Currently – August 29th

I didn’t take part in last week’s “Currently” link-up, mostly because I couldn’t find connections to, like, four of the five topics. That’s cool, though. I’ll be linking up more sporadically now that school will be getting underway, anyway. Life’s like that. It’s been a fun summer, though!

I’m needing to do some cleaning before heading back to school (or at least during fall). You’d think I would’ve focused on that all summer, but instead I focused on spending time with Hadley, getting my blog in order, and a handful of other fun things. I’m also better at that sort of thing when under a time crunch. At the same time, the whole family has come down with a virus, so I’m also in need of some rest. Oh, the juxtaposition! 

I’ll definitely be missing spending all my time with Hadman (and the luxury to work on my own “work” rather than lesson plans, teaching, returning books, shelving books, ordering, organizing, etc.). I count myself SO very lucky to have a job, and to have the summers to my own devices, but it doesn’t mean I won’t miss the time with Hadley the Precocious.

Reading an array of books this summer, I’m nearing the end of Marmee and Louisa (about Louisa May Alcott and her mom), finding it to portray a very bittersweet life for both women and completely dragging Bronson Alcott through the mud. I’m not sure if there’s an agenda since the author is related to the maternal side of the family, but if it’s all based in truth, the guy was a transcendental schmuck. Very well-written, though.

I’m also finishing up Blog, Inc. which I thought would be a lot of “yeah, I already know that,” but actually have found tons of value to it. I also stumbled on the author’s YouTube channel by complete accident and have found myself watching her short-but-inspirational videos for a heart-lightening. No wonder her blog’s called “Oh, Joy!

I’m hoping that we all start to feel better soon. We both came down with a virus, although his sicknesses always put us on high alert thanks to his febrile seizure last year. His illnesses also tend to jump straight to croup conditions, which is what immediately happened this time. It’s weird. He can go to sleep totally fine, and an hour after he lays down starts having a barking fit. Out. Of. Nowhere. Poor kid.

We’ll all enjoy playing together and laying low on Monday before the craziness starts again. We’re not the types to get together for a huge family barbecue on Labor Day, but maybe we’ll do a picnic or some such fun, if we’re all feeling up to it.

Linking up with Ot & Et and Harvesting Kale.

Hadleyisms #2

Happy birthday to my big sis, Mary, today!!!

Anyhoo, back with some more silly moments with our 2-year-old guy. Why, hello, crappy Photoshop skills.

After watching an episode of Daniel Tiger about empathy…
Me: How do you feel today, Hadley? What are you feeling?
H: Apples. Nanas. Knees. *stares at me*

(Apples and bananas are the answer to all life’s little problems these days. Not the actual foods; just the words.)

M: What do you want to be for Halloween, honey? (asking with far too much excitement)
H: Apples! Ooohh!! Apples. Or Nanas. Uh-huh.

Here comes Fruit of the Loom boy.

Daddy: (Getting him up from naps/bed 90% of the time) Good morning, Hadley!
H: Gooooood moooorrning!!!! Mama! Hi!! HIIII!!! (as if he hasn’t seen us in years)
D: How did you sleep?
H: Niiiiice! Nice!!

How was your lunch? How does Beardslee’s fur feel? How are you feeling? “NICE!” Adorbs.

Our favorite Hadleyism lately is “tada!” Finish going on the potty and displaying his “talents”? TADA! Eat a piece of pancake? Tada! Build a Lego tower? Tada!

Daddy gets home and the excitement literally can’t be contained. Running aimlessly around the living room, H exclaims, “Dada! Big Bird!! Toes-yitties-eyephant-potty-yancakes…” runs into kitchen followed by the sound of a face-plant on the floor. Deflated but happy “Tada!” comes from the floor. We lost it.

Aside from these, he’s just got SO MANY WORDS. I can’t even keep track. Say something and he tries out the word. There are times I look at him and think, “You’re learning English. You’re understanding. You’re not like a tiny baby from another country who understands two words I say!” I know it’s normal, and what we expect, but man. And the kid knows every letter you show him. (Z is sometimes S, but we’re working on it.) You can sing the alphabet and stop on a letter and most of the time he knows the next letter. He can count to thirteen.

Strides, folks. Strides. 

One-Ingredient Bathtub Fix

For as long as I can remember, I couldn’t find a product to clean all the years of built-up grime from our tub. I scrubbed as much as I could, so I resigned myself to pretend that it was clean enough for us. Y’know. The surface grime was “clean” so the guilt wouldn’t overtake me when I threw my 2-year-old in. *gulp* Seeing that written, I feel guiltier and guiltier about that.

Well, since my plumber-extraordinaire stepfather’s coming up with ways for us to deal with the horrible bathtub walls, I figured I should make another attempt at scrubbing it. He had suggested a highly toxic solution we’ve all heard of and a razor blade. Seriously. I’m nothing if not lazy, so I wanted to try something else first.

And it totally worked!

Yup, that’s all it took. After wetting the tub, I dumped in the baking soda. (Note that mine’s a generic brand. Use the cheapest you can find.) Be sure you toss it everywhere — sides, especially. You don’t need a HUGE amount, but be sure it’s thick, especially where any grime is particularly caked.

Allow it to sit. Since I was busy chasing a little one around, I let it sit for about 1-2 hours, but less may work, too.

Then, I got a green scrubby (technical term — you know the kind, not TOO rough, but enough friction to work) wet and added a little more water as I scrubbed. Most of it got loosened on its own, but the rough spots needed some good scrubbing. This took about 15 minutes, tops, for a HORRIBLE tub. Sorry I didn’t have a “before”, but I guarantee it’s as clean as it could possibly be. LIKE NEW.

I was worried I’d have to break out the white vinegar, too, but it wasn’t necessary. If you find that you’ve scrubbed (or don’t feel like scrubbing THAT much), do a wipe-down and rinse again, and throw some more on for another hour or so.

Just know that if you leave it too long, it’ll cake on and might be tough to scrape off. All you need is a little water to loosen up the situation and scrub your cares away.

And, now it’s time for the hubs and my stepdad to attack the walls. 😉 I have a feeling I had an easier job.

Do you have any cleaning projects that you’ve been putting off *gulp* years to finally tackle? I can’t be the only one…can I?

Green Guy

Hey, guys. Today’s post was inspired by my super sweet brother-in-law, Dan, who asked me my opinion on some green brands and products he was considering. Of course, I immediately thought, “Oh, cool! Maybe someone in blogland could use my thoughts, too.” So, here we are!

I’m not an expert at any of this stuff. I’m clearly not a dude. (Um. Hopefully you knew that.) But, after reading reviews and doing some research, I’m pretty confident that these are some kickass products. Of course, it should be stated that not all products work the exact same way for everybody. Like, our current shampoo works great for Dave and “eh” for me, but I still think my poo-free days changed my hair’s pH and I’ve lived with straw-like conditions ever since. But I digress.

Today’s post is all about the guys. And, because I’m me, it’s particularly about the eco-guys. You know who you are. The ones who are looking for ways to eliminate the earth-hurting crud from your daily grooming routine. Who still want to look good (and, ahem, smell yummy) without the tingling chemicals, drying foaming agents, and general nastiness that goes down the drain.

I’ve got your back. Since I’m unable to try these myself — do you really have to ask why? — I’ve decided to pick a couple of extra products (like two shampoos, etc). Check out the reviews for yourself and consider what will work for your needs. And, ladies, the next time you need a sweet little gift for your sweet, don’t do the Axe. Seriously. Just put down the Axe.

1 –  Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo (for Heavy Dandruff), 100% Natural and Sulfate-Free – I selected two shampoos because everyone’s head is different, and I thought it would be cool to give you guys some options. I know the bottle is purple and it may look a little feminine, but that’s actually because this is a shampoo that could work for both men and women. It’s so awesome that there are natural options out there for folks who have dry skin, dandruff, and dermatitis. (Are those all the same things? I don’t know. Maybe.) Oh, and it’s cool for color-treated hair. That’s pretty cool.
2 – Every Man Jack’s 2-in-1 Thickening Shampoo – Like I said, everyone’s head is different, and some guys are fighting an issue with thinning. I know how much thinning can affect a guy’s self esteem, so the fact that this phthalate-free option exists (and with a conditioning option) is awesome. Let’s just say that I may ask Santa to bring this to our house this year.
3 – Baxter of California Chrome-Plated Safety RazorThe Dorky Daddy loves his safety razor, although he admits that it does take a time or two to get used to a newer, short-fast strokes method. Seriously, this thing is awesome, and you’ll only need to buy the individual razor blades once in awhile. (Hint: If you dry off your razor well every time you use it, you’ll hardly need to buy new ones.) Plus, if you buy one package of blades, they’ll last FUH-RE-VER. Just try it. Oh, and this (along with a kit of the proper brush, a holder, and some soap in a cute bowl or mug) was his all-time favorite Christmas present. I kid you not.
4 – ManCave Natural Face Moisturizer – No parabens. No sulfates. No synthetic fragrances or dyes. No petrochemicals. No GMOs. No cruelty. No problem! Plus, it comes in super manly packaging. These companies are really catching on to what people want. Oh, and it helps firm your skin (thanks, caffeine), clear it up if you’ve got a bit of acne (thanks, borage oil), and has several anti-aging agents. Wonder if I could get away with using this…
5 – Kiss My Face Creamy Cleanser Clean for a Day – I wouldn’t usually support a face cleanser, mostly because everyone’s face is very much unique. As a teen, I had battles with moderate acne (wasn’t that bad, but it tore my self esteem to shreds enough to matter), so I know something that works for one person won’t work for another. However, the reviews were good enough for this one that I feel confident saying that maybe 8 out of 10 people will have success with this one. It’s great for sensitive skin, has a light citrus scent that could work for ladies or gents, and full of everything we like and has NOTHING we don’t like (vegan-friendly, not animal tested, etc etc)…yeah, I think I WILL be ordering this one myself.
6 – Moon Dance Soaps Refreshing Mint Lathering Shave Soap – This will work perfectly with #3 above! The reason I picked a mint soap is because it’s such a refreshing scent that leaves your skin feeling tight and gives you a morning aromatherapy session that will rival your cup o’ joe. I also hit up Etsy every year to put a different scent in the bottom of someone’s stocking. It’s always great to support a small business owner who supports the philosophies we live by. 
7 – Herban Cowboy Dusk Cologne – (How cute is that name?!) Here’s some more super sexy packaging containing an even better product. It’s another vegan product, produced completely in the US, and the Herban Cowboy series of products seem worth checking out. (Especially their deodorant, which people are saying “actually works for a truly stinky man.” Good to know.) ***Please make sure that you purchase the true brand of this since, apparently, there are knock-offs going around. Since this made the below list, which means a lot to me, I’m still supporting it, but some of the online reviews are warning against some sellers.***
8 – Burt’s Bees Cologne – If PETA thinks these colognes are great, I’ve gotta get behind that. We’re a Burt’s Bees family, so I decided to include this cologne because a) it’s a natural, animal-friendly option and b) it seems to be a completely different scent from #7. It is TOUGH to buy a cologne online, so I should mention that most reviewers love it, although there are one or two that find it a bit too…shall we say…hippie-ish. But, if your guy’s into that, awesome. That said, plenty of reviewers mention citrusy, Bergamot, Cyprus and Fir notes (which sounds pretty woodsy and manly to me).  

Do you have any earth-friendly products that you or your guy enjoy? Are you fans of a particular brand? Tell us all about it in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy something (even if it’s not on my list), you’ll make my day AND help us pay some bills. Seriously. So much appreciation.

Sorry I’m Sorry

The Dorky Daddy recently posted a heartfelt admission of an issue that he deals with, which is so admirable and awesome since a lot of guys don’t admit to it. I felt it was important to reiterate that it’s actually an issue for the whole family. Namely, I do it, too.

We’re uncontrollable apologizers. And we’re officially sorry about it.

You’ll see on his post the moment that the truth hit us, but let’s just say that our unnecessary apologizing has been passed on to our 2-year-old son. Yup. Show any sign of distress, and he immediately starts faux crying while saying “I sowwy, Mama. Sowwy, Mama.”

Lose something. “Sowwy, Mama!”

Spill something. “I sowwy, Mama! So sowwy!!”

Punish over something. “Sowwy!!” (Okay, that last one is awesome, but he doesn’t know to say “sorry” for doing something wrong; just because we’re upset.)

Some might say it’s not a big deal, or that it’s not a bad problem to have an apologetic kid.

To that I say, well, keep it to yourself. (Yeah. I went there.) You get to feel what’s best or worse for your kids. We get to use our (in this case shared) intuition to decide that this is a problem for us. He’s no off-the-wall, drug-abusing kid, of course, so it is all relative…but it still concerns us. And the fact that our apologetic ways allow people to discredit our feelings is something I’d rather Hadley not have to deal with, too.

Sorry for the blunt moment, but it was needed.

Wait. No. I’m not sorry. God, this is so damn difficult.

Taking the energy down for a moment *turns dial* let’s address the reasons that apologizing can be a negative thing. List time:

* Sometimes…just once in awhile…it’s a manifestation of passive aggressiveness. We all have frustrations on a daily basis. At work. At the grocery store. (I can’t COUNT how many times in one trip I’ll apologize to people at Hannaford for something I didn’t do.) Out clothes shopping. Heck, at home with your partner. If someone ticks you off, be it in a big or small way, sometimes “sorry” pops out when you’re actually upset about something…and aren’t REALLY sorry.

And, I’ll admit. When someone walks in my way or steals the spot in line or takes advantage of me at work…I will passive aggressively say, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” *raises hand* I do it. It’s been done.

* Insincere or overused apologies lose their meaning. The more you say “sorry”, the less you really mean it. The more I hear Dave say it, it simply blends into the conversation. Sure, it’s a word of kindness (usually), but we need to learn how to use our TONE of LANGUAGE to display our kindness rather than jumping around the kitchen apologizing for tripping over each other. 

* Apologizing without thought gives the other person the upper hand. Totally. I tend to apologize as a kindness tactic — regularly saying “Oops! So sorry you caught me eating my lunch. Sorry! What’s up?” Seriously. They interrupted MY lunchtime (which I was trying to get work done during) and I’m hoping, at the very least, to receive an acknowledgement that I’m being put out a bit before dropping my sandwich and helping them out.

Instead, I’ve often found that the person disregards it completely and continues on, like a bulldozer, with whatever their own needs are. My confidence issues ain’t gettin’ any better with crap like that goin’ down. It is what it is, and it’s not great.

So, yeah. There’s more, but that’s the general idea of the thing. Our goal is to raise a happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, confident young man. Part of confidence is being comfortable with yourself and knowing how to act in situations. Regardless of how we appear, Dave and I both have confidence and self-esteem issues. The last thing we want is to pass these on to our beautiful little man. Last thing.

Dave is doing great at trying to identify when “sorry!” is an acceptable response and when it’s probably not the best go-to. He’s not phasing it out completely; that’s not the point. It’s knowing when to say it and when it’s not necessary. That’s all.

I, actually, already started working on my sorryisms at work last year. It. Was. Hard. There was definitely a bit of acting needed to help me learn how to not get plowed over (I also used the sorries as a way to be kind, which often got me screwed over). And, y’know what? It kinda worked. There are still people who are just always going to be hard nuts to crack (which is fine), and I learned which people respect some confidence and some boundaries.

I didn’t start implementing it in other parts of my life. I didn’t think it seemed necessary. But, now it seems it is.

Here are a few of the ways that we’ve been addressing the issue:

* I’ve been talking to Hadley in a low-key, “it’s not a big deal” sort of way when he says it. We talk briefly about why he said it, and usually why it’s not needed. If it IS needed, I’ll say something like, “It was good of you to say you were sorry. When you *did such-and-such naughty act*, you were making bad choices and hurting our feelings, so it was a good thing to say ‘sorry’ about.” Or whatevs. I’ve seen a quick decrease in his use of the word. Sometimes a quick one or two sentence chat gets into his smart little brain better than a super big lecture or hitting him over the head with it.

* We’re not doing anything like a “Sorry Jar” or anything so drastic. Sometimes an apology is totally warranted, especially in marriage or in the day-to-day. But, we’ll gently remind each other, “Honey, you said ‘sorry’ and it’s totally cool, you didn’t do anything wrong.” While Dave likens it to quitting smoking (it’s definitely a habit), it’s not the sort of thing you need to kick yourself over when you accidentally let one slip. Sorry happens. It’s a process.

* If I’m truly sorry for something, I state why. I like to use “I’m sorry because…” any time I’m actually admitting a mistake or a poor wording or any number of reasons. Self realization is where it’s at. It also makes the apology carry so much more weight. It gives “sorry” back its importance.

* We’re having issues, but working on finding replacements for “sorry.” It’s difficult because there’s a sweetness attached to it that nothing can match. Again, it all depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s best just to cut it out. Other times, say someone’s having a bad day, just responding “Dude, that sucks” doesn’t show enough empathy. So, we’re feeling it out. Saying “I’m sorry your day is so terrible” might just have to be a replacement for the time being.

And just because I prefer to end on a positive note, and I hate that I was super harsh at the beginning of the post (I’m not sorry, but I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way), here are some of the awesome things about “sorry”:

* Sorry can melt your heart when it’s said at the right time…especially by someone who’s admitting a wrong or who happens to be an adorable 2-year-old who seems to be connecting to you while saying it.

* Sorry can hold so much power, when used sparingly. When you truly make a mistake and can own up to it (the hardest part), saying “I’m truly sorry” and owning the problem, then finding a way to fix it, it can earn you respect. Or not. But maybe!

Care to add anymore positive things about “I’m sorry”?

A Quick Trip and Summer Check-In

So, we got away for a quick day trip to Old Forge last Friday! And, of course, the weather sucked. I mean, felt like a drizzly, cold autumn day. Luckily, we both love the fall, so it wasn’t a huge downer. Just a little road bump.

Here’s a quick recap of the day. Let’s see. We left a bit later than I had expected, but since I knew it wouldn’t be a super full day, it totally didn’t matter. And, unfortunately, Hadman wasn’t great in the car to OR from Old Forge. Eh. Ya win some, ya lose some.

We drove into town and found a parking spot. Since it wasn’t quite lunch time and the farmers’ market wasn’t open for business yet, we decided to make a stop at the Old Forge Hardware Store. It’s not really a hardware store as much as a general store, including tons of kitchen items and toys and books. Of course, we left with a book for the little guy.

Then, it was time for lunch. We hit up the Adirondack Cafe, and considering it’s hard to navigate this place without a stroller, it was great to be welcomed to the place. (Walt’s Diner was embarrassingly not great about it.) Tough when it’s a touristy town.

Anyhoo, we had a great meal, then walked through a fine mist over the infamous bridge down by the lake to see Hadman’s favorite — duckies! They were, luckily, loving the weather.

Then, we decided to try the beach area nearby. Sure, it wasn’t warm enough to ENJOY it, but we had fun walking around and collecting things. And, of course, some more ducks came by to say “hi” again. I even stuck my feet in the sand (although it doesn’t really count on my summer list…not really what I meant).

We walked to the farmers’ market, but it started raining heavier and there wasn’t tons to choose from. We did leave with some wine from the Montezuma Winery (a super sweet Fat Frog Red and delicious Canvasback Red) and some raw honey for Dave.

After the market, we decided to drive the back roads near the ski slopes (you can actually ride the ski lift to get a great view, but with a wriggly 2-year-old and on-and-off rain, it wasn’t happenin’) and saw at least half a dozen random deer, a family of turkies, and a fox. Fun, fun!!

All the while, Dave and I realized we were both craving a donut. Just a cup of coffee and a donut. For some reason, we continued our drive in the opposite direction and happened upon this joint…

Bingo! It was like a place you would’ve found in the ’40s. They only had coffee and two kinds of donuts. Just two tables for outdoor seating. It was perfect. And, yes, I wore a sweater and scarf. ‘Twas chilly! Just the right kind of day for a homemade donut and a big, super hot cup of coffee.

So, it wasn’t the greatest day ever, but we had a good time. It also makes me want to hit up a farmers’ market with more locally-grown produce, and that’s labeled for it. Just saying.

Oh, and what better time than now (not that summer’s over — it’s not!!!!) to check in with my summer fun list:

A couple of them weren’t done as much as I like (like family walks, and the garden had a major issue I’ll get into later), but they were done. I’m also hoping to putter a bit more, get a WARM sandy day, and I’m thisclose to finishing two books. TWO! That’s humongous, folks.

How’s your summer going? And don’t tell me about your kids returning to school already. Our neck of the woods, the kids don’t go back (meaning I don’t return to work) until after Labor Day. Let me have this!!! 😉 Just kidding, you can tell me about it, but I’ll be plugging my ears and singing “la la la” the whole time.

Anti Clorox Wipes

In a house full of cats and an active toddler around, messes are inevitable. Namely, messes of the bodily function variety.

That’s right. Cat pee and potty training smears.

It happens. Daily. Gross, but it’s kind of a moot point when you’re in love with those little rascals.

So, when we recently ran out of my OCD-ish husband’s favorite clean-up tool, disposable Clorox wipes, I found myself hesitant to buy some more. I knew full well that it was contributing to an eco-hater status, which I cringed over every time we wiped a potty seat. Plus, the nasty chemical makeup of the wipes bummed me out.

Of course, I did what every mother does when faced with a dilemma: I took to Pinterest.

There actually wasn’t as much as I thought I’d find, but I really only needed to find one great pin. And I found an awesome resource for you guys at Live Renewed. You’ve got not one but TWO recipes for a natural disinfectant.

I decided to take her Castile soap (ahem, I hope you all know we mean Dr. Bronner’s when we say that, right?) and tea tree essential oil recipe and run with it, mainly because I had all the ingredients on hand.

Side note: My essential oil experience has been a fun experiment that’s working out quite well so far, and I still haven’t ordered my replacement lemon (and any new ones I’d like to try out, so any suggestions for new “flavors” would be welcome in the comments!), which is why I didn’t try the other recipe. I’m loving the quality and non-pressure system that Native American Nutritionals has in place compared to others.

Anyhoo, back to the wipes. Here’s how I put this shebang together:

For the reusable wipes, I just cut up a couple of (*cough* too small *cough) soft old T-shirts, which gave me…like…maybe 16-20 wipes per shirt, depending on how big you make your wipes. You can also use old cloth napkins (I cut up a few of those for the days I’m out of T-shirt rags) or your husband’s old boxers or whatever. Just check first. Let’s just say I’m waiting for mine to give up on a couple of crappy white tees to sacrifice for the cause. I’m not sure if color really matters or not; it’s not like I care whether they get stained since they’re rags, but I’ll be sure to update you if the color runs. (That said, if you have something white to cut up or use, um, choose that. Probably best.)

Here’s the stuff I mixed up. Per her recipe, I used about 10 drops of tea tree oil (which actually SMELLS like it’s disinfecting, I kid you not! Like Lysol, but natural!), two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s, and a cup of water. I ended up splashing a little more water in to moisten all the wipes, but I think it’s because I put the solution on the bottom of the container instead of pouring it over the top.

Doubt that this stuff works as well as Clorox? Behold…doesn’t this look all disinfecty? If that were a word, of course…

Right?? So, I put the solution at the bottom of my empty, de-labeled and washed Clorox container…

Sexy. Anyhoo, this is the point that I cut up my reusable wipes. I wadded them together, kind of in a roll, and pulled them up in the middle (I didn’t end up using the old white napkins on the outside since there wasn’t room in the tube)…

Don’t overthink it. Just shove it in and pull in the middle. It works. Okay, this is probably the point I should have poured the solution over everything, but I had already put it in the bottom hoping that it would seep upward. I’m sure it probably would have seeped just fine, but I’m an impatient mama and love to see results. So, I splashed a bit more water on the top and shook the thing. Here’s our final product:

Yup, I grabbed a marker and labeled it with a cheeky description. It also has the recipe in small lettering on the other side, just in case my husband feels like whipping some up next time, or in case my incredibly shoddy memory fails me. Again.

I’m keeping them where we kept our old wipes, under our bathroom sink. It’s where we dump Hadman’s potty and where they get used most frequently. This also happens to be where our laundry hamper lives, so it’s perfect. If I think it’s gross to toss these in with the laundry, I’ll grab our old wet bag from cloth diapering days and keep them in there ’til all the rags and linens need to be washed. No big deal.

Whatchya think? Would you try reusable wipes, or are you addicted to your current method of disinfecting? No judging here.

(By the way, there’s an affiliate link or two included in this post. Just a warning. It won’t blow up your computer, and if you purchase anything off of Amazon after clicking through my links, even if it’s not a product I listed, you’ll be helping to run this here little blog. Which is awesome of you and earns you a gold star for the day.)

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Alright. I’m blogging about this for two reasons. One, to remember that I took part in a timely fad for, yes, a good cause (like looking back and saying you took part in “Hands Across America” or something). Two, to add a few things to the video I made.

So, by now I’m sure everyone (except maybe my mom) has heard about the ALS Challenge, and probably been tapped to do it by a friend or two. Of course, the time came and I couldn’t feign societal outcast any longer. But, I had to look into it further to decide whether I was one of the many skeptics out there, or if it was really important enough to do. You can search the internet and find a slew of people who argue for either side, and I was just slightly to one side before being forced to consider doing it.

Watching my friends post videos stating, in essence, who tagged them and the three individuals they’d be torturing back, followed by a dump of icy cold (sometimes not so much) water over their heads, had me kind of shaking my own head. My issues were thus:

a) Is it really raising awareness if no one even says WTF ALS even IS?
b) How much is it helping the cause if the point is to take part in a viral campaign that’s about AVOIDING paying to help research/treatment efforts?

It seemed to be a popularity thing. A fad. A chance to lightheartedly piss off one’s friends. The point of the thing was moot.

BUT…then I got tagged by my brother-in-law. He’s a guy who, while we joke our butts off together quite a bit, I respect. A lot. Not only would I be tortured for NOT doing it, I respected him too much not to at least consider it.

So, I decided to do it a tad differently. Just a bit.

I researched. Of course, the internet is such that, these days, you can find a million “valid” explanations on how to do something “the right way.” Yeah, no. Since this wasn’t an organization-based campaign to begin with, there was really no accurate way. Some said that the point was to raise money even if you dump the ice water, just in smaller denominations ($10 or $20, depending on what you read). No matter what, if you didn’t do it, you had to spend $100.

All of this left a yucky taste in my mouth. Many of my friends and family are budget-conscious folks. A good cause is great, but dipping into the grocery funds ain’t. Forcing someone to give $100 or $50 or even $20 if they have a family to support just isn’t the way to get help. I much prefer saying, “give what you can, if you can.” 

And saying “no” just makes you a hardass; not a team player. Y’know, the kids who got made fun of in school. Neither’s the best situation.

So, I did this:

Notes: I enjoy talking to folks, really, but when my nerves get up, my lisp gets a-goin’. And “ums” get used generously. And, um, degenerative. Yes. I know.

But, more importantly, I’m trying to bring some awareness to the thing. Aside from stating the definition of ALS (poorly, but still) and the official website for donations (is anyone else waiting for some fake ALS sites to pop up and start making a false profit on this thing??), I make it clear that I am ALSO making a donation, and invite anyone to do so, as well. The ice water was really just for fun, to avoid familial harassment, and to prove that I’m a tough broad.

A couple of facts that I had hoped to state, but I knew I’d ramble and the thing would be wicked long:

There are over 30,000 individuals in America alone living with ALS. Once receiving a  diagnosis, the life expectancy is 5-6 years, tops. There is only one medication to treat ALS, and it only extends one’s life by mere months. There. Is. No. Cure. Oh, and this disease doesn’t discriminate; young, old, white, black, fit, unhealthy. It’s not genetically passed. It’s like winning some horrific lottery. “Hey, ya never know.”

I kid you not. Check out for more sad but true information.

Oh, and to learn more about Lou Gehrig, I greatly suggest watching “The Pride of the Yankees”. Sure, there are tons of great books out there, but there’s nothing like watching Gary Cooper portray the real man, being brought down by this crippling disease in his prime. It’s heart-breaking and true.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming… Oh, and do tell me what you think of the challenge in the comments! Did you take part? Are you hoping to? Do you think it’s a superficial masking of truer fundraising efforts? Let’s chat!

Currently – August 15th

Dudes. August is halfway over. Practically. I suck at math. And I make completely blatant observations. Hi, my name is Megan, and I’m awkward.

Oh, and I’m working on a bit of a makeover for this here blog, but am having some layout issues. So, all ya get is the new header. Enjoy the cleanliness while it lasts!

That’s enough of an intro, right? Here’s what’s “currently” going on ’round here…

I’m currently searching for rugs. Well. I shouldn’t say “currently” because I’m always searching for rugs. We have area-ish rugs in our sunroom (with boring, thin stripes; too traditional), living room (there’s also a carpet, but I need to ground our seating area…with a rug that’s only slightly darker than the carpet…der?), and dining room (three words: squares, multicolor, scrolls). The rugs in those areas ain’t cuttin’ it anymore, so I’ve scoured Overstock, West Elm,, and about a dozen others regularly to see if I can find a deal. Unfortunately, even the deals are a tad rich for my blood. Plus, when I find something I *think* might work, I question it. I’m just a questioner when I’m spending a couple hundred (each?!) smackers. I drool at Target this time of year, thanks to back-to-school college kid rugs.

On non-sticky and non-comfy/ugly clothes days, I’ve been wearing the crap out of a silky blouse I scored at TJ Maxx recently. I’m not usually a Maxxanista outside of their home goods goodies, mostly because their stuff is super trendy (read: only a model can wear it without looking super awkward…and we all know I’m pretty awkward on my own) or downright ugly. I also always feel like, while perusing their racks, I’m searching the clearance racks at Kohl’s (ya never know what you’re gonna get), where I always leave disappointed. This one, however, has some small navy-and-coral (reddish coral?) prints and is flowy enough to make me feel hip but covered up. And it’s weird because I’m not a “blouse” person. At. All. But, it’s my new fave and has made me think about a few other pieces I should try. Isn’t it awesome when ONE PIECE can inspire you for the rest of your wardrobe? Worth the price…which I forget.

Needing me some full-on motivation. It hasn’t gotten any better since last week. Almost every day has been usurped by some thing or another, so my days of “he’s napping, go paint/dust/pick up/go through something” have halted. I’m to the point where I know I should just finish ONE more project before I head back to school and I’ll be happy. Now, which project will that be…?

{I could totally use two for this one, but I’m gonna get creative here. Watch me!}

Despite a really kind offer from loved ones for their house and a deep desire to do so, we’ve decided to put off any moving plans to the spring. Again, we hope to keep working on our beloved-but-small house while keeping our eyes on the market in areas we hope to move. The two reasons we have to move: Our neck of the woods is getting a tad scarier and just isn’t an area we hope to raise kiddos (not so bad that we can’t wait a little, honestly) and since we do hope to have more kids, it’s just too small (it’s shy of 1,000 sq. ft….plus 3 cats…carry the one…yeah, it’s cozy). The two main reasons to wait: Some big ticket bills will be paid off come spring, so our finances will leave us feeling a lot more comfortable to make some changes, and waiting also means that we’ll be able to look more for the wishlist items we hope to have in our “want to own it a long, long time” house. 

I won’t say that I’ve been eating crap recently, but my husband and son are eating tons better than I am. Our dinners are usually the same thing, but I tend to incorporate more veggies and fruit into their lunches and snacks (and sometimes breakfasts) than I do my own. I just don’t pay any attention to mine. I’ve been carb-based for awhile and I’m concerned it’s starting to show a bit around my mid-section. Squishy. So, I’ll be on the search for a lazy person’s workout routine to get my arse moving (see? Moving?) and try to make a few food changes to see what I can do. Needless to say, we haven’t been as active as we all should be for an adorable, young, spry family. *ahem* She says while eying the innumerable gray hairs springing forth from her noggin.

I’m taking part in the Currently linky party, graciously put on by Ot & Et and Harvesting Kale. Gotta love a party you don’t have to brush your teeth or brush your hair to attend!

Traveling with a Toddler

Since we’ve had some time to return to normalcy after our vacation and documented all the fun, I thought it’d be a good time to share a list of tips we picked up from traveling with our little 2-year-old Hadman. I already shared a fun list of items that help when traveling with tots, and all that stuff helped BIG-TIME with the trip.

Oh, and this was a road trip (no planes involved) and wasn’t super long (4 1/2+ hours, tops). I’m sure people who have traveled 8-12 hours in a car (or, God bless you, on a plane!) with a little one can come up with even better ideas. If you’ve got ’em, share ’em in the comments!

Tip #1: Let go of expectations. I went into this trip over-planning (on purpose; it’s how I roll), but knowing all the while that I should keep my expectations low. Would we make it to even a fraction of the places I hoped to visit? Nope. Will he enjoy the planned activities as much as I hoped he would? Probably not (or enjoy them for 5 minutes or less before indicating that he was done). Should I expect perfection from a 2-year-old? Never.

So, going into vacation with this more laid-back attitude was SO helpful. The places we ended up hitting were awesome and we made tons of family memories, with minimal meltdowns. The places that we missed, well, maybe we’ll go again when he’s a bigger boy and I’ll have a cache of ideas stored up to try.

Tip #2: Know thy child. Of course, you already know your kid. Who does better than you, really? It’s true, you rock. So, use that intuition and everything you already know about your munchkin to help you plan accordingly.

What’s your little one’s favorite thing to do? Art projects? Free play? Reading books? Running around like he needs a tiny, adorable straight jacket? Select activities that align with those interests. Our visit to the Eric Carle Museum was perfect because there was a story time (a short movie based on a book, while we were there) that he LOVED, a library with toys (books + a few great toys + a space to make a little noise = perfect for our monkey), a “very hungry caterpillar” sculpture that he could climb all over, and even an art project area that was structured in a very casual way, which helped with his short attention span but propensity for messiness.

This tip also applies to your tot’s schedule. We all know that it’s important to maintain some semblance of a schedule, with some allowance for flexibility built in, right? We tried to ensure that there was a nap time (he even took a morning nap on the long way to our destination, which was awesome and super rare) built in and that we didn’t over-schedule the day. Pick a handful of activities, but do them only if your little one’s in an adventurous mood; perhaps one active one and one chill one per day, depending on length.

And, if your kiddo does fine with eating in a restaurant, build plenty of opportunities to try some new places. Which leads me to my third tip…

Tip #3: Stay in. Never thought I’d hear myself say that. This totally doesn’t mean “give in to your naughty child” or “don’t have any fun on your trip.” Not at all.

What it DOES mean is that just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean you have to be “on the go” or that you HAVE to eat every meal in a super structured restaurant environment the entire time. Unexpectedly, after a very busy first day of driving, lunching, sight-seeing, and shopping, by the time we arrived at our hotel to regroup, we realized we were exhausted. Oh, and Hadley was in full-speed-ahead mode. A lack of playtime will do that to a kid. That’s a recipe for disaster, as far as dinner was concerned. Actually, as far as a lot’s concerned.

Hence, the above picture. We ordered dinner from a nearby Italian restaurant, didn’t have to “dress for dinner”, and Hadley was able to run around the hotel room and make as much noise as he wanted while all the other guests were out to dinner. It. Was. Perfect. We kept saying what a good idea it was to stay in. Then, we got to fit in a regular bath and bedtime (although he ended up sleeping with us; c’est la vie), so it really worked out great.

The next night, we encouraged our friends to order out (vs. eating out) since they also would have an infant in tow, so we didn’t really go out to dinner at all (aside from a couple of casual lunches). And, guess what. No big. We drank a little bit with dinner and after the kids were down, we enjoyed some “adult sundaes” (ice cream + brownies + Kahlua), accompanied by wonderfully leisurely conversation. That wouldn’t have been very doable if we’d gone out, would it? Not with two kids along for the ride.

See? Stay in. It’s not a dirty word. Unless you’re a foodie. In which case, disregard.

Tip #4: Build in stops for everyone. This wasn’t a kid-centric trip, and no family trip needs to be. Sure, we built in specific stops to maintain serenity with the kiddo, but it was a pretty even vacation full of “stops for Mom, stops for Dad, stops for Child.” And when we could tick off two or three of those individuals with one activity? Jackpot!

There was a stop at one of Dave’s favorite comic stores and several friend visits for the hubby (although I like to consider his friends my friends; I’m not worthy, really) and some historical stuff and a stop at the outlets (purely professional; I needed school clothes) on the way home for wifey. Bookstores for all three. All happy.

Tip #5: Pack healthfully. Dude. Travel can be super unhealthy. And, that’s okay…to an extent. (See above “adult sundaes” reference, ahem.) But, it’s nice to have options while in the car, and never knowing where your next meal will be is a recipe for disaster. Ha. Recipe. Get it??

So, we stocked the heck up. I had one large reusable grocery bag full of our favorites: organic granola bars (for adults and tot), organic snack crackers, organic milk and juice boxes, organic fruit leather, a bunch of bananas, and a huge bag of those mini-oranges (thank you, orange hack video, for making the process a little less messy in the car — wish I could find the link again!). Oh, and I had a separate cooler bag with a ton of water and another insulated lunch bag with Hadley’s yogurt packets and stuff.

I also allowed myself some room in his lunch bag to throw in a granola bar or fruit leather so that, when we did eat at a restaurant, we could just bring the bag along to keep him satiated while waiting. Simple as that.

Tip #6: The simple things. Speaking of simple…an egg. A freaking cheap-o, neon bright plastic Easter egg. I kid you not, this thing was a game changer.

I packed a humongous bag of favorite toys for all possible situations (if you’re not getting a good mental picture already, yes, the car was loaded to the gills), and they definitely did the trick at keeping him relatively entertained there and back.

But what were the best, most entertaining things in the backseat? A cheap, plastic toy truck our neighbor gave him just before we left and a plastic Easter egg. Mind you, at our first rest stop, he saw a game where you put coins in and the egg (containing a far-too-old-for-him toy; ie choking hazard) pops out, so after we did our potty business, I let him put the coins in. The egg seriously mesmerized him (enough so that I could pop out the little monster inside and dispose of it properly without him giving two craps about it).

Sometimes it’s the little things for these little ones. Like running around the hotel room. Or popping up in your hotel crib every ten seconds to announce how HAPPY you are to be sleeping in a room with “MAMADADA!!!” Or meeting new friends only to discover you love redheads just as much as you love blondes. Or being able to finally say your distant-BFF’s name and to bear hug the heck out of him and to even display a mild understanding of sharing. Or making friends with the docents at a museum. Or being rewarded with an electronic Pink Panther ride at the outlets. 

And aren’t those simple, little things the memories we sometimes inadvertently forget…the memories that really make the trip what it is? And what it is, is awesome.