Life... Health... Reviews...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Keeping it clean

When I lived alone it didn't take much effort to keep my living space clean. After moving from my mother's home, I lived in a small dorm room, which I had to keep clean. Then it was a military barracks that I was ordered to keep clean. When I became pregnant with my first child and got my first apartment, I kept it clean... well, except the dishes in the sink. I absolutely hate to do dishes.

So, over the years I've developed a few cleaning tricks that work for me. Now that I have four children and quadruple the amount of stuff to keep in place; having a system or trick is definitely necessary.

The one that works the best, and I know you've heard it before, is clean as you go. I am getting into the habit of taking something clean out of the laundry room and putting it away every time I go in with something dirty. I don't like putting the laundry away - it's such a daunting task - so, for me, cleaning as I go works wonders.

This works for simple things: When I take off clothes I put them exactly where they should go. When I come into the house I place my bag and any of my belongings in their designated area as well as put anything away I've purchased. Of course I slip up now and then, but keeping things in their place has reduced the amount of stress on myself and has saved me a lot of time.

One of the best things about keeping things straight is that it makes it easier to clean. And, this may sound weird, but I love cleaning products. When I hear about a new product, I always see if I can find it on sale and use a coupon to try it out. I would love to try the Pledge Multi Surface Cleaner after I win $5,000 towards a Multi-Surface Home Makeover (or one of 30 Pledge Prize Packs).

Thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network for letting us know about this great new product. Now, while you're thinking about it, pop on over to enter to win.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Novel discoveries

On the Woman's Bookshelf

The urge to clean, straighten and organize has been festering inside of me for months, but I haven't let it take over. In fact, I've slowly begun to give more things away, sell things and re-organize in an effort to have a more zen-like environment. In order to not have piles of papers calling my name or causing the muscles in my shoulders to feel like marbles. And to avoid the embarrassment of Peter Walsh knocking on my door and finding a month's worth of laundry in my hamper.


My cleaning urge includes the desire to get every single book in this house onto a bookshelf or table, and to read those that I've neglected. I'm embarrassed to say that the majority of my neglected books are under my bed. When one lives in a small house with several people it's often hard to find a home for everything within and it's even harder when those things fuel creativity, dreams, passion, education and inspiration. You missed my point, didn't you? (Yea, I know I could have worded it better.) My point is that I don't want to give away, throw away or otherwise dispose of my beloved books.

Back to the piles under my bed: Upon inspection I, of course, found those that I've wanted to read for years and one of them is the novel "Resurrecting Mingus" by Jenoyne Adams. This book, which was a National Bestseller, was published early in 2002. I enjoyed it so much that I had to tell you about it.

Extramarital affair.
Sibling rivalry.
Interracial relationships.

Have I got your attention yet?

Adams creatively weaves all of these life issues into "Resurrecting Mingus," which was her debut novel. Engaging from the first page, the book gives us the perspective of those involved in a way that challenges our beliefs and feeds our urge for entertainment. It speaks of the pain and worry that surround broken relationships, the regret that often accompanies sacrifice and the emotions that are a partner to self discovery.

Even though the ending wasn't quite what I expected, I still enjoyed reading "Resurrecting Mingus" and recommend you read it too. Now, all I have to do is find a spot for my copy that has been rescued from the dark depths of Dustbunnyville. Once you read it, and you'll be glad that you did, come back and tell me what you think.

On the Woman's Bookshelf is a weekly column that I've been neglecting. :)


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The kiss

Do you see it?

There's more Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom and I'd be honored if you'd check out some of my other photos.

Just me...

My health and weight loss journal

I know it's been awhile since I've written my health and weight loss update. In fact, this is supposed to be a Tuesday column, but I thought that it's better to get it finished a day late than not at all. And - so - here it is.

Let's start with the "fun" stuff: I am still maintaining my weight at 165. That's good news because, if you remember, I lost about 35 pounds since January of 2008. The somewhat bad part of that is I am stuck and I've been stuck for about four months. I'm not going to complain because I could be gaining weight so I'll just be happy where I am right now. I'm going to work on losing the last 10 to 20 pounds I would like to see disappear, and get ready for bikini season. (Yea, that's a bunch of talk... I haven't worn a bikini in more than 18 years and I.will.never.again!)

As far as my health is concerned, I haven't been feeling that great lately. I've been extremely dizzy for the last several days so I dropped into the Veteran's Hospital yesterday to see what is amiss. They took some blood work and the doctor called me today to let me know that my iron is low and that could be the problem. As if I need something additional on top of all of the fibromyalgia stuff.

My fibro pain has been about the same, but I'm glad to report that I've reduced the meds I was taking. You've probably noticed that I've never specifically said what those medications are and it's not because of the lack of privacy issue, it's because I have a stalker. Yup, there's someone who reads my blog and I'm concerned that certain information will be used against me. So, that said, let's celebrate the reduction of meds from about 12 a day to about 10 a day. LOL.

That's not counting the iron pill I started taking today. I've never had low iron so I'm hoping this little issue will correct itself when I get my eating habits together. I don't eat red meat so I am increasing my green leafy vegetables and trying to get more protein.

There ya have it - my health and weight loss update. Now, this isn't just a one-way street, okay? I want to know how you've been as well.

What's in the stars?

Although I don't read my Horoscope everyday, I do take a peek at it if I notice it in a magazine, which means I am always catching my monthly and not the daily horoscopes. I often find it fascinating to read my love horoscope and to find out what the stars say about the future of my financial situation. Sometimes it is fun to go back and read the prior month’s outlook to find out how on target it was.

Are you into astrology? If so, how much do you follow yours and others’ zodiac signs? Share your take with us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

March for Babies

By Frankie

On Saturday, I participated in Prince Georges County’s March for Babies, which is the main fundraiser for the March of Dimes. As a lot of you know, the March of Dimes does research and funds programs to prevent and deal with premature births. I started walking when my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, partnered with the walk and asked all the chapters to participate. However, even without the fraternity, I would still be involved because something like this hits close to home.

I was born three months early with a birth weight of about three pounds. That I was even born was a miracle because my mother had six pregnancies before me that ended in miscarriage. I survived. Due in large part to the work of organizations like the March of Dimes, and I will forever be thankful.

The walk went very well. I survived. I wasn’t dragged off into the woods of the park by some mythical creature. Don’t you hate it when that happens? The only thing I had to endure was strange looks as I walked for the six plus miles. Why the strange looks? The course was only a little over three miles, but in my email to my friends I told them if I reached 150 percent of my $500 goal then I would complete the course twice. Me and my big mouth! I thought I had set the goal high enough so that I’d exceed it without the extra work.

I guess I should have thought about it further. Because of my, uh, unique personality people get pleasure out of causing me to pay for certain moments of pride. One of my coworkers stopped by my desk on Friday and said that he only had $2 on him but he wanted to contribute the $2 just in case I was on the edge of having to do the extra walking. I passed my goal, but - honestly - I was happy to do the walk twice. I’m just glad I didn’t say I’d do something really embarrassing if I made it to 200 percent of my goal.

I took pictures each time I crossed the finish line as proof of my extra walking. This was my first crossing.
As far as my efforts, I raised $1,042 and my fraternity’s chapter raised over $12,000 this time. It was a good day. If you’d like to sponsor me, and it’s not too late, please visit my page on the March for Babies site. Other support, in regard to the March of Dimes, can be donated in little Maddie’s honor. If you recall, one of our own – blogger Heather and her husband Mike - lost their daughter Maddie on April 7th. The March for Maddie is being held Saturday, April 25th and it would mean a great deal if we, as a blogging family, can continue to raise money in this little sweetie’s honor.

Remember, it isn’t possible for us to help every charity or support every cause, but if we come together and choose those that we can support and believe in this world will be a much better place.

Cook up a storm

When I was pregnant with my last three kids I was cooking up a storm, but I think it's because I just loved to eat. I was always creating new main courses or yummy desserts, and my family enjoyed it as much as I did. Now with three young children and a teenager who cooks, I rarely create anything spectacular in the kitchen. In fact, I was thinking that I need to get bitten by the cooking bug because once my teenager goes off to college then I'll be on my own (in the kitchen) once again.

That's why when I saw the Blessings Abound giveaway for Betty Crocker Mixer Basket I just had to enter. You can enter too, however, please forgive me if I don't say good luck 'cause I really would like to win.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday's Muse: It's what I see...

For my Monday's Muse on March 9th I wrote about realizing that my creativity branches out from the written word and my desire to show that through photography. Since that post I have continued to notice beauty around me and attempt to capture it on film... uh, to capture it digitally.

With photography, like mostly everything else that I do, I am impatient. I want to get a perfect picture the first time and move on. What I'm learning is that I often have to reposition, relocate, try again, try again and still try again. I don't always do that, but I haven't given up on trying. And, the best part is, I've found another creative outlet that pleases and entertains me. I also hope it gives you a little pleasure too.

Here are a couple of my most recent attempts:

I am completely enthralled with the sky. Although I've always noticed its beauty, there's something surreal about capturing it.

Each and every one of my children are beautiful and photogenic, but I am always amazed at how natural my son is. He and his oldest sister can throw on a model's face in a minute and without prompting. I love the colors in this shot.

What has you feeling creative this week? Share here or hop on over to Maternal Spark to participate in Monday's Muse.

See Jo, I'm well on my way to finding my favorite photo to put into the frame that you gave me. :)

Search, find with ShopWiki

Each year that pasts I notice the increased products available for babies and toddlers. When my first child was born 17 years ago there wasn't nearly as many products and choices as there are now, and as a new or young parent it can be overwhelming trying to find everything you need.

Luckily there is a great site to help you search for everything you need: ShopWiki, which is a search engine where you can search for the products you're looking for without worrying about whether some sites or information is left out. I am almost past the babies and toddlers stage, but there are still some things that I would like to get.

I think my three younger children would be more comfortable with new room decor combined with better nursery furniture for my youngest. When I am ready to tackle finding products for my young children, including toddler clothing, then I know I have ShopWiki as a resource.

Yanni Voices... so beautiful


The sweetness of paying it forward

My sweet friend Lin, the creative and talented blogger at Duck and Wheel with String, was the proud winner of the free month with their widget displayed. Lin has graciously chosen to pass this “blessing” to another blogger who entered for this chance. Lin and I both received surprises from Jo (Life's Perfect Pictures) for commenting and participating in her pay it forward post, and since we received that honor Lin decided to let someone else get it on the blessings of paying it forward.

So, without anymore chatter, the winner is AddyMom. Congratulations! As soon as I receive her widget, it will run for 30 days.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Home improvements

On Friday, the "yard guy," as I like to call him, came by to cut the grass (front and back), edge up the lawn and clean up the leaves, branches and debris left over. Then a handyman that does some work around the neighborhood cleaned out the gutters. It made my property look much better, I was just thinking that another way to spruce things up would be to get new exterior shutters. What would you do, or what have you done, to spruce up the exterior of your home?
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