Thursday, April 30, 2009

30 Days Without Shampoo - Week 2

If you have been paying attention, you know that I gave up traditional shampoo and conditioner 2 weeks ago. I went no 'poo, and so far I have no regrets.

Day 8 - I didn't do anything with my hair except pull the front back with some clips.

Day 9 - Same as day 8.

Day 10 - Had planned to rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar (ACV), but woke up too late. Just pulled the front back with more clips.

Day 11 - Um, woke up late again. I guess it will be more clips to keep my hair off my face. It doesn't feel bad at all, but the frizz is creeping in a little bit. Really wish I had rinsed it yesterday.

Day 12 - I think sleep is more important than hair and don't take the time to do anything to it.

Day 13 - My hair is starting to feel a little slimy from not getting any water or anything for almost an entire week. I have definitely been showering, but didn't want to waste time with my hair while my VIP is in town.

Day 15 (April 30) - I finally had time to properly rinse my hair with the BS and ACV. And it might still feel a little greasy. I'll know better after it dries. I do think I've had a bit more volume though and know that the greasiness is temporary.

My mom did question my decision to switch though. She told our mutual hair dresser what I was doing and said hair dresser wasn't too happy about it. She feels for certain that I will strip all of the color out of my highlights. So far, after 3 BS washes, I don't think that has happened. I'm using less than a tablespoon total and it is highly diluted because I am wetting my hair prior to applying the BS rinse. From what I read online my hair dresser is right to be concerned, but one of the reasons I am diluting it extra is to avoid this exact problem.

No picture tonight... Bruce has the camera.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yes, There Is Still More to Declutter!

Since my VIP is taking a much deserved late sleep this morning, I decided to conquer a couple of small decluttering tasks - my kitchen drawers.

The kitchen utensil drawer, before then after:


The dish towel, other random stuff drawer, before then after:

I'm on a roll here! Though I doubt I'll have for more decluttering this weekend... am I boring you with these posts?

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Morning Declutter Update

Charlotte blessed me with a few extra hours to work uninterrupted this morning by sleeping until 10 am. So, here are the kitchen pictures I promised last night.


As scary as it looks, I should have had nightmares last night knowing what awaited me this morning. I freely admit it, I went to bed with my kitchen looking like this. I do think these pictures represent a new low for even me.

There is hope for the worst of us though, and these following after pictures prove it.
 
Now obviously, there is stull stuff on my counters, and dishes I just washed that need to dry before I can put them away. But, I have a small kitchen and this is my reality. I won't ever be able to have clear counters the way I want. Oh, and my pantry needs another reorganization so that I might get the box off the floor.

I also cleared up the entry way. Before and after side by side. This was pretty easy because again, more decluttered stuff from the rest of the house was just waiting to be taken to the dumpster or loaded into my car for the next trip to the thrift shop.

By no means is my house now perfect, I still have to get those sheets on the bed and clean the downstairs bathroom, but I feel much better about our VIP guest coming to stay with us for a few days. And I know Bruce appreciates the effort too. Let's just hope I can maintain most of this neatness in the days after our VIP guest leaves town.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Night 2 Decluttering Update

I have crossed 3 items off my list tonight, all downstairs where our VIP will get her first impression of my homemaking skills.

Let's look at the before and after shots:
  • The wall by the stairs - it still looks somewhat cluttered, but now at least, all of my stuff is organized a little better. Someday I'll have a more put together organizational system for this wall and it will look even better. And maybe we won't have so many large toys hanging out in the living room either.
    • The end table - Here too more work is needed, but we still have improvement. This table seemed like a good idea at the time we bought it because of its height and size. Now though, I am not so sure. most of the art is now between the couch and table and the large boxes have been relocated.
    •  Clearing Charlotte's toys -This was the fairly easy part. I still intend to pair down the amount of toys she has regular access too (maybe do something like MoziEsme). Oh, and the blue glider you now see was a gift from my friend Amanda in anticipation of Babin's arrival. I'd like to recover the cushions at a minimum, and would really love to paint it white too. I'll just add that to my dream list, but not my List of 6.

     Now, here is what I have left to do tomorrow morning:

    1. Declutter wall by stairs.
    2. Declutter end table.
    3. Clear up Charlotte's toys (she has WAY too many downstairs!)
    4. Put sheets on guest bed (they were washed last night)
    5. Clean downstairs bathroom (it didn't get done last night)
    6. Clear kitchen counters (some of stuff from other spots ended up here)
    Once I get these done, I'll be sure to let you know. I might get even more stupid brave and show you the before pictures of my kitchen! They are guarunteed to make you feel good about how yours looks right now. And, depending on how my time goes tomorrow, I might start a new list of 6 for the Dining Room. (Yes, a whole list just for 1 room!)

    Decluttering: Night 2

    Last night's festival of decluttering went fairly well and now I am ready to start a third evening of clean out. Admittedly, I am getting a very late start tonight, but I hope to get something accomplished as our VIP will be here soon.

    Here is my list of six, which will actually carry over to tomorrow morning, because I already know I can't get all of this done in one evening.
    1. Declutter wall by stairs.
    2. Declutter end table.
    3. Clear up Charlotte's toys (she has WAY too many downstairs!)
    4. Put sheets on guest bed (they were washed last night)
    5. Clean downstairs bathroom (it didn't get done last night)
    6. Clear kitchen counters (some of stuff from other spots ended up here)
    And I am going to be brave again and share some before pictures with you:

    The wall by the stairs...  Easter baskets, stuff I need to deliver to the thrift store, and tons of random stuff from all of the other areas I've decluttered this week.

    The end table. Yikes! Yes, that is a Christmas tree on top of the table. Most of this stuff is either artwork or magazines. It should be easy to pare down to give the space some breath.

    A long shot of my entire living room.  It looks a lot scarier in a picture than in real life, I promise. Most of the issue is Charlotte's toys, which should be easy to fix.

    After pictures will be forthcoming... I have to in order to save face with my readers now that you've seen my house in total wreckage!

    30 Days Without Shampoo - Week 1

    Thirty days ago I decided to go 'poo-free. That meant I was casting aside my organic lavender-eucalyptus shampoo in exchange for baking soda and apple-cider vinegar.

    Hair Prep - I spent the last two weeks using less shampoo, less frequently. In between actual shampoo uses, I just rinsed out my hair. It has probably been shampoo'ed and conditioned only three times in 14 times. Not exactly sure why I did this, except maybe in an attempt to gently wean my hair from shampoo.

    Day 1 (April 16) - Mixed ~1 tablespoon with baking soda (BS) in a cup with warm water. Wet hair just a bit and then poured the BS over my head in stages, working it in as I went. Some did trickle down my face and it tasted salty. (Duh!) Then, when I was rinsing the BS out, I actually heard my hair squeak!

    Next, I mixed ~1 tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar (ACV) with more warm water in the same cup and poured that over my hair in stages as well. ACV in the eyes doesn't really sting, but it isn't comfortable either. I left that in while I took care of other showery business. I would usually run a wide-tooth comb through my hair while conditioning, but did it during this step instead. And surprisingly, it ran through almost perfectly... that doesn't even happen with expensive conditioner. That was almost as cool as my squeaky hair!

    I styled my hair as usual (after rinsing and towel-drying my hair of course) and maybe it was my imagination, but it felt lighter. You know, the way your hair feels after a trip to the salon?

    Day 2 - I had a date with my husband tonight and my slept on, sweated in head just wasn't going to cut it. But it wasn't really dirty. So I rinsed it with cold water and then used some ACV to soften it a little bit. I was happy with the results tonight.

    Day 3 - Saturday. I don't think I did anything with my hair except put it in a ponytail and cover it with a ball cap. It didn't look bad, that is just how I wear my hair on Saturdays when I am going to be outside.

    Day 4 - Sunday morning and time for another rinse out before church. All I did today was rinse with water. Styled as usual with mousse and hairspray. I don't think I am noticing any major differences in my hair so far.

    Day 6 - Um, haven't done anything to my hair except put it up in a pony tail and ball cap. I'm kind of lazy about washing my hair when I won't be going any where. One thing I am noticing is that my hair doesn't seem to be as frizzy as usual. But it doesn't feel the least bit greasy, which is what a lot of people experience. Maybe the 2 weeks of "prep" work I did are making a difference.

    Day 7 - I figured I oughtta go ahead and give my hair another scrub with the BS since it had been a week. This time though, I used a little bit less since it might have made my hair dry that first night. And again, I am very pleased with the results. My hair feels light and extra bouncy and the typicaly frizziness I have at the front isn't there. I'll even share a picture to prove it! (Pay no attention to the blown out face... I want you to look at the hair!)

    I'll give you another update in a week or so. Anyone else want to join me in giving up shampoo???

    EDIT:
    Read the rest of the weekly updates for Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 to see how things turned out!

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    One-Third of the Way There

    I've been working hard on my List of 6 for tonight and after 2 hours and 15 minutes, I am a third of the way done. This isn't really all that bad though since I started with the hardest task, the kitchen pass through.

    Getting that task done meant going online. Normally, that would present a HUGE opportunity for me to procrastinate, but tonight I did a good job of staying on task. I got a couple of important e-mails sent (pertaining to some offline business) and I finally picked out and ordered a gate for the bottom of our stairs. For now though, the pack and play serves the same purpose - keeping Charlotte off the stairs.

    Here are the after pictures:

    First, my kitchen pass through.I couldn't get rid of everything that is on it since some of it is organizing bins or things that won't fit in our art dresser (under the pass through).

    Compared to the original, I think I did pretty good here!

    The next item on my list that I conquered was the bottom of the stairs. This task went a lot more quickly though because most of this stuff was just waiting to be taken upstairs or put away downstairs. Again, the gate is ordered so the pack and play will be missing soon. And I listed the weight set on Craig's List (click to read my witty listing) as well.

    Click here for the before picture, if you care enough to compare. :)


    Oh, and I don't have any place to put that small basket/shelf thingy that was given to Charlotte for her birthday. And even if I did, I have no idea what to put in it. Any suggestions?

    Now, I'm off to throw some sheets in the dryer and scrub a few sinks, toilets, and tubs before I hit the sack. Don't wait up for after pictures of my clean tubs... it ain't gonna happen!

    Giveaway Winner: Ace Ventura

    If you are wondering... posting this winner is part of clearing off that kitchen pass through. Which is on my to do list for tonight. Don't worry though, bills to pay or file are also in that stack!

    Congratulations to Katy, who left the winning comment number 5, per Random.org. Please check your e-mail for instructions.

    I'll mail you your very own copy of Ace Ventura Pet Detective Jr DVD just as soon as my VIP leaves town (sometime in the middle of next week).

    Tonight's List of 6

    I think I've shared here before that I now try to limit my to do list to 6 items because that is much more manageable and it keeps me from adding my dream home improvement projects to every list I ever make.

    And with my VIP coming in just a couple of days, I still have a lot of work to do, despite my marathon session on Monday night. It is now about 6 pm and I am going to allow myself to loaf around online until 6:45 before I get started. So here is tonight's "List of 6":

    1. Go through, sort, and otherwise organize mail and papers on pass through
    2. Clean master bathroom (now that it is decluttered)
    3. Clean guest bathroom (the tub has a pretty soap ring from Charlotte's bath time
    4. Clean downstairs bathroom (simple enough, just a toilet and a sink)
    5. Wash guest bedroom sheets
    6. Clear stair landing.
    I'll come back soon and share some after pictures!  

    Do you have areas of your home where controlling the clutter is nearly impossible?

    What is Charlotte Eating

    We may call it a banana, but Charlotte has a different name for this delicious yellow fruit.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Giveaway: KaBOOM - I Found a Park!

    This giveaway is now closed.

    When Bruce and I go on vacation, we like to take Charlotte to the local parks. It is simple playtime for her that is a lot like what we do at home. Yeah, we go to the park as often as possible, once a week at least when we can.

    Sometimes though, it is hard to find a decent park in a new town. When I heard about KaBOOM! though, I hoped it would make travel with children easier. KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that "envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America." They are currently working to create a database of 100,000 databases in 100 days.

    I joined the online community earlier this week and was easily able to add four area parks that Charlotte and I have enjoyed together. Not only do I get to help other parents find parks but for each park I enter (and you too!) I get an entry into one of their weekly contests.
    Here's what counts as a playspace: a playground, field, a skate park, roller hockey rink, lake, dog park, community center, basketball court or ice rink - any place where kids can engage in unstructured play for free or a nominal fee. A playspace listing on KaBOOM! consists of an address or cross street and a description, one photo and one rating.
    I entered my playspaces as a member of the Mom Central team and for each play space I submitted, $1 will be donated to Jumpstart, a non-profit that brings at-risk preschool children and caring adults together to improve literacy.

    Sometimes my reviews are sponsored (I always tell you at the bottom of each post) and I get to keep something in exchange for an honest review. When I heard about KaBOOM! I was so excited about it that I agreed to share this site with you in exchange for something to give one of my readers, instead of keeping anything for myself.

    So, if you join the Mom Central team on KaBOOM! and come back leaving me a comment with the play space name, then I will enter you to win a $10 Amazon.com gift card.

    To win to $10 Amazon.com gift card, just leave a comment below telling me which park you added to the KaBOOM! database. I will randomly draw 1 winners next Saturday. There are four ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to four entries:

    1. Leave a comment telling me which park you added,
    2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
    3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
    4. Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did (honor system).
    That's it. 4 ways to win and 1 lucky winners. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, April 27. Read all contest rules here.
    Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -



    Sponsored by Mom Central and KaBOOM!

    I Do Not Have An Internet Addiction

    "You're likely not the kind of addict that [the psychiatrist] has seen -- women who don't bathe and abuse drugs to help them stay "up" for more online time. You may have noticed, though, that going online has become an imposing part of your life, which, at the least, means a load or two of laundry goes unwashed (and who cares about that?). " Source: CNN.com

    I don't use drugs and I don't skip showers just so I can spend more time online. But, maybe, I don't clean the toilets or mop the kitchen floor as often as I should so that I have more time to pursue my online interests.

    I've been trying to prove to myself lately that my time online is not an obsession or addiction. I even attempted a 7-day fast of the computer to see just how dependent I was on my laptop.

    And last night, knowing I have very important company coming at the end of the week, I began to place more priority on my household chores than my online chores. After all, my VIP friend won't care if my blog is up to date or if my Facebook friends know my status if she has to sleep on dirty sheets and my shower is all soap scummy.

    I decluttered quite a bit upstairs - my master bedroom, closet, and bathroom. Yeah, I know... it is really sad when one has to declutter a bathroom. And guess what, I even lugged the vacuum cleaner upstairs to finish putting Charlotte's 12-month clothing in those nifty space bags. (Yes, I realize she is now 20-months old!)

    I'm not sure if it was sheer exhaustion or the satisfaction of a job well done, but it felt good to sleep in a clean and organized space last night. The sleep came quickly too.

    Tonight, I get to tackle the spare bedroom, where aforementioned VIP will be sleeping. I'll also attempt to unclog that bathroom sink so I can clean the soap scum out of it too!

    What areas of your house should you be working on instead of reading this blog post playing around online?
     Image courtesy Art.com

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Three Blogs I Enjoy and Commend to You

    Over the last few months, I've added some new blogs to my reader and thought I share with you my new favorites.

    The Artful Parent -The art projects that Jean does with her preschool daughter Maia are still a bit over our heads for my toddler, I feel inspired to be more artsy with her. (Note, feelings do not always translate into actions.) Some of her recent posts I've particularly been inspired by include one about the skirts she made her daughter, a spring fun box, and her it-takes-two style follow-the-leader drawing activity. Oh, and she is expecting a new baby too!

    The Byrd's Nest - Kim is the lovely momma to 4 birdies, 2 of whom are all grown up and 2 of whom are still in elementary school. She takes beautiful photos of her two youngest daughters and always has an inspired and encouraging word to share. The update on this recent post left me cheering for the grace and timing of God. It has also been so sweet to read about how God is preparing her family to move to Mexico to serve him as missionaries.

    Money Saving Mom & Baby Cheapskate - Both of these blogs help me find the great sales to go with all the coupons I collect. This keeps the coupons clipping from just becoming a fun scissor hobby. Just this week I scored 2 packs of Huggies diapers and 2 jumbo packs of Huggies wipes for just $13! Any site that helps me save money is worth my time!


    I highly recommend you add these blogs to your feedreader. And if you don't use a reader, go back and read my post about why using a feedreader makes your life easier!

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Charlotte's 20-Month Update

    Before I realized it, Charlotte became 20-months old. I was still putting her pictures into the 19-month folder when it occurred to me that I had lost track of time.

    And I also realized, that while I share a lot of our regular activities on this blog, I haven't talked about what skills and words Charlotte has acquired in the last couple of weeks and months.

    Bruce and I have really seen her explode in the number of verbal words she has. I think we have counted at least 30, but each day we think of more to add to our mental list (or maybe she just acquires more, knowing we are keeping a list?). I read that this type of verbal explosion is common around 18-19 months old. For Charlotte though, it is over and above the more than 70 signs that she now knows and still uses.

    We have even been excited to see her begin using 2-word phrases. Just the other night, when Bruce cleared my plate off the table, she said, "Momma back!" As in, give Momma back her plate. We assured her it was okay and that I didn't need it anymore.

    She has two favorite songs to sing - "Deep and Wide" and "Pattycake." And she does the hand motions to both of them. For "Deep and Wide," she even makes her Nonna do that hand motions too.

    Recently, she came down with Fifths Disease (I talked about it on my FB page) so she has had a slight loss of appetite and really prefers to eat her pop-pops (sugar-free ice pops) instead of anything else. I don't mind too much because I am sure it soothes her throat, but I do try to make sure she at least eats some grains, fruit, and dairy before she gets her pop-pops.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Charlotte Does the Zip Line

    Here is a little thing to distract you from tax day!

    I wish I could figure out how to embed this video, instead, you'll have to click this link and go watch it on the Sprint site.If anyone can figure out how to download this for my hard drive I would be forever grateful!

    Charlotte Does the Zip Line

    To hold you over until you watch the video, here is a still shot of her 2nd time on the zip line by herself. (Taken with my cell phone... I hate not having my camera!)

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Giveaway: Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Jr.

    This giveaway is now closed.

    Did you ever see the original Ace Ventura Pet Detective with Jim Carey? I did. And I was too grossed out to enjoy it. I think I even shut it off midway through because it was so painfully gross with WAY too much scatological humor.

    When I received an opportunity to review the younger, "Jr" version of the film, I did so with great hesitation. I mean, Charlotte loves animals so there was a good chance she would enjoy the movie, but what about the potty humor? Would this mom be able to handle it?

    Surprisingly, yes. There were some small, minor, bathroom jokes, but nothing nearly as gross as what Jim Carey subjected us all to back in 1994. I even found myself enjoying it and if not laughing, at least chuckling out loud a little.

    The basic plot of the movie is young Ace Jr loves animals, is a budding pet detective and is just plain weird. By just about everyone's standards. Even by his mom's standards, who was the wife of the original weird animal detective. So if she thinks her son is weird, well then, he must really be weird. But at the same time, he is incredibly likable. He understands he is different and just sort of embraces it, hair and all!

    I truly think most kids age 3 on up would enjoy this film. The younger crowd will mostly enjoy the animal tricks and older kids might enjoy seeing how someone embraces their unique differences and makes the most of it, despite peer group pressure.

    To win a copy of Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Jr (watched once), just leave a comment below telling me which animal your child likes the most. I will randomly draw 1 winners next Saturday. There are four ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to four entries:

    1. Leave a comment telling me which animal your child likes the most,
    2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
    3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
    4. Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did (honor system).
    That's it. 4 ways to win and 1 lucky winners. This giveaway will end at midnight on Saturday, April 18. Read all contest rules here.

    If you would like to have your own copy and don't want to wait to see if you won, just click this link over at Amazon.com  to purchase the DVD.

    Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
    Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

    Sponsored by Warner Bros. Entertainment.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Charlotte's Second Easter Party

    To celebrate Resurrection Sunday, our family started out by going to church. We love our new church and its pastor and were blessed with a service full of worship and great preaching. He didn't try to get cute about Easter, he just preached the gospel message. What more could we ask for?

    Once we were home, I twisted Bruce's arm to take a few shots of Charlotte and I in our pink outfits. This one is my favorite because we all look nice and you can see the Babin bump, which is looking a lot bigger all of a sudden!
     
    After lunch at home, we headed up towards my family and met them for a picnic. Grumpy was very excited to play with Charlotte, though I don't think his plan to swing with her worked out so well. :) 
     

    G-ma wanted to get in on the playing action and brought some cool bowling pins for Charlotte. She had fun knocking them over with her feet, but soon I and Auntie Michelle tired of picking them back up for her.

      
    And G-ma also decided that she needed wings. So here they are.

     

    Finally, we get to the Easter Egg Hunt. Charlotte found the first egg pretty easily. But, then again, it was laying out in a wide-open space. And it was bright pink.
      
    The next one was easy too. Hey, she's only 20 months old and is still new to the idea of hunting for eggs.
      
    I got a little trickier when I hid this yellow egg under the tree. She had to duck to get it.
      
    When Charlotte found the orange egg on top of the small memorial behind her, she surprised me by turning around and signing orange as she walked it to her basket. She really, truly is learning her colors. 
      
    Eventually, we let her eat. But she wasn't that interested in eating. I think she ate something like 5 grapes and a bit of a Sunchip. Her throat was a little scratchy today so I guess she wasn't too hungry. But she had enough energy to play and stand up in her chair! 
      
    Just another beauty shot of my bunny cupcakes, in case Epicurious is looking for one. :) 



    Despite not eating much lunch, she did find the energy to pull this puppy by the tail. Don't worry though, we put a quick stop to it. After I took this picture. :)

      
    Instead of a traditional Easter basket, G-ma gave Charlotte an Easter back pack. Inside was her first My Little Pony. She was very excited and ran off with into the field. (I don't know why she thought that was the appropriate response. Really, I don't.)
      
    I don't have a cute story for this picture, I just liked it. She really is a nature-lovin', tree-huggin' kind of girl! 
      

    And here is the whole crew. We had a lot of fun with my family and our friends today. I hope we can do it again sometime!

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Charlotte's First Easter Egg Hunt

    Warning: Lots of pictures to follow...

    On Good Friday, Charlotte attended her first Easter Egg hunt, hosted by our local playgroup. We were the first to arrive and no eggs were hidden yet, but that didn't stop her from scoping out the best hiding spots.

     
     After she got her basket all tucked away, it was playtime for a little while. This is Charlotte's famous flying pose. She likes to run as fast as she can with her arms splayed out behind her in an effort to lift off.
      
     Once her arms got sore, she commandeered the red wagon and managed to convince a few boys to pull her around for a long, long while. They seemed more than happy to oblige her wishes to be carted all over the park. I better watch out how she uses this power as she gets older!
     

    Fortunately, she is a giver too and tried really hard to pull them herself. I offered to help but was rebuked. She wanted to do it all by herself. And she did, along with another older boy who pushed it from behind (not pictured).
     
    Here is the only shot of both of us from that day.
      
     Finally, the hunt began and she was off. First to the fence line where many brightly colored eggs were awaiting her tiny, little hands.
      
     Not all of the eggs were quite so easy to spot though. This yellow one was hiding in some tall weeds.
      
     She wasn't sure if she could take it or not.
      
    In the end, she collected the 10 eggs each child was allowed and her basket was full of stickers, small toys, and some chewy candy for Momma!