My First Blogger Award (These things are so underrated!)

I feel so blessed to say that The Water Bearer over at Inner Angels & Enemies has nominated my blog for it’s first blogger award. Since I began blogging back in January, I have read many posts about bloggers being nominated for these awards. In addition to being a great way to find other blogs that you can relate to and get your blog’s name out there too, it always sounded very impressive, and I imagined I would feel excited and honored, should I ever be so lucky to receive an award on my own blog. Now that I have been nominated, I have to say that I was completely underrating how I would react. I am overjoyed to have been chosen as a “Very Inspiring Blogger.”

First, the fellow blogger from whom I have received this nomination has such an honest, thought out, well-written, and deeply prayed about blog. She is a woman so amazingly uplifted by faith and yet grounded by life, that I find her to be extremely inspiring and relatable. The fact that such an awesome person can find inspiration in my thoughts… well, that just feels so good.

Second, the blogosphere on WordPress is big. HUGE. GLOBAL. There are so many blogs out there, all of which come from the mind, heart, and soul of amazing, unique, and inspiring people from all around the world. Being somewhat of a newbie blogger, it still seems unbelievably impressive to me when someone simply takes the time to read what I have to say, let alone ends up enjoying it, and even better still when it touches them in some way. When someone comments on one of my posts, and they tell me that they found my thoughts to be inspiring… well, that just feels so good.

Third, I have clicked on every one of the follow bloggers who were also nominated by The Water Bearer. I clicked on several different posts that caught my eye for each blog. I clicked on the “About Me” section to learn more about each blogger. And with each click, I was inspired all around. There are so many talented, inspiring bloggers who have been drudged through life at one time or another, but have chosen to share their stories and turn it into something that is wonderfully inspiring. To be considered as an equal to so many amazing people… well, that just feel so good.

Finally, my purpose is to inspire. I have such a passion for what I write about. For those who know me in real life, know that my family means the world to me. So much so that I don’t take a lot of time away from them. I feel guilty at times when I want to take time to blog, because I know that I could be spending it with them, as opposed to writing about them. However, blogging is something that I have quickly come to enjoy, and if I can inspire someone else with the words that I churn out of this ol’ noggin… well, that just feels so good.

Thank you, my friend at Inner Angels & Enemies, for connecting me with such amazing people, for always sharing your thoughts, and for the inspiration that is your little space in the vast world of blogging.

Without further delay, I present to you the rules that I shall follow upon receiving this award:

  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Post the blog award image on your page.
  3. Tell 7 facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other blogs and let the nominees know they have been chosen

Seven Things About Me:

  1. I am a redhead, a part of a dying breed, or so I have heard. Darn those recessive genes!
  2. I held four records for track & field during high school, and I was surprisingly sad when I discovered that every record had been broken a few years after I graduated. My “legacy” hath been removed.
  3. I have one younger sister, and I received word this weekend that she is expecting. Finding out that I am going to be an aunt for the very first time was like winning a new car on The Price Is Right! (Jumping up and down, screaming, and disbelief included.)
  4. I watch the Price Is Right every day, and I try to memorize the prices of the prizes and “tricks” to the games that the contestants play, that it might give me an advantage, should I ever happen to be in California, obtain tickets to the show, get chosen as a contestant, and bid smartly enough to get on the stage.
  5. I’ve never been to California.
  6. My idea of a summer vacation is the type where very little is planned, other than relaxing on a beach, all day every day.
  7. My mom loves to plan several activities for each day of vacation, so there is sure to never be a dull moment, and never to be a day where we sleep past 8am. All but one vacation in my life has included my mom, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. 🙂

The 15 Blogs that Inspire Me (some I’ve been following for a while, some I’ve just discovered, but all have made me think about my own life in a new perspective, somehow, someway):

  1. Insanity of Motherhood
  2. Mom in the Muddle
  3. Laura Grace Weldon
  4. The Wellness Quest
  5. The Livesay Lodge
  6. A Written Purpose
  7. Breathe In, Breathe Out
  8. Small Potatoes
  9. Lisa-Jo Baker
  10. Seeking Joyful Simplicity
  11. Happy Days
  12. Made for Victory
  13. Reclaiming LIFE
  14. Raising Rural Kids
  15. Passion for Family

I hope you enjoy some of my blogging favorites, old and new, and have a lovely, inspired weekend! 🙂

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Five Minute Friday-Beyond

TGIF! I’m going to link up with Lisa-Jo Baker again today for her writing prompt, Five Minute Friday! Today’s topic: Beyond. I’m hoping my thoughts flow a bit more freely than they did last week… Letting go of the perfectionism is hard to do!

GO!

Moving beyond myself, beyond my own family, beyond the walls of my safe, loving home, there is another world. We get so wrapped up in our own lives sometimes that we forget about others who are struggling, living, enjoying, laughing, living, just as we are. And beyond those people is the world as a whole, turning and breathing and thriving. Beyond our world there is a vast, dark, unexplored universe, and who knows what lies out there. To the end of the universe (is there such a thing as the “end” of it all?) Beyond this space, there is hope. There is a promise. There is heaven and a God who loves us and is waiting for us to call his kingdom “home.” Beyond ourselves, beyond the worries of the world, beyond all our hopes and dreams of Earth, there is something still greater waiting for us. All we have to do is think beyond ourselves, beyond the little things and look at a bigger picture of what we were sent here to become. What is our purpose beyond this world?

STOP!

Sometimes you just never know what’s going to come out of this ol’ noggin, but I kind of like where my thoughts went when I let them be so free. Try it, and see where your mind wanders when you let it be released. 🙂


The Dark Side of Breastfeeding

In February 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics published their updated policy on the subject of breastfeeding, quoting in their introduction, “The AAP reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.” Note here that they recommend nursing for a year or more, as mutually desired by mother and infant. The experts aren’t saying that we aren’t “mom enough” (to quote the infamous Time magazine cover from May of this year), should we chose to stop at a year or less. They simply recommend that we give it a good try, because the benefits of breastfeeding are clear and widely acknowledged. Some medical reasons to breastfeed, according to the AAP’s current policy include the following:

-Breastfeeding lowers the risk for hospitalization due to lower respiratory infections by 72% in infants who are exclusively breastfed for the first four months of life (this is key for my son with cystic fibrosis).

-Research shows a 64% reduction in gastrointestinal tract infections in babies who are breastfed (also helpful for a baby with CF).

-It also reduces the risk for allergies, obesity, diabetes, and childhood leukemia and lymphoma.

On a can of Enfamil formula: “Experts agree on the many benefits of breast milk.”

Because of all of the above benefits and more, I breastfed my oldest son until he weaned himself when he was thirteen months of age, and I plan to breastfeed my currently two-month-old through his first year as well (or as recommended by his CF dietician). However, I realize that not every woman is able to or chooses to breastfeed, and I feel that supplementing with formula is perfectly fine, and you are doing your baby no harm by doing so. In fact, I want to bring to light what I refer to as the dark side of breastfeeding, which may or may not have some moms reaching for that can of formula as we speak:

  • As I recently discovered, when you miss a feeding session, your breasts will swell to ridiculous proportions. This “engorgement” is probably as close as I will get to knowing what it feels like to have breast implants, and I sincerely feared that they were going to explode.
  • Babies have uncontrollable bodily functions, including burping and spitting up. They are capable of doing both while attached to your breast.
  • Unless you plan on being with your baby twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for all 365 days of his first year, you will need to incorporate pumping. Pumping milk from a human is exactly like pumping milk from a cow, and it makes you feel not unlike said animal.
  • During growth spurts (which occur at day three, week one, week three, week six, month three, month six, and month nine… give or take), don’t plan on doing anything but nursing your baby. All day. Around the clock. Baby on breast.
  • When your baby nurses-or when he cries, or when another baby cries, or sometimes at the most inconvienient times, completely unrelated to your baby’s feeding schedule-it causes the milk to “let down.” Have you ever had your foot fall asleep? Or been stabbed by dozens of tiny needles all at once? That is what “let down” feels like.
  • One word: teeth.
  • Venturing out into the world with a baby who breastfeeds takes creativity. You’re either on a strict time crunch to be home before your baby needs to eat again, or it takes some serious hunting for a private place to nurse him. Common places to breastfeed in public-without having to be stared at or judged by strangers-include the backseat of your car, dressing rooms, or those private nursing rooms, should you be so lucky. That’s typically it. I recommend using your right to breastfeed anywhere your baby happens to be when hunger strikes, use a cover-up out of respect to others, and fling those dirty looks right back at any strangers who might object to that.

While some of these issues may sound quite appalling and may turn you away from the idea of breastfeeding altogether, I should leave you with one additional thought: Not only can breastfeeding provide your baby with all of the previously mentioned benefits, but it also provides you with a feeling that I can barely describe. Without a doubt, you can bond with your baby during the feeding of a formula bottle; I have given a bottle of formula occasionally to each of my children, and there is nothing wrong with that. And yet there is nothing in the world like the deep, pure, and tender connection that comes from nursing your baby. If you are ever so lucky to have the opportunity, let yourself and your baby have that skin to skin contact, looking into each other’s eyes, his fingers holding your finger, as your body provides him with every ounce of nourishment that nature intended him to have. That feeling will brighten your world in an instant and keep the dark side of breastfeeding at bay.


Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to challenge myself not just as a wife and mother, but also as an individual. As a writer.  So today, I’m linking up with The Gypsy Mama, Lisa-Jo Baker, for an uninhibited five minutes of writing anything that comes to mind. In college, I loved writing prompts! I sometimes find writing more difficult when the sky is the limit, and some of my best work has come from a specific task. Link up with Lisa-Jo if you would like to join me and a whole lot of really great bloggers!

And…. GO!

It’s not enough to take care of your family, but you have to take care of YOU.

I awoke this morning at 6:30am to a baby fussing over the baby monitor. I walked upstairs, dragged myself upstairs, really, to comfort him and keep him from waking up his big brother. I made his applesauce and enzyme mixture so that I could feed him, and he went back to sleep. He did. Had I gotten enough sleep that I thought I could get through the day? AND keep my sanity? Yes, I thought. So with both of my boys sleeping soundly, I crept into our living room, turned on a workout video, and started sweating. Sometimes I felt I was at my max!! It was hard. I couldn’t keep up with all of the steps. I couldn’t hold the poses long enough. Sometimes I found myself thinking, “That’s good enough.” and I would come out of the pose before the counting was over. Yet I pushed myself forward. I remembered words from a coach during cross country training in high school. Something of a poem that stated, “Good enough is neither.” Although I couldn’t remember the rest of the words, I remembered the gist. Keep going. Good enough really isn’t good OR enough. Keep pushing. That’s what it takes sometimes. When you tell yourself “That’s good enough” you may really be short-changing yourself.

STOP!

That was SO hard! I realize now how much I edit my thoughts and think about each and every word when I take the time to write. (And from the quality of what I turned out in those five minutes, you’re probably thinking, “Thank goodness!” Ha!) 🙂 Truth be told, it usually takes me at least an hour to write one blog post. Five minutes of free-writing without having time to stop and think about what I’m going to say or to go back and edit (like I am doing now), is much more difficult than I imagined! Give it a try, whether you have a blog to post it to or not. I can definitely say that I would like to link up and give it another go next Friday as well. Hopefully, it will get a bit easier to be so free!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!


My Fitness Inspirations

I am SORE today. Ow! You know that feeling where you rediscover muscles that you forgot were there, or perhaps you didn’t realize they were there in the first place? That’s the way I’m feeling today. Ow.

Okay, so enough of the whining. The truth is, I actually like that sore feeling after a good workout. It’s just a physical reminder that I worked my butt off yesterday with a strength and aerobic exercise. It’s been so hot here in the midwest (100+ temps for multiple days on end!) and with two children at home with me all day, it’s hard to find the time to start exercising again. However, I know how important exercise is and the countless benefits that it has for my body, so I came to the conclusion that I was never going to simply “find” this time, but I would have to MAKE the time to work out. I’m sometimes the person that needs a little bit of a push to get myself to work out, so I thought I would share some of my biggest inspirations that get me going!

  1. Myself. I know this sounds cheesy and perhaps selfish, but I care about my body. The way it feels. The way it looks. The way it functions. And I know that exercise benefits my body in all of those ways tremendously. So I have to be a bit selfish, taking those thirty minutes to an hour away from my family and other things that I could do with that time in order to benefit myself. No one else can do it for me!
  2. My family. My husband and my boys mean so much to me. I would just kick myself if years down the road, my choice to not exercise now had any effect on my health in the future. I want to stay fit, active, and healthy so that I can be involved in their lives for as long as possible.
  3. My mom. My mom was in her forties when she ran her first marathon. She has run two marathons, and a few half marathons, all past the age of 40. My whole life, I can remember her being active, whether she was running, biking, hiking, swimming, or doing aerobic and strength training workout videos; she was always on the go. Yesterday was my first time working out (besides a few short walks to the park and playing basketball or soccer with my son), and I happened to do it to my mom’s favorite video series: Gilad’s Bodies in Motion. I can remember being a young girl and working out with my mom to these videos, and thinking what a strong, tough woman she was to be able to keep up with Gilad! It may not be Insanity or P90X, but it’s certainly a good start to building up some muscle tone that I lost while pregnant, as my abs are aching a bit just from sitting up straight in our desk chair! (Yes, I know, I’m a bit of a wimp. I’ll get stronger!)
  4. Fitness blogs. One of my favorite fitness blogs is Kristen over at The Concrete Runner. I love following her adventures in running, strength training, and motherhood! She also has a love for delicious food (namely, desserts!) and I love her ability to balance that and stay so fit! She rocks!
  5. CFers. People who have cystic fibrosis need to keep an active lifestyle as part of their treatment plan. They run because it clears their lungs and helps to lengthen their lifespan. But it’s difficult. Like I said, I am a wimp when it comes to exercise, but when I am in good shape, I can pretty easily run a mile (or more) without even losing my breath. This is so much harder for CFers, but they do it anyway, because they know that without exercise, they are shortening their chance at life. It makes me feel a bit ashamed of myself to think that I have a perfectly healthy set of lungs, and I barely push them past their capacity to go up and down a flight of stairs.

With so much inspiration, I can tell you one thing. I’m getting my butt into gear, and I’m not just going to exercise to lose the “baby fat” (although that’s definitely on my mind!), but I really want to push myself. I want to feel my lungs burn. I want to feel those muscles ache. I want to feel like I’m going to die after a good workout, which is all really just my body telling me how very alive I am.

No excuses.


My son and the battle that lasts a lifetime…

As previously mentioned, our new little guy was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis several weeks ago. Today, I want to share with you a little about this chronic disease because…

1) I recognized the name of the disease, but had no idea what it actually was prior to finding out about his diagnosis, and

2) I believe that awareness is vital for any disease.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the basic definition of cystic fibrosis (CF) is:

“Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and
  • obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.”

“Beyond” is the key word for our son, as far as I’m concerned. Once I got past the initial shock and devastation of his diagnosis, I moved into a state of determination. Like anyone who is faced with a difficult challenge (and aren’t we all in some way?), I truly believe that hope and optimism are imperative to conquering that challenge. No doubt, we have a long and bumpy, sometimes emotional and frustrating road ahead of us, but we are taking it one day at a time and using the knowledge of our wonderful team of CF doctors to keep our boy healthy and happy.

Some answers to frequent questions that I have been asked (or that I have asked myself!) so far include:

  • We found out that he had CF through his newborn screening. I’m not sure if every state now tests for CF this way, but they absolutely should! As hard as it was to learn the bad news right away, it is MUCH better to find out ASAP than to let a child get behind on gaining weight. Good weight gain means stronger lungs, so the earlier the diagnosis the better!
  • Since our son has CF, that means that my husband and I are both carriers of the disease. Every conception that we have together, there is a 1 in 4 chance of having a child with CF, a 1 in 4 chance of having a “normal” child, and a 2 in 4 chance of having a child who is a carrier like us. The only way to know if you are a carrier of CF is to be tested, as there are no symptoms. There is no history of CF in either of our families, so neither of us knew that we were a carrier prior to his diagnosis. Our oldest son was recently tested and was negative for CF, so he can be tested to see if he is a carrier when he is older.
  • He does not need to be a “kept in a bubble,” but he and everyone he is close to should use good hand-washing and hygiene etiquette, since he is more prone to lung infections. If you have a cold, admire his cute little face from a few feet away please!
  • Exercise is vital for improvement of lung quality for our son and others with CF, so we will be starting at a young age with lots of physical activity. Good thing we are a family who loves sports! I have found a wonderful blog entitled Run Sickboy Run by Ronnie and Mandi Sharpe. Ronnie is truly inspiring as a CF husband, father, and an advocate for the disease. He has an infectious positive outlook on CF and life in general.
  • There are many medications that our son will need in his lifetime. Currently, he takes enzymes before he eats anything (just breast milk for now!), and since an infant can’t swallow a pill, we pour the enzymes from inside the capsules onto a spoon of applesauce. He takes it surprisingly well, although he does occasionally gag. He will have to take enzymes before he eats, every time he eats, for his whole life, so he I’m glad we are starting early so that he won’t know any different! He already associates that applesauce=Mommy’s milk, and he gets very excited (and stops crying) as soon as he sees us with the spoon. Thanks, “Pavlov’s dog!” Since his body has difficulty digesting fat and protein, and certain vitamins need these nutrients to be absorbed, he also takes a special multi-vitamin that is water-soluble. Also, we give him 1/8 tsp of table salt per day, to make up for the extra salt that he loses. We divide it between two breast milk bottles, and he doesn’t seem to know it’s in there!

    These are his current meds.

  • Finally (for now), he also gets a treatment for his lungs called CPT (chest percussion therapy) or “pounding” twice per day. This is to help break up the mucus that gets trapped in the airways of CFers. It takes us about 15 minutes to complete each session, and most of the time it puts him to sleep.

    He doesn’t mind that he’s getting “pounded.” 🙂

So far, we are doing great with all of this. His big brother is a huge help to us, and he loves his little brother so much! While we are embracing his CF, and we never want him to feel ashamed of it, we also want him to feel normal. First, he is our son, a brother, a normal boy with hopes and dreams and fears like the rest of us. Second, he has CF, and that just means that his body requires extra care and attention to function properly.

I will update occasionally with CF topics and to let you all know how he is doing. If you or someone you know has CF, please feel free to follow our journey and let us follow yours! One thing I have learned quickly is that the community of those with CF and their families is a strong one with a wonderful, supportive, and optimistic bond. I’ve never known anything like it, and for that part of this disease, I am grateful, because not all diseases have such amazing support, research, and hope for a cure that appears extremely obtainable.

Feel free to comment with any additional questions or information! Keep in mind that I am new to this, and cystic fibrosis is an extremely complex disease with a lot to learn about it. As with any disease, you should always consult your own healthcare professionals for the best advice! A stay-at-home mama can only know so much! Thanks for taking interest in our journey!

 

 


Feel Good Friday

A few weeks ago, I was going through some post-partum depression. Some of it had to do with my son’s diagnosis, but I think the main culprit was those post-pregnancy and/or breast feeding hormone adjustment. To be honest, I didn’t even realize I was really feeling so down until I felt “up” again. It really wasn’t until my husband noticed I was feeling better and made a comment that he had been worried about me, that it really shed the light on how sad I had been feeling. In hind sight, I realized that I had been more reserved, less motivated, less silly… less the happy little wife and mother that I truly am. I’m still not sure what went sour, nor when or how it went away. But now that I have recognized that sort of mood as a mild depression (in my unprofessional opinion), I can also recognize when I start to feel that way again and do something about it.

I’m unsure whether it’s the gloomy weather today, the trying attitude of my five-year-old (imagine eye-rolling, mocking, back-talking… we’ve had a few privileges taken away and several timeouts recently!), or just the ups and downs of being a mom of an infant with a chronic illness, but I am feeling a little bit funky again. I believe in positive energy and that an optimistic attitude can cure any mood. And to add an extra oomph of happy in my day, I want to share with you a couple of songs to which I simply can not feel bad while listening. I also can’t help but to sing and dance! If something has you down today, please join me on this “Feel Good Friday” by watching these YouTube videos! If something has you down, just don’t let it keep you down for long. Have a great weekend!

 

What are some things that help you to feel good when you’re down?