Wednesday, January 30, 2013

So What! Wednesday

It's Wednesday, which means I'm saying So What!

I've been skating by on an average of four hours of sleep. This is not good. 

Because I've been so sleep deprived, I've also been having really crappy workouts. I just can't run three miles when I can barely coordinate my limbs to move.

As much as I don't enjoy soliciting auction donations, it is exciting when I pick up the mail at preschool and see a stack of envelopes filled with donations! Plus making dozens of phone calls to businesses has to be good for my phone phobia.

I'm annoyed that we're having a couple super warm January days and they've been ruined by constant rain.

When we have days in the 50s in January, it begins to feel unfair when we then have days in the 20s.

We've started selling off our collection of Thomas trains and it's making me a little bit sad. 

I need to get my hair colored so badly. Oh my goodness. I am way too young for all this gray hair! Yet the thought of the $100+ appointment keeps me from picking up the phone to schedule.

Mattie found a box of ginger snap cookies in the cupboard that has been in there since last summer and she can't stop eating them. I'm guessing she likes stale cookies?

I was running late this morning and drove the kids to school with no make-up on. Please understand, that never happens. I don't even get out of the car, but still.

What are you saying So What! to this week? If you're a blogger, link up with Shannon & share your own So What! Wednesday post!

Hillside Furniture

 photo 1359223030211.jpg
Hillside Furniture, Bloomfield Hills, MI
This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Hillside Furniture, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for the first time. I enjoy going to new places and seeing all kinds of interesting things, but I am an east side girl, born and (mostly) raised. In other words, Bloomfield Hills is like a foreign territory to me. Without the wonderful world of blogging, it may have never occurred to me to take a little 30 minute drive over to 2300 Telegraph to check out the offerings of Michigan's premier retailer of contemporary furnishings. I was working on a social media tweeting campaign with Rebecca of Finding My Blog, Amber of Metro Detroit Mommy, and Shannon of SoGlamMedia. Together, we toured the store, and learned more about what it has to offer the Metro Detroit shopper.

My fellow tweeters and I, l-r Amber, Rebecca, yours truly, & Shannon

Hillside was hosting its 3rd annual Home Entertainment Expo, with all kinds of special happenings. Representatives from event sponsors American Leather, BDI Furniture, and Crypton at Home were on hand to talk to customers, share information, and do live demonstrations. Just Baked donated beautiful (and delicious, I might add) cupcakes, and there was even pizza and family friendly movies playing on televisions throughout the store to keep the kids entertained.

The tweeters with Bruce Selik, CEO of Hillside Furniture

The purpose of the expo was to showcase the many ways in which contemporary furnishings can go hand-in-hand with the latest and greatest technology. I learned, for example, that it's possible to control everything from the lamp across the room to the thermostat, all while I relax on the couch, by utilizing an app. Something like that would have come in handy when my kids were babies, for all those times they fell asleep in my arms and I didn't want to move for fear of waking them! I also learned that the latest in furniture engineering and technology has brought new and improved American Leather sleeper sofas to the market, with no uncomfortable bar in the middle of the mattress to torture your overnight guests. The mattresses for these sofa sleepers are made with covers by Crypton at Home, and are completely water proof, microbial resistant, and ridiculously easy to clean. Messes and odors simply cannot penetrate the surface. I don't think there's a mom in the world who doesn't want all those qualities in every mattress and upholstered surface in her home!

Notice the purple chairs in the background! Fun!
In today's constantly connected world, comfortable access to our electronics is important. Balancing a laptop on my lap is no fun, but BDI Furniture has helpful options that are available at Hillside, like the popular Bink table, perfectly sized to complement your sofa. The Stressless chairs also have the option of attached portable tables - how convenient! I really love how Hillside strives to keep ahead of the game, focusing on things like home theater integration, which is important to many consumers. Not only do they sell beautiful furniture, they also strive to keep their customers up to date by offering products that utilize technology in a positive, aesthetic, and comfortable way. And all sales associates are equipped with iPads to ease the shopping experience. How innovative! Customers can sit right down on that sofa they'd like to purchase, and quickly skim through fabric options, and then the sales associate can check availability and even place orders, right there - within minutes.

Speaking of furniture, from the moment I walked in the door, I could see that Hillside's offerings are quite different from those in other area furniture stores I've been to. My breath caught as I set my eyes upon - could it be? - silver sofas.  Ooooooh. Everywhere I turned I saw glitter and glam, and I later discovered that the crystals decorating several pieces are none other than Swarovski. Ahhhhhh. From bedroom sets fit for a queen, to gorgeous light fixtures, I was immediately enamored of all of it. I love the matching rugs and place mats, the glittering side tables, and the colorful sofas.

The place mats match the rug!

Could I love this bedroom set anymore? One of my favorite sets in the store.

Love the color!

I want this chair for the office that I don't have!

Even the pillows are gorgeous.

Sparkly chair with matching end table.

I can't wait to go back to Hillside Furniture with Chris. I know he'll love the contemporary styling, the home theater seating, and the American Leather sectionals. If you've been there, I'd love to know what your favorite piece was!

Oh! One last thing! In 2012, Hillside Furniture was named Best Furniture Store by Hour Magazine, and I'd love to see them win the title again this year!  If you'd like to vote, you can go to the Hour Detroit website and register. While you're there, you can vote for all your local favorites, from restaurants to radio stations!

This is a sponsored post, and as such I will receive payment from Hillside Furniture, in partnership with SoGlamMedia. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ellen is 3 pm in Detroit

The #1 talk show in Detroit, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is moving from 10 am to 3 pm, starting February 4. Detroit is the last of the top 20 markets in the country to make the move, the rest currently air Ellen in the coveted 3:00-5:00 pm bracket. Ellen has been broadcast on WDIV Local 4 since 2004. The talk show will be the lead in to Local 4 News: First at 4, Detroit's early evening newscast. I'm personally happy about the move because my kids like to watch Ellen outtakes on YouTube, and now they can watch a good portion of the show when they get home from school. That's a testament of Ellen's transcendence across age barriers - viewers young and old get a kick out of her silly antics and interesting guests.


I love Ellen, for a lot of reasons. Of course, she's an incredibly funny lady. I love her humor, but I admire Ellen for more than just her ability to make me laugh until my eyes water. She seems like such a genuine person, kind and laid back and ready for fun. Exactly the kind of person I'd love to have on my Contacts list, so I could send her a quick text when I see a man dressed like Jesus walking down the street. Because you know she'd appreciate that kind of thing.  There are no pretensions, just a real interest in people and a desire to spread happiness and joy. Ellen makes an effort to connect with her guests, whether they're world famous celebrities or Joe Schmo from YouTube. Plus she's a trail blazer, leading the way for women everywhere to be true to themselves with no apology. Yep, what's not to love? And she just turned 55 (!!!) and she looks amazing!

So, Detroiters, don't forget to catch Ellen at 3 pm starting February 4th! You won't want to miss an episode! Check out these outtakes, in which Ellen attempts to make the announcement herself!

I was selected for this sponsored post by Hay There Social Media. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Being Grateful Even When You're Not

The other night, at bedtime, Mathilda treated us to an all-out temper tantrum worthy of the most dysfunctional Supernanny family you've ever seen. She was up several times throughout the night, crying for no discernible reason, beckoning me to her room time and again. The next morning, as I was awakened to the sound of Mathilda screaming 15 minutes before my alarm went off, I could feel the irritation shrouding me like a leaden blanket. Soon Lucy joined in, crying loudly and hysterically that she would not be eating her breakfast until someone killed the spider in the dining room.  No one was  happy, everyone had a complaint. Exhausted, I was feeling overwhelmed with noise and crying and whining and lack of sleep. I felt ready to snap.

Then a little voice piped up, making its way through the thick grogginess clouding my brain. That voice said, 

"This is the life you wanted. Be grateful for it." 

Normally I'm moving too fast to pay much mind to little voices trying to be heard. I can talk about the importance of slowing down and stopping to smell the roses, and once in awhile I might even actually do it, but the reality is that on a regular day, under normal circumstances, things are moving at race pace most of the time around here. In the midst of dealing with someone's crisis, I'm multi-tasking at least a few other things: plotting out phone calls and trips to the grocery store, flipping or stirring whatever is cooking on the stove, responding to texts, and reminding somebody to feed the dog. I get that this isn't ideal, but what can I say? There's only one of me. However, on this particular morning, I was just that right combination of half-asleep and cognizant enough to hear the message of my inner voice and take mind of it.

Hearing the message that my subconscious was trying gently to assert, I paused and even smiled. Because, of course, it's true. This is the life I wanted. Complete with chaos and craziness and bad days. I wanted a big, loud family, with kids chattering and running all around. I wanted children climbing on my lap while I try to work and hanging from my leg as I attempt to make dinner. I wanted kids begging for one more story and beseeching me to cuddle them while they watch television. I wanted little hands needing to be held and Eskimo kisses accompanied with heartfelt conversation - even though it's long past bedtime. I wanted friends adding to the noise and children sprawled, fast asleep, all across the couch and floor; requests for homemade waffles and pleas for a trip to the mall.

I wanted to be immersed in the role of motherhood, and there is no denying that I am.

Yes, it's true that I'm often disappointed. I have moments when I admit that life hasn't turned out exactly as I'd hoped. But let's be real. In our dreams and aspirations, we tend to leave out the ugly, unpleasant bits that are inevitably going to be part of the package. We don't, as in my case, think to ourselves: I want four beautiful children, and I can't wait to break up their incessant bickering and carry them to time out ten times before they finally calm down. But real life includes those temper tantrums and crying fits. It includes not quite making it the toilet and spilling an entire bowl of cereal with expensive organic milk. It includes emotional outbursts that have no concrete cause, frequent reminders to hang up coats and backpacks, and having the courage to say "no TV" even when all you want is a tiny window of peace and quiet that only the television babysitter can provide. So even if we don't consciously include the unpleasant aspects of our hopes and dreams as we fantasize about the future and what we want out of life, they will still be there.

I'll forget again. I'll get caught up in homework struggles and choosing battles and mountains of laundry. Because that is my life and my job. But right now, I remember: this is the life I wanted, and I am grateful for it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hillside Furniture's 3rd Annual Home Entertainment Expo

Local Detroiters: Looking for something different to do as a family this weekend? You just might want to consider checking out Hillside Furniture's 3rd Annual Home Entertainment Expo, going on this weekend, Saturday, January 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday the 27th from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Hillside Furniture, located in Bloomfield Hills, was named "Best Furniture Store" by Hour Detroit readers! Wondering what the hype is about? The Home Entertainment Expo is the perfect time to find out! There will be awesome prizes, including a MacBook Pro; pizza, treats donated by Just Baked, and home entertainment demonstrations. If that's not enough to sway you, let me add that a portion of proceeds will benefit Kids Kicking Cancer, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids with cancer deal with pain and stress through the use of martial arts.

I will be tweeting live from this event on Saturday afternoon. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @michigalmom, so you can be involved in the conversation! Or better yet, come on up and say "hi" in person!

I am being compensated for this post by Hillside Furniture, in partnership with SoGlam Media.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Linking up with This Kind of Love to tell you what I'm loving!

I'm loving the remote start for my van. Where would I be without this beautiful little gem? I'll tell you where I'd be...rushing outside in my pj's and boots to warm the van up in the morning, that's where. This was basically the best Christmas present ever a couple years ago. I use it in the summer too, to cool down the van on super hot days (or at least I did before the a/c died).

My new Brooks running shoes. I literally had no idea a pair of shoes could be so comfortable. I'm so glad I went to a store that specializes in running and had my foot properly sized.

Ravenna 3

Sock buns. Now that I realize that I can put my own hair in a sock bun, I may never again get my hair cut any shorter than it is now. I had one in all day Sunday, without even using bobby pins.

sock bun
Image Source

This dress from Delia's. I'm pretty sure I'm too old to wear anything in that store, and furthermore, I doubt I'd be able to fit into any of it, but I do love this dress. I wanted Bethany to try it on when we were shopping the other day, but not enough to suggest she head back into the fitting room when she was already in line. I would wear it if I could!

dress from delia's(:
Actually this is not exactly the same dress, just the closest image I could find! Click the link above to see the one I looked at in the store!

Ology All in One Soothing Baby Wash & Shampoo, Lavender and Chamomile. Smells delightful, and gentle for my little girls' skin. Love it. This is from the new Walgreens line, and fyi it's on sale for $3.74 right now!

All in One Soothing Baby Wash & Shampoo Lavender & Chamomile

This giant chocolate chip cookie,which I really want to make, yet at the same time don't want to make because I won't be able to stop eating it until it's gone.

giant chocolate chip cookie cake 2

Lifetime's Supernanny Family Lockdown. I think I like watching this to make myself feel better about my parenting skills. Plus Deborah does offer some pretty good tricks.

Deborah Tillman America's Supernanny

Here's one I'm pretty sure I can file under "guilty pleasures". After two episodes of The Carrie Diaries on the CW, I'm hooked. I can't help it. (Sorry Chris, I know you find this disturbing). I love Sex in the City, but you really have to look at this series (the story of the young Carrie Bradshaw) in an entirely different light. Chris says it's a YA series. Whatever, I don't really care. It's...cute. And at the moment, that's enough for me.

Arrested Development, and the fact that Netflix is releasing a brand new season. This news makes my heart so happy, you have no idea. Fourteen episodes! Airing May 4th! I am so looking forward to this! The word on the street is that all 14 episodes will be released simultaneously. This is one show that died an extremely premature death, and I can't wait to see what new shenanigans the Bluth family gets into.

So tell me, what are you loving this week?

So What! Wednesday

So What Wednesday

I'm linking up with Shannon at Life After I "Dew" once again to say So What!

If there is ice cream in the house, I can't not eat it. Same goes for candy, homemade cookies, and pretty  much anything chocolate. I am a weak, weak woman.

Monday I attempted my first outdoor run in a month. I got new shoes and I wanted to take them for a spin in the great outdoors. Except it is freezing here in Michigan. Like ridiculously cold.  So cold that my muscles didn't feel like they were working properly, and I was the ONLY person on the trail. And I was way under-dressed. And there was snow on the ground. I lasted about 40 minutes, but I didn't get very far, and I did more walking than running. I think I will stick to the treadmill until the temps top 30 degrees. Because I am not hardcore.

Despite everything I just typed, I am considering purchasing some cold weather running gear so that I can in fact run outdoors when it's freezing cold outside.

My new running shoes make me feel like I'm walking on air. I love them. Thank you to the very patient man at the running store who brought me several pair of shoes to try and did his best to entertain Mattie while I tried them on and made my decision. And also didn't bat an eye while she ran laps around the store.

Mattie's school was canceled Tuesday due to extremely cold temperatures, and I was so relieved.

I took Bethany and her friend shopping Sunday and I was appalled at the retro fashions that look like they came straight out of Winkelman's, circa 1987. Yikes. My grandma always told me that everything comes back in style sooner or later, but some things should keep their place in the past.

People keep making comments to me about me losing weight (I haven't weighed myself in ages - don't know how much I've lost, or if I have even lost anything). And that's great and makes me feel good and everything. But I'm still fairly certain I'm bigger now than I was when Mathilda was a newborn. And I felt fat then. It's all a matter of perspective, truly. I just needed to gain a bunch of weight and then lose it to realize that what I thought in the past was fat was actually not so bad, in comparison. Plus, if ice cream and homemade baked goods keep making their way into my house, I'm in big trouble. Weak I tell you, so weak!

I wish someone would direct me to the island of the misplaced device chargers. How can we have 8 Apple products, 2 smart phones, and 3 Kindles in this house, and only have the ability to locate (on a good day) about three chargers for all of these devices combined? What happens to these things???

Last year we were so spoiled with a mild winter, and now my reasons for hating this time of year are all coming back to me full force.

We now have a one-week vacation planned for this summer, at a cottage in Port Austin. Combined with our Chinese foreign exchange students, that means four weeks of our summer are already spoken for. Wow, that happened fast. 

I got a random gift card in the mail this week and I literally have absolutely no idea where it came from. Not that I'm complaining! But an explanatory note would have been nice to satisfy my curiosity!

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Help for Grad School Hopefuls

Once upon a time, I had a dream of going to grad school. Actually, I never really doubted it would happen, so it was more of an ambition. I made it through college, through sheer will, it sometimes seemed, and I was tired. Tired of classes and writing papers and worrying about grades and juggling work with course schedules.  I knew I couldn't get financial aid for grad school, and I worried about adding to my student loan debt. Then there was that major, stress-producing test I knew I would have to take, and that made me worry about the possibility of rejection. Back then, it never occurred to me that I could take a class to help me pass the GRE. So I decided to take "a little time off." Famous last words.

Nowadays, I hear that it has become the norm for high school kids to not only take classes to prepare for the ACT and SAT, but also to re-take the test(s) until they are satisfied with the score. I can only assume this is the same for college students getting ready to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). In retrospect, that would have been quite helpful - both in high school and to quell my fears as I considered my options for grad school. A prep course would be particularly helpful for someone planning on going for an MBA and getting ready to take the GMAT.

It's now been 15 years since I finished my undergraduate degree and decided to postpone grad school. At this point, who knows if I'll ever get back to school. I'm not even sure that's something I aspire to anymore. But if I ever do make that choice, I will definitely need to look into a prep course to help get me ready for such a major adjustment.

Have you gone back to school after a long hiatus? Tell me about it!

Regrets, I Have Many

A great challenge in life, at least for me, is to not get caught up in regrets. Oh, I have so many regrets. I know that living in the past is pointless, and I can only move forward and try to make today the best that I can. But...once in awhile I can't help it. I get bogged down. Many of my regrets have to do with parenting, but certainly not all. For today, however, I'll focus on how bad I suck at parenting and what I wish I had done differently.

Okay, okay, okay. I'll be kinder to myself. I guess I don't totally suck at parenting, but sometimes it feels like I do. I firmly believe we all have our bad days when we doubt every decision we've ever made, whether we care to admit it or not. Maybe you'll read my regrets and think they're dumb. That's alright. They're my regrets, not necessarily yours. And maybe another day I'll delve into how badly I've failed in other areas of my life.

Winter does bad things to my state of mind. I should not live in Michigan. Anyway...

Let's start at the beginning, with my nursing regrets and guilt. This is stupid because my kids ate and grew (and continue to grow) and they're healthy. Not only that, but the one child I never nursed, which causes me the most nursing regret & guilt, is the only one of the four who ended up without asthma, and he gets sick LESS than his sisters. So then I also have this sort of reverse guilt, blaming myself for giving my girls asthma via nursing. I don't know if that is "technically" possible, but trust me that no amount of web MD research will convince me otherwise.

I don't judge others on their choices when it comes to how they feed their babies. So why am I so hard on myself? Because I gave up, that's why. When I began nursing my first baby, I was hit with a Mack truck of horrible, unexpected pain. Maybe I had heard or read that it was probably going to hurt at first, but I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. Plus I never felt comfortable nursing anywhere except in the privacy of my own bedroom, with the door closed. So I didn't last long, only about 5 or 6 weeks. And then I was relieved to turn to formula. I don't think I felt bad at the time, just like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. When I found myself pregnant again well before Bethany's first birthday, I never even considered nursing my second child. And again, I didn't feel bad at the time. Perhaps I never would have started feeling bad if it weren't for baby #3.

For whatever reason, when Lucy was born I decided to try again. It still hurt just as horribly, but this time I knew it was coming. And every day I gave myself permission to quit, after just one more day. Eventually it got better and I finally realized what makes mothers think that nursing is a beautiful experience. And I realized I missed my chance to have that with my first two babies. Ouch.

Here's the thing about having more than one or two kids. In my case two, since my first two are so close together and they were raised very much the same. You gain an understanding, with each new baby, of what you can do better and how badly you screwed up with your first attempt(s). Did you ever see the movie Pieces of April, that line when Katie Holmes' character says she was like the first pancake? Well, I really get that now. Not to suggest that Bethany & Connor are not great kids or that I don't love them to the moon and back a million times, because they are and I do. But yeah, hindsight is 20/20.

Another thing, I rushed Bethany and Connor to grow up. Why did I do that? Maybe because I was overwhelmed with two in diapers, two in strollers, no me-time. All of that and more. Mathilda at age 3 is a world of difference from Bethany at age 3. Bethany has always been so grown up. Partly that is just her personality, but partly it is my fault. On the one hand, she was my first and I was excited to see what was next! I couldn't wait to experience all of it! On the other hand, I had another baby when she was 18  months old and I needed her to do some things for herself. Way back when, I thought Connor was babyish for his age, and I guess he was, compared to Bethany...who was helping me unload the dishwasher before she was two. But Lucy and Mattie are incredibly immature, maybe not amongst their peers, but when compared to Bethany and Connor at their ages. Chris and I marvel at how childish they are, and while that might be partly due to personality differences, it's also definitely because I have not rushed them through every milestone like I did with my first two. I have realized the importance of slowing down. Maybe that started with nursing, something each of them did for 18 months, and which afforded me frequent opportunities to screech to a halt in the interest of feeding my babies. With the first two, I steadfastly encouraged independence because I thought that was best for them. The push for independence has taken a back seat to letting Lucy and Mattie be little girls for as long as possible, because I now know that kids grow up far too fast even without their parents encouraging them to do so.

In my defense, it wasn't all horrible for Bethany and Connor. Actually it was nice having them so close together and being home with them. I've always been a stay-at-home mom, but that term fit the job description much better those first three years. Bethany and Connor had regular nap times and meal times and went to bed by 7:30 every night, in their own beds. While we were mostly able to stick to their every day routines, I kept them fairly flexible and we made lots of time for trips to museums, family visits, and weekend get-a-ways. There was no worrying about getting back in time to pick someone up from school, or making it to basketball practice on time. Bethany had a full three years being truly (more or less) at home, and Connor didn't start getting dragged around to preschool drop-offs and pick-ups and activities until he was one and a half. In contrast, Lucy and Mattie both hit the ground running. They napped in their car seats and ate wherever we happened to be, whenever it was convenient. In my exhaustion and need for a little peace and quiet and a lot of sleep, they were often allowed to stay up late and slept in bed with Chris and me quite often. As newborns, they were carted all over Disney World and spent many an hour hanging out at dance studios waiting for big sisters to finish their classes. While all of this meant that in many ways, things were easier with Bethany and Connor, on the flip side, I have come to understand that having a schedule and sticking with it is not necessarily the be all and end all of successful parenting. I did what I had to do to survive my first years of motherhood intact, but I wish that I had understood sooner that Chris and I were free to make up the rules for our family on our own terms...and that flexibility is more vital than just about anything else.

Wow, I've barely hit the tip of the iceberg of my parental regrets. Maybe this needs to be a three-part series? Or, who knows...a six-part series? What are your regrets, parenting related of otherwise?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ology: Shopping Safer and Greener at Walgreens

I'm at Walgreens all the time. The extent of my visits, however, is usually a brief chat with whomever is working the drive-thru pharmacy window. We are always in such a hurry, and I am beyond grateful for that drive-thru window. Especially when there are sick or sleeping kids in the van, or when the weather is crummy. Of course once in awhile we need non-prescription medications or a bottle of Vernors, so on those occasions I do venture in for a little whirlwind sick-kid shopping trip. But typically, I don't do much browsing at Walgreens.

Then I found out about the Walgreens Ology line of safer and greener products. Ology makes everything from baby products to personal care and cleaning products, as well as paper items and light bulbs. Since I'm very interested in being kinder to the environment, as well as bringing fewer poisons and pollutants into my home, I couldn't wait to visit Walgreens and see for myself what was available. I was picking up a prescription last week, and was (naturally) in a rush to pick someone up from somewhere, but I took a few minutes to go up and down the aisles looking for the pink Ology name.

The Ology products are scattered throughout the store. For example, the Ology laundry detergent is side by side with other brands of laundry detergent. Since I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for, this gave me a bit of a challenge. I could have gone on the Walgreens website ahead of time to see my options. Nonetheless, I managed to find a few items I was interested in trying. And now that I've looked over the Ology products online, I will be looking for more of them to try on future visits. Furthermore, I really hope this line takes off and they add more to it!

Here's a rundown of some the available Ology products:
  • laundry detergent
  • fabric softener
  • glass cleaner
  • all purpose cleaner
  • toilet paper
  • facial tissue
  • paper towels
  • copy paper
  • light bulbs
  • hair products
  • baby lotion 
  • baby shampoo/body wash
I chose to try facial tissues, paper towels, and  the All in One Soothing Baby Wash and Shampoo, with a lavender and chamomile scent.

  Ology Soft & Strong Facial Tissue Ology All in One Soothing Baby Wash... Ology Paper Towels 2 Rolls

The paper products intrigued me because they are 100% tree free! How is that possible, you might be wondering? Well, the Ology facial tissues and paper towels are made from sugarcane husk and bamboo. I love it! The husks would otherwise not be used, and the bamboo grows so fast that it regenerates in a very short time - as little as six months! Plus, both products are biodegradable and whitened with non-chlorine bleach. The tissue boxes are really cute too, with a collage of little pictures of trees, picnic baskets, bicycles, and more. I would say that the tissues compare with a nicer store brand in terms of softness. So not sandpaper, but not quite as soft as the top name brands. I would buy them again, for sure. The paper towels are...paper towels. They aren't quite as absorbent as the popular name brands, but they do the job. Again, I would buy them again. I might be a geek, but I think it is exciting that paper products are being produced from alternate materials!

Although I don't actually have any babies in my home, I wanted to try out the Ology All in One Soothing Baby Wash and Shampoo because my girls, Lucy especially, have extremely sensitive skin. Luckily the problem  isn't as bad as it once was, but I'm always on the lookout for body washes and shampoos that don't mess with their skin. Not only is this product hypoallergenic and free of all harmful chemicals, it smells wonderful! No parabens, silicones, dyes, phthalates, or animal byproducts: it's a beautiful thing! Most importantly, it's not making my girls itchy, so this stuff is a definite winner!

Next time you're at Walgreens, take a few minutes to look around and see what Ology products you can find! I'm really pleased with my purchases and look forward to trying out more Ology items soon.

I was sent a Walgreen’s gift card for the purposes of obtaining Ology products to review. No other compensation was offered or received. No suggestions or requests to select specific products within the Ology line were offered. I was in no way obligated to write a positive review and all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Slipper socks. I got a few new pairs for Christmas and I wear them constantly around the house. Sometimes I even toss a pair in my purse if I'm going to someone else's house.

Xhilaration® Juniors Cozy Socks - Assorted Colors

My new Tassimo single cup coffee maker. I got this for Christmas too. It's like a Keurig, only I can make fancy lattes and cappuccinos in it.

P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps. I went to dinner there for the first time (I live under a rock) with some friends over the weekend & had these. Now I need to learn how to make tofu taste this good. Chris tried some of my leftovers and he loved it too. Good thing I found a recipe on The Pioneer Woman.

Image from Pioneer Woman

Naps. I don't have a picture for this one. But yeah, I love naps. Just to clarify, I love naps for myself. Definitely not for my 3-year old, because then she doesn't sleep at night. However, the best naps are with my 3-year old, so that puts me in something of a conundrum.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almonds. Someone brought these to a preschool meeting this week. I went the next day and bought some for myself.

Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa. The same person brought this salsa to the meeting too. It is sweet and delicious. I forgot to buy some when I got the almonds. Dark chocolate trumps everything else, no question. But I will be bringing some of this salsa home soon. Such a nice alternative to more traditional salsas.

Ebates. If you ever shop online, there is absolutely no excuse for not signing up for an Ebates account. It took me forever, so I get it. But now I'm due to receive a check for over $50 for shopping that I was going to do anyway. Plus I got a $10 Target gift card (you can choose your store!) when I made my first purchase. I'm telling you, it's absolutely not complicated at all. Simply sign up, then every time you're going to do some online shopping, go to the Ebates website. Then choose your store, click on the link, and do your shopping. As long as you use the link on the Ebates website to get to the store website, your account will be automatically credited when you make a purchase. There are LOTS of stores. Some that I've used in the past couple months include Macy's, The Children's Place,, and JC Penney. Almost every store I've wanted to buy from has been on there. Now it's just a matter of staying in the habit of always making it my first stop in online shopping. If you use my link (here it is again: Ebates) then I get referral credit.

What are you loving right now?

So What! Wednesday

So What Wednesday

I'm linking up with Shannon from Life After I "Dew" for So What! Wednesday!

This week I'm saying So What!...

Our Christmas tree didn't leave the house until yesterday. 

I use to think people who didn't put up Christmas trees were total bah humbug cretins. Now...I can sort of see their point of view. Let's just say I'm happy to have my living room back.

I'm struggling to get back into the blogging swing of things.

I don't know if I'm coming or going half the time.

Several months ago I made a big fuss over my new desk/work space in the family room. And now I've decided it's got to go. Turns out, it has become a catch all for the whole family. Since it's by the back door, I have big plans to make it into a sort of mud room-ish area, where the kids can sit down to take their boots off & hang up their backpacks after school. Mainly because I'm sick of our tiny little entry way by the front door being stacked with wet boots, or worse yet - salt/slush/mud/snow being tracked through the house multiple times per day. 

Not long ago, Chris opened up the ceiling in the basement where the laundry chute opens. It had been closed up since we moved in. Kids are much more willing to take care of dirty laundry when they can put it down a laundry chute.

Same holds true for shredding paper. I got a paper shredder for Christmas and apparently it is SO MUCH fun to shred paper. Kids are way more willing to take care of their paper trash if they can shred it!

I truly do not enjoy soliciting auction donations. And wouldn't you know I am up to my eyeballs in preschool auction acquisitions. Furthermore, a masochistic streak propelled me to volunteer to solicit donations for our elementary school as well. I can only ignore so many pleading emails, notes home, and Facebook statuses. I'm doing it because I know how important it is for the schools to raise that money. But that doesn't mean I'm going to like it!

I'm glad to finally have some music on my iPod. But I need a lot more. I'm totally sick of listening to the same songs, and half of them are completely inappropriate for running or working out. They are more appropriate for, say, meditating. Any and all suggestions welcome!

That said, I listen to my Les Miserable soundtrack continuously in the car. Never gets old.

I got good baby fixes last week. I visited my friend and her 4-week old baby one day, and the next saw another friend's 7-month old baby. All that baby holding warmed my heart. There are many days when I can't believe I'm never having another one. (but I'm not)

Lucy got an American Girl doll for Christmas. This week I'm selling it so she can use the money to buy sleeping bags for her Princess & Me dolls. True story.

I wish I had started being a vegetarian years ago. I don't miss meat, except for occasionally when I get a whiff of bacon cooking.

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Catching Up

So, well, I've sort of been on a blogging hiatus. It started with holiday madness. I was so busy and tired, falling asleep at the computer at the end of the day. Plus I didn't really feel like writing anything. I considered not blogging anymore and concentrating my energies on other things for awhile...such as getting my home organized. It's in desperate need, trust me. But even though I haven't been writing, I haven't been doing that either. I've been reading a lot and watching more TV than I've watched in ages. Which is still not that much, but still. I've been trying to spend more time playing with my kids, and getting back into the exercise habit, since I fell off the wagon the week before Christmas. And of course, like every year, I've been fighting hard to not stay huddled under the blankets until spring. This is a hard time of year for me. It's when I really despise living in Michigan...don't want to leave the house past 5 p.m....don't want to get out of my pajamas...just want to eat junk food and chill, until the days are longer, warmer, and brighter.

I can't quite remember where we left off here on the blog, and I'm honestly just too lazy to go back and look right now. So I'll just go over some highlights of what I've been up to the past few weeks so we can catch up!

  • I ran a 5K. I may have mentioned this before, but even so it's worth repeating. This a huge event for me. Maybe you can run a 5K without blinking an eye or losing your breath, but I have struggled very hard to make it this far in the running world. Thanks to Couch25K and the encouragement of my friend Shelly, I made it. I ran the whole thing, which was pretty much my only goal. My next running goal is to keep running 5K on a regular basis until it gets easier. I got a gift certificate for a running store for Christmas, so I'll be going to get some good shoes next week. I would have never thought I'd be excited for something like that, but I am!
  • Chris got advance screener tickets to see The Hobbit, and by some strange twist of fate we were actually able to get a babysitter so I could go with him. The Hobbit is my favorite Tolkien book, so I was really looking forward to seeing the big screen adaptation. I wasn't disappointed - it was great! However, I somehow missed the memo that it's getting broken up into THREE movies, so I was seriously disappointed to be left hanging right in the middle of the action.
  • We took the kids to see White Christmas at the historic Redford Theatre in Detroit. I was unsure how they'd react to seeing a long old movie with lots of singing and dancing, but they were really good. I'm not going to say they loved it, but they didn't complain at all, and I did love every second of it. If you live in the Metro Detroit area, the Redford Theatre is really something to see, and they even play live organ music before the show and at intermission.
  • Bethany is playing clarinet in the 6th grade band this year. They had a holiday concert, and it is crazy how much the kids have improved since October, when we last got to hear them perform.
  • Mattie had her holiday program at preschool, which is one of the cutest things ever. She was really excited about it and practiced her songs and poems at home quite a bit in preparation for her stage debut. And afterward I had the pleasure of trying to make her perform the Santa poem, with hand movements, to anyone who would watch and listen at every holiday get together we went to or hosted. Sometimes she cooperated, sometimes not. I love 3, it's so much fun.
  • Speaking of 3 being fun...we're still dealing with a hardcore hat obsession here. Mattie continues to wear a hat 24/7, removing it only to bathe or have her hair brushed. We try not to make too much of a fuss about it, and hope that she'll be over it by the time summer hits.
  • Chris and I went to The Killers concert at Eastern Michigan University with friends. Beforehand we stopped for dinner in Mexican Village. It was a great night! I can't remember the last time I went to a concert, so this was a pretty big deal for me! I love The Killers, and they put on a fantastic show!
  • Bethany had a basketball tournament (who plans these things? games on December 23rd??), which was fun to watch, albeit a bit inconvenient with the timing.
  • We took the kids to see The Grinch downtown. While the caliber of this show fell short of many other kid-friendly stage productions (Beauty and the Beast, for example is really awesome) we've seen, it was cute and fun. It was at the Opera House, which is beautiful and conveniently located near a People Mover stop. So after the show we took a ride on the People Mover and headed to Greektown for dinner at Pizza Papalis. Of course no trip to Greektown is complete without a visit to Astoria bakery, one of my favorite places. This was one of the best days of the holiday season for us. 
  • I continued our now annual tradition of taking the kids to Journey to Bethlehem at our church. This was our fourth year going, and the third year of having a friend come along...someone different joins us every year. This is one of the best things that my church does. It is a live action, walk through story of Jesus' birth. The classrooms and halls are transformed so that visitors can get a feel for what it was like for Joseph and Mary on their fateful journey to the stable where Jesus was destined to be born. With costumed amateur actors (the parish priest plays Joseph in one scene), elaborate backdrops and props, and incense burning, this event always helps me get in the Christmas spirit.
  • Chris's brother came up from Florida to spend a few days during the holidays. Since he was here for NYE, Chris and I went out with him, along with their mom and step-dad. Notice I didn't mention the kids? That's because we hired a babysitter! I think this was maybe the 3rd time in over 11 years! We went to Coach Insignia at the Ren Cen for dinner, then went to the casino for a little bit. Chris and I are such high rollers, as soon as we were up $20 we agreed it was time to cash out. Unbelievably, I think this was the first time in my life I've been downtown on NYE. We usually pretty much do nothing. The people watching was absolutely top notch. 
  • A few days after Christmas, the kids went to my mom's to make cookies for a few hours, so Chris and I seized the opportunity to go see the movie I had been eagerly anticipating for months - Les Miserables! I was so geeked to see this movie, with its fab cast and all. We have seen the play several times, it's my favorite, and I couldn't wait to see what they'd do with it as a movie musical. And...I loved it. Really, really loved it. I can't wait to see it again. Being a movie, the emotions were turned up several notches. Superb performances all around. Thank you, movie people, for not ruining a classic!
I've been busy doing all kinds of awesome stuff! What's my problem, right? I'm just...not a winter person. I'll keep doing as many fun things as possible for the next couple months, and before I know it spring will be upon us. I hate to rush it, because that means rushing my babies to grow up...rushing to Connor's 10th birthday and Mattie's 4th birthday, etc etc.

Maybe next time I'll talk about goals for the year. Which I still have to think about, but I'll get there. I have a lot of think about. For now I'll be concentrating on getting through each day as happily as possible, and not letting the winter doldrums conquer me!