Life Lately

So my life lately has been pretty stressful. I know, I know, I'm not the only one dealing with stress. I don't even think that I have been dealing with any more than the average person. I do, however, think that for me, I've been dealing with a lot. A lot of it is really personal and I don't blog about it (and no, that doesn't mean my marriage is in trouble - "personal" means anything that I don't want the entire world to know about).

I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't have something going on, or somewhere to be. Even the good things that happen are still things to handle in life. All stress is not bad. So I cherish the rare moments when I am doing absolutely nothing. Like one afternoon last week, C wanted to go outside and swing. I had approximately one million things to do, but I agreed because I knew I needed a break. I also know that moments like that her will not last forever. So we went outside and I pushed her in her baby swing, then I sat in the big swing while she went up and down the slide. The weather was perfect and it was so quiet and peaceful. Of course, it only lasted a little while - before I was ready, it was time to go back inside and cook supper and deal with everything else awaiting me.

My husband has been really great in the evenings lately. He's been coming home earlier and cooking supper for me a lot of nights. Or cooking with me. Its such a huge burden off my shoulders to not have to cook supper every single night. By the time I pick up C from her grandma's and get home, its close to 6pm. I try to have her bath done around 8, and I like for her to be in the rocking chair with me by 8:30-9. Which means I have 2.5-3 hours every evening to spend time with my daughter, get supper on the table and then cleaned up, feed all the animals (we do this as a family but it still takes a while), and do a few chores around the house (so I don't spend my entire Saturday cleaning). It doesn't sound like much to me when I type it all out. But trust me, it is overwhelming some days. And since my kid still hasn't learned how to put herself to sleep yet, I have to rock her every night. Which is really not a big deal. What is a big deal is the fact that I can't just rock her until she falls asleep and then lay her down. No, C has to be rocked for quite a while after she falls asleep. If that doesn't happen, she will wake up when you lay her down and start screaming. Since we're not fans of the Cry It Out method of "sleep training," we won't let her lie there and cry. I might get lucky and be able to lay her down by 10, but sometimes its closer to 11pm. After that, I'm too exhausted to do anything else but go to bed.

So yeah, my evenings after work are pretty stressful. Not that I'd trade any of that, though. I truly love my life and we all know how much I love being a mother. C does complicate things, but its a welcome complication. I'm not even complaining about all this, either. This is just my life right now. Its hectic and stressful, but full of love.

Weekends used to be my downtime. I used to spend Saturdays lounging around the house with C, and Sundays after church the three of us would just sit around the house again and just be together. Lately, there has been something going on every weekend, though. I have had a baby shower (or 2!) or a wedding shower or a birthday party every Sunday for a while now. In fact, I missed one yesterday (though I did drop off a gift).

I would love to say that my calendar is not so full for the next month or so, but I can't say that. I guess its a good thing that I'm so busy, though. It means that I have a lot of people who care about me enough to invite me to events, right? ( :

Yesterday, I took a day off, sort of. My girlfriend and I went to a spa in Raleigh to get massages. The spa was having a 1/2 off sale, so we got a great price on hour long, full body massages. DH, C, and I went to Sunday School yesterday morning, and we skipped church so that we could all eat lunch together. Terrible, I know. But I had to leave at 12:30, and DH wanted us all to eat together; can't argue with that! C had a fun day with her daddy, and I left for the big city.

The massage was absolutely wonderful. Apparently I carry my stress/tension in my shoulders; they were pretty knotted up and I didn't even realize it. I've had a full body massage done before, but it was nothing like this one. I could feel my muscles loosening up over the hour. It was awesome. I even had hot stones put on me - a first! Afterwards, they gave my friend and I "special" water - its just water with citrus fruit in it, but it felt really special. I didn't want to leave that place.

What's interesting to me is how thirsty I've been since the massage. I expected to feel a littler thirstier than usual, but I have been basically guzzling water. The only other downside of the massage was that I am apparently allergic to the oil that was used on me. I itched and itched until I was able to wash it off last night, and today I'm still a little itchy. Totally worth it, though. If I ever go again, I'll take some allergy medicine beforehand, and drink a ton of water, too!

I know this post is not all that interesting, and I apologize. If you've made it this far, congratulations (haha). It helps me to type things up, though. If you have made it this far into all my rambling, you will now be rewarded with some things that are slightly more interesting. I'm a riot, huh?

But, seriously. Two major things have had me super stressed lately.

One - I lost my engagement ring on Saturday. :( I took C and my 8 year old cousin to a festival in town Saturday, and at some point during that day, among 10,000+ people, I lost my ring. I managed not to lose my wedding band and my other ring I always wear, miraculously. It was so stupid and totally my fault: I took my rings off so I could put sunscreen on C's face. I put them in my jacket pocket, and I told myself I'd put them right back on. Well, I didn't. And then I got hot, so I took the jacket off and put it in the stroller. I didn't give another thought to my rings until hours later. Its embarrassing to even think about all that, and typing it is painful. I can't believe I was so careless and stupid. I will be 30 next month and I have never lost a piece of jewelry (except for a necklace that broke while I was running once). When I realized my rings weren't on my fingers, I panicked. I grabbed my jacket and found 2 of them. I looked all over that stroller, and traced back everywhere I had been all day (which was not easy, considering the number of people that were there).

After a while I decided to file a police report. It is highly unlikely that anyone even saw my ring. If someone did happen to see it, chances are they'll keep it or sell it somewhere. But I am hoping and praying that an honest person has it and turns it in to the police. I've called all the local pawn shops and so far no one has tried to sell a ring. Tomorrow through Sunday I'll have an ad in the local paper. I'm not giving up easily. I know its just a ring, but it really sickens me that I lost that one. All weekend I kept thinking about the night DH proposed to me and gave me that ring. I really love it. And no, it wasn't insured. We kept meaning to get all my jewelry insured, but never did. Lesson learned.

To make that situation even worse, while I was filing the police report Saturday, who do you think showed up to the police tent? My ex-boyfriend. The one I haven't spoken to since we broke up in 2005. It was just what I needed that day. Of course he laughed at me when he found out I had lost my engagement ring. I'm sure he was thinking it served me right! Oh well.

The other major stressful thing I've been dealing with lately is another weird health issue of mine. I think I've blogged about my weird issues before, last year when I was dealing with all my GI issues. Ever since I can remember, I've dealt with strange things with my body. When I was a teenager, my knees hurt so bad that sometimes I couldn't walk. I went to a lot of doctors and specialists and no one could find anything wrong with me. Eventually, the pain went away. Once, the skin on all my fingers peeled off. Several layers of skin, too, so that my fingers were so raw and painful I couldn't touch anything for weeks. No one ever figured that one out, either, but eventually the skin grew back and it hasn't happened again .

A few years ago, I had some intense shoulder pain. It prevented me from doing things I would normally do, but of course no one I saw could find anything wrong with my shoulder. I ended up going to a chiropractor, and I don't know if he helped me or if it was a coincidence, but eventually my pain went away. And then last year, I dealt with extreme stomach pain for months and months. I endured so many tests and the only thing the specialist could see wrong was severe reflux, which didn't explain all my symptoms. And then, suddenly, my stomach pain went away and I haven't had any since. Weird.

It was so weird to me that I saw my primary physician in December and told her everything, just to get her opinion. She had no ideas, but ran some blood tests, which all came back fine (of course). Since I was symptom free at that time, there wasn't much she could do. So I just waited until the next thing went wrong with me.

I didn't have to wait long, unfortunately.

Almost a month ago, I started having a pain in my tooth. I have pretty sensitive teeth anyway, and use toothpaste for that, so I figured it was just something that had irritated my tooth. After several days the pain got worse, but everything looked fine. Then the pain got even worse - it turned into a constant throb. Strangely, I was able to sleep at night and in the morning the pain was gone, but after an hour or 2 the throbbing would come back. I finally realized it wasn't my tooth, but my gum. And then in addition to the throbbing, it hurt to touch that part of my face, even lightly. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore (and Motrin wasn't helping at all), so I went to my dentist. Of course, he found nothing wrong. He even said my mouth was the perfect picture of health. He referred me to an endodontist, who also found nothing wrong. But they both agreed that I probably have trigeminal neuralgia. My symptoms are not typical for TN, of course, but both men felt that was the right diagnosis.

My dentist wanted to start me on a medicine to treat the TN. But you treat TN with anti-depressants, and I'm not down with taking them unless its absolutely necessary. All this happened last Thursday, and my dentist called in the prescription for me that afternoon. Then he left for a trip to Panama (how nice, right?). After a ton of research that night, I decided I wanted another opinion before taking any drugs to treat this condition. My dentist can refer me to a neurologist, but of course he's out of the country for a week, so he can't do it. I left a message with my physician to see if she'll refer me (even though she hasn't seen me since December and I wasn't having this issue then), but she's out of the office until tomorrow. The neurologist won't see me without a referral, either. So now I'm just waiting. As always.

Actually, the pain does seem to be going away, finally. It hasn't throbbed since Thursday. It doesn't hurt that much to touch that part of my face, though it does still hurt pretty bad when I press my lips together (like after putting on ChapStick, which I am addicted to!). Its so strange, this pain. From what I read, though, TN "flare ups" typically last from several days to several weeks, and then you go into a kind of remission until the next bout of pain. So if that's what I really have, I'm probably at the end of this pain cycle and will be pain free soon. Which means that by the time I see a neurologist, I'll be totally fine and that visit will be unnecessary, and he'll think I'm crazy. Like all my other doctors have thought.

I told my friend yesterday I don't understand why no one has referred me to a shrink yet. They all think I'm crazy since they can't find anything wrong with me physically. Some days I really feel crazy. Is all this random pain I have just all in my head?? I don't know. I might not ever know. *sigh*

So maybe now you see why I'm so stressed lately! Why I have nothing much to say on the blog. I just keep reminding myself that everything happens for a reason, and God's got this all under control. He's gonna see me through this mess, just like He always has. One day things will calm down and I'll barely remember this time in my life, I bet!!


Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013 - Done!

The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013 was a success. I'm not sure if we broke the Guinness record from last year yet, but I bet we did. Hopefully they'll release the final count soon. I'll be sure to do an update once they do.

We had a great time Saturday! Our location had about 35 or so babies in the change, which I thought was pretty impressive for our area. I had no idea cloth diapering was so popular here. It was neat to see so many fluffy butts in one room. ( :

I still haven't had time to go through everything in the swag bags we were given. There are a ton of coupons in there. When I opened the box (we got a box and a bag), I asked C what was in there and she said "mail!" Then I told her to look in the bag and see what was in there, and she said "more mail!" Silly youngin. Everyone got an adorable diaper cover by Bumkins. Its green and has a green eggs and ham theme. I haven't taken a picture of it yet, because I plan to do a full review on it once I've had a chance to try it out. I've never used that brand of diapers before, so I'm curious. It looks to be a really nice cover, though. Tons of snaps, so there is lots of room for adjustments. Last night I set all the snaps to make the diaper as small as possible - I can easily see how it would fit a newborn.

We also got a nice bib in our swag bag. I think I got a boy bib, but oh well. Its blue and has red rockets on it. Still, free bib! There were lots of free samples of cloth-friendly laundry detergent, diaper creme, and baby soaps and lotions. Hopefully sometime in the next few days I'll get a chance to go through it all and see exactly what I have.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot the little wet bag! I don't think I've talked about wet bags here before, so I definitely need to do a post on that soon. Wet bags are essential if you're gonna cloth diaper. They're lined with PUL (just like the diapers are), so you can put soiled diapers in the bag and (if its a good bag) nothing will leak out. A good wet bag will also keep the smells in. We were all given a tiny wet bag Saturday. Its perfect for holding just one diaper, which is great if you're running errands and know you won't be gone long. I sent it with C today in case she has an accident in her big-girl panties. I think it'll be great to send to her grandma's since its so little and takes up so little space in the diaper bag.

In the raffle I won a $15 off coupon to a store that sells nursing tanks. I don't have a need for it right now, but I'll probably order one in case I have another baby. And if I don't have another, I'll just give it as a gift to someone else. ( :

As for the actual diaper change, it was very quick and kind of anti-climatic. But honestly, you're just changing a diaper, not very exciting! We all sat on the floor with our babies. There was a professional photographer there taking pictures. First, we all had to hold up the diapers we intended to use...

This was my view from the back. Well, part of my view. I found it was hard to take pictures of everything with a squirmy toddler while doing what the photographer said.

At exactly 11am, we all changed our babies' diapers. (Well, I took off C's panties and put on a diaper! I think she was the only kid there who didn't arrive in a diaper.) Then, we were told to hold up our babies for the picture. Not so easy to do with a 30 pound toddler!

I wasn't the only one struggling, haha. I loved seeing all the adorable prints everyone had! I don't think anyone had the same diaper. I put C's cow print diaper on.

And that was it! After the change, the kids ran around and played while we had the raffle drawings. I wished I had bought some more raffle tickets because they gave away some really great prizes.

C totally surprised me. I just knew she would throw a fit when she realized I was putting a diaper on her. But she didn't. She saw all the other babies in their diapers, and I guess she wanted to be like them. She laid right down on the blanket and let me put the diaper on with no complaints. Then she wouldn't let me take it off until it was time for us to leave!

I thought this was cute. C with her "boyfriend" haha.
So that was it. The event was fun, and I'm glad we participated. I'm kinda sad that we won't be able to next year. Our event was pretty small compared to some of the ones I'm hearing about on facebook. The one in Raleigh had over 300 participants! I bet that was amazing. They made a full day of it. Maybe one year I'll go there and be a part of it. Who knows. ( :

The rest of our weekend was pretty great, too. The weather wasn't that wonderful (cool and very windy), so we weren't outside much, but we still had fun. Late yesterday evening, C told my husband that it was a pretty day and she wanted to ride Sunshine. I was inside cleaning up a little, but when DH told me that, of course I dropped what I was doing and went outside! C likes to ride, but not very often, so I'm all for it when she decides she's ready. We just ride Sunshine together bareback around the yard. I love sharing my horse with my daughter. I really hope she'll grow up to love riding as much as I do. I hope everyone else had a good weekend, too!


The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013

Tomorrow C and I will be participating in the Great Cloth Diaper Change! I am so excited because this will be my first year. What is the Great Cloth Diaper Change, you ask? Its an event created to increase awareness of cloth diapers primarily. Its also a Guinness Book of World Records thing - every year, they try to break the record for the number of people simultaneously changing cloth diapers.

Last year, there were 15 participating countries, and everyone around the world changed diapers simultaneously - which meant that in some countries, the change happened at 2am! This year, we'll all be changing diapers at 11am local time, so it will roll around the world. The record was broken in 2012:

The new world record shows 8,251 qualifying participants
 at 189 locations on 4 continents! 
This far exceeded our 2011 record 
of 5026 simultaneous cloth diaper changes!
(from the GCDC website)

I can't wait to see if we break the record this year!!

I wasn't able to attend last year because the event was held on the same day as my cousin's bridal portraits. I did her makeup, plus I was her Matron of Honor, so I had to be there. And I wouldn't have missed seeing that for the world! In April of 2011, I had just started my cloth diapering journey, and I hadn't even heard about the Great Cloth Diaper Change, so I missed it. Next year, unless I have another child between now and then (which I highly doubt will happen! haha), C won't be eligible. Plus, I REALLY hope by next April she'll be completely out of diapers!! So 2013 is my only chance (until baby #2 comes - if that ever happens) to attend.

Even more exciting is my local chapter of the Real Diaper Association is hosting an event! So we won't even have to travel far to do this. Plus, I registered early enough that I'll be receiving a "swag bag" tomorrow full of goodies. I have no idea what's in there, but I feel like a kid at Christmas. ( :

It will be so neat meeting more mamas that use cloth diapers on their babies. I have one friend that uses cloth, and I'm a member of a facebook group for local cloth diaper users. I did attend one local cloth diaper meeting, but they've since changed their meeting time to when I'm at work - boo. So I'm excited to be around other mamas with babies with fluffy butts. I love seeing what diapers work for other people. And I love seeing all the cute prints on those little bums!

Here's a a few of the requirements for tomorrow's event, set forth by Guinness:

~Each location must have at least 25 participants (and they must be at least 18 years old). 
~The baby being diapered must be 39" or less.
~The diaper must be 100% reusable (no hybrid diapers), and commercially available. So no WAHM or self-made diapers unless they are sold on Etsy or a site like that.

There has to be witnesses and pictures taken to prove that we did, indeed, all do the change at exactly 11am, and that we weren't lying about the number of participants. I'll just be hanging out with C and putting a diaper on her - no work involved. ( :  And yes, the diaper will immediately come off since she wears big girl panties all day!

Speaking of that, I'm very curious to see how this goes for her. She absolutely refuses to wear a diaper during the day now. If I even mention it, she flips out. I'm sure I will be bribing her tomorrow to let me put on on her briefly - haha. I'll be sure to post a recap of the event on Monday, and hopefully I'll have a few pictures to share! I can't wait!

In other news, this weekend looks to be pretty relaxed. No plans for tonight, and the only thing on the agenda for tomorrow is the GCDC event. Maybe I'll convince my friend to take the babies to the park or something after lunch. Sunday, another friend's baby is turning 2, so we'll be going to her birthday party. That'll be fun. I love watching C interact with other kids her age.

So yeah, we have 2 events planned for the weekend, but for us, that's pretty slow. The next few months are going to be so busy...just like the last few have been! I'm definitely ready for a vacation (which should be happening late in May - woohoo!). Next weekend we'll be going to the NC Pickle Festival, and that's always a lot of fun. I'll also be having a girls' day with my best friend, and we're going to a spa!! I'm so excited. ( :


Italian Chicken Stir-Fry - Crock Pot Style!

Lately, I've been more and more into crock pot meals. I used to hate things cooked in the crock pot. But honestly, I'd only had stew beef, and that's not my favorite thing to eat. Recently, I have decided that crock pot meals are awesome! I love coming home from work to a house that smells delicious from the meal that's already cooked.

I have yet to delve into freezer cooking, but that's probably not too far off into the future for me. I don't have a lot of time in the morning to prep food, and there is no way I'm getting up earlier to cook! One of the awesome blogs I follow, Stacy Makes Scents, had a post last week about 6 crock pot freezer meals. They all used chicken, which is good for me cause I've started buying big bags of chicken quarters and freezing them into smaller bags for individual meals. You can find the blog post here.

Here's the recipe I used the other night:

Italian Chicken Stir-Fry

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1 Bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables.
  • 1 bottle of reduced calorie or fat free Italian dressing (You can make your own homemade Italian dressing! ~Stacy)
Combine the ingredients, freeze. Thaw in your refrigerator the night before cooking and throw the contents in the crock pot, 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Serve over minute rice.

My chicken (I used leg quarters, not breasts, since that's what I had on hand) was frozen, and so were the stir-fry veggies, but everything wasn't frozen together (since I don't do freezer cooking - yet). That morning, I threw the chicken, veggies, and Italian dressing in to the crock pot and went to work.
When I opened the crock pot lid and saw this, I got a little upset....looks pretty gross, huh?

After work, I whipped up some rice (I don't do minute rice, we just buy the regular white rice in bags, but it only takes 10 minutes or so) and supper was done! It was a good thing, too, since the farrier came that evening to trim my horses' feet so I didn't get inside until close to 8 (and we usually try to eat around 7).
Much better. This was after draining off all the liquid and tearing up the chicken into chunks.
This recipe would have been easier if I had used chicken breasts instead because I had to fish out the chicken and get all the bones out. Not a huge deal, but when its late and you're starving, that process takes forever. I thought it was delicious. DH, not so much. But he's not big on this type of food, so I wasn't too surprised. C liked it until she noticed that her daddy didn't...sigh. Oh well. This dish was even better the next day warmed over for lunch!
The final result. Yum!
If you try this, I'd advice you to use a small bottle of Italian dressing. I used one of the larger sized bottles and it was a little too much. I strained all the liquid out because it was like soup, and the flavor was pretty intense. Also, it probably would have been better for the vegetables if they hadn't cooked all day like mine did. I turned the crock on at around 8:15am and turned it off at 5:30pm. 9 hours is a pretty long time, but it can't be helped in my house. The vegetables weren't mushy, but they had started to turn a little brown where they had sat in the dressing so long. 6 hours like the recipe says is probably perfect. But you gotta make do with what you have, right? ( :


Great Weekend vs. Allergies

This weekend would have been truly awesome if I hadn't developed this sudden allergy to pollen. I spent the entire weekend sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and being stuffed up. Ugh. My regular allergy medicine is not helping at all, so I may have to up my game today. Or just pray the pollen goes away ASAP. For some reason, being outside in the pollen makes me feel great; when I'm outside, I can breathe just fine. Its a cruel joke, I tell you.

I've never had allergies quite like this, so I have no clue how to deal. My allergies consist of itching all over my body until I go mad from it. Or GI issues. Not the typical sneezing, runny nose stuff. Yuck.

Despite my defunct nose, this weekend was awesome. Friday after work, C had a play date (and luckily me and the other mama are good friends, too, haha), that turned into supper at a pizza restaurant. C was extremely well behaved at the restaurant, and I was so proud of her. She had a blast, too.

Saturday, I only did minimal cleaning around the house and spent the majority of the day just playing with C. After lunch, we went to the playground at my mama's church. We met up with a couple others there, and everyone had a great time. It was hot though! I slathered me and C in sunscreen, but I guess I was a little careless with mine; I got burned in a few places. I'm waiting on the allergic reaction to that to start...(yes, I have a weird sun allergy. I'm extremely sensitive to the sun, and if I get burned, I have a reaction that usually ends up with me at the doctor begging for prednisone. Its great. The itching has already started, but I'm trying my best to ignore it...)

After C's nap, we headed back outside to weed the flower gardens. I've been slowly working on the weeds over the past few weeks - there were a ton of them. One of my beds is eat up with fire ants, so I'm waiting for that holocaust to be over before I can get started in there. The plan was to plant some flowers Saturday evening, but DH decided to take us strawberry picking!

DH showed her once and she got the hang of it right away. Surprisingly, C didn't eat a single strawberry while we were in the field. That night, however, she had three bowls of them chopped...haha. We had strawberries for a snack yesterday, and we had them again on homemade waffles last night. And I brought some for lunch today. ( :

Yesterday was another relaxing day. I decided to start playing with the Manual mode on my DLSR camera. I've had that thing almost a whole year now and I always shoot in Auto mode, or one of the other preset modes. I figured it was high time I learned how to shoot in Manual. It is not easy!! I took a bajillion pictures that were completely white or completely black. I need a lot more practice, that's for sure. I did end up with a few gems, though...
 Oh, how I love frilly dresses for my girl! She actually wore dresses all weekend. I figure I'll keep her in dresses until she decides they're too girlie. ( :

I had a couple other successes this weekend. Cooking successes, actually! One, I finally made a batch of cookies that turned out absolutely perfect. This was huge for me. I've tried to make cookies so many times over the years, and they always turn out extremely flat and run together. Saturday I made some double chocolate chunk cookies and they were delicious AND looked perfect! I don't have the recipe with me right now, so I'll have to post on that later. If you like chocolate, though, these are the cookies for you. I may have ate the majority of the batch already...Hey, DH doesn't really dig chocolate like I do, I can't let them go to waste!!

My other kitchen success was cooking spinach. I love spinach, but I have never cooked it. DH doesn't care for it, so I've never tried. After we picked strawberries Saturday, the farm owner let us pick out some other things, including some fresh spinach. The farmer's wife told me how to cook it, and I couldn't believe it was so simple.

I didn't get a pic, but everyone knows that spinach looks like, right? ( :  After a good washing, I just combined the spinach with some olive oil, salt, and garlic powder (fresh garlic would probably be better), and placed it in a covered frying pan for just a couple of minutes, until the leaves were wilted. And it. was. DELICIOUS! C didn't like it, but she doesn't really go for greens, and DH wouldn't try it, but I couldn't get enough. I can't wait to cook the rest of the spinach later this week. Anyone have another really good (easy) way to cook spinach??

Hope everyone's weekend was as great as mine! Now on to another busy week....starting with the farrier coming tonight to trim the horses' feet. ( :


My "Green" Cleaning Solution

It seems like "green," "natural," and "homemade" cleaning solutions are all the rage these days. I jumped on the train last fall.

"Green" cleaners that you buy in the store have never appealed to me. For one, they are outrageously expensive. Who wants to spend that much on cleaning products?! Not me. Two, how "green" are those products, really? I don't trust them. I read the labels of a few products labeled "green" last year, and I sure didn't get the warm and fuzzies from what I read. Oh, I'm sure there are wonderful "green" cleaning products out there, but I am and always will be a skeptic at heart. At any rate, there's not enough evidence to make me want to try them for myself.

Same goes for "natural" products. Lots of things are "natural." Doesn't make them safe! And I don't see how anything sold in mass volumes can be totally natural and harmless, anyway. Something, somewhere along the production process, has nasty, unwanted chemicals lurking. I don't know much about chemicals and this sort of thing, so please don't think I'm making some kind of scientific statement here! Just calling it like I see it. I also know that I will never be able to get away from certain things. Like plastic. Yeah, I keep reading about how bad it is, but let's be honest - plastic is a HUGE part of our lives (well, most of us). Anyway, I'm getting way off track here...

Then comes homemade cleaning products. This I can be down with. If I make it myself, I know exactly what's in there. Its why I like to make my own bread (though I do still eat store bought bread, don't get me wrong). Its why I like that we grow a lot of vegetables in the summer. Its why I like that we raise a lot of our own meat (and all our milk).

Do a Google search and you will find thousands of "recipes" for homemade cleaning solutions. There are different solutions for bathrooms, kitchens, toilets, shower mildew, disinfectants, clothes washing, you name it and someone has come up with a "simple" solution to clean it. Some of them truly are simple, but some are pretty involved. (Which is why I haven't ventured into making my own washing detergent, and I doubt I ever will. Too many steps that I could mess up!) Some call for all kinds of essential oils. I think essential oils are wonderful, but boy are they expensive!!!
This little guy was over $9! Fortunately, essential oils last a long time because you only use a few drops at a time. I bought this tee tree oil back when we thought C had a yeast rash (tea tree oil is great for getting yeast out of cloth diapers). The other problem I have with essential oils is they aren't easy to buy locally. We have one store around here that sells them, but not a huge variety. So I don't want to get too much into the oils and be disappointed when I can't buy what I want locally. I'm not big on shopping online, either. I will if its necessary, but I prefer to buy things in person (I'm old fashioned, I guess!).

Last fall, I read that white vinegar is great for a great many things, including cleaning. I ran out of bathroom cleaner, so I decided to give it a try. I stuck to a simple "recipe" - I just used straight vinegar. Boy, was that smelly! But it worked. I poured the vinegar into a spray bottle and just sprayed the entire bathroom down, then used a wet rag to wash everything.

By the way, straight vinegar (even vinegar mixed with water) works great for cleaning mirrors. Just make sure your rag is DRY. For some reason, if the rag is wet, it leaves spots and streaks. But if I use a dry rag, the mirrors look perfect.

After a few months, I got tired of such a strong smell, even though it was much better than the terrible smells I was getting from my old commercial cleaners. So then I remembered that tea tree oil I had purchased a few months ago. Tea tree oil is a great disinfectant. I figured it would be perfect in the bathroom. I happen to love the smell of tea tree oil, but it is kinda strong.

I just made a spray bottle filled with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water (I found that mixing the vinegar with water really doesn't make it less effective, and the smell is easier to handle), and then added 3-4 drops of tea tree oil. Just enough so that I could smell it, but not so much that the smell was overpowering.


I thought vinegar cleaned like a charm. But adding just that tiny amount of tea tree oil made a HUGE difference. Before, I had to spray everything down, then use my wet rag to wipe and scrub. And sometimes scrub a lot. I am not a fan of scrubbing. Now, I just spray everything down, and within a few minutes its ready to wipe. And that's it! No scrubbing. I swear I'm not lying.

I don't have a picture cause I don't like to document nastiness, but my shower gets pretty gross. The shower head drips constantly (despite DH's attempts to fix it; he says to fix it we'll have to work on the plumbing, and that just sounds way to involved), so the shower never dries. Which means, of course, mold/mildew is constantly growing in there. EW. (For the record, I used to use Tilex shower spray every single day in hopes that the gunk would be held at bay, but it never even slowed down.) Straight vinegar took care of the nastiness very nicely, but like I said, I had to use some elbow grease. NOW, however, I can seriously just spray it down, wait, then wipe it off with a rag. And presto! Clean, mold-free shower! For a few days, at least...

So that's it. My truly simple all-purpose cleaning solution. Here it is in a list in case you missed it before...

In a spray bottle, combine...
1 part water
1 part white vinegar
3-4 drops of tea tree oil.
And you're done!

For the kitchen, I suppose you could use the same solution. For now, I've just been using 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar in a spray bottle. A few weekends ago I cleaned every cabinet door in there with that solution and was very pleased with the results. (And woah, were they nasty!!) DH doesn't really like the smell, but he's never home when I'm cleaning, so its not a big deal. Plus, I think he secretly likes walkin into a home that smells like vinegar, now that he knows why it smells like that! ( :

If anyone else has any SIMPLE homemade cleaning solutions, I'd love to hear them! I'm certainly not claiming that my method is the best, and I may in the future change it completely. For now, though, it works and I am happy. And I don't feel worried that my baby (or myself!) will die from toxic fumes when I clean!

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that this solution is CHEAP. White vinegar is not very expensive at all, and you really don't use that much cleaning every week (or every other week if you're lazy like me...!).

One more use for white vinegar in my house - fabric softener!! When we started using cloth diapers (2 years ago this month - wow!), I realized I could no longer use fabric softeners, because they can build up on diapers and affect their absorbency. Not good. It turned out to be a really good thing because my allergies got a LOT better once I quit using fabric softener (and switched to All Free & Clear detergent) - turns out, I'm allergic to basically all fragrances and perfumes that they put in cleaning products.

So, I started adding about a cup or so (depending on the load size) to the fabric softener dispenser in my top loader washing machine. It really does help keep the clothes soft. Plus, if I forget about a load of clothes in the washer and they start to smell musty, I just toss in some more vinegar and run another quick cycle, and that takes care of it. This has been tested many, many times in my house...haha.

I still haven't figured out a good way to get rid of static when I dry clothes in the dryer (I mostly air dry things, but then throw them in the dryer to "fluff them up" and they are always super static-y). I use dryer balls, but they're not wool. Maybe I don't have enough of them? Or maybe I just need to invest in some wool ones. Stay tuned....

All Sorts of Things

Its been another crazy and not-so-great week for me. Seems like crazy and stressful is my new norm these days. Maybe sometime soon things will settle down and start looking up!!

This week I had jury duty. Excuse me, jury service, as the clerks at the court kept emphasizing. I really wasn't there very long - just 1/2 the day on Monday, most of the day Tuesday, and a 1/2 day on Wednesday. Thankfully, the judge released us after that. But let me tell you, it was torturous!! There were at least 50 potential jurors crammed into the jury pool room, which was tiny. We were sitting in rows of chairs that were too close together to have any walking room between aisles, and each chair touched the one next to it, so you had no personal space. But the worst part was we weren't allowed to leave the room at all unless the judge gave us a break to stretch our legs. Which actually only happened once during those 3 days. The room had no windows. It did have a bathroom, a drink machine, and a snack machine. Oh, and a water fountain. But you couldn't even stand up without being on top of another person, so I just sat in my chair. Thankfully, I had purchased a book on my Kindle for the week, so I was able to get lost in that story most of the time. I was a little disappointed that I'd sat there all that time and never got to see a trial. But the judge released us on Wednesday and said he wouldn't need a jury at all this week. I was glad to be done, though!!

Monday was particularly stressful. Of course I knew I had jury duty (I had to be there at 1pm, so I went to work first), so I spent the first part of the day preparing at the office in case I got put on a case. I kind of hate not knowin what to expect day to day with my job. I like variety, sure, but not knowing if I would even be there? No thanks. Too stressful. Probably wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't just me and the boss here. But there's no one to do my job if I'm not here.

The other thing that made Monday stressful was being worried over C. My MIL and I decided that C probably needed to see a doctor. We were afraid she had another UTI. For the past 2 weeks, her potty training has been terrible. I just attributed it to all the stress we've dealt with lately, a growth spurt, general toddlerness, whatever. But last week she started sayin "my pee pee hurts" occasionally. Not while she was peeing, though, just randomly. Monday she woke up at 5:30am and told me it hurt and that she needed medicine. So I called her doctor when I got to work and the nurse said she needed to be seen. Apparently toddlers can have a UTI without a fever, which I didn't know. My MIL got a urine sample at home, bless her, so C wouldn't have to be cathed (and I knew she wouldn't go in their potty).

Well, the doctor looked at C's urine and said it looked fine. They did a culture just to be sure, but she didn't have a UTI, thankfully. She did, however, have vaginitis. That's kinda like a yeast infection, but a different bacteria. (And from what I understand, really young girls can't get yeast infections - yeast rashes, yes, but that's totally different.) The doctor said it was probably from her being on antibiotics last month (ear infection). She gave us some Nystatin cream and sent us on our way.

The very next day, C felt better. And I am happy to say she hasn't had an accident in THREE DAYS!!! So I guess the infection was making her uncomfortable when she had to pee, so she held it in as long as possible, then wasn't able to get to the potty in time. I'm so glad I trusted my gut and took her to the doctor, even though she wasn't acting "sick." Always trust your Mama Instincts!!!

As for the rest of the week, this year my body has decided it is allergic to pollen. Like most of the rest of the world. I have some serious allergies, but pollen has never bothered me, in all my 30 years. This year, however, is a different story. I sneezed a few times Wednesday night, and immediately my throat was sore. And it still is. I'm not congested or anything, but I just have that "allergy feeling," as I say. Ugh. All I want to do is sleep, though of course that doesn't happen.

I think my true problem is I just need a vacation. There's been a lot on my plate for a while now, and we normally take a trip in February for our anniversary. We put it off this year since DH's grandma was so sick in the hospital. Then we put it off because my uncle was so sick, and then he died. DH's grandma is still in a rehab facility, and she's started having seizures again, and some days she doesn't recognize people and talks out of her head. She's not in danger of passing away, but the family is stressed because who knows if she will ever be able to take care of herself again. And now DH has the flowers in for his business, plus the chicks, so he's super busy taking care of all that and selling it. *sigh* We had hoped to get away this month, but there is something going on almost every weekend, so we never planned anything. Maybe next month...

I did kind of feel like I had a vacation day last Saturday. C and I spent the whole day just playing and having fun. We were outside most of the day. I didn't take my DSLR out with me because I just wanted to enjoy life and not worry about taking a perfect picture. I did bring my iPhone and got some snapshots with it...
Still can't reach the pedals enough to go anywhere, but she tries!
DH took this one. C's first picnic! She had a blast.
 Sunday was a busy day. We went to church, then had a quick lunch. DH left to go to the livestock sale with a friend, and C and I went with my mama to TWO baby showers. We had a great time, but C missed her nap. After the second shower, we took C on a walk around Mama's house. Mama's neighbor raises goats and C got to meet the baby that they are bottle feeding...
She loved that! After that, we went to my cousin's house, where my brother was helping to build a deck. We stayed there a while because my 3 year old cousin was there, and her and C had a ball running around the yard together.

C was passed out by 8 that night, which is extremely rare for her. DH and I were able to have the night off, so to speak! We watched the ACM awards and just enjoyed time alone.

I wish I could go back in time to last weekend. Though I am looking forward to this weekend. Tomorrow, I am taking C to my mama's church with some friends. They have a little playground there that's fenced in (so the babies can wander around and we don't have to worry about them wandering off!) and the babies love to play in there. Its not public, so it'll be nice and quiet. And that is the only thing I have planned for the entire weekend. I might have to ask DH if we can take a day trip Sunday and just get away......! We'll see. ( ;

I'll leave you with one more image. I love this time of year because all the flowers and starting to come out. My hasta around the flower beds have come back and are growing rapidly. My amaryllis are going to be gorgeous when they bloom - there are a TON of bulbs now. The irises have multiplied, too. My gerbera daisies are coming back up. My azaleas are starting to bloom. My tulip tree is blooming and greening up. I just love it!! Last weekend I put 2 pots of geraniums on the porch and hung up 2 hanging baskets. One is a red portulaca (though I don't have a picture of it yet), and the other is a basket of 3 different flowers. Petunia is one of them, but don't ask me what the other 2 are, haha. I love it, though! Its gorgeous hanging on my porch. Don't you agree? ( :


Take Two

I'm back for Round Two today. This time will be more uplifting, I promise. ( : (Take One wasn't so lighthearted, but I needed to get that out!)

I wanted to share a couple of positives in my life from this week. I thought about doing a High Five for Friday post, but honestly, I couldn't come up with that many positives. Its been a challenging week, to say the least.

Late last week, I decided to start exercising again. Now, before you get all excited for me, let me just say that if it involves me sweating or getting my heart beat up, its probably not gonna happen. Back in the day, I used to run 5 miles every single day, and loved it. These days, I don't run unless someone is chasing me. Or if my toddler is escaping or approaching danger. 

I've been thinking lately of what I could do that was low-impact and quick. I needed something that would make me feel better about myself, get toned up again, but not make me lose weight. Since I'm still breastfeeding C, I have to be careful because I lose weight pretty easily. To most women, that would be wonderful, but I do not want to lose any more. I'm at a good weight right now, and with all my muscles gone, I'm pretty fail looking (according to my husband). Hopefully soon, I'll get some muscles built back up, but either way, I want want to get any smaller, that's for sure. (Please don't hate me. I don't often talk about my weight because so many women struggle with their weight and hate people like me. I promise I'm not trying to "brag," I feel disgusting because even though I'm "skinny," I'm flabby and very out of shape.) 

Anyway, last week I remembered that during my pregnancy, I enjoyed doing yoga on the Wii Fit. I started doing it, and have kept it up for a week now. I haven't done it every single day, but most of them I have. I've been getting up a few minutes earlier than usual and "working out" before getting ready for work. This equates to about 20 minutes of yoga. Which is totally not much at all, but it makes me feel better. I can already tell a difference in my posture, and I swear my legs are already stronger. Some days I do some of the strength training exercises, too. My goal is to slowly get up a little earlier every day so I can do more yoga and strength training. Maybe one day I'll do some cardio to get my heart in shape, but I'm not making myself any promises on that! I'll be happy if by summer my arms, legs, and waist are more toned. At this rate, I think they will be! ( :

I also got a new book this week. Its a daily devotional for wives. Its called "The Excellent Wife Day By Day," by Karen Eiler.  It is based on the book "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace. I haven't read that book, but I intend to get it soon. This devotional is a 5 day a week one, which I love (I always forget to do the weekend ones), and its perfect for the wife who strives to be a more Godly wife. Martha Peace said this about the "Day By Day" devotional:

The Excellent Wife Day By Day is a five-days-a-week, year-long devotional for wives to remind them of their "primary ministry" to their husbands - to give glory to God as they show love, respect, and biblical submission to their husbands. Each day there is a Scripture on which to meditate, a brief very engaging story, and a reminder of at least one biblical principle. Karen's devotional book is a convicting and a challenging blessing to her readers to help them see a high and proper view of God as well as how to respond to Him in a way that pleases Him. 
I'm only a few days into the devotional, but I love it already. Each week, it gives you a verse of scripture to memorize, which I love. It encourages you to keep a journal, and so far I've enjoyed doing that. I hope that when I complete this devotional, I'll be more like the wife God has designed me to be, and my marriage will be stronger for it.

If anyone has any great devotionals or other wonderful books to recommend, I'd love the suggestions! ( :

Frustration. Guilt. Stress. Grief.

Heavy title, huh? Well, those are just some of the emotions I've been dealing with this week. I know most people (myself included) try to keep blog topics upbeat, sharing only the good and positive things. But let's be real. Life is full of not-so-good stuff. Its not rainbows and unicorns all the time. I struggle with the fine line between being an honest blogger and not being too personal here. The key word there was struggle. I struggle a lot. In every aspect of my life. I'm not ashamed to admit that. I am imperfect and a sinner and I fully recognize that. Lucky for me (and you!), God loves me (and you!) anyway. I don't have to be perfect and I don't have to have it all together. Whew.

 This week has been a tough one for me and my family. My uncle passed away on Saturday. We knew it was coming. The doctor told us on Wednesday that he would not make it through the weekend. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 lunch cancer last fall, and it has been very aggressive. There simply wasn't anything else the doctors could do to fight it. I went to see my uncle several times while he was in the hospital this last time, but not as often as I would have liked. I honestly thought he'd be able to leave and die at home. I thought the doctor was wrong, and that he wouldn't die that quickly. My husband and I went to see him on Friday night and his breathing was better than it had been in days. I told DH that there's no way it would be that weekend. Obviously, I was wrong.

I got the call from one of my cousins around 2pm Saturday that he had passed. Apparently, the whole family besides me knew that my uncle had taken a turn for the worse that morning. Most of the family was at the hospital, waiting. I had no idea, because no one called me. I knew that someone would call me when things changed, so since I hadn't heard from anyone, assumed everything was the same. My friend and I took our babies to have Easter pictures made. We were gone all morning, then ate lunch and had planned to go to the church for the Easter egg hunt. I got the call when we were on the way to the church. So I turned around and went back home. My sister-in-law came and took C to the egg hunt, and my friend went home. I went to the hospital. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point, but I wanted to be with my family.

I was upset that no one had called me. I could have been there with them, said goodbye to my uncle. At the same time, I understood why no one called me. They were all stressed out and already grieving. Several of them assumed someone else had alerted me. My aunt's boyfriend (not the wife of the uncle who died!) told me that my uncle would have wanted me to have a normal day, he wouldn't have wanted us all at the hospital watching him die. Which is true. But still. I wish I had known. But its not like I could have been mad at the family during that time. Even though we all knew he was going to die, and soon, it was still hard to watch.

My aunt (his wife) completely lost it when he finally died. They were taking her out of the hospital in a wheelchair when I got there. It was heartbreaking to see. For the rest of the day, she could remember nothing. Her mind completely blocked out her husband's sickness and passing. She kept asking over and over what had happened. Thankfully, she snapped out of that after she got some rest. Though watching her grieve through the funeral was not easy. I can't imagine how it feels to bury your husband of 51 years.

We all stayed at the hospital for a while after my aunt left, I'm not sure why. I got upset when I went in to see my uncle. He looked terrible. Completely different than he had just the night before. It was shocking. But I left his room and we were all talking and I was getting the details from the day, and the sadness just wasn't hitting me. My cousin and I actually went shopping afterwards. I bought a dress, a shirt, and a pair of shoes. I kept thinking how odd it was to be buying clothes when my uncle just died. But it felt okay. I think my cousin and I needed that distance for a little while.

That night, the family at at the church (my home church). Everyone was subdued, but we had several small children there, so they kept the mood lighter than it would have probably been otherwise. Most of my family decided not to go to church on Easter. My husband and I attend a different church now, so we went. I hate to admit it, but I couldn't even tell you what our pastor preached on that morning. C was quiet, but she wouldn't be still, and then at the end of the service she started inexplicably (and quietly) crying, so I had to take her outside. I kept thinking about my uncle's death and I just couldn't concentrate.
C in her Easter dress
After church, we went back to the church to eat lunch with my family. Everyone was in good spirits that time, and after we ate we had an indoor egg hunt for the kids. They had a blast. By the time we left, the toddlers were all having meltdowns because it was past nap time. C fell asleep soon after we got home, but wouldn't let me lay her down. So I decided to lay on the couch with her. She didn't like that idea, either. She started moving all around, kicking me, and just would not be still. At that point, I was exhausted and just needed a break. After a while, I sat her down and told her to go play, and I rolled over and closed my eyes for a few minutes. I got up and started helping DH prepare some food for supper, but nothing was going right. The next thing I knew, I was bawling. I guess my uncle's death finally hit me. I sat on our bed and just cried and cried. C was so sweet; she kept getting closer to me, handing me tissues, and asking me what was wrong. I had already explained to her that my uncle had gone to Heaven, but of course she doesn't understand that concept yet. I told her he's not sick anymore and that he's with Jesus. She asked if she could go live with Jesus in Heaven, too. Yes, I told her, one day you will.

The rest of Easter turned out okay. There was another incident that was pretty stressful, but I won't go into details on that one. By the time we got to my in-law's house, I was about done for the day. My eyes were getting red and by the end of the night I looked like a freaky vampire. (I've been wearing my glasses ever since and I hate wearing glasses!) Thankfully, I got some good sleep that night and felt better Monday morning.

I left work Monday early because we were supposed to eat at the church at 5 and then head over to the funeral home for my uncle's wake. That wasn't sad like you'd think. There was so many people there and everyone was loud, so it was hard to be sad, even with my uncle's body right there beside us. We were supposed to greet people from 7-9pm, but they started coming in at 6:30 and didn't stop until 10. It was exhausting.

Tuesday was the funeral. I didn't go to work at all. We had lunch at the church, and went back for supper. The funeral was tough. Us cousins couldn't sit with the family because the private room was too small, so thankfully I didn't have to watch my aunt's grief or that of her sons, but I still broke down. I rarely cry in front of anyone other than my husband, so that was tough for me. I have virtually no memories of my uncle (or most of my childhood, actually), so I was surprised at myself for being so upset. There's a little of that guilt I mentioned in the title to this post. Why can't I remember more about my uncle? I grew up living next to him and spent a lot of time at his house. I had a wonderful childhood; why on earth have I apparently blocked so much of it out??

By Wednesday, life was back to normal. We've stayed home the past two nights, and I imagine we won't be going anywhere tonight, either. Its good to stay home with just my husband and my daughter.

Here's some more guilt. C has been nursing a lot lately. She had been down to just nursing herself to sleep, and maybe first thing in the morning. But the past few weeks, she's been asking for milk all the time. When I ask her why, she says "because I hungry!" or she'll just smile and tell me she needs it. So far, my policy on breastfeeding her at this age has been "don't ask, don't refuse." Meaning, I don't offer her the breast, but if she asks for it I don't refuse. I'm kinda ready for her to wean, but I want it to be her idea, not mine. Sometimes, I'm able to put her off for a little while ("you can have milk after your bath, or after we do ___"), but most of the time she gets too upset if I tell her to wait. I know some of that if her bein a 2 year old and just not liking when things don't go her way, but what if she really needs something that only breastfeeding can provide? Not the actual milk. I know that she can survive just fine without it at this point. I'm sure its still giving her extra nutrients and filling in the gaps of her toddler diet, and I know my milk is still giving her important antibodies to fight off sicknesses. I firmly believe that her eczema/allergies would be much, much worse if it weren't for breastfeeding. But she gets other benefits from breastfeeding at this age. Benefits that are hard to put into words. She feels safe at my breast; its her home base, her safe place. She gets comfort there. People say she's too old for that now, but I disagree.

Last night, someone posted on facebook in a private group that I'm a member of (a group for "extended" breastfeeding mothers) that her toddler was suddenly wanting to nurse way more than normal. This mama also has a newborn. Someone else replied that the mama was probably spending so much time with the newborn that the toddler needed some one-on-one time and missed the cuddling that she got from breastfeeding, so she decided to "need" it all the time again. That hit me because what if that is my C? Obviously, I don't have another baby to worry about, but what if she's needing more of my time right now? And I'm not there to give it to her, because I'm at work all day. She's away from me for 9 hours, every week day. I miss a lot of her life. She gets a ton of attention from my in-laws, but what if she needs it from her mama?

I know there's no point in beating myself up over something I can't change. But the guilt is still there. That would explain why she's nursing so frequently lately. She could also be going through a growth spurt, who knows. (She did grow 1.5 inches since December, so she's had a growth spurt at some point recently!) This morning when I dropped her off she kept saying she didn't want me to leave. She wasn't whining about it, she just stated the fact. Then she told me to be careful cause there are a lot of cars out there. And she made me promise to come back this afternoon. (I hate making that promise, because what if something happens to me and I don't make it home??) It broke my heart. So yes, I have guilt over leaving her every day.

And there you have it. All (well, not all, but a lot) of the emotions I've been dealing with this week. Its been a struggle, for sure. I've been praying a lot, reading from the Bible, asking God for help and strength and patience. Because what else can I do?? I know that He is with me and that I am not going through all this alone, though. That fact does make it easier. I also know that this tough period won't last forever - at least, I pray it doesn't!!