Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 46: Spreading the Word

Please forgive me if you’ve heard me say this already. I have to use the story to illustrate a point. I would never try to force my belief or opinion on another person, and I don’t share much of this venture with those who turn their noses up at the first mention of the word “organic.” But more and more I find myself wanting to help other people, to enlighten them to what I’ve learned, and it’s so hard not to blurt out how I feel when I think this might help somebody. It’s hard, but I don’t do it. To illustrate:

Yesterday while I was sitting at a red light, I saw a man walking down his driveway to get the morning paper. There did not appear to be anything physically wrong with the guy, but when he reached for the paper on the ground, it took him a moment to really reach it. It looked like his back or his knees were stopping him, and it took every ounce of energy he had to reach the paper on the ground via some half-squatting-barely-bent maneuver. He appeared to be about middle age, which I believe is too young to not be able to bend. I wanted so badly to roll down my window and say, “We just need to get the toxins out of your muscles and you’ll be able to bend better!”

NOT that it was any of my business.

Of course you know my window stayed up, and I drove on with the turning of the light. But I thought about this guy all day long, wishing he knew what I have been learning about the crap we eat and how it affects our overall health. But would he care? Maybe not.

But maybe?

So this change, while focused mostly in my home and concentrated on the four humans who reside here, is no longer just about me. I read a friend’s online dilemma with baby eczema, and I chimed in about the chemicals in our body products. I didn’t want to shove it down his throat, but I felt so strongly that the baby would not be having eczema outbreaks if they switched to natural products. My grandma talked about how her allergies have multiplied, and I recalled BachelorGirl’s comment on Day 44 where she relayed information shared by a naturopathic physician that allergies are results of our systems being out of whack. I can see it! I really can!!

I’m feeling a restlessness within. I am more and more compelled to share what I learn. But lifestyles and habits are sensitive subjects, and I always want to respect people’s space and opinions. I am tempering my desire to shout from the rooftops and skywrite messages to the world. So, I’m channeling Bill Murray from the end of Scrooged. Really, while you imagine me standing there spouting these lines, wild-eyed and with hair all askew, think about these movie lines in terms of making better choices for our bodies (with apologies to Mitch Glazer and Michael O'Donoghue):

“It can happen every day! You've just got to want that feeling!
You'll want it every day! It can happen to you!
I believe in it now.
I believe it's gonna happen to me, now. I'm ready for it!
And it's great. It's a good feeling.
It's better than I've felt in a long time.
I'm ready.”
Anyone else ready?  :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 45: Managing all the Stuff

Dom noticed me moving items from my little white purse which I had used this weekend to the big – no, oversized – bag I usually carry and he casually inquired, “You going back to the big purse?” I felt busted. Like I had just been caught indulging an addiction. I explained in a self-justifying way, “Yes, but only because it holds so much more stuff!”

I tried to get by with the little purse. It’s just that, well, I had a really good system in the big bag. I have everything I could possibly need in the big purse: Band-Aids, Neosporin, Motrin, baby aspirin (in case I suddenly have a heart attack, ya know), nail clippers, USB adapters, cuticle cream, flash drives, device chargers, dental floss…you get the picture. Oh dear…I get the picture too now. Oh, I hate when I put a justification in writing and then reading it makes me realize how un-just it is. Damn blog!

Indulge me this interruption, if you will. My dad used to drive an 18-wheeler. For years after he changed jobs, whenever we would be riding down the street on a family outing or on the interstate headed to my grandmother’s house, other “#$%**@ drivers” would haphazardly change lanes or cut us off or drive in the left lane for too long, thereby invoking a litany of un-repeatables from my father. He would always sum up the tirade with “They wouldn’t do that if I was in my truck!” (Never mind that is was ultimately a little pickup who cut Daddy off on an icy interstate and caused the demise of the 18-wheeler. I have since come to believe Daddy must have felt about that rig the same as I felt about my minivan. No other vehicle would ever measure up.)

I share that with you because I have a tendency to hold too tightly to the same mentality: I wouldn’t be in a bind needing (insert item here) if I had my big purse! You know, if you’re going to eat a nice, healthy organic peach at your desk without the benefit of a knife, then you are certainly going to need dental floss afterward. And I can’t tell you how many times over the last few small-purse days I have wanted to plug in my earpiece charger. And just Saturday in Mass, Aaron realized he had a blister on his foot and there I was, with my little purse and no band-aids, offering the only consolation I could: “You’re gonna have to limp ‘til we get home, dude.”

I recall a Cathy cartoon in which she determines she can do without a purse because guys do it all the time and all they use is pockets. So she stuffs her pockets with everything she can’t do without, and the end frame shows her standing there with her pockets so overstuffed she can’t even relax her arms by her side. (Sidenote: The creator of Cathy, Cathy Guisewite, also has a book called Revelations From a 45-Pound Purse. Sounds like a must-have for my bookshelf!)

I truly WANT the simplicity of the smaller purse. I used to get by with one just fine. And I know that in the midst of all this change, lessening my dependency on stuff is ultimately necessary, not to mention better for my shoulders.

I promise to, um, work on downsizing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 44: To Test or Not To Test?

I love herbal ingredients in my products, but I have to be very careful when choosing herb- and fruit-based products. Why?

Because I am allergic to the healthiest fruit and the most soothing flower. Talk about luck.

When ingested, pomegranate and chamomile can take me down in minutes. So can certain kinds of whipped cream, but that’s another story I’m still trying to research. As for the pom and the cham, well, they are on the Don’t-Dare-Buy-Ever list. Problem is, they are prevalent in many of the natural products I’m finding. So I’m curious: if I am allergic to an ingredient when I consume it, will I also be allergic to the ingredient in body products? I have to admit I’m a little hesitant to find out.

My allergies run parallel to my mother’s, and we are noticing that my son shares our reactions to some of the same triggers. Now granted, these allergic reactions are certainly not life-threatening. Our symptoms typically include scratchy throat, coughing, and the nose going haywire. All the stuff that makes a winter cold so darn miserable happens to us instantly upon consumption of these ingredients. If you have any experience with similar food allergies and related ingredients in body products, please let me know. I’m curious to know if I would be safe buying a pomegranate moisturizer or having chamomile in my body wash. I want to be natural, but I don’t want to mess with Nature, ya know?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 43: Pressing On

Today’s lesson: letting it go is a constant experience. In the midst of yet another setback, or at worst a disappointment really, I’m playing my “Happiness Is A Choice” card and telling myself to suck it up. My first ever order arrived in yesterday’s mail, and I was tickled pink as Aaron carried it into the house for me. I ripped into it immediately to reveal the five products I had purchased with such careful consideration.

First, the natural/organic hair color I bought looks like it might be drastically darker than what I want. But nothing short of gothic black can be darker than my natural color, so I’ll just go with it. I dug further to lay hands on the crown jewel of this shipment, the Burt’s Bees Toffee Lip Shimmer – the Holy Grail of all lip shimmers, the Red Rider BB Gun of this very box. I had read countless rave reviews of this toffee lip gloss. I am a fan of the Radiance lip shimmer, but not quite so crazy about the peppermint oil they use in it. The minty-ness makes my eyes water (finally nailed that trigger!) But ladies online in various sites had touted this toffee color to be the absolute one color they could not live without. “All my girlfriends want to know what color this is when I wear it!” “I keep a tube of this color everywhere I go!” “I get so many compliments on this color! It’s so natural looking.” And of course, it was the one color I couldn’t find in all of Shreveport. So, it made sense to me that everyone was buying it up before I could get to it in my local stores.

With Aaron close on my heels for all the excitement I was generating, I ran up the stairs with all items of my shipment, ripped through the tamper-evident packaging of the lip shimmer, and approached the bathroom mirror to witness sheer cosmetic genius in a tube. One good swipe to the bottom lip, two swipes to the top, and…wait a minute…

(Smacking my lips together) “Aaron, um, what do you think, honey?”

Aaron (wide-eyed and beginning to wrinkle his nose): “I think your lips look blue.” And then two seconds later, “No, wait, they’re gray. Silverish, but mostly gray. Mommy, is it supposed to look like that?”

“No, sweetheart, I don’t think so.” We ran to the other bathroom at my suggestion that maybe it was just bad lighting. As I looked into the mirror again, I was devastated to realize what Aaron was already saying out loud: “Nope, it wasn’t the lighting! That’s definitely gray!”

So I gotta get over the fact that I just paid $5 and waited nearly two weeks to find out what I’ll look like as a corpse. Except that my lips were sparkly gray! So, the up-side of all this nonsense?

At least I now have the perfect accessory to go with my Goth black hair!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 42: Pre-Made Dinners and Unrelated Confessions

My friend Jessica let me borrow three awesome cookbooks by Holly Clegg. One of them was her Freezer Friendly Meals, which I liked so much I bought my own copy. There is another of her cookbooks I have discovered and must have: Too Hot in the Kitchen.  Check them out.  What I love about Holly's cookbooks is that they contain all health-conscious recipes complete with nutritional information for each serving. 

I think there’s a lot to be said for the freezer friendly meals. I mean, you still get to control the ingredients that go into them, and then cooking dinner on a busy weeknight does not have to involve not an hour long process of chopping onions and blending sauces. It’s a win-win situation.

Even though today is Monday, and I didn’t get to do this during the weekend, I think it is a fabulous idea to cook on the weekend for the next two week’s meals. Since I plan a month’s worth of menus ahead of time anyway, I will now put some effort into not only planning the menu, but preparing as much of it as I can. I rather like the idea of cooking all day in a liesurely pace, knowing I'm saving myself time in the long run.  This also makes it easy for the hubster to come home first and throw a dish into the oven. Then, voila, we’ve BOTH worked at preparing dinner.

Oh, and speaking of the hubster… honey, if you’re reading this…I forgot to turn the sprinkler off in the backyard last night before we went to bed. Oops…

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 41: Bottling My Own Water

Yes, I have been one of those ghastly bottled-water buyers. Even though I did not know it was ghastly to be one. We drink regularly enough from the tap, but I have bought bottled water for years for the purpose of toting a drink, packing a kid’s lunch, etc.

Until now. I just watched The Story of Bottled Water and I must say… eeeww. This, of course, gives me a whole new direction to go with my green efforts, which will naturally include clarifying what is done with our local recycling. I had no idea – no conscious realization, really – of the effects of production at the front end. Oh Emm Gee!!

The reason I started to watch the video in the first place is that I have recently been made aware of the harmful chemicals in our plastics. And yes, I will soon follow a throng of other mothers in rummaging through my plastics cabinet and ousting all those with inappropriate numbers. FYI – the ones to ditch, or at least not use with your food – are 3, 6, and 7. And if you are like me, you have no idea where to find this number. It will be on the bottom of the item, in the middle of the triangle recycling symbol. I learned this two weeks ago. Yeah, I’ve been that clueless.

So I thought the video would set me straight, but it opened so many more avenues for my mind to travel. At least for now, the chemicals are what I am ultimately trying to eliminate. BPA is a chemical found in the polycarbonate of hard plastics which aren’t usually recyclable anyway, and there is MUCH controversy over it. The FDA considers it “reasonably safe” which is enough to make me stay away from it! And, as it turns out, they have agreed to reevaluate BPA’s safety. Palm-strike-to-forehead.

What am I going to do with all this information? My first step is to buy reusable water bottles manufactured without BPA, and eliminate our need for commercially bottled water. Next I will investigate our local recycling processes. It will take a little time, but I will report as I learn.

See ya at the tap!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 40: Doing Something About It

I received an email message from the Environmental Working Group yesterday and it almost brought tears to my eyes. (I must be hormonal, because everything seems to be making me cry lately.) The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act is being reviewed by Congress. The EWG asks us all to sign a petition to let Congress know how important this is to us. I don’t usually sign petitions, but believe me, I have signed this one!!!! Within the email, Ken Cook, President of the EWG Action Fund states the following, which is probably what affected me the most:
“This reform is long overdue. In May, the President's Cancer Panel released a new report on exposure to chemicals and the risk of developing cancer. While their findings may be nothing new to you and me -- especially that children are more susceptible than adults to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors -- it is a clear call to Congress to take action now.
"The nearly 300 chemicals that EWG found when testing the umbilical cord blood of 10 Americans -- chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury, fire retardants, perchlorate and PCBs -- are increasingly linked to serious long-term health effects, from childhood cancer and autism to ADHD, learning deficits, infertility and heart disease.”
Go back to that last paragraph. Notice the testing of umbilical cord blood from 10 Americans. I know most people will say, “Ten cords. Big deal.” But notice the significance of this. It might not be so staggering if they had tested thousands of cords and identified a hundred or so chemicals. But they tested TEN cords and identified nearly THREE HUNDRED toxic chemicals. We are poisoning ourselves and our children with every product we use.

Additionally, on a similar front, the EWG’s website links to an AOL News article about the Safe Cosmetics Act. Mostly, I now understand that this law will give the FDA more power to regulate the cosmetics industry. I’ve been very hard on the FDA in the last two months. I’ve redefined their initials, I’ve scoffed at any reps of the FDA on GMA, and I’ve grown livid over news articles involving the FDA on matters that, quite frankly, don’t even directly concern me. I’ve been a bit of a bi***.

Ultimately, I want Toxics Reform in all areas of our lives. I want people to know what we are doing to ourselves and our children. I want cosmetics companies and food companies and various industries to wake up and realize that it is far more respectable to care for your customers’ health over your own wealth. I want to be a voice for change, not only in our production, but in our mindsets. I want my daughter to be able to grab an item off of a store shelf and not wonder if it’s going to cause cancer later. I want my family members who don’t care about the product ingredients to live fuller, healthier lives as a result of laws that they may not care to read, but will impact them nonetheless. I want a better world. And I believe it is possible.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 39: Wassup, MK?

As I sit here at the keyboard, updating my son’s iPod and wondering what today’s topic will be, so many issues are swimming though my head. I think today’s mission, however, will be to finally send the letter to Mary Kay Cosmetics. I have a draft already, but it’s pretty harsh and finger-pointing, and I come out sounding all Psycho-Crunchy-Girl in it, so imagine the proverbial rip from the typewriter, wadding of the paper, and tossing across the room. Twice.

Ultimately, I am curious to know if they have received requests for safer cosmetics, and if they have any plans in the future to vamoose the parabens, petrochemicals and phthalates, along with the certified artificial colors, formaldehyde, and butyl- preservatives. Yeah, they’re all in there. Scary. I've stopped using all but one eyeshadow color, yet I still have about $300 of product in a box in my dining room. So, while I need to relinquish the unopened stock I have, if they have any plans to address this in the future, then I might not want to cash in my consultant card and related 50% discount, ya know what I mean? So I gotta know. Are they gonna change or what?

I’m sending my letter today, come hell or high water. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 38: Empowering YOU

I suppose the biggest transformation so far lies in the fact that I am now oddly comfortable with airing my laundry list of habits and dependencies. I mean, heck, I’ve brought you right on in to my mousse-dependent, lip gloss-toting, sunless-tanning world, and surprisingly I haven’t been embarrassed about any of it. I have a lot of stuff to change over here at home, and I imagine if you’ve read more than one post and you’re still with me, then you must not think I’m too crazy. Or, you do think I’m crazy, and this is just a way to pass the time waiting on some good spam. Either way, there’s a small chance that something I say will make other people think, and that might just lead to a positive change in someone else’s life. What more could I possibly ask for?

Maggie shared this video with me yesterday, and I just HAVE to share it with you. The Story of Cosmetics: The Ugly Truth of “Toxics In, Toxics Out.” This is a great clip that gives the viewer of any age a little more understanding of how and why we are in this toxic chemical-dependent boat in the first place. I LOVE that the narrator comments on all the beauty products for their toxicity, and follows it up with the fact that we are further teaching our daughters that true beauty REQUIRES all this crap.

OMG, there are soooooooooooooo many reasons to boycott the chemicals!! I hope you watch the video, I hope you share it with others, and I hope you are empowered to make a difference in your corner of the world.

There are more Story of Stuff videos at their website.  Good information presented in a cute and understandable way.  Check them out, become a member of Wiser Earth...let's make a difference together.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 37: Evalutating Commitments

So I get a call from a fellow Circle member at church who says the church office needs more baptismal bibs, and wasn’t I in charge of that committee, and could I swing some by the office and drop some off at my earliest convenience? First, I wasn’t aware of a committee per se, but I do have the bib box in my possession, so I thought no problem.

But, I gotta give you some history. If you know me, you know new projects excite me, and I love to help a cause (my causes are mostly tee-ninecy, but I’m all in there!) So at my third circle meeting ever with this group, we were sewing baptismal bibs for the babies and Christmas soup bags for our holiday fundraiser. I came armed with my sewing machine in its cute little tapestry rolling cart, thread, bobbins, scissors, and a willing spirit. Apparently, that’s about all one needs. The lady in charge of baptismal bibs somehow declared me “a natural” at sewing them and when she moved a few short months later, asked if I would be responsible for the bibs and handed me a small plastic box with all the supplies I would need. My immediate thoughts were 1) How hard can it be? 2) I can certainly spare a few minutes of my time for the good of the church, and 3) How could I ever tell this sweet lady ‘no’?

Now you’re all caught up. We made more bibs this past January, this time with me toting them home, or so I thought. Turns out, when I went to the box to fetch more bibs for the church office this week, I realized my box was empty. Worse, there was no extra fabric OR lace with which to make more. YIKES!!! A fuzzy memory of me handing a stack of bibs to another lady floated through my wee-little mind, and I prayed that I would not be the reason new little babies would not receive a baptismal bib ever again at St. Mary’s. I sent out an SOS email message to all 60+ circle members, enlightening them to my plight, and begging for anyone with knowledge of the bibs, or the materials I should buy, to please reply ASAP. I ended the email with a truth-in-a-joke question: “Y’all sure you want me in charge of this?!”

The end result is that my circle sisters came through with flying colors: one offered to monogram more bibs post-haste; several offered to go purchase supplies; and one called to say she found 18 bibs at her house, all ready to go. Looks like we’re a committee, after all.


The moral of all this hoopla is that this will teach me to be more careful what I promise, ala Captain Woodrow F. Call when he finally laid Gus to rest in Texas. (If you have no clue who Capt. Call is, watch Lonesome Dove. It’ll be 6 hours well spent!) I’m good – really good – at promising my energy. I feel that I am not so good at delivering the effort. But, I’d rather cut off my right arm than not keep my word, so I go all Tasmanian Devil around the house until the commitment is filled. Perhaps if I carefully consider the requirements of each commitment, and fully own them in an effort to stay abreast of any situation involving said commitment, I will not be so frantic when called upon to do that which I have promised.

Either that, or I gotta learn to say "no." ;)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 36: It’s A Bug, Bug, Bug, Bug World

My green efforts have just extended to the outside.  I think I found termites in my chrysanthemums. I decided to move the mums from one spot of my new flowerbed to another because of their size, and when I did, I saw all these creepy-crawly send-me-screaming kind of bugs. My first thought was termites, because they were white and shapely. Blech!!! My internet research says I might be right. But I did notice that they were contained in the area where the mums were planted, centered at the root ball of one plant.


So I called my pest control people and asked if they could bring something, preferably organic, to kill the little dudes before they spread further in my flowerbed, and worse, to my home. I am scheduled for a termite inspection today and will decide what needs to be done after that. I cannot imagine or wrap my head around a worst-case scenario right now, so in preparation for best-case scenario, I found out that beneficial nematodes will eat the termites in my dirt. So, if my inspectors don’t find any damage to my home or have a good eco-friendly solution for the ones in the ground, then for the first time in my life I will purchase bugs. Bugs to kill bugs. Go figure.

I did find a good site that hopefully will jumpstart my organic gardening process: seems to have all the beginner’s why-you-want-to-do-it-this-way information ready for the taking. I have been wanting to get all “green” in my garden. Maybe this is my starting point.

Wish me bug-free luck!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 35: My Morning Madness

I swear my mornings would run so much more smoothly if I would just decide what I’m going to wear the night before. You know, actually plan my wardrobe. Perhaps then I wouldn’t be standing at the closet in the dark, trying not to wake up Dom, deciding if this belt goes with these pants, and does my butt look too flat? We’ve been doing really well with the laundry. Everything is clean almost all of the time, so my selection is nice and varied. But some mornings it is just an overwhelming decision.

Take today. I intended to wear a dress. Laying in bed at 5:15 in my alarm-responsive fog, I decided a dress would be easy enough. What I didn’t consider was that the only dress I have that isn’t black and that I haven’t worn in a while is just a tad too low-cut for work. And that leaves me without a dress to wear today. So I ended up standing at the closet, in the dark…

I think I’ll try to start a habit of deciding these matters before I go to bed each night. I have successfully done this in the past, and it was a really good thing. So I know how easy it can make a morning. Besides, I make the kids set out their clothes the night before. Shouldn’t I do the same?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 34: Milk Money

For quite some time now, I have made a point of buying milk from cows who were not treated with the RBST hormone. I had to go to a second grocery store to get a brand I trusted, but it was worth it in my opinion. But once all this other dietary change came about, my cousin Maggie clued me in on the meat dangers, which started me researching meat and dairy while my head nearly spun off my shoulders. I started thinking about not only the hormones, but now the pesticides sprayed on the farm which the cows might ingest, antibiotics they are given, and OMG – some cows are forced to eat their buddies? Whaaaaaaaa????

Suffice it to say I have never been a farm girl. I found and am happy to share the Top 10 Eco-Friendly Reasons to Buy Organic Meat & Dairy by Annie Bond. (I love that her name is Annie, by the way. Makes me feel like my grandma, Annie – who was a farm girl - is tapping me on the shoulder.)

On my previous grocery store run I bought a single gallon of organic milk (at almost twice the price) along with several gallons of our regular milk, assuming no one else in the family would 1) notice if I changed the milk or 2) readily want to change if its cost were disclosed. I figured I’d be the guinea pig, if you will, but I went ahead and opened the organic gallon and slipped it onto the refrigerator shelf.

The result? It’s a hit!! Dom says it tastes better than the regular milk I was buying. In fact, he commented on it twice. See? Healthier, happier cows make a healthier, happier product. So, from now on, it’s organic milk for us. I believe it will be well worth the cost.

Day 33: Meditation on Mass

In all this calculating of potential improvements to my life, I have been wondering if I could find some meditation time. Maybe some time to study Scripture in depth or simply read a verse and apply it to my day. Or just spend some one-on-one time with the Man Upstairs, chatting about how yesterday went and what my attitude should be for the day ahead. Whatever it is that I truly need, I wasn’t seeing what it was, or where to fit it in.

But during a funeral Mass this past Thursday it finally struck me. This is where I get my time to chill out with God. And it’s the best of both worlds for me…for a while in the beginning, it’s just me and Him. He’s doing the talking and I’m doing the listening. And then toward the end, we all stand and profess our faith. “We believe…” We, this family of imperfect believers, during this very moment demonstrate the significance of “community.” We worship together, and then we leave to serve together. We remain connected to our Creator and to each other, through this Mass, until we join again next week to renew the connection.

How amazingly awesome is that?!!! Equally amazing is the fact that this opportunity has been afforded to me every single day for the last year plus, and I have not seen its gift. Mass is offered at my office every single morning. Dom, the kids and I attend Mass on Saturdays at our church. I am aware that my Mass Euphoria has dwindled considerably by Monday afternoon. Why didn’t I see earlier that I NEED this renewed connection more often than once a week? Um, duhhh..

I know why I haven’t gone to Mass every day that it’s been offered, and it’s the result of pure selfishness and greed for my time. But, like so many of my other excuses, this one is transparent and flimsy and I see right through it now. Only now…I didn’t want to see through it before because it kept everything convenient for me. If I have learned nothing else over the last month, I have learned that convenience is a killer. It’s nice as long as we keep its purpose in our lives short-lived. When convenience becomes the habit, the standard or the norm, we become complacent, sometimes arrogant, and then stuff just starts to fall apart all around us. It sucks, really.

So, to make a long story short (too late!) from now on I am going to go to Mass at the office. Sure, it’s at 8:00 sharp and I don’t usually drag in during the summers until 8:15, but I figure if I’m having to make up the time missed during my day anyway, it needs to be for a better reason than I just didn’t feel like moving any faster today. So, yes, this change, like all others, will be an enormous blessing even though it requires a sacrifice on my part. But I can’t complain. After all, the bigger sacrifice was His.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 32: Start to Finish

You know that book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? There is a poem called If You Give a Mom a Muffin that runs along the same lines. And it is me to a tee. Speaking of tee, I am thirsty…I should go to the kitchen to get some tea. Oooh, I think I have a frozen lunch in the kitchen freezer. My handy little $2 lunch. Hey, I spent $2 on a deodorant at It’s my first order, where I also just bought my first natural hair coloring product. I can’t wait to try it. I wonder if it will cover the gray well enough. Haha, at least there’s no gray in accounting. Darn! I need to finish my accounting assignment. I wonder if I’ll get that done before my deadline. What is my deadline, anyway? Speaking of accounting and deadlines, our auditors are here this week. Very nice people, indeed. I tried to buy them Starbucks this morning but they declined. I wish I still had my coffee right now. I’m sure thirsty. Oh, hey, wasn’t I going to get some tea? I think there’s a frozen lunch in the kitchen too…

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…SQUIRREL!!!!

See, I tend to get a little bit sidetracked. Which is really scary, because I also have a one-track mind, so this basically means that I’m following one track, but I’m just to the left of it most of the time. All this ingredient knowledge and product fascination has me just a tad scatterbrained. I can have a great idea one minute, and be chewing my fingernail the next, wondering where that great thought went, whatever it was. And then I move on to something else that I will eventually screw up. I moved a pile of paper on my desk at work today and uncovered some checks that needed to be deposited and a fax for my boss – received last week. Oops…

I used to pride myself on my multi-tasking abilities. My middle-school teachers used to tell me their To-Do lists because they knew I would remind them on time of what they needed to remember. Admittedly, my mind has not been the same since children came along, but I did have a couple of years of clarity before I recently drifted off the deep end. Maybe my mind is detoxing now that it is not exposed to as many harmful chemicals, and the details of my daily life are just getting thrown out with the bathwater, so to speak.

At any rate, I wish I could finish a complete thought without writing or typing. Granted, my writing is my outlet now, but I can’t do it all day long. I mean, really. I practically have my phone reminding me to breathe.

Breathing – I need to find a Yoga class. That could only help. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t…” I love Reese Witherspoon. I wonder if I could get that movie on demand? Which reminds me…I still need to hook up the DVR to the Internet. Oh yeah, I need to re-work my home network. Wish I had a computer in the kitchen so I could google my recipes right there where I need them. I can’t remember what we’re supposed to have for dinner tonight…


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 31: Hey, FDA! Preserve THIS!!

Since I spent yesterday attacking food and product synthetic colorings, I’ll hit the next largest culprit this morning: preservatives. I dare say they are as dangerous as the synthetic colors in our foods. According to one of my favorite sources, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the common food preservative BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Isn’t that just lovely?

I gotta hand it to the preservatives, though, specifically BHA, BHT and TBHQ. They are tricky little suckers. Cleverly touting their “antioxidant” properties, consumers naturally file them under the mental “safe” list and move on. But while those antioxidant properties are good at keeping the oils from going rancid, one of my sources says they are also responsible for behavioral issues such as insomnia, depression, and learning disabilities.

They require more of my time. As I prepared to give my two-minute-blog on the dangers of these butyl- preservatives, I decided to refresh my knowledge on them. I learned about them six weeks ago, filed them under “Don’t Go There” and have avoided them ever since. So, as I perused my web haunts for more factual details that I could pass on to you, I uncovered so much more than I remembered. Apparently, because they are antioxidants, they fall under a 5% labeling loophole. Which means that even though I have fought to avoid them, I may have unknowingly purchased products containing them, rendering my efforts – my six weeks’ worth of strip-my-pantry, read-every-label, toss-my-cosmetics and change-my-friggin-shampoo – sabotaged.

Wanna guess how I feel about that?

So now I am left wondering: are the products that sport the “high in antioxidants” claim really just saying, “Hey, look. We have more bad preservatives than the next product on the shelf!” ?? Let's see, taking something bad and making it look good so someone will make a profit...isn’t that in some way, oh I don’t know, fraud?!!

I will continue my research. I will delve into learning about the dangers of certain ingredients and the steps we can take to avoid them and I will report back every last ounce of findings that I possibly can right here.

Listen up, FDA. I am a mamma bear, and you're messin' with my cubs' food supply.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 30: Color Me Sane Again

Ahhhhh…the monsters that started it all. Food colorings. Were it not for these little boogers, this whole venture might not have happened. When we first heard the term “ADHD” from the school counselor, followed by the suggestion that “dietary changes” might have positive impact, I delved into internet research on the topic and learned that Certified Artificial Colors are a hyperactivity trigger in some children. They also have some carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting properties. And these colors are in every single thing we use and eat commercially. Read the labels on your foods, your cosmetics, your hand soap, your shampoo. Pardon my French, but it’ll start to piss you off.

Victoria and Aaron are fast becoming experts on certified artificial colors, and they avoid them voluntarily because I have explained the risks to them. FYI, “certified” artificial colors are the synthetic tar- or petroleum-based ones with a color name and number like Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1. Certified colors are approved by the FDA and must be listed individually by name in the ingredient list. (I’m withholding my personal comments here.) If a food label states simply that it has “artificial colors” in it, then those colors are the ones that are naturally occurring (found already in nature itself – plants, fruits, etc.) There’s your daily dose of Ingredients 101.

Ever since blue jello came out on the market, I have squawked that, “I don’t eat blue food!” And I didn’t even know about synthetic colors then. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has a PDF file on its website entitled Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks. This 68-page document gives a world of information on the synthetic food colorings, much more than the average bear is interested in. I don’t understand all the chemical composition details of the ingredients in each color, which are deeply detailed and account for the size of the document, but it has some common language and summarizing information I think everyone should read. Just check out the summaries of colors on Page vii (physical page 7 of the file). The summary is enough to make me want to spit nails.

I can’t help but think that if people KNEW what they were eating, they wouldn’t eat it. How many of us, if we knew a food additive was going to cause harm to our unborn children, changes to our DNA, kidney problems, hyperactivity disorders, thyroid issues or cancer would continue to spoon it in??

I could preach for days on this, but I don’t think my blood pressure can take it. Do yourself and your children a favor…make yourself aware of ingredients. Educate yourself. Read the labels before you put the product in the grocery cart. The food companies and the FDA will only change under consumer pressure. And we all know pressure on the pocketbook effects the greatest change. The people making the money prefer keeping the public in the dark. It’s time for more of us to turn the light on.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 29: Letting It Ride

Do you ever have the feeling that the cosmos are determined to work against you? That karma is a big bully just waiting to trip you on your way to the bathroom? I felt like that last night, and again this morning.

It all started with the simple idea of moving the medicine cabinet. Dom and I used to be really good about taking our daily vitamins and supplements, and then I got shingles and we just haven’t been back on track since. In an effort to renew the former habit, I had to tackle the medicine cabinet. Before yesterday, any time we opened the medicine cabinet (which is a tiny upper kitchen cabinet next to the oven) AT LEAST two bottles would fall out on us, making the whole idea of even opening the cabinet door, much less digging to find the Mylanta, a real burden. In short, with each ailment we had to decide if we wanted a cure badly enough to be attacked by flying ibuprofen.

So I had this all-too-clever idea of moving the cabinet to a larger cabinet, a chore that consumed more of the evening than I had allotted to it, as seems to always be my predicament. In the midst of relocating everything, my countertops were littered with every drug we own, as I scanned for expiration dates and ingredients, determining on a bottle-by-bottle basis if we actually needed to keep them.

At some point I needed a potty break and Mabel (the dog) took that opportunity to help herself to the Zyrtec. By the time I realized she had absconded with something, I could only estimate that she had consumed 10-15 tablets. I spent the next 45 minutes conversing with Animal Poison Control and forcing Mabel to puke. It was a lovely evening.

By the way, I must say that Animal Poison Control operators are truly wonderful. 1-888-426-4435. The call costs $65, and it was worth every penny. They assign you a case number, and they give you time to treat the animal and call them back for follow-up. They told me every detail I needed to know, and said for me to call back if Mabel experienced X, Y, or Z. If you ever need to call them and end up going to the vet too, you just take the case number with you so that your vet can talk to their vets and toxicologists. They rock!

So is it any wonder that I came downstairs this morning to face unfolded laundry and a dishwasher to unload? I started to get aggravated with myself, and then remembered what caused my delay in productivity. I have got to start letting myself off the hook easier. Instead of analyzing the past to see where my mistakes live, I have to accept the present and determine how to move forward with what I have right now. Last night could have ended so much worse – I have to be grateful for the results, and then learn to be grateful for the experience as a whole. Our household will barely notice if the clothes aren’t folded; our household would be devastated without Mabel.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 28: Look Out, Honey!

I went shopping this weekend! I spent two whole hours – alone – browsing natural and organic products. I have fallen in love with Drug Emporium, by the way.

My main goal was to find and purchase the one organic sunless tanner worthy of praise. No, I can’t let it go. Sunlight is starting to ricochet off of my skin as I get my vampire glow back. Anyhoo, when I couldn’t find the sunless tanner in my local stores, I refocused my attention…to Dom’s products. He has been so supportive and understanding through all of this change. Every time I apologize for changing something he was accustomed to, he nods and says, “I know what you’re buying is better for us. It’s okay.”

I came home from my shopping adventure with new shaving cream and shampoo for him. All natural, mostly organic, and not budget-breaking, so I am quite pleased with my finds. Burts Bees has a whole section of men’s items, did you know that? And Giovanni hair care has some good options, plus I don't have to go far to find it. I can’t wait to see what he says when he uses the new shaving cream. Oh! And I also found a non-chemical mousse!!! I have to order it still, but I might just get my hairstyle back!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 27: Mending Fences

We have new neighbors. Well, okay so they’re not really new – they’ve lived next door for two years now. But considering that the previous family was there when we bought our house and through the next eight years, the second family is relatively new.

I’ve spoken to them once.

And it wasn’t a very inviting conversation, either. See, before Cheryl and her family sold the house to these new people, I had been wanting a privacy fence in the back yard (long story, but that’s the one side of the yard that didn’t have a privacy fence.) But I hated the idea of blocking out Cheryl, and besides, after so many years go by, how rude is that? So when Cheryl sold the house I said to Dom, “Honey! We HAVE to build that fence before new neighbors move in. Otherwise, if we wait, then they will think we don’t want to be friends when we wall off their yard!” I got The Look.

The new neighbors moved in. I intended to take a pound cake or something equally Southern to welcome them to the neighborhood. But my intentions in that arena usually stagnate. So, no pound cake. A year went by, and I still had not met them. We finally made arrangements to build the fence.

Me: “Honey! We HAVE to tell our neighbors that we’re building a fence.”

Dom: “They don’t care.”

Me: “Of course they care! It will affect the look of their backyard. How could they not care?”

Dom: “It’s a fence. They don’t care.”

Me: “Well, I think the chain link fence actually belongs to them, so we need to ask if they want it taken down or connected to our fence in any way. We can’t just alter what is theirs without asking first.”

Dom: (sighing) “Alright. But you’re doing all the talking.”

We visited them the next time they were in their front yard. We walked over and I introduced myself and Dom. They did not share their names with us. We cheerily told them about the plan to build a fence, and asked their desire for the existing chain link. The man said we could just butt the new fence up to theirs. No need to mess with his fence. We thanked them and went home. I recall feeling glad to be walling off my neighbors.

A year has since passed. Neighbor Lady glares at us. Once, she stepped outside to watch Dom cut a huge tree branch which partially hung over the property line. She didn’t look happy about what we were doing, but she didn’t bother to ask us anything or even offer comments. She just glared. And to be quite honest, I was still peeved over our one conversation, so I didn’t say anything to her either. We just kept working. And when we had cleaned everything up Neighbor Lady went back inside.

All of our encounters since then have run along the same lines. Up to and including tonight, when I stood seven feet away from Neighbor Dude, waved and said “Hi!”

He just looked at me. No hi. No wave. Not even a nod. Is it me???

I am determined to at least be a cheerful neighbor. I have a cross and scripture on a large stone in my flowerbed. They have a large metal cross on the front wall of their house. I think, even on the most basic level, that this signifies we may have the same core belief. Maybe?? If we have this in common, then shouldn’t we speak?

This new venture may never bear fruit, but I will try to do my part. I will keep smiling and waving, and maybe, just maybe, one day Neighbor Dude or Neighbor Lady will smile back, and then I’ll have something to build on.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 26: La La La La La

I’m going to start singing. Yep. Watch out Lady Gaga. If you’ve ever heard me sing, well, first off please accept my apology; secondly, you know I would nevah, evah, evah sing in public where people could hear me.

But, aside from my radio faves, I really love to belt out hymns that I recognize in church, much to the chagrin of the poor people sitting in front of me. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, although I can pretty much hit the keys, some of them anyway, but never as the music is written, or even at a musically appropriate time. I have this uncanny knack for squeaking out some really errant notes.

But I do it with such enthusiasm! Or at least, now I do. I used to just lip-sync the hymns. In my estimation, this was a way of showing respect for those around me. I know I can’t sing; I figured I didn’t need to broadcast it by wounding the eardrums of those who had the misfortune of picking a pew near mine. But then there’s that whole scripture about making a joyful noise. (Yes, I know there’s also one about a clanging symbol and a loud gong, but let’s keep this focused on the positive, how ‘bout it?) As I was saying, I am determined to make a joyful noise. God knows the voice I have – he gave it to me. I imagine he doesn’t cringe when I sing his praises. At least I hope not.

Without any scientific studies to back this up, I’m going to venture to say that singing is good for the heart, mind and soul. Even if I don’t sound good, I feel good when I sing. I sing in the shower (I dance in there too. I pray 9-1-1 is never called because I was doing a bathtime boogie. Now spend the rest of the day getting that out of your head.) I sing in the car. Although, I used to stop singing if it was daylight and I was at a red light, because I didn’t want the people in the next lane watching me make a fool of myself. Invariably, a red light comes up at my favorite part of the song, and trying to save myself from embarrassment really kills the feel-good mood. So about a week ago I decided I was going to sing even through a red light. No fear. I happened to look up at the back of a school bus that was in line with my hood, and noticed that all the students sitting at the back of the bus were looking at me and laughing hysterically. Two of them even waved. Ugh...

But really, should that stop me from singing when it makes me so darn happy? I don’t think so anymore. So, I’m going to sing when I feel like singing. And if you happen to hear me, please know there is a part of me that is sincerely sorry for that pain in your head.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 25: Vamoosing the Chemicals

Many of these changes in this process of living healthier are quite challenging. I find myself sometimes wondering if I’m in over my head, but then a moment of clarity will strike me (imagine that) and I will remember why I’m making all these changes. The rewards come in spurts: Aaron googled the ingredients of Skittles to learn that they are horrific snacks. Both kids read labels with voracity now, and that pleases me immensely because they are learning to make smarter choices in their foods. Victoria declined a lemonade slushee from her aunt last week because “it might contain artificial colors.” As I told Kasie when she relayed the story to me, “The Force is strong with this one.”

Aside from the dietary changes we are all making, the cooking and cleaning and balancing it all are an additional challenge. Tonight I was scrubbing the door frame in the kitchen and Victoria asked if I was okay. Does that tell you the significance of these changes? Three times this week my “perfect plans” for dinner have been way-laid by various shifts in the plan. Although I must say that I am pleased with my ability (concentrated effort, that is) to bounce and refocus, whereas before I would crash and burn and remain ticked off for the rest of the evening because my plan got sidetracked, and probably vow to never cook again, which would only last until the next time I got hungry. I keep reminding myself that making healthy changes is not only about actions, it begins with thoughts, so I’m trying to keep those positive. Hopefully, this change in me will sustain the rest of the family through the other challenges.

As far as my change for today, I must report that I have made the most sweeping alteration thusfar. I cleaned out the bathroom cabinets last night and vamoosed every paraben, phthalate, petroleum and formaldehyde toting product I could find, up to and including my coveted Mary Kay. I literally tossed out about twenty pounds of product, either to be trashed or recycled.

When I began this challenge, I was ready to find replacements for these products, but I wasn’t ready to let them go altogether. Last night I made the choice and took action. I gotta say, it feels damn good.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 24: It's Just the Pits

Victoria presented herself in Mom’s kitchen the other day, elbows pinned to her waist, claiming that she could never raise her arms up again. Mom took the bait. “Why can’t you raise your arms up?”

“Because they stink.”

“Excuse me?”

“They stink. My armpits smell really bad!”

Not believing her, Aaron challenged, “Lemme see!” And so she did. Listening to Mom tell the tale, I was rolling on the floor. She said Aaron took a whiff and pulled away gagging. Curiosity got the best of her, and Mom ventured in to see for herself. And as Mom so eloquently put it, “Lori, she could rival your father!”

The next few moments were spent at the bathroom sink, Mom allowing Victoria a sponge bath in an effort to quell the self-disgust rapidly forming in Victoria’s mind. Vic eluded to needing deodorant for herself. Mom said she just needed to drink more water. I agreed, while in the back of my mind I recalled my co-worker sharing with me the claims of at least one group that the aluminum in our deodorant contributes to breast cancer. Mickey was in treatment for breast cancer at the time she was informed of this, and whether it is true or not, neither she nor I can say. But it has definitely got me thinking…

Days later, Victoria shared her version of the story with me, which included the frequent question, “What is up with my pits, Mommy?!” I wasn’t sure what was up, but I was determined to help her find a healthy solution. As I was perusing Tom’s website and learning all about the toothpaste I had just purchased, I saw that they also manufacture a natural deodorant. And I found it here in my stores! Voila! Gentle enough for my little princess, and I won’t have to worry about the guilt of forcing chemically harmful hygiene products on an 8-year old.

Is 8 years old too early for pit problems? I guess that will be my next research focus.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 23: The Kitchen's Bedtime

My grandmother has a particular habit she has displayed longer than I have been alive. Before she leaves the house, or goes to bed, her kitchen is spotless. I remember as a child staying up late with her after everyone else had gone to bed, then doing the last few straggling dishes and wiping down the countertops before turning in for the night. When she came to our home weekly for the first year of Aaron’s life, she continued her habit in my kitchen. It’s a little quirk she has – not even running to WalMart before emptying the sink of a solitary glass – but I love it and really want to emulate it.

Our kitchen needs a bedtime. Our kitchen, like most I’m sure, is the center of our home, literally and figuratively. I like that, but I recognize that the poor kitchen needs a break sometimes. I’d like to put the kitchen to bed when we put the kids to bed. 8:00 – no more clutter, no more snacking. Dishes put away, the ingredients for the next day’s breakfast and dinner prepared and ready to use. It will take me some time to get used to doing this – probably more time than I am willing to allot at first, but I’m sure it will get easier as it goes along. If I can prevent myself from coming home or waking up to a sink full of dishes, I will consider this habit a success.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 22: Carbon Prints

I’m not exactly sure what my carbon footprint looks like, other than it would have to be a strappy wedge-heel grinding its presence into the ecosystem. I do believe that I am leaving a mark on the environment every time I leave something running. A computer, a television, a lamp…

I like the idea of the Butterfly Effect – that the simple flapping of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can affect weather patterns on the other. It’s kind of scary in a way, though, when I wonder if our progress and growth of industry and commercialism, our insatiable “need for speed” perhaps contributes to tsunami and earthquakes in third world countries. No, I haven’t studied it. I’m just sayin’…my SUV is a lot bigger than a butterfly…

At the very least, I should try to do my part to benefit the earth. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I love my computers and the big televisions and my bubbly fish tank, and I wouldn’t put my children in a car smaller than what I have now. But perhaps there are little things I can do along the way to lessen my footprint, like using more eco-friendly bulbs in my fixtures, turning off the computer when I’m finished using it, unplugging things as I go along.

A footprint says we’ve been here, that we stood in this place….we existed. It doesn’t tell much else about us, really. But I’m struck by the fact that a footprint is unintentional, and signifies only the fact that a place was trod. Let me leave a handprint: something that says I worked here, I contributed, I left my small corner of the world better than the way I found it, and I did it for the benefit of more than myself.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 21: A Cleaner Car

My car is The Cherry Bomb, so named because after we picked it out, the dealer had it detailed, and it came to us smelling like cherry kool-aid. I’ve had this vehicle three years this month. I think it just now stopped smelling like cherries.

And because my car is The Cherry Bomb and because it is a rebound car (my favorite ride was totaled, forcing me to get this one) my efforts to care for it have been less than stellar. In fact, this past spring when all the pollen was covering people’s cars in a yellow blanket, someone wrote Wash Me on the hood of my car with her finger. I do believe you can still see the words on my hood if you look really close. I don’t make any great effort to clean out the inside either. (Just ask any co-worker who has had to ride to lunch in my car.) The kids know that when they ride with Daddy, or Grandmama, and especially with Granddaddy, that they are responsible for cleaning out all of their “stuff” upon exiting the vehicle. These three individuals take great pride in their personal surroundings and their vehicles’ appearance. I have not previously been so moved.

But I do detest having to cram five weeks worth of papers, gum wrappers, and water bottles into a WalMart bag just so I can push the seat forward. And it’s not just the kids who clutter up my car. I can make just as big a mess as they can…and there’s only one of me!

Starting today, I will make an effort to take better care of my car. After all, it has to last another two years. The kids and I will clean out our junk at the end of every trip home. No more Legos littering the back floorboard. No more receipts from four months ago wadded up in my console. No more dog hair in the back cargo area from the last time I took the dogs to the vet…in April.

As a sign of my renewed commitment to the usefulness of my vehicle, I found the handy-dandy (albeit sometimes in-the-way) little shelf for the cargo area today. I loaded it up and fully intend to rediscover its usefulness.  Maybe I’ll even wash the wording off my hood.

Day 20: The Chore of Making a Chore Chart

It seems that every time I determine a topic to blog about, and a habit to either change or form anew, my immediate thought is, “I’m really going to have to work at this one!” So far, so good, though. Twenty days in; twenty days of positive change, or at least positive rambling. Twenty days…let’s see, that’s one-nineteenth of the way through. But who’s counting?

I guess it’s time to address the item Dom has tried for years to get me to revisit. The Chore Chart. We used to have a chart...years ago...before kids.

Oh, you thought the chore chart was for the kids? Oh, no, no, no. This one is for the adults.

It sounds crazy, but it worked like a charm. We had a chart of the rooms we would clean – top to bottom – each night of the week. It broke the house down into manageable sections. We knew on Tuesday night we would be focusing on the living room; Wednesday we would scrub the bathrooms, etc. And since every room got hit at least weekly, the rooms were never dirty enough to cost us too much of our evening. We used to rock that little chore chart. I don’t know why we ever stopped using it, unless it was those little humans we popped out that interrupted the chore chart (among other things) and left me uttering four tiny words in my sleep: We need a maid…

Over the last few years, Dom has asked me to put together a chart once again so that we could better manage the clutter and cleanliness of our home. I resisted. I don’t know why I was so reluctant to map it out again. I think deep down I had finally come to understand what it feels like to relax in the evenings with no agenda, and I just didn’t want to give that up. But that’s only positive on a superficial level. The very act of me getting off my duff in the evenings would benefit more than just myself.

And so it goes. We have a new chore chart. And this one is cool. Every room gets cleaned once a week, while once a month the walls and baseboards will get washed in those rooms, conveniently spread out so that we are washing walls and baseboards only once during any week. Also, the garage gets cleaned and organized once a month, as well as the air filters getting replaced and the light fixtures getting washed. Bathrooms get scrubbed twice a week, and laundry has no chance of piling up.

If we stick with it, this should all work out quite nicely. And if you call and we don’t answer the phone, just know we can’t hear it ringing over the vacuum cleaner.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 19: Et Tu, Toothpaste?

Since I began this adventure into naturalness, I have been sharing with Mom about the various ingredients we need to avoid in our skin care products. She is fully on board with the eviction of hazardous ingredients, which should not surprise me at all given that she has always supported my efforts wholeheartedly, no matter how crazy I knew I was being. One day during our discussions on the topic, Mom casually uttered, “Well, don’t even look at your toothpaste box.” I snickered and we went on to trying to find a suitable makeup replacement.

But her words stayed in my head. So yesterday at one of the grocery stores (I did not hit all three on Thursday night as I had planned) I decided to scan the ingredients in toothpaste. OMG! My favorite brands did not even have suitable alternatives. The ingredients I found in every variation included triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, Blue 1, Yellow 5, Red 33, Red 40 and saccharin, for Pete’s sake. And I’m brushing my teeth with it twice a day? And not just me, but my kids...the very people for whom I’m doing all this research!!! Enough of that! Out with the Colgates and the Crests; in with something better for us.

WalMart had a small selection, two to be exact, of natural toothpastes: Burt’s Bees (I’m starting to love Burt) and Tom’s. I bought Tom’s just because I haven’t tried their stuff yet. And I do love that these natural products I am finding are made in the good ol’ USA. Both Tom’s and Burt’s have kid versions of their natural toothpastes. My kids have used the adult versions for a couple of years now, so I bought the tube with them in mind. But I only bought one tube. So I’ll be going back today to buy a new tube for me and Dom. By the way, Tom’s also had a mouthwash, which I bought because I have a compulsive desire to complete the set. That’s how I roll.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 18: Caramel Calories

I simply have to find a way to shore up the calories in my weekly Starbucks drink. My Venti Nonfat Carmel Macchiato sits comfortably at 240 calories. Compare this to my usual 90-calorie home-brewed cup, and suddenly the Venti NCM counts for breakfast every Friday.

Dom drinks the nonfat caramel latte. It’s a little sweeter than my drink, so I was shocked to see that his beverage was 70 calories less than mine.

70 calories! How unfair is that?!!! I racked my brain trying to determine where this absurd difference originated. Finally, after days of pondering the matter, it hit me. Our drinks are basically the same except that I get an awesome caramel sauce drizzled over the top of my beverage. Apparently, a 70-calorie caramel sauce. Owie zowie. But I love the sauce because it seeps through the rest of the drink and sweetens it just enough to take the bitterness out of the espresso, without being too sweet.

Oh, the dilemmas of an underworked mind. I should be spending my time in the accounting books or cleaning out the upstairs playroom, or refining my home network...something besides contemplating my coffee purchase as if it were fine furniture.

Well, the accounting and the playroom and the network will just have to wait. It’s Friday, and it is coffee day for me and my co-workers. I think I’ll get the barista’s opinion on the matter. That should make his happy little day. Heh heh…

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 17: Grocery Madness

I’m gearing up to go to the grocery store tonight. Ideally, I would have a list of the ingredients I need at the stores I will visit and the prices they will charge, so as to make the absolute most of my time and money. And then I would drive off, coupons in tow, toward wholesome foods and practical prices, hitting two or three stores to get the absolute best deals and best savings.

Not likely to happen in the next ten hours. I detest grocery shopping. Except for that little boost I get when something I have to buy anyway is on sale. Or when I find a cool new nailpolish for $2. It’s the little things…

I go to the store – the big one: Wally World – twice a month. I load up on everything we are going to possibly need for the next two weeks. But then I have to stop at Kroger for my meats, produce and milk.  Lately I’ve been overshooting the budget, which tells me I might just need to readjust said budget. Also, I’ve been a little bit on a product rampage lately, in case you haven’t noticed. I don’t want to go to the store tonight and load up on the same old stuff I’ve been buying. I want better products, better foods (and better savings…I can’t let it go…)

But before I can get to the store(s), I have to prepare my list. Ugh. I should have been working on this all week, but I was tiiiiiiiiired, so the need for a grocery list didn’t get addressed. Neither did the month of menus. I actually like to plan out what I’m going to cook for the next month, in an effort to 1) make sure I have all the necessary ingredients on hand and on time, 2) use said ingredients before half a decade passes, 3) prevent me and Dom from asking, “What’s for dinner?” and 4) help us determine what and how much to eat for lunch based on what’s on the evening menu.

I’ve been told I over-think things.

I borrowed a killer cookbook from Jessica yesterday, and now my head is swimming with all the new meals I can prepare. But it’s also swimming with the arduous task of detailing the menu calendar, lining out the ingredients, and knowing what needs to be on tonight’s shopping list. I need to convince myself that the world will not come crashing down if I pay two cents more for a pound of coffee, or if I don’t find organic ginger root. I am bigger than this right? Right! My new habit today will be my calm presence of mind as I navigate three grocery stores tonight. Ohhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.