A beautiful wedding.

A beautiful wedding.

Today, I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding for some very dear friends of ours. Jodi & Kevin exchanged their vows, and it was one of the most amazing weddings I have ever been to.

This was the first time that I have ever cried during a wedding that I've been hired to shoot. And, man, did I cry. The service was absolutely beautiful, and unlike any other wedding that I have ever been to.

I have tons of photos to edit, but I had to sneak a peek. Here are a few of my favorites:
(The new family)
(The Happy Couple)
(That's what the teenagers did to their car. Inside and out.)

What a fantastic day. It felt so great to be "back in the saddle again"! I need to start advertising more so that I can get more clients. I've missed it way too much.
Say it Forward: Week Four

Say it Forward: Week Four

Mom Blogs
Every Friday on 5 Minutes for Mom, they do a wonderful post called "Say it Forward." The purpose is to thank those who are faithful in commenting on your blog and spread a little love. Each week, I will pick a different faithful commenter and post about them.

The person I want to award this to this week is Annmarie of A little piece of 7th Heaven.

I first met Annmarie through the blog OUR MIRACLE...HALAINAH GRACE. Since then, Annmarie is always faithful in stopping by and leaving a comment on my blog. Annmarie is mom to 5 beautiful children, and is such a source of inspiration.

Thank you for always stopping by with something to say, Annmarie! I'm so glad we met and I enjoy reading your blog and seeing what those gorgeous kids of yours are up to!

Take this badge and display it on your blog proudly! :)



What's bringing people here?

Awhile back, I posted about some of the funny searches I found in the keywords that are bringing people to this blog. I check again today, and found some that are absolutely hysterical. I simply must share them with you.

First of all, just in that list above, there were 5 keyword phrases that had to do with a swollen nose. Actually, out of the 125 listed keyword phrases, 14 had something to do with swollen noses. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

One of my favorites this time was "photographing monkeys." It must be from me talking about taking photos of my kids. I imagine that's what photographing monkeys would be like.

"hate the love dare" makes me sad. How could something that has the possibility of saving a marriage be something you could hate? I've been doing the love dare, and it's been great for me!

"i can't stop eating" - Yep. Describes me to a t. Stress = eating. I eat a lot now.

And then there's "i got spanked." My mind could easily go to the gutter with this one, so I'll try not to even let it go there and just pretend that it was regarding something in this post. ;)

Whatever brings you here, thanks for stopping by! I can't solve the swollen nose problem, and I can't help you love the Love Dare, but I promise to try and make you giggle every once in awhile.

Thanks for the smile tonight!
Entrecard Market: I listed something!

Entrecard Market: I listed something!

I've recently become addicted to Entrecard. I have found some of the coolest (and absolute worst) blogs because of entrecard.

Well, now Entrecard is having a contest. One lucky winner will receive 100,000 entrecard credits! I could finally get my buttons on some of the really cool blogs!

In order to be entered in the contest, you have to list something in Entrecard's new Marketplace. So, I did.

I listed 1 month of advertising on Buy By Mom for just 250 credits. That's a steal, considering you can purchase 1,000 credits for $6, and I normally charge $10/month for advertising on Buy By Mom.

If you haven't joined Entrecard yet, you should. It's a great way to get people to visit your blog. If you join, let me know. I'll purchase an ad on your blog! (Unless you're already one of the super cool, ultra expensive blogs. Then you'll have to wait until I win the 100,000 credits!)

Our trip to the pediatric dentist.

Our trip to the pediatric dentist.

We left for the dentist at 1:20 this afternoon. It is now 8:15, and we just got home about half an hour ago. That's a LONG trip for 5 kids and one stressed out mom.

We got to the dental office, filled out the paperwork, and the kids played while we waited for them to call their names.

They called the boys back, and they had me come back to explain what they would be doing.

An hour and a half later, they called me back to tell me what they'd found.

Jace did not do well. When they separated the boys to clean their teeth, Jace freaked out. They had to hold him down while they did the cleaning. He cried the entire time. He has 5 cavities - all in between his teeth (from not flossing - UGH), and he has to come back. They are worried about how he'll react to the fillings, so they'll try one time. If he doesn't do well, he'll have to come back again, and they'll sedate him. The only problem is, our insurance won't cover sedation for him, because his teeth "aren't bad enough." So, we'll have to come up with the money to cover the sedation. I honestly think it may be worth it for him.

Then we talked about Zander. The poor child has 14 cavities. 14. I wanted to cry. When I was 5, I had 14 cavities. My family has horrible teeth. You can brush 3 times a day and cavities still form. I need to have mine all pulled and get false teeth, but we can't afford it right now. I'm 30 years old. Now it looks like Zander is going down the same path that I went down.

Luckily, we have this fantastic pediatric dentist now. Zander had a BLAST today, and can't wait to go back for his first fillings. When I was his age and had all those cavities, I had a horrible dentist. I still remember that his name was Dr. Kimberly. I think he was the devil. I really do. BUT, Zander really loved the dentist today and I think he'll do really well with the fillings and extractions he needs. If not, they'll also do the sedation on him, and the insurance *will* cover it for him also, just because his teeth are so bad. I'm actually debating just letting them do the sedation on him. Then, they'll do everything in one shot, and he won't be awake for any of it. What do you think? What would you do?

I feel just awful about this. I brush the kids' teeth religiously: morning, noon, and night. I'll admit I am awful about flossing them, but that will change. It has to. Maybe if I start flossing Lucy early, I can prevent her from having all these problems in the future.

So, the pediatric dentist was a hit for one and we're still working on the other one. At least they are patient and willing to work with Jace. It's a very welcome change from what we dealt with on Tuesday!

We head back next month to see how they do with their fillings. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
Showing off my favorites for a chance to win!

Showing off my favorites for a chance to win!

I stopped by my friend Karen's blog and saw that she had entered a contest to win a $250 Target Gift Card at Barking Mad.

I could certainly use a gift card to Target. The boys desperately need a new dresser, and Lulu is rapidly outgrowing everything she owns!

To enter the contest, you have to create a post that links to your 5 (or 10) favorite posts. That shouldn't be too hard, right?

So, here are my favorites - in no particular order:
So, there you have it. Some of my favorite blog posts, and the ones that certainly tell you more about me! :)

Head over to Barking Mad and enter to win the contest to win a $250 Target Gift Card! The contest ends March 4th, so hurry!

Good luck!!
Wordless Wednesday: Reach for the Sky!
4 year olds and the dentist, and Parker\

4 year olds and the dentist, and Parker's 4 month well visit.

We had an extremely busy day yesterday. It started way too early for my liking, and I had to have Jace at the dentist by 7:45am. We got the kids to the sitter's house and then headed to the dentist.

Jace had never been to the dentist before, so when I had set up the appointment, I had asked them if they were good with children, if they would take their time, etc. They said they worked with children all the time, and if they needed to take a few appointments before actually doing the cleaning, they would do so.

That was *not* the case when we arrived at the dental office. Jace started to panic, and tears started streaming down his face. Rather than patiently take their time with him, they put him in the dental chair and started poking his teeth with that silver hook-shaped thing. It got stuck in a molar, and he flipped.


They immediately stopped what they were doing and refused to work with him any more. They recommended a pediatric dentist, (that is 2 hours away!), and don't want to see Jace back in their office again.

Now, let me just say, Jace wasn't bad. He didn't hit, he didn't lash out. He just cried. A lot. It's what he does when he's scared.

I am furious because I asked them before I even made the appointment if they were good with kids. They assured me they were, and I trusted them. So glad I wasted our time and their time. I've canceled Zander's appointment for next week, and I'm just going to take him to the pediatric dentist as well. I don't want a repeat next week.

Ashley was so good at her first trip to the dentist. She's always been so good. Even Zander did really well at the dentist - until they squirt too much water in his mouth and he gagged. Then he panicked and that dentist refused to see him again. I swear, these mountain people just have NO patience for kids. No wonder so many kids around here have their teeth rotting out. The parents don't want to drive 2 hours to the pediatric dentist and the other dentists are too mean to work with kids. It's a no-win for everyone!

Hopefully, the new pediatric dentist will be better for the boys, and I can get them to go without a fight. Hopefully.

Parker also had his four month well visit yesterday. He is SUCH a good baby. He didn't even cry when they poked him for his shots. Just kind of gave the nurse a look like he couldn't believe she had just stuck him! He's weighing in at 14 pounds, 7 ounces, and is 26 3/4 inches long. Not bad for a 5 pound peanut at birth! (That puts him in the 20% for weight and the 90% for height. Long and skinny!) He's doing great, and there are absolutely no concerns about him at all. Yippee!

If ya'all have any tips on kids and dentists, I'd love to hear them. Please!
Photography Tips & Tricks: Creative Backdrops

Photography Tips & Tricks: Creative Backdrops

I get asked all the time, "I can't afford a fancy backdrop. What can I do?"

While backdrops are fabulous, (I own lots of them, and love them all), when I first started out, I couldn't afford them. Know what I used? King sized bed sheets. Honest. They really work! I also used cloth shower curtains, large panels of fabric, and even large rolls of solid colored paper (like you would use on a bulletin board in school.)

The tip to using any kind of backdrop (fancy or not) is to make sure you pull the subject as far away from the back of the backdrop as possible. This will prevent shadows from forming behind their heads.

Windows also make excellent backdrops - or foregrounds, depending on how you want to use the light.

Outdoors it's easier to be more creative with your backdrops. A football field, a baseball field, trees, gardens, rocks.... the possibilities go on and on.
My point is, think outside the box. So, you can't afford a fancy backdrop. So what? Make your own creative backdrop using any kind of fabric. There are no limits when you use your creative juices!

Oh, and backdrops aren't necessarily as expensive as you might think! You can find them very reasonably priced on ebay. Walmart sells Muslin material at a very reasonable price! If you're really feeling creative, you can dye it any color you'd like!

Here are some of my favorite places for purchasing backdrops:
Say Cheese
Owen's Originals
Backdrop Outlet

Now, get creative, and start shooting! Be sure to let me know how it works for you!
Essure. Is it for me?

Essure. Is it for me?

My Mother-in-Law is a religious watcher of the Doctors. She's always telling us some miracle that she heard on the show. Every single time I've turned the show on, I've watched them remove a mole or a skin tag. ICK!! I don't even try any more. I figure if I miss something important, MIL will let me know.

The other day, they were talking about Essure. It's a new, permanent birth control procedure that you can have done in your doctor's office. MIL kept referring to it as "Sure," but I saw a commercial tonight about it, and it is indeed called Essure.

I spent a lot of time on their website, reading all about it. It really does sound like a good option if you know your family is complete.

Here's the thing: How do you know your family is complete?

I have always had horrible pregnancies. Horrible. I go into labor early, and spend months on bed rest. I almost lost Jace because of a knot in his cord. Lucy had a 2 vessel cord that could have caused serious problems, and I almost died after giving birth to Parker. As much as I hate pregnancy, the end result and holding that sweet baby in my arms makes me forget how horrible the previous 9 months were.

The thought of never having another baby again scares me to death. Why is that?

I know there are lots of other ways to grow our family. Gene and I have talked at length about bringing in a foster child after we're able to build a larger house. (The shack we're in now can't even hold the 7 of us. To bring another child into this would be irresponsible. I get that.)

But why is the thought of permanent birth control so scary? I adore my kids. I am so thankful for each one of them - even if they were unplanned. They're truly the best surprises I ever could have asked for. I should feel blessed and be ok with not having any more babies, right? Is it possible to get to that point?

I know a lot of ladies that have a few kids and KNOW that they're done. They don't question it, and they do something to permanently make sure they'll never have another baby.

How do I get to that point? Can I? What about you all? Do you know your family is complete? Have you (or your husband) had a procedure done to make sure it's permanent?

Give it to me straight. I want to know if I can get to that point!
Church Bulletin Bloopers

Church Bulletin Bloopers

I started doing the church bulletin a few weeks ago. The first week, I was told that the Prayer List was wrong. I fixed that, and the second week, I didn't get any complaints. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing!

Boy, was I ever wrong.

This week, I was stuck at home because Jace, Lucy, Parker, and Ashley were all running fevers. I sent the bulletins to church with Gene. When he got home, he told me that I had gotten an anniversary wrong, and I'd forgotten to put someone's name on the birthday list. Not 10 minutes later, my phone rang. A little old lady from our church called to ask me why I had forgotten to put her niece and nephew's anniversary in the bulletin. I explained that I had used a list from the person who did the bulletin prior to me, and their anniversary wasn't on the list. I apologized up and down, and then she asked me why I didn't bother to check the church directory to make sure I hadn't missed anyone.


What I wanted to say to her was, "Look, lady. I was up until 2 am working on these bulletins. I am dealing with 4 sick kids right now. I didn't even start feeling human again myself until Thursday of this week. If you can't forgive me for missing an anniversary, why don't you do the bulletins? Maybe then they will be up to your standard."

What I did say was, "I'm really sorry. I went by the list and never even thought about checking the church directory. I'll be sure to add them in next week."

I'm thinking of adding a note in the bulletin that says something like, "Bulletins are composed by a mom of 5. If she happens to miss something, please blame it on momnesia, and be forgiving. Do not call her just to tell her that she got it wrong."

I don't like hearing when someone isn't happy with me. I have this horrible need to please everyone. I think it goes with the Super Mom complex.

Instead of letting this little old bitty get to me, to cheer myself up and forget about it, I decided to do a search on church bulletin bloopers. Here are some that I found that made me giggle:
  • Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
  • Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again", giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
  • A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
  • The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."
  • The service will close with Little Drop of Water. One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.
Aren't those great?! Maybe I'll start a new section of the bulletin called "Church Bulletin Bloopers that Angie Didn't Make" and start including some of those.

Wonder how many phone calls I would get then?!
Say it Forward: Week Three

Say it Forward: Week Three

I'm really late with this, but I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out this week!

Mom Blogs
Every Friday on 5 Minutes for Mom, they do a wonderful post called "Say it Forward." The purpose is to thank those who are faithful in commenting on your blog and spread a little love. Each week, I will pick a different faithful commenter and post about them.

The person I want to award this to this week is Natalie of Kummer Family Circus.

Natalie and I have been friends since I was pregnant with Zander, and she was pregnant with her second child, Alec. Nat and I have shared 3 pregnancies together, and each pregnancy has been about 2 months apart. (Her Alec is 2 months older than Zander, her Kyle is 2 months younger than Jace, and her Lauren is 2 months older than Lucy.) Natalie and I have so much in common and have a very special friendship. I consider her one of my very best friends, and I am so lucky to have her in my life. Now that she's blogging too, it's just one more thing we have in common!

Thanks for always stopping by, Nat. Thanks for your friendship, and thanks for just being you!

Take this badge and display it on your blog proudly! :)


Dinner with Friends...

Dinner with Friends...

Last week for Valentine's Day, hubby and I were supposed to go out to dinner with some friends. Unfortunately, the flu hit us that weekend, and we had to postpone. We rescheduled for this evening, and come hell or high water, we were going.

We had such a wonderful time. Randy & Sabrina are two of the nicest people you will ever meet, and Gene and I could sit and talk to them for hours.

Dinner was wonderful - except that I made the mistake of letting Gene order my steak for me while I nursed the baby in the car. He ordered it medium well and it came out looking like a brick. I didn't complain, but I didn't eat much of it, either. They ended up giving me my dinner for free! Can't beat that! So, to make up for it, I ordered their death-by-brownie sundae. :) We were all good after that!

Parker screamed in the car the entire way home... something he never, ever does. I am praying that he doesn't come down with this awful flu. I am so looking forward to getting back to church tomorrow.... as long as everyone is well enough!

Nothing else much exciting going on around here. I'm having my grand re-opening of my designs website on Monday, and I have much to do to prepare for that!

Have a fantastic weekend!
Sikulu & Harambe by the Zambezi River (Review)

Sikulu & Harambe by the Zambezi River (Review)

Thanks to Parent Reviewers, I got the opportunity to review the book Sikulu & Harambe: By the Zambezi River. It is an African version of the Good Samaritan story written by Kunle Oguneye and illustrated by Bruce McCorkindale.

When the book arrived, I couldn't take my hands off of it. The illustrations were beautiful. I slowly flipped through every page just taking everything in. I couldn't wait to read it to my kids.

My wait didn't last long. The moment they saw the book, they immediately wanted to read it. So we did. And then we did again. And again. We read the book 4 times in a row. For the next 3 days, we did the exact same thing. Whenever I would ask them what book they wanted to read, "Sikulu & Harambe!" was the unanimous answer.

My kids loved learning the new words and their meanings. I love how much they love this book and the moral behind the story. And there are even more fantastic features in the back of the book! The discussion questions are a fabulous tool for my boys. They also loved learning more about Zambia and the African animals.
After reading the book, we logged onto sikulu.com and took a long look around. Lucy's favorite part was watching Sikulu & Harambe dance. She must have watched that 20 times in a row! :) The boys thought it was so cool that you can buy a stuffed Sikulu & Harambe to keep forever!

Word has it that this is just the first in a series of adventures that will follow Sikulu, the spider, and Harambe, the hippo, as they travel to different countries in Africa.

My kids and I can't wait to see where they end up next! We'll definitely be following them along in their journeys!

Edited to add: Kunle, the author, stopped by my blog and wanted me to let you know that you can purchase an autographed copy of the book over on their website: www.sikulu.com

Be sure to stop over there today and get your copy. This really is such a fantastic book!
General Mills Blog Tour: Grow Up Strong

General Mills Blog Tour: Grow Up Strong

I am honored that I was selected to be a part of the General Mills Blog Tour through the Mom Bloggers Club!

On Wednesday, we received a package at our door. I noticed that it was from General Mills, and decided to let the kids open it. After all, they would be the ones who would be my official reviewers.

Imagine their surprise when they found a box of
Cinnamon Toast Crunch inside! They thought heaven had come straight to Earth, and it came by way of FedEx.

My kids have always been fans of General Mills cereals. From Lucky Charms and Trix to Cocoa Puffs and Cookie Crisp, my kids just can't get enough.

As soon as they saw what was inside, they wanted some. It didn't matter that it was 3:30 in the afternoon, they wanted the cereal, and they wanted it right then. I gave in, and they each had a handful of dry cereal as a snack. They all gobbled it up instantly. The fabulous thing about cereal is that it's good any time! Day or night!

This morning, as soon as they woke up, they were ready for more! We set the table, and everyone got their bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and glass of orange juice. They ate in absolute silence - something that only happens when they're eating something they love!

We know my kids love their cereal. It's a given. But, as a mom, there are several reasons why I love General Mills Cereals too:
  1. All of my kids LOVE their cereal. Even my pickiest eater will happily eat a bowl of General Mills cereal, and then beg for more. No fighting to get anyone to eat their breakfast.
  2. Their cereals are an excellent source of calcium AND Vitamin D - something that all kids need.
  3. They contain Whole Grains and are actually good for kids!
  4. Their cereal tastes great! Not only do my kids love the taste of General Mills cereals, but my husband and I do as well! Some of them have been favorites since we were kids... and I'm not telling you how long that's been!
Being a mom to so many, some days it seems impossible to plan a meal that I know everyone will love. I never have that problem at breakfast when I serve General Mills cereal. I know that everyone will eat their breakfast, and they can all get their day off to a healthy start.

Here are some facts you may or may not know about cereal:
  • Are you aware of the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D your child should get each day? Better yet, did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics recently doubled the vitamin D recommendation for children? Approximately 75% of kids today don’t get the recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D -- two key nutrients for bone growth.

  • Not to worry though — as a parent, you can easily help your child get more of these two nutrients by looking for calcium and vitamin D fortified cereals, milk and juice. All General Mills Big G kid cereals (including Kix, Lucky Charms, Trix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and more) offer a good source of BOTH calcium and vitamin D in each serving.

  • Additionally, a recent report in a leading consumer magazine ranked kid cereals by nutritional content, and all nine General Mills Big G kid cereals included in the report were ranked in the top half. All Big G kid cereals have at least eight grams of whole grain per serving (at least 48 grams are recommended daily), and all have 12 grams or less of sugar per serving.

  • Cereal is one of the most nutritious breakfast options a kid can eat. Most cereals have about 100 – 130 calories per serving and provide at least 10 key nutrients. And, ready-to-eat cereal is the number one source of whole grain in American diets.

Be sure to stop by the General Mills website for yourself. You'll find awesome recipes, nutritional information, and even a coupon!

Thank you, General Mills, for helping me be proud of what I serve my kids for breakfast. I'm glad to know they'll be growing up strong!
ZONDERkidz - Review & Giveaway (CLOSED)

ZONDERkidz - Review & Giveaway (CLOSED)

Books are a BIG deal in our house. When I was young, I always had my nose in a book. From comic books to classics, I read them all. Reading is still a passion of mine, and my love for it is something I want my kids to have as well.

So, when I was contacted and asked to do a review for 2 Christian children's books, I jumped at the chance!

Zondervan is a name that I know and trust. I own several Bibles and many, many books that have been published by Zondervan.

ZONDERkidz is a division of Zondervan, geared toward.... you guessed it! Kids!

The first book they sent me to review was Preacher Creature Strikes on Sunday written by Mike Thaler and illustrated by Jared Lee.

This book was absolutely hysterical! Mike Thaler, also known as "America's Riddle King," playfully takes on the many of the potentially baffling church traditions. Mike Thaler has written more than 200 books for young readers. At the age of 60, Thaler came to know the Lord and he says his "life has gone from black and white to glorious Technicolor." (What a fantastic way to describe our lives in Christ!)

Preacher Creature Strikes on Sunday is just one book from the new Tales from the Back Pew series. Other titles include:
For this book, and for this series, Mike Thaler teams with Jared Lee once again. Having been together for nearly 30 years, the two have been called "The Court Jesters of Children's Literature" for their collaboration on more than 70 hilarious books.

Preacher Creature Strikes on Sunday is a fun, creative way to spark the interest of kids in church. Not only did my kids love hearing the story, they also enjoyed the "story around the story." You find funny extra little pictures on each page. You get plenty of giggles with your child - and they learn fun, important truths about God, church, and the Bible.

The second book they asked me to review is This is the Day! This book absolutely, positively blew me away! The book was written by Nancy White Carlstrom, and illustrated by Richard Cowdry.

Based on Psalm 118:24, This is the Day! takes kids ages 4 - 7 on a daily walk through God's creation - from deer grazing in the morning dew on Monday, to robins' nests and butterflies on Thursday to the beauty of rocky coastline on Sunday.

Nancy White Carlstrom hopes Christian families and educators will continue to encourage eco-appreciation early on by instilling in them an appreciation for God's creation. From frogs and ladybugs to rocks and creeks, Carlstrom reminds kids to see God's fingerprint in all their favorite things and protect the Earth he made.

My kids loved the beautiful illustrations, and this book is also a fantastic way to teach kids the days of the week. Jace has really been struggling with learning them, and with the way this book breaks down each day, he's starting to grasp them more and more each day. A beautiful, fantastic tool for teaching children about God and so much more. I loved that the book is hardcover, and the words are easy enough for even my kindergartener to read and comprehend. This is the Day! is a definite must-have for any Christian family with children.

Along with this review, I have 4 - yes! 4 - sets of books to give to my readers! That means your odds of winning just increased big time!!

4 readers will receive one copy of each book: Preacher Creature Strikes on Sunday and This is the Day!

So, want to be one of those lucky readers? Here's how to enter:

Visit ZONDERkidz and tell me what book you would love to have for your kids.

For extra entries:
  1. Tell me your favorite book as a child.
  2. Tell me why you'd like to win these books and what you would do with them.
  3. Blog about this giveaway.
The contest will end on March 10th. 4 winners will be selected using random.org, and will be notified via email upon selection.

Good luck!! These would be some fantastic books to add to your library collection!
coverPlug Winner

coverPlug Winner

Congratulations to valerie2350 - the winner of the coverPlug 2 Pack! :)

I'll be contacting you soon.

Thanks to all who participated!
Determined to beat this!

Determined to beat this!

I am trying so hard to get back into the swing of things. Ashley and Zander were supposed to go to the dentist this morning, but Z woke up with a fever of 102. Fabulous, I know. So, I arranged for someone to come to the house so that I could still get Ash to the dentist. She really needed to go.

Just the trip to the dentist and then running into CVS for some Vicks Vapo-Rub was enough to knock me out again. I'm totally over the flu (thank heavens!) but this bronchitis is kicking my butt!

I will reveal the winner of the Cover Plug Giveaway this evening, will be starting a new giveaway, and will be putting up a few reviews. I've got so much to catch up on!

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers while I took my little leave. A tropical vacation would have been better than this, but I'm thankful for the much-needed rest that I got this week.

You'll be hearing from me again soon!

I'm not Super Mom.

And I *must* get that through my head.

I called my mom last night when my fever topped 103*. I told her all my symptoms. She was sure that it was pneumonia, and I *had* to go in to the ER. I called Gene, (who had gone to church with the kids), and told him that the fever was getting higher and I thought it would be best to go in and get it checked out.

Before he left, he mentioned to our Associate Pastor what was going on, and before Brother Tim started preaching, he called the entire church to the front of the auditorium to pray for me.

I am absolutely, 100% convinced that it was those prayers that kept this from being pneumonia. When I got back into the room at the ER, the ER doc was convinced it was pneumonia. My lungs sounded awful, my cough was terrible, and the fever was way too high to be normal. He did a chest x-ray, and it came back ok. He said that it was "on the verge" and if I didn't get this under control, it would easily turn into pneumonia. Right now it's just bronchitis. He also did a flu test, just to be on the safe side, (since I was achy and had the high fever), and it came back positive almost immediately. Just what every mom needs. They sent me home with cough medicine, a steroid shot, (to open my airways back up), an antibiotic, some flu medicine, and strict orders for rest and fluids. If I don't get this under control, it will quickly turn into pneumonia, and then I'll be stuck in a hospital for days.

One thing that this illness has taught me is that I am not Super Mom. Being a mom to 5, I think people expect more from me. Therefore, I always take things on, never say no, and do way too much. With this sickness kicking my butt, I'm quickly realizing that I need to slow down and take it easy.

So, I'll never be on Oprah. I'll never be one of the "it" bloggers. And, I may never make it to BlogHer. But, that's ok. It has to be. By running myself into the ground, I'm not doing myself, my family, or anyone else any good.

I'm resolving here and now to make some changes. I'll still blog. It's such an outlet for me, and because I get little to no adult interaction during the day, I need it. I will still do reviews and giveaways because those are fun, and I love sharing new products with my readers. I will, however, start to say no more often. I will no longer live on a set schedule and beat myself up because I can't keep that schedule. I will understand that things happen. People understand, and if they don't - well, they're just not worth the effort.

So, I'm turning in my Super Mom cape and tiara. As much as I want to be able to "do it all" and do it all well, it's more important for me to be the best wife, mother, friend, and business owner that I can be, and take things on as I can. If I can't take something on, I will not let the guilt eat away at me.

With that being said, I'm heading back to the couch. The kids are with my MIL today, (except for non-bottle taking Parker), and I plan to get as much rest as I can while they're not here.

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. They mean so much. As soon as I'm feeling better, I'll be putting up some reviews and giveaways for ya'all!
Heading to the hospital -

Heading to the hospital -

Gene is on his way home from church to take me to the ER. My fever is 103, and I am miserable. We're pretty sure it's pneumonia, but we want to get it checked out to be sure.

I'll update as soon as I can. Your prayers would be much appreciated.
Cold-Eeze saves the day! (Review)

Cold-Eeze saves the day! (Review)

Here it is, Valentine's Day, and my family has been hit with another round of colds. This time, Parker and Lulu are down for the count, and it's also hit Gene and I - hard. Yesterday, Gene woke up and he was completely miserable. Coughing, achy, fever. You name it, and he was suffering from it. Luckily, Cold-EEZE had sent me some samples to try. Talk about perfect timing!

I sent Gene to work armed with the Kids-EEZE Chest Relief soft chews, and the Organix Cough and Sore Throat Drops. He came home and told me that I had to be sure to write a good review for both! My husband absolutely refuses to take medication. Call it stubborn pride, but getting him to take a pill is harder than pulling Zander's teeth. Honestly. But, hubby used both the Chest Relief soft chews and the cough and sore throat drops, and he said that both of them worked really well and helped him get through the entire night at work. Even though the Chest Congestion chews were for kids, they worked pretty well on the biggest baby in my house. ;)

This morning, *I* was lucky enough to wake up with the same thing hubby had yesterday. A mom doesn't get to just sit down and be sick, so I've been using the Organix Cough and Sore Throat Drops, to keep me going. I can't believe how quickly they soothe my throat. The best part is, they don't taste medicine-y. They are honey-lemon flavor, and they really taste like honey and lemon!

Here's some more information about each of the products Cold-EEZE sent me:

Cold-EEZE zinc lozenges are clinically proven to safely and effectively reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms of a common cold by 42 percent (or within three to four days). Cold-EEZE, which contains zinc gluconate glycine, provides 13.3 mg of ionic zinc per lozenge. Zinc can help promote the strength of the immune system, and is required for the development and activation of T-lymphocytes that help to fight infection. Once you feel a cold coming on, start sucking one Cold-EEZE lozenge every two-to-four hours. Available in tasty flavors like new sugar-free pomegranate, strawberries and cream, cherry and honey lemon, among others, Cold-EEZE lozenges are a good way to get your zinc without a metallic aftertaste.

Organix Cough and Sore Throat Drops, from the makers of Cold-EEZE are the first, over-the-counter cough and sore throat drops Certified USDA Organic. These great-tasting, medicated drops contain a proprietary formulation of
natural menthol derived from organic peppermint oil combined with pectin to suppress coughs, cool nasal passages and soothe irritated, sore throats. Organix is available in a unique Dark Chocolate Mint flavor, as well as Purely Peppermint, Orchard Cherry and Golden Honey Lemon. Even the twist wraps of each lozenge is made from fully compostable corn starch!

Kids-EEZE Chest Relief, a new product from the Quigley Co. (the makers of the popular Cold-EEZE zinc lozenges), is a single-ingredient, allopathic expectorant with guaifenesin to help children suffering from uncomfortable chest congestion. Kids-EEZE Chest Relief is a unique soft chew, available in both strawberry and grape flavors, that offers relief of chest congestion for children six years and older. Because Kids-EEZE only contains guaifenesin, it’s a safe, effective alternative to the many multi-symptom children’s cold products that could potentially lead to overmedication. Each box of Kids-EEZE Chest Relief contains 12, individually-wrapped, kid-friendly “soft chews” with 100 mg of guaifenesin. The convenience of a soft chew also ensures that children are getting the full dosage of guaifenesin, without possible liquid spills.

Cold season marks the start of antibiotic season. But for many, antibiotics are not without side effects. One out of five people suffer from antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD. Florastor and Florastor Kids have been clinically proven to help prevent and treat AAD. Antibiotics are necessary to kill the bad bacteria that cause ear infections, strep throat, etc., but these medications also kill the good bacteria in our stomachs, often causing AAD. Florastor and Florastor Kids contain a yeast-based probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii that helps repopulate your tummy with good cells that protect from AAD. Because Florastor contains a yeast probiotic, it won't be killed off by antibiotics like bacterial probiotics will be. Florastor comes in a capsule, and Florastor Kids, which is safe to use in children as young as 2 months, is a powder, so it can be mixed into formula, juice, soft foods like applesauce, etc.

Thank you, Cold-EEZE for making the cold season a little easier around my house!

Say it Forward: Week Two

Say it Forward: Week Two

Mom Blogs
Every Friday on 5 Minutes for Mom, they do a wonderful post called "Say it Forward." The purpose is to thank those who are faithful in commenting on your blog and spread a little love. Each week, I will pick a different faithful commenter and post about them.

The next person I want to award this to is Cat of 3 Kids and Us. Cat is about to give birth to another baby, and I couldn't be happier for her. I haven't known Cat long, but I'm so thankful that I can call her my friend. She has helped me countless times, and she always drops by to leave a comment, offer advice, or just send thoughts my way when I need it. Thank you, Cat, for all that you do. Your friendship means so much to me.

Now, I know you already won this award from 5 Minutes for Mom - which is WAY cooler than winning it from me - but I still want you to know how much your dropping by means!

If you can spare 2 seconds....

If you can spare 2 seconds....

Would you go vote for my friend, Kim? You can vote here.

She is #7 on the list, Kim @ What's that Smell.

Kim totally rocks and she totally deserves to win this. It takes less than 2 seconds to vote, and I'd love to rack up the votes for her. :) So, click this link quick, and go vote!

Good luck, Kim!! I'm rooting for you!
Some good news!

Some good news!

First of all, thank you all for your kind words in response to yesterday's post. I never even thought to call the doctor, but that was the first thing I did this morning. She gave me enough samples to get through until next week (and a few extra!). So, praise the Lord, I won't be unbearable for the next week, nor will I need to go into hiding.

Secondly, Gene came home with some awesome news. He got a promotion at work! As of Sunday night, he will be the new Grocery Manager. There's not an increase in pay (I don't think!), but he's advancing faster than anyone ever has at this store. We were hoping he would have the chance to become grocery manager this fall, but God has allowed it to happen even faster! So exciting!

Things are definitely looking up around here. It's been a really good day, and I'm back to my smiling self. My kids (and my husband) are all very happy about that.
This has not been my day.

This has not been my day.

I lost my meds. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I have torn this house apart and cannot find the medicine that I am currently taking for PPD. I started looking for them this morning, and now, here it is, after 11 pm, and I still can't find them. I have been in tears over this. I have gotten angry, frustrated, and my emotions are raging. I'm right back to that horrible woman I was just a few weeks ago.

I'm realizing today just how much the medicine helps the post partum depression.

So, how does one lose an entire bottle of pills? My insurance ran out at the end of last year. At the end of December, I filled 2 prescriptions for the post partum depression medicine that I'm on, so that I would have enough to cover me for 2 months. I started taking one of the Rx's, and thought I put the other bottle in the medicine cabinet for when the first Rx ran out.

Only, when I went to the cabinet to get the second Rx bottle today, it wasn't there. I pulled absolutely everything out of the cabinet, and it still wasn't there. I searched the bathrooms, every kitchen cupboard, every bathroom cupboard, and I can't find it. I don't have the money to go and get the prescription refilled right now. Hubby gets paid next Wednesday, and that's the first chance I'll have to go get it. That means I have to make it a full week without any medication whatsoever.

I'm in tears just thinking about this. I had been doing so well lately. I am finally not yelling all the time, I'm not crying all the time, and I'm much more calm than I've been in months. If today is any indication of how the next week is going to go, I may just lock myself in my room and not come out for a week. And, of course, it HAS to be 3 days from Valentine's Day. I'm so sure my husband is going to want to be with a wigged-out crazy woman suffering from ppd.

I am praying that somehow this bottle of pills just magically appears, and SOON. I need to be able to make it through the next week. I've heard that you have to wean off of Zoloft. If I'm forced to cut cold turkey, what could happen?

I have got to find those pills. Or I've got to figure out how to control this post partum depression on my own. But, honestly, is that even possible? It's going to take a LOT of prayer. I may be on my knees for the next week straight.

Please pray that I find them. I know that they are here somewhere. I just have to figure out where. Not a good time for Momnesia to set in.

And, not only did I lose my meds, Parker got his first injury today. I was sitting on the floor in the living room, listening to Zander read. I had Parker on his play mat in the dining room (where it always is). Lulu was playing in her kitchen set. When she opened the door to the fridge, it broke and landed right on top of Parker. He has a small bruise, but is otherwise just fine. I just feel horrible that I couldn't get there fast enough to prevent it from happening.

I have been mean to my husband today, and mean to my kids. I hate the person that I've been today and this is just ONE DAY without the meds. I need tomorrow to be a better day. Please, Lord. I'm begging.
Wordless Wednesday: Love is in the Air

Wordless Wednesday: Love is in the Air

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd post a photo of hubby and I on our wedding day. Can you guess the theme? I even wore plastic glass slippers.
My kids love Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! (Review)

My kids love Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! (Review)

There are not many kids cartoons that I can stand these days. I long for the days of the Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Punky Brewster, and the Shirt Tales. (Lord, I'm really showing my age!) If my kids watch cartoons, they are usually PBS cartoons, or some other kind of educational cartoon. (Krypto is our exception. ;) )

One cartoon that I really do like is Wow!Wow!Wubbzy! because it teaches by example. It provides kids with a positive model and teaches skills such as honesty, cooperation, and fairness all while having fun! There are some really good lessons in this cartoon, and it's something that I can watch with my kids and then discuss with them afterward.

Wow!Wow!Wubbzy! released a new video on February 3rd called A Little Help From My Friends. The DVD features six great episodes, all focused on the important values of friendship. This theme takes center stage as Wubbzy, a fun, lovable, curious little guy and his Wuzzleburg pals search for a lost Wiggle Wrench, escape a runaway Doodleberry Cake, build a Super Robot, teach Walden to boogie, and work hard for Wuzzleburg trophies. Together they discover the importance of positive values like confidence, cooperation, teamwork and above all, the meaning of friendship. The DVD extras also include two bonus episodes, music video, Kooky Kostume game, activities and sneak peeks. We got the DVD, and my kids *loved* it. They didn't move a muscle the entire time it was on. I was even able to catch up on the dishes while they watched. :)

Not only can you now purchase the DVD, but we parents can also get involved by visiting www.wubbzy.com. On that website, join the "Wubb Club," sign up for the newsletter, read the Wubbzy Blog, and listen to Wubbzy podcasts. The site also provides fun activities, recipes, printable coloring pages, and much more! The site is really user friendly, and my kids love stopping by to check up on Wubbzy and his friends.
Parker is 4 months old.

Parker is 4 months old.

I absolutely cannot believe it has been 4 months since I gave birth to Parker. It has flown by. He is growing like a weed, and has turned into Mr. Personality. He thinks his brothers and sisters are hysterical and they can all get the biggest belly laughs from him. He has started grabbing at toys, and his Hoohobbers rocking chair is his favorite seat in the whole house.

I've started him on infant cereal and he's doing really well with it. We're still having sleep issues, but they are getting better.

Here's a picture of my handsome little man:

Still doesn't seem possible that he's 4 months old already!
Photography Tips & Tricks: Photographing Toddlers

Photography Tips & Tricks: Photographing Toddlers

I get asked about photography all the time. I figured that I would start posting some tips and tricks to getting better photographs.

Whether you are aspiring to become a professional or not, we all want the ability to take great photos of our kids. Hopefully, with these tips and tricks, I will be able to help you achieve that! Each week, I will take a different question that I've been asked and give you my answer for it.

Please know, I am not proclaiming myself an expert. I learn something new every single day. I mess up, and I work hard to learn from those mistakes. I study other photographers and learn from their work. I can always do better. But, I will gladly share some of the tips and tricks that I have learned with you. My hope is that you will benefit from them.

One question I am often asked is this:
Photographing toddlers can be difficult. How do you get them to cooperate for photos? Do you have any distraction techniques?

Any mom of toddlers knows that photographing toddlers can be hit or miss. Some days kids will be great and ham it up for the camera, and other days, they will do anything but what you want them to do! Here are some tips and tricks I've learned when it comes to photographing toddlers:
  • You must do the photos on their time. Don't try to take the photos close to nap or bed time. Your toddler will be cranky, and neither one of you is going to be happy.
  • Also, be careful if you do the photos after they've eaten. Suckers, juice, koolaid, berries, and even cooked carrots can make for colored lips, teeth, and tongues and ruin a photo. Sometimes you might not even be able to see the coloring on their face, you snap a photo and WHAM! It magically appears. So, it's best to just avoid taking photos after lunch or dinner.
  • Understand that it can take a long time and a lot of wasted shots to get "the" shot. As a professional, I can spend up to 3 hours with one toddler. (And I have! Many times!) You just have to take your time, let them take their time, and don't rush.
  • Bribing usually doesn't work, and believe me, I've tried. I do have a "tickle stick" that I pull out and use. It's a feather duster that I found at the dollar store eons ago. The thing works like a charm. Just threaten (in a nice way!) to tickle their noses with the tickle stick, rub their nose gently with it, pull back, and SNAP! Instant smile.... usually! :)
There are times while photographing toddlers, when nothing you do works. Then, you end up with a shot like this:
At that point, it's time to take a break. Nothing is going to get accomplished. You are going to get frustrated, and so is your toddler. Try again in a few hours. If your toddler still isn't ready, then wait a day or two. You're never going to get "the" shot if your toddler isn't willing.

The good news is, photographing toddlers can be fun. Let them be themselves. My favorite shots are always the fun and/or candid ones. Take this one for example:
When that photo was taken, Lucy kept pulling up her shirt. I would tell her over and over not to do it, and she would laugh hysterically. During one of those laughing fits, I snapped the photo above. It really shows her personality, and will always be one of my favorites of her.

I hope these tips help you out! Go practice and show me what results you get!

If you have a question you would like me to try and answer, feel free to email me at angie (at) 5vinezmonkeys (dot) com. I'll do my best to help you out!
The Love Dare Blog is up and running!

The Love Dare Blog is up and running!

I am *so* excited! I got the Love Dare blog up and running, and I think it looks great! Blogger never lets me down! :)

You can see the new Love Dare blog here. Check it out and let me know what you think! (Also, let me know if everything looks ok!)

Also, it's not too late to join in! We'd love to have you! Or, if you're doing your own love dare challenge on your own blog, drop me the link and I'll post it on the Love Dare Blog.

Enjoy your Sunday! I'm up to 3 sick kids here today. Loads of fun! :)
I officially HATE WordPress.

I officially HATE WordPress.

Well, I'm not sure if I should hate wordpress or if I should hate my webhost. Either way, I'm not happy.

I have been trying for the last THREE HOURS to get a stupid wordpress blog set up. I wanted to use it for the Love Dare Challenge blog, but it ain't gonna happen. I'll be setting up the Love Dare Challenge on blogger. My webhost likes blogger, and while I can't do as much with it, at least I can make it work without getting a ton of error messages.

I've discovered that some people can't leave a comment over on buybymom.com's blog because of this "error issue." So not cool.

I've just paid for another year of hosting, and if I leave my webhost, I will have MANY disappointed clients. I can't do that to them (or to my business!). So, I'm stuck.

Those participating in the Love Dare Challenge, bear with me. I'll be setting up the new blog soon. Screw Wordpress, I'll give it to blogger.

Sorry for the yelling. It's after 12:30am here and I am beyond frustrated.
Say it Forward: Week One

Say it Forward: Week One

Mom Blogs
Every Friday on 5 Minutes for Mom, they do a wonderful post called "Say it Forward." The purpose is to thank those who are faithful in commenting on your blog and spread a little love. Each week, I will pick a different faithful commenter and post about them.

The first person I want to award this to is Danielle. Danielle has been with me since the very beginning of this blog. We've known each other since we were in elementary school. She's put up with a lot of my crap over the years, and yet she still drops by all the time and lets me know that she's checking in. I appreciate her comments and her friendship. Thanks for being a loyal reader, Danielle!

So, Danielle, here's your award. There's no need to do anything else, just add the badge to your blog and show it off proudly! :) And, again, thank you for always stopping by and leaving me a note. You always make me smile.

Update on the Love Dare Challenge

Update on the Love Dare Challenge

I've got two other people besides myself so far that are interested in starting the challenge and blogging about it. I've purchased a domain name and will be setting up the blog this weekend. We're planning to start the challenge on Valentine's Day.

If you are still interested in joining us, let me know. If you want to blog with us on the combined Love Dare blog, let me know, and I'll make you an author on the blog. If you will be doing your own Love Dare Challenge on your own blog, give me the link and I will add it to the blog roll on our Love Dare Blog.

I'll let you know the moment the new blog goes live. Again, it's not too late to join us, so feel free to contact me if you want in on the challenge!
The Honest Scrap Award

The Honest Scrap Award

Suzi from Suzi Homemaker has become a very good friend and recently bestowed this award upon me. From what I have read, this award is given to bloggers who write from the heart. What an honor to receive it!

The rules are as follows:
a) List 10 honest things about yourself.
b) Pass the award on to seven bloggers whom you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

Now, I'm not sure what else I can confess besides this and this that won't scare you off, but I'll give it a shot!

1. I can't stand to hear people chew. It doesn't matter who it is, the sound kills me. No one wants to sit by me at family functions because of this.

2. I am hopelessly devoted to Pepsi. I must have one can a day - if not two. It is a horrible habit that I have never been able to break.

3. I bite my nails. All the time. I have tried everything to stop, but it's a nervous habit that I've had since I was little. The only time I don't bit them is when I have fake nails on. Those cost money, though, so that doesn't happen very often.

4. I *love* to sing, and have been told that I have a beautiful voice. I sing to my kids every night. I've done this since they were born. We sing at home and in the car all the time. I'm so shy, though, that I just can't bring myself to actually sing in front of our church. I wish I could. Maybe some day I'll conquer this fear.

5. I am horrible about printing out photos and organizing them. I have over 30,000 pictures on my computer right now, and they're a disorganized mess. My photos include client photos, my kids photos, and photos I've helped people edit.

6. I love kids. Always have. I always wanted a large family and am so blessed that God has given me 5 beautiful children of my own. My favorite job was as the head teacher in the 2 year old room of a daycare. I can tell you the name of every child I ever taught in that class. I loved them all like my own and it broke my heart when I left and moved back to Ohio. Leaving them behind was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

7. On the kid note - I am not afraid to tell someone else's kid to behave. I've recently discovered that not all parents like this. LOL! However, if I see a child misbehaving or being disrespectful, I will call them out on it. I would want others to do the same to my kids.

8. I do not like vegetables. The only ones I will eat are corn, potatoes, and green beans. My husband loves raw veggies and it makes me gag when he eats them. And I wonder why my kids won't eat their peas.

9. I believed in Santa Claus until I was 12. Part of my still wants to believe in him today. I have just always loved the "magic" of Christmas and the joy that Santa brought. And, yes, I know that Santa is not the true meaning of Christmas. But he sure is a fun part of it!

10. I hate talking on the phone. I have no idea why, I just do. There are certain people I talk to on the phone that don't bother me, but client business, ordering products, etc., I would just rather do it online, through an email, or face to face. In fact, I'd much rather talk to anyone face to face than on the phone. Funny, because I used to talk on the phone so much that my parents had an extra line put in that went directly to my room. Could be why I don't like it so much any more!

Ok, here are my 7 honest scrappers:

1. Natalie of Kummer's Family Circus
2. Danielle of Danielle's Daily Life
3. Vicki of Mystic Ramblings
4. Annmarie of A Little Piece of 7th Heaven
5. Dawn of Boy oh Boy oh Boy
6. Lori of Jewllori
7. Chris of What's in Sissy's Head

I have other awards I need to blog about and I promise to do that VERY soon!
Triaminic Sick Day Guidelines

Triaminic Sick Day Guidelines

As a mom to 5, there is always someone sick in our house. At least it feels that way. Some days I feel like I spend hours in the children’s medicine aisle trying to find something that will help all of their symptoms. I am very particular about the brands of children’s medicine I buy, and Triaminic is always at the top of my list. My mom used it with my brother and I when we were kids, and since Triaminic is a name I can trust, I now use it with my kids.

For the past 2 weeks, the kids have been sharing some kind of cold virus with each other. Cough, sore throat, fever, and just achy all over. The Triaminic Soft Chews have been a god-send. My boys don't do well with liquid medicine. Somehow, they always seem to spill more than they take in. Then you're not sure about them getting the proper dosing. You can't give them more, because you don't want to overdose. It can be such a pain. But, with Triaminic Soft Chews, you don't have that problem! They have the perfect dose of medicine already inside them! Just read the label to find out how much your child will need. My boys love the taste, and they take them without a fight. Now, the brand I trust is even better for my kids!

Because I homeschool, I don't have to worry about whether I should send my kids to school or not when they're sick. We can just take a break and keep them in bed for the day. However, I do still follow the Sick Day Guidelines that Triaminic and the National Association of School Nurses put out.

Keep your child home from school and group activities if he or she:
  • has a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • has been vomiting
  • has been experiencing excessive tiredness, loss of appetite, sore throat, headache, body aches, earache, productive coughing/sneezing

Keep your child home until his fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication.

Here are tips to helping your child feel better:

  • they need plenty of rest and limits on watching tv
  • encourage fluids like water, soup, juice, and ice
  • use a cool humidifier
  • lots and lots of TLC
  • when used as directed, children’s cough and cold medicines help relieve symptoms while your child is getting better.

Read and follow the directions carefully and give the exact recommended dose for the child’s age. Do not use over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children under the age of 4 in the US.

Update on the "Bad Boy" Post

Update on the "Bad Boy" Post

I'm sure you all remember this post. After all, who could forget the confessions of a mother who was a terrible child herself. (And, that post is exactly the reason we made sure Lucy's kitchen set did not have a compartment big enough to fit a kid in.)

Well, I went on and on in that post about how difficult Jace has been lately. However, deep down, he really does have the best heart.

Last night, we had to pull Zander's tooth out. It was hanging by one little thread and was totally grossing me out. Since my boys are the biggest drama kings, pulling this tooth was not an easy task. As Gene tried (and tried... and tried... and tried) to get Zander to hold still long enough to pull the tooth, *Jace* was the one crying. He absolutely couldn't stand the thought of Zander being hurt. Now, he'll punch the daylights out of Zander, but the thought of Zander hurting because Daddy was pulling his tooth out was just too much to bear.

So, maybe there is hope for this little boy. Maybe this is just a phase and my dear sweet boy will come back to me.

Of course, he's already been in time out 10 times today, but a mom can dream, can't she?
Wordless Wednesday: The First Lost Tooth

Wordless Wednesday: The First Lost Tooth

Zander lost his first tooth last night. I can't believe how big he's getting! And you just have to love the red gatorade mustache! :)
coverPlug - a Review & Giveaway (Ends 2/17)

coverPlug - a Review & Giveaway (Ends 2/17)

I had the opportunity to do a review for coverPlug. These are such a fantastic idea! And I *love* that you can paint it to match the walls.

We have one outlet in our living room that the kids are attracted to like a magnet. I've caught Jace trying to stuff Batman's hands (and other items) into the outlet, and Lucy is always trying to see if she can stick her fingers in there. I used to use those little covers that you stick in the outlet. They were difficult to pull out at first, but then the plastic in them weakened, and the kids could pull them out easily. It's not very safe if your toddler can pull out the "safety cover" and stick it in their mouth. Then the safety issue becomes an entirely different issue... now it's a choking hazard! What's a mom to do?

Well, let me introduce you to coverPlug! These things are awesome! From the moment I put the coverPlug over the outlet, the kids haven't messed with it at all. They say "out of sight, out of mind," and they are completely right! It's still easy to pull out when I need to vacuum, and it pops right back into place. The best part of all? The kids can't pull them out.... but they have even tried to! They walk past the outlet a hundred times a day now and never even glance in it's direction. I love it! These are fashionable, affordable, and one of the coolest child safety products on the market. I'm never going back to those awful little plugs. Never.

So, how can you get your hands on your very own coverPlugs and be the coolest safety conscious mom on the block? There are 2 ways: 1. You can hop on over to coverPlug's website and find out where to buy them, and 2. You can enter to win a set right here! That's right, I've got a set of 2 cover plugs to give to one lucky reader!

If you want to win this set of coverPlugs, here's how to enter:
Visit coverPlug and tell me what your favorite feature about them is. Super Easy!

For additional entries, you can do the following:
1. Subscribe to my feed.
2. Add my button to your blog.
3. Favorite me on Technorati.
4. Blog about this giveaway. Please include a link back to 5vinezmonkeys and to coverPlug.
5. Leave a comment with an infant/toddler/child safety tip. (You can do this one an unlimited number of times!)

This contest will end on February 17th and the winner will be selected using Random.org.

Good luck!!
Little Boys and their Fears

Little Boys and their Fears

My boys are the biggest chickens on earth. Honestly. They are terrified of everything. If their closet door is open, or if one of them is in the room alone, they freak out!

It's gotten worse the past few weeks. They now get up 10 - 12 times a night (each!), come into my room (or the living room if I'm still up with Parker) and they tell me that they had a nightmare. You would think after 10 times of hearing, "You're fine, go back to bed," they would *get* that I'm trying to sleep. But, nope. It continues every single night.

A few nights ago, we had a very lengthy discussion as to why they were scared. They couldn't give me anything in particular that they were afraid of, but they continued to tell me that it was because of the Veggie Tales song, "God is Bigger than the Boogie Man." Ok, now, that song is supposed to prevent kids from getting scared. Not my boys. Apparently, this song is the reason for all their nightmares. When I told them that there's no such thing as the Boogie Man, Jace told me that he's not afraid of the Boogie Man, because he brings you cheeseburgers. (LOL! Where did that come from?) So when I asked them what it was that they were afraid of, they couldn't tell me.

How do I handle this? Anyone have any advice or tips? Am I destined to be a mom to two little wusses? I don't want my kids being the ones picked on because they are terrified of everything, so what do I do to nip this in the bud now? Can I nip this before it gets any worse? Can it get any worse?

I've heard of the monster spray, but since they're not afraid of monsters and know that there's no such thing as monsters, they thought it was stupid that I was spraying stuff in their room. SIGH. I really can't win with these two.

So, help a mom out. What would you do?
Announcement: COACH Purse Winner

Announcement: COACH Purse Winner

First of all, I want to thank all of you that entered. All together, we had 667 total entries. (I'm SO glad that came out as 667 and not 666! LOL!)

I really wish I had 100 purses so that I could give one to each of you. Unfortunately, that's just not the case, and I can only select one winner. I made sure that everything was done fairly. I sat down, counted up every person's entries, put them in the order they were entered, and then headed to random.org to pick the winning number.

I soon found out that the lucky winner of the COACH purse is :

The entry that belonged to was........

Congratulations!!!!!!!!! You will receive an email from me sometime today, and I will get the purse out to you very soon.

Again, thank you all for entering. I hope that you'll continue to join us here at 5vinezmonkeys!
February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month. (triggers, numbers mentioned)

February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month. (triggers, numbers mentioned)

I want to warn you up front, this post will be long, detailed, and full of things most of you never knew about me. But, because of the impact eating disorders have had in my life, I want to make you all aware so that you may be able to spot the signs of a loved one with an eating disorder.

In Junior High, I was athletic. Very athletic. Therefore, I had an athletic build. By the age of 14, I was 5'9, and taller than most of the boys in my class. At 15, it really started to hit me that I wasn't one of the "pretty" girls. You know the type - the ones that had a different boyfriend every week. Or, heck - they just had a boyfriend.

I started to think that I was too fat, and that by losing a few pounds, I would be prettier. Being prettier meant that I would get a boyfriend. At the age of 15, I basically stopped eating. I lived on Diet Coke - after all, it was the only thing we had in our fridge. Not eating wasn't hard for me. We never had food in our house. Mom and Dad were always on a diet, so junk food didn't come into our house very often. We ate our meals in restaurants, and my parents gave us lunch money to buy lunch at school. I would buy a soda at lunch, but usually gave my money to someone else so that they could buy a bag of chips or whatever. When we went out to restaurants, I would play with my food, moving it around on my plate, but would never take more than a few bites. And, most of those bites ended up in my napkin. I lost 20 pounds in no time at all.

The start of my Junior year, we went to "school camp." A week away from home. I don't know why we did it, but it was part of the "rules" of the school. During that week, I became very close with one of the popular guys, and we started dating shortly thereafter. In my mind, I figured that the reason I had gotten the boyfriend was because I had lost the weight and was now "pretty." It set me on this path that I still haven't completely recovered from.

Over the next few years, my weight flip-flopped. I would gain a few pounds, feel guilty, and then lose 10 to make up for it. My mom took me to several doctors, but no one ever said the words "eating disorder." This went on for years, and it was just never talked about in our house.

In 1996, I got pregnant with Ashley. I was about to become a single mom. I did really well during the pregnancy and actually gained 50 pounds with her. When she was born, I didn't breastfeed her. I did it for the selfish reason that I KNEW I couldn't starve myself if she was dependent on my supplying her milk. By the time Ashley was 6 weeks old, I had lost those 50 pounds completely. Old habits die hard.

In 2000, I moved from the Chicago suburbs back to Ohio. I started dating a guy, and it was supposed to be perfect. His dad and my dad had been best friends, his sister was my best friend. Well, it wasn't perfect. We were engaged on Christmas Eve of 2000, and by April of the next year, it was over. That breakup set me into a nosedive right back into the eating disorder. Only this time, I didn't just stop eating. I would binge and purge several times a day. My back teeth are now completely rotted because of all the purging I did.

My weight dropped to 94 pounds. Size 0 clothes just hung off my body. At this time, I was seeing a doctor and a therapist, but nothing was working. I would put rocks in my pockets to make myself weigh more so that the doctor wouldn't say anything about the weight loss. I always wore several layers of clothing, and never took my shoes off. Eventually my doctor caught on, and would have me strip down to my underwear and bra in an exam room to get weighed.

While at my lowest weight, I met Gene. We started dating, and he was very aware that something was going on with me. I told him about the doctor and the therapist. He went with me to my next doctor's appointment, and the doctor threatened that I either "get my head on straight" or she was admitting me into the hospital and forcing me to eat through a tube. I was a danger to myself and I was destroying my body, inside and out. I had to gain 5 pounds in two weeks, or I would be admitted.

With Gene's help, I gained those 5 pounds. It was not easy. There were fights, tears, and screaming. I was like a drug addict going through withdraw. As I type this now, the tears are flowing, just remembering what those two weeks were like. It was hell on earth. Literally.

By the time Gene and I married, I was back up to 120 pounds. I can't even begin to tell you what a support he was. I still can't believe that he stuck with me through all that - especially so early on in our relationship. But, he did, and I love him so much for it. I truly owe him my life.

It's been six and a half years since Gene and I were married. Through those years, I've had really good periods and really rough patches. After pregnancy was always the hardest. That's why I've breastfed all of my kids. I *knew* that if I breastfed them, I would have to eat healthy and be able to supply them with the nutrients they need, just like during my pregnancies.

I always did really well at "flipping the switch" when it came to pregnancy and nursing. I did slip up one time when Zander was just a few weeks old. We had some friends over for dinner and I completely stuffed myself. I ended up purging after that. I felt SO guilty afterward, that I never purged again while my babies were still nursing.

Now, here I am. More than 15 years have passed since this all began. My self-image is no better now than it was back then. I get physically sick when I look at myself in a mirror. I posted images of myself in a review over on Buy By Mom, and I can't even look at them. I cried as I edited those images and wrote up that review. I'm crying now, just thinking of those pictures. They are horrible, and I hate them.

I have two girls. I worry every day that my girls are going to face these same struggles. I want - more than anything - to be able to prevent them from going through what I did. I want them to realize that they are beautiful even if they aren't a size 0. I want them to know all the things that people have told me for YEARS that I just cannot grasp. I know in my head that making me fat doesn't necessarily make me ugly, but when I look in that mirror and actually see what I have become, it makes me ill. I do NOT want my daughters going through this. The problem is, I don't know how to prevent it. I know the signs to watch for, and believe me, I'm watching. Ashley has already started commenting on how fat she is (which she is NOT!), and I am constantly making sure I tell her how beautiful she is.

If you are worried that someone you love may suffer from an eating disorder, or think you may, here are some excellent resources on the web:
Find Help - http://www.4therapy.com/ Find a therapist in your area that deals with eating disorders. No charge for this service.
Mirror-Mirror - http://www.mirror-mirror.org/ Full of information, help, ideas and more.

- http://www.anred.com/ Information and Resources

- http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ National Eating Disorders Association
NIMH - http://www.nimh.nih.gov/ National Institute of Mental Health
ANAD - http://www.anad.org/site/anadweb/ Counseling services and helpline.
The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness - http://www.eatingdisorderinfo.org/ The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness seeks to establish easily accessible programs across the nation that allow children and young adults the opportunity to learn about eating disorders and the positive effects of a healthy body image. Furthermore, our aim is to disseminate educational information to parents and caregivers about the warning signs, dangers, and consequences of anorexia, bulimia, and other related disorders.
EDA - http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/ Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) is a fellowship of individuals who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from their eating disorders. People can and do fully recover from having an eating disorder. In EDA, we help one another identify and claim milestones of recovery.
Something-Fishy - http://www.something-fishy.org/ Eating Disorders Anorexia, Bulimia & Compulsive Overeating Dedicated to raising awareness and providing support to people with Eating Disorders, and their loved-ones... since 1995
Anorexia Treatment - http://www.anorexia-nervosa-treatment.com/ Information, counseling services, and more.

If you are afraid that a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, the worst thing you can do is try to force them to eat. Love them, encourage them, and above all, help them find help. Seek out a counselor (there are TONS who specialize in eating disorders!), find a support group. DO SOMETHING. Don't try to ignore it or brush it under the rug. Early treatment could save a lifetime of hardship.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please don't be afraid to ask for help. Lean on your family and friends. Find support from other women who are also dealing with this. Talk to a counselor or a doctor. There IS hope. If you *ever* need to talk, please don't hesitate to email me: angie (at) 5vinezmonkeys (dot) com.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story. It's not an easy one to tell. I just hope that by sharing my story, maybe I can help someone else avoid falling into the trap of eating disorders.

Monkey Mania

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