Monday, December 31, 2012

24 Weeks - a comparison

In my last post, I didn't really want to do a comparison shot between my pregnancies with Klaw & Scream. I changed my mind.  I'm just over 24 weeks pregnant with Scream and I decided to just go for it. I think it's neat to compare the two pregnancies. I'm a little bigger this time around, but I feel like my body & belly is shaped almost exactly the same with the two boys.



Thankfully, everything is going well. I'm still pukey, but I have accepted that this is just how I do pregnancy. Scream seems healthy and is very active in the womb. Very. Active.

I've been reading some new (to me) pregnancy & birthing books. I tend to be interested in the books discussing the socio-economic/cultural aspects of the American birthing system and books that affirm our bodies' abilities to give birth without intervention, barring emergencies.

On the one hand, it's absolutely amazing how much we are able to do with modern medicine. So many lives, both babies & mothers, can be saved now that would have been lost decades ago. On the flipside, it seems so counter-intuitive to prescribe these amazing life-saving interventions to women who are capable of having a medically uneventful birth.

No, I'm not getting into a debate over which model (midwifery or medical) is better. I have my opinions about what appeals most to me but I won't begrudge another woman the decisions she makes or the healthcare provider she trusts & is most comfortable with leading up to & during birth.

Personally, I like to keep my feet in both worlds by birthing in a hospital with both a midwife & a doula. That way, someone else has to clean up the mess and my dogs aren't all up in my business. Balance.

What is some of the best advice you have heard regarding pregnancy &/or childbirth?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In case you missed it..

I'm 20 weeks pregnant.

I thought about doing a comparison shot from 20wks with Klaw...but no.

With another boy.

We are calling him Scream. Why?

Even my midwife laughed at this.

Yep, he's already upped the creepy factor by 11. Definitely my kid.

So, anyways, this has been keeping me busy. I don't do pregnancy well but at least I'm not as sick as I was with Klaw.

I am definitely showing earlier than I was with Klaw, which has been weird. The 20wk ultrasound looked good, everything was where it was supposed to be and working properly. Naturally, like a boy, Scream was very cooperative when the tech went looking for proof of his sex.

Does that ever change?

We had a nice Thanksgiving and got to see a lot of family members. My aunt & uncle conveniently live halfway between Chris's mom & dad's homes, which is nice. My mom & nana were able to come up so we got to see almost everyone in one fell swoop.

3 of the 4 cousins


The cousins had a great time...even though Klaw wanted to take ElfBabyK home with him (she is the tiniest, cutest thing ever). We've also noticed that ElfBabyK's twin brother, W, favors Klaw. Which is odd. I'm going to assume Brooks (BIL) and I are related somewhere down the line...it's safer that way.

Klaw also got a piggy back ride from my cousin, Luke...

Yes, 4 legged family members outnumber the bipeds on my side of the family.

There are a few other things on my plate now, too...but I'm waiting a little while to unveil them.

Any big changes on the way in your lives?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

For the Love of Kathryn (TTTS)

Today, a dear friend of mine, Alexa, is sharing the story of her experience with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).


 Alexa and I met while we were both living in Charleston, SC and became fast friends sharing a love of laughter, good food, and, well, shenanigans. We met through a mutual friend, eventually lived in the same apartment complex, and she helped me get a job with her at a tiny little French restaurant. Later, I moved on to outdoor education and running a canoeing program while Alexa learned about four different languages in her spare time (I may be exaggerating, but not by much) and joining the military. Years passed and we have reconnected on another level as mothers.  Alexa's experience with TTTS was the first time I had ever heard of the syndrome and I find her story informative and her strength inspiring.



For the Love of Kathryn

Did you know that TTTS kills more babies than SIDS?  TWICE as many babies!  Was your first question after you read that “What the heck is TTTS???”  A year ago, that would have been my reaction.  Yet I bet everyone is familiar with SIDS.  Well, I am altogether too down and personal with TTTS because it killed my daughter.  

TTTS is Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome.  If you EVER know of anyone pregnant with identical twins, you need to tell them to stop, do not pass go, and head directly to the TTTS Foundation webpage.  (Contact information at the end of this post.)   And don’t allow them to be like I was.  My thought was “What can some woman in Wisconsin do to help my situation??”  So I never made that call to Mary at the TTTS Foundation.  And that will haunt me forever. Turns out, she has saved a LOT of babies. 

I was stupid.  Ignorance is not always bliss.  In my case, ignorance is a lifetime of pain and loss.  Earlier intervention, more ultrasounds, knowing the signs and symptoms, knowing the treatment options (since even many OBs do not!) can help change the outcome for babies.

Our story is written.  But I can try to help change someone else’s story.  That is why I am dedicated to raising awareness.   So to do just that, I’d like to share some of our personal journey.
September 28, 2011.  It was approximately 1:30 p.m.  My husband and I watched the ultrasound screen in amazement.  Identical twin girls!  Even though we found out very early, at just six and a half weeks, that we were pregnant with twins, we still were reeling from the idea!

This being our third pregnancy, we were experienced with the 20 week ultrasound, but I wanted my husband to be there anyway.  I knew he’d regret it if he never got to see how the awesomeness of the two babies interacting in the womb.

Thank the Lord he was by my side that day.  

The ultrasound tech seemed different to me that day.  There was something about the way she was telling me the information.  She was very matter of fact, and seemed to be in a hurry.  I commented on how big these girls were going to be when she told us Baby A already weighed 15.8 oz at 20 weeks and 3 days.  And how odd that Baby B only weighed an estimated 8 oz…

Then, the words that forever changed my world.  “See this black area in Baby A’s belly?  This is fluid.”  As soon as the words came from her mouth, tears started streaming down my face.  My husband looked at me and laughed.  “Don’t start imagining scenarios!”

“This is bad hon,” I told him.

And it didn’t take much longer before he understood the degree.

The ultrasound technician hurried through the rest of her exam and told us that we had TTTS and the Doctor would tell us more about it.  As we sat with the doctor, she told us the basics – when twins share a placenta (called monochorionic-diamniotic or mono/di twins – one placenta, two sacs) there is a high risk that they will not share fluids from the placenta equally.  One twin winds up “donating” fluids and the other receives too much.  This is why there was such a size difference in the babies.  The “black” area in the belly indicated hydrops fetalis – or a build-up of fluid in the baby’s abdomen, indicating heart failure.  

Not all babies with TTTS develop hydrops… the craziest thing about TTTS is how varied the outcomes can be.  Single loss, double loss, double survivors, some with severe disabilities and those that have no disabilities at all.  And then, because many of them are born so premature, they are faced with all of the challenges of severe prematurity.  There is no certainty about anything with this disease of the placenta.  But one thing is certain – you can’t fight something you know nothing about!  So learn, be aware, and share that awareness!  You never know when someone in your life may be impacted by this!

The card below gives some very key points and information.  
The details of the next few minutes, hours, days, weeks would fill a novel for me to write.  If you are interested in knowing what transpired in the months to follow, please come visit my blog “No Holding Back”.  Luckily our story doesn’t end completely dismally.  Our donor baby, Tiny as I refer to her, although only 1lb10oz at birth, has overcome all odds and is a perfectly healthy and very happy baby!
Thanks to Dana for allowing me to use her Blog as another opportunity to spread awareness!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Interview with Colby Wren #KnowAboutMito

Last fall, Colby Wren hit the front page of  "mito" news when he was interviewed by several news outlets, including the Atlanta Journal Constitution and CNN. He was a baseball player for Georgia Tech, is the son of Braves Manager, Frank Wren, and lives with mitochondrial disease. When I read an article and found him on twitter, I immediately sent him a tweet thanking him for going public with his struggles.

We are big sports fans in this house and I have mentioned our hopes that Klaw will be the best pitcher ever recruited by the Chicago Cubs. When we got the VLCAD Deficiency diagnosis, we were afraid that Klaw would no longer have the option to pursue sports even if he desired it.

Over the past year, I've had the opportunity to get to know Colby better and I'm glad that he can be a role model for Klaw and other kids with mitochondrial disease. Colby's story highlights how different mitochondrial disease an cbe for each person affected and it serves as a source of hope and determination.

Colby took the time to answer a few questions for me to feature on this blog during Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week:

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1 - Thankfully, many infants & children are being diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. You weren't diagnosed until you were high school. What were some of your thoughts when you got the diagnosis?

Some of my thoughts were how am I going to have to change my life/lifestyle and what am I going to have to give up or start doing differently.

2 - As an athlete, you put your body through more stress than the average person. When you add mito to the equation, you have to take even more precautions to maintain your health and stamina. Describe a typical day with how you prepare yourself for baseball and how you recover.

Well, now I am a student coach at Georgia Tech so I have had to change up my routine. My old routine was wake up for a 6 AM workout and then hope and pray that I had enough time for a nap before my next class. Practice from 3:00-6:30 and do it all over again. Things that helped me and my body recover were proper nutrition, knowing my personal limits in workouts and exercise, and as much sleep as possible throughout the day.

3 - Looking back on your younger self and knowing what you have learned about mito, what were some of the biggest warning signs that are clear with 20/20 hindsight? 

Well my gastrointestinal problems have been apparent since I came home from the hospital. (bad reflux and couldn't hold down food as a new born) I would always get sick always throw up, but since I never truly played a sport that was extremely high intensity until I was in 4th grade I didn't see a lot of the more intense signals and problems occur.

4 - What advice do have for parents of mito kids who are athletically inclined, to the best of their abilities? What should we pay attention to when our children are playing or exercising that a child may ignore because they are having fun?

This is my personal opinion and knowing that each child is different here are some basics that can be applied to a larger spectrum.
1. Know your body and your personal limitations with energy. 
2. Be very careful about heat and hydration. The hotter the days the more water needed and the less activity should be accomplished. 
3. Slowly work into athletics or exercise. Never just jump into things until you have specifically talked with your doctor/physician about what he thinks should be your boundaries and work from there.
4. There is a big difference between pushing yourself physically and being stupid. There are times when a little extra push or energy is okay, but then again it is up to the individual. DON”T try to impress people and end up hurting yourself I have done that many times and it never ends up doing me any good in the long run.

5 - What advice would you give a kid like Klaw who will likely face similar issues that you have dealt with should he pursue athletics?

I would give any kid with the ability and well-being to play athletics to pursue them and just enjoy every bit of them. There are some kids who just hate sports, but if you have the passion or the itch you just have to go for it. Keeping yourself active is not only good health wise it is also good for you energy levels. Whatever you can physically do can help your body and have fun at the same time. It teaches life skills and personal skills that cannot be taught by a book, but by just experiencing it first hand.

6 - Can you give some info in the foundation you work with and how others can get involved?

The Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine supports the development of the most promising mitochondrial disease research and treatments of the many forms of mitochondrial disease. Formed in 2005 and renamed in 2010, our Atlanta-based non-profit organization financially supports treatment based research. From functional brain MRI studies on cognitive fatigue to testing of new drug compounds, including the first FDA-approved drug treatments that began in early 2010, FMM focuses on supporting Institutional Review Board (IRB) or FDA approved studies. Stated simply: we're funding the cures.

The foundation's stewards and founders are parents of patients and medical experts. We were created to accelerate the development of the most viable mitochondrial disease treatments and therapies.

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To read more about Colby Wren's story, check out these articles:
Son of Braves Manager Battles Genetic Disease (AJC)
Human Factor: College Athlete Battles Mitochondrial Disease (CNN)


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Light a Light for Mito #KnowAboutMito

Each Wednesday during Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week is set aside to remember the lives that have been lost to mitochondrial disease.

MitoAction


Mitochondrial disease runs the gamut from fairly manageable disorders that have little effect on overall life expectancy to disorders that still carry an overall fatal prognosis. For Klaw, his first year of life was the most tenuous but management of his VLCADD has been successful. He is expected to lead a fairly typical life with continued health management and regular observation of his liver and heart functions, barring any surprises or major illnesses which could throw him into a metabolic crisis.

For others, there is a steady decline in the function on major health systems.  Many children with mitochondrial disease do not survive to reach adulthood. For some adults, a typical, productive life can suddenly take a downturn to debilitating symptoms with little to no hope for improvement.

If you or someone you know has lost the battle to mitochondrial disease, please take moment to light a candle in their memory.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

VLCADD Friendly Convenience Foods #KnowAboutMito

People regularly ask me how we manage Klaw's diet in relation to his VLCADD. He is currently limited to 6g fat per day. Most toddlers should get 40-50g fat per day. As you can imagine, this can make it difficult for us to just pick up something at the grocery store or at a restaurant for him to eat.

In order for Klaw to eat "fun" meals that incorporate a variety of flavors and foods, we pretty much have to cook at home. It's the only way we can guarantee the amount of fat in each serving. However, sometimes I just don't feel like measuring out each ingredient and using MyFitnessPal or another online recipe app to do the math and determine the fat/carbs/protein in each serving.


Sometimes, I just want to grab something, read the label, & hand it to my kid. Chris & I have found a few favorite "convenience" foods that we keep around the house that are low to no fat and that Klaw loves.

Every (non allergic) kid loves a good PB&J, right? Well, not when one serving of peanut butter has more fat than you can eat in a day.  Thankfully, Trader Joe's carries Better 'n Peanut Butter. It has 1g fat per tablespoon. We use that with sprouted whole grain bread, which is high in dietary fiber, high in protein, & low in fat. Our favorite sprouted grain bread is from, again Trader Joe's. Sprouted Flourless Whole Wheat Berry Bread has no fat at all. So, Klaw gets a full PB&J for a whopping 1g/fat.

We don't just shop at Trader Joe's, I promise. Our local Food Lion & Farm Fresh carries many items that are VLCADD friendly, too. Happy Baby Organic Puffs are fat free, taste like cardboard, and great for road trips. Happy Baby also makes some fat-free yogurt drops, Happy Yogis, in a variety of flavors, too. Yes, these snack items are pretty much devoid of nutrients but sometimes non-staining convenience wins. (These yogurt drops do not stain, in our experience!)

Most stores, including Walmart, are carrying the GoGo Squeez apple sauce packets. Apple sauce is, you guessed it, fat free. Yes, it's full of sugar but Klaw burns energy from sugar pretty efficiently. He's a VERY active toddler and he can't burn fat for energy. As long as he's going, going, going, the sugar in applesauce is not a big issue. A few other brands of squeezable sauces are also fat-free, but the GoGo Squeez brand seems to be pretty ubiquitous while we have to make special trips to Babies R Us or Target for the others.

Pasta & marinara sauce is a quick & easy VLCADD friendly meal we frequently cook. However, I don't always want pasta. Gerber Graduates Pasta Pickups make two flavors, chicken & carrot and turkey & vegetable, which are low fat, easy to heat up, and Klaw loves both flavors. We do limit how often he can have these but it makes for a quick, convenient lunch or dinner option. Especially if Chris & I want to have something high fat like pizza or, well, just cheese for dinner.

Pediasure Sidekicks Clear is a "juice" drink box for toddlers. It's completely loaded with the full spectrum of vitamins & protein. It doesn't contain dyes. Granted, it doesn't contain juice, either. However, Klaw pulls the toddler pickiness every once in a while and this drink provides a quick, convenient way to make sure he ingests calories and protein when he refuses to eat a meal. I don't know of any other fat & dye free drinks that also offer protein, so this is the best I could find. Granted, I have no issues giving him Gatorade Prime on occasion, if the situation and energy expenditure warrants it.

We plan for the unexpected each trip each trip, whether it be traffic delays or just an overexertion by Klaw at play. We always have some of these convenience foods tucked away in Klaw's bookbag (our diaper bag) in case he needs a snack or if we just decide we want to go to a restaurant to eat. We can't take it for granted that we'll be able to find something for him to eat on the fly.

Do you have an "convenience" foods you keep on hand for your kids? What are they?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mitchondrial Disease Awareness Week 2012

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week is September 16-22, 2012. I've planned a week of posts that describe different aspects of mitochondrial disease and how it affects us in more ways than most people realize.

United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

There are events taking place all over the globe to raise money and awareness for mitochondrial disease, the numbers of which are approaching, if not surpassing, the number of children afflicted with cancer. However, mitochondrial disease is not limited to children. It can affect people of all ages and in many different ways. As research continues, we are finding more connections to mitochondrial dysfunction in illnesses/disorders like Alzheimer's Disease, diabetes, autism, and many more.

If you don't think mitochondrial disease affects you, think again. Every 30 minutes a child is born with mitochondrial disease that will be diagnosed by the age of 10. Each year, more and more adults are diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. As the body of research grows, more and more diseases are showing connections to mitochondrial dysfunction. Chances are, you or someone you know is affected by mitochondrial disease.

Please take this week to learn more about mitochondrial disease and spread awareness to others. The more we learn about mitochondrial disease, the better for all of us.

Please check out last year's Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week posts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My first blog post ever


 I finally got around to deleting my MySpace account the other day. Look, if you think that's bad, I didn't delete my Friendster account until I started writing this post. Oh, you don't remember Friendster? Shut up.

Back to my MySpace post. Before I deleted the account, I went through my old "blog" posts and found three that were worth saving. Possibly worth sharing, too, but that's up to y'all, I suppose.

Indulge me for a moment. I promise, it's super short.

From the annals of MySpace

September 18, 2006

Current mood:weird
Okay, so I'm walking Boomer on this long walk by on the ocean trail to get him some extra exercise.  It's been a half hour, so we cross Oceanview to walk back home on the sidewalk.  I'm working on his training, making him stop at every crosswalk, etc.  Well, he is not really wanting to sit at this one corner, so I am patiently waiting for him sit.  This construction worker, complete with long silver curly hair is talking as he's walking past me.  It actually took me a minute to register that he was actually talking to me.  "Nature don't make no mistake.  Your mama did you right, girl."  I guess I need to call Joye and thank her for doing me right.  I'll do it right after I bathe the dirty creeped out feeling off of me.
 
There you have it, folks. The beginning of my blogging career. Epic, huh?
 
Seriously, though, have you gone back to other social media sites or old blogs you started long ago and read some of your old posts? Do you get a kick out of it? Have you ever reposted an old (perhaps completely pointless) blog post?
 
Please share some of your favorite oldies in your comments!
I'd love to read them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Counterfeit Ergobaby Carriers

It seems I have stumbled upon a hornet's nest in the seedy underbelly of the babywearing community. There is a BIG problem with counterfeit ErgoBaby Carriers being imported from China and sold as the real thing through eBay and swap groups. It's a big enough issue that ErgoBaby has a post dedicated on how to avoid purchasing counterfeit ErgoBaby carriers.

Popular co-op groups that make bulk purchases of popular items from cloth diapers to amber necklaces to save a few bucks have begun purchasing counterfeit ErgoBaby carriers, too.  Cuddly Butt! Cloth diapering & co-ops on Facebook is one such group (I was recently booted & blocked from the group, so I can't link it directly right now).

The co-op leader makes it very clear these are not authentic.


People evidently don't like being called out for peddling counterfeit products in the US!  WHO KNEW?!?!?

Anyways, since this illegal operation came to light, I have learned that not only has the group & co-op leader been reported to Facebook several times, but many people have also reported this to the appropriate entities in the federal government.

Some of you may find this to be extreme; I don't.  Here's why:

1 - These counterfeit ErgoBaby carriers, or "Fergos," as Cuddly Butt! likes to call them, are not just replicas. They are produced to look exactly like legitimate ErgoBaby carriers, right down to the ErgoBaby tag on the front of the carrier.

2 - These counterfeit ErgoBaby carriers are not safety tested for use with infants & children, which is a requirement in the United States. Personally, I am concerned with lead levels coming from untested items in China. It happens frequently with inexpensive children's toys & jewelry.

3 - These counterfeit ErgoBaby carriers are ILLEGAL to sell in the US! The counterfeiters don't pay taxes, aren't held accountable for humane working conditions, & are not held to safety standards for the products they are making. Customs has the authority to seize the imported counterfeit items.

4 - These counterfeit ErgoBaby carriers are purchased for cheap and then re-sold as authentic ErgoBaby carriers to unsuspecting parents who have no idea they are purchasing fakes and have no recourse should something happen to them or their child while using the carrier. Again, this is ILLEGAL!

I'm not the only person upset by this, either. Larger babywearing groups are doing their best to stop the influx of counterfeit carriers within their local communities. Babywearing International of Chicagoland has a great post about the problem with counterfeit baby carriers.

If people were buying knock-offs that weren't trying to actually pass as authentic ErgoBaby carriers, I probably would have walked away. If you want to take that kind of chance with your child to save a few bucks, that's your call. However, the fact that these carriers are repeatedly passed off & resold as authentic carriers to unsuspecting parents & caregivers pisses me off, quite frankly.

The co-op uses official ErgoBaby carrier names & images for ordering

Thankfully, a few people have seen the light since this story starting spreading in the babywearing community and have since pulled their orders. Hopefully, more parents will make the ethical, legal, & safe choice in the future.  If you are financially strapped, there are resources to buy authentic & safe carriers, both new & used. There are even groups like The Feel Good Child Carrier Movement that offer carriers to parents for the cost of shipping and help connect people to pass on really good "pay it forward" deals. Affordable and downright cheap options exist that are safe and legal.

Babywearing International of the Triangle offers some tips on spotting a quality baby carrier. Check out my babywearing basics post for information about different types of carriers and carrier rental programs.

However, there will always be people who don't care.

Yep, bringing counterfeit items into the US is H-I-LARIOUS!

Please help spread awareness of these counterfeit carriers so that other parents & caregivers can be aware of the issues by sharing on twitter, facebook, and in your local babywearing & parenting groups.

Keep wearing your babies...just do it safely.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Loved College!

So, the other night, I saw Asher Roth on a show and in honor of his song, "I Love College", I would like to write about why I loved college. All six years of it. There are definitely lines in his song that I can relate to, but I forego putting my reasons for loving college into a song.

Please note the long hair & earrings. EARRINGS! -DanaK


1. Freedom. Now it's not like I didn't have freedom in high school but you have so much more in college. Come and go as you please. Stay out until all hours. Option to skip class.

2. Fraternity Life. Prior to college I made fun of fraternities. And I do say fraternities and not frat. You don't call your country a c....you get the idea. In fact, I vividly remember driving by my future fraternity when I arrived on campus and mocking them. Anyways, joining the fraternity was one of the best decisions of my life. I made terrific friends, learned to appreciate the views of others, and always had someone to share a beer with. Of course, there were parties and socials but I'll get to that.

3. Parties, socials, and mixers. I was not a partier in high school and, in fact, didn't drink until I got to college. I didn't always drink in college, though, even at some parties, and they were still awesome. As a popular fraternity with many members, we had a large social budget which meant numerous and large parties. We had awesome bands, awesome themes, and an awesome time. Social events with sororities were fun, also.

Long hair, a necklace, and EARRINGS! - DanaK


4. College football games. There is no better way to spend a Saturday. Case closed.

5. Pre-gaming for college football games. There is no better way to spend a Saturday morning before a college football game. It didn't matter how late I was up on Friday night, come 8am Saturday morning I would be up, dressed in the most ridiculous outfit I could find, and drinking screwdrivers while dancing to loud music. It was also fun to watch some of the other guys walk over to sororities buck naked and see the look on the girls' faces when they answered the door.

6. Road Trips. Memorable times with good friends. Trips to Notre Dame, New Orleans, and every city along A1A in Florida including West Palm, Miami, and Key West. Nothing like sleeping in parking lots and bathing in the ocean.

Yes. That's a crab. And a goatee. Shenanigans. -DanaK

7. No responsibility. Ok there was some responsibility to be had but it was nothing compared to what it's like to be a grown-up.

There are plenty more reasons I loved college but this blog has to end at some point. Would I go back to college? Of course, but I don't think it would be as fun. That and I would be that creepy older guy everyone talks about...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Can I Love LGBTs & Chick-Fil-A?

I've been doing some soul searching after reading comments, posts, & rants from friends & acquaintances on both sides of the political issue.

I don't love Dan Cathy and his multi-million dollar support for organizations that actively work to deny civil rights to a minority group in this country. I don't love that Dan Cathy supports organizations that attempt to "turn" gays & lesbians straight.

For what it's worth, whenever someone says "traditional marriage," I immediately think about sister wives, not legally owning property, & not being allowed in public without a male escort. I also think about how "traditional marriages" allowed men to beat their wives if they felt it was necessary. Personally, I don't want anything to do with a traditional marriage but I guess some people are into that lifestyle.

On the flipside, I do like what I have seen firsthand of local Chick-Fil-As supporting community activities, youth programs (secular & religious), local scholarships, etc. I've never known of discriminatory hiring practices (not saying it hasn't happened ever) or of Chick-Fil-A refusing to serve someone because of their sexual orientation.

I also don't participate in boycotts. Chick-Fil-A isn't the first business (or STATE) I've been encouraged to boycott because of beliefs I disagree with. I didn't boycott them, either. Boycotts are not how I engage my time to foment change. Partly because I don't see them as being effective with extremely large corporations and partly because I'm lazy. For example, I'd love to boycott all things Monsanto but I don't feel like researching every single company Monsanto dirties.

When I want to see change, I take action in other ways. Physically. I have traveled to state capitals to protest issues. I have involved myself with letter writing campaigns to representatives. I have spoken out publicly with the news media (in high school even!) and now through social media forums that are readily available to anyone with a computer or a smart phone. I have stomped the pavement with like minded individuals and I never miss an election.

Enough justification

If not participating in a boycott against Chick-Fil-A sullies your opinion of me, I'm sorry. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about civil rights & equality. If this one boycott negates every thing else I do & have done, that says more about you than it does about me. A lot of people know that this isn't the first popular boycott that I haven't participated in and I can guarantee it won't be the last.

As for everyone protesting Dan Cathy & the organizations he supports by participating in this boycott, good luck. I mean that in all sincerity. I truly believe our nation is on the cusp of granting civil rights to all. If this boycott merely helps more people get involved in the discussion of civil rights versus personal religious beliefs, it will be a success on at least one level.

In the meantime, am I going to continue shouting from the rooftops my love for the banana pudding milkshake? No. I'll shut up about that. I'll eat my milkshake in silence. Possibly while wearing a PRIDE shirt.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Out of the blue...

I've been "home" in Georgia for about a week. Klaw and I have had a blast enjoying the beaches and visiting with friends. My beautiful Nana turned 90 and had a wonderful celebration at the church.

I was visiting my "bonus" Mama, the mother of my friend, Jessica. She was at the hospital with her own mother who was undergoing a procedure, so I stopped by to see them both.

Later this summer, my bonus Mama is getting married to a wonderful man who has re-entered her life and I haven't seen her this happy in a long time. While we were visiting, we spent a lot if time discussing the upcoming wedding and various things that have been going on in Brunswick.

In walked a tech who was going to start the transfusion to my bonus Nana (not my 90 year old Nana, I know this can get confusing). He was super friendly and chatty and he looked at me then Mama Butts and innocently asked if I was her daughter.

Mama Butts and I both got quiet. I told him that I wasn't her daughter but he had no idea what a compliment he had just given me. While Mama B explained that she lost Jessica many years ago and my friendship with her, the tears just started falling. From me.

It hits me hard sometimes and rarely when I expect it. There is so much joy in my life, in Mama B's life, right now.

So much joy I wish I could share with Jessica.

I visited her tomb on Tuesday after leaving the hospital. I had to. I had to touch something. I needed to physically connect with something that will forever record her life here. I needed grounding.

I do believe in a spiritual life after our corporeal bodies are spent. I do believe that Jessica's spirit, her essence, will be with us at her Mama's wedding.

I just wish I could hug her.

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 International Babywearing Conference

Last week, I saw that one of my friends here in Hampton Roads was making a day trip up to DC for the free public day at the 2012 International Babywearing Conference.

Naturally, I told her we should carpool. Jilliane somehow managed to convince her husband & four kids that they would have more fun at home instead of at a conference in DC and our roadtrip was in motion.

It's rare that I find someone as silly as I am...

Anyone who watches television probably knows that our region got ROCKED by storms over the past few days.  The drive up to & in DC was not as uneventful as we would have liked due to fallen trees & power lines. Jilliane was impressed with my mad driving skills.

this tree was just a few blocks from the conference location
I was pretty excited to finally meet Amy & Tim of NuzzleMe Creations in person. I am a huge fan and own two of their Ultimate Man/Mama Carriers, one standard & one stay-cool carrier. Yep, I sound like a commercial and I don't care. I haven't received anything free or discounted from NuzzleMe Creations, I just like their products. Bonus: TIM is the man behind the Ultimate Man/Mama Carrier. You have to appreciate a guy who can rock a sewing machine like it's his job.

Wait, it is...

Me, Tim, Amy, & Jilliane - NuzzleMe Creations
Jilliane & I were excited to meet Amy & Tim, which should be obvious by our cheesy grins. However, nothing could have prepared me for Jilliane turning into a total fangirl at the Didymos/Birdie's Room table.

Barbara from Birdie's Room is great
 FYI - I want to be like Barbara from Birdie's Room when I grow up. She's so incredibly nice and, dammit, the woman is gorgeous. She's also trying to help me fine the only wrap I ever sold and regretted, Didymos Ellipsen Primavera.

Anna, Jillliane, & Tina of Didymos

Didymos is a wrap company based in Germany. They produce some wonderful quality wraps for babywearing in a variety of patterns, styles, & colors and are well known and well regarded in the babywearing community. Anna & Tina were super nice and it was really neat being able to meet them in person, too. They had three yet to be released wraps available for purchase and a ton of other wraps at discounted prices. I was so tempted but had to remind myself that I hardly ever wear Klaw anymore and I can't really justify it, regardless of how beautiful it is. (Check out the skirt & dress...they are made from Didymos wraps!)

Jilliane & I won a few things in a raffle the conference was hosting (we bought 35 tickets). I won two pairs of Beco baby socks and a Britax carrier . I was going to burn it but they did include a seat extender to make it more ergonomically correct, so I'll probably sell it on ebay or craigslist.

We also attended a Toddlerwearing 101 class that was offered but it was not great. The instructor was not familiar with wrapping toddlers and wasn't able to offer any suggestions. Jilliane ended up teaching different carries to the other parents in the room. I even learned a tip from her that will help me wrap Klaw more quickly.

All in all, it was a great day. It is rare to find someone who can enjoy ~8 hours in the car with me in crappy traffic and still like me when the day is over. I only scared Jilliane a couple of times and Jilliane totally won a dance-off on I-64 with some twenty year olds, so she is completely awesome in my book.

HA! I almost forgot the true highlight of the day - Jilliane & I were mistaken for college students at Catholic University. This doesn't happen very often, so I am going to revel in it for quite some time.

I know some of y'all probably think a babywearing conference is kind of odd. Some of y'all even thought a blogging conference was kind of odd when I went to Blissdom. You'd think some of the other conferences I've attended are even more odd!

Have you ever attended or wanted to attend a niche conference? What was it? Did you enjoy it? If you could create a niche conference, what would you like to see happen?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Do you work out?

Why, yes, yes I do.

I won't come out & say that I love it or have had some huge change of heart and suddenly hate my slovenly nature...but I do love the results.

Until very recently, I weighed more than I weighed the day I gave birth to Klaw...before I gave birth.

I have lost 12 pounds, slowly but surely. I have gained muscle mass. My clothes look better & I'm not embarrassed to wear a swimsuit.

I have lost inches in my hips & waist my chest, too, but I don't want to measure that. (I have 1.2 mil bras of different sizes, so I just switch out when necessary)

Klaw has enjoyed his hour or two at the Y, although it resulted in both of us getting sick in April. I was out for the count for about 2 weeks. Klaw had to be hospitalized for a weekend because we had GI issues in addition to upper respiratory issues.

I can honestly say not being able to stay at the hospital with your child is possibly one of the worst the things to go through. Chris was with him the whole time, thankfully. He had to take leave the following week because I was in no condition to care for myself or a toddler.

However, we are back on track. Klaw gets to play with other kids and he loves it. The staff at the local Y seems to be awesome and there is not as much turnover as I experienced when I worked in daycare.

I'm working on strength training, jogging (which I hate), & swimming (which I love).

For as long as I held out, I'm glad we finally joined the Y. I haven't felt this healthy in a long time.

I haven't felt like showing any skin in public in a long time. If you knew me 10+ years ago, you'd realize what a big deal that is...(right, Wesleyannes?)

Are there changes you need to make in your life? What's holding you back?

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm sick, y'all.

And I hate it.

In fact, I hate almost everything right now. I am a MISERABLE sick person.

I have bookmarked a site to check for drug interactions because I am taking as many OTC medications & herbal concoctions as I (mostly safely) can in the hopes that something eradicates the gunk that is inside of me.

Yes...the Neti pot is getting a LOT of action. It ain't pretty, folks. I'm pretty sure it would get me banned for life from YouTube if I vlogged it.

Please send thoughts and prayers to Chris & Klaw as they continue to deal with me. Also, feel free to ask the powers that be for a Dora or Team UmiZoomi marathon.

Yes, the TV is Klaw's babysitter right now.

It also seems like a LOT of people are currently sick, but I, admittedly, have tunnel vision right now.

I hope you all get better soon. If you haven't been sick, I hope this plague skips you & your family.

this post brought to you by caffeine, sudafed, mucinex, Advil, & Benadryl

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How do you stand up for your beliefs?

I have recently found myself challenged by people I share an important goal with...but disagree on some of the ways people work to achieve that goal. I started a status update on Facebook but I quickly realized I needed a bigger venue that would, hopefully, facilitate a broader discussion.

I have several "soapbox" issues (you can check out the tab above this post). I feel very strongly about them and I actively work to support & promote these issues in my personal and public life (occasionally, even in official jobs).

I can get pretty fired up about stuff very quickly. I do my best to remain respectful & calm (or at least appear that way).

Sometimes, I fail miserably.

But I really do try to put myself in other people's shoes. I don't believe people make different decisions than I do because they wish to harm others. I disagree with some of my closest friends & many family members on issues of parenting, politics, & even pets. Outside of intentional, malicious acts, I generally don't let this affect my personal relationships with them...even though I really do enjoy a good, heated debate.

This has caused some people to believe I'm not as serious or as committed to my "soapbox" causes as others within these movements.

They're wrong, for the record.

Which now brings me to what would have been my longest Facebook status update ever:

What methods work best to convince you to change your mind/opinion about a topic, or at least look more deeply into other choices?

Do respectful discussions work best, where both (or more) sides are shared? Would you rather just read informative literature about the topic on your own time? Do you take the intiative to find opposing viewpoints on your own?

What about personal stories from people similar to yourself who once agreed with you but later changed their minds?

What about belittling or name-calling? How do you react if you are called names (like a child abuser or unfit parent) by people who disagree with you?

How do you respond if/when the person you disagree with is the one being belittled or attacked? Would that chalenge you to look more deeply at their side of the issue?

I know...it's a lot to think about. Don't feel like you have to answer it all at once.

There are no wrong answers. ;-)

Here are Klaw's newest shoes...and I can't put myself in them to save my life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

When bloggers disappear...

Where do they go?

I've been mainly going to the local Y & working my butt off. Literally.

I even have the blisters to prove it.

Chris & I created accounts on MyFitnessPal so that we could track our food & exercise to help us both get back in shape.

As much as I would love to lose weight, I realize and accept that my body is just different since having Klaw. My hips are wider & my booty actually sticks out now.

I'm okay with this.

I'm not okay with my lack of energy and poor muscle tone. That's what I'm hoping to "fix" more than anything else.

I have lost 6 pounds along the way, which means I finally weigh less than I did the day I gave birth...before I gave birth.

Also? The Submarine Birthday Ball is coming up and I bought a smoking hot dress that accentuates my curves. Spanx helps to contain the extra fabulosity. I don't mind the help!

(also, I'm checking out a Blogger app to see how it does for posting on the fly, so I have no idea what this post is actually going to look like published!)

Have you ever reached your breaking point where your health is concerned? Did you have to learn to accept changes to your body due to age, illness, or pregnancy?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Great Strides For Cystic Fibrosis 2012

My friend, Darby, has posted before on Really, What Were We Thinking about her son, Brady.  As we approach the 2012 Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis, I wanted Darby to have the opportunity to update all of us on how Brady is doing and, hopefully, help raise awareness and money again for this important cause.  To learn more about Brady and his family, check out Darby's blog, Keep on going...no matter what!
*********

Cystic Fibrosis...it's a progressive disease with no cure and an average life expectancy of 37 years old...CF is a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system resulting in chronic lung infections.  98% of all CF patients are pancreatic insufficient meaning they are unable to digest the fat in their food.  CF affects the respiratory system as well as the digestive system...it's a life threatening disease that affects more than 30,000 people in the United States.

Jeff, Brady, & Darby at the Great Strides Walk 2011


Our 3.5 year old son, Brady, has Cystic Fibrosis.  His days are filled with breathing treatments, chest physiotherapy, medicines, and g-tube feedings.  He spends each day fighting to stay healthy, and he spends a lot of time in the hospital each year, with his first hospitalization at only 5 months old. 

Brady will fight this disease for his entire life.  As a lot of people take for granted the ability to breathe, that's something he will always struggle with and be grateful for...he is blessed with each breath he has.

We are walking in the 2012 Great Strides Walk in May this year, and we ask everyone to either join our team in Virginia or to find a walk in your area and walk for Brady and the other 30,000 people fighting this disease.

Please donate to this cause so our child, and many other children, may have a chance at a longer life...come out and walk at a Great Strides walk near you...don't take for granted the breath you have.





Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Lesson in Ordering Magazines

So, my niece, KriKri, was selling magazines for a school fundraiser.  I like playing the part of the supportive aunt.

I do, however, like to save money.

Chris & I decided to pick a magazine that might appeal to both of us so I circled some that sounded interesting.  From that, Chris knocked out the ones he wasn't interested in and then we chose the cheapest one.

Outdoor Life

Chris & I like to camp, hike, enjoy the great outdoors on a regular basis. This sounded like something we could both enjoy and it would help out KriKri and her school.

You know that old saying - when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me - right?

Yeah. That.



I know, I know...when you think of me, you think of automatic weapons.  I completely understand the association.

I'm thinking about using some of the articles and headlines for blog fodder.

What do you think? I'll be getting these magazines for a year...

Monday, March 12, 2012

VLCADD Update #KnowAboutMito

We recently returned from an appointment with Dr. Vockley at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Vockley first met Klaw when he was about 8 months old and wanted a follow up by the time Klaw turned two, earlier if anything crazy happened that was VLCADD-related.



Thankfully, Klaw's VLCAD deficiency has been well managed through diet & supplements and our primary geneticist, Dr. Proud, did not see a reason to visit with Dr. Vockley any earlier.

First of all, it took three people, but we finally got a head measurement for Klaw.  This has been a bit of an issue for the past, oh, year. He is currently in the ~75%ile all the way around in height, weight, & head circumference. (35" tall & 29.5lbs)

Dr. Vockley does believe we dodged a bullet by the early diagnosis & intervention through the expanded newborn screening in Virginia. VLCAD deficiency can involve the heart, liver, & muscle tissue. Infants who are not diagnosed early are at a high risk of death during the first year of life.

Klaw's blood sugar is well-controlled. Even with the illnesses we've been able to manage at home, his caloric intake has remained high enough to prevent hypoglycemia, which is always a concern during any illness.  Our biggest day to day concern now is preventing rhabdomyolysis, which is when the body destroys muscle tissue. The dangers of rhabdomyolysis are not as acute as low blood sugar, but there are many long-term issues if he has multiple episodes over the course of time.  Again, we are trying to stay one step ahead of the game with his diet.

Naturally, Chris asked about how this will affect Klaw's participation in sports as he gets older (he's still hoping for that Cubs gig...). Dr. Vockley assured us he has many older adolescent patients with VLCADD who are active in a variety of sports. We'll just have to be vigilant about keeping Klaw hydrated & ingesting calories. Basically, while everyone else is drinking water or watered down gatorade...Klaw will be drinking the stuff straight because he'll have a higher need for sugar & electrolytes.

There is a new database/research registry being formed at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, so Chris & I elected to have Klaw's records submitted. It's not directly tied to his identity; each case file is given a number. However, if the information can help people learn more about VLCADD, it is worth it.

Dr. Vockley was very pleased with Klaw's progress so far and future visits with him are at our discretion.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nice to Meet You! You Suck!

Chris is participating in Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop this week!  Enjoy!

****************

Ok. So the title isn't exactly what was said when I first met my MIL, but that's what I heard.

I'll set the scene, briefly.

Chris and Dana meet. Chris buys Dana and roommate dinner. Chris asks Dana out. Chris goes out with Dana a few times. Dana goes out with Chris a few times to make another guy jealous. Chris tries to kiss Dana. Denied! Chris almost throws in the towel. Chris and Dana go out some more. Chris and Dana dare each other to get married to each other. Both accept. Both call their parents to tell them the great news.

At least I thought it was great news. That was until Dana called her mom.

Dana excitedly calls her mom, a woman I had never met or talked to, and tells her that we are engaged. Dana, being a lifetime member of the Prankster Club, is questioned by her mom if this is another attempt to get a good laugh at her expense. Dana tells her no; that this for real.

 Suddenly, the phone is handed to me with the statement from Dana that her mom doesn't believe her.

I take the phone and say "hello".

"Are you really going to marry my daughter," Joye asks.
"Yes, I am." I reply.
"I'm not sure you are good enough to marry my daughter," Joye then says.

I know, right? How dare she say that.

In any event, the conversation continued. Joye said that before this goes any further I had to meet her in person. I said sure and told her that Dana and I could come down the following weekend.

She said that that was fine but leave Dana there.*

This was going to be she and I, me and her.

Alone.

I wasn't too worried because I typically got along with parents of prior girlfriends. I made arrangements to stay at Dana's moms' home that weekend and all I kept thinking about was her telling me that I wasn't good enough for her daughter.

So when I finally pulled up into the driveway of Joye's home, I was ready to prove her wrong. We exchanged courtesies right away, although I don't remember if we hugged or not. We immediately went to lunch where I proceeded to get the third degree and was asked questions as if I were on trial.

It was a bit rough, I wont lie.

I suppose it went fine because she didn't say "You Suck."

Joye's smiling, right?






Mama’s Losin’ It

 5.) Describe what it was like meeting your in-laws for the first time?

 *For the record, I told Chris not to do it. - Dana


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