Monday, March 31, 2008

Keeping Our Heads Above Water

Oh My! I returned home from the hospital with my beautiful baby boy to find his big brother running a very high fever. The next morning, Meg, woke up with the same high fever. Because Davis visited the doctor the previous day, we knew it was a virus needing to run its course.

The next morning, I woke up with the same high fever! We are still waiting for this virus to run its course. Meg is on her fifth day so she is off to the doctor this morning.

On the bright side - Kale is doing great. He is sleeping and eating well. He is a little jaundiced, but it doesn't seem to be too serious. So far he has managed to avoid this crazy virus - the power of breast milk!

I'm looking forward to getting back online soon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A new addition: Kale Andrews Gray

Hello Blogosphere: BG, Alana's husband here.

My beautiful and oh so talented wife has asked me to make a guest post.

Yesterday (March 24th) at approximately 2 pm we welcomed a new addition to the Gray family.

Kale Andrews Gray weighed in at 8 lbs. 6 oz., and appeared with a full head of jet-black hair -- perhaps more hair than his old man.

Kale, Alana, Davis & Meg are all doing well. Alana and the little one should be discharged Wednesday afternoon.

Attached is a picture of the handsome fellow.

Alana noticed the resemblance to one of our kids movie favs, so I attached another shot just for fun.

Ice, Ice, Baby.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Off To The Hospital

We're getting ready to leave for the hospital. I have an induction scheduled for 8 am. Bob is going to try his hand at posting an update later on depending on the arrival time of this little fellow. Which, of course, I dreamed was a little girl last night!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

PC Magazine's Green Facts

PC Magazine compiled a list of 48 green, clean-tech tips and facts for you. Below is just a few I found particularly interesting. Click here to read them all!

  • The "phantom load"—electricity consumed by "switched-off" appliances like TVs, radios, microwaves—can add $200 a year to your bill. (Cornell University, via
  • If you listen to your CD player 2 hours a day, you can save $200 a year by switching to rechargeable batteries. (Earth 911 )
  • The average office drone uses 10,000 sheets of paper—about a whole tree's worth of wood pulp—per year. (GreenIQ )
  • The U.S scraps about 400 million pieces of consumer electronics equipment—e-waste—per year. It's the fastest-growing waste stream. (Electronics TakeBack Coalition) If you buy a new system, Apple and Dell will recycle your old computer, regardless of manufacturer. (Dell Recycling)
  • The energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle will power a computer for 25 minutes. (Think Green)
  • Shopping for a new HDTV? Plasma TVs consume far more energy than LCDs, and they waste it as heat energy. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • If all commuters worked from home just one day a week, we could save 5.85 billion gallons of oil each year. (Environmental Defense Fund )
Seven Power-Saving Tips
Recycle Your PC the Right Way

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Three R Thursday - William the Garbage Truck

Recently I received a copy of William the Garbage Truck to read and review. William The Garbage Truck and Crew is a colorful storybook series that teaches children how to “Go Green”. Perfect for ages three to eight, each book follows William and his friends as they clean up the fictional city of Jamestown, enjoy exciting adventures and learn important life lessons along the way.

At first a smoky white garbage truck, William learns about conservation, makes friends, learns lessons and eventually transforms to a green hybrid recycling truck committed to the fight against global warming.

As soon as the book arrived, my 3 year old son was intrigued. He loves anything with wheels and wanted to read it immediately. He loved learning about William. He really enjoyed the colorful pictures and is ready to learn more about William's friends. William has become part of our night time reading line-up. This series is a great way to introduce "going green" to your children. I think it would also be a great addition to any traditional or homeschooling classroom.

William the Garbage Truck will be available for purchase on Earth Day. Each book will be printed with eco-friendly materials and is 100% recyclable.

Thursday Thirteen #5

Thirteen Things I'm Looking Forward To After Giving Birth

Pregnancy is a wonderful blessing. Giving birth is an experience like no other. I have enjoyed both . . . multiple times. I am ready to meet my little baby. I am ready to not be pregnant!

  1. Sleeping on my stomach.
  2. No more heartburn.
  3. Having a lap for my children to sit on while we read.
  4. Walking up stairs without becoming winded.
  5. No longer hearing myself complain about how uncomfortable I am.
  6. Tying my shoes without breaking out in a sweat.
  7. Seeing my feet.
  8. Hugging my husband real close - but not close enough to make another baby!
  9. Having a beer or margarita or both.
  10. Hearing out of my left ear again. (by the 7th month of each of my pregnancies I'm no longer able to hear out of my left ear, weird, I know)
  11. Going more than an hour without having to pee.
  12. Getting down on the floor to play.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WFMW: My Favorite WFMW's

I'm not thinking clearly today. I can't come up with anything that works for me, so I decided to look for inspiration elsewhere. I came across some great tips and ideas to tuck away.

I would like to extend my list, so I can use it for my Thursday Thirteen tomorrow. I would love to know of previous Works for Me Wednesdays that have worked well for you.

  • Michelle at Scribbit has a great solution for playing indoors. I wish I would've discovered this post a few months ago!
  • Robin from Around the Island hosted a toy swap for her child's playgroup.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday #10 - Crunch Time

We have a lot going on around here. My mom is here . . . . yeah . . . . which means "tackles" take on a whole new meaning! She is a genius at creating space where there was none before. Since I can barely walk up the stairs (I'm about 4 cm dilated), she is taking over the tackling today. Here's our her "To Do List":

1. Clean out and organize 2 closets.
2. Wash, fold and put away little itty-bitty baby clothes.
3. Create a space for the baby in our bedroom (he will be bunking with us for awhile)
4. Most importantly - love on my children!

I will be planning birthday dinner for little Miss Meg who will be 2 on Thursday!

Our grass is growing!

Click here for previous tackles.

Monday, March 17, 2008

God's Grace

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak about some of my experiences with a wonderful group of women at a local bible study. Below are my notes from my talk with them.

It has been over four years since we lost our beautiful girls, Ellie and Kate. In losing them I found one of God’s greatest gifts . . . his gift of Grace. I didn’t recognize what His Grace was at first, but as with any gift, it had to be opened and received with a willing heart. [I don’t want to spend our time today talking about the details of the accident or the unbearable pain of losing my children – a lot of you are mothers so you have probably already imagined it in your mind – I am living your worst nightmare, and I know because it was mine, too.]

I don’t remember making the conscious decision, but somehow through the darkness and the pain, I decided to accept and unwrap His gift. He says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

I would like to tell you how this journey I am on helps me understand these words are true – His grace is sufficient for us.

Shortly after our loss people would ask me questions I didn't know how to answer, “How are you able to function?” “Why do you think this happened?” “Are you mad at God”. And the toughest statement, “I would not be able to go on if it happened to me”.

I didn’t know what to do with this statement – was there something wrong with me because I was going on? I was getting dressed and going out into the world. I was having lunch and dinner with people, and occasionally I would even smile or laugh. It did not mean I was not in pain – that the ache I felt to hold my girls wasn’t real. Did it mean I did not love our girls as much as I should have – that being a mom wasn’t what I wanted – that on some level I felt I deserved what happened because of previous choices I made in my life.

As I tried to answer each one of these agonizing questions, one thought kept coming into my head “God is not a vengeful person – he doesn’t want to see me in this much pain, but while I’m here, while I'm wallowing around in this darkness, maybe I should sit still and listen. He could have something for me in this place. I was experiencing the “Amazing Grace” God offers to us if we are willing to accept it.

Could it be other people felt they couldn’t go on because this tragedy didn't happen to them – they didn’t need to receive the grace I’d been given. “Amazing Grace” was a hymn I sang to Ellie almost every night of her life. I didn't understand the full meaning of these words until I was in the midst of the unimaginable – losing my children. I was now a mother without a child to hold - I had to hold on to something. I chose God.

Over the years I've been writing letters to Ellie and Kate in a journal. I know it’s been a huge part of my healing process. I’d like to share an entry with you from about 6 months after the accident:

Dear Ellie and Kate,

People often ask me how it is I can go on. My first response is usually, “because my girls would want me to”, but I know in places I haven’t allowed myself to go yet it is something much bigger than that. Of course, I know I’m still in shock and people are praying for us - but is that enough to get me out of bed every day?

I feel so loved and protected. Maybe the love you two are sending me from Heaven is bigger than the love on this side - maybe when I lost you the love we felt for each other multiplied and is filling in those deep pockets of despair and hopelessness – maybe its God.

At the time of this entry, I didn’t truly understand the power of His Grace. I don’t claim to totally understand it now. My grief and loss do not define me, but they’re changing me. Change is definitely a process and there are times when I find myself back at square one – shaking my head – trying to understand why I can’t just “get it”. How can it be what I’ve gone through somehow isn’t enough to teach me all the lessons I need to know? I guess I'm a perpetual work in progress.

I was a person who needed to control all situations involving my children. I carefully orchestrated play dates so there were no tears, bumps or bruises. I rarely “allowed” anyone other than myself to drive them around and when they were in the car with someone else, I paced the house with worry. God knew what he was doing when he put me behind the wheel of our car that day.

I would imagine the worst-case scenario and convince myself I would be okay if something happened to them. It was a defense mechanism I created to protect myself, but now I know it was keeping me from living a full life with my girls. When you're so worried about something bad happening – it's hard to experience all the good around you.

Now I know I can worry all I want, and He probably expects me to, but I don’t need to. I have learned know matter the circumstances, He will come along side me and take over those burdens for me. I no longer try and control all our family’s situations. When my children are not with me I don’t pace and worry. I pray. Not always for their safe return, but for my ability to trust in Him. To allow my circumstances to gently remind me I’m not in control.

There are times when the pain of losing Ellie and Kate is so intense it takes my breath away. Times when my mind can’t comprehend or process the magnitude of what’s happened. Times when fear and anxiety have such a tight grip on me, I can’t seem to wiggle myself free. It is in these times I turn my face towards God. I soak in all the grace he has to offer me, because I know it sustains me. I know it is sufficient.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Saving, Sharing & Simplifying

A few months ago I wrote about Zwaggle. Zwaggle's an online community of socially responsible parents who want to do their share to give back to other parents, their kids and the environment.

This month
The Parent Bloggers Network is teaming up with Zwaggle to highlight ideas on saving, sharing and simplifying. If you've been following my Three R Thursday posts, you know this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to list some of the practical things our family is doing to save, share and simplify.

  1. Carrying reusable bags.
  2. Using recycled toilet paper.
  3. Eliminating paper towels.
  4. Using phosphate-free laundry and dish washing detergent.
  5. Switching our light bulbs.
  6. Using biodegradable trash bags made from corn starch.
  7. Eliminating our junk mail.
  8. Listing items we don't use on Freecycle and Paperback Swap.
  9. Using eco-friendly toothbrushes.
  10. Eliminating sandwich bags.
  11. Choosing safer eco-friendly products for our children.
  12. Turning off our car engines.
  13. Using socks as Swiffers.
  14. "Greening" up our family holidays here, here and here.
  15. Purchasing organic food whenever possible.

It's not been difficult to make these simple changes. I am proud of the progress we've made and look forward to watching this list grow. I know we can do a lot more. I'm always interested in how other people are saving, sharing, and simplifying. Please feel free to share your ideas here, or you can write a post for The Parent Bloggers Network (of course there are prizes available).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Three R Thursday - 13 Top Green Picks for Baby

1. A SwaddleMe from Kiddopotamus' certified organic collection. Pediatricians recommend swaddling to comfort and soothe newborns. SwaddleMe wings have Velcro tabs, to wrap up your newborn and stay comfortably in place. As baby grows, wings readjust for a perfect fit. SwaddleMe wings are easily opened to prevent overheating, and the leg pouch can be popped down for a quick diaper checking or changing. SwaddleMe can also be used in the car seat, simply insert car seat harnesses through the access slits!

2. Born Free BPA-free bottles. Bisphenol-A is a hormone-disrupting chemical considered to be potentially harmful to human health and the environment. It has been known that scratched and worn polycarbonate feeding bottles will leach this chemical into liquids. The BornFree™ products are made of PES (Polymer), Polypropylene, glass and Silicone. If you would like to read more about the dangers of Bisphenol-A visit this portal.

3. Gerber Nuk Orthodontic Pacifier Simple Button for Newborn. These pacifiers are also BPA-free. Here is a guide for How to Find Safer Pacifiers.

4. George organic clothing. I won this lot of clothing on eBay for less than $25. They are in great shape and so soft.

5. California Baby Hair & Body Wash Shampoo. California Baby products contain organic and sustainably grown ingredients. No Sodium lauryl sulfate, DEA, or numbing agents. California Baby is also a very eco-friendly company, they use minimal packaging and recycled paper and soy inks for product info tags and literature.

6. American Baby Company organic bedding collection. I was able to order a crib and cradle sheet through Amazon.

7. Kate Quinn Organics. I couldn't resist getting at least one outfit from Kate Quinn. Her clothing is certified organic and produced using fair trade practices. I reviewed several clothing sites here. I got the Tahitian/Chocolate outfit - this little boy may never come out of it!

8. Bumkins Starter Bib. These bibs are waterproof, stain and odor resistant. Most importantly, they are PVC, Phthalate & Vinyl Free. Made in the USA.

9. Sassy Earth Brights Wooden Dove Teether. This teething toy is BPA-free. Here is a guide for How to Find Safer Teethers.

10. Seventh Generation Baby Wipes. Seventh Generation uses renewable, non-toxic, phosphate-free, and biodegradable ingredients as often as possible, and are never tested on animals. Seventh Generation Baby Wipes are moistened with natural aloe vera, vitamin E, and water to cleanse and moisturize gently and naturally. Wipes are fragrance free, not bleached with chlorine and do not contain alcohol or synthetic ingredients that can irritate baby's skin.

11. gDiapers consist of a washable, cotton outer pant and a plastic free flushable refill. They are made of breathable material just like sports clothing. So, babies stay dry and happy and are far less likely to get diaper rash. Can't flush? It's ok to toss flushable refills because they're plastic-free. Or garden compost the wet ones. They'll break down in 50-150 days.

The next 2 products I bought for baby's Big Sister and Big Brother, but they deserve a mention.

12. Sigg Baby Water Bottle. Amazingly rugged, crack-resistant, recyclable and reusable, and topped off with a ground-breaking interior lining that is 100% effective against leaching and combats residue build-up. Sigg is a proud participant in the 1% program, where 1% of all profits are returned to environmental causes.

13. Boon Snack Ball. This fun, sphere-shaped snack container is BPA-free. Its rigid form protects snacks from crushing making it great for travel. The two halves unscrew for easy cleaning.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WFMW: My Email

Today, I opened up my laptop. My (almost) 2-year-old daughter asked, “You checking your Email mommy?” It occurred to me, my children would never live in a world without this delightful little thing called Email.

Email works for me. Obviously, it helps me keep in touch with family and friends, but it doesn’t stop there.

Email works for my marriage.
My husband and I aren’t exactly what you’d call “phone people”. When he's at work we get a lot more accomplished and a lot less frustrated with one another through Email. I send him reminders, honey-do lists, and the "all important" grocery list. Yes, I'm married to a wonderful man who does 95% of the grocery shopping for our family.

Email works for my organizational needs.
I often send myself to-do lists through Email. The lists are easy to keep up with, and my laptop is a lot harder to lose than a sticky note.

My Mac mail program is great. If there is an address in the body of any message, I can click and save it into my address book immediately.

Email works for my blogging.
If I find a great website or resource I think would be good to use in a future post, I Email it to myself. I write one or two sentences on how I think I can use the resource. I put the message in my “post ideas” folder. When I’m at a loss for something to write about I look through the folder of idea Emails.

With Blogger, you can post through your Email. If you’re on the road this tool can be helpful. You can read how to set this up

Here are 10 Simple Tips for Using Email.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Planting Grass for our Easter Basket

Last week, I wrote about creating a "Greener Easter Basket", so for today's tackle I am planting grass for Easter.

I picked up this tub at Lowe's for under $5.00. I figured when Easter is over we can reuse it for something else like icing down some cold drinks this summer. Then we can use it again next year. The only other things I needed were seeds, soil, water and light. It took less than 10 minutes! Here's hoping within a week we see some grass peeking through the soil!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My Brother

My brother's feelings were a little hurt when he didn't make it on my 100th post list. He's a sensitive fellow, so I decided to dedicate an entire post to him.

My brother, Josh, is 6 years younger than me. Six years makes a big difference when you're growing up. We were never into the same things, so we rarely crossed paths and weren't very close. To me he was always the "spoiled one". I'm sure to him I was always the "ungrateful brat". Both terms probably described us well at various points in our lives. Thankfully, we both grew up and now truly enjoy each other's company.

Josh went to the other school in Alabama (Auburn), but I try not to hold that against him. Shortly after graduating he moved out west to Colorado. I'm sure my parents wonder what they did that caused both of their children to move so far away from home. I would say it's not what they did wrong, but in fact, what they did right! They raised two confident children who were always shown love, and taught they could do anything if they were willing to try. They trusted us to make our way in this world - always knowing we would come home when we needed to.

Josh fell in love with Colorado. He also met and fell in love with Katherine, the mother to my first (and better not be my only) nephew, Zeke.

Of course there are several embarrassing stories I could share with you about Josh. He has his own blog so I am not going to start telling tales for fear of retribution. I get to see Josh and his family in 2 weeks before they make the trek back across the country.

The visit will be too short. As soon as they leave, I'll wish they lived around the corner. I am proud of the man my brother has become, and the father Zeke is showing him how to be. I am happy he knows what makes him content, and has the courage to go after it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Power of a Pregnant Woman

Yesterday, after dealing with an illness that could've been either a stomach bug or food poisoning, I spent 8 hours hooked up to IV fluids (6 bags). Everything is fine with the baby, and I'm starting to feel human again.

I'm so sorry I missed being with everyone who came to my baby shower, hosted by my dear neighbor. I'm glad y'all were still able to have a nice, fancy playgroup day. I am thankful my mother-in-law was able to keep the kids yesterday and that they all had a wonderful time together.

After bringing them home today, I should've used their love for all things Backyardigans and popped in a movie for them while I put my feet up. Instead, I decided it was a perfect time to:

  • clean out the fridge
  • vacuum all 3 floors of our house
  • clean up the playroom, twice (I gave up the third time)
  • do 3 loads of laundry
  • write a rather uninspired post for The Ultimate Blog Party
  • clean up both kids' rooms so they can be painted tomorrow (the rooms - not the kids)
Here's to all the moms and moms-to-be out there who would've done the same thing. We may be foolish and stubborn, but boy are we strong!

Let's Get This Party Started

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting The Ultimate Blog Party and you're all invited. It's the perfect kind of party for a mommy who is way pregnant and doesn't want to get dressed or do her hair! It's a great chance to meet some new bloggers and win some fabulous prizes.

I'm not all that crafty and my cooking skills won't win any prizes, but I can help you learn about small changes you can make that will have a huge impact on our environment. Over on the left you will see my Three R Thursday link - ideas on Reusing, Reducing and Recycling. Over on the right are Posts That Matter, these posts are especially close to my heart and will give you a little glimpse into my life.

I recently celebrated by 100th post. If you leave a comment on that post you could win some of my favorite things.

You wouldn’t believe all of the great prizes you could win at the Ultimate Blog Party. If I had to choose my top three choices they would be:

137 — Go BPA Free Sippy Sampler Kit from The Soft Landing Blog

19 — Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup

34 — Custom Tutu
Provided by: Live~Love~Dance Boutique

And if my top three picks are already chosen, I’d love anything else related to babies and young children since I have a 3 year old boy, 2 year old girl and a baby on the way.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to come back anytime!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Three R Thursday - Stop Idling

We interrupt the regularly scheduled discussion on Children's Organic Clothing (because frankly, I can't think about it anymore) to bring you an easy, economical tip on going green.

I just picked Davis up from his gymnastics class. I was 10 minutes early so I parked, turned off my car and thumbed through a magazine (it was a glorious 10 minutes). There I sat, in a row of 5 cars - all moms - waiting to pick up their child. It's a beautiful 50 degrees here today - no heater necessary. Can you believe, I was the only one in the 5-10 minute period of time to turn off my engine.

I'm not suggesting that people are intentionally wasting gas and polluting the air while they sit idle, I'm just saying to be aware of your actions.

An idling vehicle gets the worst gas mileage possible – 0 miles per gallon. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if 145 million passenger vehicles idle for five minutes a day, approximately four million gallons of gasoline are consumed. As gas prices rise, not idling a vehicle is a quick and easy way to save money at the pump.

HERE'S THE RULE OF THUMB, according to the Consumer Energy Center: If you're in a drive-thru or waiting for someone, and you'll be parked and sitting for 10 seconds or longer... turn off your car's engine.

Read here for some myths associated with idling your car.

Thursday Thirteen #3 - Blog Terms

I just celebrated my 100th post, and I thought it was time to show off all the new blog terminology I've learned.

Who knew there was a whole language to this thing called blogging! Although, I understand these terms I didn't feel confident in my abilities to define them for you. I linked each word to the original source where I found each definition.

1. Widget - Widgets are the web a la carte. These movable mini-applications are used by consumers to craft custom experiences on their desktops, start pages, social networks, blogs and more. Widgets can be almost anything, common examples include games, stock tickers, video and audio players, quizzes, slide shows, personal productivity tools, system utilities -- almost anything you can think of can be made into a widget.

2. Permalink - A permalink is a URL that points to a specific blog or forum entry after it has passed from the front page to the archives. Because a permalink remains unchanged indefinitely, it is less susceptible to link rot.

3. Meme - An idea, project, statement or even a question that is posted by one blog and responded to by other blogs. Although the term encompasses much of the natural flow of communication in the Blogosphere, there are active bloggers and blog sites that are dedicated to the creation of memes on a regular basis

4. Blogosphere - Blogosphere is a collective term encompassing all blogs and their interconnections. It is the perception that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network.

5. Blogring - A Blogring connects a circle of Weblogs with a common focus or theme. The theme can be anything you want: a group of friends, a support group, even a shared passion or hobby.

6. Bloglines - Bloglines is a FREE online service that helps you subscribe to and manage lots of web information, such as news feeds, weblogs and audio. Bloglines tracks the information you're interested in, retrieves new stuff as it happens, and organizes everything for you on your own personal web news page.

7. Carnival - Some webrings host collaborations called carnivals. The ring owner decides on a topic and invites members of the ring to write on that topic. The owner then provides links to each of those sites that submit links. provides a list of several carnivals ongoing in the blogosphere.

8. Ping - A ping is a test to see if a system on the Internet is working. "Pinging" a server tests and records the response time of the server. Pinging multiple computers can be helpful in finding Internet bottlenecks, so that data transfer paths can be rerouted a more efficient way. A good way to make sure you do not get disconnected from your dial-up ISP for being idle is to send a ping every 5 minutes or so. There are a number of shareware Ping programs that will do this for you.

9. Podcast - A podcast is a collection of digital media files which is distributed over the Internet, often using syndication feeds, for playback on portable media players and personal computers. The term podcast, like "radio", can refer either to the content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also termed podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

10. Blogroll - A blogroll, usually listed in a bloggers' side column, is simply the list of blogs they read.

11. Blogware - commonly used in reference to the tools used to write blogs, such as WordPress or Movable Type.

12. Post - The term used to refer to an individual story or article on a blog.

13. Blego - A combination of the words Blog and Ego, used to describe the actions of bloggers who write as to their own self worth.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WFMW Backwards Edition: Blogging Questions

It's a Backwards Edition today at Rocks in My Dryer, that means I get to ask for your input and advice.

I didn't expect to enjoy blogging this much! I've met some great people and learned a lot from you smart bloggers out there. I just published my 100th post.

I'm curious about a few things.

  • What are some of your favorite blogs?
  • What are some of your blogging pet peeves?
  • What are you looking for in a blog - humor, advice, motivation, free-stuff, information, etc.?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday #8 - Duvet Cover 101

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I received a beautiful duvet cover for Christmas . . . . Christmas of 2006. I wouldn't say I'm a procrastinator, more like an individual who has a decision-making disorder! Our bed has been over a year in the making (literally), and I'm just 3 pillows away from the finish line.

Today's tackle was not for the short of breath, sciatica-stricken, or uncoordinated. Basicall
y, a WAY pregnant woman should not have attempted to stuff a King-size duvet into its cover. But, when has anyone ever been able to reason with a woman who is nesting! (remember, I've had over a year to accomplish this task, but it had to be done TODAY!)

I did a quick little Google search for tips on inserting a duvet, and what'd ya know, I found this great little video showing step-by-step directions in a pretty humorous way! I declare, what can't you find on ye ole' net!

Needless to say, it wasn't pretty or graceful. I had to take a couple of breaks with a few glasses of water. But it's done. . . thank you very much!

Be sure to read my 100th post for a chance to win some of my favorite things!

100th Post & "Favorites" Giveaway

1. I was born and raised in L.A. – that’s Lower Alabama, ya’ll!
2. I love being from the South.
3. I love going home to visit.
4. I don’t think I could live in my hometown again.
5. People often mispronounce my name, Alana (uh-LAN-uh)
6. I tell people it’s like Atlanta without the t’s.
7. I don’t like to correct people - it drives my friends crazy so they correct people for me.
8. I like having an unusual name.
9. I love hearing my children say my name.
10. My parents didn’t give me a middle name when I was born.
11. When I turned 18, I petitioned the court for a middle name (not as official as it sounds – I basically signed a document and had it notarized)
12. I chose my mother’s maiden name.
13. I know #’s 10-12 may sound silly, but it's tough growing up in the south with only 2 initials to monogram on things!
14. Especially when said initials are AA – as in Alcoholics Anonymous.
15. Both of my parents taught at my high school.
16. I never skipped a class.
17. Until I went to college.
18. I attended The University of Alabama.
19. I planned on majoring in Accounting.
20. One night I had a dream . . . . angry numbers holding mean calculators were chasing me through the quad.
21. The next morning I switched my major to Elementary Education. It seemed safer.
22. After 2 1/2 years, I realized I was doing too much of #39 and went home.
23. I graduated at a local college with a degree in Elementary Education.
24. I love college football. Roll Tide!
25. I put pepper in my ketchup.
26. I consider ketchup a vegetable.
27. I was very thankful when they discovered the benefits of ketchup and lycopene.
28. I was 22 years old when I took my first plane trip.
29. The trip was to Washington, DC.
30. It was the day Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead died.
31. I was visiting my friend, Ilene for 10 days.
32. My parents bought me a round-trip ticket.
33. Within weeks I had a job and a place to live.
34. I never moved back home – a lot of people lost bets on that decision.
35. I still have the back-end trip of that ticket.
36. I met my husband, Bob, at a President’s Day Party.
37. Yes, people do celebrate President’s Day.
38. We had our first kiss at a party on Saint Patrick’s Day.
39. I enjoy a good party. And a cold beer.
40. I don’t get to go to many parties anymore.
41. Between pregnancy and nursing, I rarely have a cold beer anymore either.
42. Bob and I were married 3 1/2 years later.
43. We were married on the hottest day of the summer in Alabama.
44. I didn’t care. It was my wedding day.
45. I insisted on taking our puppy on our honeymoon with us.
46. It was not a smart decision.
47. I taught for 5 1/2 years.
48. I have my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology.
49. Now I am blessed to be able to stay home with our children.
50. We have a 4-year-old little boy, a 2 1/2-year-old little girl, an 8th month old baby boy, and two beautiful girls in heaven.
51. We lost our daughters, Ellie and Kate in a car accident in December of 2003.
52. I miss them terribly. I know I will be with them again.
53. My loss and grief do not define me.
54. God’s grace is sufficient and sustains me.
55. I was baptized in a southern Baptist church when I was 13.
56. I think I just got what that means about 4 years ago.
57. I have never had a cup of coffee.
58. I am addicted to Coca-Cola – real Coca-Cola.
59. My goal is to break my Coke addiction starting April 1st.
60. I have an obsession with pillows.
61. I can’t sew, knit, or quilt, but I envy those that can.
62. I lost my grandparents way too early.
63. I miss not having them in my life.
64. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. It was written by Harper Lee. Harper Lee was a Chi Omega at The University of Alabama. I had an opportunity to meet her when I was in school.
65. I was a Chi-O at The University of Alabama.
66. I liked the book long before I knew this fact.
67. I have a hard time opening presents in front of people.
68. My husband’s family is very generous and gives lots of presents at Christmas.
69. I’ve learned to like opening presents in front of people.
70. I like doing the laundry.
71. I don’t cook much, though.
72. I am convinced I can clean my entire house with a vacuum cleaner.
73. I like most types of music. Except Jazz, it makes me anxious.
74. I live in Maryland.
75. I love all things crab – except the picking part. I think you have to be born here to appreciate the ritual of picking crabs. Sort of like being from the south and loving boiled peanuts!
76. I love naps. I am very sad my little boy no longer does.
77. I thought recycling was a little silly, until I had children.
78. I am trying to make “greener” choices for our family.
79. My husband inspires me to make these choices. He is a very smart man.
80. I often relapse into my old ways. For example:
81. I watch way too much TV.
82. I forget to turn off the lights.
83. Sometimes I run a load of laundry twice because it has soured over night.
84. On occasion, I throw away a glass bottle because I’m too lazy to rinse it out. (sorry, honey)
85. I am a work in progress.
86. At times I can be selfish.
87. I am a person who wants things.
88. I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I didn’t have everything I needed.
89. I am trying to learn the difference between “want” and “need”.
90. As a tween, I had posters of Kirk Cameron on my walls.
91. I fully expected him to show up at my door and sweep me off my feet.
92. I love hydrangeas, dogwood and magnolia trees. I know, typical southerner.
93. I have wonderful friends.
94. Most of them live too far away.
95. I was a cheerleader in high school.
96. Our mascot was a cougar.
97. I love everything about the beach.
98. Snow skiing terrifies me!
99. I am a homebody.
100. If you’re still reading this list you deserve a chance to win a few of my favorite things I’ve written about here on my "blawg” like, this toothbrush, a copy of Calm My Anxious Heart, Wrap -n- Mat, Stubby Pencil Studio cards and more!

Just leave a comment on this post anytime this month (March) to be entered into a random drawing. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you! Thanks for taking the time to visit and please feel free to come back anytime!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Tisket a Tasket - a Greener Easter Basket

Apparently, there's no off-switch when you're trying to make better choices for your family and the environment. Honestly, I've never thought about the negative impact Easter has on our environment and health.

But when you consider the plastic baskets, plastic grass, plastic eggs and dyes containing harmful chemicals it makes sense to seek out safer choices. I've committed myself to this and there's no turning back now.

Not only is Easter arriving early this year - it falls right around my due date! I'm collecting ideas and res
ources a little early in hopes of creating a greener Easter for our family this year!

Easter Baskets

  • reuse baskets from previous years
  • re-purpose a different type of container such as a - fruit bowl, picnic basket or flower pot
  • purchase a basket supporting fair trade practices
  • if you just can't resist and want to buy the colorful baskets reminiscent of your childhood, Land of Nod has handwoven baskets containing no PVC

Easter Grass
There's no need to use plastic grass anymore. Besides, how bummed out did you get when you had to waste the time to skillfully unwrap the plastic strands from your glorious chocolate bunny before you could take a bite!
  • have the kids get involved and grow your own grass
  • put your paper shredder to work and recycle paper to use as grass
  • try this edible sugar-free Easter grass
  • Nova Natural sells 100% wool fleece grass that can be used for years to come
Easter Eggs
  • if possible purchase organic, cage-free eggs for your baskets.
  • use your own vegetable or fruit-based dyes
  • purchase a kit containing natural dyes for your eggs
Here's a tip for a large, peaceful Easter Egg Hunt:
  • prepare several dozen eggs and number each one 1-12 (of course natural eggs are the best choice, but if you have plastic ones just make sure you hold on to them and use them year after year)
  • mix up eggs and hide as usual
  • instruct "hunters" they must find the eggs in number order - this helps everyone have an equal shot at finding eggs and makes the fun last a little longer
To save yourself a little work . . . if you have multiple families involved in your hunt, ask each family to bring a dozen numbered eggs for each member that will be participating.

Green Promise
Green Guide
Nova Natural