The Latest Halloween Trend – The Mash Up Costume!

Glee made Mash Up songs into a delightful art, my daughter will be tackling the Mash Up Costume.  Seriously!  I am betting next year Mash Up Costumes will be all the rage.  My toddler is such a trendsetter.

It started so innocently.  She said she wanted to be a bat for Halloween.  I sighed a big sigh of relief because I was positive she was going to want to be Peppa Pig and I thought a bat costume would be so much easier than a pig costume.  Then I found the world’s most adorable pig costume for $8 at a thrift store.  I thought I could convince her to be Peppa Pig but nope.  She still was insisting on being a bat but I had already bought the pig.  So we compromised.  I found this brilliant tutorial on a bat wing shrug over at My Poppet!  A bat wing shrug!  And that is how my daughter has become Peppa Pig dressed as a bat for Halloween.

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Pig Bat

 

This morning she informed me she now wants to be a mermaid.  I said NO!

What do you think would make a great Mash Up Costume?

In what can only be described as a stroke of genius, my husband decided that for the costume party he will be a pig and I will be a bat.  Get it?  I’m so excited this year.

Halloween Dilemma

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Me as a clown who apparently liked to stretch.

My dream and my husband’s idea of hell has come true!!!  We’ve been invited to a costume party as in all three of us has to wear a costume.

Hubby with a voice dripping of disgust and despair, “It is a costume party.”

Me, “YES!!!”  Jumping up and down clapping. “YES!  OMG!!!  I’m so excited!  I know you are Mr. Grumpy Pants right now but I am so excited!!!  I’ve been wanting this for forever.”

Hubby, “A costume party?”

Me, “YES!!!  I live for things like this and you HATE them.”

Now, my friends, the plotting begins.  What shall we be?  I have a Janis Joplin outfit and he would be my Mercedes Benz or my Jimmy Hendrix.  I have witch costume and he could be Jack Nicholson.  I have a hippy outfit and he could be my hippy lover or my conservative lover I have on the side but hide from all my hippy friends so I don’t get kicked out of the commune.  Oh the possibilities and he will hate every single one of them.  Help!!

 

Our daughter is going to be Peppa Pig dressed as a bat with bumble bee wellies but that is a story for another day.

Eavesdropping on Myself – Car Conversations

Baby Bug “Mom?  What’s that?”

Me “What’s what?”

Baby Bug “That noise.”

Me “Prince!  When Doves Cry.”

Baby Bug very dramatically “I can’t!  I can’t like it!”

Me just as dramatically “I don’t even know who you are anymore.  I’m going to have to process this with my life coach.”

Baby Bug “Hmmmmm.”

 

On Monday she had big dreams.  “I’m going to hug a dinosaur.  A baby dinosaur.  And I’m going to hug a baby dragon. Awwwww. So cute. I want to hug the sun!”

I guess she believed me when I told her she could do anything she wanted as long as she worked hard enough. Keep dreaming, baby girl. None of those things can come true but I like your style.

There are lots of things I despise about the 3 year old phase such as the massive meltdowns but I LOVE the imagination and the conversations.

Putting Action Behind the Ribbon – Teal Ovarian Cancer Version

Let’s be honest here for one second.  We all know Cancer Sucks!!  Am I right?  Of course, I am.  It’s a curse.  People like to spend their time pimping out the ribbons and the colors for us to “raise awareness.”  Is there a person in the U.S. above the age of 14 who does not know cancer exists?   If so, I want to live in their idyllic world.  I’m not against the ribbons and the colors.  If you have lost someone or watched someone suffer, it feels good to do something in honor of their memory or their struggle.  I get it and have the ribbon paraphernalia to prove it.  I’ve lost close family members and watched others suffer from cancer; my grandma, several aunts, uncle and my sister to name a few.  I’m not some cold-hearted wench against people trying to make a difference.  I was extremely close with my Great Aunt Katherine when she went to the hospital for her cancer when I was 12.  I remember vividly every single time I walked in and out of her hospital room as she slipped further and further away from us and writhed with pain.  It was my first cancer experience.  It was painful to watch.  Cancer Sucks.ovarian-cancer-ribbon-magnet

The problem I have is with it stopping at ribbons and colors.  That is not enough.  Raising money for some organization which may or may not be giving the money towards finding a cure is great if it makes you feel like you are doing something.  I’m not knocking those actions.  I am calling for people to do more.  If we really want to do something about ovarian cancer, we have to step it up.  I’ve made a list of suggestions:

First Step: Early Detection

Get regular (as in yearly) exams with your gynecologist.  The American College of Obstretrics and Gynocology guidelines suggest women over 30 who have had 3 consecutive negative (as in clear) PAPs only need one every 3 years, however, regular bimanual pelvic exams and clinical breast exams can detect serious issues.  If it has been more than a year since your last exam, call today and make an appointment.  Now is fine.  I’ll be here when you get back.  In fact, make the appointment, tweet/instagram/Facebook about it challenging ALL the women in your life to do the same.  The next best thing beyond prevention is early detection.

10390550_794585033905184_1453109993065814459_n Second Step: Prevention

I realize we can never be sure what does or doesn’t prevent cancer.  Sometimes it is genetics and there is not much we can do about genetics.  The only aspect of genetics we can deal with is to test for the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutation.  A woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits the harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2.  We have heard about the cases where some women after discovering they have the gene had their breast removed and/or a hysterectomy.  This is a drastic decision and one I’m positive they didn’t come to lightly.   With my family history, I have considered the test which is expensive for me but have not yet gone down that road.  While I still weigh this heavy decision, I do feel there are habits we can adopt which will help with prevention.  The catch-22 with this topic is we can’t prove you prevented cancer just because you don’t get cancer.  You might have been a person who wouldn’t  have gotten it anyway but I like to err on the side of caution.  I would rather not get cancer and will do what I can now.

Heath and Eating Habits

I recommend yogurt if you can for the good bacteria it introduces but other fermented foods such as Kombuchi is wonderful for your health.  Fruit and garlic are good for your bodies Ph balance and bacteria health.

Kegels.  Your body will weaken as you age.  Happy Happy Joy Joy.  Doing kegels lessens your chances of urinary accidents and improves your sex life.

Having an active sex life helps lower your chances.  If you are not in a relationship or otherwise active, there are other ways to reach the same result.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary with any part of your private area, discuss it with your doctor.  You will never regret over worrying but you will regret if it  turns out to be something and your chances would have improved with a quicker diagnosis.

Feminine Care

Women, we need to refocus our attentions on our feminine care.  The vulva (outside part of the vagina usually called the vagina but the vagina is the inside tube part of your organ)  may be washed with no-frills soap and thoroughly rinsed with hot water.  The vagina should never be washed with soap.  It needs to maintain a certain Ph level to promote healthy bateria and deter unhealthy bacteria.  It goes without saying don’t be douche.  Seriously they are never a good thing.  It totally screws with your Ph level.  HealthyHooHoo has a line of feminine freshness products free of harsh chemicals, fragrances and parabens.

Please consider getting a menstrual cup and/or using cloth panty liners.   My pads are Pink Lemonade.  Another great place for pads and The DivaCup is Lunapads.  Many friends recommend the Luna Cup or a menstrual cup like the SckoonCup.  The Word of Nerd has a fantastic post on Cloth Pads.

If you do use tampons, change them frequently.  If you use pads, only use them as long as you have to and change them frequently.  I must tell you to read this article at Naturally Savvy by Andrea Donsky before choosing this option.  She explains the toxin issue so much better than I ever could.

Cotton underwear is best.  Your privates need air.  Let your vulva breathe.  At the very least, consider going commando at night to give your privates time to air out.

imagesThird Step: Now we talk Awareness

Before you give, know the organization.   I like Charity Navigator.  You can see exactly how an organization divides up its money, how much is spent on programs, fundraising and paying their head honcho.  I know some people can get hung up on a CEO getting paid $300,000 but if the organization brings in over $300 million it is really a drop in the bucket and I am more concerned about where the bulk of the money is going.  Information is power.  What is important to one person is less important to another.  Know your organization and give where you feel most comfortable.

The ribbon color for ovarian cancer is teal.  Wear it proudly if you feel called but please when asked share more.  Talk about early detection and prevention.  Do not partake in buying teal items from businesses where no money is going to a legit organization or even worse businesses such as conventional tampon and pads makers whose products they are unwilling to share what is in them and are unwilling to prove they are not toxic or harmful to vaginas across the country.

Full Disclosure:  I have not been asked by any of the companies, blogs or links I have provided to write this article. In fact, there are many more products you can find and I hope you do search for the right and SAFEST products for you.   I receive no kick back from this article.  I am simply an average Jane who feels passionate about this topic.  I don’t have a medical degree.  I’m not a scientist.  I search for information and share it.  I suggest you do your own research.  Let this be a jumping off point to learning more about being proactive in your health.

Green Kid Fall Discovery Pack

I’ve made no secret of my love for the Green Kid Crafts monthly boxes.  The Green Kid Crafts boxes make great gifts for children (and parents who are worried they aren’t creative enough) or splurge on the subscription for your monthly dose of fun, education and engagement.  The Creativity and STEM Science box provides all the hands-on material needed to inspire creative and educational fun for kids 3-10.  For an exclusive sneak peek of their fall boxes, go here.  Must order by 8-31-2014.

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I have gotten the September Weather Science box before and loved it.  We still use the weather station and cloud identifier window.  My daughter will love the October Legends and Folktales.  She is constantly telling me she is a queen and will enjoy making her own crown.  November looks promising with gift ideas your kid can make.

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Full disclosure:  I am an affiliate for Green Kid Crafts.   If you click through my site and purchase, I might get a kickback.  However, I would recommend these boxes even if all I got was a wave and a “How do you do?”  The opinions are mine alone and if you doubt I have strong opinions feel free to contact my husband.

Toddler Lunch Planning

Baby Bug starts school next week and I have been scouring the net for lunch ideas.  My child is weird and doesn’t care for sandwiches on regular bread, peanut butter or mac n cheese.  We avoid dyes and GMO laden foods.  As you can guess meal planning is one of my least favorite past times ever. However, her school does not provide food so it is completely up to me.   As I looked at all the options it dawned on me part of my problem was everything is presented in a full lunch.  I need a mix and match idea list so I created one.  My plan is to provide her lunch with one item from each list.  My categories are Main Entree, Vegetable/Fruit and Fun Factor.

 

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Main Entree Ideas: (I will start with the ones I know she likes but at dinner time practice the ones I think she will like before I send them to school.)

Tortellini Salad (Pasta and Peas tossed in Pesto)

Rolled Turkey with Cheese

Rice Balls (Cook short-grain rice and roll in small cooked vegetables)

Turkey, Lettuce and Tzatziki Sauce rolled into a wrap

Soba Noodle Salad

Tuna Fish on Pita

Rice with Polish Sausage or Ground Meat

Grilled Chicken Pita

Egg Salad in a wrap

Meatballs

Applegate’s Little Smokies

Lentil Soup

Salmon Patties

I’m most excited to try this Honey-Glazed bacon wrapped chicken strips from Paleo Cupboard.

 

Vegetables

Vegetables/Fruits: (If her main entree includes vegetables, I’ll add fruit otherwise it will be vegetables.)

Cucumber, Broccoli, Peach, Apple, Orange, Grapes, Melon, Pineapple, Green Beans, Blueberries, Strawberries, Carrots

Fruit kabobs

Roasted cherry tomatoes and mozzarella tossed in vinaigrette

Small Salad with dressing (My daughter LOVES salad!)

Frog Princesses and Princes Cupcakes

Fun Factor:

Raisins

Vegetable Chips

Air Popped Popcorn

Cheese Stick

Crackers

Apple Sauce

Natural Gummy Bears

Mini Muffins

What are some of your favorite lunch ideas?

Picking a Lunch Container

Who knew it would be so freaking hard to pick a lunch container?  Not me.  The lunch pail was easy (sort of – I choose two because I couldn’t pick).

Baby Bug wanted the Owl one and I picked the Cow one.

But how do I decide what to put inside my adorable lunch pails?

I love the idea of a metal lunch box.  I’m not sure how easily my toddler can open one by herself.  Motor skills are not currently her strong suit.

Several of my friends recommended these easy lunch boxes.  They are supposed to be BPA-free.  I went with the last one here because of price.  I figured we can upgrade as I become comfortable with making lunches.

What is your favorite lunch box?  I would love ideas for the next time I have to buy.

Full Disclosure:  I am an Amazon Affiliate.  If you link to Amazon through my website and buy, I might get a small kickback.  I put all my Amazon monies into our adoption fund.

 

Carpe Diem and Other Lessons Robin Williams Taught Me

Carpe Diem.  Robin Williams introduced me to this concept and more over my lifetime. I feel this completely irrational connection to a man I never met.  In many ways, I feel I grew up with him.  His body of work rode perpendicular with my life occasionally turning to intersect and knock me off my course.   As I mourn with rest of the world, I reflect on the lessons he taught me.

1.  Zany is Funny!  Nanu Nanu

 Growing up on a farm can be isolating.  I spent my share of time outside or reading but at night I would escape to other worlds via the TV.  We got our first TV when I was 5 and a year later in 1978 Mork and Mindy aired.  Robin entered my world as a crazy alien living in Colorado.  It was like we were practically neighbors with me being in Kansas.   Everything about the show was ridiculous.  He arrives in an egg.  His luggage arrived in a second egg.  He mostly dressed like a 70’s toddler.  He was observing the world and I got to learn right along with him.  The voices, the energy, the physical comedy – all perfection and relatable for a young impressionable gal.  I wanted to make people laugh because he made me laugh.

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2.  Make Your Life Extraordinary

Dead Poets Society arrived right in the middle of my angst filled teenage years.  I loved literature and drama. DPS had both.  The movie was the main reason I chose to stick with theatre as my college major.  I wanted so badly to be able to touch people with my words the way Robin could.  He could make you laugh and he could make you cry.  I recognized his unique ability and I wanted to share it.  The difference is Robin could seize the day.  He was able to throw himself into any role with complete abandon.  I cannot.  For an actor to be able to give a great dramatic performance, they have to be able to open up the door to the pain they store in their soul.  Robin and I both suffered from depression.  This little pebble which hides under your skin needling you from within.  Others can rarely see it.  In fact, many never realize how much another person suffers until it is too late.  I was afraid if I opened the door to my pain it would swallow me whole.  I would never be able to recover.  Robin was able to open his tortured soul and craft it beautifully for others.  DPS gave me the hope I would be able to reach extraordinary heights.

Quotes from a scene in Dead Poets Society:

“Seize the day.

Because we are food for worms, lads.  Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.

Carpe Diem.

Make your lives extraordinary.”

3.  Your move, Chief.

When Good Will Hunting debuted I was 2 years post college.  I had lived on an Indian reservation, lived in Las Vegas and done a lot of partying.  What I hadn’t done is start living.  Where Dead Poets Society and inspired me, Good Will Hunting showed me I was failing.  Like the main character, Will, I was an orphan who had locked up my demons and thrown away the key.  The demons never stay away for long.  They slip under the door and plague you when you least expect it.  After realizing I couldn’t be the great actress I dreamed of being because I was unwilling to face my demons, I lived an ordinary existence.  My hope was if I could out live them.  If I ignored them long enough, they would leave, right?  Wrong.  I tend to be a smart ass and deflect all seriousness as a way to protect myself from the truth – I’m a fraud.  A big fat fraud living in fear of failure and in fear of losing myself to the darkness I’ve been keeping at bay.  If I couldn’t make my first dream come true, why didn’t I pick another?  Or why didn’t I make my first one work?  It was up to me after all.  Needless to say, this movie made me think.  It did not move me to action.  My demons were still winning.

4.  It gets easier!

“We got to tell everybody.  We’ve got to remind them.  We’ve got to remind them how good it is.”  Leonard (Robert DeNiro)

“How good what is Leonard?”  Dr. Sayer (Robin Williams)

“Look at this newspaper.  What does is say?  All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about.  They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive.  They need to be reminded.  They need to be reminded about what they have and what they can lose.  What I feel is the joy of life.  The gift of life.  The freedom of life.  The wonderment of life.”

The crux of depression is when you are in depression you can’t see how depressed you are.  By the time you get to the point where you no longer care about anything else in the world, it is beyond your ability to make good decisions for yourself.  I know.  I’ve been there several times.  Occasionally a bout will creep up on you in rapid sneak mode and before you realize what is happening you are curled up in the corner sobbing because your shoelace broke.  In many ways, the catatonic phase some of the patients in Awakenings were experiencing is much like depression.  A depressed person can’t see the good.  They can’t remember joy.  I didn’t see Awakenings when it first came out.  I saw it much later.  It broke my heart.  I knew the feeling of helplessness to a disease.  The inability to fight an enemy you can not see.  There are moments when you have depression where it does suddenly lift.  You are filled with life and joy.  I want to wake up like Leonard(DeNiro) and remember the joy.  Or in truth be more like Robin’s character and stop hiding from the world.  There are many ways we block ourselves off from life.  Whether it is a disease/ailment which others can see or a hidden demon blocking our way, we each get up every morning and fight the good fight.  All we need to know was said by Eleanor(Julie Kavner to Robin’s character, Dr. Sayer, “It gets easier.  You don’t think it will but it does.”

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5.  Finish the Game.

“I’ve seen things you can’t even imagine.  I’ve seen things you can’t even see.” Alan (Williams) in Jumanji

Robin taught me these lessons.  It is up to me to use them.  His death should be a wake up call to our society.  Depression is real even though we can’t see it.  The people who suffer are good people who deserve to be helped and saved.  There is a stigma in our culture to steer clear of any reference to mental health.  It causes many sufferers to hide further and anguish alone in their pain.  It is time for us to have open arms to help heal those of us who struggle to work through the emotional baggage we carry.  I often hear the phrase misery loves company but I feel it is misunderstood.  People don’t want to be around miserable people.  I hear folks boast all the time about the miserable negative person they finally unfriended on Facebook and how good it feels.  No, misery loves company because it can’t get any company and it is lonely.  When I’m depressed I purposely push my friends and family away.  I can be down right hateful.  It is my confused way of asking for help.  The next time someone you love is acting in a depressed or miserable or hateful way try to get closer to them.  Love them more.  If they are depressed, they can’t see what you see.  Let them know it is ok to get help.  It is ok to reach out.  The bravest action is to reach a hand out for help.  Match their bravery by grasping their hand and leading them to help.   Once you start a game of Jumanji, you have to finish it with all the players.  In life, we need to remember it is not a game of Solataire.  We must finish the game by working together.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255  Your call is free and confidential.

Plantar Fascitis is a Big Pain in my Foot

Last year I wagged (walk/jog) 13 races.  At some point my foot began to hurt.  It hurt mostly when I wasn’t even running.  In fact, right after I was resting and tried to use it.  It feels as if you foot is suddenly lame and you hobble like a 99 year old woman for a few feet until your foot warms up.  At first I didn’t realize this was a problem.  After all it started after my 1/2 marathon so I assumed I was simply over working out especially at my weight.  I was wrong.  At the end of my 13in2013 goal, I rested.  For several months, I scaled way back in hopes I had strained a muscle or something.  It did not ease up.  I finally saw my doctor who sent me to the foot specialist.

Plantar-Fasciitis[1]

The test involves sonograming(autocorrect kept changing this to monograming and while I do live in the South where everything gets monogramed it would be weird to monogram my foot) your foot to measure the thickness of the Plantar Fascitis.  The thicker your Plantar Fascitis measures the more likely the only relief option is going to be surgery.  I fell directly in the middle.   This means my best bet for recovery is not surgery but slow and steady use of several tricks.  I’ve compiled a list of all the options available to me.  I plan to start using several of them in hopes of working my way back to running.  Who knows – maybe I’ll be able to do 15in2015.

1.  Rest.  I’ve rested this summer.  I did not have a workout plan and it does feel less painful.

2.  Stretch and Ice.  I’ll stretch my foot by propping my toes up against a wall, keeping my arch and heel flat so the toes stretch.  Hold for a count of 10.  Repeating this practice 10 times 3-4 times per day.  Once I’m done stretching I will take a plastic water bottle which I have frozen and roll the arch of my foot across it for 10 minutes.  Experts say to never ice the tendon cold so don’t skip the stretching part.

3.  Some say you can use a frozen golf ball or a tennis ball to roll under your foot putting pressure on all the areas of the foot. In addition, others have recommended a specific roller for this purpose.  The company Addaday has a variety of rollers to choose from.  I’m going to go to my local running store and discuss it with the owner.  There are several rollers and she is an expert.  I’m going to seek her counsel to ensure I get the roller best suited for me.

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4.  My foot doctor has suggested special inserts for my running shoes.  This can be very expensive and even though I have good insurance it will still cost me around $100+.  However, I am taking the risk to try it.  I’m that desperate to have relief.  I will admit I have one pair to shoes which feel awesome already.  I won a pair of Sugarpine Air Mesh shoes made by Ahnu and love them!  From the very first time I put them on my foot it was like a nice warm hug.  I can not recommend these shoes enough.

5.  I plan to do more taping especially at night.  There are special boots you can buy and wear at night to keep your muscles from tightening up over the night.  The tightening is why most of the time it is very hard to walk when I first wake.  I have to hobble a few steps and stretch my foot to be able to walk with less pain.  This is honestly the worst pain time for me.  I’ve googled several ways to tape and stretch and will be giving them a go.

6.  The main thing I need to do is wear shoes.  This is the last thing I want to do.  I’m a barefoot gal.  I’m a lazy gal.  If I have to wear shoes, I want to slip on flip flops and go.  However, I do feel I will have to give up my beloved flip flops for my daily wear.  I have decide to either invest in a pair of Birkenstocks (my theory is they are cork and eventually form to your foot therefore they should have more support than a flip flop but still be slip on) and if that doesn’t work Ahnu has other shoes and I might look into one of them.  I seriously hate shoes and this will be the last option I focus on out of sheer stubbornness.

I might add I have had my chiropractor focus on it and it has seemed to help. Others have experimented and found relief with acupuncture.  Some have had success with corticosteroid injections.  My list was the options I have chosen which I believe will lead to my success.  This is my plan to avoid surgery.  I think it is doable.  I think it will not be easy.   I believe Theodore Roosevelt summed it up best.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Have you had issues with Plantar Fascitis?  Any other ideas or suggestions?

Please note:  I am not a doctor.  My degree is in Theatre Performance so I can only play a doctor.  Do not take my advice as if I am a doctor.  Seek the counsel of your own real doctor before embarking on any crazy plan some half-baked blogger wrote up.  Thank you.  Come again.

Whole Picture Wednesday

We went to a wonderful small zoo in Kansas called Tanganyika Wildlife Park.  It was amazing!

The top highlights:

1.  Not crowded!

2.  Great interactive exhibits!  We got to feed a giraffe, a turtle, birds, a rabbit, goats, a llama and lemurs.  Plus, do a walkabout and pet kangaroos.

I loved this exchange which happened between my daughter and a clouded leopard.  I mean sure in the wild it would’ve been because it was hunting her for food but at Tanganyika it was super duper cute.

Clouded leopard 1The hunt begins.

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Oh Snap!  She caught me.

clouded leopard 3

I couldn’t think of the perfect capture for the last photo.

Want to give it a try?