Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On the Job

A couple of weeks ago I got to do hair for a wedding. I did the bride, the mother-of-the-bride, and three bridesmaids. I forgot to take pictures (like usual) so here are a couple of her wedding photos, courtesy of Capri Photography:
She was a very laid-back bride and not too picky, so that made it easy. All three bridesmaids wanted simple half-up do's without any curl so there wasn't much to photograph there. I love getting wedding gigs. Its so much fun to be a part of such an exciting day. And that day felt extra special since we had celebrated our 10th anniversary the day before, so I was feeling all nostalgic :)
The other "job" I recently took on was my first photography session! NO, I was not PAID for this one :) I had close friends looking to get some cheap family pics taken. I offered to do them for free, since until I had a nice camera, all I wanted was for someone to snap some photos every now and then of my kids with their nice camera. (My friend, Elizabeth, so graciously did it for us three different times! But once she had her 4th child in, like, 4 months, it was a little much to ask of her!) So I just wanted to pay it forward. It went pretty good, I suppose, for my first try. Definitely harder than I thought and so much pressure! (Well, not that much pressure since they were free, but still! I was more nervous doing this than a bride's hair, that's for sure.)

I know I have a lot of room for improvement, that's for sure. I almost signed up for a photography class that came through this week on Livingsocial but it was hard to pull the trigger on spending the $100 on myself. Thanks, Katie & Tony, for being great guinea pigs! All of my photos edited on

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Great Debate

I have had several friends over the years ask me what I've chosen to do regarding vaccinations with my boys. I've typed up long emails so many times and it came up again this week with another friend. I decided rather than re-writing it every time, I'd just blog about it so that I can refer them here.
Let me preface this by saying I'm certainly no expert on the matter! But I do read a lot and the more I read, the more confident I am in my decision.
Here's what I do: I don't start any vaccinations until 6 months old. And at that point, I start them one at a time, and just a select few. So basically at every doctor's appointment starting at 6 mos, they get one shot. The ones I've chosen to accept are the HiB and the DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis). The DTaP was only available through my pediatrician as a combined vaccine called Pediarix that also covered Polio and HepB so they've been vaccinated against those as well, by default. Some things I've read suggest waiting until age 2 to vaccinate. I felt comfortable starting at 6 months, having robust, healthy boys. Its all about your comfort level. And never vaccinate when your child's immune system is compromised in any way(although, I'm pretty sure even most doctors would tell you that).
I chose those two vaccines based on the information in this book: The Parents' Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations. Although I've read plenty of articles and information online, that's the only published book I've read on them. I ended up buying it (but have since lent it out so many times I'm not sure where it ended up). I highly recommend it because of it's clear, concise (hence the title), user friendly and non-biased information. Its written by a doctor who gives the pros and cons to every vaccine required. Its just factual. She's not trying to sway you one way or the other. But after reading it, and lots of other things, my personal opinion that I feel strongly about is that so many vaccines are unnecessary. The medical field is a multi-billion dollar industry and its so hard to believe a lot of things you hear when money-making is at the root of it, rather than the health and well being of our children. Have you heard more about Shingles lately and seen commercials for a new vaccination for adults to prevent it? Did you know that when your children have chicken pox and you're around them, it reduces your risk of contracting Shingles as an adult? So vaccinate kids against chicken pox= outbreak of Shingles in adults= make a new vaccine for Shingles= $$$. That's just one example I've come across that's maddening to me.
If you want more information to make informed decisions, I highly recommend signing up for Dr. Mercola's e-newsletter or just exploring his web site. Here's another good web site that shows the amount of vaccines in 1983 vs. 2012.
I chose to delay vaccines and spread them out because of the high risk of autism in boys (1 in 54 boys). And weather its proven to be related or not, I'd really rather not take the chance. I also have a cousin-in-law who's son, Blake, has Alopecia (an auto-immune disorder resulting in total or partial hair loss). She told me once that she remembers his hair started falling out exactly two weeks after a dose of vaccines when he was a baby. I'd much rather be safe than sorry. And for that same reason, I chose the vaccines that could help prevent some potentially life-threatening illnesses in my kids.
One other thing I'd like to mention on here, please remember that these are your child and the decision is completely up to you. Don't be suckered in by some bully nurse who tells you you have to do it. You don't have to. And you don't owe them any excuses or explanations. And if you're being persuaded in a way that makes you uncomfortable, find another doctor. We were with a pediatrician for a while who was totally fine with whatever I chose. The nurse, however, made me feel guilty and uncomfortable for a while about it. I stuck to my guns and eventually she got over it and wasn't cold to me. But then recently the pediatrician left the practice and we were forced to find another one. I'm glad she did. I like our new one even better. It can be extremely hard to find a pediatrician who will let you choose the vaccine schedule, but not impossible. Its worth a little drive if you find one.
And lastly, I used to be worried about when it was time for my kids to go to school. I didn't think I'd be able to claim religious exemption if I'd chosen to do some but not all. It turned out to be absolutely no big deal at all. I spoke to a nurse on the phone and she assured me it was fine. Print out the form, get it notarized, include it with their medical stuff, no questions asked. Seriously, nothing to worry about! And regarding the slight guilt I felt over claiming religious reasons to not vaccinate, my mother-in-law told me that its not lying when God put you in charge of your children; to keep them safe and make the best decisions you know how to make for them! So there's nothing wrong with that!
Please know, I am not in any way judging anyone else's decisions! I just wanted to share what I've chosen to do in hopes that other people will realize it ultimately is your decision.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Today was the day. My baby boy who's not at all a baby anymore was off to Kindergarten.

First day outfit and fake smile (I can still get away with choosing stuff for him...probably not for much longer.)
His first backpack! (scored it on major clearance from PBKids. "Look, honey, isn't a soccer backpack what you always wanted??" I'm lucky he's so easy going. Sure, I let my kids wear stuff with TV characters on them. On pajamas and underwear.)
Seriously, what's not to love about this boy?? Jon was taking this picture. I have a pretty good idea of what he said to get such a great smile:
Waiting at the end of our street for the bus! It was really chilly and windy this morning but of course none of us felt the weather. We were so focused on the moment:
Pretending to hold it together. A mess on the inside. This is going to be much harder when I'm not left with a baby in my arms.
And the moment of anticipation had arrived. Its nice to know there were plenty of familiar faces on the bus with him. He has so many great neighbor friends. His ride to school is only 9 minutes (his ride home is much longer):
They say you have to "cut the apron strings" when your kid gets married and leaves you. Pretty sure one of those strings was snipped at this very moment:
I cried a lot two nights ago when I was trying to fall asleep. That's when it all just hit me. Have I done enough?? That's the question that kept resonating through my head. Have I done enough to prepare him for his first big step into the real world? Will he remember to use his manners? Who will give him a big hug when he falls on the playground? Who will wipe his mouth after lunch? Who will make sure no other kids are teasing him or laughing at him or pushing him around when Mama Bear isn't there watching? The teachers can't catch everything. And if somebody does, will he tell me or keep it all inside? I meant to pray with him before he left but the first morning was so hectic, I was feeding Channing up until the moment his bus came. But we prayed last night for protection for his eyes and ears and hands and feet and that he would be a light for Jesus in his class.
I couldn't help but have flashbacks to other milestones that made him seem so big at the time!
Standing on his own:
Switching him to his toddler carseat:
His first night in a big boy bed:
And his first day of preschool:
Today was such a drastic jump compared to all those!
My neighbor graciously watched Dawson and Channing for a few minutes for me so I could follow the bus to school and get him settled in his class. When I got there, he was already at work!
And he had his bag hung up and unpacked. I just love all the organization and labels :)
His table, with Ellie and Dylan (who were both much quieter than Bennett while I was there). The other girl in the missing spot is Kapriece and she gave me a big hug when I got there! Maybe she was missing her mommy already.

His teacher, Ms. Bridgeman, seems really sweet. I'm hoping its a wonderful and memorable first year of school for him! I hope he comes home with lots to say!! I want to know everything :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

A few videos

I got this video of Channing cracking up on Monday. This boy is so sweet but is a little tough to get a good belly laugh out of. Of course Nana got him going, the most I've ever seen!:

I decided I'd video the other boys too in their elements, just so you can hear their little voices these days (Uncle Graham & Aunt Sarah! Candy & Ava!)
Bennett reading:
Dawson playing with Playmobil, his favorite toys these days:

And all the boys together, driving their cars to "get donuts at Casey's". They have their father to thank for that one ;)  Also, notice how Bennett's holding Channing's hand. Its constant, like some kind of subconscious reaction, and the sweetest thing. It just gets a little awkward when I'm holding Channing and trying to walk and Bennett won't let go and keeps kissing his feet.
Impressed with the mess? That's a daily occurrence these days. Why do boys think it's so fun to just dump stuff out for the heck of it or swipe everything from a table onto the floor? Is that what your house looks like every day? Or do you actually manage to keep your kids from "getting anything else out until you put the     (insert name of any toy here)    away" ??

Bennett lately: reading, reading, reading and I love, love, love it. Is there a developmental phase more exciting and fun to see unfold than this one? Probably when he was 1 and started saying a new word or learning a new trick every day. That one was up there too.
He's still sweet but of course, we're having to come down on him a lot more for his attitude and tone of voice. A simple, "try that again" works great (Thanks, Nikki!) It's been wonderful just learning a simple verse (Proverbs 6:16-19) and discussing it with him (I got that idea from Dobson's, The New Strong Willed Child). That way, when he lies or is being braggy, I just say, "What does the Lord hate?" And he'll tell me, "a lying tongue". SO powerful and simple.
He still has a lot of trouble falling asleep at night and usually comes out of his room once or twice. He listens to books on CD, (I got him Life at the Pond for his birthday and he loves it! Uncle Wiggily is his other favorite) and usually falls asleep around 9pm and gets up around 7:30.
He starts Kindergarten in just 6 days!!! Big changes ahead!

Dawson lately: Phew! We are starting to see the light (did you just start singing Tangled? I did.) on changes in his behavior. The year between his 1st and 2nd birthday was so incredibly tough and challenging. I had the fear of God in me when I thought about going through the terrible twos and even worse threes with him. But the more his communication skills have improved, the more he's mellowed out. Don't get me wrong, he's still disturbed quite easily and throws tantrums here and there but he spends more time happy than mad these days. I've been praying over him every night at bedtime that God would fill him with gentleness, kindness and love. It's still a work in progress but so is every single one of us, right?

Sheesh. I started writing this post three days ago and the last two days with Dawson have been ROUGH. Lots of hitting and temper tantrums. So it comes and goes. He's absolutely hilarious though, with his facial expressions and inflections. He loves to set up all his cars and animals and Playmobil people and plays really good by himself. He's really into giving people compliments these days. I used painters tape to make roads for his cars all around the house and he kept telling me, "cool road, Mom!" On Sunday it was, "cool shoes, Mom!" and today at the park to a random girl, "cool hanging! Cool move!"
I thought we were starting to potty-train. He was running around naked after swimming and told us he needed to go potty. He went twice. The next morning I figured we'd just dive right in. He went two more times that morning and then had two accidents on the floor. The rest of the afternoon he was fighting me every time I told him to sit on the potty and I just didn't have it in me. So back on the diaper went. I would love some tips on potty training a strong-willed boy! So throw 'em at me! Do I just keep waiting until he really makes up his mind to do it? Or do I take him to the store and let him pick out his own potty treats? I know how to train a child who will sit when I ask him to sit. I don't know how to train one that refuses to sit!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Decade

August 3rd, 2002:

How do you even begin to sum up a decade of marriage in one blog post? I am so incredibly blessed to still be in love with my husband because we've both chosen to love each other. We've waded through a lot of muck and drifted through a lot of calm waters. And through each season, we've chosen love.
I smile inside when I think back to my young teenage self. Just like most young girls, I had an ideal timeline of the way I wanted my life to go. I always wanted to get married young. I thought the ideal age to have my first child was 24. And I wanted to be done having kids by the time I was 30. I got married at 19. I had Bennett when I was 24 and I had Channing (our last unless God intervenes...) at 29. Funny how some things work out exactly as we imagine while others end up so completely opposite from the picture in our heads (ex: three boys!!!!)
I suppose the greatest lesson I've learned in ten years is to find out exactly what love means to your spouse. I remember so clearly the excitement and anticipation I felt as I gifted Jon with a red leather journal I'd kept for an entire year while we were dating/engaged. I started it on February 14th, 2001 and gave it to him on February 14th, 2002. I'd filled the whole thing with thoughts, memories and moments of that year together. He unwrapped it and said something along the lines of, "oh, cool". And then I never heard about again. I think I asked him a few months later if he even read the whole thing! I was crushed! (And by the way, reading through parts of it today, it was kinda boring! HA!)
Anyway, my point is, I was showing him love in ways that I wanted to receive it. Finally, ten years later, we've really learned what love means to each other. To me, his words of encouragement mean the most. A "that's a good idea" or "you were right, honey" or, "you're such a great mom"  mean the world coming from him! And I especially treasure the sticky notes he leaves me so I can re-read his words again and again. And for him, all I have to do is bake banana bread or cookies and clean the house and he's a happy man (among some other unmentionables...ah hem. What all men really care about, right?).
And frankly, I've learned if I'm not feeling very loved, all I have to do is quit dwelling on it, buck up and show him more love first and it bounces right back to me. Funny how that works.
Another great thing I've discovered along the way is to quit expecting your husband to read your mind. I learned about a year in to quit hoping he'd give me sympathy when I needed it and to just come out and ask for it! Make it silly and funny. Guys are simple creatures (most of them). Women are not. If something crappy happened to me that day, I'll tell him first, "I just need sympathy, not solutions". And if something really really crappy happened and I need TONS of empathy, I call my girlfriend. And that's ok. Your husband doesn't need to be your girlfriend too.
(I didn't think of this stuff myself. I learned a lot from the 10 years, off and on, I worked with Gary & Barb Rosberg. And two great books to start with are The Five Love Languages and Love and Respect.)

A great thing I heard from my parents early on is this:
Everybody loves about 85% of their spouse and the other 15% drives them nuts. Focus on the 85, not the 15.
That's not a one-time deal. That's a constant choice, day in and day out!
Facebook doesn't help this. If you're struggling at all in your marriage, don't get on Facebook around Valentine's Day or Mother's Day! I'm so glad I got married before Facebook and Pinterest. There was so much less pressure and comparing back then!

We have a lot more work to do. But I know the hardest part is behind us. The future looks golden to me. I'm so thankful to have you by my side, Jon. You are my best friend and the one I would choose a thousand times over. Thank you for loving me, an imperfect person, perfectly.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

a little dose of cute

I had been trying to get Dawson to talk or sing to the camera after dinner but he wasn't giving us much entertainment. Then as soon as I started filming Channing, he decided he wanted the camera back on him :)  Channing's two favorite moves these days: grabbing his toes and flapping his wings.

We took the boys to VanDee's last night (a local ice cream shoppe) so Bennett could redeem his free kids cone he earned from the library reading program.

I asked him, "Bennett, are those flowers real or fake?"
He felt them and looked up in surprise, "FAKE!"

"They must have planted fake seeds in there."