Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giveaway winner

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Timestamp: 2012-02-23 18:01:37 UTC

Congrats to Rebecca Locke on winning the cold and flu season kit giveaway!

Friday, February 17, 2012

An unbelievable find

So, on Wednesday, Logan came bounding out of school with a special smile on his face... one with a gap in it. His top tooth had been dangling for weeks, ready to fall out.

But, he said, it had fallen out during recess when he was belly-sliding on some snow and ice, and he hadn't even realized it until he stood up and started walking away.

He left the tooth fairy a note and still got a $2 bill for his tooth.

Yesterday (Thursday) school was closed due to icy back roads, and today is a scheduled day off. It's nice and sunny out and we decided, just for the heck of it, to go look for the tooth. We wanted to get some sunshine anyway, and I love a challenge. I'm excellent at finding things like lost earrings or four-leaf clovers, so I thought why not look for a little, tiny tooth on the playground?

We drove up to the school and Logan pointed to a long, paved section. That, he said, is where he had been sliding on the snow and ice. It was all melted, and I was dismayed to discover that the pavement was made up of tiny stones. It was going to be next to impossible to find a tooth there.

But... I walked a little way onto the pavement and just chose a spot to start looking. I had one false find, just a small white stone, and when I put the stone back down, lo and behold, there was the tooth!

So I picked it up and told Logan I found it. He and Jordan were climbing on something and didn't believe me until I showed them.

So, yeah. Mommy's totally a rock star. I can't believe I found that tiny little thing so easily!

Logan thinks he's going to double his jackpot. I had to inform him that he's not making any more money on the tooth. Rather, we're just going to ship it off to ToothFairyLand with the next one that falls out.

Famous feet

No, not really. My feet aren't famous... but they are present in a full-page color photo in a magazine.

Over the summer, I wrote this blog post about a backpacking trip we took with the kids. We hiked in a mile and a half or so to a backcountry campground, and then hiked out maybe a half mile or so to Lake Michigan, and there, we found our beautiful beach clogged with the cladophora algae that has been proliferating in the lake.

A couple months later, I was contacted by someone from Michigan Tech's Research Magazine, asking if I'd consider giving them permission to use this photo I took in their publication, because they were doing a story about Cladophora.

I'm not sure how they found my blog, but I said sure, why not, and promptly forgot all about it until this week, when I received a couple copies of the magazine in the mail.

So, there it is. My photo of my feet and some algae in a magazine. Nifty.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TV appearance and a giveaway

So, this morning I was up bright and early and headed to Saginaw, Michigan, to the WNEM TV-5 studios. I was contacted a couple weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in hosting a spot on the news as a "mommy blogger."

I was sent a bunch of products that were designed to help moms get their kids through cold and flu season a little more safely and naturally. I blogged about it yesterday.
So, I showed up at the TV-5 building and was led into this studio. I set up my products and was informed that it was a three-minute segment. What?!?! I had been told it would be six minutes long, and was prepared for that.

Anyway, I met Catherine Bodak, a meteorologist for TV-5, and chatted with her while I set up the stuff I had brought. She was very warm and personable (not to mention absolutely gorgeous) and made me feel comfortable.

Except... I was looking out at THIS.

Nothing like cameras, prompters, monitors and gigantic spotlights to make you feel secure.

But anyway, we got to it. I had to stop her as she started the first take, because she pronounced my last name as Jones. We just started over, though. I am hoping I didn't do anything completely ridiculous on camera. It was kind of difficult because I was trying to pack my information into a much shorter time slot than I'd anticipated, but hopefully I was able to get it across. Catherine did have to rush me a bit by telling me we were almost out of time.

So, it's supposed to air at 9 a.m. March 5 on Channel 5. We don't even GET that channel at my house thanks to DirectTV's oddball boundaries. They should be sending me a link to a video of the spot, though.

Honestly, I'm glad it's over with.

So, here's an idea of what it will look like, except Catherine and I were switched around.

Here comes the exciting part for you, my lovely readers... See all that stuff on the table in front of me? One of YOU will win it all! You can learn more details about all the products in my blog post from yesterday. You'll win a Mobi Dual Scan Ear and Forehead thermometer, BabyGanics The Germinator hand sanitizer, Hyland's Cold n' Cough 4 Kids and Xlear Kids xylitol/saline nasal spray.

I would like you to leave me a comment and tell me the best advice you have for making your kids feel better when they're sick (or just share something your mom did for you when you were a kid).

Don't forget to leave your e-mail address in your comment, so I can contact you if you win!

I will end this contest on Wednesday.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Natural cold and flu kit for kids

Each year, almost as soon as school starts, my family begins a seemingly endless dance with colds and the flu.

As a mom, there is nothing worse than seeing my children sick and miserable. I just want to do anything I can to make them feel better. But, I have to be honest, traditional medicines scare me when it comes to my kids. They contain harsh and questionable chemicals and it seems that every week, some type of medication is recalled off the shelves because it poses some sort of danger.

So what's a mom to do when illness strikes?

Well, I was recently given an opportunity to try out a few natural, safer cold and flu products for children.

The first item in the kit was a children's nasal spray from the Xlear (pronounced "clear") company. This isn't simply a typical nasal spray. It contains xylitol, which is a natural substance derived from plant fibers.

Xylitol, studies show, has unique properties that keep bacteria from sticking, so when this nasal spray is used, it can actually keep your children from getting sick. The spray also washes away pollutants, irritants and other contaminants, and keeps the nasal passages and sinuses moist.

What's really cool about the Xlear spray is that it can be used on the tiniest of children--even newborns. That's important for any mom who's had a sick baby, because there isn't much you can do for them when they're that little besides coming at them with the bulb syringe. Xlear is safe for the little ones, though, and there is no danger of overuse or dependency.

The Xlear company also makes a number of other products, including gum, mints and sweetener. Using products that contain xylitol can actually be good for your teeth because, as in the nasal spray, it helps keep bacteria from sticking. Personally, I put a container of the Spry gum in everyone's stocking at Christmas in hopes of counteracting some of the candy.

Xlear products can be found at Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods and other stores. Locally, I purchase mine at Rebekah's Pure Living in Lapeer. You can find out more at

The second item in the kit comes from the Hyland's Homeopathic company. I was given the Nighttime Cold n' Cough 4 kids.

I was familiar with the Hyland's name because I, like many moms, swore by their teething tablets when my children were infants.

The Nighttime Cold n' Cough (there is a daytime formula as well) is safe for kids age 2 and up. It relieves the symptoms of the common cold, including cough, runny nose, sneezing, nasal and chest congestion and sore throat, and it does it naturally, without side effects. It doesn't contain anything scary, either, like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, pseudoephedrine or dextromethorphan.

It retails for around $7.99 and can be found at CVS, Whole Foods and Rite Aid. Learn more at

The third item in my kit was a Mobi Dual Scan ear and forehead thermometer.

It can be really difficult to get a child to sit still for a temperature check, and if they're asleep, you don't want to have to wake them up to take their temperature. That's where the Mobi comes in handy. It takes a reading in just two seconds, with a mere touch to the temple. The display lights up so if you're taking a reading in the dark (with the assistance of the built-in flashilight if you so desire) you can see the results. It also stores the last 20 readings, including date and time, for comparison, and there is a talk option that reads the temperature aloud. (That is a big hit with my three year old. He's been talking to his friend Mobi for days.)

Although there are a lot of features on the thermometer, it is very user-friendly. My three-year-old can literally take his own temperature and get an accurate reading.

The Mobi Dual Scan retails for $34.95 and can be found at Target, or online at

The last product I found in my cold and flu kit was The Germinator, foaming hand sanitizer by the BabyGanics company.

As a rule, I've never been fond of hand sanitizers because they are harsh. They're alcohol-based and my hands get dry and cracked each winter just due to regular washing and dry air.

Some situations just call for some sanitizer, though, and I'm happy to know that there are alcohol-free options like The Germinator when I happen to grab onto a sticky shopping cart handle, or when we leave the doctor's office and I feel all cootied out.

The Germinator comes in a light citrus or tangerine scent, or a fragrance-free option, and you can purchase bottles of refill solution to cut down on waste. I love that. It uses Benzalkonium chloride rather than alcohol, so it still kills 99.9% of germs, but it doesn't strip your skin of its protective oils, and it doesn't become less effective over time either.

There are also Germinator wipes that come in a pop-up canister for the home, or in travel packs for on-the-go. Just pop a couple in your purse when you leave the house and you're ready for cootie control, as I like to call it.

The Germinator and other BabyGanics products can be found at Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby and online at

It's nice to know there are some natural options during cold and flu season for moms like me who want to keep their kids comfortable without exposing them to dangerous chemicals.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This is your warning

Even though I can manage blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, I am actually quite technologically ignorant. Basically everything I do online is what I've taught myself through trial and error, but when it comes to the mechanics of the computer or trying anything complicated, I get all flustered. It probably has something to do with that part of my brain that disallows me to retain math skills, follow written instructions or learn to play card games.

Have you ever seen that Sex and the City episode, My Motherboard, My Self? If you haven't, Carrie Bradshaw, who is a writer, loses it when her computer crashes in a big, bad way and she loses all her columns. "My whole life is on that computer!"

I totally get it.

Late last year, our computer started making a weird sound when it started up. It was a clicking sound. I mentioned it to Hubby, but when he didn't seem concerned, I didn't worry.

After a while, it started needing to be restarted a couple times in order to "catch" and actually start up. Again, I mentioned it to Hubby. "I think our computer is dying," I said. He said we'd start thinking about getting a new one, perhaps a laptop.

Then it started getting really bad and it was taking a long time and a lot of restarts to get the computer to "catch." I remember one day as I was driving Logan to school, I heard a radio ad about Carbonite Online Backup. A person I know who had fixed a virus issue on our computer earlier in the year had also mentioned Carbonite to me, so I decided I would go home that day and do the backup, just to be safe.

It took a really, really long time to get the computer started that day, but being the idiot I am, I didn't get around to backing up. Laziness is my only excuse.

Then it happened.

The next day... no computer. Couldn't get it to start up for ANYTHING.

I took it to a local fix-it shop. The two guys behind the counter visibly winced and said "ooohhh" when I described what it had been doing. They had the computer for a couple weeks before they called back and said, sorry. Your hard drive is completely fried and we can't recover your information.

The last time Hubby had backed up the files on our computer was in January 2009. One month before my second son Jordan was born. That meant his entire life worth of photos was gone, all my columns for the past three years were gone, everything. I was sobbing before I was even off the phone with the computer guys and I was very, very sad.

How could it be possible that everything was gone? It made me physically ill every time I thought about it.

I started scrambling, trying to find someone that could help. I found some companies, but you know how it is... with online businesses you don't really know who's shady and who isn't, and they were asking for a LOT of money. Thousands and thousands of dollars.

For a brief moment, I'll admit, I entertained thoughts of selling my wedding ring to get my photos back. That's how important they were to me.

So, anyway, that was that. All was lost. I was brokenhearted. And we were without a computer for a long time. That's why this blog has been stagnant.

Christmas rolled around, and we did our family Christmas morning thing. We always save our stockings for last. Generally, we open the gifts under the tree, play for a while, maybe have some breakfast, and then it's time for stockings. Well, it happened that way this year, too. We were opening our stockings, and I got to the very bottom of mine and pulled out this black box.

I looked at it.

What was it?

What IS this? I asked Hubby.

He looked at me and said the most beautiful words.

It's the entire contents of our old hard drive.


I lost it. I bawled my eyes out for whole minutes before I could even manage to squeak out a Thank You.

I also received a backup system for Christmas, which immediately backs up several times a day, every time the computer is on. And we got a new hard drive for the old computer. The laptop will have to wait.

I have my photos back. I have my newspaper columns back. I have my LIFE back.

It might sound melodramatic, but I take dozens of photos of my kids and my life in general every single day. It is important to me to document things and I truly enjoy looking back on them. I am so happy that photos like these aren't lost forever.

I hae thousands upon thousands of memories captured in photo form that I thought were gone.

So, Carrie Bradshaw learned a big lesson about backing up. So did I. Now here's my public service announcement for you.


I never asked Hubby how much it cost to salvage my stuff. I don't want to know, because I know it was a hell of a lot. He had to send the hard drive to another state, and the people there had to suit up, take it into a dust-free "clean room" environment and somehow bypass the fried part of the hard drive to get to the data. It's terribly impressive. I have a new respect for engineers!

So, I don't care if you use Carbonite or some other service or just an external hard drive, but please, back up your stuff today, and often.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell, CRASH!

I have a two-year-old. His name is Jordan. He's really adorable. He looks like this.

Life as a stay-at-home mom is really easy. I just sit around and eat bon-bons all day.

I decorated the mantel for Christmas. Isn't it pretty?

Jordan thought so too.

Oh my goodness, they killed Frosty!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry friggin' Christmas.