Friday, October 31, 2008

Exciting Announcement #2!

Starting Saturday, November 1, you have an opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done and support our move to Haiti. Think of it this way, you will be shopping with purpose! (What could be better?!)

A friend of ours in Kentucky is a Pampered Chef consultant. She is doing a Pampered Chef online party to support the HCH-- specifically, Nick and I's move. You shop normally FOR YOU (or for Christmas gifts) online. Pampered Chef will donate 15% of the price of your purchase to HCH for our benefit. Additionally, Ashlee (the consultant) is donating 10% of your purchase price as well. So for everything you order, 25% of the cost will be going to us to help get us to Haiti!

The party is open November 1- November 15. So hurry!

Pampered Chef is ALSO offering this great deal-- 20% off of all classsic unglazed stoneware! It's a pretty good deal. That stuff is great.

You can either choose to have your order shipped directly to your home, or have it sent to me if you are local. (But be forewarned, if it is sent to me, I will not be able to get it to you until after Dec 2 since we will be in Haiti when it arrives.)

So click here:

From there, click "Order Products" and be SURE to mention me, Gwenn Mangine, as the host.

Woo Hoo! I am pumped.

PLEASE help us out and forward this to your friends!

Exciting Announcement #1!

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have great news. My amazingly talented cousin, Trina, is doing an auction to benefit Nick and I (and the HCH).

Read on:

Coming Soon...

The Autumn Becky ebay auction!!!!!!!!!!

November 19-29th!!!!!

For those of you who are familiar with "Becky" you know her purpose in life, for those of you who are not..." Becky" was created to "surf a higher purpose." We (Becky & I ) are starting on a small scale.

That said, the next Becky ebay auction will begin on NOVEMBER 19th and run for 10 days ...ending NOVEMBER 29th!!! (a Becky painting would make a super Christmas gift!)

100 percent of the money raised will be donated to the Haitian Childrens Home for Nick and Gwenn Mangine!

Stay tuned! I will be posting MORE soon. In the meantime, check out Trina's website: She's fantastic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Deep Thoughts by Gwenn Mangine

"Whoever said you shouldn't cry over spilled milk probably didn't have a carpet. Or a toddler."

It's a boy!

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is with a ridiculous amount of joy that I inform you that Nick and I have a son. Today, after several persistent (read:nagging) calls, Nico is legally our son. I had not anticipated the amount of happiness this would produce in me. Today is a happy day.

Here's how Nico feels about it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Random pics plus a "make you feel old" story

Been a while since I have posted kid pics...

The kiddos modeling their towels African style like Pam showed them.

Nick modeling Nia's winter coat "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" Style
After our pumpkin painting adventure. (I am STILL picking glitter out of Nico's hair.)

Nico and Daddy having some "nuggle" (snuggle) time

So today we were doing school and Nia was doing a worksheet where she had to circle all the pictures that began with the letter D. She was working along and she came to a picture of a telephone that had a cord. She said, "Mom, what IS this?"


Monday, October 27, 2008

Hot Topic Tuesday-- Circumcision.

Okay-- here we go!

This is one of those parenting decisions that I really don't care too much one way or another about what you do for your child. I feel like "right" for your family could be different from "right" for our family.

However, I am going to give you our decision and our reasons for doing what we did.

We did not have our boys circumcised.

Here's the reasons we came to that decision:

First, as I mentioned last week, our family has chosen the American Academy of Pediatrics as
somewhat of a medical "authority." So the first place we looked to when we were making this decision, was the AAP. Here's a link to their thoughts--

Here's the breakdown of what they say--
"Scientific studies show some medical benefits of circumcision. However, these benefits are not sufficient for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to recommend that all infant boys be circumcised."

You can click on that link to see the medical "benefits" (all of which are "slightly" smaller risks of contracting certain illnesses/infections).

Also listed on the AAP's site is many of the reasons parents choose NOT to circumcise-- medical "risks" that are also rare, but include complications like bleeding, infection, improper healing, and botched circumcisions, causing the foreskin being cut too long or short...

So with all of that in mind, we felt like from a MEDICAL standpoint, it was pretty much a wash. Yes, there were some slight increased "risks" of not circumcising, but that was definitely outweighed by the chance of complications. Our pediatrician agreed. He said he saw "no medical reason to do it."

So from medical standpoint it became a no-brainer for us. If there is no medical reason to do it, why would we "elect" to make our son have surgery?

Not getting circumcised is definitely cheaper than getting circumcised. Now, some might argue that it's not any more expensive because of insurance, but I would disagree. It costs SOMEONE that money-- and with the cost of health insurance these days (DON'T GET ME GOING), you could probably argue that "elective" surgeries maybe should not be covered.

It seemed like it was not worth the money because of the above, medical reason.

Here is where things get tricky. Now, this MAY be where some people get offended. Let me just reiterate, this is our OPINION on this, for OUR sons. Please post your opinions as well.

The thing I hear from a lot of people is this-- "We just thought he should "match" his father."
Let me respectfully say, I think that's kind of silly. Here's why-- Does a pre-pubescent penis really "match" an adult penis? Um, no. Not even close. There are A LOT of differences-- things which really wouldn't be appropriate to list out, but I think you probably understand what I am getting at. Is circumcision REALLY going to be the thing that makes them "match" at that point? And while I am not a man, I would *think* that once a boy hits puberty and begins to go through the physical changes that would make him "match" dad, it probably isn't even in the BACK of his mind to think about his dad's foreskin, or lack thereof.

Another "social" reason we chose not to circumcise is probably something else that will make some people uncomfortable, but hey, this is Hot Topic Tuesday and this is a medical issue, so let's all just be mature. Many people believe that circumcising affects sex later in life, as it makes the tip of the penis less sensitive. When we were researching this topic before making our decision (which we made before Nia was born since we did not know whether she was a boy or girl), I read a lot about it. And I remember reading a story of a man who was circumcised as an adult for medical reasons, and how he said that after the initial few weeks, he had a definite decrease in sensitivity, and ensuing sexual problems. Now, I know that this is the FARTHEST thing from a mom's mind. But lets just be honest, we were created as sexual creatures. It is my OPINION, that I should not be making "elective" decisions for my boys that might somehow compromise their sexual function at a later date. Some go so far as to consider it "genital mutilation" and a human rights violation... I don't know about all that, but I do think it's a decision over which my sons should have a say.

The whole "locker room" reason for circumcising also doesn't hold water to me, as it's almost 50/50 in the us. (I recently read that in 2004, about 57% of boys were circumcised in America-- but it was dropping at a rapid rate.)

One more "social" issue with circumcision-- something we haven't really fully developed in our brains yet but... we felt that circumcising Nico after his adoption could really stand to hamper his attachment to us. Again, this is OUR opinion-- please do not think we are judging anyone or their decision. This is how we felt about OUR son. We thought he was old enough that he might remember, but even if he didn't we were concerned of how it would affect him at a subconscious level. We didn't see how a painful, elective procedure could stand to help this process of him feeling safe with us. We were also worried about how (later, subconsciously) this would affect his feelings about his body and us accepting him just as he was. Just some thoughts that made sense to us...

The final "social" reason we considered with circumcising was religion. I can definitely see an Orthodox Jew electing circumcision-- I totally respect that. I am not Jewish, and I don't believe you could convince me that following Jesus (who was a Jew) means you need to be circumcised. When God made boys, he made them with foreskins. I don't believe it was a design flaw. That's pretty much the extent of theology that played into our decision. There are a lot of people who are apparently pretty militant about this, claiming that that circumcision was an outward sign associated with slavery-- being "cut off" from God. I don't know about all that either...

So there's our reasons.
If we ever needed to circumcise our boys for medical reasons, then yeah, by all means, we'd be all over it. If our boys ever expressed a strong desire to have it done, then yes, we would allow them to do it.

The bottom line is this-- this is something that they can always do later if they wanted/needed it to be done, but it cannot be UNdone.

Your turn-- what do you think?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Help! Please.

Just in case you didn't get the memo yet, NICK AND I ARE GOING TO MEXICO! Woo Hoo!

I am so excited I already packed my kids' suitcases for Nana's/Auntie Gretchen's. (Anxious much?)

Here's my dilemma-- I need a few books to bring with me. I LOVE to read, but I want some great books to read all day (and night if I so choose) long. I don't have any in mind.

So, here's the criteria...
I generally like fiction. (novels)
I can do a biography or an autobiography if it's good and REALLY holds my interest.
I generally prefer women authors.
I like GOOD books-- chick lit for the sake of being chick lit isn't really my bag...

Some of my favorite authors--
Barbara Kingsolver, Edwidge Danticat, Adriana Trigiani, Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin...

Any suggestions?? PLEASE!

A bit UNDERwhelmed with Gdiapers right now.

So we're what? A month or so into the whole g/cloth diapering scenanrio?

Here's my frustration. We've already had to switch back to disposables for Nico at night because he's such a heavy wetter he's always peeing out. And now Josiah is wet through every morning too. (No matter whether we use the disposable liners or the cloth.)

We're noticing that the g-liners are losing their waterproof-ness. Now, I know the liners are not meant to last forever, but really, we had expected more than a month. (Cause we have like 12 of them-- it's not like we're using the same one over and over.) So tomorrow I am going to re-waterproof them. (Another $8 product I must buy to do that.)

So-- right now, not loving the cloth diapering. In addition to washing diapers every 2-3 days, I am also having to change sheets/bedding almost every day.

So I am not sure about the $$$ savings.

And then one more downside-- I can't make my prefolds not smell like pee. I do a rinse first, then a cold wash, then a hot one. They say not to use bleach because they make the diapers less absorbent, but I don't like the residual pee smell I feel like I am always catching a whiff of, even with clean diapers. Any suggestions from you crunchy cloth diaper mamas?

Two EXCITING announcements!

No, I am not pregnant. Not biologically possible anymore. (Well, I suppose it COULD be biologically possible, but the odds are OVERWHELMINGLY good that would never happen... But you know God... he's a funny guy sometimes...) But I digress. My announcements.

I am not going to tell you what they are.

Check back this week for 2 exciting announcements about ways people are creatively supporting the work we're doing in Haiti, and how you can hop on board!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yet another sports bra rant.

Yesterday I was at the gym at my class working hard-- literally DRIPPING with sweat, and gasping for breath, imagining that someday all of this exercise will actually start to burn a few pounds off. (So far no luck-- don't EVEN get me going.)

In prances "Lifetime Fitness Barbie." She's really pretty. She's got long bleach blond hair, a perfectly trim, tanned body. She was lean and muscular, with a pierced bellybutton highlighting her flat stomach and washboard abs. She had her hair expertly coiffed. Her acrylic nails were painted with a fresh coat of paint. I seriously couldn't stop staring at her. She had the perfect body. And I know this because I could basically see every bit of it.

She wore the whole matchy gym ensemble. But here's what puzzled me about it--
apparently it was cold enough that she had to wear the stretch PANTS (instead of shorts). But it was apparently ALSO so hot she couldn't find it in her to wear a shirt-- for she was wearing just her bra.

What?! Does that make sense to anyone? If it does, please enlighten me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's just a thought.

I haven't made it a secret over the past year and a half that I have been blogging that I really love my husband. People make jokes all the time about "marrying up." In my case, it's actually true. And I don't say that in a self-deprecating way, because (obviously) I think pretty highly of myself at times. :) (Don't we all?) It's just that Nick REALLY is a good man.

And today I want to give you an example of what I mean.

Back in December of 2004, Nick gave me a present in my stocking at Christmas. It was a long, slim box with which to file a bajillion index cards. On the front it said, "It's Just a Thought." And inside were blank cards separated by months. The note with it said that he was going to leave me a "thought" every day of the year. And he did. He almost never missed.

Here was the format:
  • He'd address me in some endearing way-- (Many of them were inside terms.)
  • He'd write a quick quote, or bible verse, or song lyric, or something he'd heard recently
  • He'd write a short thought of his own based on it
  • He'd sign it from him (sometimes in an equally endearing way)
It was sweet. Because he's always been an early riser, it was always in the box by the time I woke up in the morning.

This continued for the year, and then sometime in late 2005-- it went digital (I think it was for our anniversary or something). He wrote a computer application and would leave his "thought" open for me on the computer. Then in 2007, he modified the program and just made it a private blog.

And it morphed over time. Entries became fewer and farther between (because life happened) but he always came back to it. I don't know how it happened, but in September of 07, the titles weren't really addressed at me anymore, and it just became kind of a collection of his thoughts-- like his journal.

You may be wondering WHY I am mentioning all of this.

Well, recently, Nick has made these thoughts public and has started pointing people to this blog. It is not all-inclusive at this point. He still haven't gone back and added all the "IJAT's" from before it was digital. And some of them he took down because they were too personal. But it's a work in process. So if you want to know me better, I would encourage you to take a look at Nick's blog.

When someone starts a blog, you get to start following their life from that point on. The cool thing with this is that you can start following our life starting almost 4 years ago.

So check it out. THIS is the man I love.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Creepy Video-- yikes.

This is my niece Abbie. She's three. She's pretty much the cutest little child you've ever seen. And the sassiest. I LOVE HER.

However, last week when we were visiting the OBX, I was taking a nap with her and noticed this REALLY CREEPY THING SHE DOES!

This will disturb you.

A Day in the Life

I've mentioned a lot lately that we're in an incredibly busy season of our lives.

Trying to balance life as wife to my husband and a homeschooling mother of three littles while raising support to be a missionary it kicking my rear. And I just have to let you know-- I am not really doing a very good job of anything lately. (Except trying to post regular blog posts, because, you know, you have to have priorities... j/k. In all reality, blogging is an outlet for me. It keeps me sane I think.)

Here's a typical day in my life-- yesterday.

4:00AM-- Get up, tiptoe over sleeping children as we did "campout" the night before. Do the dishes from the night before and generally try to wake up and clean up around the house.
5:40AM--Leave for the gym.
7:00AM-- Finish at the gym. Head to the grocery store to pick up a few things.
7:45AM-- Arrive home from the grocery store. Carry up groceries and put them away. Begin/continue rousing children from their slumber. Notice we forgot to put a diaper on Nico the night before (AGAIN!) and that he and everything in a gigantic radius surrounding him is soaked. Throw him in the bath. Recall that I cannot actually recall the last time the other kids had a bath and throw them in too. (Did not deal with the peed-in sleeping bag.)
8:20AM--Get kids out of tub, get them dressed and fed.
8:40AM-- Walk (sprint) out the door with three wet-headed children and armed with a few tools to clean out my car during Nico's speech therapy.
9:00AM-- Arrive at speech therapy. Play "Car Beauty Shop" with Nia (and Josiah) while Nico is getting therapy.
9:35AM-- Nico finishes therapy, we head to the pupkin patch. It is closed. I weigh the pros and cons of whether or not we should just hit Kroger, but want my kids to have the pumpkin patch "experience" and head for another one.
10: 15AM -- Arrive at 2nd pumpkin patch. Which is also closed. But at least they have the "honor system" (which I hate because it rewards cheaters and theives-- of which I am not one-- I know, it's totally a heart issue.) We find a few marginal and over-priced pumpkins. I kick myself for not going to Kroger, and snap a few pics since I took the time to get the kids in coordinating sweaters with high aspirations for pumpkin patch pics.
11:30AM-- Arrive home from the pumpkin patch. Kids complain of being "starving" (which just makes me mad, because they are NOT starving-- although breakfast was a little skimpy since it was so rushed.) Make lunch. Feed kids lunch. Put both boys down for a nap after ensuring BOTH of them are wearing diapers. (Still haven't dealt with the peed-in sleeping bag.)
12:30-- Nia and I start school with a game of Dominoes. (Don't judge, it's MATH!) We continue on and talk about chain reactions and then look on Youtube for some cool domino videos before starting our actual academic work for the day. Except that by the time we do that, she's "too tired." She won't read. She's being lazy and just generally ill-tempered. I ask her if we have to call the principal. She says no, but doesn't improve in her behavior, so I call Nick. While she's crying on the phone with her dad for 15 minutes, I go into the bathroom to find clothing for our support meeting that evening, realize I don't have ANY clean underwear and have to use the boxerbriefs that I had purchased for the chubrub situation. I do my hair in record time and finish up by the time Nia's attitude is adjusted.
1:30PM-- Work on school for the next two hours, using "downtime" (while Nia is doing her writing/mathwork) to do makeup and pack a few bags for swimming lessons.
3:30PM-- Finish school and frantically search for remaining items needed for swimming lessons while packing a bag for our support meeting after. Make sure all folders are stuffed properly and fingerprints are wiped off the photos we show.
3:45PM-- Walk out the door. Head for the mall to have pizza since we always have pizza on swimming lesson day. Nick meets us there. We order pizza and wait while our kids spill their Hi-C. Realize Josiah isn't going to make it until the pizza arrives and order him a bowl of spaghetti. Pizza arrives. We eat then order some pizza for our sitter who's helping with our kids during the support meeting. Give Nick Josiah and his swimming lesson bag.
4:40PM-- Drive across the parking lot with the big kids to the Triangle Aquatic Center. (Nick goes to Starbucks to get some "thank you" presents for the sitters who are helping us with the meetings.) I get the kids out of the car, into the locker rooms and into their swimsuits. Can't find goggles anywhere. Know that I packed them so I call Nick who is pulling into the parking lot. Meet him out their with the freezing kids in just their swimsuits. Get the goggles which I had packed in Josiah's swim bag accidentally. Bring kids in for lessons.
5:30PM-- Bigs are done with swimming lessons. Josiah's is just starting. (During the big kids lessons, Nick got himself and Josiah ready for their baby swim class.) I rush the kids into the locker room, change them and run out the door with wet-headed children for the second time in the day.
6:10PM-- Arrive at our support meeting. (The babysitter met us there.) Send kids up to play. Breathe for a few moments.
6:30PM-- Nick arrives at support meeting along with the rest of the meeting attendees. We hand of Josiah and welcome our guests.
8:15PM-- Meeting is over.
8:30-- Head out the door of support meeting. Nick takes Josiah, I take the bigs and the babysitter. Drive babysitter home. Drive us home. Stop at gas station. Fill up car because gas light came on. Swing through McDonalds drive through for french fries because kids are again "starving".
9:00 PM--Arrive home. Kids eat french fries. Tell kids, "Let's do this really crazy thing tonight-- let's sleep in our clothes!" (Trying to put a positive spin on it since Josiah is already sleeping.) Brush teeth, say prayers. Put them to bed (with Nico in a diaper.)
9:45PM-- Nick and I head to bed.
(Peed-in sleeping bag STILL not dealt with.)

End of day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

American Red Cross Sign

I know this is breaking my self-imposed 1 post a day rule but-- well, I don't care. :)

I go to the gym at Lifetime Fitness, which the "Disney World" of workout facilities. It's great. You're probably wondering why, if it's so great, I haven't been getting fitter lately. That, my friends, is what I would like to know... but I digress.

So on the way into Lifetime, there is always a sandwich board sign for the American Red Cross since they are right there too. The sign changes daily; it's one of those signs with slide-in letters like in front of churches and McDonalds. It will always say something about a blood drive they are having. Things like,

The other day the sign was supposed to say:

Except that someone slid the "T" from "GOT" over a space so it was now in the front of the word, "IT."

I won't spell it out because, you know, I am an Elder's wife and a missionary and all, but seriously-- IT. WAS. FUNNY.

I laughed and laughed. Now, that might be because I am immature (some might even say "infantile") but admit it-- that was clever.

Nia, my Third Culture Kid

So, a few weeks ago, Nick promised a series, "How I Know I Was Meant to Live in Haiti." He never delivered. So I thought I'd begin to share a few of our reasons...

One of them is our daughter, Nia. There is this title given to missionary kids sometimes that refers to their inability to "fit in" in their birth culture or the culture of the place they are living. Third Culture Kids. They have experiences from a couple of different places, and these experiences lead to them not being able to fully identify with any culture.

I think one of the reasons I know we were meant to live in Haiti is that Nia is already a Haitian Third Culture Kid.

Here's proof--

Great discussions!

Okay. Hot Topic Tuesday is over for the week. Back to my life. It was really fun discussing this issue with you guys. Can't say I changed my mind, but this was one I was pretty passionate about. I don't *think* there is anything else I am that passionate about, so the rest of them will probably be pretty boring.

The topic next Tuesday will be circumcision.

In the future I am going to close comments on Wednesday mornings on Hot Topic Tuesdays. It's not because I don't value your opinions, it's just that I want to keep my blog from becoming solely defined by this series. (And with 40 passionate comments yesterday, I could see how that could happen.) Tuesdays will be your only chance to weigh in on Hot Topic Tuesdays. So, fair warning.

And on that line of thinking, I will be closing comments on the vaccination debate tomorrow morning. I wanted to give everyone fair warning before I just did it.

Check back later-- I have some FUNNY pics to post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hot Topics Tuesday! -- Vaccinations

Okay ladies-- let's get on with the discussion of some of these "mommy war" issues. But first, one important ground rule and a few disclaimers...

Rule-- no personal attacks. Got it?
Disclaimer-- Most of these issues I really don't have a strong opinion about. I am going to explain my opinion, and that's really all it is. My opinion.

Okay, on with the subject at hand.


I read an article the other day in Cookie magazine where Amanda Peet (an actress) called parents who don't vaccinate their children "parasites." My first thought was, "Wow. That's harsh." And then I thought more about the word parasite.

One of the definitions of the word from is "a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others." Hmmm. Interesting. I will get back to that.

There are a lot of claims about a link between vaccines and autism. Can I unequivocally state that I am positive there are no risks or possible negative side effects of vaccinations? No. However, I am not a conspiracy theorist either. I don't believe there's all these known links between vaccines and autism and some elaborate cover up operation. I have heard some pretty compelling stories of individuals who believe their children started showing signs of autism shortly after being vaccinated. I am not suggesting that didn't happen. However, that's not enough to convince me.

I am not a doctor, so MY best bet is to rely on sources of information that are credible. I generally defer to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a network of over 60,000 pediatric doctors. Now remember, all of these doctors have taken the Hippocratic oath. I believe their statements to be credible. There is a lot of information about immunizations on the AAP website. But the long and short of it is this--
  • Vaccinations are necessary because even though certain diseases are no longer widespread, the bacteria and viruses and bacteria are still present.
  • Vaccinations almost always are an effective way of preventing these illnesses, many of which have dangerous consequences, including death.
  • It is not advisable to delay or skip vaccines, as that will leave your child vulnerable to disease for a longer period of time.
  • And, what I see as the bottom line, "Serious events occur more often from the actual infection or disease, rather than from the vaccine; therefore, the vaccine is much safer."
So that's how I feel about vaccinations.

Now, onto the whole parasite statement. To get into that we have to discuss the whole issue of "herd immunity." In basic terms, herd immunity is the concept that the population as a whole can be protected from outbreaks of various illnesses as long as MOST of the people are immune to it. (Each particular disease has a different threshold for what that percentage needs to be.) So basically, what that means is that parents who do not vaccinate their children are relying on YOU AND I who DO vaccinate to keep their children safe. Basically, they are rolling the dice with their children's health with the hope that threshold is met by those around them and so they, therefore, do not have to assume any risk/discomfort to their children by vaccinating them.

Now, part of me is tempted to say, "So what?" It doesn't change the way I do anything. However, I think it's a much deeper issue than that. Because the truth is there are many, many people in our communities who CANNOT be vaccinated for some sort of true medical reason. For example, my son, Josiah, has an egg allergy. The MMR vaccine is egg-derived. As of now, he cannot have this vaccine. Currently his pediatrician and allergist feel that the risk of giving this vaccine is too great, and it's possible that he could have an anaphylactic reaction that could be deadly. So yeah, that's a no brainer. Right now he can't have it. And it's not just children with allergies. I am honestly not worried about Josiah. He's a healthy moose of a kid.

It's a whole other host of children with serious illnesses-- cancer, seizure disorders, auto-immune disorders. And it's these very children who have the greatest risk of contracting these illnesses and having negative outcomes. Not to mention babies-- premature or full-term who do not have fully developed immune systems.

For this reason, I personally do not think it's ethical for a parent to make the decision (despite all the evidence that vaccines work and are safe) to not vaccinate their children. It's not really as much about *their* children, as it is other children who, for legitimate medical reasons could not be vaccinated, could be in serious trouble if they contracted a serious illness from an unvaccinated child. Doesn't seem fair to me.

So, yes, based on the definition we discussed earlier, I do believe that parents who choose not to vaccinate are acting a bit like parasites.

And by the way-- if you don't vaccinate your children, you might not want to hang out with us for two reasons:

1. Josiah isn't vaccinated against Measles, Mumps or Rubella. (In fact there was a big outbreak of mumps at the HCH last year.) So yeah, don't assume herd immunity will be effective if you're around us!

2. This is the ONLY parenting iussue Nick Mangine totally birds out about. And he will tell you VERY honestly how he feels about it.


So that's it. My opinion. What's yours?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Advent Conspiracy

Have you heard of it?

It's a pretty cool "movement" (for lack of a better word) going on in the church. And this year, a church in New York is using this opportunity to have their congregation help us get to Haiti. We love that people are supporting us in such creative ways. We are SO thankful. And we're really excited too because WE LOVE ADVENT. (Just ask anyone... we are like advent junkies-- more on that soon...)

It's not too late to get involved...

Watch this video--

and then check it out!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

So long suckers!

Just kidding. Kinda.

Tonight I am off to a B&B in Durham. ALL BY MYSELF.

Here's what I am bringing:
My bathrobe
Cozy pj's
My journal
My Bible
2 pens (just in case)
Clothes for tomorrow
and, well, nothing else!

No phone, no computer. No TV. Nothing.

Just me. A date with me.

I imagine I will sleep many hours and I will spend many hours in the tub.

I love Nick Mangine.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hot Topics!

I, for one, will be the first person to admit I don't have this parenting thing figured out. I have three kids ages 1-5 and they are each as different as the day is long. Ever since the "Santa discussion" got a little lively on the old blog a few weeks ago (which I LOVE!), Nick has been encouraging me to write about a few more "hot topics" in parenting.

Now warning here-- because this will likely offend some-- I will not think the same way you do on all of these things. And you MIGHT even start to judge me. Just know that I am good with that. I can take it, and I won't delete any comments as long as they are not profane or in some other way mean-spirited. (And Gretchen, I will probably even let you get away with a few profanities here and there...)

I love a lively debate. I love to see what people are passionate about because usually, you can learn a lot from people who are passionate. I am not worried about criticism because I feel like I am secure enough in who I am to realize it's not a personal thing, it's a difference in parenting style. You gotta do what works for you. I have found that people who are not open to constructive criticism, or closed to other points of view are generally pretty insecure in how they feel about something, OR have only experienced said topic in theory rather than in reality. And hey, maybe you will persuade me on a few things-- stranger things have happened.

So, my first post will be NEXT week-- maybe Tuesday? And here's the subject-- Vaccinations. Something Nick and I am VERY passionate about. I recently read an article that quoted Amanda Peet saying, "Parents who do not vaccinate their children and rely on "herd immunity" are parasites." That's a pretty stong statement. And I have a pretty strong feeling about that statement. But WHICH way??? You'll have to tune in Tuesday to find out!

So be thinking. I want your liveliest discussion... bring it on!

Other topics to be included (in no particular order):
Spanking-- is it abuse?
Circumcision--should you do it?
Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding
Natural Childbirth vs. Medicated Childbirth
The great schooling debate-- public, private, home
Working Vs. Staying at home.

This is gonna be fun. And I am open for other topics too-- so let me know if you have any suggestions.

This doesn't count as today's only post...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Seriously? Come ON people.

So I watched the debate last night-- I have to say, I walked away feeling REALLY sad.

I feel like I have made a decision as to who I am going to vote for but hadn't until last night. And it's not that the performance by either candidate was so rousing that I felt like I was won over.

On the contrary.

Here's the thing that has been plaguing my thoughts since last night. The way BOTH candidates define "middle class." Here's the thing people- up to $249,999 is considered middle class? Now, someone pointed out to me that one candidate considers that amount to be middle class if you make that individually, whereas the other counts it as middle class as a family income.

Either way. Give me a freakin' break. Both classifications are ridiculous.

In about 10 seconds I was able to figure out that the 2007 US HOUSEHOLD median income was $50,233.00 (see here). Now let's look at that amount (about $50,000) on a global scale-- that yearly income would put you in the top 1% of earners IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. (See here-- and figure out where you stand.)

I find it really ridiculous that the people representing us so poorly misrepresent reality.

PS-- Since I am only posting once per day now-- thought I'd mention that in two seperate, unrelated events today, I got hit by a FedEx truck and I also got a nail in my tire...

The poor Kia...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brain Dump

Okay. I am dumping my brain here and now. I have all these thoughts swirling around my head I keep thinking about to blog, but I already overpost, so I am getting back to once a day, and I am just going to dump all these thoughts here.

1. Our anniversary evening-- even surpassed what I had planned (see yesterday) in unromantic-ness. I am thinking of writing a screenplay about it called, "The Eight Year Burn." Here's the plot. Mom notices daughter sucking her thumb, and asks her to go get the "Thum" to paint on. Thum is a product sold to help cease thumb-sucking and its ingrediants are as follows:
  • Cayenne Pepper Extract
  • Citric acid
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Acetone
  • Lacquer
The daughter, showing first-time prompt obedience, brings the mom the Thum. She failed to mention, however, that she had already opened it, being first-time promptly DISobedient, as this is something she is not permitted to do. Mom was lounging on the couch, and as she brought the bottle up to open it the entire contents of the bottle splashed her in the face, specifically in one eye, down her cheek and into her mouth. Mom seriously thinks her eye/face is going to burn to a crisp. Feels lousy all night. Everyone goes to bed early.

2. Sorry for the youtube dump over the weekend-- I was with my sister Gretchen, and that is her life. (Just kidding-- she has three kids as well and she homeschools... THAT is her life.) :)

3. I am actually at a place where I am praying that Nico has a parasite or a bacterial infection like ecoli or salmonella. Weird, huh? Without being too graphic, he's been having some, um... symptoms. These symptoms are not normal and so we're hoping that after we submit some "samples" we can get a clear answer as to what is causing them without having to do any further investigation.

4. As of yesterday, the implant process is complete and I am no longer toothless. Happy Anniversary Nick! I got you a present that cost $4000! Speaking of our anniversary, I seriously might be the worst wife in the history of wife-ness. I never even filled out the card I got Nick. Which, you know, happens. It just so happens that it happens to me often. For this is the VERY SAME CARD that I bought last year and forgot to fill out. When I was looking through my card stash the other day I found it and thought, "Bonus! Now I don't have to go out and buy a card-- I already have one." (Just so you don't think we are anti-anniversary, we DID go out to dinner over the weekend while we were in the OBX and really, Mexico was our plan for this anniversary.) But still, come one. We need to do better. I did, however, get a card from Nick.

5. Yesterday I learned the definition of the term "exercise in futility." I had ordered a ridiculously overpriced swimsuit from Lands End for our upcoming trip to Mexico (woot, woot) and when I tried it on, I asked Nick, "Do you think this looks okay?" To which (I swear) he did not even look at me fully before answering, "I love it!" Cause, yeah. What else is he going to say?

6. Whenever Nia is praying at night, she always (literally) closes this way:
I love you God.
I love you Jesus.
I love you God and Jesus.
Amen God.
Amen Jesus.
Amen God and Jesus.
What I want to know is this-- why does the Holy Spirit get the shaft? Although, in terms of length, the closing already seems more than adequate... So I am going to wait to correct her.

That's all for now...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yearbook Yourself.

Here's some less-convincing pics of me through time...

My only one

Through thick and thin (usually me thick and Nick thin) we've hit the 8 year mark!

Happy Anniversary to me and Nick!
What are the plans for the evening on this most romantic of days you may be asking?
Well, we have it all planned out-- we get to deal with the worst-she's-ever-had tantrums from Nia, and the screechy crying of a teething Josiah, and, last but DEFINITELY not least,-- we get to collect stool samples from Nico! I don't know if I can take all the romance!

(But only 18 days till Mexico!)

PS: Nick, When life gets hard and problems come, you'll always be my only one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Me Church-- You're Welcome

At the church we visited this weekend, they showed this video-- which is hilarious.

However, in searching for it on youtube to watch again, I found this one. Which is even funnier.

The YouTube Video that changed my life.

Well that might be an overstatement. But something about this really struck my funny bone and now Nick and I (and my sister) have started singing our conversations to one another...

The Bu(r)ffet Song

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's a virus.

In response to all the hullabaloo surrounding this:

I offer you this:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kickin' it old school.

Nico got himself dressed today.

I think he was honoring his inner Kris Kross.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back on the wagon.

The no nail-biting wagon. I have been off for a while. I think my little sister Melody jinxed me. I was doing great for a long time and then she said, "You know, you WILL go back to biting them. You will. It will be sometime when you are bored or tired or grumpy, but you will."

This time I am going to not believe her. None of her self-fulfilling prophesy garbage sabotaging my effort this time.

And Nia is off the no thumb-sucking wagon. It's frustrating because she went several weeks without sucking it. (During which time she picked up a pretty violent tooth-grinding habit... I am not sure which I like less...)

The way I see it, we will probably both be A LOT healthier in Haiti if we can give up our oral fixations.

I am crossing my (little smokie) fingers that I can do this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

No "swishing" for me!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have astounding news.

I figured out how to work around "swishing" poopy cloth diapers. Don't let your kid poop in them. I mean it. Put him on the toilet.

I absolutely PROMISE that I am not making this up. Josiah has pooped on the potty for the past three days in a row. It all started when he was grunting like he was about to, well, you know. And so I just decided to sit him on the potty and see what would happen-- and he totally, well, you know.

So then Nick was at the doctor with him yesterday and the same scenario happened. Nick reasoned he could either change a messy cloth diaper in a public restroom or just give it a shot. And again, Josiah, er... delivered.

Today too.

I can TOTALLY do this cloth diaper thing if I am not having to swish.

So, my recommendation-- don't let them poop their pants.

Good luck!

-Gwenn Mangine

PS- I know this is just a good, flukey "streak" (HA!) we're on... but I am going to enjoy it while I can.


At the beginning of August, my friend CC did a blg series on adoption. She's an adoptive mom scheduled to go pick up her second child, Henry, from China at the end of this month. She did a great job explaining a lot of common questions about adoption.

I wanted to weigh in as I have had some thoughts swirling around in my brain for a few days now. I ask you to read these with an open mind, and hear what I am saying completely before you make a judgment about what I am really saying.

Adoption is a really emotional process. It's hard. It's long. It's expensive. And it is filled with a lot of questions and frustrations and uncertainties. Adoptive parents, especially international adoptive parents, often times have very little information about their child's background. And there's, many times, a grieving process that happens in all of it for the parents as well as the child. Any of the following are common, although not everyone experiences these things. Parents grieve for the time they "lost" with their adoptive child. They grieve along with their children the loss of the child's birthparents (however that occurred.) Some grieve the fact that they did not give birth to the child. Some grieve that their child was abused. Some have a hard time attaching and grieve for the attachment that is not happening.

Now, before I go any further, let me make this clear-- it's not all about grief. It's also about incredible joy. It's an amazing miraculous process. Think about it-- it's "natural" (and by natural, I mean the way of nature) that a mother loves and attaches to her biological child. Look at pretty much any member of the animal kingdom-- it's just the way nature works. But that this process would happen across towns, and cities, and countries and continents-- wow. That's amazing. The fact that OUR child was born in a different country, to different parents, with a different language, and a different culture, and now he is an attached and cherished member of our family, experiencing the same kind of relationship as we have with our biological children-- come on-- THAT'S COOL! That's truly miraculous.

So the point of all of the above is to establish that this is an emotionally charged issue with adoptive parents. Especially during the adoption process and for a while after the new child is home. And different adoptive families process that differently.

So where am I going with all of this? Read on, my friend.

Most adoptive parents love talking about adoption-- their specific adoption, and adoption in general. However, we all go through cycles where it is really hard to talk about. (Especially at times during the wait.) We love to answer questions, even though we often hear the same ones over and over. And, truthfully, a lot of people say "the wrong thing" sometimes, but if we examine it with emotion detached, we know that it was meant with the best possible intention. So that's all good too. What is very hard, though, is when we feel like people forget that there is a child at the center of this discussion.

So with that, I want to give you two different examples of some things I have heard and how they have made me feel.
  • (This one was just a couple of days ago.) I was talking to a woman who was asking questions about our adoption and she said, "Yeah, I thought about adopting one of those Chinese babies a few years ago, but it was so expensive I just didn't feel right about buying a baby." It hurt my feelings to hear that for two reasons-- 1. "One of those Chinese babies"-- that statement made me feel like the heartbreaking situation with Chinese girls was being made light of. I felt like if someone had a child who had special needs, it would be very rude to say, "one of those retarded babies." See what I mean? And 2. as an adoptive parent who has had to pay a great deal of money for our adoption, what does that imply about me? That I bought my child? I most certainly did not. Unfortunately, if I wanted to purchase a child from Haiti, it would be A LOT cheaper and easier.
  • One time we were at Kinkos getting copies made for our dossier and the lady asked what we were doing and we told her that we were adopting and she said, "Well, God bless you, there certainly are a lot of 'unwanteds' in this world." I tried to keep my composure, because, yes, this was a time to educate. But this lady just called my son an "unwanted." Nick and I were both shocked. I have been to Haiti-- I have seen the agonizing situation many times. And I assure you that the great majority of children who are in orphanages are NOT unwanted. And the same can be said for other countries as well I am sure. And not only that, but there are hundreds and thousands of parents who DO want these children-- and they are on waiting lists and grieving the time they are not with their children.
I have a lots of other stories like this that I could share-- and perhaps I will at a later date.

Here's the point I am trying to make- I am totally great with people asking questions about Nico and our adoption. I love to talk about it. And I think most adoptive parents would say the same thing. However, I would ask that you would think about the words you choose, and how they might come across. I am not saying that I want everyone to tiptoe around me, I am just asking that the same kind of common courtesy/tact to adoptive parents as you do biological parents, and realize there is a child at the heart of these questions-- my child.

This is him.

Steps off soapbox.

(And hey, I know there are idiots everywhere who just say dumb things. I have been one of those idiots... often.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In 25 days, Nick and I are going--



I caved.

I gave Josiah a bottle yesterday-- his first one in 4 days. I just couldn't take the crying/whining and we had to head out to a Haiti meeting...

Think he enjoyed it?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Then and Now- Samuel and Joseph

Here are Samuel and Joseph, biological brothers from Nico's orphanage, then:

And now:

Cute kids-- amazing family!

Then and Now-- Nico and Roseta

Over the weekend we had a mini-reunion with 3 of Nico's orphanage "siblings."

I am going to post some more pics soon, but I just wanted to post this comparison--

Nico and Roseta- March 2007
Nico and Roseta-- October 2008
What a difference a family makes.

Okay, last time.

This is the last time we're going to bug you. We just wanted to shoot out one last email reminding you about the Haiti meetings we still have left this month. We'd love to share our story with you.

  • TONIGHT! 10/6/2008 Monday 6:30 - 8:00 PM Raleigh, Brier Creek
  • 10/8/2008 Wednesday 6:30 - 8:00 PM Apex, off Olive Chapel Road
  • 10/16/2008 Thursday 6:30 - 8:00 PM Cary, off Walnut Street
  • 10/18/2008 Saturday 9:30 - 11:00 AM Apex, off Olive Chapel Road
  • 10/22/2008 Wednesday 6:30 - 8:00 PM Cary, Cary Park
  • 10/26/2008 Sunday 4:30 - 6:00 PM Apex, off Olive ChapelRoad

Drop us an email if you're interested and we will send directions! (Remember, we are offering free childcare at the meetings too!)

Also, one last reminder to sign up for our email updates about our move to Haiti. We don't want to be sending our info out to people who aren't interested in receiving it-- so either sign up at our website: or shoot us a quick email with the word "add" and we will add you.

Thanks so much,
Nick and Gwenn

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This conversation ACTUALLY happened.

Here's the back story--
I am standing in Target getting ready to pay for my groceries when these two teenage girls get in line behind me. In their hands each had a "Smart Ones" (Weight Watcher frozen entree) and a pint of Haagen Daz ice cream. (Cause, you know, you have to cut back somewhere.)

So I am standing there putting my groceries on the belt. And I overhear this conversation:
Girl 1: OMG! I totally didn't know Eva Longoria is pregnant!

Girl 2: She's totally not. She had to gain weight for Desperate Housewives.

Girl 1: She totally IS. Look-- right here. Her picture is shown with two other preggos under the words, "BABY BOOM!" (Points to US Weekly magazine.)

Girl 2: Well, I guess she is then. I totally can't believe it.

Girl 1: OMG! I totally didn't know Scarlett Johansson is getting married!

Girl 2: (snatching the magazine from her hand) OMG! That is so awesome. He is totally so cute.

Girl 1: OMG! Look at this. (Points to InTouch Weekly.) Jennifer Ansiston had lypo. Isn't she too young for that?

Girl 2: Speaking of too young-- did you hear that Sharon Stone lost her son because he was only 8 and she wanted him to get Botox.

Girl 1: That's so wrong. He's too young for that.

Girl 2: So which one should we buy?

Girl 1: We should get People because it's the most reputable.

Girl 2: (Picks up a People magazine) Who the heck is Paul Newman?

Girl 1: I have no idea.

Girl 2: Well this magazine is all about him.

Girl 1: Well let's get a different one then, he's probably some old guy or something.

At this point it was my turn at the cash register and not sure I could listen to their banter for the next 5 minutes, I told them to go on ahead of me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

24 to 16

I know that I said I was going to give you all a week to vote on how to remove the bottle from Josiah. However, I think I might have accidentally done it yesterday. We ran out of bottle liners and so I couldn't give him a bottle since I didn't feel like going to the store. So I just made him use sippy cups all day long. He was a bit grumpy, but he made it through.

So, I am closing the poll-- it was 60% just make him go cold turkey and 40% wean him off-- so I am going with the majority.

BTW- Thanks for all the campaigning you did in the comments. Some interesting points.

I am probably going to regret going here, but it's kind of a fundamental thing about the way we parent. So KNOW in advance that no offense is meant, and we totally see how different things work for different people. Just wanted to present a view of what makes sense to us.

Several people mentioned the idea of having the "bottle fairy" come or something similar. We try very hard to tell our kids the truth. Let me explain what I mean. One of the things we value greatly is that our kids know that the God we serve is NOT just another imaginary thing we have made up. In our society, we tell kids about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, etc. And they grow to love these "people" and these traditions. And simultaneously, we're telling them about God, this other benevolent figure they cannot see. So then at some point they come to realize that Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are just these characters we've made up. So, logically, what does that make them think about God? We personally feel that it's kind of a stretch to say-- well, we made up all these guys, but God's real. So you should still believe in him. Doesn't that create this skepticism about him in their head? Even if they say they comprehend that God is really real, are we creating an environment for them where they are just waiting for the other shoe to drop?

So all this is to say-- we're honest about the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, etc. It's not that we don't want to have fun-- we do. And we tell them that it is fun to pretend about these things. We go sit on Santa's lap (well, they do, not me. That would be incredibly awkward.), we go to egg hunts where the Easter Bunny is there, etc. But at the same time, we're very intentional about letting them know that is just pretend.

And besides, to quote Ed Russ, a pastor we once heard speaking on the Santa issue, "Why should I let some overweight old man breaking into my house get credit for the fact that I go to work?"

Friday, October 3, 2008


I just "for fun" applied online at Blue Cross Blue Shield for coverage since COBRA ends at the end of December. I say for fun because we have an insurance guy working on this but he's not been very speedy at getting back to us.

So yeah-- we were "approved."

It's only going to cost us $2870.00 per month.

That's what happens when you have a kid born with a heart condition...

Anyone have any thoughts? We simply cannot swing it.

Joe Biden-- I wrongly spoke ill of you.

My humblest apologies.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

views on joe v.sarah

Let me first say-- I don't care to campaign for anyone. I am totally bipartisan in my criticism of petty things.

But a few things that just NEED to be mentioned based on the ole VP debate tonight:

Sarah Palin needs to learn how to say the word "nuclear"-- seriously annoying.
Joe Biden needs to learn what people from Bosnia are called-- Bosniaks? Really?
Sarah Palin needs to learn his name is Joe Biden, not Joe O'Biden.
Joe Biden has an incredibly irritating way of referring to himself as "Joe Biden."
Don't think the term "maverick" could possibly have been injected more.

But on a serious note--
The debate actually DID help sway me towards one particular candidate. Interesting.

You Tube favorites

Okay, so we all have them.

I have done this kind of post before, but don't think I have shared this one-- I really laugh out loud EVERY single time I watch it.

What are your favorites? Anything "up and coming" I must see???

Henrypalooza part deux-- MINDY SMITH!

So if you know me at all, you know I totally dig on female artists.

One of my VERY favorites is doing a concert in Cary, NC this weekend-- MINDY SMITH.

She is A.MAZ.ING.

And here's the best part-- she is donating ALL OF THE PROCEEDS of the concert to Henrypalooza! As I mentioned, our friends Stephen and CC Claybrook (and their lovely daughter Darby) are traveling to China soon (very soon actually-- October 23!) to bring home their son Henry! Woo Hoo! This concert will help bring Henry home!

And seriously, $12 for a Mindy Smith ticket is a STEAL. SHe's not some no-name musician-- she's actually quite famous. ANd she is SO stinkin' good...

Please come. You can get your tickets HERE or at the door. Please come. She's awesome (have I mentioned that?) and it's a really, really great cause.

Here's the first song I ever heard her sing (Nick bought me her album after he heard her on NPR)

Spread the word!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New poll-- I need your help

It's election time!

If you will look to the right, I have posted a poll...

It's time to break Josiah's bottle habit. He's growing increasingly attached to it, and I just feel like he's past the age where I am comfortable with him having it. Now, let me offer this disclaimer. I am not suggesting that every child who is 16 months old should be done with a bottle. I am saying Josiah should. For Pete's sake, Nico had one until he was three and a half.

So, loyal readers, I need you to weigh in. And since I really don't know what to do so I am going to go with YOUR VOTES. You will be heard.

Poll closes in one week and I promise there will be NO negative ads during this election season.

The ways people find my blog

Ever since I have added the live feed to my blog, I love looking at where people are from and sometimes, how they got there.

One recurring thing I am noticing is that several times people have arrived at my blog after searching the term "grossest picture ever" and end up on THIS POST.

I am not sure what this says about my blog. Or more importantly, what this says about you, my blog readers.

But it has gotten me thinking-- if I am going to increase my readership, I am going to have to use extreme/superlative titles more often.

Some future posts might bear titles such as:
Dirtiest children in the entire world
Largest clothing size purchased by a human being
Loudest child of all time
The worlds' craziest mom
Messiest house in all of eternity
Worst behaved child ever

Sooner or later, I will have all sorts of crazies reading.
*contented sigh* I have so much to look forward to...