Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Elements & Artifacts review

I have recently discovered the joys of etsy, and one of the neat little shops I found is called Elements and Artifacts by stardust, also known as Alicia Dabney, of San Francisco.

Alicia creates one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by many histories, cultures, ages, and movements. If you're searching for a truly unique piece of jewelry, her etsy shop is the place to go.

I stumbled across Alicia's shop when I was looking for autumn-themed items for my upcoming Autumn Leaves giveaway. Her trinkets were just what I had in mind, and I am thrilled to announce that she will be giving away one of her special pieces.

As for me, I had to have one too!
This is the piece that I got.

It's a leaf painted in antique silver, and accented with a cascade of garnet, amber and baltic amber stones. Perfect fall colors for a perfect fall leaf.

This is the back view. See how you can still see all the veins in the leaf? Pretty!

Alicia also has an art and jewelry blog here.

Visit Elements and Artifacts at etsy to purchase your own beautiful piece and watch out for your chance to win a stunning creation by Alicia in my Autumn Leaves Giveaway Event in the next week or so.

More (mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Jordan can't crawl yet, but when he's on the floor and near a piece of furniture (or the wall) he is constantly trying to pull himself to standing. He can get to his knees but isn't sure yet how to get up the rest of the way. It's coming soon though! I better watch out!

Wordless Wednesday: Who needs toys?!

soreness and moreness

Good morning!

It's day 4 of the Body After Baby Challenge!

Yesterday went well. I did my Pure Barre DVD in the morning and boy, my hamstrings are sore today! In the afternoon, I also took Jordan out for a 30-minute walk.

I also tracked my food! Yay me!
breakfast was cafe mocha and yogurt before swim class
apple and peanut butter after swim class

lunch was a smart ones cranberry turkey meal
and a couple slices of deli chicken lunch meat

i grabbed a half ounce of almonds in the afternoon

dinner was chili with corn muffins and a little cheddar on top

treat during the Biggest Loser was splitting a beer with hubby and some Vosges chocolate

I ended up right around 2000 calories. I'm shooting for 1900-2100 a day (Remember I'm nursing. That's why the numbers are so high)

Samantha at Mama Notes has posted a mini challenge for the week for the BAB participants. We get a point for each glass of water we drank. I am counting every 8 ounces as a glass, and yesterday I got in 14 glasses! Yay me!

So there you have it. Day three was a total success as far as Body After Baby goes. I also did dishes and got all the laundry WASHED, FOLDED and PUT AWAY, and I made dinner and did baby swim class and went to the library and found time to actually get on the floor with Jordan and play.

Now let's see if I can make Day 4 a success too.

Hubby and I both fell asleep last night before 9! I painted my nails (another accomplishment! I even did a base and two coats of color, AND my toenails!) and was planning to watch the whole show. Next thing I know, my snoring woke me up and I was on the couch and I looked over and Hubby was snoring in the chair. It was 8:52, and we are clearly lame.

That's OK, though, because my not-so-friendly rival Insomnia came to call again this morning, meaning I was up at 3 and didn't fall back asleep until about 4:40. I have no idea why I can't go back to sleep after Jordan wakes me at night. He had somehow kicked out of the bottom half of his jammies and was COLD, so I had to get up and re-dress him. Then I was just UP.

But... As soon as I moved from my bed to the couch at 4:30, I fell asleep. Somehow I sleep better on our couch. Probably because it's comfy and new and soft like a big puffy marshmallow!

Anyway, that's it. I'm off to watch the end of Biggest Loser and have some coffee.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sonless days, sunless days

My mom picked Logan up from school yesterday and took him up north with her until Thursday, so with Hubby at work all day, it's just me and Jordan. Of course, it would just so happen that his third tooth is popping through so he's a crabby drooly snotty screamy mess, but I love the one on one time just the same.

It's kind of weird around here without Logan, though. Kind of lonely and quiet without his constant jabber. I can't be too sad, though. He was SO EXCITED to go up north and spend a few days with his grandparents. It's quite an adventure for him to go so far away without me or his dad. He did say he was going to miss his little brother, though, and was going to take him along. *melt*

The weird thing is, it dawned bright and sunny and gorgeous yesterday and then after Logan left, it got cold, windy and rainy. It's like the weather even misses him, or something.

Today I have baby swim class with my little guy (who better wake up soon beause we have to go!) and NO OTHER PLANS! I am going to do some work to get my Autumn Leaves Giveaway Event rolling, hopefully this weekend, and I am planning to make chili for dinner because it's just one of those kind of days. Chilly weather = chili dinner. Yum.

It's Biggest Loser night, too! Yay! I did my workout DVD this morning, so I won't feel guilty if I take the night off from the gym. Well, maybe a little guilty, since it really wasn't cardio at all. Maybe I'll go for a short jog later if it's not pouring.

I miss my Logi Bear, but I'm going to go make some noise and see if I can get my Joey Bug up for some sweet baby snuggles before swim time.

Pure Barre Pershing Square 1 review

Good morning!

Well, it's Day 3 of the Body After Baby Challenge on Mama Notes and I decided to try a new workout DVD this morning: Pure Barre Pershing Square 1.

Now, I'm a huge fan of workout DVDs, but the problem is, I get them and then don't do them. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's just that my house doesn't FEEL like a gym. Maybe I need to actually get myself out of the house to work out. I don't know. But I decided to try to change that during this Body After Baby Challenge because now that I have two boys, sometimes the gym just doesn't happen for me, like if one of them is having a meltdown, or if Hubby gets home from work late.

Before Logan was born, I was taking ballet classes at a local dance school and my legs were strong and probably more flexible than they had ever been before. However, life happens and leaving the house right before Logan's bedtime to drive a half hour, take a class, and drive home just didn't work out for me, so I stopped taking ballet. And slowly, I lost the flexibility and strength that the barre work had given me.

That's why I decided to try the Pure Barre workouts. Today I did the Pershing Square 1 DVD. It's around 45 minutes long and looks deceptively simple. As a matter of fact, I previewed it when I got it and didn't have high expectations for the workout. Boy was I wrong!

The workout uses a support like a chair (or a barre, if you're in a dance studio) and a small ball. Then, you do small isometric movements to target your hips, thighs, butt and abs. And if you're doing it right, it hurts. Immediately. Seriously, folks, there's a burn! At one point I had to stop the movements and start pounding on my thigh because it was burning so badly!

One thing I thought was nice is that between each section of the DVD, there is a stretching part to release the tight muscles you just worked. Trust me, you need it!

Pure Barre is NOT a cardio workout. You won't be jumping around or anything like that, but I did break a sweat and feel like it was a good way to start my day. I will be trying out the Pershing Square 2 DVD as soon as my legs can handle it!

For more infomation about the Pure Barre workouts (or even to find a class in your area), check out the Web site at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Body after baby day 2

Well, i did a little better today on tracking food and didn't work out quite as hard as yesterday.

breakfast: coffee with a tb of cocoa and 1/2 cup skim milk
2 slices lean deli ham
1 bowl raisin bran with skim

lunch no. 1: honeycrisp apple
tuna pouch
fiber one bar

lunch no. 2: smart ones orange sesame chicken
leftover broccoli (about 1/2 cup)

chocolate attack: 2 mini hershey bars

workout: 20 minutes of intervals on elliptical
2 sets of 10 fast squats holding a light DB, then i kind of split my pants
3 sets of 10 on seated leg extension machine

2 stuffed shells (the last of the TONS that were frozen for us while i was on bed rest!)
3 slices French bread

after dinner:
one windmill cookie

so, i have to estimate on the stuffed shells but it appears i am well within my caloric allowance for the day and i at least did somewhat of a workout, even though my weights didn't go as planned.

factor in getting up too early and dealing with a SCREAMING TEETHING baby all day, and i'd say i did ok. the candy bars and cookies, not so good, but at least i counted them.

onward and downward, right!

Poppin' Fresh cuteness!

With my mom's help (she sewed the hat together) we finished making Jordan's Halloween costume this weekend, and it turned out SO STINKIN' CUTE!

Here's my little Pillsbury Doughboy!

It was really easy. I just got a turtleneck and some white fleece pants (I could only find all white in girls' clothes, so I had to cut a bow off the pants) and then I found a plain white tote bag on clearance at the fabric store. I cut the handle off the bag and that became the band of the chef's hat, while the bottom of the bag became the pouf at the top. it worked perfectly! I cut a blue circle out of felt and used puffy paint to write "Pillsbury" on it, and I sewed it onto the hat and tied a matching ribbon around the neck of the turtleneck. An old wooden spoon completes the ensemble. I LOVE it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Body After Baby: Day 1

Hello friends!

Well, today is the first day of the eight-week Body After Baby Challenge at Mama Notes, so I guess I will have to outline what I hope to achieve during the next two months.

I stepped on the scale this morning. My official starting weight is 163.5. Ouch. I took the dreaded bikini photos and man, I'm sorry, but I won't be sharing them until I have something better to show you in comparison. (You know how mom always said "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't sya anything at all?" Yeah. it's kind of like that.)

So, here is what my plans are for this challenge:

-Starting weight: 163.5
-Eight-week challenge goal weight: 155 (about a pound a week)
-Goal by March 5, 2010: 146.5 (my pre-baby weight)
-After that: who knows?

Exercise plans:
-Be active (cardio, a DVD or weights) at least 6 days a week.
-Strength train three to four days a week
-Stretch more often and improve my flexibility

Long-term fitness goals:
-Regain the ability to do real, unassisted pull-ups (I could do five before I got pregnant)
-Eventually be able to do 10 pull-ups
-Hopefully the custom orthotics I have on order will help my stupid feet (plantar fasciitis) and I will be able to run more often and one day run the Brooksie Way half-marathon and then some day, a full marathon.

Diet goals for this challenge:
-FIRST AND FOREMOST, maintain an ample milk supply since I'm still nursing
-Use to track my food, so I can be mindful of what I'm putting in my mouth
-Eat a variety of healthy, nutritious foods most of the time
-Allow for treats often enough to keep myself sane
-Eat as little high-fructose corn syrup and other CRAP as possible
-Drink at least three 32-ounce bottles of water throughout the day
-Hover in the 1900-2100 calorie range per day (that's my normal dieting calories with 500 calories added for breastfeeding purposes).

So, there it is. That's what I'm working toward during this challenge.

I will blog about my Body After Baby Challenge at least once a week. Probably more, knowing me!

And that brings us to... today! And I don't have good news! Well, it's 50% good.

The good news: I worked out. My mom is still here, so she stayed with the boys and Hubby and I actually got to work out together. First we went for a 30-minute jog. I called him "Coach" because I am WAY out of shape as far as running goes. I felt bad for him because I'm so slow, but he was very patient and he kept me motivated. After our run, we went into the gym for back and biceps. We hit the weights hard and are both feeling it already.
My workout:
-underhand lat pulldown, 4 sets of 10, 80-90 pounds
-one-arm seated cable row, palm up, 4 sets of 10, 50 pounds
-standing row, low pulley with rope, 4 sets of 10, 60 pounds
-side-lying rear delt flye, 3 sets of 10, 10 pounds
-seated bicep curls, 3 sets of 10, 15 pounds per arm

Now the not-so-good news: I didn't track my food. The first day and I already didn't track!
We got up (tired after last night's wedding reception, at which I had a couple drinks) and got ready for church. I smeared a toaster waffle with peanut butter and had some coffee. After church, though, we went grocery shopping then drove through Tace Bell. I got a hard taco and a pintos and cheese. But I was still hungry. We came home and I had a honeycrisp apple and a couple pieces of chicken lunch meat. Then came the gym. Then we had chocolate milk post-workout. Then I made a boatload of apple sauce and ate a bunch of apple peelings as I was making it. For dinner we had French bread dipped in spiced olive oil, rotisserie chicken, broccoli and homemade apple sauce. I also had a couple mini Hershey bars throughout the day. So, I have no idea where my calories fell for the day.

Oh well. Will do better tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Houseguests: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We have three houseguests right now!

My mom came down from the Great White North last night to spend a couple nights here before my cousin's wedding on Saturday. She came down early to help me out, because today was my day to volunteer at Logan's preschool and I also had to take Logan in for his well-child checkup and vaccinations. Mom stayed home with Jordan while Logan and I were at school (I have no idea how I could have ever managed having a fussy naptime baby in the classroom while I tried to help 24 four-year-olds make apples into applesauce and do a number of projects involving paint! It would have been a nightmare!) and she came with us to the doctor's office and took care of Jordan, who was fussy again because it was naptime AGAIN.

Truly, it would have been a hellish day had it not been for my mom.

I love it when Mom comes to visit. Even my husband likes it. It's not like a dreaded "mother-in-law visit" for him.

I do feel bad, though. When Mom comes, it seems like she always ends up working her tail off. She came down a lot when I was on bed rest, and cleaned and cooked and took Logan places the whole time she was here. Even though I'm not on bed rest anymore, she still seems to do a lot of cooking and cleaning, pretty much because she can't stand how much of a slob I am. So, here we are, me calling her Martha (as in Stewart) and her calling me Miss Piggy. We do it laughingly, though. We love each other to pieces.

So, yeah, been hanging out with mom. She's the Good houseguest.

And now we come to the Bad and the Ugly. They just recently showed up and seem to be making themselves at home. I can't tell if they're friends or enemies. They seem to be trying to occupy the same space, but it doesn't look like it's working out all that well. I don't know if they're trying to kill each other or just talking or what. All I know is that they are HUGE and GROSS and they give me the CREEPS.

So, without further ado, here they are:
The Bad and The Ugly!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

I wear my baby!

Well, I got just a liiiiiiittle bit creative today and made a baby carrier in honor of International Babywearing Week.

Actually, I wouldn't have had to get too creative if I'd had enough fabric, but I had to do a little sewing to make it work. (and I'm NOT a seamstress by any means!)

A mom at preschool last year told me about and I had forgotten all about it until yesterday, when I saw a blog post about babywearing at Mama Notes. It made me want to try out the make-your-own babywearing wrap featured on Then I realized I'd probably have to spend a bunch of money on five yards of fabric, and I remembered that's why I never did it last year when I heard about it.

But... THEN I remembered I had this giant piece of green velour stuffed into my craft dresser (Yes, I have a dresser full of craft stuff, but I rarely do crafts. Don't get me started...)
I have no idea where I got this velour. I think maybe I bought it for a project that never happened, but I don't recall what that project might have been. Anyway, the point is, this regal piece of fabric has just been hanging out, waiting for a chance to become something.

So, I decided to use it. But, it wasn't long enough! However, it was more than twice as wide as it needed to be, so I decided to just cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut a chunk off the extra half to add to the other to make it longer. I got it all laid out on the floor and ready to cut, but I had to put the scissors down a few times because I just couldn't cut into that beautiful piece of material! I was so sure I'd screw it up!

Finally, I just did it, and then I dragged out my mom's old sewing machine (she has a fancy new one so she gave me the old one even though I can't sew.) and I used it to sew the extra chunk on for length (and yeah, I used white thread because I don't know how to change the thread on the machine!).

Finally, it was time to try a wrap. I started with the Front Cross Wrap, and it worked! I could actually use a little more length on my wrap to make it tie better, so I'll probably Frankenstein another piece of the velour on to make it a little longer (You can't see the shoddy sewing job when it's wrapped on me anyway). Jordan seemed to like it. We tried it out twice today and he seemed quite comfortable, though it was a tad tight on him because it needs to be longer.

Then I decided to try a different wrap. I tried the Side Cross Wrap, where the baby would be sitting on my hip. And he almost slipped right through. I tried again. And again. And again. And the baby started screaming. And I started sweating. And I gave up.

I picked up the extra piece of fabric and conned Logan into letting me try the side cross wrap on him. Here he is with his "baby."

I still haven't been able to get it down for me and Jordan, though. I can't seem to get his legs in the right spots. I didn't even attempt any of the back wraps or other fancy wraps.

BUT... the Front Cross was very easy and convenient. I plan to lengthen my wrap creation and keep practicing. I can see how this would be convenient on those days when the baby doesn't want to be put down.

So, if you want to try to make a wrap of your own (and there are all sorts of different types you can make; slings, ring wraps, etc.) go to and play around. I clicked on the box that said "Got $5 and 5 minutes? Make a carrier!" to get started.

Autumn leaves giveaway coming soon!

I am so excited to announce that I will be having a giveaway EVENT in October.

I am working with a number of amazing artisans to offer giveaways of some really gorgeous hand-made autumn leaf-inspired pieces to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season of the year.

So far, I have the following artists on board. Be sure to visit their shops to see what's in store!


Circe's House

Keepsakes by Kristie

black mustard

Northern Lodge

Art & Silk Creations by Laurie Pyszkowski


Giggles and Grins

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A is for apple

Yesterday I went with Logan's preschool to the cider mill for a field trip.

I was all ready to go, with visions in my head of a crisp blue sky, apples, sunflowers, pumpkins and all sorts of fall-y goodness. I wanted to take some beautiful photos to share here, but it just didn't work out that way. The sky was full of dark clouds for most of the field trip and it was kind of muddy. It just didn't really FEEL like the idealistic autumn cider mill trip. (And yeah, let's face it, I had high expectations.)

There were some good points to the short trip, though. Jordan rode in the backpack carrier for the first time. I think he's too big for the Snugli front carrier now. He doesn't like to be in it for very long, but he seemed to be pretty comfortable in the backpack. He could grab big handsful of my hair, and he was up high so he could see a lot.

We watched how cider was made and Logan made me nervous because he was close to the machine and I was afraid he'd try to touch it or something. It probably wouldn't have hurt him but I'm that paranoid mom who is always sure her kid's going to get hurt.

We had cider and donuts and Jordan got his first taste of donut. I'm sure no one is surprised he liked it!

Then we got some fresh bread, apples, pumpkin spice donuts and some cider to bring home. For dinner we had pork roast, bread and salad with apples and cider vinaigrette, and donuts for dessert. MMMMM tasty!

So, due to the clouds and the fact that everything was just not all that pretty and fall-y looking yet, I didn't get great photos. Here are a couple anyway. The cider mill is just around the corner from our house, so we'll go back in a few weeks and take pics with the pumpkins and stuff.

The cider mill when we first got there, right before the dark clouds rolled in.

Logan got Black Jack gum as a treat. He's a black jelly bean kind of kid. I told him to put it over his teeth and smile, because that's what my mom told me they used to do with it.

a pretty gourd flower in the field

Me and Joey. Don't know why I look like I'm in pain. Joe's eating a strap. Straps are his favorite chew toy. He always gets hold of the GROSS one on his car seat. The one that hangs on the floor and gets stepped on, etc. Then he gets really mad when I freak out and take it away. This Kelty backpack carrier is great, though. It allowed us to take Logan out backpacking when he was a baby and we'll take both kids next year because Logan's old enough to hike a few miles to a campsite now.

Logan and a sunflower

apples on their way to becoming either cider or bagged for sale, depending on their size.

I love fall in Michigan! I hope we have a nice long one this year since we kind of got gypped out of summer.

More wordless Wednesday: my cute kids

Wordless Wednesday: Pretty places

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Upper Michigan

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Baxter State Park, Maine

Fox River in Upper Michigan (Hemingway fished here)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clean house = bad mom?

Informal a lazy and untidy person [Irish Gaelic slab mud]

Hi, my name is Krystal and I'm a slob.
Just ask my husband!
Really, even though it's true, somehow it smarts when it's brought to my attention. Like last night for example. The laundry has been piling up lately. Some of it was clean and folded and sitting in a basket waiting to be put away. Some of it was clean and unfolded in another basket. Some was clean and still in the dryer. Some of it was clean and wet and still in the washer and even more was dirty and waiting in the hampers.
I DO NOT know what my problem is when it comes to keeping the laundry done. It's like that crap crawls into the corners and multiplies itself when I'm not looking, and it becomes completely overwhelming.
Same with the dusting.
And the junk on the island counter in the kitchen.
And occasionally the dishes, but I pretty much do them every day, they just pile up very quickly because we are a family of 4 and I actually cook.
Honestly, even Logan has me pinned.
Case in point, I was frantically cleaning one day, and he looked at me and said, "Is Grandma coming over?"
A completely innocent question, and yes, my mom was on her way here.
And yes, it made me feel bad when he asked that.

But back to the laundry.

So, there are all these clothes--clean and dirty, wrinkly and folded--hanging out in various parts of the house and poor Hubby is getting frustrated because he can't find anything he needs. I head to the gym for a walk on the treadmill and get home and there he sits, folding laundry on the couch, with a rather unhappy look on his face. I tell him he doesn't have to do that.
Then he quietly utters five words.
"Someone has to do it."
They hit me like a slap in the face.
I mean, I KNOW I'm a slob. I KNOW I fall off the wagon again and again and again. I KNOW it's frustrating to him when he can't find his clothes
But still, somehow, when he says something like that, it hurts. It screams YOU ARE FAILING AT YOUR JOB!
After all, I'm a stay-at-home mom. Also known (on insurance forms and the like) "homemaker." My job is to stay at home, raise the kids and, well, make our house a home. Cooking, cleaning, etc. Women have been doing it for years and years.
So why do I find it so hard? I am trying to identify the root of my problem, but I just don't know what it could be.
I do know that once I get on a cleaning roll, I can get kind of crazy about it. And the ONLY WAY I can keep things clean is to clean constantly and obsessively, pretty much ignoring my children. I still haven't learned to take little steps to keep my place clean. Even if I try my hardest to clean up the dishes after every meal, somehow there are always more. I can wash and dry and put away all the laundry in a day and somehow, the next day, both hampers are full again.
I'm kind of at a loss, but I know I need to do something!
Anyway, I know my husband loves me, even though I'm a slob. He knew it before he married me. I think it just gets to him when it starts to affect him directly.
And if I'm going to lay it all out here, then yes, sure, of course I would love to live in a clean home. I get so much satisfaction out of having a clean house that I will repeatedly walk down the hall to look at the bathroom, for example, after it's been cleaned. I LOVE clean rooms. I love sparkling surfaces and floors you could eat from. I love the smell of a clean house. I like walking barefoot through the kitchen without particles sticking to my feet. (Oh, yeah, I DO sweep the kitchen floor pretty much every day, sometimes multiple times, but it does NO good whatsoever. Especially around the table!)
So, I don't know what else to do except vow to try harder to keep my house clean.
But then there are the kids.
I DO NOT KNOW how my grandmas raised seven and three kids, respectively, and managed to get everyone fed and dressed in clean clothes and everything else they did. I have a hard time managing with two. It seems like every time I start to do something, I am needed. And if I do by some modern miracle manage to get the house looking decent, it means I did not do anything with the kids all day because I was cleaning.
Somehow, there's a delicate balance in there that I'm missing.
Seriously, moms, HOW? How do you balance keeping everything neat and clean, serving good home-cooked meals, hauling everyone to their school and activities, gym time for yourself and spending quality time with your children?
WHAT is the secret?
If anyone has any tips, please, leave a comment. Let me know. Help a girl out!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My weekend reads

Well, I managed to read two books this weekend, even with sick kids and shopping for a new bathroom and soccer. I'm a really fast reader, and they were really fast reads. Just thought I'd share in case anyone wants to read one of them.

The first was Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks. I recently saw the movie. It was sad, but I enjoyed the story, so I wanted to read the book. Like most of Nicholas Sparks' work, it differed from the movie in details but was pretty much the same tale. While I read it, I saw Diane Lane and Richard Gere as the characters in the book. I don't want to give too much away in case you want to read it or see the movie, but it's about finding real love in an unexpected place.

The second book was The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook. I really enjoyed it. It was just a simple chick book. It kept me interested, and didn't require too much thought. It made me want to smell some lavender and go out for a walk on the beach! It's about a woman who loses her job and boyfriend and ends up re-evaluating and reinventing herself and her life by starting a walking program and befriending two of her neighbors.

We're on the Dinosaur Train!

We were walking around and around in Menards, looking for just the right bathtub-shower combo, but we just couldn’t find one that would work. You see, none of them were big enough to fit a brachiosaurus.
And then the clock went off.
Yes, I was dreaming about finding a bathtub that would fit a dinosaur.
I know exactly where this dream came from in my mind. It makes perfect sense. After all, we spent considerable time over the weekend browsing through home improvement stores as we prepare to renovate our bathroom in the coming weeks.
And then there are the dinosaurs.
Oh, the dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs have taken over in my house, and in several others I know. This infiltration can be traced directly to the new PBS show, “Dinosaur Train,” which began just a couple weeks ago. It’s a really cute show, though, and it presents lots of scientific facts about dinosaurs.
Not only that, it has a train, which is a recipe for success in the minds of most four-year-old boys.
The commercials for “Dinosaur Train” started several weeks before the actual show began, which was NOT fun for us moms, because our sons started begging to watch it RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE! In fact, thanks to the modern miracle known as the digital video recorder, I was able to (forced to?) rewind the commercial so Logan could watch it over and over. And over.
Finally, on Labor Day, there was a four-episode marathon. Of course, I recorded it, and then Logan proceeded to park himself in front of the television so he could watch it over and over. And over.
Then we became characters such as Buddy and Tiny and Mr. Conductor. I eventually had to sit down and watch an episode just so I’d know who I was supposed to be portraying. (For the record, my favorite is Morris the Stegosaurus. He sounds like a cross between an 80s surfer dude and Cheech and Chong. AKA, not too bright, which is pretty accurate for a stegosaurus.)
Yep, we’re aboard the Dinosaur Train, all right. And I don’t see a station coming anytime soon.
It’s OK, though. I’d much rather have my kid interested in something scientific than something completely ridiculous like, oh, Spongebob Squarepants. It’s really quite impressive to have a little guy like Logan walking around rattling off words like “Cretaceous” and “Ornithomimus.” He even corrects me if I say a dinosaur name improperly, which occurs frequently.
Since “Dinosaur Train” began airing, we’ve had to search out all the plastic dinosaur toys that we have and find all Logan’s books that mention dinosaurs (The best being “Dinosaurs After Dark” by Jonathan Emmett). We went to the library and checked out dinosaur books. We wear dinosaur clothes. We don’t have roast beef or salad for dinner, we have “meat, because we’re carnivores” or “leaves, because we’re herbivores.”
I don’t really know what it is about dinosaurs that affects little boys so intensely. I remember when my twin cousins, Stu and Zach, were about Logan’s age. I went with them and my Aunt Jenny to the Sloan Museum in Flint to see a dinosaur exhibit. I still remember those two little boys, each clutching a toy dinosaur, rattling off the names of the different creatures. They were so much like Logan is now: So curious and intelligent, eager to learn more and absorbing the information more quickly than an adult could dream of doing.
So I won’t complain about the dinosaur craze. I don’t see any harm in it whatsoever.
As for finding a bathtub to fit a brachiosaurus? I’m not holding my breath.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WHAT were you thinking?!

Occasionally, as parents, we have those moments where we are forced to step back and take a look at our child and wonder about their mental well-being.
I had one such moment on Friday night.
We had dinner and Hubby headed out to the gym, leaving me to handle kid clean-up and bedtime. I bathed Jordan and then put Logan in a hot shower, hoping the steam would help his congestion. While Logan showered, I nursed Jordan and put him to bed. It didn't take very long. Then, I went in to make sure Logan was properly washed up. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I opened the curtain.
There sat Logan, in the shower spray, methodically taking bites of the SOAP!
Yes, BITES, plural, as in, one bite of nasty-tasting soap was apparently not enough. And we're not talking some yummy vanilla-scented soap or anything that could even remotely be mistaken for something edible, we're talking good old Dove for sensitive skin.
Shocked, I bellowed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! EATING SOAP?!"
His response?
"I'm spitting it out. I wanted to make it in little pieces."
I struggled to see the logic, but couldn't get over the fact that my kid was willingly putting soap in his mouth. Repeatedly.
Then, to make matters worse, he rubbed the water out of his eyes with his soap-caked hands. Screaming ensued. Fun.
So, in all, he bit and spit out about half the bar of soap.

I still can't figure out why. I told Hubby and he was just as baffled. He quizzed Logan about it at the next bath time, and got no good answers as to why he would want to do it.

I just now asked him what it tasted like. He replied, "sewer."
I asked if he liked it. He said, "No."
I asked if he was going to bite the soap again. He said, "probably not, no."
I asked why he bit the soap. He said, "Because."
I asked if it was fun. He said, "No."

I just don't get it.

Summer 2009 Photo book

Here is the photo book I made on Shutterfly to remember the fun things we did this summer.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This soap is nuts! Review

As you know, I'm always looking for ways to "green up" my household. We recycle and have switched to cloth napkins instead of paper. I'm also planning to try out cloth diapering and am working on getting us down to one bag of trash per week.

Well, I got a catalog in the mail recently and as I was paging through it, I saw something called Soap Nuts. Supposedly these were some all-natural thing you could use to wash your laundry. Intrigued, I (of course) Googled it and found this Web site. I decided to try these soap nuts out and do a review.

Soap Nuts are actually berries that grow on trees in India and Nepal, and they contain a lot of saponin (the stuff that makes soap soap!), and I've learned they can be used not just for laundry, but for all sorts of general cleaning around the house.

My Soap Nuts arrived, packaged in a muslin bag with instructions printed on it. There is one small plastic bag inside the muslin, and other than that, there is no packaging waste. Awesome.

There was a mild, earthy odor about the nuts when I opened them, and they looked brown and wrinkly, kind of like dates. Hubby thought they smelled gross and forbade me to test them out on any of his stuff. I did anyway.

After reading the packaging, I decided to make some concentrated Soap Nut liquid, so I boiled ten or twelve of the nuts in 6 cups of water for 30 minutes and put the liquid in a glass jar. It was brown and weird looking, but did not smell like much of anything. Then I grabbed some of our dirtiest laundry to test it out. I washed some reallllly sweaty gym shirts that had been fermenting in the hamper for a few days, some soiled baby clothes and some stinky bath towels. Then I dried them. Supposedly, you don't even need fabric softener when you're using Soap Nuts. The clothes came out soft and clean-smelling.

I have since tried out the liquid in place of my normal dishwasher soap and in place of the cleaners I use in the kitchen and in the bathroom. There is a recipe to make a general cleaner on the bag. You mix a small amount of the liquid with water and a small amount of white vinegar and put it in a spray bottle.

I have to say I am impressed. I was not expecting the Soap Nuts to work this well. My big bathroom mirror was even streak-free, as was my glass stove top. Everything I have cleaned with the Soap Nuts liquid has turned out perfect, with one exception: It did not get out a blood stain. However, right on the Web site it says that just like with regular detergent, tough stains will require a pre-treatment, so I didn't really expect it to get out the blood stain.

A 500-gram bag of Soap Nuts will do up to 200 loads of laundry, according to the Web site. I haven't done that much yet, but I will say I have only used that first batch of liquid and I have done about five loads of laundry, two loads of dishes in the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen and both bathrooms and I still have liquid left in my glass jar. A little goes a very long way.

In addition to the lack of packaging, the remnants of the Soap Nuts after you run them through the wash or make liquid are compostable, and the stuff that goes down the drain is antimicrobial, so it's actually beneficial to a septic system. These things are great for the environment, and they don't have anything added to them, so they're good to use on baby clothes or for people who are sensitive or have conditions such as eczema.

I'm glad I tried these weird little critters. I can honestly say they surpassed my expectations, and I don't feel that little twinge of guilt like I did pouring a capful of regular detergent into my washer.

if you want to find out more or try Soap Nuts for yourself, go to

Friday, September 18, 2009

Feeling very lucky today

Hubby and I enjoying sunset on North Manitou Island, May 2007

Last night, my husband gave me a REALLY good hug. I was on my way to the gym, and he grabbed me up in a hug that told me in one simple gesture that I am really and truly loved. He hugged me like he never wanted to let me go, and it was completely out of the blue and for no particular reason whatsoever, except that he just WANTED TO.

I left the house feeling very, very happy.

This morning, I heard from a friend who is having some issues with her husband. He's being unfair and quite controlling and it makes me very sad, because she is a great wife and mother.

Anyway, it just made me think of my own husband and I just want everyone to know that I am married to a really wonderful man, and I consider myself really lucky.

He's not perfect and neither am I, and I guess it works because we realize that and just kind of go with it. We don't really argue very often. We might have it out a couple times a year, but it's always resolved rather quickly.

Over the summer, some personal issues have pushed us closer together as a couple and as a family. We now spend a lot more time doing things together and, I think, all of us value that family time. It's precious. We communicate better than we have in years, we seem to have a little more to talk about and it's just nice.

So that's that. I'm just feeling like a really lucky girl today. I love someone who loves me back, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, as long as we both shall live, and man, it feels good!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I need soup recipes!

Hey guys!

I just had a thought, and I'm cooking up what I hope turns into a really great project, but I need your help.

Please e-mail me your easy, tasty, inexpensive soup recipes to Please make "soup recipe" your subject.

I'll give you more information as this project develops, because I'm going to need your help to make it happen, but for now PLEASE send me your favorite soup recipes!




Well, fall's here! Want to know how I know? Logan has a cold!

At least, I'm assuming it's a cold and not something worse, like strep. He's not feverish, so I think it's just a cold. It sure came on suddenly, though.

Yesterday we had a play date at my best friend's house (by the way, I helped her start a blog and she made her first post this morning. It's HERE) and when we were getting ready to leave, I noticed Logan was kind of stuffed up. I assumed it was probably because they have a couple dogs and we're not around dog hair that much so sometimes we get a little stuffy when we're there. No biggie.

But then, in the car on the way home (all of a 20-minute drive) he went from stuffy to sneezing, coughing, sore throat and tired, glassy eyes. He said he just wanted to lay down. He didn't eat much for dinner (I bribed him with a hot dog and a popsicle) and he got a nice warm bath and shower and went to bed early.

Then it was a night of requests for ice water, Kleenex, pull my covers up mom (apparently he still can't do this for himself even though he's 4. grrr...) etc. Between that and the baby waking up a couple times. It was a longish night, but I've had worse.

This morning he's still really really congested, so instead of going shopping today like we were going to do, we're just going to hang out here at home. I'm going to make him some homemade chicken brown rice soup (YUM!) and we might step out to get some OJ, more popsicles and Kleenex because we're out. Oh, and maybe a movie, because if I have to hear one more re-run of Dinosaur Train I might go a little bonkers. Well, except the one with Morris the Stegosaurus. He's funny. Why they gave a dinosaur a "stoner" voice is beyond me, but he makes me laugh.

Anyway, looks like that's my day today! No doubt I'll be ready to hit the gym for a little alone time when Hubby gets home, because the baby is going through a big-time MOMMY phase. He wants me, and only me, to hold him ALL THE TIME! I love him to pieces, but it gets old rather quickly! I just hope he doesn't get Logan's cold. We've made it 7 months without him getting sick AT ALL.

Have a great day everyone, and get your vitamin C! It's that time of year!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Give up the guilt already!

Dear Krystal,

Get over it. You're taking the night off the gym. It's OK. There is no reason to get all mad at yourself or feel guilty or anything. It's OK to take a night off once in a while. Actually, it's GOOD for you! Don't you remember? Not taking any days off is what led to the foot injuries that are still plaguing you from three years ago.

There is nothing AT ALL wrong with deciding that tonight, instead of hitting the gym, you're going to head to a nice hot bath with a book and a Honeycrisp apple. I just fell sorry for you because you didn't have the foresight to buy a bottle of wine.

Anyway, get over your issues with taking a night off, get off the computer and go enjoy your bath.


Wordless Wednesday: I LOVE baby feet!

Fitness update

Watching The Biggest Loser season premiere last night (and recording the trainwreck that is the finale to More To Love) has brought to mind my own fitness situation, so I guess it's time for a little update.

By the way, did anyone NOT want to weep uncontrollably when that woman on TBL told about losing her ENTIRE family? I can say with certainty that I would not come out of a situation like that with my sanity. I would completely lose it. I can't even stand to think about things like that.

Anyway, at this point, I'm stuck stuck stuck. I still have 18 pounds to go to my pre-baby weight. I am working out regularly but have not been tracking my food or anything, and I still suck at drinking my water daily.

I have devised a plan for the water goal, though. The plan is to drink three of my lovely 32-ounce Sigg bottles full of water each day. One before noon, one by 4 p.m. and the last one by bedtime. That equals 12 8-ounce glasses of water a day, spaced out to something like one glass an hour. Hopefully by breaking it down like that, it will be a more manageable goal.

As far as the weight loss thing, well, I am joining a Body After Baby Challenge. I am hoping it will offer motivation and help keep me accountable. I will be posting here as I go along, including food, workouts, struggles, and hopefully a decent transsformation! Moms, start a blog and join in! It doesn't matter if your baby was born three months ago or three years ago!

Finally, fitness goals. I'm getting a little stronger the more I go lift weights, but I still have some problem areas. I am extremely weak as far as push-ups go, and my core muscles are still pretty shot, too, so I'd like to work on those and get them built back up. In the future, I'd love to be able to do pull-ups again, too. I am still trying to "remember" what it feels like to really push myself during a workout.

So, that's where I am with all that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I feel like a cartoon!

I had the weirdest accident this morning.
It was (is) still dark out, and I was still in bed. Jordan started crying, so I got up to tend to him.
In our bedroom window, we have a little cactus plant and also one of those big square-shaped fans. It blows in cool air from outside at night. When I got up, the fan was still on, so I was going to turn it off on my way out of the room. I reached up and in my still-sleepy clumsiness, I knocked the fan over backward onto the cactus plant, then when I set it back upright, it blew dozens of cactus pickers directly into my face, hands and arms!
Now I have all these itchy, stingy spots that have little pickers sticking out of them, all over me. I can feel them if I run a hand down my face or arm. It's very very uncomfortable. I was afraid to pick Jordan up. Thank goodness none got in my eyes though.
Anyway, I'm about to go try to exfoliate them off in the shower. Hopefully it works.
All I can think of is Wile E. Coyote, when the roadrunner tricks him into running through a cactus or something.

Hope the rest of the day goes better! This was a pretty rude awakening!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A lesson from a dandelion

Below is something I wrote earlier in the summer. I'm entering it in the Mommy Moment contest at Baby Makin(g) Machine.

I was playing with the boys out on the swing set, and as I pushed the swings, I surveyed the back yard, which had become a half-acre field of yellow dandelions. I muttered something about telling Hubby to treat the yard, and Logan asked me why. “Well, to get rid of all these dandelions,” I replied.
Logan was horrified.
“But why Mom? They’re so beautiful!” he said.
I looked around the yard again, but through different eyes. This time, I saw the dandelions not as weeds, but as flowers—bright little suns, all over the yard. Logan was right, they were beautiful. I was transported back to the days when I would gleefully search out the first spring dandelion and pick it so I could present it to my mother. She saw them as weeds, too.
A couple days later, that sunny yellow field of a backyard had changed. It was now covered in a gray fluffy mist. The dandelions had gone to seed. We walked outside and Logan was shocked. Where had all the flowers gone? I picked one of the fuzzy stalks and explained to him that the dandelions had were different now. He blew on one experimentally, watching the seeds scatter in the slight breeze. Somehow, though, they just weren’t as magical as the little yellow suns, and he let the empty stem fall to the ground and ran off in search of other pursuits.
Not too long after that, Jordan reached four months old, and I was shaken. Four months already? Where had the time gone? When Logan was an infant, I was committed to making the most of every single second of his babyhood. I spent hours watching him sleep, breathe, play. I talked to him. I centered my life around his. Every waking moment (and many sleeping moments too) belonged to him. With Jordan, I am just as fully committed to enjoying him but the moments seem more fleeting. I guess it’s because I’m pulled in more directions now. It’s not just me and the baby all day, every day. I have a four-year-old, too, and I am trying to treasure his breaths as well.
It’s a difficult task, trying to be fully present for both my sons. The precious minutes, days and weeks happen and fade out of my sight like a camera flash. I’m left with the snapshots of my memories, but I feel like I’m always missing one panorama as I capture another.
But the worst part is that occasionally there are days when I find myself wishing it was bed time, or wishing it was time for Daddy to get home, so one of our little planets can go gravitate around him for a while. And sometimes—I hate to even put this down in black and white—I find myself wishing I could just disappear for a day or so, all by myself.
I know it’s only natural for a mom to get worn out from being constantly in demand. It’s perfectly acceptable to look forward to a break, but I have a very serious case of Mom Guilt (it’s not on WebMD but it should be) when it comes to looking out for myself.
The Mom Guilt kicks into overdrive when I dare to wish away even a moment of time with my boys, because I know how fast they grow. I know how Logan grew from four days old to four months old to four years old in just the blink of an eye. Jordan was just born yesterday, but now he’s four months old, and tomorrow he’ll be four years old and Logan will be eight!
Every moment with my boys is precious, even the ones when they’re both crying or otherwise driving me insane. Those are the times when I have to force myself to step back and look at life through fresh eyes, to realize that these moments are more like flower petals than weeds.
To realize that, like a dandelion seed caught in the warm breath of a four-year-old boy, these beautiful times will all too soon be gone, scattered to the wind, and my arms will be empty like the forgotten dandelion stem.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This thing is great!

So, on Friday I received a handmade Feeder Frock nursing cover I won in a contest here. The Feeder Frock was courtesy of LaDy LaDuke, and you can find them here.

I got it out of the package and it took me a few minutes to get it figured out. I got it on correctly and took a couple photos. Here's what it looks like on me (I chose the LaDy in Black style, and I love it).

I stuffed the frock in my diaper bag, and over the weekend I tested it out. I used it for the first time at the children's museum we visited in Lansing. I was in a room full of people, with some of them right next to me, and it wasn't awkward or embarrassing at all to be nursing in there. I didn't have to worry about any of my pale, flabby mommy tummy showing, because the frock offers coverage in the back and on the sides, it stays in place and the front part is ample enough to cover everything, but thin enough that the baby can breathe easily and oesn't get too hot.

I tried it out again on Sunday, when the baby started crying because he was hungry during church. I went into a room in the back where you can still hear the sermon, and there were a bunch of people in there. I pulled on the frock, tied it up quickly and let the baby go to town. An old man sat next to me, very close, and I am confident he didn't even notice what I was doing. It was soooo nice not to be struggling to cover things and keep them covered. Plus, the top of the frock is adjustable and you can easily peek in to check on the baby as he feeds.

The only con about the Feeder Frock, as far as I can tell, is that I didn't get one sooner!

Find Feeder Frocks at Lady LaDuke's etsy site, linked above, or here.