Friday, May 30, 2008

link day

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Today I'm putting up some links to some sites that are interesting and informative for those of us into reducing the chemical load on our systems. Sometimes people are inclined to think that to do so is nearly impossible - these sites show you how normal people can manage it.

BrandAid - This is a site with a growing archive of everyday brands that contain the least amount of bad-for-you extras.

SkinDeep: Cosmetics Safety Database
An extremely enlightening resource! I've been poring over ingredient labels in personal care products for years, but this easy to use database covers it all, and takes out a lot of work - all I need to do is look at the product type (like diaper cream) and I'll get a listing of best to worst brands based on the chemical load of the ingredients.

Environmental Working Group - This site connects you to a variety of information related to humans and the environment, with special emphasis on chemical burden. This is the parent of the skin deep site listed above, but I felt they both deserved particular mention. Here you can delve deep into the issue. (I subscribe to the Enviroblog, and I love it!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I love/hate my gadgets

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I sometimes think I could live without my TV. I've cut out a lot of TV viewing in the last few years, to the point that it's hardly ever on during the week. Sometimes I'll watch a movie. Seriously, I think I have about 3 hours of total TV viewing a week now. I think some day we might just get rid of the thing all together. Trent over at The Simple Dollar offers a compelling argument for ditching TV - and, I could sell the thing and buy some nice living room furniture to fill the space left by our 56" HDTV. (Yeah. That's big. But not as big as my brother's 61" TV.)

My computer on the other hand... I can hardly imagine using my computer less. I love that I have such easy access to information, that I am involved in various online communities, that I have people I can rely on just a click of the mouse away. I hate that I spend so much time here. I sometimes ignore my daughter when she's practically begging for attention (because finishing reading some posts on a forum is more important?) I sit here reading interesting, but pointless things sometimes, just because I am unwilling to put effort towards more worthwhile things, like maintaining a pleasant home for my family, or taking time to study scripture.

I love my cool phone, because it's techno-geeky. I hate that I feel like I'm missing my hand if I forget it at home. I love being able to communicate at whim with almost anyone, any time. I hate that we expect people to be at our beck and call. I love that with cell phones, I could reach my kids at any time. I hate that it makes it harder to let your child grow up when they can always be reached. I hate that my child will feel like a social outcast if I don't get her one when she's 10!

It's definitely a love/hate relationship between me and my gadgets. Maybe an EMP bomb wouldn't be so bad...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

house painting

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For the past 2 weeks, I've had guests in my home. My father-in-law and brother-in-law have been staying here helping paint my house. Needless to say, my daily schedule has been upturned somewhat with hosting others and running errands for the job.

Now, the big question is, what color to paint the house? Right now, the house is mostly yellow. I have grown to appreciate the yellow-ness of my house, and really, my preference for it fits right in with me and orange. I know what yellow looks like. It makes the house stand out. Everyone in town knows where the yellow house on the hill is. (So does everyone approaching town from about 3 miles out - you can't miss our house unless it is dark).

There has been some discussion about changing the color, but I just don't know what we would change it to. Jude likes blue, and shades of blue. I'm willing to consider it. But, I'm just not sure... Will it loose the personality is has? Would it be nice to have a less obtrusive home? To not stand out like a big yellow school bus on a blacktop road?

Negotiations are on going. We probably won't decide until the last minute.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

my war with poison ivy

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I was out surveying my neighbor's kingdom on my trusty steed today.

As I cruised the trails, I found myself trying to minimize any possible contact with any greenery around me. Most of it was poison ivy or poison oak. Yuk.

You see, I'm fighting a war. Poison Ivy is the enemy.

My husband might say I'm paranoid. I say I have reason to be. Early in our marriage, I had an unfortunate run-in with a bunch of poison ivy roots in my flower garden. Being pretty ignorant of poison ivy in general, and not aware that the roots (even at the end of winter, before they've sprouted anything green to know what is what) are just as noxious as the weeds. I vigorously pulled up dead matter and roots with my bare hands. Lo, and Behold, I ended up with poison ivy completely covering my hands and forearms (and various other secondary contact areas, including my husband). My fingers swelled such that I couldn't bend them. Jude had to wash my hair for me, because they hurt and I couldn't use them, anyway. It took 3 weeks to get back to functional, and several more for the sores to go away. Needless to say, I have been wary of it since then.

There is LOTS of poison ivy in the land around my house. It grows like trees. In some fields, almost all the leafy greenery you see is poison ivy.

This is the extent of my paranoia:

I don't touch the neighbor dogs or cats. I could get it from their fur!

I (the anti-chemical gal) purchased some Roundup for poison ivy. Yes, an herbicide. And I sprayed it generously all around the huge patch growing right against the house and our outbuildings. I have been considering spreading the love to other areas that infringe upon my personal comfort zone - like the stuff growing along the edge of my yard and around my trees.

I have seriously contemplated purchasing goats for the sole purpose of eating the poison ivy. Unfortunately, the nature of goats is to eat everything else, too. And I'd have to get a whole herd for the quantity of ivy around here.

Clothing that might have come in contact with poison ivy, or touched something that might have touched poison ivy, is treated like harzzardous material.

Sometimes, I feel like I need to wear the white hazmat suit just to step into the woods.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

here's to sunday convesations

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A while back, I was invited to participate in a "Sunday Conversation" with Trent over at The Simple Dollar. I was pleased to expound on some of my opinions regarding parenting, green living, finances, and being a stay at home mom.

Trent and I certainly do differ in opinions on parenting, but it hasn't damaged the friendship between our families. It just makes for more interesting conversations when we have the chance to sit down and gab for a while!

Monday, May 19, 2008

consumer's corner

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See that? I have one now. Yes, it's Orange. It's the Motorola Rokr Z6m in Mandarin Orange.

My old phone was getting to the end of life. Battery life was short - I had to charge it after a long conversation. It would quit on me at odd times. It dropped calls right and left. It was the "free" phone (I've always gotten the free phone. What If I do something horrible to my phone? I don't want to have paid a lot for it...)

So, we go into our cell phone store, and we're looking around at all the phones. None of the free phones grab me. I spent 10 minutes circling the display of phones feeling conflicted, and at an impasse. I ask Jude 'If you were picking out a phone for me, what would you pick out?' And this lovely phone was the result.

He's right. I like it.

It has a decent camera (nice, since I always complain about not having a small camera to carry around, as my Canon 10D is too bulky to carry around for those spontaneous cute kid shots). It has a video recorder. It plays music. While these might be normal features to the rest of the world, for me, it's something totally new.

I feel like such a consumer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

beautiful flowers

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Spring always makes me kind of sad. The flowers don't last very long. One of my favorite flowers, lilacs, are already fading.

One of the things that I realized, though, is that even though some flowers fade, there are others that come along to fill the void. Almost as soon as one kind of flower fades, another blooms.

Although my lilacs are fading, the irises are standing tall and purple, the spirea is blooming like giant snowballs, and very soon my huge pink beauty bush will be gracing the air with fragrance.

I love Spring!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

cutting cost by cutting shopping

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A few weeks ago, I posted about shopping less to save money. This has turned out remarkably well for me. Although I can't say how much I've saved (Who knows what I would have bought!), I know that not going to Wal-Mart has certainly saved me a lot of time. And, since I've been saving up my list of things to get on my once-a-month trip, I find that there are some things that I really don't "need" once I get to the store.

One of the bonuses of shopping less is that I have an opportunity to shop around and see if I can find a better deal, or see if there's a similar product that suits my needs more. Last week, I made the effort to visit a city-wide yard sale day at a nearby town. I took my shopping list of things I was looking for, and was able to save quite a few dollars, compared to buying new. I didn't end up doing lots of extra driving, either, since it was a small town, and I used the newspaper to guide me to sales with items that fit my interest.

One thing that I've realized is that I'm learning to not "settle" for something that's not what I really need. For instances, the me of 6 months ago would have run straight to wal-mart to get a resistance band for an exercise program I'm currently working through. I would have found that they didn't have exactly the thing I was looking for, but because I 'had' to get something, I would have purchased a band that actually was not what I needed. I would have ended up being dis-satisfied with my purchase. Instead, since I had to wait to go buy what I wanted, I made do with other exercises that didn't need a resistance band. I also found that since what I was substituting was working okay, I was only going to get the equipment that actually filled my needs (in this case, a 6 foot resistance band, which I still haven't purchased), instead of getting one that was too short.

So, essentially, immediate gratification, when it comes to shopping, is often less than gratifying. Might as well wait, save some money and time, and get what you really want!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

setting goals

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I've been participating in Go Workout Mom's Goal Call Monday for the past several weeks. Unfortunately for me, 2 of those weeks I've failed to meet my goals.

I have no sage advice to offer on how to meet goals. I know there's a certain degree of stick-to-it-iveness that is needed to set realistic goals and to accomplish them. Perhaps it is unrealistic to say 'I'm going to exercise 5 days this week,' knowing that I will be traveling and visiting people on 2 of those 5 days. That's setting myself up for failure if I set a goal that I don't even plan on reaching. How dumb!

So this week, I've switch from an exercise based goal to a nutrition related goal - I'm going to aim for drinking 48 oz of water. That's just 6 8 oz glasses of water in a day. I like drinking water, and I know I feel thirsty during the day, so this would be an improvement over the 16-2o ounces that I usually drink!

I have a method for keeping track of my water. I have some of those little glass beads used in flower vases and fish tanks, and 2 decorative glass jars. Every time I drink a glass of water (8 oz) I move a bead from one jar to the other. That way, I have a visual of what I've done, and what I have left.

What are your tricks for helping you keep on track of your goals?

Monday, May 12, 2008

my visit to the Capitol

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Last week, I made my first-ever visit to my state capitol building, and I was on a mission. I went to speak to my senator and my representative about the midwifery bill that is floating around down there, and to encourage them to vote yes on the bill, and to make efforts to encourage their co-workers to do the same. That was met with what I would describe as non-committal response from both. They were nice enough, though.

I actually set foot on the senate chamber floor, since that is where my senator was. Elizabeth, my sister-in-law, and I were led to a side-bench in the "by senators invtiation only area" and I spoke with my senator on and off for about 5 minutes. It was interesting to put faces to the voices that I've been hearing as I've listened in to the debate streamed live from the senate.

I saw the house of representatives, also, but had to troop back upstairs to find my rep in his office.

One thing that struck me as I interacted with both men - I thought I knew what politics in action looked like, but this was the real deal - being politely (with a smile, because I'm a constituent!) half ignored, while trying to answer my questions with the most round-about answers possible. Don't want to say too much, lest they commit to something they don't really want to, or lest they get in trouble with their party.

I spent some time in the gallery, watching more debate, and was disappointed that my bill wasn't brought up. They ended up closing shop early, and adjourning until Monday. Boo.

Thanks to the internet, I'll be able to listen in over this last week of the session, hoping to hear some good news for midwives.

Friday, May 09, 2008

musical moms

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A while back, I came across this video. I am still awed and inspired by it, and I love the song. I wanted to share it with you.

The woman in it sings a song in the midst of labor - you can see on her fac the concentration required to keep going. Perhaps this is something to try at some poimt - I've heard that singing can be very helpful, and obviously, it is doable!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

what to say

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I've been struggling recently to come up with things to post about.

I've been quite distracted, with my brain full of planning for summer camps and organizing all the the stuff that go along with with that. It seems boring to talk about calls that end with a "no" or printing hundreds of health forms to send out to potential campers.

I've been busy listening in on the Missouri Senate and the work on the midwifery bill that currently there (as of yesterday, it was perfected!) We have thismuch time to get it passed.

I've been trying to keep up on housework, which always falls to the wayside when I sit in front of the computer. So, I've been trying to cut back on computer time, and spend more in productive activities, like chores or playing with Elizabeth.

But, when all else fails, blog about your kid. So, here's what I know about Elizabeth:

  • She's cute.
  • She now says" Cheese!!!"
  • She has added the "more" sign to her repetoire.
  • She loves dogs and cats, and screeches whenever she gets close to one.
  • When you ask: "what does a dog say?" she says, "ruff, ruff, ruff!" When you ask, "what does a bird say?" she says, "ruff, ruff, ruff." Got me on that one.
  • When we read a certain book, there's a part where the "wind blows" and whenever we reach that page, she says" whoooo.... whooooooo!!!"
  • She likes to read - she bring me books, and sometimes, she just sits down and flips through books all by herself.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

things green

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I'm into "green" things (although, green is not my favorite color. I prefer blue. or Orange.)

Some green related things I've found:
Enviroblog - a place for to get info on many things environmental. And for me, I'm learning more about the stuff I want to avoid. Unfortunately, I can't hide from everything.

Green related things going on around my house:
Lilacs. Lots of them.

This weekend, Jude was being very thoughtful, and purchased the chicken wire and installed the posts I need to set up a compost pile. Yea! I've been wanting one for years, and he helped me get it done. I know I'm loved! (Seriously!) This compost will make excellent additions to the flowerbeds and soil around our home.

Hopefully, the end of this week will see seeds and seedling planted in the garden. It's been rainy here just often enough that we've been having a tough time getting the soil dry enough to till. But, it's looking good for the rest of the week. Garden, here I come (with compost!)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

personal triumphs

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I have a personal triumph to tell you about. As of this past Sunday, I have finally reached my first goal: to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. It's been 2 years since I saw that number on the scale, and more significantly, it's been 2 years since I've been able to (mostly) fit in the clothes I had then.

What have I done to bring about such a change in just 5 months? I exercise and eat better. The exercise is what has really made the difference. For years, I tried to loose weight just by changing my diet. I never did supplements, or crazy-weird diets. I think the worst I did was I tried the south beach diet for a summer. I just tired normal things like reducing my portion size, and cutting out junk foods, and adding in more wholesome foods.

My husband tried to convince me that I needed to exercise more, and I staunchly refused to acknowledge that I needed more exercise that I already did. I struggle with being willing to admit that he's right (there, I said it). We still butt heads regarding exercise, but the truth is, daily exercise is just as important (if not more so) than what we eat, when it comes to trying to loose weight, and getting fit.

Now my challenge is to switch from looking at exercise as "something I do to loose weight" to "something I do for life."

Saturday, May 03, 2008

cute hat

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Elizabeth looks good in a hat. Of course, most babies I've seen look pretty cute in a hat.

I took these on a walk to the park in town.

It was warm, but very windy!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

more on my list of things out to get me

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BPA is everywhere! (including your canned food)
I have already cut out a lot of bad for me foods, generally, but I think I'm going to take a serious looks at canning more of my own products. I imagine, though, that there might be BPA in the lids used in canning jars. They are also metal lids, and have a coating on the food contact side. At least there would be reduced contact with the food.

I could try freezing my food, but again, most containers used for freezing are plastic based. I don't know if they are BPA-free. I think I need to move to the tropics where there's fresh food all the time. Alternatively, I could build a good green house, and grow my own food year-round.

Call me paranoid. I tell you, the food and packaging industries are out to get me.
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