Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Club: Brainstorm for October!!

Don't forget that this FRIDAY is our first ever Book Club discussion post for The Lovely Bones! I can't wait!! I've pre-programmed the post to come up at 6:00 a.m. for those who are uber-excited and anxious to share their thoughts!

Being that October is a mere two days away...we need to start brainstorming book ideas for our October selection. EVERYONE - please post some ideas of books that are on your list to read!


Also, while you're at it - I recently had a funny discussion with some friends about finding time to read and the funny times and places we read. My friend and I discovered that we both sneak in a page or two during the two minutes it takes to brush our teeth (on the morning Bennett isn't hanging off me...)!!

What are the "interesting" ways you squeeze in a little page turning???

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Product Recommendation!

In my quest to transition to using organic products as much as is feasible, I discovered the line of Organix hair products, sold at Target. It is very reasonably priced - $6.99 for 13 oz.
My rave about these products, however, is that they smell DIVINE! So, its aromatherapy in addition to chemical-free cleaning! I have naturally crazy curly hair, and these products have done very well in keeping the mane tame this past week, even in the face of insane humidity during the apparent monsoon season we're going through. I can't wait to try out some of the other scents - Coconut Milk, Grapefruit Mango Butter, Pomegranate Green Tea, Vanilla Silk, Mocha Espresso, Citrus Mango, Mandarin Olive Oil....

Yes, I realize this is hair product, not food, but yumm......

TRY IT PEOPLE!!!! You'll love it! Girl Scout's Honor!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I've gone insane!!!

I think I've already firmly established the questionable state of my sanity on this blog. But this is different. Well, maybe not.

So, you know that I endured 3 months of grueling physical exercise and completed the P90X program. I was really happy with the level of toning and all the great new muscles I built up! But....unfortunately, I didn't lose a single pound doing this. (Hence the reason I never posted any more progress pics, because you gotta have progress to call them progress pics, right?) So, a nice cushy layer of fat continues to cover up my incredibly strong, sleek and defined musculature. Blech.

Well...keeping in line with my new found fascination for extreme exercise.....

I gotta tell ya, they don't call it "INSANITY" for nuthin! Wowsah, this stuff is hard. Harder than hard. Twice as hard as P90X, if you can imagine that!

Its intense cardio-based interval and strength training. Unlike traditional interval training, INSANITY flips the model, making the "intense" (i.e. pushing yourself as hard as you can go) interval 3 minutes long and the rest/recovery period only 30 (measley) seconds. I've completed two of the work outs, and I gotta say, if this doesn't whittle me down a few sizes, then I dunno what will! 'Cuz its a little...insane.

But I love pushing myself and surprising myself with what I didn't think I could do! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Cut or Not to Cut...That is the Question

To cut...
Or not to cut...

That is the question.

Baby boy is starting to look a little shaggy. In fact, strangers keep commenting on my "little girl." Yet, I cannot bear to take a single snip at his precious tendrils. It doesn't show up well in these pictures, but he has the softest and prettiest little curls in the back (of his mullett). I know once they are cut, they are gone forever, as Carter had the same thing.

I just don't know what to do! Obviously, I cannot let it grow forever, and the boy could use a little shape up, especially with those side burns. Isn't long hair in for boys these days??? What to do...what to do....

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm a Soccer Mom!!!

After 4.5 long and grueling years of waiting with great anticipation for our first-born child to enter the whirlwind world of extra-curriculars, Carter did so on Friday, simultaneously marking my inception into the genre of "soccer mom."

Soccer wasn't exactly my or Ace's first choice of sport, since neither of us have ever really been all that interested in soccer. But we were lured in by the promise of Carter constantly running the field, which we idealistically believed would later translate into a solid (and early) night of sleep for our Pre-K'er. Well, the sleep didn't so much result, but the boy had fun! And that is what matters, isn't it???

(He's in the white shirt and navy shorts, in case you didn't notice).

Of course, little brother cannot resist participating in any activity of his idol (i.e. older bro), and was constantly trying to get in on the practice. He was relegated to the role of water boy for at least another 3 years. Poor Bennett.

Yep, so for the next five Friday afternoons, you can find Ace and I at the soccer field! I actually think this is going to be quite fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Do any of these sound like you?
  • A scale that doesn't budge, no matter much you exercise or how fervently you diet?
  • You have low energy?
  • Your skin is starting to wrinkle, and you're not old enough to have wrinkles?
  • Your skin is breaking out?
  • You suffer from mood swings?
  • Your monthly cycle is irregular? (girls...)
  • You feel tired no matter how much sleep you get?
  • You keep losing and gaining the same weight?
Well, I gotta say, I was able to say yes to quite a few of these. And that is what gave me that "ah ha" moment that Jillian Michaels just might know what she's talking about in her new book, Master Your Metabolism!!!

These things used to describe Jillian too. Until she realized that her hormones were out of balance. And once she did something about it, things began to fall into place. She used to restrict her diet to 1200 calories per day and work out like a dog 6 days a week to struggle to maintain 120 lbs (she's 5'2'' - just like me!), and would instantly put on 15 lbs just from increasing her diet to 1500 calories per day (which is reasonable and appropriate). Once she was able to balance her hormones, she now maintains a sleek 115 lbs and eats 1800 to 2000 calories per day and only has to exercise 3-4 days a week (although, she really brings it when she does!).

So what is the secret you ask???? Well, you really ought to read the book to be able to appreciate the full spectrum of the problem and the solutions. Its an excellent book, and I burned through it in a matter of days. But in case you don't have time at the moment, I'll share the synopsis.

Basically, the chemicals, hormones, pesticides, additives, preservatives, etc. that are coating the food we consume, are throwing our hormones out of whack! Seriously, you gotta read the book to really understand it. But common sense will tell you that this crap can't possible be good for you, right??

Ok, so the synopsis I promised....

Rule 1 - Eat clean. Buy organic as much as resonably possible an avoid as much as you can any foods which have any additives or chemcials. Unprocessed, whole foods are best. What ever you do, avoid like the plague any foods that contain:
  • hydrogentated fats (even partially hydrogenated)
  • Refined grains (make sure the ingredient list says 100% whole grain!)
  • high fructose corn syrup (this one is a toughie - its in SO much!)
  • Artificial sweetners (sorry, the Diet Coke, even though 0 calories, is working against you!)
  • Artificial coloring or preservatives
  • Glutamates
Reduce starchy veggies (corn, potatoes), tropical, dried, or canned fruits, process soy, excess alcohol, canned foods, and sadly, caffeine.

Rule 2 - Fill up on lots of these foods!!!
  • legumes (beans)
  • alliums (onions, garlic, etc.)
  • berries (organic, otherwise, they are sprayed heavily in pesitcides!)
  • meat and eggs (she said eggs are nearly the perfect food, don't worry about the cholesterol)
  • Colorful fruits and veggies
  • Cruciferous veggies unless you are hypothyroid (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.)
  • Dark green leafy veggies
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy (ALWAYS organic!)
  • Whole grains (again, make sure its 100%. It only has to be 51% whole to be able to say its whole grain!)
Rule 3 - Focus on getting a balance of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% healthy fats. Additonally, make sure you eat breakfast, always. Eat every four hours, no exception. Don't eat after 9 p.m.; do not eat carbs at night! Only eat until you are full, but not stuffed.

Additionally, Jillian recommends you sleep at least 7, but no more than 9 hours a night. Use organic personal products inasmuch as you possibly can (your skin is afterall your largest organ, and we coat it with chemicals daily with non-organic shampoos, washes, etc.). Use glass food storage containers, and make sure you do not eat out of any plastics that contain BPA. Also, replace your chemical-based cleaners, with simple (and inexpensive) natural cleaners.

Ok, so I'm cheap. I can't just throw stuff out like Jillian urges me to. But, I do plan on buying organic and all-natural products from here on out. I have a known and previously diagnosed hormonal imbalances that made it difficult for me to become or stay pregnant. If these changes can help, well then, I'm all for that!!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall is around the corner - time to...

Check your "Emergency Preparedness Kit" for your cars!

Yeah, I know, there is still almost a week left of summer, but I had the thought now and I can't guarantee I'll have it again later.

Make sure your kids have seasonally-appropriate changes of clothing, and restock anything that's been deplenished while you were having a rocking good time this summer! Also, with all the rainy weather we've been having of late (at least in my neck of the woods), make sure you have an umbrella stashed somewhere in the car.

Two things I learned over the summer must go in the Kit - Tylenol (or Motrin or Advil - i.e. your drug of choice) and a disposible camera for capturing every fabulous moment of your child's life, even the unplanned ones!

Also - does anyone have any genius ideas for how to store water in the car? I've read storing water bottled in plastic is a no-no because the plastic leaches chemicals into the water in the heat. Does anyone sell glass-bottled water?

So, now that I've reminded you - hop to it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Review: Outliers

Ok, so it took me a tad bit longer than I had anticipated to finish this book. Not because the book wasn't fabulous (it was), but because I took a small hiatus in the middle to read another book - but that is a story for another day!

This is an excellent read! If you love "thinking outside the box" - this book is for you! It is in a similar vein as Freakanomics. Basically, this book takes people who are considered to be super successful and demonstrates the factors of sheer luck that contributed to their success. For example, the author, Malcolm Gladwell, proves that the success of hockey players depends not so much on their skill and natural talent, but really moreso on where in the calendar their birthday falls!

He highlights the truth of "no man is an island" in the most of extreme examples. Its a fabulous book! Very entertaining!

A Cleaner Way to Clean

I recently read that the air pollution in our homes is up to 75% greater than that outdoors! Insane! The biggest contributor to this is (drumroll please....) our cleaning products!!

Did you know that chlorine mixed with ammonia (present in many cleaning products) combines to create chloramide - a toxic gas used in WWI???? Yikes!

The easy solution is to use cleaning products that do not contain many of these harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, most of those all-natural products, albeit fabulous, are pricey.

Fear not! There is a much healthier and less-expensive way to clean your home!!!!

You will need a few very simple and very inexpensive items:

Hydrogen Peroxide (I just scored a 32 oz. bottle at Target for like $2!)
White Vinegar
Baking Soda
Lemon Juice

Vinegar can be used to clean just about anything - the counters, floors, windows, sinks, etc.

Want to sanitize your counters, toilets, sinks??? This simple method kills more germs than the popular sanitizing products that are on the market (remember my affection for Clorox Wipes???) - fill one spray bottle with vinegar, another with hydrogen peroxide. Spray the surface with the vinegar first, wipe dry (I love using those yellow car detailing cloths, especially for my granite countertops!). Then spray on the hydrogen peroxide and wipe dry. Ta dah!!! Could it get any easier than this????

Have a clogged drain? No problem! Its nothing a little hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can't conquer! Minus the dizzying fumes that Drain-O creates!

Use the baking soda anywhere you could use a dry-power scrub or where there are funky smells - bathtubs, toilets, sinks.

Use the vinegar anywhere you want shine.

Use the lemon juice anywhere you have stains (try it on clothes too!!).

And there you have it - a squeaky clean and sparkling home sans the harmful chemicals that pollute the environment and our air!!!

To further aid in cleaning your air in the home - keep a house plant for every 100 sq ft. of space you have. Unfortunately, I have a black thumb, so my plants live a total of 2 weeks before they turn to sticks.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

La Verdad

The other day I was driving home from work, listening to NPR (yep, dork), when I heard a segment interviewing the author of this new book Nurture Shock. The author, Po Bronson, brought up a pretty interesting theory about lying in children.
Mr. Bronson said that all children lie (no duh), and that lying is a sign of nascent intelligence, indicating that the child understands the difference between reality and stories they create as an alternative reality. By age 4, all children "should" be lying. However, it is the parents' responsibility to "socialize" the child not to lie by age 7, or lying then becomes a coping mechanism for dealing with uncomfortable situations (in other words, they become pathological liars).
For the most part, children do not lie because they are just "bad." They lie because they do not want to be met with our disproval over the truth. In other words, Carter told us that he sat on Bennett because he thought he was a statue, because he thought that wouldn't make us mad, but telling us that he sat on his brother because he thought it was funny would (and yes, it would). What they do not have the capacity to understand at that age is that not only are we mad about the truth (because parents are after all omniscient, are we not???), but we're doubly mad that they lied about it.
So, how do you deal? Mr. Bronson says that the more severe the punishment is for lying, the more we drive our children to become better liars. Rather, you have to "socialize" your child not to lie. Parents should "preempt" a lie ('cause you can see it coming from a mile away) and say "Look, it would make me really proud of you or happy with you right now if you tell me what really happened." So yeah, you have to give up some of your irritation about the preciptous event, and "reward" in a sense the act of telling the truth.
Hm.....there's something to chew on.
Then Mr. Bronson turned to a subject which already causes me great anxiety - teenagers. He said that a study done recently showed that out of 26 topics, the "average" teen will lie to their parents about at least 12 of the topics (I think those are the correct numbers). On the low end, the very "best" teens only lie to their parents about 4-6 of the topics. So, parents shouldn't be so delusional as to believe they actually have an honest and open relationship with their child. None of them tell the truth all the time. But what makes the difference between the 12+ -topic liars and the 4-topic liars? According to Mr. Bronson, if the parents allow for some negotiation of the rules, the teens are more likely to "argue/negotiate" the rules rather than just circumventing the whole ordeal and doing what they want anyway. Mr. Bronson posits that if parents deliberately create situations where they are willing to negotiation/argue for some leniency with their teens on "easier" issues, that will encourage the teen to be more honest about the harder issues.