Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Giveaway Time: Febreze gift pack with $15 Visa gift card!

So it's been a while since we did a giveaway over here! I figure this is a great time to win some swag after everyone has broken their bank accounts with Christmas. Santa tends to be a big spender at our house! I had the chance to review one of my favorite things for the house over the past few weeks, smelly good things :)

Febreeze's Holiday Collection of room sprays, candles, and noticeables plug ins. I tested out the Cozy Vanilla Sugar specifically and it has been a nice change from our usual lavender scents we typically have going. Especially for this time of year, puts you in the cookie baking mood!

I used to buy smelly things for the house BC (before children) simply because I have an obsession with candles and scents and loved the idea of walking into a house that had that special house smell that is unique to that particular house. In addition to that, we now have a house full of the not as pleasant smells... with dogs, big dogs, that stink especially when they come inside after running around in our Colorado snow. And kids, well we know the issue with kids, and diaper pails, and little boys who have poor aim in the toilet. And husbands with dirty socks that seem to miraculously escape the hamper day in and day out.

We constantly have one of the plug ins going and the refills are always on our grocery shopping list. When we have people over I usually run around with the room sprays which are nice and not terribly overwhelming, and the candles are perfect for the bathroom.

So if you're like us and have a love of pretty scented things you'll want a piece of this giveaway.

A $10 Febreze Coupon booklet AND a $15 Visa giftcard so you can test it all out!

Choose between 6 scents-
◦Apple Spice & Delight: The warming scent of fresh-baked apples coated with sweet cinnamon (available only online)
◦Cozy Vanilla Sugar: Sweet as notes of vanilla that comfort you like a cocoon of blankets ◦Cranberries and Frost: Rich as ripe cranberries and frost on a white winter’s day
◦Glistening Alpine: As soothing as a tree-lined mountainside glistening with the scent of pine
◦Winter Magic & Glow: Crisp as sunshine-lit icicles in fresh, frosty air
◦Holiday Bloom & Cheer: As cheerful as a chorus of holiday aromas blended with winter blossoms

Have you tried out these holiday scents before, if so which is your favorite? If not, which one sounds most appealing to you? I must admit I will be checking out the Holiday Bloom and Cheer, especially for our upcoming anual New Years seafood feast get together.

TO ENTER: Head over here to see the collection and tell me which scent is your #1 pick, plus get some decorating tips and ways to make your home more inviting for the holidays with videos from design expert Candice Olson.

Follow @Febreze_Fresh on Twitter (1 entry)
Tweet your pick including @Febreze_Fresh (1 entry per day)
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Use the little Rafflecopter gadget below. Be sure to enter by Jan 2!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please see disclosure page for full details. The Febreze product, information, and two gift packs have been provided by Febreze. Febreze® does not represent or warrant the accuracy of any statements or product claims made here, nor does it endorse any opinions expressed within this blogsite.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making a Baby: Part I- Trying To Conceive And Everything Inbetween

I'm just now realizing that I have never done a post about my inside take on the whole trying to conceive game after our struggles with getting pregnant the first time around.

To make a long story short, we tried for 9 months to get pregnant with baby #1. This was an awful experience full of tears, pelvic exams, bloodwork, ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, and newlywed strife. I am happy to say, obviously, that the end result was a wee little babe who has rocked my world for 3 years now and so I offer the following advice and insight for fellow trying-to-be-mommies and daddies on what we learned.

First off, the classic standard is to try for a year without success prior to seeking help, let me be the first to say DON'T wait that long. Now I wouldn't be rushing into the fertility clinic after hitting the sheets for 2 months with no baby but this is what I will say: if you've been trying, the right way, using ovulation kits, and have no 'risk factors' (ie. age, PCOS, etc), for SIX months call your OB.

This is my personal advice. A lot of doctors will laugh at you and tell you to keep trying and call back after a year. If you find one of these docs, fire them, and get a new one that will actually listen to your concerns and at least draw a progesterone level for you. In our case, we were both young with no health issues and no family history of infertility so I started seriously looking into fertility clinicians after 6 months without success. I finally went in for a consultation with my OB after 8 months.

I will break down the rest into 2 parts: First, the trying to conceive game and everything we learned here. Second, the infertility battle and the details of that process and treatment options.

I was privileged to work for a phenomenal doctor who had struggled with infertility herself and shared some great wisdom with me. We started out with the basics, I call this "Prime Time"- once you're ready to try for a baby the goal is to have sex on days 10-14 of your cycle, every other day to allow the sperm to regenerate inbetween. Many people think that if you want to get pregnant you just start going to town 100x a day and you end up with a baby, this is not how the body operates and will actually decrease your chances of getting pregnant. The goal is NOT quantity, it's timing.

For the real newbies, your cycle starts out as Day 1- the first day of your period and for most women goes for 28 days. (I happen to have a 30-32 day cycle which affected our "prime time" slightly, and these subtle differences can mean everything).

Now in order to find this "prime time" more precisely you can turn to ovulation kits which will tell you exactly when to try. A little science background here: "prime time" is based on your LH surge which is simply when your body tells itself to ovulate. If you catch the surge and time your relations appropriately the sperm should reach the egg at the perfect time. It is a simple concept but it's anything but simple when things aren't working like you thought they would.

The basics of ovulation kits: once the test is positive your opportune time to conceive is within 24-36 hours.

I tried every ovulation kit known to man and this is what I found. Most ovulation kits come with 7 days of tests, for these kits you are expected to already have an idea of when you ovulate and just confirm this with a week's worth of testing. Problem is that some people have no clue when they ovulate, they may have 2 LH surges during the month instead of 1, they may have it earlier or later than most women and therefore a week's worth of testing may not be enough to really see what's going on. I decided to test every single day because I wanted to get a full picture of my entire cycle rather than a concentrated look at 7 days. With this comes a price. If you've browsed ov kits before you know they are EXPENSIVE! Especially when you're doing this for months and months at a time. So due to cost I decided to go with some strips to test for the whole 30 days because they were cheaper than the wands and digitals.

First Option: Strips. This is a picture of the strips (not mine but you get the idea, thank you to whoever posted all of these images, they are a perfect representation of what you can expect), as you can see they look like pregnancy tests with 1 to 2 lines. The problem with the strips is that they can be really hard to read because the second line can be faint or dark and kind of come and go which makes it hard to say whether it's positive for the surge or not. What I did was keep every single day and compare them next to one another, by doing this you are much better able to see a trend in the lines and accurately detect the TRUE surge. I recommend writing the date on them to keep track. This picture shows someone using them twice a day, which is also a good thing because you could be missing your window by 12+ hours if you are only testing once a day, keep that in mind.

Next option: Wands. These are what you normally find at the store, they look exactly like a pregnancy test in fact if you aren't reading carefully you can mix the two up easily. I kept using the strips daily but would also use the wands on occasion to see if I would get a better picture of the LH surge. The wands are pricier than the strips and they really don't give you a better impression of what's going on, as you can see from this picture. If anything they seem to be less sensitive at detecting things, in my opinion and after a month or two of these I stopped using them. My advice, skip the wands.

Lastly: DIGITALS. After a couple of months I had an idea when my surge was, in general, so I decided to REALLY confirm things by adding the digital tests to the mix. I would still test with the strips daily but during the week I was expecting the surge I would also take the digital tests. It was the most foolproof method I could think of and we were starting to get very frustrated, anxious, and desperate. The digital tests are even more expensive, which is why I don't recommend using them as a daily option, unless you want to and then you'd have no guessing. Even among the digitals I tried I decided my favorite were the SMILEY FACE ones and I swear by these to this day. They are a wand but show a digital picture of either a smiley face or a plain circle with no face. There is no mistaking these, no interpreting a faint line, just like pregnancy tests the digital are as clear as it gets. When you pull out the stick you can see the same 2 lines that the strips and wands have but these tests take the guesswork out of it for you. And outside of the clarity the little smiley face that pops up is a reminder to be happy about this, instead of looking at things as a science experiment which is how it feels. Can't hurt right?

Ovulation kits are a great way to start getting to know your cycle and taking charge of your fertility but they aren't the end all, be all. The next easiest thing to do is a daily temperature reading. Your Basal Body Temperature is the fancy name. Basically you take your temp every single day immediately after you wake up and record it. Ideally, you will see 2 main changes in temperature throughout your entire cycle, lower at the beginning and jumping up later on. This jump occurs AFTER your body has ovulated. You will see a 3rd jump if you end up pregnant and implantation has occured.  These jumps are subtle, we're talking 2/10's of a degree to 1 degree in most cases. This is the simple version and I recommend keeping it simple, it is an additional tool to use in your efforts and gives you a better picture of how your body is operating. There is a catch however, these temps must be PRECISE, which means you need to take your temperature at the SAME time every single day. There are measures to adjust the reading with calculations and I will tell you this clouds things, the best way is to get a routine set up, wake up at the same time every day, take your temp immediately after you wake up and keep it simple. You need to record the temp to the 1/10th degree, so a digital thermometer is the way to go. Also keep in mind that a falsely high reading can skew everything so be careful in what you record: 97.52 should be recorded as 97.5 and 97.68 should be recorded as 97.6.

The take away: "A dip in temperature followed by a rise (at least 2/10's of a degree) higher than all temps the previous six days and staying at or beyond this level for at least 3 consecutive days shows that ovulation has occurred"

However, these temps show you when you have already ovulated, meaning you should've already hit the sheets. After a few months you can hopefully see a pattern and time things appropriately but there are other indicators of the cycle. Cervical mucus, I'm not going to lie, I hate talking about this because let's be honest it's not a great visual to say the least mmmkay. So I'll leave it to the experts with this short explanation, "Directly prior to ovulation, cervical mucus should be abundant. Fertile cervical mucus is characterized by a transparent appearance - and it may look and feel like raw egg white and stretch between your fingers without breaking (see fig 1). This stretchiness is called Spinnbarkeit and indicates that ovulation is likely imminent. Fertile CM will be thin, slippery (like lubricant), stretchy and translucent. Typically, fertile-quality cervical fluids will appear a few days prior to and during ovulation. Following ovulation, the quality of CM will change again due to sudden decrease in estrogen and increase of progesterone."

Bottom line you should be paying attention to it to add that much more knowledge to the picture. Which brings me to the last point of trying to conceive tools. Cycle charting helps you keep track of all of these changes. Fertility Friend, your key to the crazy world of cycle charting! It's a website that you input all of this information into and it keeps track of everything for you. You can input temps, body changes, mucus changes, you name it. And with all of this data you finally start to see the exact picture of your body's cycle which gives you a basis for the best odds of conceiving. Not only does this help you in your efforts it is also a HUGE resource for your OB and/or fertility docs if you continue to be unsuccessful, it gives them a wealth of knowledge to help you. A great great great tool!

Stay Tuned for Part II which delves into the options and testing available for those who are unsuccessful after ALL of this.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

To My First Born, on Your 3rd Birthday

I'm still in disbelief that it has been 3 years already. As you sit here with your head on my shoulder I remember the days that I held your tiny little body in my arms and rocked you to sleep. These days you are a wild and happy little [big] guy and I don't get too many snuggly moments so I stop everything I'm doing when you scoot close and say "Mommy I want to lay on your shoulders" in your cute little toddler voice that is slowly disappearing into a grown up voice...

My little dude... you are growing (despite your revolt against vegetables) and excelling in every single part of your toddler world. You are smart, so so smart, too smart really which I love because I see myself in your eyes and I see the potential that your future holds every time that you pick up a new skill, or talk to me like a 30 year old while you try to convince me to give you more candy.

I love hearing the wonder in your voice when we learn about new things in school and listening to you reason about things that just don't make sense in your 3 year old brain. I love watching you lie passed out on the floor during nap time after piliging your closet and putting on every article of clothing you could find. Or observing your ingenuity and creativity when you stack up a variety of toys and use a broom stick to get an extra banana off of the counter.

Most importantly I love having the chance to see the world in a different way thanks to you. You keep me grounded and remind me constantly of the important things in life, like stopping to stare at a rolly polly while laughing that belly laugh at how silly it is when it turns into a ball. It's the little things in life that matter... and you are an excellent reminder for me.

I continue to smile and laugh on a daily basis at how awesome you are as a big brother, you have exceeded my expectations in so many ways. You are a great teacher and protector for baby D (who is nearly your size now) outside of the brotherly "love taps" and "body slams". Watching you two together makes my heart happy.

How is it possible that I have a 3 year old, big brother, amazing, funny, energetic, smart, helping, loving son...

I cannot believe that you are 3 years old, I just really can't believe it. This year has gone by in the blink of an eye, I feel like I just turned around and you are a little man now. I want to bottle you up just as you are and force you to stay this age forever. It's a complete mix of emotions, I'm sad to watch you grow yet at the same time I can't wait to watch you evolve into a wonderful young man.

Little Dude you are amazing and I love you so much that it hurts. I wish you the happiest of birthdays and promise not to cry (too much) as you make a wish and blow out the candles on yet another cake. Read more!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stranger Danger For Toddlers, a much different ballgame

I have been sick to my stomach since last week when they announced that Jessica Ridgeway's body had been positively identified after she was abducted October 5th. She had left for school to meet a friend at a park just down the street from her house and wasn't seen again until her dismembered remains were discovered 6 days later. I add in the detail of what horror obviously befell her, not because it makes the scenario of a child murder any worse because there isn't anything worse, but to convey the type of person we're dealing with here. This is like a sick twisted horror movie and the intensity of what happened literally has me an anxious mess, I cannot stop thinking about what happened to this poor beautiful little girl. This was about 30 minutes from our house, if you think it isn't happening right in your backyard, think again. It is a parent's worst nightmare. Every time I look at my kids over the past week I think of her and it shakes me to the core in fear thinking of it being my own child... They are just SO vulnerable... I want to lock them away in my house and never ever let them out. I want to homeschool forever now, although it wouldn't matter because I will never let them out to get a job, or grow up, or drive, or ANYTHING!

My heart just aches.

It has brought back a lot of the familiar PPD/PPA feelings, I am an anxious mess. I wake up in the middle of the night to any noise thinking someone has climbed the house and is trying to kidnap my children as they sleep. I make my husband check the locks on the doors, the house alarm, a hundred times and I wake up all night paranoid. The kids went with my brother and sister in law for a few hours yesterday and shortly after they left I stopped dead in my tracks thinking "oh God, what if they turn their backs for 1 minute and something happens because I'm not there". I am terrified of being away from them at any point regardless of who they are with. I see the neighborhood kids running around and playing and I feel a duty to stand there and watch over them and I really want to tell them to go home and stay inside.

This kind of tragedy is paralyzing for parents especially.

I have tried to think through it logically and stop myself from being so over the top but I just keep thinking that my kids aren't safe without me around, but someday I wont be around so then what. Of course I've thought about the whole "stranger danger" talk, it's one of those things you will obviously have some day, but I can't say I expected to have to do it now. Afterall, how the heck would you even explain that to a 2 year old, or to my 16 month old who can't even really make a sentence yet???

They are the most friendly little dudes which I love, always smiling and engaging, they will chat up a tree. I want to teach them to be safe without ruining their innocence, without making them fearful of everyone or being too afraid to ask for help from a stranger if they need it. It's a hard line to walk... but as we can see with this latest tragedy you can't wait, these horrible people are all around us, we have to start protecting our kids NOW.

So I've made it my mission to have this talk, now. And to emphasize it in any way I can think of that will make sense to a toddler, if anyone has done this or has some tips on how to go about it please chime in. I will start with the older one because I think he will be able to comprehend it a little bit, as for the wee one, I will try this once he is a bit older.

I did a lot of reading about this, what others have tried and decided on our own way to go about it. I emphasize this is what we decided to do, if you choose a different way or disagree with our method that is fine, have your own discussion with your kids whatever it is make sure you TALK to them about it, don't wait. I will also point out that this is geared towards toddlers (3 and under, granted my almost 3 year old is pretty mature for his age) who have a much different capacity to comprehend things than even a 5 year old.

What I found was that there is plenty of information on how to teach school aged kids about safety, they  have reasoning skills, they can notice when something seems out of the ordinary, they notice if a random car is suddenly following them, they can sense suspicion from an unfamiliar person.... a toddler can't do this. A toddler needs YOU to do this for them until they develop these skills, but we don't live in a perfect world, and sometimes you can't always be there.

I found the post over at Checklist Mommy very informative, it was compiled from a lecture on Safely Ever After and had some great points that I hadn't thought of. The following excerpt is the basis for a lot of what we went over on our Stranger lessons and touches not only on kidnapping but also molestation and child abuse.

  • It is unlikely your kid is going to be abused by a weirdo at the park (huge sigh of relief).
  • That said, if there is a weirdo at the park, he’s not going to fit the “stranger” model — so stop teaching your kid about strangers! He’s going to come up to your kid and introduce himself. Voila! He ain’t a stranger anymore.
  • Teach your kids about TRICKY PEOPLE, instead. TRICKY PEOPLE are grown-ups who ASK KIDS FOR HELP (no adult needs to ask a kid for help) or TELLS KIDS TO KEEP A SECRET FROM THEIR PARENTS (including, IT’S OKAY TO COME OVER HERE BEHIND THIS TREE WITHOUT ASKING MOM FIRST. Not asking Mom is tantamount to KEEPING A SECRET.)
  • Teach your kids not to DO ANYTHING, or GO ANYWHERE, with ANY ADULTS AT ALL, unless they can ask for your permission first.
See how I said ANY ADULTS AT ALL? That’s because:

  • It’s far more likely your kid is going to be abused by someone they have a relationship with, because most cases of abuse follow long periods of grooming — both of the kid and his or her family.
  • Bad guys groom you and your kids to gauge whether or not you’re paying attention to what they’re doing, and/or to lure you into dropping your guard. Don’t. Kids who bad guys think are flying under their parents’ radars, or kids who seem a little insecure or disconnected from their parents, are the kids who are most at risk.
We spent a few days of homeschool lessons on Strangers so that we could cover all of the info I wanted him to know and make sure that he was really taking it in and remembering it.

The areas I wanted to touch on were-
Strangers out in the world
Strangers who come to the door at home
Strangers in a store/mall

We started out by talking about how there are lots of "strangers" in the world, people we don't know. Sometimes people are nice but sometimes these people want to do bad things to us so we have to be very careful around people that we don't know. I let him sit and think about that for a minute and see what he had to say.

I told him that sometimes these bad people want to take kids away from us and that this is a scary thing because we don't ever want him to be taken away, we want to have him forever. I went over the common ideas of people using puppies or candy to try and get us to come with them, but I told him that there were lots of ways that these bad people try to get kids away from mommy and daddy.

And lastly I told him that in order to be safe with strangers there were some rules we had to follow.

1. NEVER ever go anywhere with any stranger, adult or child, without asking Mom or Dad first.
If we're at the park and a kid wants you to come play with a ball across the field you must ask Mom and Dad first. If a stranger offers you candy, you ask mom and dad first. A stranger wants you to find their puppy, ask mom and dad first, I went through a variety of scenarios that would apply to our daily life at this age (going to the park, grocery store, parking lots, etc) and hammered on the point that you MUST ask Mom or Dad first.

2. NEVER get into a car with a stranger, never go into their house, any building, unless you ask mom or dad first.
There is no reason he should ever need to be going to these places with someone he doesn't know so we flat out labeled them off limits. The only caviat is if he needs help which is hard for a toddler to differentiate and complicates the issue. I figured we would make this as black and white as possible for him at this age, these places are a NO NO NO. We would cover the issue of asking for help in the next lesson.

3. If you get lost and can't find mommy or daddy, you find a Mom with kids to ask for help.
Tell them you need help, that you are lost, bottom line. If there are no moms you find a woman. (I wont get into the issues of asking Dads with kids for help and the whole men vs women stereotype discrimination thing, because that distracts the focus here, keeping kids safe in the offchance that they become vulnerable. If you want to teach your kid otherwise that is your decision).

4. Do not EVER run off away from Mom and Dad. Bad people can grab you in just a second.
We had an incident with the grandparents a few weeks ago at the mall where he took off running through the entire mall and my step mom had to shout at a random person to stop him. Obviously toddlers think this is funny and therefore we added this to the rules.

5. If a bad person ever gets a hold of you, to take you away, what do you do? SCREAM, RUN, KICK, FIGHT.
We taught about yelling for help, screaming as loud as possible "help me" "you're NOT my Daddy/Mommy" and also about yelling "fire" because more people are apt to listen to a kid yelling fire rather than ignoring screams and just thinking it's kids playing around.

This covered the basics as simply as I could. I went over a ton of scenarios and we role played what he would do, I was quite surprised at how long it took for him to answer "no" when I prompted him to come get candy or find my puppy or come play. When I said these things in a fun playful voice he was all ready to go, eyes beaming! I thought after our talk that he would've at least paused but he didn't, which tells me that this is something we will have to practice practice practice!

We will continue to quiz him about the "rules" and pose scenarios for him to explain what he would do in that situation to make sure he is remembering this and really getting it as best as a 2 1/2 year old can. I am also considering doing some role playing when we are at the park by asking another mom to try and 'test' him by asking him to go somewhere and see what he does. I think this will be the most effective way for it to really sink in.
Anyone else with experience in teaching toddlers about strangers? What worked for you? I've been putting together several games for homeschool that help emphasize this that I will post in an update.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be An Educated Parent: My Take on the Vaccine Debate

Well since the latest news story last night I feel prompted to put out my two cents on the whole vaccine debate. Let me be clear to anyone reading, it is no debate where I'm concerned, I am an avid PRO VAX momma.

That being said let me elaborate somewhat. There are a variety of excuses that the anti-vax folks rely on.
1: Vaccines Can Cause Autism.
2: There are awful horrid ingredients in the vaccines that make them completely unsafe to be giving to our children with developing immune systems.
3. Diseases we vaccinate for have been eradicated for years so there is no need to use them.
4: Extended breastfeeding provides more/better immunity than any vaccine
5. There are plenty of "natural" ways to keep the body healthy, vaccines are unnecessary and dangerous.

I will address each briefly because I believe that it is the responsibility of parents to do their OWN research into the topic. Get out your scholarly medical journal articles, get your peer reviewed double blind studies, read up on anatomy & physiology, consult some pharmacology info basics (trust me anything beyond will be WELL above your head), talk to scientists, pediatricians, neurologists, understand how the CDC operates, etc. As I say in most things including politics, be an EDUCATED decision maker. Don't end up looking your kid in the eye someday when these ignorant decisions come back to bite you in the ass and say 'I'm sorry I chose xyz for you and didn't really look into it ahead of time.'

I'll provide various links in my explanations, consider them the cliff notes for the aforementioned research that parents should be doing. They put things in simple basic terms but realize there is a wealth of info that you could delve into with any of them that would provide a much greater understanding of the material being presented.

If you've been living under a rock please do us all a favor and consult Google. Yes it's that well known by now that there is absolutely NO link that has been demonstrated between vaccines and autism or ASD. In fact taking it one step further there has been no link found between thimerosol and ASD either. The best part of all of this is that the guy that stemmed off this entire shift toward the anti-vaccine movement, the founder of the vax = autism movement was found to actually have falsified the entire observational report for money. That's right, he recruited kids (of which there were 12... 12 children, now that's one heck of a sample group to dictate consequences for the WORLD population!) that had already demonstrated autistic behaviors and then lied about when these kids had received their MMR vaccine to try and show a correlation between the two. Why? Because he got paid to show such a correlation when these families were compensated. So THIS my Dears is where the entire anti-vax movement stems from (at least the widely publicized version that got celebrities like Jenny McCarthy onboard and spread like wildfire). This is a great article that elaborates on this debate.

2. There are awful horrid ingredients in the vaccines that make them completely unsafe to be giving to our children with developing immune systems.
Ok onto the whole additive and preservative argument. Yes there are ingredients that are used in vaccine preparations that can be twisted around to look like death in a vile that we're shooting our kids up with. As you'll read over and over again the amounts of these ingredients are considered "trace" or "undetectable" for the vast majority. You'll hear people rant and rave over the precise levels and how they really are dangerous in trace amounts especially because we give kids these vaccines several times over their lifetime. I won't get into specifics here because it is a LOT of info. I prefer not to spend my day arguing over ethylmercury vs. methylmercury. Or get into the details of hydrophilic tendencies in excretory mechanisms effecting systemic toxicity. I wont get into the concept of cellular immunity and T cell and B cell activation, or antigen processing, or immunoglobulins. Again, be an educated decision maker... educate yourself.

I will say that there are preservative free vaccine preparations that eliminate a lot of this controversy however they may still be labeled as such when there are trace amounts of these ingredients present. The bottom line is that these "additives" are necessary to create the vaccine, to inactivate the viruses, to keep the viles free from bacteria so that our kids don't die from staph infections after injection (which happened in Australia). You can read all about this from the FDA and various places, they explain things a bit further.

For the aluminum phobes, these are a few good places to start. First off know that not all vaccines have aluminum salts in them. Second, know that aluminum is found all over the place, in our water, in our food, even breastmilk contains 25 mcg per liter folks... take that one in for a moment. Studies have been done all over, reviewed a billion times, and as the exhaustive studies in Rome showed '"Scare stories on aluminum-containing vaccines are not supported by evidence."

A quote that resonates with me and my vaccine views is from Dr. Paul Offit, in response to misinformation by Dr. Bob Sears, he stated "By creating the notion of zero tolerance, Sears fails to educate his readers that the dose makes the poison, that it is the amount of a potential toxin and not its mere presence that counts."

Water can be toxic folks. The take away from this should be that a can of tuna fish has a dozen times more mercury in it than any flu shot ever will. We should be more concerned with aluminum in our drinking water and deodorant than the aluminum salts in the vaccine additives. Even the ominous formaldehyde, that people associate with cancer and dead people, is produced in our own bodies during energy production processes. We have to stop skimming the surface of these things and delve deeper, remember the old adage never judge a book by it's cover. And remember what the vaccines are FOR. Stop getting caught up on the falsified propaganda of ill effects and remember that contracting Polio, Diptheria, Tetanus, Rubella, Haemophillus Influenza, etc etc etc is a much scarier prospect.

I'll tell you something that scares me much more than vaccine additives is GMO's. We should be much more concerned with this and the diseases and cancer et all resulting from the food we consume every day than we should be about flu shot preparations.

3. Diseases we vaccinate for have been eradicated for years so there is no need to use them.
Ok yes people really believe this. Shocking I know. It's like the fact that several other countries black out the Holocaust in history books and say that it never happened and it is all US propoganda (no really, this does happen).

So let me say it for those poor naive individuals. PEOPLE STILL DIE FROM THESE DISEASES. They are not eradicated, they are still a very real threat to civilization, moreso now with the anti-vax movement. Right now we're seeing an EPIDEMIC of whooping cough and this is the tip of the iceberg. There is a reason these diseases are ignored and the focus is now on ridiculous things like .03 ppm of mercury in a vile of flu shot. If people were still suffering and dying of these things every day NO ONE would give a rat's ass about aluminum salts. I encourage everyone to go ahead and pull out the history books and remind themselves of the consequences of the diseases we're trying to prevent with the vaccines.

Want to see a baby dying of a systemic chicken pox infection... go ahead take a look... take a look at the consequences that so many BLINDLY ignore by jumping on this bandwagon.  It's graphic, sure. Sad, absolutely. But all too often ignored and thought of as a thing of the past...

There are many more photos to review for vaccine preventable diseases. Please take a moment to see what can and still does happen today with these diseases that are far from gone. Outside of death there are dozens of consequences.

Mental Retardation
Congenital Heart Defects
Brain Damage
etc, etc, etc

Want to see something very scary, go ahead and research what's happening with Tuberculosis... and multiple drug resistant strains. 

4: Extended breastfeeding provides more/better immunity than any vaccine
I'm not here to speak about extended breastfeeding. Lord knows that horse has been beaten to death! You want to boob feed your kid til they're 10, go ahead. Is breast milk good for the immune system in infants, yes. Does it provide certain types of immunity, yep. Does this mean we should package it up and sell it in the grocery store to be consumed right alongside our OJ in the morning... no. It does not exempt one from needing vaccines to prevent certain diseases. So don't be naive and use this as an excuse to delay and delay and delay your vaccination schedules. In fact there are plenty of MD's out there that recommend stopping breast milk consumption to allow vaccines to do their job as some studies have shown that breast milk can make the vaccines less effective. Now I don't subscribe to this idea... not enough evidence to date, but again breastfeeding doesn't give one a free pass to opt out of vaccines.

5. There are plenty of "natural" ways to keep the body healthy, vaccines are unnecessary and dangerous.
Well, while I don't believe anyone would accuse me of being a completely "crunchy" momma. I do buy into the whole holistic medicine approach, I did acupuncture when trying to get pregnant, I use herbs, I even have a damn flock of chickens and ducks in the back yard! But I'm also a nurse. I believe in using both Eastern and Western medical approaches in any given situation but I do NOT believe in opting out of medicine, surgery, or vaccines for that matter by thinking that some "natural" approach will work better. There is science in medicine, and I trust the science, bottomline.

Go ahead and eat your Kashi, shop at Whole Foods (we do), take your garlic and zinc during flu season, boycott GMO's (for the love get rid of GMO's!) but don't use that as an excuse to forego medical science.... unless you've done your due diligence and researched it ad nauseum and found proof otherwise.

It is obviously clear where I stand and until the scientific evidence proves otherwise that is where I will stay. This is the info I will continue to impress upon anyone especially when these outbreaks and epidemics arise. Learn the facts, educate yourself on both sides of the story (I know more than a lot about both sides, afterall this is the only way to make an informed choice) so that one day when you're asked to defend your decision you have the ability to do so rationally.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Heaven has a new angel: Explaining Heaven to a toddler

Unfortunately another one of my spirited relatives has made their way to the other side. My Uncle passed away one month to the last day I spent with him fishing... one of his favorite things to do. This is my Dad's second and last younger brother who has gone ahead of him to the flip side... in less than 15 months... just not how it's supposed to be.

Hunting in Kansas
I have so many fond memories of growing up with my Uncle, we were a very close family, in fact we lived next door to one another for several years. Since my cousin and I were only 2 weeks apart we had one heck of a time giving our Dad's hell growing up :) I can remember shooting pop cans in the backyard with my Uncle and Dad taking down pigeons every other shot. There were many nights that we were allowed to drive in his lap... all the while jamming to country music which I hated at the time. Pool days while my cousin and I did back dives into the community pool and volleyball and summer parties at the clubhouse. Hunting trips were always a blast, in fact, the last hunting trip we took would be the last time I got to hang out with my Uncle (who passed away last May from cancer), my Dad, and my Uncle (that passed away last week). There are no words to describe when you get our family clan together... no words, people just stare ha! And of course memories of fishing, my how he loved fishing. I would always tease him that I couldn't believe he could actually catch fish at Chatfield... and so finally after all of these years we made a trip out so that he could teach me and my husband where to go and what to use to actually catch a fish at the lake. My Dad, the Dude, hubbs, and I all watched as he set up our fishing pole rigs. That was the last time I saw him... at least it was another great memory.

And so he waits for us all in heaven...

Not only is it a tragedy for our family but due to the circumstances it is a sickening reminder of days to come. I went with my Dad to my Aunt's side to see if there was anything we could help with in getting all of the final arrangements in order. There are just soooooo many things to do and no one has the slightest clue what is involved until after the fact. My Dad just kept repeating that not only did he want to help because that is what families do, that is what he promised my Uncle many years ago that he would do but he also needed to be there to educate himself on what will be involved in taking care of his own final arrangements. To finally put some things down on paper and share his wishes with all of us for when the time comes.

Let me assure you this is a nauseating conversation.

No one wants to talk about death certificates, crematoriums, last rights, wakes, urns, a burial outfit, etc... It's just not fair that you have to deal with losing someone you love and also get thrown into the nightmare involved with getting the final arrangements in order. But I suppose these things serve to distract us for a short while. Death never gets easier... no matter how many people you lose...and adding children to the mix makes it even tougher, because they do not understand.

Heaven is a strange concept. One of the hardest things I'm finding to do is teach my 2 year old son about heaven. You know... you just shouldn't have to do that... there should be many many years before he should ever have to know what heaven is. We have briefly talked about it before when our prized mother hen Blanche passed. All he knew was that Blanche went away and there wasn't a whole lot beyond that. I told him that we'd see her again someday and he pretty much left it alone, there weren't any questions. But this time there were, and I really had no idea what to tell him... I told the Dude that we were going to fall asleep and go visit my Uncle in our dreams to give him a big hug and tell him how much we loved him. I said that he had gone to Heaven.

"what? why?"

I said that he was very very sick and that there wasn't any medicine that they could give him. I didn't know how to explain this to him without making him afraid that every time he got sick he would end up in heaven... it was a fine line... luckily I think he is mature enough that he pretty much understood what I was saying.

Some might wonder why I would even attempt to explain heaven to him at this point... well... unfortunately I want to prepare him for when Grampa is no longer around... Again something you just shouldn't have to do. Ever.

We continued to talk and I made sure to emphasize how wonderful heaven was. I said that everything in heaven was beautiful and happy and there was icecream and cookies and fun. I told him that no one was sick in heaven and that it was going to be so wonderful for my Uncle to be there and to feel great again.

"But they can't do that!"
"Can't do what hun?"
"Heaven can't take him."

He was clearly puzzled at the whole idea and I just kept doing my best to answer his questions and give him as much age appropriate info as I could between the tears. I told him that even though we aren't really able to see people in heaven we can still talk to them and they can still hear us. I told him that they are always near us and that we can visit them in our dreams any time we want to.

I had no idea if it was sinking in.. I had no idea what I was even telling him, there surely is no instruction manual for preparing a 2 year old for death... But right before I gave him a hug to go to sleep he looked at me and smiled and began to ramble "Uncle go to heaven, and Blanche, and it's so nice, and they have ice cream, and we hug him, and LOVE YOU!, and sleep in our dreams, and and and and and... he continued to smirk and burried into his pillows.

So I smiled back. He got it.

"That's right Dude... it's a wonderful thing... and we're going to go and tell him we love him tonight"
"Ok momma!"

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Most Traumatizing Day of My Life: This is why I Step Up

I'm not even really sure how to write this post, or if I should write it... all I know is that it replays in my mind constantly and I feel like I need to get it off of my chest.

It is roughly one year to the day that we found out my Dad has cancer. It is also about 4 months since we were told that it had come back and is now stage IV. What a year it has been... I often talk about the hellish nightmare it is, nothing's changed there. We should have a frequent flyer card for the hospital, even my 2 year old knows how to manuever through the rat maze that is Swedish Hospital, he'll tell you exactly where to go to see "Grampa and his big owie"...

A few days ago was another trek to the hospital. I got a phone call early in the morning from my step mom, clearly panicked, that my Dad had just left the house in an ambulance. He had gone to the bathroom and just as she went to check on him she caught him as he fell to the floor and proceeded to bleed out all over the bathroom floor.

I jumped in the car and headed to the ER... it was one of many of these drives, blurry tear filled eyes, arriving at my destination with no memory of getting there, wondering if one of these times would be the last time. A million things running through my mind... and then pulling myself together in time to walk in and see what disaster we would be dealing with this go round'.

I knew the bleeding would be a relatively quick fix, I knew exactly what had happened and I knew that the docs/nurses had screwed up just last night as I spoke with them. Most recently, he has a blood clot in his lungs and two more in each leg that they had just found the previous day. The docs had put him on some intense blood thinners, a standard practice with blood clots, but I knew it was a bad idea... too many variables in his situation that made this a bad move. I pleaded with them to treat his situation more urgently. I sat on the phone with the nurses the night before asking them why everyone was being so laissez faire about these clots and they continued to assure me "we stopped his Coumadin and we'll just monitor him and adjust his other med tomorrow when he comes in." My response was "IF he makes to then. Each of these problems is a LIFE THREATENING situation, it should be addressed NOW." Surprise surprise they didn't listen, and at 7:00 am the next day he arrived in the ER via ambulance.

They addressed the bleeding, and shortly after we arrived he was headed up to a room. They were already admitting him no more than 2 hours after getting there. I thought this was odd, usually we spend 8+ hours in the ER and FINALLY get a room at the end of the day. I can only guess that they figured he would be staying... since we've been through this rodeo a few million times before... so they sent him up. I knew I kept thinking this was odd... I had no idea that I should've said something... that I was about to witness the most traumatic experience of my entire life. It turns out he was much too critical to just be sent up to the floor, he should've stayed in the ER where they could deliver immediate care.

Once in the room I called the nurse to tell her we needed oxygen and that someone needed to reassess his bleeding because he was saturating more and more towels. Both of which were relatively urgent issues needing attention. The feeling in the room was escalating as we flagged down the tech to address some issues, he was also in a LOT of pain... it was growing very quickly. Long story short my brother and I were attempting to help my Dad to sit up in his bed per his request... It had been a good 3 minutes now since I asked for oxygen... I had him swing his legs to the side of the bed, and he sat up to grab hold of my brother's neck. What happened next is a complete blur yet so vivid I will not forget as long as I live.

He stood up with our help and immediately went limp, I couldn't see his face because I was behind him reaching over the bed. He started to almost convulse as we sat him back down, his head started to flop violently backward, I caught his head and started to lay him down. I could hear him sucking for air.... this is something I can't even explain... it is not like the movies folks. It was a sound that clearly indicated to me that he was not "there" that his brain stem had just taken over to sustain vital functioning, it was a barbaric sound. And I sat there and watched him stare blankly into the ceiling as his body continued to gasp for air. My Dad was not in that body at that moment and I knew it. I will never forget that expression on his face as he laid there contorted in the bed. Felt like the whole room was spinning around and I was just locked onto his face thinking.... this..... is..... it.... In the mere seconds that this occured the nurse had finally come in with the oxygen and a couple of other nurses. I immediately went into nurse panic mode, it was game time, and my brother and I started screaming at the people in the room. I shouted at one to GET THE OXYGEN!!!!! As my brother nearly tossed the tech out of the room to get help and to get the fuck out of the way. It was absolute chaos. I had one or two nurses behind me flailing around trying to get him hooked up to get a blood pressure reading and I turned to them and told them to stop. I yelled to them to FIND a pulse, NOW, while I yanked the oxygen tubing from the charge nurse and struggled to get it on his face. All the while he continued to suck for air with his eyes wide open... no one was home. The nurse behind me kept saying "Max are you ok, are you there, are you ok" as my step mom yelled at her NO he's NOT ok!! He can't even respond!! As I was literally about to climb on top of my Dad's chest to start CPR and call the crash cart the awful sound started to improve and I said DAD!!! DAD!! And he finally laid there and responded "yeah".

My Dad had literally almost coded in my brother's and my arms.

I have never seen anything like it in my life, not in my nursing career, never.

This was as close as it possibly gets. I literally almost had to climb on top of my father and attempt to save his life. This was not cancer, this was an acute situation that went south in a matter of seconds. This is what I was trying to avoid by requesting the oxygen as soon as we got to the floor. The nurses continued to refer to it as an "episode" as they explained it to the oncoming nursing staff. This was no episode. He almost died right on the table.

In our arms.

Traumatizing is the only word that comes close to describing it. It took me 2 days to even tell anyone what had happened in his room. I was literally shaking for the rest of the day. It is a memory forever seared into my brain. I won't forget that experience, that sound, that look on his face for as long as I live. I felt like it lasted 10 hours when in reality it was only a matter of a few minutes.

Several units of blood, plasma, platelets, etc later my Dad is doing much better. No telling when he'll finally get out of the hospital again but we've certainly done a 180 from three days ago. It's just another day on the cancer journey....

And this is exactly why I'll be Stepping UP on Sunday.

For you Dad, for all of our family in heaven taken by this awful disease, and for all of the families whose lives are forever altered by their experience with a family member's cancer.

I had a nurse ask me yesterday about my tattoo, I said it reads "Get up and fight another round" and she looked at me confused and said "fight? for what?" I pointed to my Dad and I said, for him, for this, for life. She smiled and said she had never thought about it like that before :)

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

NCLEX and Licensure: Oh the everloving joy!

I want to stab someone chuckle in a SO NOT funny way at the journey that became my NCLEX and licensure experience. To give you an idea let me start with the timeline of events.

End August 2012- Last theory exam done
Dec 1 2012- Applied CPNE
Mar 1 2013- CPNE first avail date and pass weekend
April 7- Sent app paperwork to Missouri BON*
April 19- Official graduation date, sent official transcript to BON
May 2- Got ATT from BON
May 4- Took NCLEX
May 13- Finally found out that I passed NCLEX
May 31- Started RN job under title of LPN until license # was conferred. Then found out I had to start over square 1 and reapply for RN licensure through Colorado BON arraghghhg.

 This is when more of the fun began...

June 3- Applied for RN with Colorado BON*
waiting some more on my inept licensing "specialist"
waiting and not so nice messages to the supervisor of the licensing "specialist"
June 24- RESUBMIT yet another transcript to Colorado BON
July 1- Phone call saying my license should be ready in 10 days
July 16- Nursys confirmation system shows an ACTIVE CO RN LICENSE woooooooooooopp!!!

It was a bit of a process folks...  lord! So when you break it down, I finished the theory exams (which is essentially the "school" part of the RN degree minus the joke of the FCCA which is it's own story) in August of 2012... My RN license was finally conferred and official at the Board of Nursing in July of 2013. Yah. Almost a year ::::palm face:::::

In the meantime of waiting for the dang license to be official I've been bumped again and again for enrollment into my BSN program and so finally I can say it is done. Put to bed. Over and out.

Let me explain a few of the crazies here: My Nclex experience was an absolute nightmare and a half. When I took the LPN nclex I got 79 questions before my computer shut off, I didn't feel confident at all and walked out in tears thinking I failed only to find out 2 days later that I actually was a rockstar and nailed it. I won't lie, I kind of expected the same thing this time around. I figured after going through ALLLLLL of this the damn nclex should be a piece of cake. Anyone who knows the NCLEX knows about the smart test system, the 75 questions versus 265 questions, and the Pearson Vue Trick "pop ups"...

I didn't study all that much for the nclex due to the aforementioned and the fact that I was only concerned with hammering through quickly because I actually had an interview for a job offer as an RN for 2 days after I was taking the nclex..... hah, so typical.... I thought well shit I better get this figured out stat. I used the free ATI tutor thing that Excelsior gives you and I thought it was worthless to be honest. My 'mentor' would never respond to me until it was too late (granted I was on a rocket freight train trying to hurry... she clearly was not). I took a handful of practice tests, not sure if I even ever accessed a real assessment? I ran through the free 3500 question review that I used for my LPN nclex. I read through some Hurst notes for a night in between promo jobs and went for it the next day.

I woke up at 5 am and drove an hour and a half to the only testing location that had a date available on a Saturday immediately. I made sure to follow all the applicable rules for identification, just one tiny detail... my drivers license was recently expired thanks to my birthday. Oops. It was Saturday, no DMV was open, had I gone the day prior it still wouldn't matter because they'd void my current license and give me the white paper to carry around until my new one came in the mail. So my license would be 'expired' which is a no-no. I thought that maybe it would be ok since you'd still have the white paper saying it was renewed and I had called a couple days prior to confirm with the Pearson Vue people that this would be acceptable and they said yes, after asking 3 people over 45 minutes..... so I didn't trust them... and didn't go void my license and chance it.

Not a problem though because I brought my passport!! Oh yea but my passport was still in my maiden name (even though we've been married for 5 years now, I know I know stupid).

BUT fear not. I also brought my marriage license. The original. And both maiden and married social security cards and a dozen other random pieces of info that I could also throw at them incase they asked.

I told you I followed ALL of the fine print to a "T". Shouldn't have been an issue. Except the check in people at Pearson Vue looked at me like I had 3 heads when I whipped it all out at them and they acted like I was violating a matter of national security or something. With about 3 hours of sleep the night prior I just wanted to whap them one and say READ your OWN fine print people ugh.

Alas, I got into the room, did the hokey pokey and sat down to test. Questions were just like the PN nclex although I noticed it was a lot less content based and much more delegation based, almost "easier" if I should dare say that?? I watched the numbers tick away, question 60, 65, 70, I squinted after 75 to see if it was going to shut off and nope. Ok maybe at 80. Nope. Hmm ok maybe 90 or worst case 100, I could handle 100.

Ok 120.
Are you EFFING kidding me.
I almost walked out at this point.
I'm not joking....

265 questions folks. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I was in disbelief. What in the hell??!!?!?! I wanted to punch myself, you moron why didn't you study more. Obviously you don't know your stuff but dang I really felt like I knew my stuff. How could I have gotten this far without knowing this. I mean 265 means you are a complete moron and missed.... well everything!

I tried to log in to check the infamous "pop up" situation, do I get the good one or the bad one?? OH that's right, I got neither, I got a mysterious THIRD pop up that I'd never even heard about!! How is it possible that this stuff happens to ME :::::shakes head::::::

This third pop, based on the interweb consensus, is either great or awful haah. No indication of which. It basically means that the BON and Pearson Vue are 'reviewing' your results, whatever that means. It also means that you can't pay the nice little quick results and find out in 48 hours either, you have to wait (generally a WEEK) to find out in writing from the BON!! I kid you not.

Apparently this is common if you had to take an unusual amount of bathroom breaks or you do anything weird during your test or your computer konks out or anything else unusual (NONE of which happened during my test) and that's all they could say. No answers from anyone. So I waited in misery for a full week before I got my letter from the BON saying I passed.

It wasn't until after that and some more bothering the board about getting my license done that I FINALLY found out what had happened during my test and it all made perfect sense in the end. Pearson Vue tells you that they don't randomly select students to "mess" with so to speak, the test is 100% smart adapted so they don't plug in the system that student A gets 100 questions and student B gets 75, it's all based on the algorithms from the cat test. They say they don't profile or screen student's to test harder basically it's all completely random and out of their control.

Well they lie. And the BON confirmed this for me point blank. She told me that because my identification was expired and I had to use a secondary ID, even though I followed all the "rules" above and beyond,  I was "flagged" and therefore put through the ringer on my exam.

This is why I got ALL 265 questions.
This is why I got the weird pop up.
This is why it took a week of review (they actually review video of your exam!)

Are you kidding ME?!! No. For realz. Which meant two things- A: those bastards lie and I plan to tell everyone I know about it (even though I'm probably not supposed to... meh too bad). And B: I'm not a moron. I wasn't failing the questions, I was just doomed to get every single one from the start. Yay for me. 3 1/2 hours later!!! ughhghgh.

*Next part of the crazies: The switcheroo of nursing boards. Started with MO, ended up with CO, both multi state. This is a very long complex explanation. Those of you who know me personally understand why and the details of all of this. I'll leave it at that. It's done people, finally done. Which is all that matters.

And now I'm working. As an RN. I really did it.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Potty Training: A 2 part endeavor!

Down to one kid in diapers, yeah buddy! So I've been meaning to do a potty training post because well everyone wants to know how it went, what you did, and mostly they really want to hear you tell horror stories about how awful and hard the experience was so they don't feel so bad that it hasn't been a piece of cake for themselves.

Am I right on that one folks?

If nothing else, I want to write this down so that I can refer back when the wee one is ready to do this so I can remember what to do and what not to do. So I offer the following, just a tad bit of horror and then a lot of piece-a-cake. We started the potty training endeavor when Dude turned 2. So out came the potty chair, the pull ups, and the potty treats!

Endeavor #1, little bro
being very supportive ;)
Things were smooth sailing on the first two days, we went totally diaper free during the day (be prepared for your family and relatives to completely NOT understand this method and side eye you when your kid is constantly running around naked) and we would do pull ups at nap time and night. One thing at a time, no need to go crazy right. He was great, peeed and poo'd his little heart out on the potty chair. I already knew what his typical bathroom habits were at this point (ie. poop once a day, etc.) so I just made sure to keep on track and remind him frequently to go to the potty.

There were accidents, it was like having a puppy in the house and I'd find pee puddles across the house all day. But he was still peeing in the potty, so this was progress in my eyes. This went on for about  5 days or so. Naked toddler during the day, pee puddles, potty treats, woohoo! I noticed that he was tapering off on the poo part at about day 3, I knew this was going to be the hardest part but I figured with enough positive encouragement we'd get past the hurdle.

Poo Problems: After about day 3 there was no more pooping in the potty. I knew he had to go but he wasn't going. He wasn't afraid of the potty, he just wasn't going, and he wasn't going anywhere else either. I had heard of kids holding their poop but this wasn't the issue. Something was up. Long story short after another day he appeared to be physically in pain, like he was having the urge to go but wasn't going and I just kept telling him "it's OK, just go, you get a treat!! you're doing soooo good!" But he wouldn't, he'd sit there and cry. Finally ended up taking him into the ER... wish I was joking about this part but for real, we went to the ER. He was screaming in pain, they ended up giving him an enema and about 15 minutes of ear piercing screams later ta-da, let's just say he was "relieved".

We went home from the ER just shaking our heads, what in the world had happened, he was so excited about potty training, things had gone so well... what did we do wrong. I figured we would stop and try again in a couple of months. Quite honestly I was a little freaked out thinking we had probably just traumatized the hell out of the kid and he was going to have a crazy poop complex for the rest of his life!

So potty training endeavor # 1.... well pretty much a FAIL.

After a couple of months I started to lean towards trying again but I went back and re-analyzed everything a hundred times over to figure out what we could do differently. This is what I think went wrong...

Potty treats.

The kid is really not allowed to have candy, like ever, unless it's a special occasion or a sneaky relative or grandparent brings it over. Therefore, what better potty treat than candy- m&m's etc. What happened, I think, is that he would get SOOO excited that he was going to get the coveted candy treat that he would literally jump off the toilet mid stream cheering himself on and run to the kitchen to get his treat. Not a huge issue I guess until it came to poo time. He was literally stopping himself in the middle to get his prize and ultimately ended up constipating himself so bad that we needed an enema in the end. Talk about random.... who in the world has this happened to other than me.... if it has please comment so I feel better about it ha!

So the first change for endeavor #2 was NO treats!! We went with a sticker board instead. He really loves getting stickers, we do this for his behavior board and I figured it would probably work for potty training too. We picked some cool stickers for pee and then extra special big stickers for poop. And sure enough, he responded like a champ to the stickers!! We didn't change a single thing other than that the second time around. Naked toddler, no more pee puddles (so obviously something worked the first time), and sticker rewards.

I paid extra close attention to the poo problems, making sure he was going and he did just fine. No weird potty complex, he was great. I guess I can attribute this all in part to just waiting a couple extra months for him to mature just a tiny bit more, who knows? We continued with the pull ups at night and naps and did so for about 3 weeks. Finally there were only a handful of accidents during the day if we were out and about.

Once he started to wake up from naps with a dry pull up, we pulled the plug on those. Now he was diaper free at nap time. Smooth sailing there. Of course there was an accident every rare once and a while but that was ok with me. And we applied the same concept to night time, we started cutting off drinks a little earlier in the evening. We'd make him go before he went to bed and then immediately after he woke up. Once he started to wake up dry (for the most part) a few days in a row, we pulled the nighttime pull ups. And that my dears is it.

That's the end of the story, Dude is/was potty trained 4 months after he turned 2. So what I took away from the experience was that he certainly WAS ready the first time around but we went about it the wrong way. The second time just made it a tad easier since he already knew the point. NO treats. And go with the cold turkey approach. No undies, no pants, no diapers at ALL. No giving in. Once you can see that they are dry at naps or night jump on it! Take them away and deal with extra laundry from accidents for a week or two, it IS worth it.

I will also add that we have had maybe 2 or 3 occasions that we ended up having to do another enema at home, which sounds scary but it actually super easy, they sell very gentle acting bulbs in pediatric form at the drug store that work like a charm. Clearly this problem is not from him just merely "holding" it in, it may be diet related, a little too much dairy one week- who knows. But this is a quick fix and I've come to terms that he may just have an issue here or there with it that he'll surely outgrow. Bottom line is we're done with diapers, only one more kid to go!!

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Bye Bye Mirena: The Update

Alrighty, so here's the update to the Mirena disaster.

I pulled that bad boy out about 4 months ago (disclaimer... you probably should leave that to the professionals... even though I'm a nurse I probably should've had someone take it out, there are some nasty potential complications with removal that are rare but nonetheless serious enough that you should leave it to the MD's. In my case, that visit would've been a whopping $200 so I went ahead and pulled it out in .4 nanoseconds and saved myself a few bills. Granted I could easily reach the strings and all it took was a tiny tug and voila d.o.n.e. If there was any resistance I would've stopped and immediately went in.)

So here we are about 4 months later. I will say it was about a week of bleeding afterward but that was certainly NOTHING new. And then it stopped. I immediately started taking birth control pills the day after I pulled it out so I'm sure that helped the bleeding, starting to get the hormones back in order. Other than that things have been smooth sailing, no obvious crazy side effects or changes to report.

Now what have I noticed since finally being rid of this?? Well getting back to normal has been amazing, not constantly worrying about bleeding, no more pantyliners (I think I will burn the boxes I have!), no more cramping or bloating Hallelujah! So the annoyance factors are gone and they were gone quickly.

As for the emotional/subtle side effects, I do seem to have more energy, not as tired all of the time but the wee one sleeps through the night finally so I'm sure that helps. I can't really comment on the depression because with my Dad's new cancer diagnosis that aspect isn't changing anytime soon. Life is still stress to the max between getting 2 degrees, re-starting our business, and my Dad's constant rollercoaster of care. I will say that if I was still dealing with the annoying draining side effects like the cramping et al while also dealing with this life crap I would've lost my mind entirely. No joke. So if nothing else I at least eliminated a huge source of stress and contention in my life by removing the Mirena.

Sex drive, that's a key one. It slowly started to come back and things are MUCH better now. Such a small detail can make a huge impact on a relationship. I am very happy that this has changed because I'll be honest I was starting to think that this was just how life ends up... you have a couple of kids, you have too much stress, and no more sex folks. I mean duh, that's why "old people" don't shag anymore (oh wait, that's not true either... eeek, I know, but I'd rather not have that visual in my head mmkay).

And for the question everyone wants to know.... weight gain/loss... I have to laugh, because as I got on the scale this morning it reads lower than it has been since I lost 12 lbs with morning sickness while pregnant. That's right LOWER, which essentially means that I have lost 8 or so lbs since removing this thing. My weight gain was a direct result of the Mirena, that's the short version. This is the longer explanation... the weight gain put me in quite a state of panic and then helplessness. No matter what I did the scale wouldn't move. This is something I've never had to deal with in my life, I have been lucky enough to not really ever have to worry about my weight. This was an entirely new experience for me. So after taking it out I continued to try and find ways to lose the weight. I did several things, I continued to work out periodically, I stopped drinking all together. When that didn't work I tried starving myself for a few weeks (despite the fact that I know this makes things worse...) I figured at some point my body would finally give in and eat itself, lord knows by that time I had plenty for it to eat away at ha! Again, the scale didn't budge. I finally said screw it and I went back to eating like I used to (like I was eating with the Mirena) which is a million times a day and surprise surprise now I'm down 8 lbs. So what I gather from this is that the Mirena ABSOLUTELY was to blame for the random extra pounds hanging around, all in all, I'm currently eating the same and have the same activity level as I did with the IUC and I weigh less than I have in 2 years. Without getting all nursing lingo technical on everyone, the Mirena clearly messed with my hormones which translates to your metabolism and it created a lot of water weight hence the bloating so by taking it away things finally have had the chance to level back out.

Given this info, my decision remains the same, I don't regret for a moment taking the thing out. I will NEVER opt to get it put in again and I will continue to caution any friends and family against it's negative effects. I'll make sure they do their homework before just jumping in and then the decision is theirs... which is what the FDA is supposed to do in the first place, provide the patient with ALL of the info, the good the bad the ugly, and let them  make an INFORMED decision. Not hide the info to rake in billions of dollars, which they clearly have done considering that the patient information hand out contains about 1/10th of the info that the doctor information hand out contains including side effects!! That's right, there are certain side effects that are ONLY listed on the doctors sheet.... sketchy to say the least.

And for those curious, what are we doing for birth control now? Well with my clotting problems no doctor will prescribe me a regular pill that contains estrogen (although if this weren't the case that is what I would do) so I'm left with a variety of less than reliable options.... condoms (joy), abstinence (yea right, tell hubbs that), pull & pray (we're not 16 and pregnant people), or mini-pill (progesterone only, no estrogen). With that wonderful array of options we've landed on the mini-pill AND condoms and the general idea of charting. We do NOT want any surprises right now, like at all, so this is less than ideal and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who has other options. But it's what we're stuck with, so we make it work. The mini pill isn't really my cup of tea, it has a lot of the annoying side effects as the Mirena when it comes to bleeding but I haven't had a problem with that anymore (I have in the past but that's another story). My main complaint is the lack of flexibility, you miss that damn pill by an hour and you're up the creek without a paddle.... hence the condoms. For now it works and we'll re-evaluate when we can. Bottom line is that ALL of this is a million times better than the Mirena, hands down.

Why all the crazy personal info, oversharing, tmi on the blog you may ask?? Well because if one woman may stumble here and benefit from this it's well worth it, because clearly the majority of medical individuals are NOT sharing this info with their patients.
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13 month milestones for D-Mack

Quick little update for Nugget before I forget or it ends up being 2013 and I haven't posted anything...

A list of baby D's words so far at 13 months...

Uh Oh (the first one)
Milky (this one is too cute he yells Mick-uh MICK-uh!!)
Night Night
Pretty (necklaces, shiny things)
Poop (this is a new one, he grabs his diaper when I ask him if he pooped)
Sorry (another new one... Mr. Attitude has to apologize frequently)
Go go go!
Bye Bye

He points to body parts. "Baby D where's your head??!" And he loves the nose, that is his favorite right now, he likes pointing to everyone else's nose. This stage is so fun because he is finally starting to jabber about everything. And he loves to folllow big brother around and get into trouble... what's new.
He blows kisses and waves, he shakes his booty to his favorite songs- especially Rio, he has an attitude... a BIG tude. I always thought that this was a learned behavior, makes sense, but I can say that he has been this way since he popped out... we're working on taming the tude these days because it is proving quite the hot button for older brother and leads to squabbles in the living room daily... aahhhh brothers :)

Bottle is gone, cold turkey'd that one. And we went from Nutramigen to Gentlease to plain milk over about a week with no problems. He drinks from a sippy or straw cup and I'm going through them rather quickly because he chomps all of the ends off with his new teeth coming in. Speaking of teeth they're finally here, 11 months to get a tooth?!! Both bottom teeth came in at the same time, now we've got a top tooth and a few more tops coming in.... an adorable little toofey smile :)

He's still hugantic, both dudes wear the same size clothes which is so much fun because now I can dress them the same. I'm sure I'll hear about this when they're grown and looking at the old pictures, but it's too cute not to ha! We did the first haircut when he turned one, scary how much he looked like his brother after his first hair cut. He's a big wee little man now, growing like a weed in all ways, just trying to find time to sloooooooow it down for a bit. Read more!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ahoy to the ocean we go: Our First Family Vacation

Life is crazy as ever around the maven household. Hubbs work/business is super busy, my business is booming, I'm officially back in "school" busting my butt to finish up more degrees. So needless to say we needed a vacay! And a great old friends wedding was the perfect excuse to jet off to the sugar sand beaches of Rosemary Beach/ Seacrest Florida.... ahhhh.... Oh did I mention hubbs broke his arm 4 days before we left?? Umm yah, so that made for an interesting twist on everything, especially the airport fiasco with the giant double stroller, 2 carseats, 2 year old, 1 year old, 3 carry-ons, 2 checked bags, 2 connecting flights.... and ME, doing it all, by myself. I wouldn't recommend that to ANYONE, it was pure hell... no really.

The boys had no idea what to think of their first trip to the OCEAN!!! Oh wait that's right, they LOVED it. There was a lot of jumping in the waves, lots of sand castles, digging for crabs, and of course eating sand (sand diapers are quite the experience...) Rosemary/South Walton Florida is the most beautiful place, I was in awe! We decided we will be buying a house in Alys Beach, there are no words for the serene beauty of these little beach towns. They are so quaint, cute little shops, great mom & pop restaurants, beautiful architecture, and best of all there isn't a McDonalds in site, literally a 25 minute drive to get some McNuggets.

Our vacation home was beautiful and we will undoubtedly be going back!!! We rented bikes one day, which is "the" thing to do down there, everyone zooms around on cruiser bikes. We bopped back and forth between all the beach towns, over to Seaside for the Art Quest festival and ate off of the traditional airstream food vendors. Went over to Panama Beach one day for more sand and waves. Checked out Sandestin, Miramar, and Destin. Did a phenomenal dinner yacht cruise through the Baytowne Wharf... magical evening that was celebrating our 4 year wedding anniversary, even got to dance to our wedding song :) And of course we got to watch the jets zoom all around Eglin, HL was in LOVE!

We ate great seafood, we relaxed on the beach, we attended a gorgeous beachside wedding of a dear friend, we drank, we laughed, and we need to move to the beach now!!!

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

"I'm 2 and a HALF!"

Tiny Boxers!
Getting so big
Oh HAI! Remember me, I'm 2, "two and a HALF!" What has the Dude been up to... well being awesome that's for sure. He is a little spitfire, too smart for his own good, and absolutely hysterical most days. He's also a little stinker because he knows how cute he is.

A major milestone.... drumroll please... we are down to one diaper pail! That's right, Dude is officially potty trained. I will do a separate post on this because it was an interesting experience, first go around was a fat fail, second time was a piece of cake. So yeah, we only have one set of diapers to buy and have I mentioned how unbelieveably adorable baby boxers are?? I die!.

Some of the latest utterances...
HL put your foot down in your chair and eat your breakfast
"But MOM I'm trying to relax!!"

"Mom you HAVE to listen to me!"

"You remember yesterday when I puked my eggs up? I wont puke them up again Mom" (The whole 'remember this remember that' is a BIG thing lately, as is the whole concept of 'yesterday')

HL Why did you do that??!
"Weeelllll......... I was thinking about......"

Look at you with your cute hat on! You're a stud-muffin
"I work out!"

Quite the personality I tell you... it's like talking to a pint size 30 year old most days, I don't know where he gets this stuff from ha! He is still a dancing fool, loves music and has no problem singing at the top of his lungs about anything. Some favorite songs are Sexy & I know it (obviously), Country Girl, and the Rio song. My goodness you should see these two when the Rio song comes on.... pure craziness and screaming. He is a smart little cookie, he picks things up so quickly I'm just in awe. We've got Spanish going, he knows all of his body parts and a few phrases. We've been working on the states, Texas is his favorite. And not just school type stuff, he learns the craziest things, just the other day we were screwing some wood down on our planter boxes, HL had daddy's tools (as always) and not only sunk the screw in the wood but initially had to slide the quickdrive back, put the screw in, slide the quickdrive back over and then screw. He is clearly a sponge.

The Dude is a huge helper in my garden and with the chickens & ducks, one of his favorite activities of the day is going out to check out the veggies and collect eggs from the coop. Outdoors is his sanctuary, he would die to live out ther I think. He's your typical boy and loves to dig in the dirt, play with his trucks, and water, oh MY, water. He wouldn't know what to do with himself if we didn't have a hose, obsessed is putting it lightly.

Caught his first fish on our recent camping trip to Lake McConaughey with his handy dandy Mickey Mouse fishing pole. Wasn't too sure what to think about the fish... his brother wasn't afraid though, nearly put the thing right into his mouth.

Learning is quite interesting. I've taken a backseat to watch how he tends to learn things on his own so that I can help foster that with our school-like activities. He is very orderly, everything is always put in a row, very neat and tidy, very purposeful. No matter what it is, cars, pots n pans, spaghetti noodles, everything is sorted and organized. Where did he get THAT from?! Ha! Outside of learning we play a lot too... favorite times are running through the sprinklers, zooming his car around the yard, shaving cream on the slide, and popsicles when it's hot. Typical toddler fun stuff :)

Discipline is a challenge, he is very clever and coy and therefore gets himself into a variety of trouble all day long. How is it possible that I ended up with a stubborn strong willed child??? :::gasp::: how?? So I will undoubtedly go prematurely gray with his frequent lack of listening skills.

But my most proud moments of my little BIG boy are watching him be a big brother. He's amazing with baby D, I can't even picture life without the two of them playing with eachother. Every single morning he hears little brother start squealing in his crib and he bolts down the hallway laughing so excited to get him up. They literally don't know what to do without one another. HL is very good at sharing and playing nicely, I mean he is 2 and he is a boy so there is the occasional whack to the face but overall I have been pleasantly surprised at how awesome he's adjusted to the role of big brother. He really has taken to teaching his little mini-me about life and is very protective of him, it makes me so proud.

I am one lucky momma to have such wonderful sons. My BIG boy and my little guy make me smile from ear to ear, even on the bad days, I don't know what I'd do without them.

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