Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seriously, Dude

This morning's conversation with my 4-year old centered around what constitutes being a "Dude." With a minimal amount of protestation, he was convinced that "Real Dudes" brush their teeth, wear warm jackets, clean up their messes, and help their little sister get ready for school. 
Dude...did I miss something here? Should I be pursuing a career in politics???

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pregnancy, The Movie. Pregnancy, the Sequel. Roll Credits!

A couple of my friends are having babies.

They're at the stage where they just can't imagine getting any bigger, or how in God's name their skin could possibly stretch any further without bursting like a ripe melon.

Trust me, I know.

Both my kids decided to come 9 days post-due date.

It DOES feel humanly impossible to get any larger.

But you DO.

And it doesn't even get you into the Guiness Book of World Records.

I honestly thought I'd be pregnant forever. Haul those little buggers around for the next couple decades. Because when you're 9 months pregnant and past your due date, every day feels like several years.

I thought they'd just hang around being fed and watered, pop a hand out for their college degree and social security check, and that's that. Early retirement while Mom does all the work.

Don't worry, friends. They will come out sooner or later. In the meantime...

Make peace with stretch marks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beaches, Bachelors, and Bananas, Oh My!


Is it really August already?

Time funs when you're having flies, I guess...

Ok, so here's a quick recap of the past month:

Trip to Michigan was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. 

(Don't hate us because of our awesome tans)

Traveled up to Michigan with the kids and had an amazing time with my family...

 (somewhere in West Virginia, about 3am???)

We are what some people might consider abnormally close
for a family of nine kids, but it is  the most phenonemal experience on earth to travel with 
your brothers 
and sisters 
and their spouses
and neices
and nephews
(just shy of a mob)
 and enjoy 
every single moment 
of a family vacation!

(Did I just write a poem? Someone get back to me on that...)

A few highlights...

(Josiah and his favorite goddaughter-- oops, make that only goddaughter!)

(Ruthie PigFace Draper times two!)
(It only took 17 tries to get 4 wriggling kids to stand "still")
(I feel all sorts of awesome flying through the air in this picture)

(Who else waits on the side of the road for Pablos Tacos???)

(Warm summer evenings, singing and playing guitar & yukeleleeeeee)

 (Grandma's 80th bday! Why is she all by herself?!)

(It's illegal for cousins to procreate-- don't tell Jaxon he's adopted)

Major clean-up at my grandmas' house: 22 years worth of piled-up junk-- 
filled up a 15 foot dumpster and laughed/cried our way through the mess.
(Thanks, P90X, it was awfully fun pulling up that carpet in the basement...NOT.)

(Matt, Marta, Cousin Eric, & Josiah: Tell me how you really feel about it)


Then we rewarded ourselves with a magical day at the beach and turtle sundaes afterwards...

Reconnecting with aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, friends I haven't seen in 
five years. Introduced my kids and met cousins I've never seen before. 
Cried buckets leaving. Family ties are so important!

(I know we're related, but who are you?)

 17-hour drive home was a bit tedious! But with Shaklee energy tea and a good (belch) breakfast at Bob Evans somewhere in West Virginia, we managed to make it.

(Wish I was 2 again)

Let's see...what else???

Kids are wild, as usual! Serginho has been at YMCA camp where he swims, dances, does crafts and generally charms everyone within a 12-foot radius. 

(Wait, wait, that is NOT the right picture! I'm firing my agent!)

 We've been following The Bachelorette religiously (it's the only show I watch) 
and I'm concerned that my 4 year old is definitely might just be addicted. 

(He's on Team Chris, by the way, because Chris rocks that mohawk. 
(And that's the #1 quality we look for  in a husband.)

And while we're on the subject of pop culture, might I just say that Ali is an idiot for not 
picking Chris and I'm quite certain I think our entire family has 
a gigantic slight crush on him. Seriously, people. How can you NOT? 

("Here's your parting gift, guys, and thanks for playing You can all go home now".)

But when we're in the checkout line at the grocery story and Serginho sees The Bachelorette covers and begins recounting all of the last week's episodes including the names of the competing Bachelors and the locations they've visited??? The other people in line do give me the stink-eye. 

Ok, so maybe I should get my 4-year old in bed a little earlier and not allow him to watch the multiple hot tub and make-out and drinking sessions quality male/female interactions on The Bachelorette. ("I like you. I like you too! You're hot. No, YOU'RE hot! Let's get married! Ok! Etc, etc.) 

But when you've got two kids, a busy family and two businesses under one roof...well, 
any time becomes Family Time!

(Mom, what's an overnight date?)

Natalia...wow. She keeps me on my toes. Let's see, what has she been up to? 
I have pretty much stopped potty-training for now.
I put her on the potty for a while, then  five minutes later she pees in her high chair 
and THEN she runs to the bathroom. 

Am I training her that first you pee all over everything 
and then go sit on the potty just for the heck of it? Decided to wait a bit longer.

(But Mom, I already peed on the floor and all the toys in my room! Why do I have to sit here?)

One day she was very quiet for a little while and I found her sitting on the kitchen table...
having unpeeled a dozen bananas in the fruitbowl.

(Dang, I wish I'd gotten an actual photo of the banana carnage!)

Another day I found her rifling through the yet-unpacked suitcases, next to a nearly empty package of Shaklee Mighty Smarts (DHA fish oil) chews and looking like a squirrel with a winter's worth of nuts in her cheeks. I looked around and only saw two wrappers on the floor and thought, "Whew, that was a close one." THEN I looked in the package of chews and saw she had already worked her way through half a dozen of them and the little stinker put all the wrappers back in the package! 

I was a little concerned about how much fish oil a child should consume in one day, 
but since it's Shaklee and brain food I didn't worry too much. Of course, she was fine, but in retrospect I should have used THAT DAY she overdosed on brain food to try potty-training again! 
Maybe she would have gotten the hang of it?

(Get this party started, Mom, I potty-trained myself in an hour and a half!)

 A few days later I found Natalia had taken all the backs off  the remote controls, removed the batteries and hid them in various places around the living room.

And then she walked in the room with diaper cream smeared from her toes to the top of her head-- I think she believes it's sunscreen. (Again, thank goodness it's Shaklee because I know its non-toxic and safe!) 

And she pulled out all 250 baby wipes from a brand-new package in the diaper bag. 

And she found a purple marker and drew all over the carpet in the living room that we'd just powerwashed. 

And...that's all for the Natalia update! (Isn't it enough? I'm exhausted just 
looking for more photos to illustrate the chaos!)

Last week I had the UH-MAZING experience of traveling to California to visit Shaklee HQ in San Francisco and then driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to Anaheim for the 2010 Shaklee Global Conference. There are waaaaaaaay too many stories to fit into this post, so I'll dedicate the next one to that update. Let's just say I'm more excited than ever about the possibilities of creating a business with Shaklee, helping people, and making a great income at the same time. Live the dream, share the dream!

(Part of The Hot Posse at the Final Night GALA)

Well, folks, is that enough for now?

I'll be back regularly starting this week, thanks for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

To DEET or not to DEET?

So, we're heading up to Michigan for a week, and I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of time outdoors and on b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l Lake Michigan.

My mother says the mosquitoes there are worse than in NC (which I find hard to believe, but I do believe her 'cuz she's my mom) so I thought this would be a good time to explore the subject of insect repellents.

(There was also a great article about it in Natural News this morning, which makes my job a whole lot easier!)

So the question is...to DEET or not to DEET?

I was surprised to learn that apparently, no one really knows how DEET works. They have some different theories, but the important thing is that it keeps the pesky biters away, and has been in use since the 1950's when scientists needed a concoction to protect American soldiers in post-WW II jungle warfare.

Recently the science has been undergoing more rigorous scrutiny. According to "experiments performed in cockroaches and rats, the researchers found that deet blocked the action of the neurological enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This is the same mechanism that causes the toxic effects of popular carbamate and organophosphate pesticides, as well as chemical weapons such as sarin and VX nerve gas. This may mean that deet repellants are actually insecticides and could damage the human nervous system."

Other problems arise when DEET is combined with organophosphates or carbamates, as in most mixed repellent-insecticide products. At that point, the toxicity is believed to be exacerbated.

In another study, DEET is believed to have contributed to seizures in young children.

So what's a mom to do?

The past couple summers I've used a natural alternative from Dr. Mercola. I've found it to be effective in keeping nasty biters off my ankle-biters, and although the aroma is quite pungent, we've grown accustomed to it.

My mom swears by Avon Skin-So-Soft, but I haven't done enough research on those ingredients to feel good putting it on my kids. 

Tons of people say Shaklee Basic H, full-strength or diluted, works wonders at repelling unwanted insects (that's one of the 1000 uses I haven't tried yet! Will keep you posted.) People use it on themselves, their pets, farm animals, etc, and have been doing so for decades. So I'm sure we would have heard if there were any adverse effects already. (Shaklee doesn't endorse the use of Basic H2 as an insect repellent because there is no clinical research to illustrate its effectiveness. So don't sue Shaklee for false advertising if you are reading this on my blog.)

You can also make your own insect repellents from herbal tinctures and essential oils, such as:
  • Citronella Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Cedar Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic 
One simple recipe is:
  • 10-25 drops (total) of essential oils
  • 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil or alcohol 
Safe carrier oils and alcohols are:
  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • any other cooking oil
  • witch hazel
  • vodka 
Keep in mind that natural insect repellents need to be re-applied every 2 hours for maximum effectiveness.

You can also be sure to wear long pants, long shirts, shoes, and keep as much exposed skin covered to minimize the skin area that the skeeters can find.

Happy summering!



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Sponge Bob has been hiding...

Potty time this morning: 

Lil Sergio is washing his hands (still groggy) and concentrating intently on the Sponge Bob foaming soap dispenser at the sink. 

Finally his rumbly little sleep voice pipes up...

...a combination of wonder with a hint of confusion,

(as in, "You're NOT gonna believe this). 

 "MOM. Sponge Bob is a.....CHEESE!"



Coming clean...I mean, really clean!

 (from the Coming Clean Campaign http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/index.cfm)



Checking a Shampoo Label The word "organic" is not properly regulated on personal care products (example: toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, etc.) as it is on food products, unless the product is certified by the USDA National Organic Program.

Due to this lax regulation, many personal care products have the word "organic" in their brand name or otherwise on their product label, but unless they are USDA certified, the main cleansing ingredients and preservatives are usually made with synthetic and petrochemical compounds.

This is why the Organic Consumers Association recommends consumers look for the USDA organic seal on personal care products that claim to be organic. If it doesn't have the seal, read the ingredient label to find out how many ingredients are truly organic and how many are synthetic.

Mary here: Well, it's about time!

Three years ago when my son was just a tiny tot, I made the decision to switch out all my traditional household cleaners and replace them with Shaklee Get Clean natural products-- made by the greenest company in the world, Shaklee Corporation. Little did I know that commitment would soon extend to every other area of my home.

Let me just tell you, I'm SO GLAD I DID. We use organic and natural personal care products exclusively now. And whatever I can buy from Shaklee, I buy from Shaklee. It is one of the very few brands I trust to put on my kids' skin and hair. They don't have leftover synthetic chemical fragrances or phosphates in their clothes and towels. I'm not stressed about chemicals burning their little eyeballs, and I don't worry about them swallowing the toothpaste and having to call poison control. (Yes, take a closer look...there is a WARNING label on your toothpaste!)

** Funny story I have to inject here: a fellow Shaklee mom unknowingly used Shaklee Baby Gentle Wash on her hands (kept the bottle right next to the sink) religiously for months before realizing she was using the Baby Wash and not Baby Lotion. She said her skin was softer and her cuticles and nails got stronger. Rubbing her hands with shampoo, no less! She was even a little bummed when she realized she couldn't use the wash for lotion anymore! **

Not only that, but Shaklee holds itself to a higher standard than organic regulations require. Did you know that there is no testing required for "organic" ingredients before they go to market to make sure they are toxin & chemical free? The only thing required is to show they were grown according to organic standards.

Bear with me here.

You have a field of organic sunflower growing....

...beside a 4-lane superhighway. Although those sunflowers are never treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides (or any other -cides) it stands to reason that they could be tainted with fumes and contaminants from passing cars. Incredibly, those raw materials are NOT required to be tested for purity. They can be certified organic because they were grown in an organic way...next to a superhighway with thousands of cars spewing pollution and hazardous runoff spilling directly into the fields and water supply.

Shaklee tests its materials before, during and after manufacturing to ensure the highest level of purity & quality. Sometimes you won't find the USDA Organic symbol on their products. That's because Shaklee's testing is more stringent than USDA regulations. And it will be more pure than USDA Organic-- even if it's not made from "organic" ingredients.

Because I think it is SO important for people to have this information, I want to include a list of some of the companies who claim to be organic and are not. Do your research and decide what's best for you and your family!

(Pssst...If you haven't figured out yet, I highly recommend Shaklee! www.mygreenfamily.myshaklee.com)

A Few Fake Organic Brands

Type these brands into the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Safety Review Database where you'll find a hazard score for each product and ingredient. (http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/)

Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/

Coming Clean Campaign: http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/index.cfm


Recommended Reading: 

The Hundred Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald: http://www.hundredyearlie.com/

Green Goes with Everything by Sloan Barnett http://greengoeswitheverything.com/

Beauty to Die For: The Cosmetic Consequence by Judi Vance

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Putting on my big girl panties...

    Surrendering into my commitment: Pottytraining. 

    My 20-month old daughter is in big girl panties-- no diapers, no pull-ups.

    Big girl panties + big time risks = big time rewards!

    And you better believe my Shaklee Basic G disinfectant is handy....


    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Extreme Home Workouts: Yard Care Edition

    My new invention is P90X: Yard Care Edition. Exercise One) Lawnmower sprints: Run with pushmower as fast as possible across the yard, back and forth for half an acre in 85 degree weather. Calories burned: A gazillion and counting. Caution 1) Wear good shoes and whatever you do, don't trip and fall on top of the mower. Caution 2) if you're rockin' a sports bra (which I highly recommend), expect honking from passing cars.
    Yep, I'm callin' Tony Horton right now!
    P.S. DO stay really hydrated during this workout, or you'll be sorry later! I highly recommend Shaklee Performance Hydration drink. 
    You can find it at http://mygreenfamily.myshaklee.com/us/en/products.php?sku=20351

    In the interest of healthy breasts everywhere...

    Ok, so I know there are gobs and gobs of conflicting information swirling around the issues of breast cancer, radiation, mammograms, cancer prevention and alternative cancer treatments.

    I feel it is really important to be connected with viable sources and studies you might not find in the mainstream media.

    I don't have a history of breast cancer in my family, so this is an "outsiders" view-- but one I hold very dear simply because of its vital importance to women's health. AND because of a growing body of evidence which supports prevention strategies and alternate treatments to traditional medical cures.

    I'll tell you right up front: I am very selective in which cancer causes I support, especially given the compromised standards of some really big cancer research organizations which have recently come to pass.

    (Prime example: The Komen Foundation's partnership with KFC in "Buckets for the Cure." For more info read  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/kfc-fights-breast-cancer-fried-chicken/story?id=10458830 and http://www.naturalnews.com/028669_KFC_brst_cancer.html. 

    Sorry, but I just cannot get behind promoting buckets of deep fried chicken as a way to find a cure for cancer! )

    This following an enlightening article supported by medical research by prestigious institutions, and I highly recommend taking a minute to read through it and maybe learn something new. 

    Read on:

    (NaturalNews) It's well-established that exposure to ionizing radiation can trigger mutations and other genetic damage and cause normal cells to become malignant. So it seems amazing how mainstream medicine frequently dismisses the idea that medical imaging tests from mammograms to CT scans could play much of a role in causing breast cancer. Take this example from the web site for Cornell University's Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors:

    In answer to the question "Is ionizing radiation a cause of breast cancer?", the Cornell experts say "Yes" and note ".. female breast tissue is highly susceptible to radiation effects." But then they pooh-pooh the possible hazard from mammography x-rays saying the risk …"should not be a factor in individual decisions to undergo this procedure. The same is true for most diagnostic x-ray procedures."

    If that's not confusing enough, they turn around and state: "Nonetheless, unnecessary radiation exposures should be avoided and continued vigilance is required to ensure that the benefits associated with specific procedures outweigh the future risks."

    Why radiation causes breast cancer

    Common sense suggests there is plenty of reason to be worried about radiation causing breast cancer. And now there's a new reason to be concerned. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered that radiation exposure can alter cells' microenvironment (the environment surrounding cells). And that greatly raises the odds future cells will become cancerous.

    The reason is that signals from a cell's microenvironment, altered by radiation exposure, can cause a cell's phenotype (made up of all its biochemical and physical characteristics) to change by regulating or de-regulating the way a cell uses its genes. The result can be a cell that not only becomes pre-cancerous but that passes this pre-malignant condition on to future cells.

    "Our work shows that radiation can change the microenvironment of breast cells, and this in turn can allow the growth of abnormal cells with a long-lived phenotype that have a much greater potential to be cancerous," Paul Yaswen, a cell biologist and breast cancer research specialist with Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, said in a statement to the press.

    "Many in the cancer research community, especially radiobiologists, have been slow to acknowledge and incorporate in their work the idea that cells in human tissues are not independent entities, but are highly communicative with each other and with their microenvironment," he added.

    For their study, Yaswen and his research teams used human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs), the cells that line breast ducts, where most breast cancers start. When placed in a culture dish, the vast majority of HMECs display a phenotype that allows them to divide between five and 20 times until they become what is known as senescent, or unable to divide. However, there are also some variants of these cells which have a phenotype that allows them to continue dividing for many weeks in culture. Known as a vHMEC phenotype, this type of breast cell arises spontaneously and is more susceptible to malignancy because it lacks a tumor-suppressing protein dubbed p16.

    To find out what radiation exposure does to the cellular environment and how it could impact the future of cell behavior, the Berkeley Lab scientists grew sets of HMECs from normal breast tissue in culture dishes for about a week. Then they zapped each set with a single treatment of a low-to-moderate dose of radiation and compared the irradiated cells to sets of breast cells that had not been irradiated.

    The results, just published in the on-line journal Breast Cancer Research, showed that four to six weeks after the radiation exposure, the normal breast cancer cells had stopped dividing far earlier than they would have normally -- and this premature cell senescence had accelerated the outgrowth of vHMECS.

    "However, by getting normal cells to prematurely age and stop dividing, the radiation exposure created space for epigenetically altered cells that would otherwise have been filled by normal cells. In other words, the radiation promoted the growth of pre-cancerous cells by making the environment that surrounded the cells more hospitable to their continued growth," Yaswen explained in the press statement.

    The researchers pointed out that the levels of radiation used in their experiments were not as much as a woman would be exposed to during a single routine mammogram but were comparable to those a woman could receive during a CT scans or radiotherapy "and could represent sources of concern."

    Of course, women are often pushed to get annual mammograms, raising their overall radiation exposure through the years. And, as NaturalNews has reported, previous research has already provided compelling evidence linking mammography to breast cancer.

    For example, a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine found that the start of screening mammography programs throughout Europe has been associated with increased incidence of breast cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/024901.html). And a Johns Hopkins study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded radiation exposure from mammograms could trigger malignancies in women at risk for genetic breast cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/025560_c...).

    For more information:

    Also please see:

    The Gerson Institute is a non-profit organization located in San Diego, California, dedicated to the alternative, non-toxic treatment of cancer and other disease, using the Gerson Therapy.

    We understand that your body is unique. If you find that the cookie-cutter approach to health has not worked for you, let Dr. Bevacqua and her team help you explore the alternatives and discover the excitement of regaining good health and vitality.

    The Cancer Tutor website is a pro-natural cancer treatment website which has more than 130 articles and 3 free e-books which are designed to help advanced cancer patients. Natural cancer treatments are also commonly called: alternative cancer treatments. 

    John Deere Rocks my Crib

    Because EVERY North Carolina girl needs one of these!

    (I'd get me one if they had my size...)

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Mommy's bedtime

    I just had one of those nights. 

    Sergio and I wrapped up a serious discussion about finances, our businesses, and a dozen different possibilities for the future.

    Necessary, not necessarily fun.

    I'm having a Shaklee brunch tomorrow morning and my house looks like it just landed in Kansas
    after the tornado (without the dead witch underneath).

    I wanted to accomplish something useful, so I tried to put away the kids clothes and the !@#$%^&* closet door came off the runner for the hundredth time and stuck shut. I gave it a couple fierce, ugly kicks and threw the !@#$%^&* clothes on the floor.

    Was going to kick ass with a good P90X workout, but the boys have claimed the tv to watch Brasilian sports. (Why does a 4-year old need to go to bed before 11pm anyway? I'm tired of arguing that one.)

    It's too dark to go for a run and the YMCA is closed.

    Now I'm sitting at the computer with these !@#$%^&* little tiny ants still crawling up my legs and 
    all over the office floor, laughing at me. (I swear.)


    Let's face it: it's one of those nights. 

    Time to turn in.

    I'll handle it in the morning-- whatever "it" is.

    Sweet dreams.