Saturday, September 28, 2013

LifebankUSA + MamaRoo Giveaway!

Through cord blood banking, you can collect and preserve potentially lifesaving stem cells, and doing so could one day save the life of your child or a blood relative.  Think about that.

photo belongs to Chasing Moonlight & Roses

You can bank even more stem cells by collecting them from two usable sources of stem cell-rich blood: the umbilical cord and the placenta.  This service is called Placental and Cord Blood Banking, and it's available only from LifebankUSA.  Whether you choose Placental and Cord Blood Banking or Cord Blood Banking alone, there are many important reasons to consider choosing LifebankUSA.

And can you guess what?  I'm gonna inform you as to why that may be a good idea for you and your family.

When you're pregnant, your baby is protected in the womb.  And then they enter the world.  There are a million things to think about and prepare for, but an invaluable step parents can take is to preserve his/her stem-cell rich cord and placenta blood.  The ability of stem cells to save lives via cord blood banking has proven successful for replacing abnormal or diseased cell,s and treating life-threatening blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.  In fact, since 1988 stem cell transplants have been used to treat some 80 diseases.

When you bank with LifebankUSA, they include tissue banking (which is tissue from your placenta) for "free" [1: see other things you should know below].  Placental tissue contains mensenchymal cells (MSCs) and MSC-like cells.  While stem cells found in cord blood and placenta blood have been used to successfully treat patients, there are currently no approved uses for stem cells derived from the umbilical cord or placenta tissue.  Possible therapeutic applications are in early research stages and LifebankUSA's parent company is actively involved in their development.  LifebankUSA will store the placenta tissue for you as part of it's complete banking package using cryogenic tanks for long-term preservation.  In the event your baby's tissue cells are ever needed for future therapies, the tissue may then be processed and cultured using available technology at that time [2: see other things you should know below].  Tissue banking is just one more layer of protection and peace of mind offered by LifebankUSA.

Image belongs to Chasing Moonlight & Roses

Along with peace of mind, LifebankUSA wants to give parents the chance to win a coveted baby item - the 4Moms mamaRoo.  With the Facebook contest they are holding, LifebankUSA is giving away a 4Moms mamaRoo (valued at $260 each) to two lucky winners.  The mamaRoo bounces up and down and sways from side to side in a similar fashion as parents do when comforting their babies.  It plays soothing nature sounds and has the option of plugging in your own MP3 player.

The promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by - or associated with - Facebook.  By entering the contest, you understand that you are providing your information to LifebankUSA and not to Facebook.

Other things you should know:
1. Storage fees apply after the first year.
2. Clients will be responsible for the cost of shipping the tissue and any culturing or expansion of the cells.
3. The chance that a child will use his/her own stored stem cells during his/her lifetime for currently treated conditions is estimated at 1 in 400.29 These odds may increase if there is a family history of certain blood disorders or cancers.
4. You can visit the LifebankUSA website to request a free information kit.

As with any big decision you make, think before you act.  Before you make any choices - think of the "222" rule:  How will you feel about your decision in two weeks?  In two months?  In two years?

To speak to a representative, you can call 1-877-543-3226.

I was compensated for writing and sharing this post.
I have shared my thoughts and my authentic thoughts alone. 
The facts I shared are true to the best of my knowledge.

Almost October!

Another unintentional break from blogging.  Life is just moving so fast!

Presley & her Grammy

So, we now have a 19 month old in our house.  She is so silly and so full of personality.  Presley goes to the Niabi Zoo every week (and sometimes twice a week) and she absolutely loves it.  Her favorites things are the train, the lion exhibit (she loves to roar with them), and the giraffe encounter - where she loves to feed the giraffes!  She pretty much puts her whole hand in their mouths when she hands them the lettuce too!!!

I'm currently working at the zoo five days a week and it's a heck of a lot easier being away from Presley than I would have thought.  Though, I don't think I'd feel such ease if it wasn't Tony watching her.  I would be a nervous wreck in that case because I am such a worry wart.  I have found that I do "disconnect" myself emotionally (if that makes sense) when I have to leave for work.  It also has made me feel very much like the secondary parent.  Which is really surreal for me and doesn't feel normal.  Tony is the one changing all the diapers (I seriously change maybe two diapers a day - at most!) and he is the one playing with her and tending to her needs and picking out her meals/snacks - even when I am at home!  And now I even have an apprehension to going places with Presley by myself... like, "Oh my gosh, how can I handle her all by myself?!"  Even though I did it ALL. THE. TIME. for the first year and a half of her life!

And while we are talking about Tony... good gravy... he is such an awesome dad who is very much fulfilled in being a parent.  He is so patient and sweet and silly and responsible - all the things I already knew about him as a person and a man that is now being evident in his roll as a parent.  It is truly amazing.  I am so grateful for Presley (and any future Duggan kids) having such a caring dad.

And honestly, I've thought about why I haven't felt the need or want to blog and I couldn't come up with an answer.  I thought maybe it was because I was more "busy" working and never thought that was the reason... because even if I were more busy - I would still WANT to write.  But then it hit me one day that I don't feel the need to blog as much because now that I am a part of the work force again I have so much more human interaction on a daily basis!  I realize I used my blog very much in place of that interaction.  And therefore, now that the "need" is filled, I have nothing I want to write or talk about, it seems.

Other things we've been up to?  I am catching up on Glee -- currently halfway through season 4 and just as in love with the show and characters than I was at the very beginning.  I LOVE the new characters and their storylines!!!  I just finished the Harry Potter book series for the first time and I am super in love with all things Hogwarts/Harry Potter.  I am still nursing Presley but just one feeding a day these days - only our before bed nursing session.  And yes, it makes me so sad to think that our breastfeeding relationship is coming to an end.  Mostly, I am just so happy it has worked as long as it has and that she and I have been happy with it.  That is all that matters to me.

Another topic to address - Marriage Monday!  I am thinking it will become a monthly post rather than a weekly thing.  I think that is much more attainable at this point (for me) - so that's what I'll be shooting for!  If you'd like to guest post or have a topic that you'd like to see tackled for the series - you can always comment below, e-mail me, or whatever works for you; I'd love to hear from you!  And if you know someone who would be perfect for a guest post, send them my way!

That's it for now... thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Marriage Monday: You Can Never Have Too Much.

I don't think I'm alone when I admit for my great love of Pinterest.  Some of my favorite things to pin are all things baby related, DIY household projects, and decorating.... but one of my absolute favorite subjects to pin is any type of marital advice!  Since each and every marriage is so different from the next, it's interesting to see what things work for each individuals marriage.  And when giving advice on how to live a happy life with your spouse, there is no right or wrong.  You can't tell someone else that their marriage advice is stupid because even if it doesn't sound good for your marriage, it might be JUST what someone else's marriage needs!  Ultimately, it's important just to live your life and find out what works for you and your significant other... but I don't think it hurts to hear the perspective others have to offer. 

As you can see, I'm someone who believes that you can never have too much great marriage advice.  For some individuals, that may mean they are giving advice on "what not to do" or things they wish they had done differently in their marriage. But for others it could be tips on how to keep each other happy and things that have been tried and true advice that have been passed down from generation to generation.  (If you are like me and you can't get enough advice on marriage... I compiled marriage advice earlier in the summer based on tips given from some friends that you can check out.)

But we all hear some of those marriage tips that people just don't see eye to eye on and that is what I want to discuss today.

Never go to bed angry -vs- Go to bed mad.
 There is so much validity to each side of this argument... and as I said before, these pieces of advice - when you get down to it - are opinions.  And the beautiful thing about opinions is they are neither right nor wrong - they just are.  Now, with that said, I definitely tend towards the "never go to bed angry" side of the argument.  I absolutely cannot go to bed with unresolved issues.  On the same coin, though, is the other side of this - sometimes we don't need to hash out EVERY single disagreement and sometimes you DO have to choose your battles.  When it comes down to it, if you are staying up to argue it out to prove that you are right about something, then I'd say you just need to go to bed.  I love the advice that goes something like, "You are either right all the time or you are married."  Or, "When you are wrong, apologize.  When you are right, shut up."  :)
Tony says:  "Depends on the situation."
Ali says:  "Never go to bed when I'm angry."

You have to work at being a happy couple -vs- You just have to want to be there.
 Another really great argument.  Some people believe as long as both parties WANT to be in the relationship, the rest falls into place.  Others believe that no matter what, you have to work at being happy as a couple.  After talking this one over with my hubby, we quickly came to the conclusion that you need both.  No matter HOW much work one or both people put into a relationship, if one or both of those people don't truly want to be there then it's not going to ever fully satisfy either of you.  Likewise, you could both want to truly be married to one another and if you were both lazy within your relationship and failed to put in the work necessary to be happy, then that wouldn't fulfill you either.
Ruling in the Duggan household:  "You have to want to work at being a happy couple."

Never complain about your spouse to others -vs- It's okay to vent to your friends.
I love both sides of this argument, I really do.  I just recently found this bit of advice that states the following:  "Make a husband pact with your friends: The husband pact says this [I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more.] The husband pact is very useful because you want to be able to vent to your friend without having her actually start hating your husband. Because you don’t really mean all those things you say. And she, the swearer of the pact, knows this."  I like the idea of the pact - but mostly the pact is something that is unspoken and understood by most friends anyways.  However, I equally love the idea of just not badmouthing your husband.  Fortunately I have sisters who are very understanding, objective, and who LOVE Tony (sometimes more than they love me) that I can vent to when the going gets tough.  So really, this one isn't an issue for us.  If he needs to vent about stuff, I trust him.  Same goes for me; he knows that sometimes you just need to talk through things with others (which for me, like I said, is my sisters). 
Ruling in the Duggan household:  We vent to designated friends as needed and trust each other to always regard our integrity.

Well, if nothing else, this gives you peek into the things we discuss in our house on a regular basis.  That is, when we aren't talking about things like the wizarding world of Harry Potter (I'd totally be in Gryffindor) or our fantasy football teams (mine is name Woman4Witten) and Jason Witten is one of my first few picks every year.

Can you think of any additional conflicting marital advice you've picked up over the years?  How do you and your spouse/significant other feel on these topics?  I'd love to hear from you - let me know how you feel in the comment section below!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Where have YOU been?!

Sorry for being so absent from blogging!  You haven't been missing too much, but let me share a bit so that we're up-to-date.

Towards the end of July we spent an awesome week in Ellenton, Florida visiting my grandmother and spending time with my sister (Amanda), brother-in-law (John), and niece (Anne Marie, or "Nannie" as Presley says).  We also got to see our Uncle Stuart & two cousins, Remi & Kennedy.  It was just beautiful.  Tony & I also had a date night out (alone!!!) for the first time in a long time!  We went to The Sandbar to have dinner on the beach.  We tried to make it there by sunset but JUST missed it.  However, we didn't miss out on a beautiful setting, that is for SURE.  It was gorgeous on the beach.  I got the Grouper Tacos (AMAZING!) and Tony got the Bali Chicken Sandwich and we had a great time!  We thought about getting the crab cakes to start out with since that's what we ordered just before Tony popped the question 3.5 years ago, but I'm glad we didn't because they brought out some delicious bread to our table!  If you are ever in the Anna Maria Island area, stop by this restaurant if you're looking for a place to eat on the beach! 

We also ate at some other favorites in the area:  Cha Cha Coconuts and the Anna Maria Oyster Bar.  At the Oyster Bar they have kids menus that you can get for one penny per inch of your child's height!  ADORABLE.  And so affordable.  I got the coconut-crusted tilapia and goodness gracious, if it's not one of the best seafood dishes I've ever had, then I don't know what is! 

We also made a family trip out to the beach two of the days we were in Florida and that was great.  But the majority of the vacation we spent hanging out at our awesome rental house with the Carrico's (and missing the Myers/Bunch clan) and in the pool!  Vacations are VASTLY different with little ones... it seemed like it was always someones naptime - and never the parents'!  Tony and I are used to packing our vacations full of things to do and see, but nowadays it is much more fun to take it easy and keep the baby happy.  It was one of the best vacations we've ever taken.

Presley and Anne Marie chillin' in the cousin bath tub!  They're 5 months apart.

Amanda's pregnant again!  She found out while we were on vacation!!!  YAY!

Presley was SO tired each night and loved to fall asleep in mommy & daddy's bed

Some of the "Myers" girls

The gang at Cha Cha Coconuts

Tony close to the spot where he proposed to me :)

John, Amanda, and Anne Marie at Holmes Beach

Presley & Tony at Holmes Beach

Oh... did I mention we made stops to Downtown Disney on the first and last day of our trip?  AMAZING.  We ate at two new places (to us) - The Earl of Sandwich & Raglan Road.  Both exceeded all expectations, which is very hard to do for us because our expectations of any/all things Disney are already so high!  At Raglan Road I got this delicious "boxty" sandwich ("sliced Gammon topped with Dubliner cheddar sandwiched between two pan seared boxty potato cakes with a fried egg on top") and Tony ordered one of their specialties which was their shepherds pie!  At the Earl, I got the Earl's club ("turkey, bacon, Swiss, sandwich sauce, lettuce & tomato") and we will definitely be going back to this eatery in the future.  One of the best things about visiting Downtown Disney was seeing Presley's reaction to all of it.  When she was enjoying herself so much the first visit, I really did get tears in my eyes.
It was extremely hot out!

The sign on the arch behind Presley says, "It just gets better"

Other things that have happened in the time since I last wrote?  Tony lost his job, I started working at the zoo (dream come true), I've weaned Presley down to nursing her at morning and bedtime, oh... and today I met one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica from Little Baby Garvin!

Yes... I over-enthusiastically used the phrase, "I follow your blog!" and yes... I just had to turn the moment into a photo op!  But seriously, I've been reading her blog for about two years now (give or take), which was around the time that we were both pregnant with our first children - both girls - and our kids are just a few weeks apart.  I really do feel like I know her.  And everyone, just so you know, Jessica and her husband are just as kind and funny as you would think and Harper is even cuter! :)

And I said I had nothing to really update about!  Sheesh.  Things are going good around our home and we are adjusting to several changes - but so lucky to have each other.  Life would not be what it is without Presley and Tony and I am so thankful that they are two of my lifetime partners who I get to spend my days with.

I've been attempting to write, finish, and publish this particular blog for several weeks now... so hopefully I'm cured of my writing aversion and will be better about keeping up with this thing!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Marriage Monday: Tammy's Guest Post - Finding Hope and Healing in Addiction

Addiction is a disease that lies and destroys.  Earlier this summer, the world learned of another young star whose life was overtaken and ended in addiction, Cory Monteith the well-known star of "Glee".  Drug addiction is a sad, tragic reality, but today I want to share on a specific type of addiction that is (in my humble opinion) more harmful and destructive.  I am talking about men who struggle with sexual addiction.  Why do I know or feel compelled to address SUCH a sensitive topic?

Because my husband struggles with sexual addiction.                            

I have to be honest, I am very nervous and hesitant about sharing this with you all today, because I have never written on this topic on my own personal blog for a variety of reasons.  They include and are not limited to the shame and embarrassment I feel as a wife/for my husband, I wonder if people who follow and read my stuff would judge me and/or husband/our get the idea.  It's tough stuff.  But I also reflected on how much I didn't understand or feel prepared to handle this at the time with only being married for just over a year.  I never knew just how MANY men (good Christian men) struggle with sexual integrity.  There have been many time over this year I felt ill-equipped to understand and know how to handle it all...and in talking with my husband, I have wanted to share my perspective and experience, with the main goal of helping other women who are in similar situations as I have been in.  I have talked and prayed about this with my husband, and he has willingly agreed to me writing this piece.

I knew my husband struggled with chastity before we married.  Honestly I didn't really understand it; why he felt the need to act out by looking at pornography or masturbating from time to time.  I honestly figured if he didn't really say much about how he was doing, that meant he was fine.

Six months into our marriage, my husband was in his last semester of grad school.  Between his internship, class load, and money being really tight his stress level went up.  For men who struggle this way (as I am learning), when they feel such tension stress it can provoke them to act out.  Shortly after the new year, Ken shared with me it was getting hard to remain chaste; he was acting out more masturbating and looking at porn.  He also had gotten a medical marijuana license to help "deal" with his stress and unpleasant feelings.  I was so hurt, shocked, and devastated.  So many feelings and thoughts just running through my head, and yet, at the same time, I also just felt numb.

This past winter was really. hard.

LOTS of yelling, fighting, crying, sleepless nights, going to bed get the idea.  There was a part of me that was SO mad at God, too.  I thought I knew who I married.  I married a good Catholic man, we waited till our wedding night, we prayed together regularly, we both loved Jesus, etc.

How the hell does this happen?? How could I have been so naive??

But, somehow we have and are making it through...not surviving but also recovering together and thriving.

My husband found out somehow that there is a weekly support group for men who struggle with sexual integrity at a Catholic Church just miles from us.  How amazing is it we are so close to it!  I've also started going to the weekly group that meets to help the wives of these spouses work through and deal with their own recovery process of it all.  It has been really really hard for me sometimes to talk and share about all this deep stuff in my marriage.  But I feel safe and really know that these women of anybody would understand and not judge me.  I've become close too with one of the group leaders, and she has become a second mom to me in helping me process and understand it all.

We have a found a great marriage counselor whom we both feel comfortable with; someone who holds each of us accountable and calls us out in a tough love way when needed. He is challenging both of us in area's of selfishness and forgiveness, and it has been a really good experience for us both.

Ken has also begun seeing a therapist to help him better understand himself and the wounds of his past that have impacted his acting out behavior.  He is growing in being more open by having accountability partners and taking preventive means by setting up things on the computer to help him in potential moments of temptation.

Our start to marriage has been much harder than I ever imagined form so early on.  And trust me I still have plenty to work and address with myself related to all of this...I struggle a lot with forgiveness and trust.  I have begun reading an excellent book called "Codependent No More" which is illuminating the self-destructive ways I try to 'help' my husband in being controlling but learning actually how that does the total opposite.  I am learning SO much from attending the group for wives, and some weeks it is just totally overwhelming to me.  I've come home several times in tears; crying over hearing the sad stories of women who are in marriages of 15-20 years, but sadly their spouse doesn't see or refuses to admit that he has a problem...I just cannot imagine living that way.

Yes my husband isn't perfect and struggles this way, BUT he has come a long way.  He is open and committed to doing all he can to be on a path of healing and recovery; not only for himself, but for me, our marriage, and our future children.  And seeing all his hard work challenges and calls me on to work harder to grow in selflessness and true forgiveness towards work on my own weaknesses so I can better become the wife he needs me to be to support, love, and encourage him. It has been really hard, and there is a lot of work ahead of the both of us.  But we both are so thankful that our relationship is so strongly built on a deep love of Christ and our Catholic faith; because honestly, those two things have been the spiritual super glue that has kept us going through it all. 

Are we out of the woods yet?  No of course not, and I know that.  I know all the stats of how much hard work it takes for both a husband and wife to survive and thrive through something like this. We made promises, a covenant with each other and God.  And we have been and will continue to be given grace to live this sacrament of marriage together well.  As we look back at things since the new year, we can see the glimmers of hope and grace; God leading us to the right people and places to help both of us.  Praise God, for allowing us to face this now rather than 20 years from know like some of the women in the group I go to.  And to really begin healing for both of us before we have children of our own.

If you know of a friend/sister/niece who is in a marriage where he spouse struggles with sexual addiction, please pray and offer sacrifices for her.  Do not judge her or her husband or her marriage, she doesn't need to feel more shame than I am certain she already does.  Encourage her to begin her own path of healing and recovery; seek out a good Christian counselor and find a support group for wives.  Share this post with her; it so important for her to know she is NOT alone fighting this fight.  I know for me I felt very alone at times, and finding women who understand, love, and accept me has been so helpful for me personally.

As I said, I have some anxiety about sharing this online, but if my story can help another wife than that is another good that has come from this struggle.  

I want to share and witness that yes even though addiction has taken a toll on marriage, you can find hope and heal in the face of addiction.  God is doing something to my husband and I through this; He is strengthening our resolve and softening our hearts towards each other. 

And I'm here to tell you there is hope and healing that can be found through it all.

What's the first song you danced to as husband and wife?
I've Got You Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra... we love the oldie tunes!

Fill in the blank: "When it comes to most things, he definitely wears the pants in the marriage.  But when it comes to _____, my husband may as well wear a dress."
Cleaning the bathrooms... poor guy, he doesn't get it that toilets need to be cleaned more than once a month! 

What is a dream you and your spouse share for your future?
To some day own a house... pay off my school debt... and have children together :)

What do you admire most about your significant other?
Honestly, his love of Jesus.  It was what most attracted me to him when we first met.  We take seriously together as a family a combined family prayer life and nurturing each others relationship with Jesus.

About Tammy*
Tammy blogs about her great loves: faith, food, family, & the fun she has along the way.  {Oh, and she's a Coca-Cola person!  My kind of woman!}  She's been married a little over a year to her sweetheart, Ken*.  She has got so much to share and I am so happy to have found her little corner here in the blog world!  It took a great deal of courage and poise to articulate the strength and struggles of her marriage; thank you SO much for blessing me and the rest of us with your story.

*Tammy and Ken's names have been changed in order to keep some anonymity.