Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Mother's Ponderings

This Christmas is my first Christmas as a mother and I am struck by the story of Mary even more so than ever before. I have always been drawn to the simple story of the mother of God and her incredible faith, yet this year I'm struck by the awesome majesty her once plain life would hold.

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. " 
Luke 2:19

I look at Alex and see such potential. He could cure cancer, or create a truly unified string theory, or write the next great American novel, or fly to Pluto, or be garbageman of the year... No one knows. He could do anything, be anything and I am blessed to have been there from the time that he was as small as a grain of sand and will anxiously watch him grow for as long as the good Lord sees fit. It is so exciting to see what could become of this little ball of unknown...

But Mary knew. Now it's true, she didn't have all the details, but she knew just how magnificent the child in her womb was. 

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."
Luke 1:32-33

When I was pregnant I started getting rather nervous every time I was in a car. Other drivers just seemed to be incredibly reckless. My road rage was terrible because it felt like every person behind the wheel was completely oblivious to the laws of the road. Behind of all that was the fear that something could happen and my baby could be hurt. That wiggly, then yet-to-be-determined, little life was so precious to me that I would have done anything to keep it safe. And Mary was carrying the Messiah.

Alex might do amazing things, and even if he is as ordinary as ordinary comes, he will always be amazing and precious to me. But Mary's baby was to be the savior of the world. I cannot imagine the immense weight she must have carried knowing that inside her belly was the child of the one true God.

And then to give birth to such a miracle... To hear the first cry of God made flesh. To nurse the savior of the world at your breast. To swaddle up the Messiah and listen to his every coo and whimper as he sleeps. To watch him every day as he learns to roll over and crawl and walk. To hear his first word. To love this child as only a mother can and know that he will serve such a wonderful purpose and have no idea how that purpose would be achieved.

To hear later that he had been arrested. To run to his side and stand powerless and watch as your baby, the child whom you have loved since they were but a speck, is brutally beaten and killed. To wonder where the promises of that angel were now. We know Mary was there but she doesn't sing a song this time.

Did she doubt the angel? Did she doubt God? She had seen her son work miracles beyond description, did she think he would somehow escape? Did she watch in hopeful anticipation thinking that maybe this was the time he'd rise to show his power? Or did she turn away unable to watch her baby suffer through so much?

And then, three days later to hear that he had risen from the grave. Did she fear it was some cruel joke or did she believe right away? When she saw him did she run and grab him and kiss the top of his head? Did she hold him so tight that the disciples had to pry her off of him?  Did she think back to his first night on this earth and the wonderful things she had seen and heard? Did she finally have the answers to things she pondered that night in the stables? 

She was but a simple a child the night that angel appeared to her and told her she would become a mother. She gave birth to the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Kings, and was there to witness his life every step of the way. She was blessed beyond words but that blessing included suffering that no mother should ever have to bear. The treasure trove of memories in her heart must have been so sweet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Tomorrow I return to work. Philip will stay home with Alex the next two days and then next week it's off to daycare. I absolutely hate it, but I am forcing myself to focus on the positive and all the good things that will come of it:

I work so that:

  • We can pay off our student loans from our education that allow us to provide a better future for Alex.
  • One day we can buy a house and Alex can have a yard, and a dog, and walls of his own to color on and mark his height in the door frame.
  • Alex will know that women and moms are just as important in the workplace as men and dads.
  • Alex will know that his mommy cares about people who often don't have anyone else to care about them.
  • We can provide the best life possible for Alex.
I've heard many working moms say that they feel like they are better mothers because they work, and that they find the time they spend with their children is sweeter, richer, and more intentional than when they were at home.

Now to watch Alex sleep some more. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Month!

My little guy is one month today and growing so fast!

I love the idea of monthly photos, but wanted to keep track of more than just what he looks like each month. So, I've included a few milestones. Also, we have a picture of him and the stuffed gorilla from when he was first born so taking the photos with it will help show how he grows. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Natural Birth

Almost a month later, here are my top best and worse reasons to give birth naturally.

Lets start with the worse:
- You feel it will prove your love for the baby or show that you're an Amazon of a woman... A natural birth makes you no better of a mother and a medicated birth doesn't mean you don't love your baby. Both ideas are just stupid.

- You want to feel the pain... No woman who has felt the pain of labor would intentionally want to feel that pain again. "Why yes I'd like a hot stone massage and a few hours of contractions while on my vacation." That's just silly.

- You want a natural birth because some expert said it makes babies smarter or your midwife scolded you for asking about pain management or a friend said that's the only way to be a "real mom"... Any external person who makes you feel like less of a woman or mother for your choice in birth, no matter what it is, needs to be eliminated from your life. They obviously aren't the support you will need.

The best reasons for a natural birth:

- Natural, unmediated labor tends to be faster and more effective than induced or medicated labor... Of course all labors are different but most interventions have a good chance of slowing your labor and making it more difficult for your body to do its job.

- Babies delivered after unmediated births tend to be more alert and interactive then their medicated counterparts... Again all babies are different but the natural labor process triggers hormones and chemical reactions in baby that are upset by the medications commonly used in labor. The medications used are considered safe for the baby but baby still feels the effects (even if the medication doesn't enter baby's bloodstream the effect on labor can have effect on baby.)

- Faster and easier recovery... After an unmediated birth you are usually free to be up and moving as soon as you feel like it. You also are more able to resume your regular activities sooner.

For my personal experience, I'd go natural any day. It wasn't pleasant and it wasn't fun but it was worth it. Everyone commented on how alert Alex was just after his birth (and for many people, including hospital staff he was their first non-epidural baby to see). I was also up and about rather quickly after his birth. I did have some limitations due to the tear severity but was able to care for myself and Alex without assistance.

Alex and I just after he was born.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Think Heavy Thoughts

Alex hasn't been gaining weight like he should. At two weeks he was still two ounces under his birth weight (babies should be back to their birth weight by two weeks). A week later I took him back in for another weight check. At that appointment he hadn't gained any weight in the last week. Babies his age should gain half an ounce to an ounce per day.

The doctor has us supplementing his nursings with formula. We're nursing like normal but then offering two ounces of formula after every other feeding or if he still acts hungry. Since we've started the supplements he's considerably less fussy and is sleeping wonderfully.

Think heavy thoughts for my little guy and send up some prayers that he'll start gaining weight like he should.

Alex getting his supplement.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Alex's Arrival

The little one is asleep and the husband is off enjoying his first Black Friday shopping adventure not as a retail employee so I think I will try to write out the story of how Alex entered the world. (This will be very detailed. I wish I had heard more detailed stories for other women and I wanted to remember the details down the road myself.)

Alex had measured big for all of my last trimester so when we hit that magical 37 weeks and "full term" we started working to encourage little Alex to get out before he got too much bigger. Philip and I went walking around the neighborhood every night and I added in some walking and sets of squats at work. At my last prenatal doctor's appointment, I was 37 weeks 4 days and dilated to one centimeter and about 75% effaced. The doc tried to manually stretch my cervix to see how ripe it was. It didn't move, but he was very encouraging that the effacement was a good sign. We made the appointment for the next week but doc said he wouldn't be surprised if he didn't see me then.

Well, we kept up the walking and squatting and I ate as much spicy food as my heartburn would let me.  The nesting instinct hit hard soon after that. I wanted to clean everything and get everything organized. I could hardly sleep or concentrate on anything because I had such a long list of things I wanted to get done. (Most of which were still waiting when the three of us got home.)

Thursday the first I started having contractions while we were out running errands. Nothing too bad, but they were noticeable. I called the on call doctor after about two hours of contractions and he said that it didn't seem like enough. Well, they kept coming so I called Labor and Delivery. The nurse advised me to try to make them go away instead of working to keep them going. That was more effective at seeing if it was real labor or not. Well, they went away.

Friday night I had some more contractions with one or two being a bit painful. However, I could make them go away by drinking water or resting for a bit.

Early Saturday morning, right around 3 am I got up to use the bathroom and feed the cat (just like I had done at 3 am every morning since about 25 weeks). While I was up I felt a pretty strong contraction so I decided I would put up some of the clean dishes and see what happened. The contractions continued and were rather uncomfortable, though not quite painful and kept up for about forty-five minutes or so. I remembered the nurse's advice and went to lay back down in bed and see if the contractions kept up. After laying there for about fifteen minutes there were no more contractions, but I needed to pee again. So around 4 or 4:15, I decide that I will go to the bathroom then try to get some more sleep. After all, this could be my last Saturday to sleep in...

I get to just outside the bathroom door and gush! This was no trickle. There was no mistaking it for peeing on myself. My water broke in true movie style. For once I was glad for our ugly concrete floors. I grabbed a towel for the floor and put another between my legs as I walked over to the bed and woke Philip up. We were packed and ready to go in no time. I sent a text to family letting them know that we were headed to the hospital to see if this was the real deal but that I was pretty certain and I called L&D to let them know we were on our way.

We get to the hospital and I change into the lovely gown that I will be wearing for the next two days. When the nurse goes to do the amniotic fluid test, she takes a quick look and says that she's pretty sure I'm ruptured. Well, I was. I was also about 90% effaced at this point though no more dilated. They admit me and we fill out all the fun paperwork. I also find out that my doctor is not on call this weekend at all and I would be starting with the doctor that I had left because I didn't like his personality.

I give the nurse my birth plan and we get started with all the fun wires and tubes. I get hooked up to the monitors. I also get an IV for the routine fluids to keep me hydrated. I also get started on antibiotics as I was group B strep positive.

The doctor then comes in to check on me and discuss the birth plan. My water broke but I wasn't in active labor. We discussed the timeline that this put us on. The longer you labor with your water broken the higher the chances for infection, prolapsed cord, and other not-so-good stuff. Dr. B said that he would feel comfortable with me trying to get labor started on my own for 24 hours before we needed to start Pitocin. That was all I needed to hear. I would get labor going within 24 hours come hell or high water! He checked my cervix. Due to the group B strep he checked my cervix rectally. This was extremely uncomfortable, and he said, not very accurate. Well, he said I was at about a 2 and because I wasn't in active labor, he would let me get up and walk around off the monitors for periods of 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes though I had to get on the monitors for the nurse to check the heart rate.

Well, we keep up the 15 minute schedule for about an hour and half, maybe two. Then the nurse said I had to stay in bed. At each check my blood pressure had been taken and apparently it was getting pretty high and concerning. She wanted me to stay in bed and try to relax, perhaps being up and moving so much was just pushing it too far. Then Dr. B came in. Apparently my blood pressure wasn't getting any better and was raising some rather big red flags. The traditional, normal treatment is Magnesium. Dr. B said that normally he would just go with the Mag, but if he started the Magnesium it would likely stop my labor. Then we'd have to start Pitocin and doing so this early into the labor process gave me a high chance of a c-section. Dr. B says that there was another option. We could do a half-dose of demerol (half of what they normally give you for labor pain). He said that he understood that I didn't want pain medication but that the demerol would lower my pulse and blood pressure and could help stop the escalation he was seeing. Demerol it was. Oh, and I had to stay in bed on my left side with the exception of getting up to use the restroom.

Fast forward a bit. Family got into town around 6 or so Saturday night. Around the same time, my labor started getting more intense. Normally in hospitals, you get your cervix checked pretty frequently, but because of the strep, they weren't checking me unless I asked them to do so. This just meant that I had no clue how I was progressing for much of the time. At the same time, they stopped telling me what my blood pressure readings were. My blood pressure was checked automatically every 15 minutes and at first the nurse or Philip would read me the number. Then it started just being, "It's pretty high" and "That one wasn't so bad."

That night gets rather fuzzy to me. I went into active labor sometime Saturday evening though I'm not sure when. I just know that eventually it went from kind of uncomfortable to noticeable painful with each contraction. We did do another half dose of demerol and then later a full dose closer to transition. Philip and the nurse became more and more strict about getting up just to go to the restroom and then getting right back into the bed. I would rest for a second when I sat up, and the contractions were a lot easier to deal with when sitting, but I had to be quick. What they weren't telling me, or what I wasn't understanding at the time, was that my blood pressure was reaching very dangerous levels every time I sat up. We're talking 200/100+.

I do remember the 2:00 hour Sunday morning as we took note that the clock wound itself back for Daylight Savings Time. By that point and for some time previously, the contractions were very, very painful. I would grab hold of the railing to the bed with one hand and took Philip's hand in the other. I thought for sure I would rip the railing off that bed or break Philip's fingers. Both ended up making it out okay.

At one point I looked at the nurse (who was staying in the room most of the time) and told her that I felt like I needed to push. When she had checked me last I had been at about an 8, now I just had a tiny bit of cervix left. I knew in my mind that I needed to wait until that last bit of cervix was gone or pushing could do more harm than good, but I really wanted to. Finally she said it was gone and it was time to start pushing some. As this was my first, we would do some "practice" pushes before the doctor got there and another nurse came in to help. During this time I experienced something that nearly every laboring woman does, but no one talks about: I had several bowel movements while pushing. It's the same muscle group and feels about the same. Everyone does it, the nurses are used to, but no one talks about it. Now you know. Well, after some time of pushing the nurses told me to stop pushing or I would have the baby without the doctor being there.

If you've never given birth, here's something they don't always tell you and that you can't properly describe: When you get to that point of the delivery process when the baby is right there, to not push is like trying to hold your own head underwater and not breathe. It is so completely against your instincts and feels like you will literally die if you don't push and anyone telling you to stop must be completely off their rocker.

Well, Dr. G gets there (Dr. B was no longer on call) and they let me start pushing again as she's getting suited up. A whole bunch of other people come in too, but I'm too busy to notice. Dr. G introduces herself and proceeds to say that she knew I had a birth plan, but she didn't get to read it yet and then asks me how I feel about an episiotomy. Keep in mind, I am pushing a baby out right now. We agree to an episiotomy as she thinks a short cut will help his head come right out, and it does. His head came out just seconds after the cut. Next came his shoulders and the rest of him just slipped right now. To be honest, once the head was out the rest just seemed to slide out almost on it's own.

At 6:21 am on November 4th, I heard his first little cry. It was a little gurgled and not too loud, but had a good hearty sound to it. They pick him up and I see his little face and his flailing body. Philip gets to cut the cord and they give him a quick rub down. I wanted skin to skin time as soon as possible and I ripped off that gown. (Modesty just got completely forgotten for the next several hours.) After the cord was cut, they handed me my little boy. He just wiggled for a second then he settled down and snuggled into my neck. I was in awe of him, just in complete awe. Here was this tiny little person who just minutes ago had been inside of me.

During that time I delivered the placenta. After a little bit, they took Alex to the warmer off to the side of the room to be checked out and Philip went over there with him. Dr. G then tells me that I have a fourth degree tear. Externally, there was only a third degree tear, but internally I tore a lot worse. His head had fit with the episiotomy, but his shoulders had caused most of the tear. The tear went through the vagina, perineum, and rectum. The sphincter wasn't torn which was the good news. Dr. G did a three layer repair and reinforced the sphincter just to be sure. She finished her repair and explained the recovery briefly while the nursery worker finished with Alex.

And then, just as quickly as it seemed everyone had swarmed into the room, they were all gone. It was just me and Philip and the nurse. Soon, Philip went and got the family and they got to meet little Alex. I felt rather good afterwards. I had to keep having my blood pressure monitored and was still stuck to the IV as they had started Magnesium some time during transition. I would stay on the Mag for 24 hours after the birth to ensure that I didn't have any seizures. It probably took a day or so for me to feel like there was anything physically "wrong" or like my body was recovering from anything.

And that's how I became a mother.

Monday, November 19, 2012

He's Here!

Alexander was born on November 4, 2012 at 6:21 a.m. 27 hours after my water broke. He weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19 inches long. He is absolutely precious and wonderful. My family was able to be there when he was born and stayed with us for a few days. We had a few health scares in the hospital but Mom and baby are both healthy and my recovery has gone very smoothly. I'll post more details later.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Today's the day!

June of last year I had a LEEP to remove CIN III and was scared I would never be able to have children. Today I'm in the hospital about to give birth to my son after 38 weeks of uncomplicated pregnancy. God is good, so very good!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recipe: Cheesy Crescent Rolls

Pinterest strikes again! I see all these crescent rolls with all sorts of stuffings and yummy stuffs on Pinterest and think to myself: I could do that!

Here's my first yummy crescent roll recipe.

Unroll the rolls. Spread a little melted butter with some garlic salt on the inside of each roll. Then, put some mozzarella cheese on the dough and roll it up. I used a good full pinch per roll. Sprinkle some italian seasoning on top of each roll.

Bake according to instructions (though we usually need to take ours out a minute or two early).

The end result: Yummy crescent rolls with a little twist!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Domestic Wednesday: Homemade Laundry Detergent

In my pursuit of making small changes towards a more sustainable life as well as learning about cloth diapering, I started hearing a lot about homemade laundry detergent. Conventional laundry detergents can be filled with all sorts of harsh chemicals and can leave a long trace of chemicals in our water.

We had been using scent and dye free detergent which was a step towards a more sustainable and less chemically-filled lifestyle, but after hearing everyone rave about making their own detergent, I gave it a shot!

I used my friend's recipe that you can find here. Many recipes use Borax, but her's does not. She explains about some of the sketchy effects Borax has had in some studies and links to some good resources. Her recipe is as follows. Use 1-3 tbs per load (about 2 per load of diapers):

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup oxygen cleaner
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • 1 bar castille soap
I used Fels-Naptha soap instead and made a triple amount. I don't currently have a food processor so I had to grate the soap by hand. I did use my blender's ice crush feature for some of it, but it got gunked up in the bottom. :-/

Other than having to grate the soap, it was really easy! We still have some conventional detergent that we're using up, but I'm excited to get to try our new homemade soap!

My homemade laundry detergent! It smells great!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recipe: Breakfast Burritos

I've always been a bit hesitant when it came to breakfast burritos. I am definitely not a huge fan of burritos with all sorts of things in them, but my simple made-at-home ones never seemed to taste as good as restuarant-made ones. Finally, I figured out how to make burritos at home that were simple, yet yummy like restaurant-made ones!

I started with cooking the bacon on our griddle. I also made scrabbled eggs in a large skillet. We used one pound of bacon and about 6-8 eggs scrabbled with milk.

Once the bacon is cooked, break it up into little pieces. Before the scrabbled eggs are completely done, add the bacon. While the eggs finish cooking, mix in the bacon. And here's the trick that I figured out: Add extra milk! This helps those real eggs get the extra "juicy" feel that the fake eggs from restaurants have.

Scoop the bacon and eggs into tortillas and roll up. We placed ours back on the griddle (with the extra bacon grease still there) to heat up and seal. These ended up being delicious! You could easily freeze them for quick morning breakfasts for feed a large crowd!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Night in L&D

Well, my rather boring pregnancy had a tiny bit of excitement last night. (Warning, pregnancy TMI incoming.)

I woke up about 1:30 am and dozed on and off until about 3. Finally, I got up and went to the bathroom. Still wide awake, I went and walked about in the living room thinking maybe my tummy was upset or something. A few minutes later and I feel a little trickle run down my leg. Obviously this is a bit concerning...

So I go to the bathroom and clean up. I decide I'm going to wait and see if anything else happens. If it's really my water breaking, it should keep going, right? Well, long story short, over the next hour there are no more trickles but just a general wet feeling. During this time, Philip's also gotten up with me and we decide to call Labor and Delivery and see what they say.

The nurse is very nice and says we should probably come in to have the fluid tested. It's a quick test she says and will let us know if it's amniotic fluid or if it's just one of the glorious joys of pregnancy. We pack up for a stay, just in case, and head to the hospital. It only took us about 15 minutes to pack and get to the hospital! That's pretty good timing if you ask me.

The nurses in L&D were waiting for me and took me back to a triage room. I get a lovely backless gown and get strapped to the monitors. The nurse checks me and I'm not even at a one. She said there's a little opening up, but not much at all. (Good news at 35 weeks.) Then she does the swab test.

Ten minutes later, swab test says there's no rupture! Yay! We can go home now, right? False alarm, go get some sleep, yes? Nope...

When they first hooked me up to the monitors my blood pressure was 140 something over 80 or 90. A bit high, but it was four o'clock in the morning and we had just rushed to the hospital to see if my water broke two weeks before term.

Anywho, the on-call doctor decided that I needed to stay on the monitor, have my blood pressure checked more, and have some labs run. The lab tech bruised me like crazy and was awfully cranky.  Blood and urine both come back normal and my blood pressure came back down to it's regular just below normal levels. We end up being there an awfully long time though... From 4 am to about 10 am that morning. The last two or three hours were just waiting on the doc for "discharge" orders (I was never technically admitted).

During our six hours on the monitor we saw several little contraction hills. They were never consistent and I just barely felt one of them. Eventually we are so tired, that Philip crashes with his head on my thigh and I doze in between blood pressure checks (the machine was set to check every 15 minutes which kind of limits napping abilities). At one point, the blood pressure cuff woke me up right at the end of a contraction. The nurse was never concerned and the irregularity of them means it's wasn't "true" labor.

Finally, we get the go ahead to go home (after never actually seeing the on call doc). I'm put on "modified" bed rest and told to rest as much as possible but no real restrictions. I also have to collect my urine for twenty-four hours. That's been a blast! Put this little plastic thingy on the toilet and then pour your urine into a jug that you keep in the fridge. Yep, the joys of pregnancy.

The on call doc was worried about pre-eclampsia, but I think she's just being overly cautious. Alex and I are fine and he's just got to wait another two weeks to get the all clear to come!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Restaurant Review: Bob's Waffle Shack

We went to lunch at a new restaurant today. Well, new to us, not sure how new it really is. Bob's Waffle Shack is here in Abilene on North 1st, near the Westwood Twin Theatre.

Bob's Waffle Shack is a little diner open from 6 am to 2 pm and serves breakfast and lunch. We each had the waffle with eggs and bacon. The waffles are huge! Each one easily took up a whole plate and they were good... oh boy were they good! The eggs and bacon were yummy as well.

The services was great and the food came out fast. Not only was it yummy and fast, but it well priced too. We spent about the same amount as we would at a fast food place, but got waited on and served freshly cooked food!

We will definitely be going back and I recommend anyone in the area give it a shot!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Before I Dream Bedtime Bible Storybook

Review: Before I Dream Betime Bible Storybook by Karyn Henley

As we await little A's arrival, we have been reading a bedtime story each night. Yes, I read to my belly, and yes, he sometimes seems to respond. Recently we finished reading Karyn Henley's Before I Dream Bedtime Bible Storybook. I bought this book at an Abilene Educational Supply booksale and got the copy that came with a CD of music. The same issue with CD can be found on Amazon for about $50. You might try second-hand bookstores or Christian bookstore's clearance racks for a better deal. Tyndale gives it a retail value of $15, but it is currently out of print.

That being said, keep your eyes out for this book at any second-hand sales or your church's library! I loved reading through this book. It covers a variety of stories from the Old and New Testament, some children's classics such as Noah and David and Goliath, but also some lesser heard stories such as Samuel and Saul. A's favorite seemed to be the couple with Solomon.

Ms. Henley describes her purpose for the book as sending kids off to sleep with positive images in their minds. She does just that. Even when some of the more gritty stories are included, they are tastefully made child-friendly. There is plenty of onomatopoeia ("clip-clop, clip-clop" "whoosh") in the stories to help the reader and listener get into the spirit of things a bit more. Each story also has at least one illustration, and some have full page art.

Overall, this was a great book and I would highly recommend scooping it up if you find a copy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's a...

It's a boy! We are beyond thrilled to get ready to welcome little Alexander into our lives! He's doing well and is about a week ahead in size. We are incredibly blessed to have a healthy baby boy on his way.

On my side, my cervix is still measuring at normal lengths. So far there are no signs of complications from the LEEP. God is so good and I am so grateful that He has fulfilled my dream of being a mom.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Check Your Medicine Cabinets!

Hey Everyone! We're getting ready to move and I just cleaned out our medicine cabinet/first aid stash. I just wanted to give you a quick reminder to check your medicines and first aid kits and a few tips to help!

You should check your medicine cabinets and first aid kits regularly!

  • Throw out any medications past their expiration dates! The dates are the last day that the manufacture guarantees the product to be effective and safe. Some meds get stronger after the date, others get less effective. Some will become dangerous. Don't decide for yourself. It's better safe than sorry here.
  • Throw out any medications with damage to the packaging that could have exposed the medication. Holes in bottles, pill packs that have water stains, anything like that should be tossed.
  • Check prescriptions as well. Prescriptions are often dated, but if not, should almost always be tossed after a year past the date they were filled. If you have any questions about the safety of your prescription meds or when they expire, call your doctor or pharmacy.
  • Flush any dangerous or street-valuable drugs. Any pain killers or hormonal medications should be flushed instead of tossed in the trash.
  • Contact your local pharmacy for instructions on how to handle any medications you are not familiar with. Some medications need to be properly disposed of by a pharmacy, specifically breathing treatments and injections. Always be careful with medication if you are unsure of it's proper handling or disposal.
  • Check your first aid kit and toss any bandages that are wet or show signs of water damage. These may not be sterile any longer and a dirty dressing is an infection waiting to happen!
  • Check that your first aid kit is stocked. Make sure you have any items that you use on a regular basis and that you replace any necessities that may need to be thrown out.
  • Check that you are stocked on the basics. Whatever your family uses often, check what you have and make a plan for when to get it. Important items often include cough drops, allergy meds, pain relievers, and creams for rashes/skin issues.
I hope this comes in handy. Remember: it's important to practice good safety habits with medications at all times. When that splitting headache hits or your little one is up with the stomach bug at 2 am, you won't be checking dates before using those meds and that can be dangerous. If you use natural or herbal treatments: talk with your herbalist about proper storage, expiration, and disposal as herbal treatments vary considerably. 

Wishing you all health, safety, and happiness!

Monday, June 25, 2012

One Year Later

Yesterday was one year since my LEEP to remove precancerous cells from my cervix.

A year ago, I thought my life was about to take turn dramatically for the worse.

A year ago, I was scared, make that terrified that my dreams of becoming a mother would be gone forever.

A year ago, I had no idea how strong I was.

I was terrified of what would happen. I was worried that they would find out that it was worse than the biopsy showed. I didn't think anyone understood or could understand. And I had no idea what I was doing.

I took it one day at a time and leaned on my husband more than I ever thought I would. I learned that in all of his discomfort with my tears and emotions, he would always be there for me. I learned that he is my rock and my teddy bear all in one. He really was amazing (and still is).

I struggled with what it meant to trust God and be faithful to the command to not worry. I struggled even more with what it meant to take your cares to your brothers and sisters in Christ and ask for prayer. I found myself conflicted in the role of care taker for so many and needing to be cared for, and I learned the importance of being vulnerable even as you care for the broken.

And now I find myself "as big as house" with a wiggling, kicking, little baby growing inside of me and a clean bill of health. I feel closer to my husband that I did before even when he's hundreds of miles away. I feel more at peace and content with the situation and world that God has placed me in. Most of all, I have been humbled to a place of deep appreciation for the glory and majesty of our Lord and the life that we have within him.

I am honored to be able to share my story with anyone who might see this and pray that I might provide hope to someone who needs it.

To read about the events of last here, click here.

My ever growing "very pregnant" belly. :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Watch What You View

Ladies, this is probably going to be my most unpopular post ever, but I really think it's worth saying. So here it goes:

I don't think you or anyone else proclaiming the name Christian should go see Magic Mike.

In case you haven't seen the trailers, Magic Mike is a movie coming out starring many of today's top male actors as male dancers/strippers. They hint at some parts of romance, but the trailers are essentially little 30 second snippets of half-naked men dancing.

Now, some of you might say that this is just fun and entertaining and shouldn't be taken too seriously. After all, it's just a movie.

My first instinct is that to watch this movie is disrespectful to our husbands. In the same way that we wouldn't want our husbands going off to watch half-naked women swing around a pole, we should offer them the same respect and honor. I've talked about honoring husbands in regards to actors/celebrities before so I don't want to beat a dead horse in sorts. You can find that post here.

But then I know that some of you are not married. What's the harm then? Surely you can enjoy the single life and go watch some eye candy? After all, it's not like you're going to act out the lust that the movie seeks to inspire.

Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
-Part of the chorus in Song of Solomon

To the single ladies I would implore you to refrain from stirring up any additional desire before the time comes that you are able to fulfill those desires with your husband. I know that this is hard to do when our society surrounds us with sexual images, but this is one image you can keep from seeing. 

To guard our eyes and minds is but one way in which we are able to live out the name Christian in a world that seeks to distract us so often.

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel"
-Philippians 1:27

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." 
-Philippians 4:8

Paul not only instructs, but almost pleads with the Philippians to focus their thoughts and their lives around the gospel and the virtues of faith. This isn't just so that they will be good little Christians and march off towards Heaven, but this is so that the witness of their lives will reflect the glory of Christ and the will of God. 

Perhaps you have been invited to go see this movie as part of Girl's Night or a Bachelorette party. Well, now's the time to stand firm in your convictions. 

"Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
-Ephesians 5: 15-16

As hard as it may be to follow the way of the gospel and as tempting and fun as the way of the world seems, I beg of you to think through your movie-watching plans. Pray for the Spirit's guidance and honestly ask yourself if it would be wise for you to see this movie.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mommy Mean Girls

In my journey towards motherhood I have learned one thing: Moms are the mean girls of the adult world! Seriously! If you want to feel judged- talk about your parenting ideas with other mothers.

If you're planning on a natural birth, someone will tell you that it won't happen and you'll be begging for the drugs.

Say you want to cloth diaper and they will tell you that you will give up after the first week of laundry.

Want to breastfeed? You'll be up all night and you obviously will be flashing people in public everyday.

Don't do daycare. Don't homeschool. Don't do time-outs. Don't let children have any sugar. Don't use this brand. Don't go to this park...

It starts even before the baby is born! Shouldn't you be eating more? Eating less? Don't eat that. Don't drink that. Are you gaining enough? Gaining too much? Don't go down the stairs so fast. Take this class. Read that book.

Oh and if you don't do exactly as everyone tells you to, you're a bad mom. Or you're not a "natural" mom. Or your parenting is "backwards."

And here's the real rub: these comments always come from other mothers- other women who know how hard it is to make all these decisions for your family- other women who are getting judged just the same for their own choices.

What is it that makes mothers so judgmental of other moms? Why can't we all just support one another?

It's the same concept as middle school: the bullies pick on the little kids because they're insecure. We have created a society in which mothers are so insecure that they must nit-pick other moms just to make it through the day. If I put this mom down for adding salt to her baby's homemade food then I'll feel better about what I feed my kid and I'll feel like I'm a good mom.

Here's what I suggest: If your kid is happy, healthy, and loved, it doesn't matter what anyone else says about anything that you're doing for your family. Keep on doing what you feel is best for your family and respect every other mother's right to do the same.

Think of it this way: When you talk with your husband about having a bad day, often times you want him to just listen and sympathize. If you wanted his advice, you'd ask for it. Give other moms the same consideration: listen and sympathize and leave the advice alone unless it's asked for.

With Love and Respect,
A Determined-To-Be-Self-Confident-Mom-In-The-Making

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

There's A Tiny Human Inside of Me!

I'm 9 weeks 4/5 days pregnant. We had our first doctor's appointment today and got to see our little one and hear it's little heartbeat! Our baby's heart rate was 167 and it was a wiggling away! 

So, dear readers, if you're out there, I beg your forgiveness on the sporadic nature of my postings. This little one is very active and drains my energy like a tiny vampire, but not a sparkly one.

Baby Campbell giving the world a fist bump (or doing a super hero pose).

I'm due November 16th and we are beyond thrilled at this new adventure God has blessed us with.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

10th Simple Step to Sustainability: Buy Local

Our next few steps will focus on where and what you buy what you eat. We're going to start with the "where".

Buy Local 

Simon checking out a tomato from the Farmer's Market

There are two ways to buy local: First buy from any local shop. This includes small business and national chains. Buying online might be more convenient (maybe even necessary sometimes) but buying locally saves on the environmental cost of shipping. The second way to buy local (my focus for today) is to buy local foods. You can buy local food from Farmer's Markets or from your grocery store. A lot of produce stickers now say where the item originated from. If buying from a grocery store, try to find produce and other foods that are made in your state or region. Buying pumpkins from New Mexico is better for Texans than buying pumpkins from Maine. (I don't think they grow pumpkins in Maine, but you get the idea.)

How It Helps: It takes a lot of gas, and therefore oil, to ship our food all around the world. Not only does that shipping process use up gas and oil, but there's also the issue of pollution from the vehicles that transport our food. By buying locally, especially from Farmer's Markets, you get fresher produce that caused less pollution and used up fewer resources. As a bonus- when you buy from Farmer's Markets, you're often buying straight from the farmer helping them to earn more for their produce and giving you the chance to ask questions about the product that grocery stores can't answer (What kind of chemicals are used, if any? When was it picked? What type of cleaning process? etc.)

How To Do It: Buying locally doesn't really take much effort on your part. You just have to plan your list a little better and read some labels. If you're going to buy from Farmer's Markets, you might have to get up a bit earlier or do some research about which one is closest to you. All it takes is for you to be a bit more mindful about the things you are purchasing.

Cost: Farmer's Market produce can sometimes be more expensive (usually because it's organic or better quality) but it can also be a bit cheaper. The above tomato cost me 50 cents. I've found that animal products are usually a bit more expensive, but they're more humanely raised and often organic. Buying locally in your grocery store won't cost you much more than you'd pay for other store produce.

Ask around for your local Farmer's Market or call your city hall to see when it is, and brush up on your local geography! Start buying locally and you'll get hooked.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

9th Simple Step to Sustainability: Tips to Start Recycling

Today's Step will be a little different. Today we will look at several tips if you would like to start recycling or take your recycling routine to the next level.

Here are some tips to help you start recycling if you don't yet. (I'm not going to go into why you should recycle, as that info is pretty much everywhere. If you have questions or need some convincing, please message me or leave a comment. Id' love to help!)

  • If you are just getting started, start with just one type of recyclable such as paper, plastic, or cardboard.
  • Locate your local recycling center. They have them at a lot of major supermarkets, SAMs Clubs, and Wal-Marts. Take a look at what they accept. (It will be written on the dumpster.)
  • Contact your local waste management office to inquire about curbside pick up. Many cities offer this service as part of your city fees or for a small additional fee. There are some lucky (and smart) cities that even offer discounts on your garbage fees if you recycle!
  • My suggestion is to start with items that don't have to be rinsed or cleaned. Cans, bottles, and plastics should be rinsed of all food particles and cans and glass need to have labels removed. However, paper and cardboard tends to be an easier start: just dump it in.
  • Find a container and a spot in your house for your recycling. My paper goes in a canvas bag that hangs on the slider door. Other recyclables are sorted into old laundry baskets on our porch. 
If you're a seasoned recycler, there's always room for improvement. Here are a few tips to make recycling a bit easier and help you to recycle more and throw away less.
  • Get a good system in place. Once you're recycling many different types of materials and ones that require cleaning, it can be a little hectic, and let's face it, we're already busy enough. To get your juices going, our system includes all recycling that needs to be rinsed going next the the sink. I then rinse them when I do dishes (great for using the water while you wait for it to warm up). Afterwards, they go out to the porch. If it's hot, raining, or snowing, I might leave the recycling by the slider door until I can get out. (Makes a great kitten jungle gym!)
  • Pay attention to what recycling receptacles are at your recycling center. I started recycling glass when they added a glass dumpster to the center by our Wal-mart. 
  • Add one material at a time to your recycling routine. This helps to make one habit at a time which helps you to keep the habit going longer.
  • Build recycling into your schedule. Whether you load it up on your way to the store, or on Sunday night to take out Monday on your way home from work. Make it a part of your family's schedule to take the recycling out. It's easy to pile up the recycling on your porch, but it's got to make it to the recycling center it's just keeping a bunch of junk. (This is one of the hardest things for us to do!)
  • Watch packaging of unusual purchases for recyclable materials. It's easy to get into the habit of recycling your cereal boxes and soda cans, but that new toy for Johnny might have recyclable plastic casing and those inserts in your video games and DVDs can be recycled as well.
There it is. Step 9- ten tips for recycling. Don't know why I didn't make that step ten, but step ten will be awesome as well. (Yep, just looked at my cheat sheet and step ten is awesome!)

Comment Below With Your Recycling Tips!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

7th Step towards Sustainability: Cloth Cleaning Towels

In keeping on theme of green cleaning, let's work on reducing paper waste in the cleaning process. Often when you go about your routine cleaning, you'll use paper towels to wipe down your counters, your fixtures, your bathroom mirror... Just about everything. How many paper towels does that add up to? Well, I haven't done the math, but it's a lot! Even the most absorbent paper towels get used up and tossed out for new ones. Cloth cleaning towels solve that problem!

By switching to cloth towels for your cleaning tasks, you can stop the never ending cycle of using and throwing away paper towels, saving countless amounts of paper waste and tress! Back in the "old days" before paper towels, cloth towels were used for all cleaning tasks. That's just what you had. We invent paper towels and out go the cleaning rags.

How It Helps: Paper towels might be convenient but they require many tress to die and are really only usable once. Then, they go to that ever-so-hated place, the landfill. By using cloth towels, you reduce the needs for paper, and therefore trees, while also keeping our landfills a little bit more empty.

How To Do It: Use old washcloths or buy some cheap towels and set them aside to use for your chores. Once they've gotten all yucky toss them in the wash and do it all over again. We have a stack of towels in the linen closet reserved just for cleaning. Now, in all honesty, we do still have some paper towels in the kitchen, but  I go through a roll maybe every two months, probably closer to three or more. (I'm considering going to un-paper towels, but that's for another day...)

Cost: If you want to just use some old washcloths that you have lying around, they've already been paid for so there's no new cost! If you want/need to buy some towels for cleaning, you can get a good bundle at Wal-mart or any other store for $5 or less. Remember: you're using these towels to dust your furniture and clean your toilet, they don't need to be anything fancy.

There you have it. Another very simple and easy step to help make your life a little bit more sustainable.

Monday, April 9, 2012

6th Step towards Sustainability: Phosphate-Free Dishwasher Detergent

To follow up on step five, step six applies the same concept to your dishwasher routine. Phosphates in our cleaning products wreck havoc on the water-based ecosystems, especially amphibians. Those cute little frog legs suck up the chemicals in the water and create all sorts of trouble for their little froggie bodies.

Phosphate free dishwashing detergents are becoming more popular and common. The above pictured product is what I use. Palmolive's phosphate free is available at Wal-mart and other national stores and costs the same as regular dishwasher detergents. That being said, this is just what I use, there are many other options available. Seventh Generation also makes a dishwasher detergent. I'm sure there are plenty others out there as well. Look around the next time you need dishwasher detergent, most phosphate-free brands advertise it pretty loudly.

How It Helps: Phosphates in the water are linked to major issues with our amphibian populations. Not only do they create issues with amphibian reproduction but can create all sorts of deformities in other amphibians. Phosphates also effect the plant life in the water ways which then changes the entire ecosystem and not for the best. Changing just one cleaning product to phosphate-free can help reduce the amount of phosphate put into our water ways dramatically and can help make the world a little more froggy-friendly.

How To Do It: This is another really simple one. Just buy the phosphate-free. Whenever your dishwasher detergent runs out, just take a little more time to choose your dishwasher detergent.

Cost: Some phosphate-free versions cost the same as their chemically loaded counterparts. Others can be a bit more costly. If you can afford dishwasher detergent, you can afford to go phosphate-free.

Once again, another really simply change to make that can make a huge difference!

5th Step towards Sustainability: Scent and Dye Free

Ok so... it was a great, but long weekend. The kids had a great time at LTC. Then I got sick. But, I'm feeling better and catching up on the Sustainability Series. We'll continue today with step five: switching to scent and dye free laundry products. Homemade and "green" laundry detergents and softeners are great options, but often they're expensive and hard to find. However, scent and dye free versions of national brands like Tide and All can be great middle grounds.

The dyes and scents in traditional products get washed out with the wash water and seep into the ground and our water supplies and reservoirs. By using products that don't have these additional chemicals, you can make a great environmental impact without having to make a huge change in your laundry routine.

How It Helps: The dyes and scents added to laundry products, like I said above, end up in our water supplies and reservoirs. This includes many lakes and rivers. The impact of these and other chemicals on our waterways is tremendous. These chemicals change the pH balance of the water creating a hostile environment for many water dwellers. While an all natural "green" detergent is likely to have a smaller impact on our water ways, going dye and scent free is a great start!

How You Do It: Buy your favorite laundry products in the dye and scent free version. Pretty much all of the major national brands offer a dye or scent free version. If you can find and afford a phosphate-free or green product, that would be an even better option.

Cost: The "green" detergents can be pricy. Making your own detergent can be cost saving. However, if you just go with the dye/scent free products, they cost the same as the scented and dyed version.

Don't worry about products that don't have scent leaving your clothes "smelly." When properly washed, your clothes will be clean and therefore won't smell. I was worried about clothes (particularly husband socks) being smelly when I switched over, but it's never been an issue. Further, the scent and dye free products are less likely to create allergic reactions! All around, a great option!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Reusable Swiffer Pads from Handknitted 4 You

I stumbled upon this product while looking through the eco-friendly items on Handknitted 4 You has been on Etsy for a bit over a year now. They make adorable hand knit items of all sorts. The hand knit Swiffer pads are available as singles or in sets of three. I got a single one for $3.50 plus shipping.

Pros: It works great! It picks up hair and cat fur and all the other junk that lives on my floor. It is machine washable. It did shrink a wee bit the first wash, but not enough to make it fit any worse.

Cons: I would say that the only downfall that I've found is that you can only use the pad once before having to wash it. You might be able to flip it inside out and use it a second time, but I've tried and it's been pretty hard to flip like that.

Overall, it's great! I plan to buy some more when I run out of the disposable pads that I still have.

8th Simple Step to Sustainability: Reusable Swiffer Pads

We've all got to clean, and that glorious invention The Swiffer makes the chore of cleaning the floors much simpler and easier. But what about all those Swiffer pads? You use them once (twice if you flip them) and then what happens? Like so many other things in our American life, you throw them in the trash and they make their way to the landfills. Well, no more of that!

Reusable Swiffer pads are often knit or crocheted pads that you use just like normal Swiffer pads but instead of throwing them away you wash them! It really is that simple.

I currently only have one Swiffer pad, but plan to buy more soon. Last time I bought disposable pads I bought them in bulk, so I've been using the one pad that I have and then using disposable ones while it waits to be washed. It really doesn't add much to my laundry and works great!

How It Helps: It's very simple. When you replace a disposable product with a reusable one, you save the landfills from pilling up, reduce the need to destroy our natural resources, and reduce pollution from production and shipping.

How to do it: If you use a Swiffer, start with one or two reusable pads. Once you see how easy they are, you can add more to your stash if needed to meet your Swiffering needs. If you only have a few hard surfaces and only Swiffer occasionally, you might be able to get away with just one or two.

Cost: These reusable pads cost about $3-8 a piece. Most are handmade and therefore take more man power to make. However, not only are you helping to be more sustainable in your life, you are supporting an individual craftsperson!

If you Swiffer, this is an easy and great option! Give it a try!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


So... We leave in the morning for Leadership Training for Christ. We're really excited to go with the kids this year. Unfortunately, that means I won't be posting for a few days. I had planned to write out the next few days of the sustainability series and schedule them to post while I'm gone, but that didn't happen. If you stick with me, I will catch up when we return.

Have a great Easter everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

4th Step towards Sustainability: Dryer Balls

Today's step starts a section on healthier, more sustainable cleaning. I'll continue to focus on small changes that most can make with little effort. If you really want to go all out, you could make all your own cleaning supplies! There are a ton of great recipes online. However, if you're not quite ready to take that step, let's start with something small.

Dryer Balls

Here you see my first attempt at making dryer balls. So far, I haven't been particularly successful. You can buy dryer balls (which I might if I can't figure it out). You can find them at conventional home goods stores as well as eco-stores and of course,  You toss one, two, or more in the dryer with your clothes and it works to fluff your clothes, speed up drying time, and keep your clothes soft. Choose dryer balls made with natural materials like wool. Wicker is okay, but try to avoid plastic.

Here's How It Helps: This helps out in a lot of different ways. First, there aren't any chemicals. Some of them have essential oils for scent, but otherwise, they're chem-free. Secondly, you use them more than once. Sure, there are ways to reuse used dryer sheets, but generally speaking they get used once then they get tossed in the trash, and where does it go from there? That's right- landfills.  Dryer balls last for months before they start to break down. Even then you can reuse them by adding a new layer of wool or use them as pet toys!

Here's How To Do It: Buy or make a few dryer balls. Then use them in your laundry. It's really about that simple. It might take some time to get used to using them, but once you get into the habit, you can just stop buying dryer sheets.

Cost: Dryer balls cost about $4-10 each depending upon size, material, and whether or not it has any scented oils. You can make about three the size of the one above for one bundle of wool that runs about $6. 

So there you have it. One very simple step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. If dryer balls aren't for you,  stay tuned for tomorrow's sustainable laundry tip.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

3rd Step towards Sustainability: Reusable Grocery Bags

Today's step will round out our talk on reusable bags.

Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable grocery bags are becoming more and more popular and in some states/counties you can now be charged for using plastic grocery bags. These reusable grocery bags replace the need for plastic grocery bags during your next shopping trip. They now come in a variety of colors, prints, and styles. You can get them insulated, with wine bottle pockets, with zippers, tons of bells and whistles! Some stores now give you a discount for using these bags as it saves them money on plastic bags.

Here's How It Helps: You guessed it! Using your own bags reduces the demand and use of plastic bags. It really is that simple. When you don't use as much plastic, less gets thrown away and less needs to be made. This saves landfills and factory waste. Even if you recycle your plastic bags, there's still an energy demand for recycling. If we simply require less plastic to be made, it won't be made. Your one little grocery trip might not seem like much, but each trip adds up. Then each year adds up. Then maybe your neighbor starts, then your kid's Sunday School teacher, and it snowballs from there.

Here's How To Do It: Buy a few bags to start. It's hard to tell how many you'll need. The reusable bags usually can hold quite a bit more than plastic bags. My Wal-mart black ones are pretty old and easily hold 6 two liters. You'll have to figure out how many you need based on how full you like your bags and how many you need for your typical grocery trips.  I also like to keep one in the car for those quick trips to the grocery store after work.

Cost: Bags will usually run about $1-5 each. I got a bunch of basic black ones from Wal-mart a few years ago for $1 that are still holding up well. My United green ones cost maybe $1.5 and the insulated one costed a little bit more, maybe $3. You'd be surprised how many you pick up for free too. The last few conferences I've been to have given them away for their goodie bags and my school gave you ones if you pre-ordered your textbooks. As I mentioned before, these bags will sometimes save you money as well. United gives a five cent discount per bag that's filled. It's not much, but it adds up.

That finishes off the reusable bags portion of the 22 steps towards sustainability. These first three are very easy adjustments to make, and you may have already made some of them. Next we're going to look at some common cleaning issues and ways we can make some greener changes without having to make major lifestyle changes!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Reusable Produce Bags from Eco-Friendly 4 U

Continuing along with today's sustainability tip, I thought I would review my own produce bags. I bought my produce bags from an Etsy shop, Eco-Friendly 4 U. This is a Canadian shop and the owner makes all sorts of produce bags, tech cases, and snack bags. I  got a set of four large produce bags, plus a bonus purple bag for $6 plus shipping. I found this to be a great price comparatively to other shops and have been very happy with the bags.

Pros: The bags are lightweight and easy to clean. If they get dirty, I just rinse them with hot water and set them to dry on my dish rack. I've not noticed any additional weight to be added by the bags, if any is added, it's a tiny fraction of an ounce. These bags have held up well. I use them for any produce that you'd but in a bag, including onions and potatoes like you see above. I even use them to store some produce in the party.

Cons: Really the only negative that I recall from the entire transaction, (and I really hesitate to call it a negative) is that it took a long time to get my order. Now this wasn't the shop owner's fault. Anyone who has ever purchased anything internationally knows that delivery time for international shipments is a guessing game. The owner did ship the item quickly, so once again, I hesitate to even call it a downfall.

Overall, I love these bags. I use them every time we go shopping and plan to buy more in the future.

2nd Step towards Sustainability: Reusable Produce Bags

In keeping with the reuse theme for the first few steps. Today's step is another simple replacement:

Use Reusable Produce Bags when shopping

This is another potential sewing project if you're handy with thread. They're also available in eco-friendly shops and handmade stores like, if you don't wish to make your own. These bags are often made with mesh or mesh-like materials and drawstrings. This helps to keep the bags light. I use mine at every shopping trip and haven't noticed them adding any weight. 

Here's How It Helps: When you buy your produce at the store, you put it in one of those little plastic bags. Then you get home and put up your apples and oranges and what have you. What then do you do with those little plastic bags? You might reuse them once but then they end up in the trash. If you recycle, you might add these little bags to your recycling, which is better than the trash, but still not ideal. The ideal would be to use less plastic in the first place, helping to reduce the demand for this earth un-healthy product. By using reusable bags, you're saving three or four, maybe even six or seven little plastic bags each shopping trip!

Here's How To Do It: Buy or make a few bags to start. Think of how many you usually use in your regular shopping and try to get that many. Then as you get ready for your grocery trip, take them with you. I've found that many farmers at the farmer's market also use plastic grocery bags, you can take your own bags with you there as well. They're see through so I've never had a problem at any traditional store, even Wal-mart. If your bags get dirty or need to be washed, some are machine washable, but I've found that I just need to rinse mine with hot water and lay them to dry.

Cost: I bought a set of four for $6 plus shipping. You could probably make a good number for about that much in materials. While this doesn't save you money, it's a minimal investment for quite a good environmental impact.

There's today's simple step. Make a small purchase and save some plastic!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: Reusable Sandwich Bags from My Outdoor Mom

Here's another option for reusable snack and sandwich bags from My Outdoor Mom is a new shop to Etsy, but is already having a ton of success, and it's easy to see why! I bought my bags when I was first starting to work towards more reusable products. I got a pair of reusable bags, one snack bag and one sandwich bag, for $10 plus shipping. While this is a little expensive, I think it was worth it. You choose the pattern for each bag, and they come with a solid inside and zipper.

Here is the snack size with blueberry print. Easily holds a chopped apple.

Here is the sandwich side bag with strawberry print. This easily holds a regular sandwich, but a really hefty one might not fit too easily.

Pros: I love the zipper! The zipper keeps everything in, even peanuts and popcorn, and doesn't take up hardly any bag space. I also love the prints. Not only are they fun, but they're more "adult" than a lot of the reusable bags out there. These bags are also machine washable. I've washed them once or twice in the machine, but usually just rinse them out with dishes.

Cons: These aren't exactly airtight. The other day I brought cheese and crackers to work. I cut the cheese the night before, put it in the blue bag, and put in the fridge. Well, by the time I ate the cheese the next day, it was starting to get a wee bit hard. It was still fine, but is a downfall to those who are used to the airtight plastic bags.

Overall, I really love these bags. Budget-willing, I'll be adding more in the future.

Review: Reusable Sandwich Bags from The Green Haven

To go along with today's sustainability tip, I thought I would review some of my own reusable snack bags.

I got this pair of bags through a trade on Etsy. (Trading on Etsy is a great, "green" way to get products.) The Green Haven is a shop on that's been open since 2009. The shop offers a ton of great reusable bags, lunch bags, and drink cozies. I got a pair of cute snack bags in a jungle print. Had I paid for the bags, they would have been $7.00 plus shipping.

Pros: They are adorable! They have also been very easy to flip inside out and clean. At $7 for two, they were also very reasonably priced.

Cons: Probably the biggest con is the velcro. It limits the volume of the bag slightly but the bigger problem is that it doesn't seal it completely. It's great for larger items like chips or apples slices, but if you were to put something smaller, like Cheerios, they would slip out the ends.

Overall, I'm happy with the bags and they definitely serve a great purpose! These can be a great option to fill out your collection of reusable snack and sandwich bags.

1st Simple Step to Sustainability: Reusable Sandwich Bags

Our first simple step to a more sustainable life is very easy, and over time saves you money.

Buy Reusable Sandwich Bags

If you're handy with a sewing machine or needle, you could easily make some of these yourself. I prefer the zippered ones, but velcro is also an option. You can buy them off various "green" product websites, or etsy. And as you see above, they can be kind of cute.

Here's How It Helps: When you send your kid to school with apples or take a sandwich for your lunch, what do you do with the plastic bag? You throw it out. That plastic bag was made to be disposable. It will serve it's purpose once (maybe twice if you reuse it), and then it will sit in a landfill. Plastic doesn't seem to biodegrade, or at least, none of it has yet. By using cloth sandwich and snack bags, you eliminate the need to buy and throw away plastic. This saves you money and saves the landfills, not to mention the added benefit of reduced factory waste in the production of plastic.

Here's How To Do It: Buy a bag or two to start. If you tend to take snacks to work, buy a bag that would fit the size of what you need. Buy a few bags for your kid's lunch boxes. You can get plenty that are big and roomy for a nice sandwich and others that are smaller for grapes or chips. After you use the bag, you wash it and use it again. Many of these bags are machine washable, but I find that for most of the time, mine just need a quick rinse in hot water then I lay them on the dish rack to dry.

Cost: The bags vary in cost, usually about $2-3 per bag and then go up for larger bags, zippers, different patterns, etc. Unless you buy these at a craft fair or a local store, you will also need to pay shipping. However, keep in mind that once you buy these, you will only need to buy more when they wear out. I've had some of mine for months now and they look practically new. When you buy disposable plastic bags, you have to buy new ones every couple of weeks and you're throwing that money away.

So friends, that's today's simply step. Whether you live by yourself, with a family of ten, or in your mom's basement, anyone take this simple step to a more sustainable life!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easter Review Game

Easter is almost here! In Sunday School we've been working on the events of Holy Week for sometime now. I teach a Kindergarten class and find that it can be difficult to find games and lessons appropriate for this age group. So, I made my own. It's very simple to make and reviews the events leading up to the death and resurrection.

Paper/Pen or Computer
Plastic Easter Eggs
Scissors or Paper Cutter

Print or Write out the list below. You'll want one copy with the numbers to serve as your key (even us adults sometimes forget, maybe more than sometimes), and another copy without the numbers.

Take the copy without the numbers and cut it into slips.

Place the slips in the eggs.

Weather permitting, hide the eggs outside and let the kids go find them. If you're stuck indoors, place the eggs in a basket and let each child choose one. If you're doing this at home, you can have your children find the eggs from around the house.

Next, have the kids sort the slips of paper into the order that the events occurred (The same order as they are numbered).

This is a fun way for kids to review previous lessons about the events, and builds up a strong understanding of the scriptures for the future.

Here's the list that I've used. Feel free to adjust the list to meet your needs and cover the stories that you've studied.

1.   A Woman pours perfume on Jesus’ feet.
2.         Judas met with the Pharisees and agreed to hand Jesus over.
3.         The Pharisees gave Judas forty pieces of silver.
4.         Jesus sent disciples to find a house to have the Passover.
5.         Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.”
6.         Jesus took the bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples. Jesus said, “This is my body.”
7.         Jesus took the cup and blessed it. Then He gave it to His disciples. Jesus said, “This is my blood.”
8.         Jesus told Peter that Peter would betray him three times.
9.         Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray.
10.     Jesus’ disciples fell asleep while Jesus prayed.
11.     The guards came to get Jesus.
12.     Peter cut off a guard’s ear. Then Jesus healed the guard.
13.     Jesus was taken before the religious leaders and before Pontius Pilate.
14.     The crowd asked for a criminal to be released and Jesus to be crucified.
15.     The guards made fun of Jesus and put a crown of thorns on his head.
16.     Jesus was put on the cross next to two thieves.
17.     The guards gambled for Jesus’ clothes.
18.     The guards gave Jesus sour wine to drink.
19.     Jesus said, “It is finished.”
20.     The guards pierced Jesus’ side.
21.     Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb.
22.     The women went to visit the tomb, but Jesus wasn’t there!