Happy Mother’s Day

We do not participate in traditional celebrations of what I call “Hallmark” holidays around here. We enjoy the holidays, but in our own way. I don’t need over-priced bouquets of flowers or chocolate, or a meal in a restaurant on one of the busiest days of the year. Its nice to have an annual reminder to take the time to appreciate the loved ones in our lives, but everyday can be a Valentine’s or a Mother’s or Father’s day. We try hard to teach our children to show appreciation and be thankful year round and we don’t put a lot of pressure on the holidays.

That said, today is Mother’s Day. I bought us strawberry and goat cheese muffins to have for breakfast, made myself an extra cup of coffee, and pretended Oliver’s sleeping till 8:30am (as opposed to getting me up at 4:30am) was some kind of unconscious gift! And as I held my little Oliver this morning I couldn’t help but think of the fragility of our time together. The ache of the terror and grief I experienced having almost lost my son is as sharp today as it was two and a half years ago, and prodded me to think about what Mother’s Day, the actual day, means to me. My conclusion is that I am so thankful to be a mother. Its easy for us to forget what a privilege it is to be a mom, as it is easy for our kids and spouses to forget how lucky they are to have us.  Mother’s Day is as much about appreciating my family as it is about them appreciating me. So I resolve: Today I will not worry or stress. I will enjoy my domestic activities as my disaster of a house is really evidence of our wonderful life together. I will laugh at my children’s antics instead of worrying about the couch pillows. I will hold, hug, and kiss my kids as they require. I will stop what I’m doing when I’m needed and appreciate the interruptions because my life would be so empty without them. I love you, my little ones, and I love you, my husband. What and where would I be without you? Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Kids Volunteering for Coats for Kids

I’m getting into the volunteer circles late this year. Coats for Kids is  a non profit public service that takes a huge amount of time and commitment to pull off.

Coats for Kids gathers gently used and new coats for underprivileged families. No child should ever be cold. We managed to get in on the day of distribution and lend a hand.

Next year we will volunteer during the preparation stages of the process so we can do more! But the kids enjoyed themselves. And the important part is that we took our first step.

My youngest was born with a mitochondrial disease, its genetic, and has been incredibly difficult for our family. Over the last three years our family has received a LOT of support from friends and strangers as our Christmases have been celebrated based on revolving door trips to the hospital. This year we are blessed. The flu season has been mild. My youngest had a brief respiratory infection, but we wasted no time pulling out the big guns, and we managed to beat it before it gained momentum. Also, he is so much stronger this year. He’s gained weight. He’s two and a half and at the developmental age of a 9-12 month old, but he’s gained skills. I hope our hospital worthy illnesses are going to fade into the past. And since we are able to enjoy a somewhat normal holiday this year, I realized we cannot sit back and be passive recipients. We have to give back to our community. We spend a lot of time just kicking around the house. Its cold outside and the kids are bored. I’ll bet there are a lot of people out there in similar situations. Meals on Wheels and More currently has 28 open meal routes across Austin and, with the holiday season here, even more volunteer cancellations are expected in the coming weeks. Seasonally, this is a time of year when MOWAM sees one of the highest rates of volunteer turnover, as people cancel their service commitments due to holiday vacations and obligations. Meals on Wheels and More relies on volunteers to deliver 90 percent of the nearly 1 million meals it distributes annually. Meals on Wheels and More is also looking for substitute drivers to fill in during the holiday season, from now until January 2, when volunteer cancellations are expected to sharply increase. For more information please contact Volunteer Recruiter Denise Jimenez djimenez@mealsonwheelsandmore.org or call 476-6325 and ask for Volunteer Services.

We’ve filled out our application to be a substitute driver for Meals on Wheels. It took less than five minutes. These are routes that can be delivered during an office lunch hour. Coats for Kids has come and gone, but Operation Blue Santa, Meals on Wheels, and other non-profit assistance organizations still need your help whether its time or donations.

Have a blessed holiday!

Halloween Sewing Frenzy is OVER

*WHEW* That was intense.

I opened my Etsy shop and, based on my experiences the last time I had an Etsy shop, I was prepared for a mosy-along approach to sales. I thought I’d make a costume here, another costume there, slowly build my options and it would be relaxed and fun. Well it was fun, but it was not relaxed! I made the gnome costumes first with no idea how much people love gnomes!!! So cool! Once the gnome costumes and accessories were in the shop there was no time for anything else. I had so much fun, and I learned so much in this crash course to the holidays on Etsy, I just wanted to throw a general THANK YOU out to the universe and my customers.

This year has brought a lot of progress for me in terms of my goals. As a stay at home mother of three preschoolers for the last six years I have slowly felt my edges blurring. I knew I was more than a mom, but I didn’t have time to pursue self-enrichment. And my youngest was born with a mitochondrial disease, pulling the focus of life even farther away from me. I was getting a little depressed. I think a lot of moms can relate to that. So took hold of my bootstraps and decided to get back on Etsy and go back to school. My idea is to get a BA in Business while building a business from the ground up. That way once I’m finished I’ll have more to put on a resume than I’m a SAHM who went to school while taking care of the kids! This holiday season on Etsy has certainly gotten me off to a great start. I fortunately decided to take only one class this semester, which is turning out to be the best ever choice. If I’d had more on my plate I might have taken a turn for the looney bin! As intense as the last two months have been, I am thriving. And I am thankful. There were times I got a little grumpy, but I reminded myself, “Hey! I asked for this!”

Now the question is, what do I ask for next, hmmm? My goals for the rest of this year include:

  • Coming up with Christmas gift ideas to sell.
  • Coming up with new dress up and costume ideas.
  • Running my first ever craft fair booth (at my daughter’s school’s Winter Festival!).
  • Establishing administrative polices for myself – don’t want to get behind on the paperwork!
  • Learning about taxes and how to itemize!
  • Re-organizing my sewing studio so the design is more friendly to what I’m going to call Extreme Sewing vs Home Sewing.
  • Build a website.

OH yeah, don’t forget continuing to care for my family, managing my medically needy son, maintain my house, be a substitute teacher for my daughter’s school, and make straight A’s! I’ve accepted I’m not capable of regular blogging activity, but my goals will be the topics I’ll be blogging on. So if you’re a SAHM who wants to get back into “it,” or a budding entrepreneur, or just curious, keep reading. I hope to share some useful information. Or check me out on Facebook! While I can’t blog on a regular basis, me and FB are tight. Its easy, and fun, to post on FB and connect with my friends and customers. https://www.facebook.com/WooWhoEtsy

Thanks again, Universe!

~Melissa

Just what ARE mitochondria anyway???

My son, Oliver, is one year old and is under investigation to determine what mitochondrial disorder he has, if he does indeed have a mitochondrial disorder. A couple of months ago he had a muscle biopsy. The surgeon removed two grams of tissue from his right thigh for testing. When the results were in we were told two things. One, that his muscle fibers were not bundling properly. A muscle is made of two types of fibers, conveniently labeled type one and type two. If you were to look at a cross section of a muscle sample you should see the two fibers equally distributed, so at a 50% mix. Oliver’s fibers are bundling at 60%/40%. This is somewhat mild. The second thing we were told was that everything else was at normal levels, but they wanted to do one last test. Why? I asked (later, of course, through a series of phone messages between myself and the R.N.) should we do one more test if everything was mostly normal? I finally got a response back from the geneticists R.N. explaining that while the mitochondrial activity levels were normal, he had more mitochondria than they would expect to find.

Mitochondria, hmmm, I remember making a cell cookie for a middle school biology project once, and I recall that we used some type of candy, jelly beans I think, to represent the mitochondria, but that’s about all that I remember. This post is to rediscover mitochondria and why they’re so important.

What are mitochondria? Google provided me with this succinct description: mitochondrion – A spherical or ovoid organelle found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells, contains genetic material separate from that of the host; it is responsible for the conversion of food to usable energy in the form of ATP.

Mitochondria are the body’s powerhouses, the batteries if you will. Interestingly, mitochondria have their own DNA separate from that of the individual they reside inside of. Mitochondria were once a parasitic bacteria that has degraded over time until now its an integral part of our bodies and is passed on from mother to child in the egg. Even more fascinating, mitochondrial DNA can trace the maternal geneology back fifty thousand years and has been used to prove theories, such as we are descended from Neanderthals, false.

Facts:

Mitochondria contain 2 types of genetic material:
• mitochondrial DNA, which can only be passed on from the mother
• nuclear DNA, which is passed on from both parents

Autosomal recessive inheritance
The nuclear DNA in mitochondria is inherited from both parents (half from
each parent). Mitochondrial disease can be passed on only if BOTH the mother and
father are “carriers”. This means that they carry the mutated gene, but not the
disease – so they don’t have any symptoms. This is called autosomal recessive
inheritance.
When both parents are carriers, there is:
• a 25% chance of having a child with the disease
• a 50% chance of having a child who is a carrier like the parents
(has the mutation, but not the disease)
• a 25% chance of having a child that is not a carrier and does not have
the disease

http://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/documents/Patient%20Education/MitochondrialDiseaseUnderstanding-lw.pdf

While I read many articles, Mitochondrial DNA and Human History from the Human Genome website (http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD020876.html) was the simplest to digest.

But back to my original questions, what are mitochondria and how can I better understand mitochondrial disorders? Mitochondria reproduce faster than other human cells because they do not have a system check to identify mutated DNA. Because they don’t check, they reproduce faster, twenty times faster than other cells. One mutated mitochondria reproduces twenty times in X amount of time, and is why some mitochondrial issues do not manifest until adolescents or adulthood. It takes that many years for the original few defective mitochondria to reproduce to the level that they can impact their host.

What does this mean for Oliver? I have no idea, but it is a fascinating subject. If they’d told me in middle school biology that mitochondria are actually the remnants of an ancient parasitic bacteria that we now use to power our bodies I may have gone into genetics. Why do they keep all the cool stuff a secret?