Friday, March 30, 2012

I need your help!!

I don't usually ask you for advice.  I'm not the "asking" kind of gal.  I'll throw my advice at you all day long and hope you'll listen to a tidbit here and there, but to ask?  Not. Me.

But I need your help!  You see, a few weeks ago I decided it would save a TON of money if I would make my own laundry and dishwasher soap.  The jury's still out on whether it's actually cheaper to make my own laundry soap, at least using the method I found.  It does work, but I'm still in debate as to whether it's worth it.  The dish soap, though?  TOTAL flop.  I mean...it cleans the food off my dishes, sure, but it leaves a nasty white filmy residue on everything.  See here?  The left is what my glasses normally look like, and the right is what they looked like before I hand-washed them a bit ago to get the uck off.


We have hard water.  I'm guessing that's part of the problem.  But what can I do?  I would love to make my own dishwasher detergent, but if I have to hand wash everything after it's washed, that sort of defeats the purpose of even having a dishwasher, you know?

Do you make your own dishwasher detergent?  What do you use to make it?  Honestly, we've never had good luck with powdered detergent in this dishwasher.  Do you know any recipes to make liquid dishwasher detergent?

Any advice?  I'm listening!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Competitive Momming

When the competition heats up, so do my super-mom skills.  Yep, you heard me right.  Nothing gets my mom-juice flowing like a good ol' "I can do better than you."

People, my house is cleaner.  I get up earlier and wake my kids with a smile rather than a yawn.  I respond more quickly to my kids' calls.  I play more.  I'm a better version of me.  Why?  All because someone said, "I can do better than you."

Little Lou, my friends.

She's the culprit.

Oh, it might be my fault, but I'm telling you, she's the motivation.

On Saturday, she got her very own GeoPalz pedometer.


(Don't worry, you'll hear more about that in a couple weeks.)  I told her I thought it'd be fun if we had a daily contest to see who can walk the most steps.  She had questions: what's our goal, what do we win, how is it even FAIR if I'm at school all day, and more.  And then she said it.  "I can do better than you, Mommy."

And, ummm, yeah.  She HAS done better.  3 out of the last 4 days, she's done better.  Yesterday, she devoured me.  Chewed me up and spit me out.  I even went for a walk while she was at Girl Scouts!  Today, though?  She Will. Not. Win!  Before noon?  10,000 steps.  I'm cool with her winning some days-maybe even most days, because she's six and if she doesn't win...a lot...she'll get frustrated and give up.  Where would my motivation be then?!?

But it doesn't even stop there.  I told my family about the challenge.  My mom was on board right away, to my surprise, asking if she could get a pedometer and join!  My sister, Jennifer, from Life with my BOYS, jumped on the walking wagon as well, and bought a pedometer this morning!  Even her hubby is joining in!  Bugsy wants a GeoPalz pedometer as well, but we'll have to scrimp and save to fit it into the budget.  I'm not sure yet how that will work.

Guys, Little Lou has a pedometer, and because she has a pedometer, I have walked over 13,000 steps today.  Little Lou has a pedometer, and because she has a pedometer, my mom, sister, and brother-in-law are joining us in a race to take the most steps.  Little Lou has a pedometer, and because she has a pedometer, my whole family is taking literal steps toward improving our health!

(Oh, and the travelling trophy is going to be AWESOME!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

{Mostly} Wordless Wednesday: Lifelong Friends


There's something special watching our kids and the kids of great friends (with whom we've done MUCH growing) grow up as friends!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week!

Happy MS Awareness Week!

Exciting, isn't it?  Yippee!  Let's all talk about Multiple Sclerosis!  That sounds like a great party!  I want to go!

Or not.  Who wants to talk about these things?  Who cares?

I care.

My family cares.  My friends care.

Multiple Sclerosis is real.  It's "invisible," it's scary, it sometimes painful, and it's real.

Maybe you don't know anything about MS.  Maybe you've heard the name, but that's where it ends.  Maybe when you hear "MS" your mind immediately goes to a wheelchair.

I know a woman who was diagnosed with MS last August, just 7 months ago.  This woman looks "normal."  Some days she doesn't see as well as she used to.  Some days her legs are achy, or her head hurts, or she's so exhausted she sits on the couch all day.  If you saw her you wouldn't even know anything was wrong.  I would, though, because that woman is me.  

Most of you don't know me, but I'll tell you this: I am not sitting in a wheelchair right now.  I'm sitting on my couch, legs "criss-cross-applesauce," typing this post and watching SkitGuys videos on my husband's computer.  It's been a good day and everything feels fine.  On Saturday, though, I woke up with severe leg pain.  I took ibuprofen as soon as I woke up and again throughout the day.  Until I went to bed Saturday night, I was in pain.  You know what I did Saturday night, though?  I went roller skating with my family.  No one knew anything was wrong (other than my husband and my daughter's friend's mom, who also happens to have MS).  You can't tell by looking.  You can't tell by what I'm doing that day.  I like to tell myself I can do anything.


~~~~~~~~~



So what exactly is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease. (www.nationalmssociety.org)

What causes MS?

No one really knows for sure.  There are theories that say it's genetic, theories that say it's caused by a virus, or by the environment, by the foods we eat...no one knows.  It's generally accepted that MS is an auto-immune disorder, but no one really knows for sure where it comes from or what causes it.  Research is ongoing.  The National MS Society and other companies are trying hard to pin down the answers.  There are so many factors involved that it's a very difficult process!

Who gets MS?

Men do, and women.  Teenagers, elderly, children, middle-aged people.  White people, black people, green people.  MS can happen to anyone.  

Women are at least 2-3 times more likely to be diagnosed with MS than are men.  
Diagnosis is most common between the ages of 20 and 50.
MS occurs most frequently in Caucasians of Northern European descent.


So what do you do about MS?


Most people don't know they have MS until they have a somewhat major "exacerbation."  For me, it was 4 months of double vision, and nearly two years later, loss of vision in a field of my left eye.  A neurologist will diagnose, typically through an extensive series of tests, whether or not MS is the problem.  There are different types of MS, and a good neurologist should be able to tell, from both test results and medical history, the type.  


From there, most neurologists help patients choose a medication, often based on both MS type and insurance coverage.  Multiple Sclerosis medications don't, at this point, "fix" MS.  They're maintenance medications.  They help your body fight further exacerbations, in some cases cutting the amount of yearly episodes in half or more! Some doctors recommend changes in diet, as diet is theorized to be one cause of MS.  Whole foods diets are recommended (and really best for everyone), as they don't have the chemicals processed foods have.  Some neurologists will prescribe fatigue medications, some will prescribe pain medications, some will wait and see.  Treatment really depends on the doctor, the patient, the type of MS, and the severity of symptoms.


~~~~~~~


What can I do to help??

Whether you are aware or not, you likely know someone who has MS.  (I hesitate to say say "suffering from MS" because right now, most days my biggest amount of "suffering" is the hour or so after I take my injection, and then a few days late when the injection site starts itching.  Some people, though, truly are suffering.)  Whether you see it or not, someone you know is likely exhausted, or achy, or not seeing straight. Whether you know it or not, someone you know could use your help to have a brighter future!

The National MS Society is working hard to find a reason for MS, to find new treatments for MS, to find a cure for MS!  The only way they can do any of that, though, is through public funding.  It's important, and it's vital.  People depend on it!

The National MS Society is ALWAYS open to donations for the cause.  They'll never ever tell you no!  You can visit the website at www.nationalmssociety.org to find out more!

~~~~~~~~

You can also help by joining a team and walking this year in one of the many WalkMS events around the country!  Find an event here and register today!  If you're local to the Indianapolis, Indiana area, I'd LOVE to have you join my team!  Think about it.  You could make a difference!  Join my team here!!

If you can't walk with me but would still love to help, please consider making a donation to my team!  Your donations will go straight to the National MS Society!  Every donation will put us one step closer to finding a reason for, finding a cure for, MS!  If you'd love to make a donation, visit my WalkMS page!  You won't win anything from me, you won't get any extra entries, there's no prize...for you, anyway.  The prize for me, though, and my family, and the families of your friends and family with MS, will be life-long!



~~~~~~~~~~~

Multiple Sclerosis.  It's silent.  It's real.


Monday, March 12, 2012

It was unexpected.


They're disrupting my life.  

It wasn't my plan.  I figured I'd save a little money, maybe prevent a few rashes, and make a "fashion" statement.  That's right.  I wasn't really into cloth diapers for the "green-ability" at the beginning.  I was into them for the savings.  It's true!

And then I started using some glass storage containers instead of plastic.  A water bottle with a filter rather than bottled water.  Homemade cleaners.  And then.  And then.  And then...

And then today.  Today I made my grocery list and on it I put "paper plates" and "plastic cups."  


Paper plates and plastic cups.

I couldn't do it.  I'll be feeding a party of 15 on Thursday night and I just. can't. do it.  We'll be eating off of the real stuff and I'll be washing it Friday.

They're disrupting my life, those cloth diapers, and I didn't anticipate that at all!

~~~~~~~~~

What changes have you made lately that are disrupting your life?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

We hold the keys.

There are four keys on my key ring: one for my house, one for my car, one for my parents' house, and one for...I don't know what.  I'm pretty attached to my keys.  They're mine.  We have spares, and you can borrow them if you need.  My keys are mine, though.  They're for me to get into my car, my house, my parents' house and...somewhere else.  I'm not sharing them.  You can't take them from me.  Mine.

That's the thing about keys, though, isn't it?  We get attached and we won't let go.  We NEED them.  We can share a spare, so you and I will each have a set, but I still hold onto mine.  I'm not going to give you total control of my house or my car.  You can have it when I don't need it, but when I need it, I'm the boss!

I have other keys too, though.  They're not on my key ring.  I have a key that opens my mouth.  One that opens my eyes.  One for my family.  One for my bedroom.  One for church.  One for right here on the blog.  I have a lot of keys.  More than I could ever name or count!  You've got a lot of keys, too.  The trouble is, they work just like the ones on the ring.  The thing is, only one person can use a key at a time.  They're funny that way.  Not only that, but even if two people have keys to the same lock, only one of them can be used at a time.

That Locksmith--He knows what He's doing, people.  You see, He made each lock, makes each lock, with a variety of keys.  He'll give you as many as you want.  One for yourself, one for your kids, one for your husband, one for your neighbor; however many keys you want, they're yours!  But then, here's the thing.  He's going to ask for you to give them all back.  He wants to be the only one that holds a key.  HE wants to be in charge--of your home, your family, your job, your friendships, your kids.  HE wants to be the boss.  HE wants to be in control!

Friends, I've been burdened these last few weeks thinking about my own life.  There are some doors to which I've willingly handed over the keys.  Here they are, God.  Do what you want in these rooms of my life.  There are some doors I've willingly handed over a spare key.  Here, God.  You can use these rooms of my life, come into these rooms of my life, when I'm not already using them.  Sometimes they're going to be mine alone, but you know, if I don't already have plans, they're all yours!  And then there are some doors to which my two-year-old self just won't let go of the keys.  Nope, God, they're mine.  I'm not sharing.  I can handle this one on my own.  It's mine and I don't need you here.

I've made a decision, though.  I've been wrestling with it for a couple weeks, and today it's crystal clear to me how I'm going to make it all work.  I'm just handing over the keys.  Those areas of my life aren't mine anymore.  I've invited God to take control.  I've laid the keys on the table.  He can have them.  He knows what He's doing.

Are there doors in your life to which you've been unwilling to hand over the keys?  Give them to God.  Let Him use those rooms for His glory.  I promise He's got a bigger plan than you ever could!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: My new best friend



Friday, March 2, 2012

I love Oeko Popo! Review and Giveaway

You all know I'm a cloth diaper lover, for a variety of reasons.  I think they're cute.  I like that I don't have to buy them over and over and over just to throw them away.  I like that Stinky feels when he's pottied.  AND I like that they're WAY more breathable than disposable diapers!  Juliane, from Oeko Popo Diapers, has done an experiment to test just how the breathability compares!  Some of you will be surprised.  Check out her video!


Speaking of Oeko Popo, Juliane contacted me several months ago and asked if I'd like to review her diapers!  Um...yes?  I checked out her page and they were SO cute, and different than diapers I'd seen before, so of course, I agreed and she sent me this adorable versatility cover!


The Oeko Popo Versatility cover (Size 2 OS) can be used as a cover over fitteds, prefolds, flats, etc., OR it can be used with Oeko Popo's unique inserts to make it function as an AI0/AI2, OR with a pocket sleeve to make it a pocket!  This puppy is truly versatile!

On the left, you see the cover.  The pocket sleeve is in the middle (cinched down a bit for Stinky).  The insert is on the right.

I use the Oeko Popo Versatility diaper differently depending on what we're  doing that day.  Stinky's a heavy  wetter, and my favorite "insert" is a flat, pad-folded.  I LOVE that the Versatility is perfect for adequately covering his flat!  (That's what he's wearing as I type!)  Earlier today, He wore the same cover, with the pocket sleeve and insert.  It's really easy to stuff the sleeve!


Then just snap it into the cover, and you're good to go!  There is a snap at each corner of the sleeve, so it doesn't move a bit once it's in the diaper!


The pocket sleeve creates a double gusset!  Most of the time, when Stinky is...Stinky...I can just unsnap the sleeve from the cover and either insert a new sleeve, a new insert, or another type of insert!  It's great!  I love this feature.


These next couple pictures are a little different.  They're green.  That's right.  I liked the first Oeko Popo Versatility cover SO much, that I bought a second one!  It was just too cute!  The fabric is nice and thick and durable, but not so thick it's stiff or rigid!  Anyway, one feature I really like about the Oeko Popo Versatility cover is the snap pattern!  I've never seen anything quite like it.  Most of the snaps on the front of the diaper are "female" like you see with most diapers, but a few of them are "male."  (Obviously, then, the ones on the tabs are the opposites.)  This allows for a much more custom fit than most of the one size diapers I've tried!  I LOVE this!  The only thing I wish were different (about this whole diaper, honestly) is I wish it had 4 snaps on the tabs rather than 3, so the wings would droop just a tad less.  There's not much droop at all, but I guess I'm just sort of paranoid!


Even though the Versatility is the "extra wide" version of the Oeko Popo diaper, it fits Stinky GREAT through the crotch!  He's got room to spare, for sure, but the fabric is so soft and flexible it doesn't irritate him or bunch up!


People, the Oeko Popo Versatility Cover is my go-to diaper.  It is always the first on Stinky's booty out of the wash.  Sometimes it's with a flat, sometimes with just the insert (which snaps in too, by the way) or sometimes with the pocket sleeve and insert.  The Versatility is cute, durable, well-made, and virtually leak-proof, as long as you have enough absorbency for your child!  (Any diaper will leak if you don't have enough absorbency, though!)

If you have a baby in cloth, you need this diaper.  You definitely won't be disappointed!

The Oeko Popo shop is closed until March 8, but after that will be re-stocked and ready to go!  Be watching.  You'll be glad you did!

After all, what can be cuter than this:


Other than maybe this:


Are you dying to give Oeko Popo a try?  You should be!  In fact, Juliane from Oeko Popo would love to help you start your Oeko Popo stash!  One of my lucky readers will win a $25 Oeko Popo gift code!  Will it be you?  You can't win if you don't enter!  Use the rafflecopter form below.  When you win, you'll be able to take adorable pictures like this:

(Yep.  He's the baby.  Teaching him early.)

I was given one of these diaper and insert sets free in order to facilitate a review, but purchased the other.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are 100% my own!