Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rewind Clutch *Winner*


Chosen at random by Rafflecopter.com, the winner of this gorgeous
Noonday Collection Rewind Clutch, valued at $58 is...
 
* *   BREA F.  * *
 
Thank you to Momster Kris for offering this giveaway. 
If you haven't read it already, learn more about the story behind this clutch HERE.
 
There's still time to purchase some Noonday Collection Christmas gifts!  Visit Kris's website at www.krisjosue.noondaycollection.com and do some shopping while helping uplift others out of poverty. 
 
{{'Tis the season, shop for a reason! }}
 
 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

'Like', What's the Big Deal?!

 
What's the big deal with that Facebook 'Like' button, anyway? 
From what I gather, it's a lot of fancy schmancy mathematical, algorithm jargon that goes over this not-a-fan-of-math gal's head.  What I do know...the more 'Likes' and shares a post receives, means more people will see the post.  If I want every single person who has already liked the Momster Mash Facebook page to see a post, I would have to fork over some $$ to Facebook!
 
So here's my plea...
 
If you see a Momster Mash post on Facebook and you happen to like it, would you *pretty please* click that little 'Like' button?  Perhaps even share it on your Facebook page or with a friend you think will appreciate it? 
 
 
You see, the more women who see a Momster Mash post through Facebook, the more women who will be directed to the Momster Mash blog, and the more women who will get the chance to be encouraged by a fabulous Momster!  It just might be THE thing they needed to read that day.  My goal with this blog is to create an online support group of sorts, not only to encourage and inspire readers, but for this to be a place where we can uplift and encourage each Momster of the Month as well.  There can be so much negativity, competitiveness, and judging between moms, and I want this blog to be the counter attack to that nonsense. 
 
This is not your typical "mom blog", in my opinion, because it's not all about me.  I've only been at this mom job for about 18-months and need all the help I can get.  Also, I'm pretty sure no one cares how I curled my hair for the day (most likely that didn't happen anyway) or what I'm wearing and where I got it (sweat pants from Gilly Hicks if you do care, I'm super fancy today).  I want this blog to be filled with valuable words of encouragement and tangible ways to reach out and support one another, not filled with fluff we're already being bombarded with on Pinterest - and I do appreciate the fluff, by the way, that's just not what this blog is about.
 
I am truly grateful for each and every Momster and the community that is slowly growing around this blog!  Thank you so much for sharing the Facebook love, for supporting my mission with this blog, and for helping me uplift every mom who has a computer! :)
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kris: Part 4 - Everyday Purpose

 
I'm late on getting Kris's final post up, but you know that whole "Thanksgiving Day" thing sort of took over our life for an entire week!  We had a fabulous time visiting with my family whom live three hours away, so it's always nice to get some time to hang out.  I hope you all had such a great Thanksgiving, counting your blessings with your loved ones. 
 
To wrap things up, I asked Kris how she stays grounded in this hectic world.  It's difficult for anyone to find ways to keep themselves grounded, but add a child into the mix and it's a baziliion times more difficult.  Kris says that she stays grounded by connecting with her purpose, and let me tell you she has some words of wisdom on the topic of purpose!  I know many people, including myself, who have struggled with finding their "purpose" in this world.
"If you don't know what your purpose is... it is what you do, where you are with what you're given.  I believe that purpose is not something that we pursue.  It is something that is given to us.  Every day. We often associate purpose with doing that which makes us happy.  Happy is an attitude, and it doesn't mean that if you're not happy doing what you do that you're not living your purpose.  Remember the King who died on the cross?  I wouldn't be happy if I had to do what He did.  I bet He wasn't happy about that either, but He fulfilled His purpose...He did not flaunt His power or abilities, did not doubt the life He was given...He was grounded in His purpose; lived it one day at a time."
Are you feeling convicted yet?  I am!  Sometimes is takes a friend to remind us of these things in life.  It's easy to get so wrapped up in making sure we're feeling "happy" and "fulfilled" that we miss every day opportunities to live out our true purpose right where God has us.
 
One last word from Kris regarding "purpose" in our hectic world:
"...connecting with our purpose is putting our mind where we are at the moment, and recognizing that you already possess everything necessary to do what is before you that day.  'Give us this day...'  You are equipped to do what you are put on this earth to do every day."
Kris and I share the same love of devotionals.  If you're searching for some new ways to find encouragement and lift your spirits every day, Kris and I both highly recommend the daily devotionals at Proverbs31.org and the book  Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young.  I've blogged about both of these HERE.
 
Kris's favorite Bible verse?
2 Timothy 1:7 "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind"
 
Final words of encouragement to YOU from Kris:
"There will be times you will seriously doubt your capacity or adequacy and value.  When that happens - whether as a mom, a worker, a wife, a friend - tell yourself this 'how dare I doubt what God has created me to be or what God has equipped me with.' Then, stop listening to that voice in your head that's beating you down.  Instead, call a friend and ask for encouragement.  Ask for prayer.  Read scripture.  Listen to a voice other than your own."
Kris, thank you so much for sharing your family, your passions, and your words of wisdom from personal experience.  I truly value your insight and thank you for the reminder to live my purpose every day!
*          *          *
Be sure to enter to win Rewind Clutch Kris has generously offered! 
Giveaway ends this Saturday

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rewind Clutch {{Giveaway}}

Through the month of November, we've had the chance to get to know Momster Kris and her connection to Noonday Collection.  Noonday Collection is changing lives through sustainable jobs and living wages, and you can be a part of all of this, just by shopping their beautifully handmade products on Kris's Noonday Collection website

AND...Kris has generously offered the Rewind Clutch to one lucky Momster!  I own this clutch, and I love it!  It's perfect for a casual or fancy night out, and it generates some beautiful sparkle and compliments...which will give you an opportunity to share the mission of Noonday Collection and the story of the Rewind Clutch...

The Rewind Clutch ($58.00 value) is made by up-cycled VHS and cassette tapes, which give it that eye-catching sparkle.  It is made {with love} by the hands of adults with special needs in India, providing them with dignified work and fair wages, which allow them to afford medical care and therapies they may not have otherwise been able to provide themselves. 
"Our rewind clutch is made by a very special group of artisans in New Delhi, India. They belong to the international organization formerly called Very Special Arts, which focuses on working with children and adults with disabilities. The project focuses on bringing out the creative skills in these special artists and at the same time preparing them to become financially self-sufficient and self-employed. By teaching adults how to make bags, they are ensuring that they will have the skills necessary to survive in the world. They are also able to raise money to keep the program going, ensuring people with disabilities get a chance to express themselves and participate in society."  -Noonday Collection 
Treat yourself with this clutch and show it off at that Christmas party or New Years Eve celebration that's just around the corner, or you will receive it in time to gift it to a lucky lady in your life for Christmas.  Giveaway is open through this Saturday, and the winner will be announced Sunday (December 8th).  Sign into Rafflecopter below to enter!
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kris: Part 3 - Shop Noonday Collection, Change the World

It is estimated that there are 30 million slaves worldwide today, more than any other point in history.  That shocking statistic includes sex trafficking, child labor, and forced labor in dangerous, violent, and deadly working conditions where families are being ripped apart, and live-able wages are not even close to being earned.  Christmas is upon us and according to Business Insider, Americans spent $52 billion on Black Friday in 2011.  That is a LOT of money we are spending on Christmas gifts...gifts that are very likely to have been made by the hands of a slave.

This is a topic that warrants {an endless amount} of blog posts, but I wanted to touch on the topic as a way to introduce you to Noonday Collection and show you just one example of how you can use your purchasing power to change lives around the world.  Would you like to join me and become a modern-day abolitionist?!
Isaiah 58:10

Noonday Collection sells jewelry, scarves, bags, and more which are made by artisans around the globe.  These artisans have gone from homeless and hopeless, to earning a live-able wage to support their families through dignified work with the help of organizations like Noonday Collection.  Kris says she fell in love with Noonday through a specific story of transformation and redemption while attending her first Noonday Trunk Show
"My favorite story thus far is the one that planted the "Noonday seed" in my heart - the story of a 26-year-old artisan living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.  She makes beautiful jewelry out of beads made from old artillery shells from previous war conflicts.  Her partnership with Noonday has given her a source of fair income that has enabled her to afford medical care.  Because of that, she is able to take care of her son and have new dreams for his future."
That story of redemption is the one that led Kris to her first Noonday purchase - the Bethe Rope Necklace:
Bethe Rope Necklace worn with the teal Dewdrop Necklace
When Kris would get compliments on her necklace, she says "I would stop and share the story, and I would get goose bumps every, single, time.  Not only are the remnants of objects made for destruction transformed into something beautiful, but the lives that touched them have been transformed as well!"
Noonday Collection has had such a huge impact in lives around the world, and there are so many more stories.  Kris says "the more I shared the stories, the more I wanted to tell them again.  Before I knew it, I was advocating for the Noonday mission!"
Shalom Necklace - rolled paper beads made in Uganda
Inca Steps Necklace - made from Tagua seeds in Ecuador
Kris decided to become a  Noonday Collection Ambassador so she can help spread the mission of Noonday, and look stylish while advocating for the oppressed :)  There are SO many ways you can help those in need this holiday season as well as throughout the entire year:
Shop Noonday Collection
Visit Kris's website and get some holiday shopping completed.  Your purchases will not only provide pathways out of poverty and slavery for others, but your gift-recipients will be honored to share these stories while wearing their beautiful gift {handmade} and gifted with love. 
Host a Trunk Show
Contact Kris at  kjlovesnoonday@gmail.com to host a Trunk Show and learn more about Noonday - have the opportunity to try-on the beautiful products, and shop with your friends in the comfort of your own home.
Shop Fair Trade
As I've been learning more about modern-day slavery, I've been challenging myself to shop with intention and try to avoid "fast fashion".  Just like with the food I buy, I've learned to read labels on other products I buy and research where and how the product was made.  Yes, this can be time-consuming and difficult to shop this way in every aspect of my purchases.  Change starts with small steps, which slowly get easier over time. 
Resources
  • Follow my Purchase with a Purpose board on Pinterest for MANY other ways to shop fair trade.
  • GoodGuide is a free app for your phone to scan barcodes while shopping.  An easy way to learn more about the business practices of the company before purchasing their product. 
  • Take this Slavery Footprint quiz to estimate how many slaves are contributing to your lifestyle via forced labor, and what you can do to make a change.
  • Read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide to learn more about the many ways women are being enslaved, and what you can do to help change the world.

LEARN.  SHARE.  GROW.
Because there are lives depending on it.

Stay tuned for your chance to win a Noonday Collection clutch!  There's a giveaway on the way...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kris - Part 2: Her 8-Year-Old Negotiator

Kris has an 8-year-old son who is "one smart cookie".  Do you have a child who loves to challenge authority, think they are always right, and can also build a case to support their side?  So does Kris, and I think all kids have at least a little of this feisty spirit in them.  Sometimes it's temporary as they are shaping their personality and learning their boundaries, and sometimes that's who they are forever and always.  Kris is hoping his "very spirited" nature is just a phase, because "otherwise, I will probably need to learn some secret service grade, ninja-caliber negotiating skills."  Kris also describes her son as "extremely insightful, very expressive, and has yet to learn how to hold his opinions - when and when not to share them - and to control the use of 'no offense meant, but...'" 
What does Kris enjoying doing with her very spirited son?  She makes a great point, that children spend their lives taking instructions and following a lot of rules, so a "state of just being is important to balance it out".  I think we all need just being time! She enjoys doing things with her son which put them on a "level playing field - no one has authority, and no one needs to be right". Together, they like to watch Dr. Who on the weekends, run around in parks, pretend sword-fighting, him talking her into baking, and "tuck-ins".  Kris says "Tuck-ins are a real treat.  He craves goodnight ceremonies when he gets to tell me his adventures of the day, and I get to ask him questions that give me the pulse on the state of things in his world.  I'm blessed because he tells me his precious little secrets."
Definition by Kris:  Snuggle-buggying.  Verb.  "Snuggling and bugging each other at the same time.  I would think that if I had a daughter, the bugging part would not be there.  But because he's a boy, it's part of the equation.  An improvised gadget of some sort will make it's appearance in this setting, and will be used to zap me into the future and back."

No matter what they are doing making memories, the most important aspect for Kris is that they are doing something together.  "If he watches [Dr. Who] alone, and doesn't have anyone to interact with, it's an entirely different experience."
Kris says that her son is "all kinds of smart that I am not", but I say I think I know where he gets those beautiful brains :)  "He is a pretty funny kid.  And he can get himself out of trouble by trying to make me laugh.  That's worth being around.  Safe to say, we enjoy getting ourselves out of a fight.  But let's be honest - not always.  Just sometimes."
*          *          *
Stay tuned as we learn how Kris is impacting lives around the world, and what you can do to help!
 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kris - Part 1: Living and Loving Life

Meet Kris, the Momster of the Month for November.  Kris is a friend of mine from church, and I am just so encouraged by the way she lives life and I wanted to share her amazingness with you! In case you're wondering, amazingness is in the Urban Dictionary, so it's close enough to being a real word.
Kris was born in the Philippines.  When she was 20-years-old, she was a "beneficiary of an immigration benefit" that her grandparents filed in order for her parents to move to America.  Kris has a passion for people and that is even evident in her line of work.  She works as a Communications Manager for Wellspring EAP, a "social enterprise division of Wellspring Family Services, which is a non-profit, for-impact organization that helps vulnerable - often homeless - families and children rebuild their lives."  Kris loves what she does, serving families within her community.  "I know that my work goes toward making other peoples lives better, and that makes my job really satisfying."
To say that Kris is well-rounded when it comes to living and loving life is an understatement, in my opinion.  She is definitely making the most of what this life in the Pacific Northwest has to offer! She loves photography, hiking, rowing, cycling, and more.  She is also a fan of the opera and serves on the board of the Seattle Opera BRAVO! Club for young professionals.
"My brain thinks I have a lot of energy - my body has its limits", says Kris.  So she rotates between the various activities her brain is requesting, rather than pursuing them all at once. 
"I shifted through activities over the years.  I spent a few years in tennis, golf, running, pretty dedicated to hiking (up to a point I was doing Mt. Si once a week like a crazy person and in the winter snowshoe once a week).  And then I take a break a few months and start a new activity.  I started rowing about 3 years ago.  It's the only sport I dared to compete in.  And...it's the sport I've embraced longer than the others. Maybe because I like how I have the option to be both competitive and laid back.  I sometimes row as fast as I possibly can, and then other days I can row to the middle of the lake and sit there and listen to the waves." 
 Outdoor activities in wide open spaces, around beautiful nature is what Kris loves most. 
"Outdoor activities...have a way of putting me in a place to feel the closeness of God.  I think it is in the silence - devoid of the world's clutter and noise - that His peace is amplified in my life.  It quiets my mind and helps me focus on just being."
 Kris enjoys the same activities when it comes to unwinding, relaxing, and regrouping.  She just enjoys them at a slower pace. 
"As long as I'm outside, can see the sky or the sea - I can be walking, riding a bike, rowing - I feel closer to my source of energy.  These are the times when I draw my water from the well, be still, have longer than the regular prayer conversations with God.  It's when I get to sit back and watch the rest of the world move that I find rest.  In stillness, there is rest.  Sometimes, just sitting and watching  my son's joy and innocence at play.  It's watching him dance, dress up as a king, a bee keeper, a wizard, a doctor, or pretend that he's a police officer, a mailman, the president of the United States, a baker or chef.  It's listening - and I mean listening to him laugh, sing, tell jokes, tell stories, write new laws, build his own dirt company.  There are times when my threshold for the noise is low, but there are those times that I see them as gifts.  Those times would be unwinding for me.  Sometimes when everything gets overwhelming and I can't think for myself anymore, I reach out.  God has blessed me with a man who is patient; knows when he needs to take my hand and just hold it and pray for me when I'm too tired to do it."
*          *          *

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rachel's Typical Tuesday, and More

If you've been following along with Momster Mash during this month, you've had a chance to get to know Rachel and her family. 
 
Rachel keeps herself busy with work, family, teaching dance, volunteering with a weekly co-op, organizing the Buddy Walk, and more.  As mom's, we know it can be challenging to find time for ourselves, yet realize the importance of doing so.  In what ways does Rachel "recharge her battery"?
"I try to recharge my battery by getting more sleep.  I always seem to stay up late, doing things I can't do when the kids are up.  Taking baths, reading books, popping in headphones and jamming out, those all work too.  I love working out, but find it hard to find time now.  It's a goal to get back on the horse.  I always feel my best when I work out."
I also think it's important for us mommas to find time to do things that bring us joy outside of our families.  This to a certain extent, of course, but if my entire life is consumed by "being mom" I worry what life would look like when my children are grown and gone. But hey, maybe that's just me.  Finding ways to step aside for a moment, decompress and refresh myself, allows me to return to my hubby and little girl with a renewed energy.  Even if you're not a mom, I think it's important to find new ways to challenge ourselves and enjoy life.  What does Rachel enjoy doing apart from her role as wife and momma?
"I have found that I am an evolving, changing being.  I did my first triathlon this year, something I never thought I would or could do.  I have recently become interested in a vegetable garden, cooking and canning.  That, again, is something I never thought I 'd enjoy doing.  It makes me feel so proud.  And confirms that I can do hard things.  I've found that being by myself is nice, and it's ok to want "me time."  I've always been a social person, and I still am, but feel like I'm much more comfortable in my skin now." 
Rachel's Typical Tuesday:
  • Up and at 'em in the morning, get the kids fed and Jacoby on the bus by 8am. 
  • Depending on Eric's shift and my work schedule, I'm either hanging with Kendall all morning  and then both kids the rest of the day, hanging as a family and running errands or going to work.  Kendall goes to our neighbor's house for daycare if we both work. 
  • Dinner
  • Teach dance class.  My class is fun.  A nice break from the week, a chance to get out and do what I love, dance.  Tuesday nights are fun.  ;)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Big BAGGU Winner!

Congratulations to SARAH K. M.!!
 
She just won herself a Big BAGGU bag. 

 
Thank you to everyone who participated!  The goal of the giveaways I host is to not only share products I love all of you beautiful Momsters, but to also give you a chance to try them for free. 
 
Each month, as you know, I feature a different Momster of the Month (MOM).  This is not only to bring encouragement to Momster Mash readers, but also for the community of Momster Mash to bring encouragement and support to the MOM. 
 
As often as possible, I will host a giveaway that somehow correlates with the MOM and her story.  
Stay connected with Momster Mash so you don't miss a MOM...or a giveaway!
 
~  ~  ~
  Subscribe via Bloglovin' or Email
~  ~  ~
 
Please share Momster Mash with your friends and help spread the joy!
 
 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rachel: Part 4 - An Organic, Dancing, Opthalmic Technician

 
Want to catch up? Check these out!

So far, we have learned about Rachel as wife and mother, but who is Rachel outside of those roles? She is 31-years-old, and has worked as a technician at Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute for 9 years now.  She worked full-time until she had Jacoby, but now works about 2 days a week, "It's enough to give me some adult time and lets me feel productive and like I'm contributing to my family financially (even if it's just a little), yet I get to spend so much quality time with my kids and husband.  It's a perfect combination for me."
Apart from her job at the eye surgery center, Rachel has taught dance for several years to kids ages 5-18 years.  I went to high school with Rachel, and she was a cheerleader.  Let me tell you, the girl has moves!  Rachel says, "It's something I have always loved to do and it's great to be able to pass on the love of music and movement to these kids.  Watching them work hard and finally nail that move/trick, or remember the choreography on their own, or perform in front of hundreds of people when I know they are scared; it's incredible to witness...To think that I may have influenced any of my students in any way is humbling.  Being a role model is important, and something I try to take seriously."

Rachel and her family have really been trying to eat clean, local, and organic whenever possible, and this has led to her involvement in a local, organic food co-op which was started by one of her friends (Blissfully Organic Co-Op). Organic produce is bought in bulk at wholesale cost.  Families purchase a 'share' and the money is pooled together to buy what is in season, and the produce gets distributed each week.  Rachel explains her role as a volunteer, "I show up early and help distribute the weekly shares.  It's a nice feeling to be a part of something that helps families eat organically and not feel guilty about their grocery bill.  We have a lovely little community of 'regulars' and it's a fun social hour at pick-up".  Blissfully Organic Co-Op (BOCO) currently has five pick-up locations in Olympia, Lacey, Puyallup, and Steilacom, and Auburn.  Rachel says, "I truly believe in supporting local farms, eating organic and bringing all the power of the food industry back to the people that do all the hard work.  I've learned that my dollar is my vote and I choose to vote for real food."
 
*          *          *
I picked up my first share through Blissfully Organic this past Saturday, and am already hooked!  I received lettuce, red chard, acorn squash, lemon, kiwi, pomegranate, bananas, apples, and brocolette.  All organic, for only $25! If you live in any of the areas mentioned above, I highly recommend checking out their website and trying it out. I am currently trying to get a Maple Valley pick-up location, FYI.  Thanks for the information, Rachel!

On a related side note, I'm currently giving away a Big BAGGU grocery bag, which would be perfect for picking up your weekly BOCO shares, a trip to the farmer's market, Costco, and more!  Click HERE to find out how to enter, but hurry, giveaway ends this Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BAGGU Grocery Bag *Giveaway*


I shared my love for BAGGU bags back in February 2010 in my "It's in the bag" post.  I have been using my BAGGU grocery bags for about 6 years now, and I still absolutely love them!  They fold up small, they hold a LOT of groceries, they are machine washable, they air dry quickly, they come in fun and vibrant colors, and they are ethically made. 
 

BAGGU has generously offered one of their "Big BAGGU" bags to one lucky Momster Mash reader!  This bag is great for travel, or a trip to the farmer's market.  I can assure you from personal experience that you will receive compliments on your bag.  I know it's just a shopping bag, but I get compliments on my BAGGUs or people asking where I got them on just about every shopping trip.  Grocery shopping is not glamorous (especially in yoga pants, messy bun, and children in tow) you might as well have some stylish grocery bags to show off! :)
 

Here's a video of BAGGU founder, Emily Sugihara, explaining BAGGU and how her boutique shopping bag empire was created:



And here is my video explaining why I love the bags from my personal experience, and I'll also show you the Big BAGGU you could win.  Enter below and good luck!  Giveaway ends in one week, on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.


*GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rachel: Part 3 - Eric, Jacoby, then Kendall

Rachel and her firefighter husband Eric met in a VIP section of a concert in December 2005 and had their first date one week later.  Their first date holds memories of getting lost, arriving late to meet friends, a restaurant full of teenagers in gowns because of winter formal, and karaoke.  After a few months, Rachel knew that she loved this man. 
"He was sweet, smart, ambitious, thoughtful, fun, hilarious, had a killer smile, honest, trustworthy...I thought something was too good to be true, or that I'd fall hard and get my heart broken.  Once we were able to really share and show our love to each other, things went fast and furious and we were engaged only 18 months later in July 2007." 
A few months into their engagement, Rachel found out she was pregnant!  They moved their wedding date up three months, and their little blessing Jacoby was born just three months after they said "I do".  Five years later, Jacoby is 5-years-old and their daughter Kendall is 18 months. 
Rachel has already shared the emotional and touching story of the birth of their son Jacoby, who has Down Syndrome.  Jacoby is "all boy" and "such a character"! 
 "He loves any sport with a ball, music and dancing, reading books, sign language, swimming, playing with his sister, and being outside.  Overall, he is a typical 5-year-old...Kids with DS are really no different than other kids.  I know 'typically developing' kids that did not walk until 18-months and have severe allergies and speech delays.  He will do everything other kids do, it just may take him a little longer to get there.  Everything is a learning experience and work.  We work hard on speech at therapy once a week (as well as constant attention to pronunciation at home and school).  He needs extra attention on fine motor skills (cutting paper, holding a pencil) as well as following simple instructions (come in when the bell rings, time to put your coat on)."
Jacoby is blessed to have great teachers and therapists in his life, he works hard, and is improving daily.  Rachel explains that a huge misconception of people with DS is that they are incapable.
"These are people with jobs, college educations, marriages.  The last 50 years have changed dramatically.  Early intervention is key and programs are in full force in almost every school district in America.  We have learned that it is not about his disability but really, his ability.  Just like life, you can choose to focus on the negative or the positive.  Jacoby will have all the same opportunities as other kids and it's our job as his parents to make sure that happens.  So far, all of our experiences have been great.  Society seems to be more and more acceptable of special needs.  I know this will not always be the case, and I often wonder how I will handle 'that' situation when it presents itself."
Although Rachel keeps a positive outlook, being a parent of a child with DS has its difficulties.  Rachel says that the most difficult aspect is watching him struggle or see his frustration when he can't communicate with them...and of course, the "dreaded comparison game".
"When he and his friends were babies, it was not so noticeable, but now, 5-year-olds are quite inquisitive.  They want to know why he's still wearing diapers and doesn't talk well.  We try to use it as a teaching moment, to teach compassion and understanding, and that he is still their friend and wants to play with them."
With difficulties in life, also come blessings and Rachel and her family are grateful for the DS community they have become close with and have grown to love.
"We cheer on their kids, we compare notes, suggest strategies and therapists.  We connect.  We have something pretty big in common.  We are tight-knit, and are pretty much instant friends.  I also believe that Jacoby has taught me compassion.  Not that I didn't have compassion before, I just really understand it.  Everyone has something they struggle with and we need to love them anyway.  He taught me to really care."
We've learned a lot about Jacoby, now Rachel tells us about her daughter Kendall.  Rachel says that she was very planned because they really wanted Jacoby to have a sibling, and "she was meant to be his sister."
"She loves her 'brudder' so much.  They kiss and hug each other every morning, like they haven't seen each other in ages.  They kiss each other good night every night.  He cries if she cries, it's adorable.  She is stubborn and feisty and hitting her terrible two's early, but boy, does she melt her mommy and daddy's heart.  I find the thought of raising a daughter frightening but I hope we can be the best of friends (after I'm her 'evil' mother who locks her away from boys :)  She is also teaching me patience and consistency and to lighten up.  Her way out of trouble is to flash us her tiny smile.  She's a doll."
*          *          * 
I love Rachel's family; I can feel the love and happiness oozing out of her words!  CLICK HERE for Part 4 as we get to learn about Rachel and the many ways in which she stays busy and fulfilled apart from her beautiful family.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rachel: Part 2 - Buddy Walk

 
 
This month, all around the country, people of all ages will be participating in a Buddy Walk.  This fun, one-mile event is affiliated with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), and its purpose is to unite family and friends, raise awareness about Down Syndrome and talk about inclusion, and raise funds.  The funds raised by a Buddy Walk are used in the form of scholarships to aid in costs associated with therapies, equipment, medical bills, and fun group trips such as the Hands-On Children's Museum and horse riding therapy.  The NDSS also receives a portion of raised funds to help individuals pay for college, therapy camps, research and more. 

 
Rachel talks about her family's personal experience and involvement with their local Buddy Walk.
"Jacoby was only 2.5 months old at his first Buddy Walk...Eric and I became the co-chairmen for our local walk two years ago and it's one of the highlights of our year.  We get to meet new families blessed with a new baby and have gotten to know quite a few young adults with DS, who prove to be productive and wonderful members of our community...It's so touching.  My heart almost bursts seeing so many people come to support Jacoby and his friends.  I ALWAYS cry.  Never fails."
Last year, their Buddy Walk had almost 500 participants including family members, friends, co-workers, and teachers.  I know this is very last minute, but if you live in the Puget Sound area and would like to participate in this year's Buddy Walk, it is happening TOMORROW!  Here's what you need to know:

Saturday, October 5, 2013
 
Registration 9:00 a.m.
Program and Walk 10:00 a.m.
 
Fire Station #34
8407 Steilacoom Rd
Lacy, WA 98513
 
You can find out more information at www.southsoundupwithdowns.com.  If you cannot attend (because I am totally not giving you enough notice), mark you calendar for October 2014 and maybe we'll see you there!  We're on a mini vacation right now, otherwise we would happily be walking in support of Jacoby this year.
*     *     *

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

{Vlog #1} Stop & Smell the Roses: Thankful

Welcome to my first Vlog! This is my first "video blog" and I'm doing the Stop and Smell the Roses vlog linkup with Mandy at House of Rose.  This series takes place on the first Wednesday of every month (today!), so you can expect me to be joining in on the fun from now on!  the point of the vlog series is to take 3-5minutes to share what we're thankful for, or what's been making us smile lately.   I think this will be a fun way to expand my "blogging horizons", connect with other bloggers, and connect with Momster Mash readers in a new and unique way.  I knew I wasn't going to have time to film this now, so I filmed my video a couple weeks ago while Matt was in Denver during the heavy rain and flooding.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rachel: Part 1 - Up With Down Syndrome

I'm posting slightly sooner than normal, as well as a little out of my usual order for October's Momster.  I would normally start by introducing the Momster of the Month, but I first want to share the story of her son Jacoby, who has Down Syndrome, and her reaction to finding out this news.  Thank you, Rachel, for your honesty as you share your raw emotions with us.
*          *          *
Rachel and her husband Eric went for their 20-week ultrasound, and could not contain their tears as the technician announced they were having a boy! "I felt so much more connected to the little person in my tummy, immediately starting to plan out his life".  Rachel recalls a follow-up appointment the next week:
"...the doctor mentioned there may be something to worry about.  There were 2 minor findings:  hydronephrosis (a dilated kidney) and ecogenic bowels (bowels more firm or harder than normal).  Now, hydronephrosis is the most common abnormality detected on prenatal ultrasonography.  Our doctor stated he'd be watching out for any changes on an additional ultrasound to be done a month later.  He briefly mentioned it could be a marker for Down Syndrome, but the rest of the sonogram looked unremarkable and did not seem too convinced.  We left the appointment a little more than disappointed.  A dark cloud sort of followed us out, and worry began to set in."
They kept this news to themselves, as to not worry friends and family over something that could be nothing.  They tried their best to reassure one another that everything was fine.  "We were young, healthy, newly married, happy.  There was no way something like this could happen to us."  Rachel and Eric return for a follow-up the next month:
"A second ultrasound showed no change, including no other markers consistent  with DS.  To be safe, our OB sent us to Tacoma General for a visit with a genetic counselor and an extensive, 45-mintue ultrasound...After many questions and images, the counselor told us we had a less than 1% chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome, but the only way to truly know was to do an amniocentesis (a test that takes a sample of the amniotic fluid in the womb through a large needle going through the abdominal wall and into the uterus).  The amniotic fluid has the DNA makeup of the child and could be tested for the number of chromosomes.  This test not only sounds scary and painful, but it has been known to cause pre-term labor.  Eric and I knew that even if the test showed positive for Trisomy 21 (3 copies of the 21st chromosome causes DS), nothing would change.  We would still be having a baby and we would love him no matter what.  Why risk pre-term labor when the outcome did not matter?  We held onto the thought of less than 1% chance and played the odds.  To be honest, we sort of pushed the idea out of our minds and figured we were safe.  I mean, 1% chance!"
Rachel recalls the morning their son was born in July 2008.  After 16 hours of labor, an epidural, and a cat nap, it was time to push.
"Moms, stop for just a moment and remember this moment right now.  The intensity of excitement, the pain, the joy, the emotion...childbirth is a world all it's own.  Nothing compares to those moments, the moments leading up to the first time you see this little person who you've known for 9 months, but only imagined their face.  As I gave my final push, I had so many incredible emotions rush over me.  I had never felt so in love with Eric.  We did it, we made a baby and now he was here! Wow! I did it!  I birthed a baby!  What a miracle!  They placed him on my chest and I melted.  His big almond eyes looked up at me and I was beyond in love.  I noticed his face looked a little different, but I had never seen a newly born baby this early before.  They took him from me to clean him off...and we heard whispering, and more whispering.  Finally, the Dr. came to my side and said 'Congratulations!  Everything looks fine, although there are some things that make me think he could have Down Syndrome.' I just looked at her and said 'ok'.  I grabbed for Eric's hand but it was already on my shoulder, gripping me...She was ordering a blood test to be sure, but it could take a few days to get the results.  Eric later told me that he knew, as soon as he looked into his eyes, he knew he had DS.  I was shocked but something took over.  I call it 'Mommy Mode'.  I just wanted to hold him.  I wanted to try nursing him.  I wanted him close.  We had family who wanted to share in the welcoming of our boy.  We allowed everyone in and then made the awkward announcement that he may have DS but we would have to wait to find out for sure."
Rachel remembers the smile on her best friend Angie's face as she held Jacoby.  "She was telling me that everything was going to be ok and that he was precious and beautiful."
"And he was." 
The time came for all of their friends and family to leave, and Rachel was wheeled into a recovery room.  This was the first time she was alone with her husband Eric after realizing their lives had changed, and Rachel shares their emotions:
"As they wheeled me into the next room, I was holding Jacoby, wondering if everyone knew.  Like there would be a sign on my door or a big red flag on my chart.  Jacoby was put in the special care nursery for the night to monitor his oxygen levels.  Children with DS have low muscle tone and can have a hard time taking deep enough breathes.  [Eric] crawled into my hospital bed alongside me and put his head on my chest, holding me tighter than ever before.  There were tears, lots and lots of tears.  We couldn't tell whose were whose.  Reality sank in and we needed each other more than ever.  So many thoughts ran through my head.  I knew our love was deep and strong, but were we strong enough for this? Could we raise a child with special needs?  What if this breaks us?  Could I be a good mommy to him?  Could I love him like I always imagined loving my child?  For a few short moments, doubt filled my head.  I'm not proud of that, but it's the truth and it's real.  And then, that 'Mommy Mode'  kicked in again and I just knew we would be alright.  That love would conquer all doubts and that we would be a family, just like we always wanted...Mommy, Daddy, and our Jacoby."

*          *          *

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mary Kay and Melaleuca *Giveaway*

This month, we have learned about homesteading, homeschooling Megan and her Marine Corps family.  Megan keeps herself happily busy managing her 6 kids, but she also takes some time to sell Mary Kay and Melaleuca products.  She says "these business are great at bringing that little extra spending money to our family without having to take time away from my family and are wonderful, debt-free companies!".
 
We are all familiar with Mary Kay and her signature pink Cadillac.  Megan began selling Mary Kay four years ago because "God only gives us one skin, so we need to be good stewards of it!".  She loved the products, was drawn to what the company represents, and enjoys helping women learn how to take care of their skin.  If you would like to support Megan (because that's what Momster Mash is all about!), and maybe take care of some Christmas shopping, visit Megan's Mary Kay Website or email her at mshytle@marykay.com to be placed on her mailing list for catalogs. Shipping is always FREE with Mary Kay! 
 
Megan started her Melaleuca business about one year ago.  "I was looking for products that go the distance, are not harmful to my family, and are a good price.  Melaleuca cleaning products are high concentrate so you get a lot of product for a little price.  Their vitamins are plant based and with the newly patented Oligo, the whole vitamin is going into your body, unlike other vitamins where you only get a part of the vitamin."  The Melaleuca website explains:
"Oligo works the same way nature works-by binding minerals to organic compounds. Because Melaleuca's Oligo delivers nutrients similar to how they are found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods, your body absorbs more of the essential minerals it needs for health. In fact, the minerals in Oligo are proven by scientific research to be up to 10 times more available for absorption than the minerals in the leading brands."
For more information visit Melaleuca.com or email Megan at heartlandhomestead3@gmail.com if you are interested in becoming a Preferred Customer. 
 
To say "thank you for reading" and to let you sample some of the product she sells, Megan is offering a giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive:

Mary Kay Men's Cologne Travel Set - $35 value
AND
Melaleuca Tough & Tender Wipes (2 pack) - $9 value
These handy, biodegradable wipes are a quick, convenient, and eco-friendly way
to clean up messes on the go, with no caustic chemicals inside.
 
Giveaway ends this Sunday, September 29th, at 8:00 p.m.
To enter, follow the instructions below:
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Megan's Typical Tuesday

"What does your typical Tuesday look like?"
 
It is one of the topics of conversation mothers are likely to talk about when they are together, and this is a question I ask all of my MOMs.  I think it's interesting and helpful to see what a typical day looks like for other mothers.  Whether you are missing your children while you are away all day at a stressful job, or are feeling overwhelmed at home all day with your kids, it is one way we can empathize with one another and find comfort in the fact that you are not alone...whatever your struggle may be.
 
First, would you like to catch up on the Momster of the Month?
 
Megan's Typical Tuesday
Megan says that Tuesday is one of their "least interesting days".  It's all relative, right? :)  She homeschools, and explains that "Tuesday is Science and Social Studies day.  This year we are studying Human Anatomy and Physiology for Science, American History, and Korean geography and culture. These subjects are very hands on." Even though her children range in age from 2-4 years old, they all learn together!
 
Unless it's football season and her son Jacob has practice in the evenings, they don't tend to leave the house.  Other than school, it's chores and hanging out with friends.  "Speaking of chores, Tuesday is the day we clean out the stalls".
Thanks for sharing, Megan! 
 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Megan: Part 3 - Homeschooling and Homesteading

 
Click here to start from the beginning and meet Megan and her "JClan"
 
*          *          *
The fact that Megan has six children is enough to impress me, but this Momster has some skillzzzz.  Not only is she keeping it together with her very own basketball team, but she is doing so with grace.  I'm am inspired by Meagan, and the many lessons she is teaching her children by homeschooling and homesteading. 
We all know about homeschooling, but what is homesteading?
 
Let's dive into the scholarly website that is Wikipedia:
"Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale."
What does homesteading mean for Megan and her family? 
 "...It's really more than homesteading for us.  For us, it's more of getting back to the way life was 100 years ago.  It's more than raising chickens, rabbits, turkeys, and growing a garden (soon to add goats and hopefully a cow).  We use cloth for everything from diapering to napkins, we make laundry soap, fresh breads, and more.  We've always wanted to do for ourselves."
Megan and her husband are "prayerfully looking for a bigger piece of land" so they can have a full-blown farm one day!  If you are interested in learning more, you can follow Megan and her family along on their homesteading journey on her blog, Heartland Homestead.
 
See why I'm impressed?!  I would love to be able to "live off the land", but considering I can't keep my three vegetable pots alive, I'm not sure how I could manage to keep my family alive :)
 
Since Megan and her family are so involved with homesteading, it sort of makes sense to me that she would also homeschool her children.  It's all about self-sufficiency, right?  But why did Megan choose to homeschool?  She clarifies that her and hubby both have a "legacy of teachers" in their families, but goes on to explain, "When I was in high school and college I nannied for a wonderful Christian family that has 6 children.  They are all home-schooled.  After seeing this first-hand and knowing how the [public] school system was declining, I knew I wanted to homeschool!"
 
As expected, homeschooling is a "fun adventure". 
"We have lots of structured learning, but we also have lots of 'rabbit trails'.  Someone might ask about something or get interested in something and we will devote our learning time to those things.  They all have a love of learning because they get to learn their way.  They are good at self-teaching and teaching each other.  Homeschooling gives you the benefit of learning about your child and helping them learn in more than one way.  "
I know what you're thinking.  Megan goes on to explain her children's social skills.
"...they are well-adjusted, socialized children.  They can go to Marine Corps events and other places and know how to be quiet, and they can speak to adults with ease.  Now, they have their moments, but most of the time they are great anywhere out of our home.  They are not 'stuck' at home; we are involved in sports with the county, AWANA, children's choir, and a co-op of sorts through our church (a very big homeschooling supporter)."
Megan understands that homeschooling is not the route every parents choose to take, but she does "hope that [every parent] will choose to play the biggest role in their child's education!".  Megan goes on to say that a "Children's learning habits are formed by the time they are 3-years-old.  We have six children from infant to 4th grade and they all learn together.  Even if you send your children to public school, please be their #1 teacher."
 
How does Megan keep an accomplished routine between everything she is juggling?
 
"Each 'J' has a buddy.  They stick with them, know where they are, and help them get things done.  We are all about teamwork!  We are all a part of this family and we all have responsibilities to this family.  Our oldest two take care of the animals with the help of the next two under them.  Joanna is in charge of laundry; washing, drying and helping to fold.  Jordan is in charge of dishes; load, unload, put away anything in the bottom cabinets, wipe down kitchen counters.  Joseph is learning to be the "floors man", he vacuums and mops - not always great, but it gets us by between the once a week time it is done by someone older who wants to earn money.  Johnathon is learning to be our "trash man"; he empties all cans into our big one inside and then Jacob takes it to the cans outside.  The JGals share a room and so do the JBoys, so they take turns taking care of their room.  The JClan has 1 bathroom, so the JGals have 3 days a week to clean and the JBoys have 3 days a week to clean (I'm assuming Megan gives it a good cleaning once a week)."
 
Megan also has a very supportive church family and also knows many mothers with large families, and can "pick their brains", but also recommends these resources:
 
Titus2 - Encouraging, exhorting, equipping Christian families in Jesus Christ.
Large Family Logistics - The art and science of raising a large family.
Above Rubies - Encouraging women in their high calling as wives, mothers, and homemakers.
Heart of Wisdom - Publications promoting Bible-focused homeschooling.
Raising Arrows - Bringing blunt-edged babes to finely sharpened arrows.

Do you have questions regarding homeschooling or homesteading?  Megan would love to answer them, and can be contacted at heartlandhomestead3@gmail.com.
 
*         *          *
Please stay tuned as I share ways in which Megan earns money from home,
how you can support her, and a *giveaway*!
 
 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Freezer Pancakes



Many of you probably already do this, but I wanted to share a time and money-saving breakfast tip I often forget about.  I don't make pancakes or waffles often, but when I do, I make a LOT.  Then, I freeze the rest for a quick and easy breakfast on a busy morning.  It's cheaper than buying frozen waffles, and you can pronounce all of the ingredients that went into them!

 

On the days that I work, I often eat my breakfast on my commute.  I'll pop two of these into the toaster, slather them with peanut or almond butter, and then I can eat with one hand while driving.
Super safe, right...? ;)
 
 
While I'm on the topic of peanut butter, this Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Butter is my FAVORITE!  Seriously, so good...and non-GMO.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Megan: Part 2 - Marine Corps Family


Megan's husband has been a U.S. Marine for 13 years, and I think I can speak for everyone when I thank them both for the hard work and sacrifices they have made in order to help protect our country and our families.  When Meagan and John married, the Marine Corps made them go through spousal counseling and were told "If the Corps meant for a Marine to have a wife they would have issued her at Boot Camp"!  It was meant to be funny, but also to warn them that life in a "Marine family" can be tough.
 
However, Megan says they aren't your typical Military family:
"We aren't like anyone you've seen on 'Army Wives' or anything like that.  We lived on base for a combined 1.5 years of our 10-year marriage.  Weeks after our second [child] was born, we bought a home... and we've been there every since.  Most of the time we use medical from local doctors, attend church 'out-in-town', shop locally and not on base, and we have mostly civilian friends.  We love that John's job, is John's job and we have a life outside of his job.  If it weren't for the DOD (Department of Defense) decals on our vehicles and the IDs we carry, you'd almost never know we were an active duty family."
Although they've been blessed to have John home most of the time, some of the sacrifices they've had to make are 2 tours to Iraq, a UDP (Unit Deployment Program) to Japan, and many 24-hour duty or weekend classes around the country.  In November 2012, John was promoted to SSgt (Staff Sargent), which meant "a series of small deployments all over the country".  Megan explains how they are now facing the largest sacrifice they've had to make so far as a Marine Corps family:
"John was given orders to Permanent Change of Station, unaccompanied (without family), for 1 year in Camp Mujuk, South Korea.  As I write this, he has just days left with is.  We don't know what the next year holds for us.  The JClan will see their Daddy by Skype, get to email him daily and receive letters and packages in the mail...The JClan is too young to understand why he can't stay.  We are very blessed to have a wonderful family that supports us and an awesome church family that is all about being there for us!"
With six children, homeschooling, and a husband who travels often, I asked Megan if she gets any time for herself?  In what ways does she treat herself?
"I love pedicures!  My Beloved (her hubby) is sweet and gets me gift certificates when he's home so I can go and get one at my convenience.  Other times 'me time' is going to homeschooling meetings with other moms, or getting coffee, or sometimes it's just getting a shower with no one coming into the bathroom, other times it's grocery shopping alone.  During the school year, I try to get up before the JClan so I can spend some quiet time with God, sometimes I even get a shower before one wakes."
Megan offers an interesting perspective regarding "mommy-time", I'd like to keep in mind when feeling overwhelmed and, honestly, a little selfish:
"My children are my life right now.  They are with me 98% of the time, and we choose to live that way!  We only get a small moment in time to be there shaping them.  I will have many years of 'me time' when they are grown and have their own families."
Please keep Megan and her JClan in your thoughts and prayers throughout the next year as her "Beloved" is stationed in South Korea without them; it will be a huge adjustment for everyone.  Megan, I hope you can steal some moments for yourself to recharge your battery as you tackle so much on your own.  I am inspired by your stamina and positive attitude!

*          *          *