Writing this now, it's almost difficult to remember who we are outside of a family dealing with leukemia. But I must try.
My husband, Michael (also referred to as The Captain) is an amazing man. He works four different jobs. His night job. His day job. And his two side jobs... making the best chocolate ever and teaching fencing and sword fighting to people all over the mid state area. Occasionally he also choreographs fights for shows or leads summer camps for Jedis in training. Either way, the man is insanely busy and is the hardest worker I've ever know. Michael is extremely sexy but very much taken so hands off (he has to fight the old women off of him at the farmer's market... and now the nurses are kinda crushing on him at the hospital... he brought them chocolate of course).
We've been married since December 21, 2002. We met in college. We took a research methods class together. Both of us have undergrad degrees in psychology. We've had a rocky past but daily I see why God put us together to raise these specific children. We truly do compliment each other perfectly as parents.
Our first child was born on March 11, 2004. His name is Hunter Elliott Jones (He-Man) and he is the light of my life. No secret around here that Hunter is my best friend. He is a first grade unschooler. He loves to play baseball. His interests and passions include pigs, Wall-E, robots, Toy Story, video games, LEGO, pigs, turtles, blankets, drawing and painting, the color red, Jonas Brothers, rock and roll, Phineas and Ferb, Silly Bandz, Hannah Montana, iCarly, dinosaurs, and creating recipes. Hunter is an extremely sweet, sensitive, kind, loving and caring child. He loves going to Bible class at church and playing with his friends. When you become his friend, he won't let you forget it. He's a very loyal person. I think Hunter would make an excellent nurse or might do something in the hospitality field. He loves to give massages and wants to have a massage business one day.
Ronin Ivy Jones (Donut) was born on January 1, 2006. We named her perfectly. She is a very passionate, dramatic person. Ronin also likes to play baseball but she's hoping to be able to take a gymnastics or dance class in the near future. I personally think she'll eventually take to the stage in some fashion... just like her mama and daddy. Currently she loves Barbie, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, iCarly, and of course art. Drawing, painting, stencils, you name it. Art is her thing. This fall Ronin is going to donate bone marrow to her older brother in order to help save his life. Pretty big deal for a four year old, huh?
Drayken Giovanni Jones (or Doofenschmirtz as I call him most of the time) entered this world in water on March 15, 2009. He's the happiest person I've ever been around. He likes to climb, eat sweets, and laugh. He also does this really cute thing where he flirts with girls by looking over his shoulder and batting his eyes. He's a doll baby. He is my nature lover and would be thrilled to go outside as soon as he rolled out of bed and not come back in until he's ready to go back to sleep. He loves to destroy things and he likes trucks. I imagine him as a sweaty, gorgeous construction worker one day. Maybe he'll do demolition or own a wrecking company.
So, I guess you want to know a little about me. My name is Mandy Ray-Jones and I spent my entire life searching for some type of purpose and finally found it as a wife and mother. I named this blog "Bona Fide Mama" because Bona Fide is a synonym for "authentic" and that is my life goal... to live authentically. I was always weird. In middle school I became obsessed with the B-52s, Talking Heads, and other new wave music. I stopped eating meat and I started wearing my hair straight and parted down the middle (once you've trained your hair to do that, it's a life long commitment, by the way). I had over 100 pen pals at one point in time and I often believed that I would never find any people in real life who "got" me. College was okay. I enjoyed doing research and acting and even writing for a sit com. But I was friendless and spent all of my time doubting myself and trying to be accepted by boys. It wasn't until I found Christ that I came to peace with myself and who I am. I take joy in who I am today. I still love the B-52s and I'm still a weirdo. I love alternative medicine and nutrition. I love "The Office". I love hot pink, hot coffee, and writing. But mostly I just love people. And reaching out to people. And interacting with people. I've learned that I have a talent for networking and event coordinating (thanks to my short stint as the founder and executive director for a non profit called Artsy Mamas). I'm great at ministering to people about food and health and nutrition. I'm also a rocking mom.
We are unschoolers. We don't vaccinate. We try to feed our kids non processed, organic, whole foods. We avoid dairy. We take supplements. We have rid our home of toxic chemicals and cleaners. We don't even use a microwave.
So, it's pretty interesting that childhood cancer has recently attacked our family. On July 30th, 2010, Hunter was diagnosed with PreB ALL, a type of leukemia. Though he has the most common and more treatable kind of leukemia (or of all childhood cancers for that matter), Hunter is going to require a bone marrow transplant. He has a genetic mutation which causes his bone marrow to not produce the right number of chromosomes and that mutation was producing the leukemia in his blood. A lot of people are wondering why our child is at Vanderbilt children's hospital right now instead of at home receiving some type of alternative care. And believe me, that's a legitimate question. One that I have been asking too. But the fact is, this disease is fatal. And in Hunter's case, it's being caused by a genetic problem. It's not because of lack of antioxidants or healthy foods (the kid drank carrot juice for breakfast nearly every day of his life). My child doesn't have leukemia because of the number of hot dogs he's eaten in his life despite the "statistics" that were sent to me (one regular nasty hot dog ever, for the record). Alternative medicine won't fix this genetic mutation just like it won't fix Down Syndrome or a baby born without an arm. I still believe in alternative medicine. But I also believe in Western modern medicine now as well. Without it, my son would have no chance at a life. This experience has opened my eyes to just how egotistical we have been and to maybe how we have responded in a judgmental way when others we've known had to go the chemo route. I will forever be humbled.
Pray for our son. Pray that he will live a long and healthy life. And pray that God will use our story to make us better people and to make others better. Hunter deserves that.