident. It was apparent she thought she was getting waved out. This other driver, who had plenty of room to give her space and NOT hit her, quite rudely and unnecessarily was overly aggressive with her horn. Repeatly. I felt bad for this elderly lady, who was paying attention and just made an honest mistake.

We all make honest mistakes and we all have times of need. We should be banding together as societies, communities and families to help one another. Be patient with one another. Be supportive of one another. We should constantly be striving to be more aware of those around us and forgive others of their tresspasses. Because, we are all books of some kind. And inside each of us there is an amazing story to be told. How much better our world would be if we were all constantly striving to be a Kinder, Gentler, more Patient Nation?

Whaddya think?

7/12/2010

Today's Tiny Tip

If your family has been issued an ER punch card, like mine, consider adding 2 things to your first aid kit (and DON'T forget to keep one in your car!)

1. Butterfly Bandages. These tiny little bandaids are just used to close a gap. They can close a deep, gushing, nasty gap and make them appear harmless on the way to the doctor's office or ER.

2. Disposable Diaper. I know this sounds weird, but a diaper is really soft and super absorbant. You can cradle a head wound or wrap an arm or leg very easily. Its soft, cushiony and will absorb a lot of blood. Trust me.

If your child has a wound that makes you freak out (visable break, exposed bone, etc) don't hesitate to call an ambulance. The last thing you need is to get in an accident because you are freaking out over a fixable problem.

Happy Summer!

7/08/2010

Are You Watching Me?

I've been getting phone calls lately from folks who are looking for another individual who shares my name. This is kinda intriguing to me, because my phone number is purposefully not listed under my name (because of this name sharing individual). Its listed under my initials. So, I asked my new phone friends how they got my number (which has never been listed under my full name) and was only slightly surprised when my new pre-teen friend answered, "from google".
Seriously????

So, I googled my name and sure enough on the 3rd page I found www.123people.com which listed the last 4 or 5 addresses and phone numbers I've had (too bad for you- its not there anymore- we requested it be removed!)

You can also go to www.spokeo.com and find everything from my zodiac sign to my house value (which is definitely NOT $1+ M, so they aren't exactly accurate with everything). For a fee, you can get my phone number and address (sorry again, you won't get the most recent info- we had it removed as well).

You can track a person across the country by seeing which traffic cameras and security videos they show up on and police officers are starting to wear body cams. Nanny cams have long been a controversial issue of privacy.

In some cities around me, there are red light cameras (and school zone cameras) that will take a picture of your license plate and mail you the ticket for running the red light (or speeding in the school zone). Everyone now has a camera on their phone and is not afraid to use it, as evidenced by the all too familiar video of the Seattle police officer in an altercation with a jay walking perpetrator.

In this day of modern technology, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It's very hard to truly send a 'secret' message. If you text it or email it, it can go viral in a matter of minutes. For security purposes, our "chatter" is constantly monitored for key phrases.

Now, I believe some of this is absolutely necessary and I am willing to keep my police officers and children (etc) safe at the expense of a little privacy. (I mean- you shouldn't be getting pulled over or smacking a child around anyway). But, I have become increasinly more cautious with my personal info that is out on the internet (thank you very much Same Name Friend!). But, I want to know what you think. How much is too much of a privacy invasion? How far do you think it will go? And what privacy sacrifices are worth it to you, and why?

Whaddya think?

6/28/2010

I'm Proud to Be An American- and I know what that means

Having 2 grandfathers that served in World War II, I've studied it in depth. I'm determined to not let the history that my grandfathers contributed to be forgotten. I want to know where they served, what they did and how life was back then. Through my studies, one thing that has always intrigued me, is the rationing that took place during that time. In order to get out of debt and still have the necessary supplies for our soldiers, Americans were asked to participate in a rationing program. Everything from food to clothing to gas was rationed. Families sacrificed and adjusted to help others. They found new recipes and swapped cloth remnants. They pooled together their resources and worked together. There was a sense of community, patriotism and self-lessness. Although I am not wishing that we could start a rationing program, I envy the lessons that were learned throughout this period of time and I wish we could grasp even a portion of it today. These Americans, our parents and grandparents made this sacrifice with few complaints, because they knew the real sacrifices were made by the men fighting for their freedom.

Contrast that to today, when Things are the way of life. There is no sacrifice asked of us for war or otherwise, and usually none given by us unless forced upon us. Our brothers, sisters, parents, and children are fighting a war today, maybe a slightly different war- done with more technology and fewer casualties- but there is just as much sacrifice asked of the soldiers fighting for us now. How many letters have you written? How many care packages have you sent? How many soldiers have you thanked?

In a day when the war has become political (its about oil! No freedom! No oppression!) don't forget the days of 9/11. You know where you were. You know what you were doing. You remember the feelings you had that day. You would have done anything to prevent the anguish that was happening all around you. THAT is why these guys/gals are there, whether you agree with the politics or not.

I've heard it said lately that the biggest threat to America today is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation. They take for granted the life that they live. They do not fully comprehend the price that others have paid for them. This Sunday will be the anniversary of our nation's freedom. Freedom that didn't come freely. So, as you are planning your fireworks show and your barbeque, make sure you take time to sit your children, your grandchildren or your neighbor kids down and tell them why those fireworks are going off. Why you have the day off of work. And why that is such a big deal. Make sure you take time to thank a soldier, from this war or one past. Because it wasn't politicians who liberated Auschwitz, it was our troops.

I am proud to be an American.



Whaddya think?