What does your MDC user name mean? How did you choose it?
I tend to use the same user name on all internet forums. The name Leiahs dates back to about 10 years ago, when I was first venturing into online gaming with my DH. We were playing Diablo II, and my character was a bow-wielding amazon. My first pick would have been Shaiel, named after a character from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time fantasy book series, but it was unavailable. There was a rumor at that point of a future feature in the game that would temporarily make your name appear to be spelled backwards. So, I spelled Shaiel backwards, and got Leiahs (I pronounce it like Princess Leia, with an S on the end). It was accepted. When I first joined a forum to find other people to play with, I used my character name for my forum name, so people would recognize me in-game. And although the rumored feature never came about, the name just stuck. I got used to being addressed as Leiahs online. So there you have it!
What are some causes / charities / etc. that are important to you?
I follow anti-circumcision movements pretty closely, and contribute monetarily when I can. I was absolutely ambivalent about circumcision until I was pregnant with my first boy. I read a little bit, but ended up asking my DDC from my first baby what their thoughts were. One woman was brave enough to send me a PM with *exactly* her thoughts on the subject, and they were the strongest and firmest I've ever seen or heard. She led me here to MDC's Case Against Circumcision board, and I've been hooked on the issue ever since.
I'm not heavily involved, but I also like to follow anti water fluoridation movements as well.
And then there's typical "crunchy" related stuff, like natural childbirth/midwife rights/breastfeeding that are all very important to me. The midwife who attended my first homebirth/previous birth in Maryland is facing criminal charges right now, and I'm following the support for her very closely. And now that I'm in CO and only direct-entry midwives do homebirths, I'm trying to get involved in supporting the legislation to allow them access to things like pitocin, to make births safer when emergency measures are needed.
Do you like to read? What are a few of your favorite books? (Either all-time faves, or ones you have read lately.)
I'm sort of in a reading slump right now (well, I'm in an everything slump - I don't do any of my hobbies, just check the internet and watch TV in my free time... sad!!). But I do love to read when I'm in the mood for it. My favorite genre is fantasy, and lately I've really been enjoying Young Adult books. For the past 3 years, since I first discovered her books, Shannon Hale has been my favorite author by far. I've read all of her books, and re-read many of them, and they're all so magical and happy. If I were to pick a starting place with her books, I'd recommend either The Goose Girl (first in a series of stories following the various characters), or Princess Academy. They're all books I'm eager for my daughter to read in a few more years! Other than Shannon Hale, I love to read the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (as I mentioned above), and have also loved the Hunger Games trilogy. The first book that drew me into fantasy (and sci-fi) was Ender's Game.
What are your favorite guilty (or perhaps not so guilty) pleasures?
Any sort of sweets. My mom always told me if I didn't learn to control my sweet tooth when I was young, it would catch up to me when I was older. It's so true. I have no will-power, and over the past several years have sort of trained myself to "need" chocolate or some other candy or ice cream whenever the kids were stressing me out. Not a good course of action. I've been getting better (being unemployed for a long period of time and not having income for candy can help with that), but if it's in the house or sitting in front of me, I still have practically no restraint.
My not-so-guilty pleasures include watching old TV series with my husband after the kids are in bed. :)
If you could take a one-month trip anywhere in the world, price no object, where would you go?
I've never had a really strong desire to travel the world, but I would *love* to see and hike Southern New Zealand, especially the fjords and mountains right near the ocean. That's probably to be blamed on watching Lord of the Rings. ;)
What were you like as a teenager? If you could go back in time, what would you tell your teenage self?
Pretty much a goody-two-shoes. I rarely went out socially, had just a few close friends, had a steady boyfriend in a pretty darn innocent relationship, followed the rules, got straight A's, and liked to keep to myself. I think the only thing I would tell myself would be that I was NOT going to end up marrying my boyfriend (ah, so naive), so I might as well forget about him and get to know some other people, too. Maybe if I had put myself out there more as a teen, I wouldn't still be quite so alarmingly introverted.
How do you think your background and childhood influence the way you approach parenting?
I pretty much hated the way my parents raised me. There was a lot of yelling, guilt-tripping, crying, fighting, and often spanking. Our "talks" were never comforting, but always did more to make me feel guilty and ashamed and hateful towards my parents. I never ever had a good relationship with my mom. We basically only talk a few times each year ever since I moved out of state, and it seems like neither one of us really care. But anyway, I do my best to NOT parent like that, though I often fail. I'm definitely a yeller with my kids when I get stressed out, and I hate it. It's so hard to change. But I feel fairly successful in that when I sit down to talk with my kids after I've lost my temper, I focus on the positive, and apologizing to them, and trying to make things better, and I think they know how much I love them, and they are always affectionate to me after those talks. My husband's parents are much better examples of good parents than mine are, so I try to take hints from them whenever I can.
If you already have older children, tell us a little bit about each of them.
My daughter, Melinda, is 7.5 years old. She's amazingly outgoing, crazily energetic (while being slightly clumsy and careless, which means she's often covered in bruises), loves horses to death, is great at helping around the house, loves babies to death (I'm a little worried about this coming baby - DD can be a little smothering at times!)... She loves loves loves school and loves to give people gifts (like drawings, bracelets, ect.). She gets along with boys just as easily as with girls. She never seems to get nervous, and always seems confident. But she's also very stubborn and likes to do things *her* way.
My son Jacob is 5.5 years old. He's always been sensitive and cuddly. Little things can set him off easily, and he adjusts to new things very slowly and often with a lot of tears. I think he's more of an introvert, like me. He took almost 3 months to adjust to Kindergarten (half-day), but now that he's adjusted does very, very well. He just started to learn to read last summer before school started, and picked up on it lightning fast. He's now reading better than most of the kids in my daughter's 1st grade class. He also memorizes extremely well, which seems like an amazing skill to me. He loves video games and Star Wars and Lego and weapons, and still has that rough 'n tumble boy quality to him despite all the sensitivity.
My son Alex is my surprise baby. Surprise pregnancy, April Fool's birthday, 10lb 10oz (a full 2lb bigger than my previous two). He learned to crawl at 5mo, walk at 8mo, and was climbing all over everything before his first birthday. He never does quite what I expect him to. He likes to act like the big kids, but still insists he's a baby (and doesn't want to be out of diapers yet, sigh). I weaned him not long after his 2nd birthday because I just desperately felt like I needed a break and to have my body to myself again, and he wasn't thrilled. He took to holding my earlobe instead of snuggling my breast at bedtime, and it quickly turned into a full-time habit. I thought it would be a short phase, but he will go for my earlobe every time he's within arm's reach of it, even now a year later. It was cute for a couple months, now it's a severe annoyance, and he's slowly learning that the earlobe is only for bedtime. In his bed. ;) He's definitely possessive of me (he calls me "MY mommy", and screams when older brother and sister dare try to cuddle with me. I'm more than a little worried that he'll have a very hard transition when the new baby comes, and that will be a new experience for me. DD and DS1 both took to new babies so easily and happily.
What is your favorite, quick go to recipe?
Cheeseburger Macaroni (like a really good homemade Hamburger Helper) I got from a cooking blog. My daughter dubbed it "Mackadacky", and we have it pretty regularly. The whole family enjoys it. Recipe here!
Coffee or Tea?
Don't drink coffee, and only tolerate tea medicinally. I'm a hot chocolate gal!
Do you plan to go grey with grace or dye?
The plan has always been to grey with grace. But I have to admit I find myself slightly freaking out about how many grey hairs I've been finding over the past year, and they keep getting more numerous (and I'm only 30!!!). I've never dyed my hair before, so I'm hoping I'll keep sticking to my guns. I always admire women who wear their hair color naturally.
Do you watch TV, what is your favorite show?
We don't have any TV service. We mainly watch shows through our computer on hulu.com (conveniently hooked to our TV) and Netflix. We've really enjoyed watching LOST, Veronica Mars, and Ugly Betty over the past year. Things we try to keep current on through the computer are The Office, Castle, and Glee. Previously we've loved Dollhouse and Firefly, as well.
Soup, salad, sandwich - pick two and what type.
Soup: Potato and Leek soup, with *plenty* of cheese melted in. Mmmmm.
I think my second pick is salad, and only because years of brown-bagging lunches sort of ruined sandwiches for me, unless they're super fancy. I like a salad with everything on it: Mixed greens, hard boiled eggs, grated carrots, sunflower seeds, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, grated cheese, croutons, baby shrimp, chow mein noodles... you get the picture. I most often opt to top it with Ranch dressing. Every now and then I go for Thousand Island or a vinaigrette.
Summer or winter?
Summer, mostly because I can leave the house without putting on an additional hundred items of clothing and shoes on myself and my kids before I walk out the door. I love just slipping on some sandals and heading out. The heat is often overwhelming for me, but I love getting outside and playing/walking/hiking. Winter can be fun and beautiful, but I wish it didn't come with so many needed accessories. ;)
Do you sing in the car? Only when you are alone or when you are with others?
Around my family, I sing whenever I want, definitely including in the car, and cleaning, and bedtime. Around people I'm less comfortable with, I don't like to single myself out. I do sing in our church choir, and I've been told I have a very nice voice, but I don't like a lot of attention, so singing isn't usually my first choice with casual friends.