Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nebraska Panhandle Moms

Hey all, just doing my part to spread the news about a new online Nebraska (panhandle) moms' discussion group. Although they're still working out the bugs on the board, I'm thrilled that there's something started. It's community owned and operated and even has a brand new URL to make it easy to remember. To join, just go to and register (or if you forgot your username or password, the system can email it to you). If you're new there, be sure to tell 'em I sent ya!

Why advertise a local discussion board? 'Cause I think it's a really good thing. A little history about me:

When I moved to Chadron I was seriously lost. During that first long, dark winter, I was so bored out of my mind. I missed real malls (HUGE ones where you could get lost in a matter of minutes), museums (with all sorts of activities for children), a large selection of libraries (with many weekly children's events and visiting authors), amusement parks, constant playgroups, theaters (which always had a few children's movies playing and specials on Monday or Wednesday afternoons), indoor play places (like children's gyms), indoor ice or roller skating rinks, zoos, IMAX, etc. We came from an area bursting with culture and seriously wondered what in the world people did here for daily family fun.

Aside from being bored, I was also really lonely. VERY. Once I heard about it, I joined the local MOPS group in hopes of getting to know other moms. Yet, that was only two mornings of each month. I went to Walmart almost daily just to get out of the house and although Rapid City didn't closely resemble anything "city like," we drove there every single week (in the middle of the week basically for Starbucks and a little window shopping) where we would strike up conversations with other families. I initially had a mom or two (who had lived here most of their lives) explain to me that it was hard to break into the "clicks" here because most everyone had known each other most of their lives and didn't feel the need to make new friendships. I hoped with my whole heart that this wasn't true. My social butterfly persona felt completely trapped and I worked diligently to make friends with everyone I met even if it meant spreading myself too thin (which many of you know is one of my greatest downfalls). Thankfully I discovered this wasn't true of everyone.

Now, if you read my post last July about Small Town Nebraska, then you know that I now see things differently. I can appreciate the small town experiences and I can understand why some people feel their kids are safer here than they would be in a big city. But I also can understand the absolute culture shock that most families experience when they move here and strive to find their footing among the locals. It's work, initially. But it's really, really worth it. The Nebraska Panhandle has a lot to offer new families if they know where to look. walks a local online discussion group. I'm hopeful that eventually--even if it takes years--this new online discussion group will allow some growth and bonding among all moms in the coming years. There have been a handful of brand new moms join the board who are still learning about their new surroundings. This has opportunity written all over it. I desperately hope I'm not the only one who feels that way.

If you've lived in the Panhandle for a while (or anywhere, I suppose), I hope you'll reach out to both new and old moms. Lend a hand of friendship and support even if it doesn't appear necessary. Remind newcomers to your community about things like Moonlight Madness, great family restaurants, or the best places to stand during the next parade. If you know of an upcoming family event or have a playgroup going, let people know. Share an interesting news article, a funny joke, or ask open-ended questions that allow others to think out loud among friends. It's a very small commitment, but can make such a great impact.

Right now there are only about 30 moms on the Panhandle Moms board. Hopefully, by Fall of 2009 it will have grown a bit and have some active and dedicated contributors. I hope to see y'all there! And bring a friend or two!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UPDATE: Nebraska's "Safe Haven" Law
LB 157

I wouldn't have believed it could happen, but it did. Nebraska passed a very unique "safe haven" law just this summer allowing parents to drop off unwanted children UP TO AGE 18 at a local hospital and leave them permanently in the state's care. 18!!!! Is this a joke?

The news regarding the ongoing ramifications of Nebraska's decision is already sweeping the country this month through news outlets like ABC, CBS, Omaha's WOWT, CNN, FOX, USA Today, Dallas-Morning News, Los Angeles Times and even our local news here in Chadron (KCSR).

In sum, as of today there have been at least 22 children dropped off in the last couple months. We're not talking babies--we're talking CHILDREN and TEENAGERS. And if that's not disturbing enough, some of these children were dropped off by parents from OTHER STATES. For example, one child was left here from Georgia and another woman was reported to have made a 12 hour drive from Detroit just to drop her son off at a Nebraska hospital. Whether you believe this law is necessary, or not, it appears that it's a bit more complicated than had been expected. This just in from the AP news:

Deciding he could wait no longer to address what has become a state embarrassment, Gov. Dave Heineman said Wednesday he will call a special legislative session to amend Nebraska's loosely worded safe-haven law, which in just a few months has allowed parents to abandon nearly two dozen children as old as 17.

Heineman had planned to wait until the next regular legislative session convened in January, but changed his mind as the number of children dropped off at hospitals grew. Two teenagers were abandoned Tuesday night alone, and three children dropped off previously did not even live in Nebraska.

"We've had five in the last eight days," Heineman said in explaining why he called a special session. "We all hoped this wouldn't happen."

I really don't know what else to say. This is just so disturbing. And, as always, I have many other questions. For example, do these children instantly become foster children? Do they have college paid for as wards of the state? Is there any investigation into the family who left them (to determine if it was, in fact, a parent, fully in their right mind, who released them)? What happens when the child goes looking for their own parent for retribution? Don't get me wrong. I want our children to be protected, too. But without knowing all the ins and outs, I can't help but wonder if there's not a better route than just asking parents to hand them over. I would think the parents would need some serious therapy after such a life-changing decision to hand over a 10 year old, a 15 year old, an 18 year old. Oh my. Sooooo many questions in my head.

I totally missed the passing of this law so I'm doing a little catch-up reading since first reading about it a couple weeks ago. If anyone has thorough details, send them my way. Thanks!

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 27th ~ 7 Months Old

(CLICK on the image above to see 24 photos from this month)

Our little punkin is growing longer and stronger. We discovered Brighton's first tooth just last week (I believe it was on Thursday). He's been teething since he was about 8 weeks old. And if he's anything like his siblings, this first tooth only means that the next 7 will be coming in any day. He is also talking like CRAZY. He's still saying, "Mama" and experimenting with all other sounds with his lips and tongue. If we try to talk over him, he just increases his volume. His laugh is unbelievable--the whole world is hilarious to him.

As you'll see in the pictures, I've been wearing him on my back so that I can get some work done around the house. My friend, Laureen, sent me that awesome tangerine (not mandarine) Ergo he's sitting in after I complained about the cost of baby carriers (note to self: complain to Laureen more often). He really seems to enjoy it. I do, too, as long as I remember to put my hair up in a bun. Otherwise we're pulling gobs of it out of his little fists all day.

Brighton is still strictly on breastmilk--no cereal, solids, juice, or water. He's growing like mad and really thriving. He'll have a poke test in a few weeks to test his iron levels, but we're not concerned. He'll probably start his first cereal/solids at 9 months. I'm so glad to give my babies such a natural, healthy start!

Brighton can now get to anything he wants. He doesn't exactly crawl--it's more like an all-fours endeavor. Sometimes he looks like a walrus splatting his arms down and pulling his legs very quickly behind. This boy can fly! And he's just now starting to pull himself up--not completely to his feet, yet, but at least his torso comes off the ground and he's figuring it out slowly. It looks like he might be like his big brother (as well as his father) and just skip right over crawling and go straight to walking. We're really in trouble.

The pictures are all taken with Brayla's little princess camera that she got for her birthday. Our camera died I believe the day before my birthday and we've been without for a month now. YIKES! But the good news is that we found something affordable on Ebay and it should be arriving any day now. I'm SO excited! Don't ever take your digital cameras for granted (especially with little ones growing and changing every day).

Well, that's it for now. Hugs all around!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Honey!!!!

I've been terrible about blogging lately, but I wanted to pop on long enough to wish my darling husband a happy birthday. This man is my rock and I am so blessed that God brought him into my life. He's an amazing father, friend, and husband. As cheezy as this may be, I'm going to share just one of many songs that come to mind when I think of him.

Have a beautiful day, y'all! And happy 37th, hon! I lubloo longer and longer...

God Bless The Broken Road

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can't We All Just Get Along???

I abhor election time. It is one of the most static-charged events in our country, no doubt. But boiled down, it's usually just your basic childish playground name calling time. The whole "party" lines reminds me too much of fraternity/sorority times in college where we did the stupidest stuff just to say we belong to some group (that's surely better than just being ourselves, right?). And yet every group was doing the same thing. Is it just me or doesn't it seem that lately our political parties are the same song, just different verses? Why can't we sing it together?

The funny thing that most of you may not know is that if I were to group all my friends, family, and other dear acquaintances/colleagues together, about half are Democrat and about half are Republican. So you can probably imagine what my email inbox and shared news articles look like. I get the smears from both sides and it's not all that surprising that much of what I read is so twisted, biased, petty and misinterpreted that there's hardly a thread of reliable truth left.

I seriously have NO idea of the origin of the above photo. It's one of those funny photoshopped things passed around to millions of people via email. But it was seriously what I needed this week--a joyful reminder that this political hubbub boils down to people. Whether our leaders are fat, skinny, young, old, dark, light, male, female, democrat, or republican--they're just regular people, nothing more. Put too much faith in any one of 'em and you'll be sorely disappointed.

I've remained fairly quiet during this election process for many reasons. I suppose it has been a very personal process for me. So tonight I'm glad to finally be sharing my first public piece of NEWS on this election with all of my readers. The article was good, but the actual video is priceless.

This is what it's all about, folks. Try to smile. Those worry lines ain't gettin' ya anywhere.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our New Milk Family

As you'll recall, late last summer I learned all about Milk Sharing. At that time, I joined MilkShare and began reading the posts from moms in need and moms willing to donate. For the last two months I've asked a bunch of questions through this organization and researched various ways of shipping my milk (as I haven't heard of any local families looking for milk). Once I became fairly confident that I could commit to donating, I began the search for a good match.

I'm having some very BIG feelings today. So BIG, in fact, that I don't know if words can convey any of them. But I must try.

I want to tell you a little bit about my milk recipient family. For their privacy, I'll call the mom Kristi and her baby will be referred to as Sarah. Kristi is a mommy with breast cancer. Right after her first pregnancy they discovered her cancer and she endured a double mastectomy. During her second pregnancy, her doctors discovered a recurrence of the cancer in three other spots in her body. Kristi still wanted to give her baby the very best start in life--breast milk (which would also provide added protection to her baby against cancers and other diseases). Purchasing breast milk from her local milk bank at $3.50-$5.00 per ounce was out of the question (at 30oz per day, there's no way for most families). Kristi sought mother-to-mother donations and was thankfully met by a handful of breastfeeding moms in her area who donated milk to her family regularly. And by the time Sarah was 4 months old, she still hadn't had even a drop of formula.

As Sarah hit 4 months, her local donors began to not produce enough to keep up with her demands. Aided by her doula, Kristi got back to work frantically searching for more donors. A message was sent out across the MilkShare group where I daily read, with tear-filled eyes, the pleas of multiple mothers in need. With Kristi's story, I was instantly given the gift of perspective. All of my own worries in life seemed seriously meaningless. I hadn't even begun pumping and yet I knew I had found my recipient.

I contacted the doula who had put out the request and was thanked for my offer and told that due to extreme medical expenses they would be looking for local milk only because shipping costs were out of their financial means. I was sad, but I understood. Completely. So whenever I read (on MilkShare) of other donors living not too far from Kristi's area, I immediately sent them to Kristi and her doula. At least one was a match, others weren't.

:Deep Breath: Did I mention I'm having BIG feelings today?

So...I just couldn't get Kristi and baby Sarah out of my mind. It's not that I think she is any more deserving of my milk than another mom in need, but her story had been such a gift to me--a gentle reminder that even my family's serious financial hardship worries are nothing in comparison to what other families are experiencing. Here she is with barely any energy--hardly able to hold her own baby, sadly, and yet Kristi was described to me as such a positive influence to those around her--she's joyful, optimistic, and deeply committed to her family. I learned more than it seemed possible from this woman I had never even met. And then I heard, again, that they were in need of milk. Their donors were literally running dry.

Lee and I talked it over and decided to find a way to make a one-time donation to Kristi's family and pay the shipping costs from our end. We looked at FedEx, UPS, USPS, Greyhound, and DHL. USPS express was, by far, the most affordable estimated at roughly $100-$150 for the amount I hoped to have. It was a hefty price, but we were 100% committed. So after buying all our supplies, we carefully packed our bags of frozen milk inside of larger plastic bags and then placed those large bags inside of brown paper bags. We requested a shipping address and with dry ice on bottom and on top, we immediately sent off our package via express mail. I waited on the site watching the tracking and desperately hoping that it would NOT arrive all melted. The journey would take two days due to the distance.

By the way, do you know what goes in to donating milk? Can you imagine carefully scrubbing down your pumping equipment a couple times a day and occasionally doing a full lengthy boil of the parts that touch milk? Do you know what it's like to run alcohol through the tubing or to keep your breasts and hands absolutely clean while pumping and storing? It is a real commitment for donors, but I have to say that it is totally worth it. And for those of us shipping, we REALLY don't want to hear (in the end) that our milk arrived at its destination a day late or already melted.

I braced myself for the news as we waited...

...and waited.

The call came in at 12:08pm today. "The Eagle has landed..." were the first words I heard over the phone. It was all I could do to not bawl my eyes out in the rush of excitement resulting from those four simple words. Most of the milk was still frozen solid with a couple bags slightly slushy (but still completely usable in the next day). And it arrived just in time--right as the family was in desperate need for more. Between me and one other donor who sent milk on the same day, they now had 18 days of milk on hand. Hallelujah!

I cannot believe that a baby nearly 2,000 miles away is receiving nourishment from MY milk. It's such an incredibly fulfilling and humbling experience. I am so grateful. My donation was relatively small--a bit over 260oz. It will only feed Sarah for about 9 days, but that's 9 days of nourishment that she wouldn't have had without resorting to cow's or soybean milk and cornsyrup solids (I'm totally serious--have YOU looked at what is actually in a can of formula lately?). Amazing!

Many moms, probably thousands across the country, are making the sacrifice to donate extra breast milk to other families. In my previous post I shared a little bit about the reasons a family cannot provide breast milk. And today, I could tell you about moms who have donated over 10,000 ounces (and counting). And, even more touching, I could tell you about moms who birthed stillborn babies and, in their time of mourning, decided to donate their milk for a few months following their loss. WOW folks. Do we have the capacity to understand this selflessness? I really don't have the words to describe it. My heart is so warmed with love. Don't you want to be part of this?

Kristi and Sarah's family are now our milk family. I think about them constantly, pray for Kristi's health, and get all giddy about sweet little Sarah who is growing long and strong due to Brighton's extra milk. I'm starting to pump, again, for this family as we hope to raise the funds to keep sending them more when we have a nice-sized amount. If you are a breastfeeding mom (or if you soon will be), I plead with you to consider helping another family. You will not be paid for your time or effort, but I feel confident in saying that the fulfillment and satisfaction of such an act will be wholly sufficient.

And maybe...just, too, will experience these BIG feelings.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Register to Vote

Have YOU registered to vote? If not, go HERE now. There's a state-by-state explanation on ways to register. Go. Hurry. NOW!

Or you can copy the following into your browser:

You can also print THIS card (which includes state-by-state instructions). Or copy and paste the following address into your browser:

Any of you women out there considering not voting this year? Please reconsider by reading the following posts. You have a voice. Use it.
Our God Given Right
This is the Story of our Grandmothers
Exercise Your Right To Vote
And another This is the Story... blog is HERE.(For some reason, some of the pictures aren't showing up which is a crying shame. They are awesome to look at!)

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