Monday, April 4, 2011

Vaccinations: Our Story

For those of you who are wondering, here is our vaccination story that we were interviewed about for PBS. Not sharing this with a desire to start a debate, just to share our journey:

Before becoming pregnant, it never crossed my mind that vaccinations were an option. Once pregnant, Matt was the catalyst for us becoming more educated on the topic. Some of our friends had children and began the conversation about whether or not they would vaccinate their children. One of them passed us a book, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children Vaccinations". Basically, the book talks about some of the side effects that could be possible and it has full chapters on the different vaccines, their history, what they're made of and the possible side effects. There was a whole chapter on autism and another on mercury. As I first began to read the book, I told Matt I no longer wanted to vaccinate Rilyn. I kind of felt like I would be a bad parent for "exposing" her to them. But the more I read and the more I had conversations with our doctors, the more convinced I was that all vaccinations were right for us. Here are some reasons why:
  1. We struggled, being Christians, with whether or not we were being trusting enough that God would protect Rilyn if we had her vaccinated. However, in praying about it and talking with others, we strongly believe that God has placed people who are passionate about medicine in the field that they are in to help protect us from diseases.
  2. My conversation with our family physician was pivotal for us. In a nutshell, he told me he stood 100% behind the vaccinations and vaccinated all of his children himself. I told him we were thinking of "picking and choosing" which vaccines to give her, for instance I didn't see the necessity for the Chicken Pox vaccines. You hear about 'chicken pox' parties and how its better to have it as a child than as an adult. However, he said its now become a necessary vaccine because most children are now vaccinated. Which means, its basically non-existant in children. If you're not vaccinated as a child, you're open to it as an adult, which is way worse.
  3. He also talked about "herd immunity" and said if we chose not to vaccinate Rilyn, we were relying upon everyone else to vaccinate their children to protect Rilyn from getting sick. This was HUGE for me. Not only was it important to protect my child, but to have a larger world-view. Even if Rilyn never got sick, she could be a carrier for a disease and pass it along to someone else and vice versa. By vaccinating Rilyn, I'm not only protecting my child, I'm also protecting other people's children. And my hope is that they would consider the same thing.
  4. Which brings me to my next point. In the book and in other conversations, it was brought up that the Mumps vaccine wasn't necessary for girls because they didn't experience any harmful side effects like boys do. However, girls can be carriers of the disease, thus passing it on to boys who could get it. If we had a son, I would hate for Rilyn to pass it on to him. Or to any other child. Again, this is where the "world-view" comes into play for us.
Today, during the interview, the guy asked Matt and I if we got the flu vaccine. Matt answered honestly, that he doesn't because he doesn't get sick. I answered that yes I do most years. Both of us realized that we weren't really living this out ourselves! WE could pass on things to Rilyn as well! So we were really challenged by that today.

My encouragement to anyone, especially new parents, is to educate yourselves, be engaged in the process and don't be afraid to ask questions! One time, we broke up how many immunizations were given to Rilyn at a time. We had three one appointment, and came back a month later for the other two.

**Also, today during the interview, I learned that except in emergency situations (like the H1N1) Mercury has not been used in vaccinations since the 80s.**

PS...Today we were interviewed for a PBS documentary that is covering the importance of vaccinations. They had a lot of stories from parents who had experienced disease in their children and thus were advocates of immunizations but needed an "everyman" family who had decided to vaccinate. Through a random 4th of July conversation, we were introduced to this project and when asked, decided to share our story.

Friday, March 18, 2011

We Made It! My MOPS Journey

I know I haven't blogged in a REALLY long time, but I felt like this was blogworthy. Rilyn made it through an entire MOPS morning! This is 5 MONTHS in the making!

In November I decided that I needed to find something for me as a mom. Staying cooped up all winter wasn't an option. And I also wanted something with childcare, because I knew that having that time for me was important. I'm not in a place to start something on my own, so I started researching what was available in my area. (If you're looking try MOPS or I found a MOPS group about 15 minutes from my home and decided to try it. This was huge for me, because I went completely on my own! I was nervous but excited at the same time.

I dropped Rilyn off in the nursery and was excited at the prospect of two whole hours of adult conversation, no one else eating off my plate and being challenged! Rilyn, however, was not a fan. After thirty minutes, they came and got me.

This has been my experience every single time since. Sometimes, I was able to get her to sleep and go back; other times, I had to bring her back with me. Each week, I would drop off Rilyn and feel a little bad that the care takers had to "deal" with her. I felt like none of the other mothers were dealing with this. But I also knew that eventually Rilyn would becomecomfortable in there and I didn't want to cave.

Yesterday, I looked at the clock and to my surprise there were only 15 minutes left! She made it! What a relief!

There were so many times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I would tell myself that it would be so much easier to just stay home. But then I would be missing this time that I am filled up as a mom. Or I would tell myself it would just be easier if I brought her with me. But then she would never become comfortable in the nursery and I wouldn't have the full affect of this time.

It is so important to carve out this time and to stick with it! I feel like I'm a better mom todaybecause of that time I had yesterday. And in two weeks, I'm going to need it again!

So, if you're a mom in a similar situation, my encouragement to you is to stick with it! The benefits far outweigh the frustrations and/or struggles of the moment.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Baby Food Friday: Avocados

Yes! Avocados! It has become a good "first" food for babies. Avocados are super easy to prepare as well!

When selecting an Avocado, you want a dark green color with bumpy texture. The fruit should be firm yet yielding when gently pushed.

When an avocado is sliced in half, the flesh color should be a green that gently transforms into a buttery yellow around the pit.

I have not found Avocados to freeze well once pureed, so I freeze them in slices.

Avocados - NO NEED TO COOK

  • Cut Avocado in half, remove pit.
  • I cut the halves in half again (so I have four pieces total)
  • Remove the peel (no need to use a spoon unless you want to)
  • Place on a baking sheet and into the freezer.
  • Once frozen, place into a freezer bag.
  • When you need to use one, pull out of the bag, heat up (I start with 30 seconds) and mash up.
Cost: $.45/avocado
Amount: 4 slices

When she was younger, I used 1 slice, now I use 2. So I'm paying $.22 for a meal!

Not comparable (doesn't come in a jar)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby Food Friday: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes were Rilyn's first food and it has become my favorite and one of the easiest foods to prepare!

Sweet Potato Puree (I use two - four large sweet potatoes which lasts me 2-4 weeks depending upon how thin my puree is)
I know other people prepare it differently but I have found this to be the EASIEST because the peel comes right off!

  • Wash sweet potatoes.
  • Use a fork to poke holes all over the sweet potato.
  • Run the potato under water again and IMMEDIATELY cover with foil.
  • Put in a 425 degree preheated oven.
  • I leave it in for 45-60 minutes.
  • Pull it out when you can squeeze it and its mushy.
  • The peel will come right off!
  • Put chunks into a blender.  Add however much liquid you need (I start with 1/2 cup water) to get the consistency you desire. 
  • OR I don't even use the blender anymore now that Rilyn is eating more "real" food.  It just takes longer to freeze.
My Cost: $.98/potato = $2.94
Amount: 48 oz
Baby Food Cost: $.98 / 4oz jar
Savings: $8.82!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Baby Food Friday

Welcome to Baby Food Friday! I've had several people ask me about how I make my own baby food, so I thought I would start talking about it here. Todays post is just about the basics and why I make my own, next Friday I'll start featuring a different food each week. A great resource is Now that I have a few months experience, I have started doing things my own way or have learned easy tips.

Why Do I Make My Own?
  • Saves me a lot of money!
  • I know exactly what Rilyn is eating (no added preservatives unless I use canned -- but even then I'm choosey).
What Do You Need?
  • Ice cube trays (my favorite is the white Rubbermaid from Walmart -- yes it makes a difference! I tried more of a round, deeper mold but the ice cubes wouldn't come out.)
  • Blender or Food Processor (I prefer the blender)
  • Freezer Ziplock Bags
Yes, making my own baby food is time consuming but it is SO WORTH IT. I've learned to just do one food at a time; otherwise I'll be using all of my freezer space and trays for the first food.

A Few Other Tips I've Learned
  • If I introduce canned food first, that tends to be what she prefers, then she won't eat the food I made. So resist the urge to have them "try" the canned food first.
  • How much you'll get out of the food will change as you move into more solid food. In the beginning, I watered down Rilyn's food a lot so I got more out of it. Now, I use just enough liquid to mix up the food so it doesn't go as far.

Advantages to Ice Cube Method
  • Each cube is approximately 1+ ounces, allowing you to have an idea of the amount of food your baby is consuming.
  • There is minimal waste as you use only 1 cube at a time and will not have to toss away much food; such as you toss away when using commercial foods.
  • Another advantage is that you probably have ice cube trays on hand and will not need to go out and buy them.
Freezing and Storing
  • Pureeing homemade baby food is very simple. Cook the food, let it cool a bit, toss it into a blender or food processor and puree away.
  • Once blended, put into ice cube trays.
  • Freeze (at first I thought there was freezer burn on my ice cubes, but it isn't...its just the water coming to the top and freezing).
  • Label a freezer bag and pop all your ice cubes into the bag. Its that easy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

Blogging goal for this year: Blog more often :)  Rilyn definitely keeps me busy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Haiti, 10 Months Later

"It's the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
Mother Teresa, Roman Catholic nun

This breaks my heart, especially as a mother. These are pictures taken recently in Haiti. Life has not become "normal" for them, and cholera is becoming a swift killer of the people. Images like this make me long for heaven...a place where everything is right and fair, where there are no orphans, no death, no hunger. But we can still bring a little piece of heaven to these people today by helping in any way we can. If you are able to send money, I would recommend Compassion. I can guarantee your money goes to the people, I've seen it with my own eyes in El Salvador!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Date Time

Date Night has been a priority for the McClanes since we got married 4 years ago. Before Rilyn came along, every Monday night was set aside for intentional time together. Now that Rilyn has joined us, we've had to be more intentional about making it happen, but its still a priority. I grew up hearing my parents say, "the best thing you can do for your kids is to love your spouse." For me, this is important.

Rilyn was only 1 week old when Matt and I went out together without her and my mom babysat. We were only gone for an hour, but it set a precedence for making time for each other. We don't get a Date Night every week, but we do get Date Time -- whether its an hour, an evening, or even a full day!
  • Schedule it! Life gets hectic, so if its on the calendar, its more likely to happen. Mondays are typically when we find Date Times because Matt is off on Mondays.
  • Say "Yes!" I've had several people say how they wish they could go out but can't afford babysitting. Trust me, I understand this...we can't either and we don't have family nearby to help. But, I've learned to say "yes" when certain people offer to watch Rilyn for free. There are lots of women at our church who enjoy loving on little kids. There is a woman I trust whole-heartedly who offered to watch Rilyn every-other Monday...ALL DAY! Did I say yes? You bet! So that means every-other Monday Matt and I get a Date DAY. Its great for us, but its also good for her to learn to be ok with others.
  • Trade With Other Couples I know a few people who trade off babysitting with other couples. One week, Couple A watches Couple B's children while they go out. Then the next week, Couple A goes out while Couple B watches their kids. I know some people who trade overnight!
  • Take advantage of nap or rest time. Sometimes, Matt comes home for lunch and Rilyn is down for a nap. I consider this Date Time too, as long as I make sure to intentionally talk to him :)
Do you have any Date Time tips or fun things you do with your spouse?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mary's Story

I am finally finishing up the book "A Lineage of Grace" by Francine Rivers. Francine does such an incredible job of making people in the Bible come to life and this book has really brought to life 5 women who I have never really given much thought to before. They are 5 women in the lineage of Jesus who made some interesting choices, and one would think "Why would God choose her to be a part of Jesus' lineage" but he did, which brings me hope!

The final story is Mary's. I wasn't really looking forward to reading it because I felt like I knew her story...we hear it every Christmas. But now, I have a different perspective. I've been pregnant and I'm now a mom.

I was telling Matt some of my thoughts about why I thought it was interesting that Mary was engaged and not single when this all happened and thought I'd share them here.
  • God's timing and plans are perfect! He chose a woman who was engaged to be married. I never thought how important this was until now. You see, in Mary's time, her being pregnant was enough reason to be stoned to death. The only way she (and her baby) survived is because of her fiance, Joseph, who was God-fearing and stood up for her. Had she not been engaged to be married, its very possible she would have died.
  • Being pregnant is difficult and exhausting! Could you imagine being pregnant in her time? Sleeping on the hard floor, dust everywhere...AND she decided to make a long journey to visit her best friend Elizabeth while she was pregnant AND she had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. No thanks! She needed support...which is another reason why God's timing is perfect...she was engaged, then married, to Joseph. Again, had Joseph not been around she would have been killed or disowned by her family.
  • Finally, I think God was creating a picture of what He desires "family" to look like. Had Mary been pregnant and single, it would have said there is no need for a man to be a part of the family unit. Fathers aren't necessary. But instead he chose a couple, in the perfect circumstances, that would parent Jesus together. He created a family unit.
I love when scripture comes alive. I would definitely suggest you read this book!

Friday, October 29, 2010

6 months Goes By So Quickly...

Well, its been well over a month since I've posted anything. I have officially been home full-time since mid-September and I have loved every moment! I feel complete peace with this decision and I've seen time and time again how being home has been a good thing for our family.

Rilyn is 6 months now...and I'm really noticing how much things are changing. For instance, she is starting to sit up on her own for a few minutes at a time! I know that the next few months of discovery are going to be so fun.

Here is a picture I took a few months ago when Rilyn started sitting in her play seat. Her feet didn't touch the floor and I wanted to make sure to remember that...

...well now my sweet little Rilyn is standing up in the play seat! I captured this picture this morning. Its only a matter of time before she's moving around on her own!

And yesterday, Rilyn was in the play seat in the kitchen and I walked away for a few minutes and came back to find she had moved the seat across the room into the fridge. She was so proud of herself! :)

DaisypathAnniversary Years Ticker