Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Being green

When we lived in Germany I really got into recycling. They are serious about recycling in Europe, but they also make it so easy. For example, they even provide you with bags to put all your plastics in. Notice I said all. Here in the US, it's not so easy. When I take my items to the recycling point it feels like there are 10 different places just for plastics - clear plastic, milk jugs, colored plastic, etc. Americans should learn something from the Germans. Regardless of how complicated recycling is here, I still try to do it. I've also tried to be green in other areas of my life.
I finally took the tags off the cloth napkins that Bryan and I got when we got married and have been using those. It would take a lot for me to be able to live without paper towels but for napkins I'm using cloth.
I also try to avoid using plastic bags at the grocery store. I take my own bag if I'm getting a few things and just throw it all in there. If I'm getting more, I put all the small items in my bag and just get the bagger to put all the big items back in the cart. I have to push the cart all the way to the car anyway since Marlie is sitting in it, so I just load the big stuff directly into the trunk.
Marlie is my teammate in our newest attempt at being green. When I was pregnant with her I considered using cloth diapers. I was still just imagining the old school cloth and pins that my mom used on me. I ended up going with disposables. Lately I've been hearing more and more about cloth diapering. I started looking into it and cloth diapers have come a long way! There are still plenty of people who use and prefer traditional cloth diapers but for now I would like something easier. I ordered Marlie 2 different cloth diapers for us to try out. The first one is a bumGenius All-in-One. It is just like a disposable except it's washable.

Her second diaper is a bumGenius One Size. It has an extra step in which you stick an insert (something similar to a washcloth) into the diaper for absorption. This diaper is called a One Size because it will fit a baby from 7 to 35 pounds!

I'm not totally making the switch to cloth yet, but we are going to try these out for a while. I hope they work well for us because by switching we'll not only save money but also the earth!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On This Day

On this day in history...
1429: Joan of Arc, a 17-year-old French peasant convinced she has a divine mission to expel the British from France, leads troops into the besieged city of Orléans.

1945: German dictator Adolf Hitler marries Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker; the following day they commit suicide.

1980: British-born director Alfred Hitchcock, best known for psychological suspense films such as Psycho, dies at 80.

1984: Britain announces that its administration of Hong Kong will cease in 1997, when it will return the colony to China.

1992: One of the worst riots in U.S. history erupts in Los Angeles, California, when a jury acquits four white police officers of beating black motorist Rodney King.

but also in 1978: my parents were married!

Congratulations on your 30th wedding anniversary Mama and Daddy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sprite commercial

A friend sent this to me earlier in the week. I loved it because it made me think of what Bryan has to look forward to when he comes home. I can just imagine us living on an Army post and some soldiers coming over to him looking like this!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My first sewing project!

A few years ago I decided I wanted to learn to sew. My parents gave me a sewing machine for my birthday shortly thereafter. I finally had my first sewing lesson from my aunt yesterday - about 3 1/2 years later!
When we were in Oklahoma I bought a burp cloth at an arts and crafts fair that was made out of ACU's. It was pink terrycloth on the bottom and had "Daddy's Little Girl" embroidered on it. I loved that cloth. A month ago I dropped it in Walmart and it was never turned in to the lost and found. I decided that once I learned to sew, I would try to make one similar to it. However, that actually turned out to be my first project. It's not perfect by any means and I had more than a little help but I am really pleased with it! Thank you again for the lessons, aunt Y!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Top 5ive Bad Dollar-Store Buys

I came across this article the other day and found it interesting.

Top 5ive Bad Dollar-Store Buys
http://www.smartmoney.com/top5/index.cfm?story=20080403

WITH FOOD AND gas prices on the rise, shopping at dollar stores may seem like a great way to get more bang for your buck.

But while dollar stores offer plenty of great deals, there are also plenty of duds that aren't worth the money — no matter what the discount. "In general, things that you want to last a long time are not going to cost you a dollar," notes Shakira Brown of Retail Secrets for Savvy Consumers, a frugal living blog. "Any product that costs a dollar is worth less than a dollar. Otherwise, what profit would be in it?"

We're not just talking about shoddy products, some are downright dangerous. "Sometimes seemingly innocuous items show up with safety issues," says Tod Marks, a senior editor with Consumer Reports. Unfortunately, many of the most problem-prone dollar store products are those that offer the biggest discounts.

Here are five items to steer clear of when shopping at your local dollar store:


1) Batteries
Like most people, you probably don't think twice about what's inside those ultra-cheap batteries you're buying, but you should. Most dollar-store battery brands are made with carbon zinc — a far more inferior option than the ones you can buy at the hardware or drugstore, says Tom Merritt, executive editor for electronics review site CNET. "You do not want those," he says. "It's one of the original battery technologies, and generally has very poor performance." You'll go through the pack of carbon zinc batteries much faster, negating any savings from the cheaper purchase price. Look instead for alkaline batteries. Unfortunately, these batteries are a rare find at dollar stores.

2) Toothpaste
While some personal-care products, like shampoo, can be excellent dollar-store buys, toothpaste isn't one of them. In June 2007, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that many imported toothpastes typically found at dollar stores and other discount outlets contained the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG) — most commonly used as a thickener in antifreeze. To date, the agency has identified more than 40 hazardous brands, including several counterfeit tubes that look like Colgate.

Repeated brushing with a DEG-laced toothpaste can have serious health consequences, says Rita Chappelle, a spokeswoman for the FDA. "It causes liver and kidney damage and other gastrointestinal problems," she says. Although import restrictions and recalls were issued to halt the distribution and sale of the tainted toothpaste, consumers still need to remain vigilant. "There could still be some products on shelves," warns Chappelle. Because it can be tough to tell the problem tubes from the real deal (it's not as if diethylene glycol is listed as an ingredient), the safest course is to fork over a little more cash for a tube at your local supermarket or drugstore, where there's more quality control.


3) Electrical products
"When shopping for holiday lights and extension cords, it's never a good idea to bargain-hunt for the lowest price," says Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Components of electrical products like these can be expensive, and that should be reflected in the price. In the cheapest (often counterfeit) items, the wiring may be undersized, meaning more current goes through than the device can handle, adds Consumer Reports' Marks. They may also have substandard insulation. At best, these problems make for a faulty product that shorts out. At their worst, the cords can overheat or melt, shocking anyone handling them or even starting a fire.


4) Kids' Jewelry
Because many dollar-store items are mass-produced by little-known manufacturers in China, there's a considerable risk of high lead content, cautions Marianne Szymanski, founder of ToyTips.com, a toy safety resource for parents. "Don't buy kids' products from the dollar store," she says. "Until you can be confident that there is no lead, I just wouldn't." Especially risky are any items made of metal or that will have close contact with your child's skin — like jewelry. In 2007, the CPSC announced recalls for more than 1.5 million jewelry products from dollar and discount stores due to high lead content. While just touching the items can't hurt, kids do tend to put things in their mouths, Szymanski says. And lead-laced paint can easily flake and be ingested.

Any lead consumption is unsafe, potentially affecting the exposed child's ability to learn and causing behavioral issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Repeated or prolonged exposure to lead compounds the problems. As last year's widespread recalls proved, dangerous levels of lead can show up in toys from any manufacturer at any price point. Sticking with well-known brands is your best bet for safety, but even that's not a cure-all, warns Szymanski.


5) Vitamins
Multivitamins are supposed to fill in the gaps in a person's diet, helping them meet their recommended daily intake of nutrients and bolster their immune system. That is, if the vitamin does what it's supposed to do. "The dollar store products can be dicey," says Marks. Because the FDA considers multivitamins a dietary supplement, there's significantly less oversight when it comes to their composition and effects on the body than there is for prescription medications. In a 2004 analysis, Consumer Reports found that half of the dollar-store vitamin brands it studied contained less of the nutrients claimed on the label, or failed to dissolve properly when ingested. No such problems turned up in similar investigations of major brand names, says Marks.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Back in the gym!

I was working out right up until I had Marlie. I had the idea that as soon as I healed, I would be right back to working out. Moving and the reality of motherhood showed me how wrong I was!
My town doesn't have a gym so I had to go to a neighboring county to find one. Seven months later I'm finally back in the gym! I joined two weeks ago so this is the start of my third week of working out. I'm so happy to be doing some real exercise again. I spoke to the owner and I'm probably also going to have the opportunity to teach a class and do some personal training!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two months!

I tried to post this yesterday but it wouldn't go through so it's one day late.
The ticker on my blog says we've hit the two month mark! To celebrate that, here are the two pictures that Bryan has sent me. At the bottom is my Donut of Misery for this deployment. I had it on here last deployment but this is it's debut for this time. Obviously the dates are not accurate, they're just some that I put in.


Bryan is second from the left.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bert Brady

Back in the fall when Marlie and I were flying from Atlanta to Dallas we were standing in line waiting to get checked in. We were near the large open area and food court. All of a sudden people were clapping and starting to stand up. I walked closer to see what was going on and a large number of soldiers were walking toward the USO. I have seen the tv commercial like that but never experienced it in real life. It was wonderful and so touching to see people truly appreciating our servicemembers.
My aunt forwarded me this video a few days ago. Of course I loved it. I think people like this are the greatest. I also copied and pasted the article from the ABC News website.


Person of the Week: Bert Brady
Veteran Makes Soldier Homecomings a Daily Ritual
Feb. 2, 2007
http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/PersonOfWeek/Story?id=2845247&page=1

Just about every morning for the past year, Bert Brady has been getting up, having a cup of coffee and heading over to the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. But this ritual has nothing to do with travel. He's at the terminal to welcome home American troops as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I went 300 days last year," Brady said. "They are glad to see us, and we are tickled to death to see them because they are our heroes."

Brady, a 69-year-old veteran, is a member of the Welcome Home a Hero program at his local airport. He makes sure every soldier that comes through Dallas gets a special homecoming.

And he has reached out to almost anyone who will join him.

"We have people who only come on weekends. We have people who come during the week," Brady said. "We have a lot of support from the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts."

Veterans Stick Together
Brady shows up each day with the goal of making soldiers feel appreciated and proud of their service. He's often joined by veterans of the Vietnam and Korean wars who did not get a warm reception when they returned from battle.

"We are not going to forget them like a lot of Vietnam soldiers have been forgotten," Brady said. "We are not going to forget the soldiers of today."

One Korean War vet working with Brady added, "We owe it to them. They're doing a good job for us. When I came home in 1954, there was nobody, no nothing."

And for Brady, it's simply "rewarding" to greet the soldiers.

"You can't make 200 people happy and not feel that. Ninety-five percent of them are smiling, and you never can tell if one of their buddies has just died in their arms yesterday," he said. "So you get all kinds of emotion coming through."

And the soldiers appreciate the efforts. "It's great. … They took the time out of their day to be here," one soldier said.

"It's incredible to see the support," said one soldier's wife, who was in tears. "Everybody cheering him on … it's a little embarrassing, but we appreciate it."

When asked why he is so dedicated to this effort, Brady pointed to a moment he shared with one soldier.

"He said, 'Mister, I will never forget you,' and my heart was almost pounding like it was going to burst out of my chest," Brady said. "He said, 'It's the greatest thing that ever happened to me.'"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Parties

This was another busy weekend! I spent Thursday and Friday morning making the cupcakes for my sister's birthday "cake". Friday afternoon I took her shopping so that my parents could prepare for her surprise party that night. We arrived back to their house Friday evening and many of her friends were there to wish her a happy 16th birthday. She was surprised for the most part which is quite an accomplishment between a bunch of high schoolers and today's technology. Here she is blowing out her candles.


On Saturday night I went to a wedding shower for some friends. There were a lot of people there and I joked that it was pretty overwhelming to me since I'm used to spending most of my time around Marlie only. I really enjoyed the night though and it was good to spend some adult time with my friends. I did take Marlie with me for a few minutes and I wish I could have gotten a picture of us both dressed up but it didn't work out.

Some of our family also came into town this weekend and it was good to see them. Marlie and her cousin Aiden got to spend some time together, although I'm not sure how Marlie felt about it at first. Here are a few pictures of the two of them. They are just under 7 months apart.

We wanted to take a picture, but Aiden wanted to "love" on Marlie

We got them to sit still for a second

Marlie gets her revenge

Being sweet with their great aunt

Monday, April 07, 2008

New furniture!

For the first time since we've been married, Bryan and I have real bedroom furniture. It was delivered last week and I love it. Our current bedroom is very small so it's crowded but hopefully our next room will be bigger. Before this furniture arrived all we had was a mattress and box springs on rails, a cheap chest of drawers, and a cheap table beside the bed. It was hard to take pictures in that tiny bedroom, but now we have this!






I love this little hidden drawer!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Same video, different link

In case anyone has problems with the first post, here is the video through YouTube.

Something to brighten up this cloudy day

Here's a video of Marlie having a lot of fun eating dinner last night. For those of you that get this by email, you're probably going to have to come to the website to see it. I think it's worth a few extra clicks!
video