Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthdays and Baseball

We so enjoy all the summertime fun of this time of year.  Last weekend was no exception.

We started off the day Saturday with a little playoff baseball.  David's team, the A's, have had an exceptional season.  They have won 18 games and only lost 4.  Now, I love my son and I think he tries hard at all he does, but we did not win those 18 games because of David.  He was an good player, hitting some, and striking out some.  His throwing arm really improved over the course of the season.  But I will honestly say that he is the cutest little player out on the field.


Last week, his league had their end of year playoff tournament.  It was double elimination and as of Saturday, we hadn't lost.  So 11:30 rolls around and we are playing the only other team left in the tournament, the Yankees.  Fingers were crossed that we would win that game and be league champs without ever facing defeat.  But, no, that didn't happen.  We lost that game.  Since it was our first loss, we had to turn right around and play the same team again.  And...we won!!  Coach pitch champs!!  Good job, A's!!

While we were ecstatic that we won, playing 2 games meant we were at the ball field for 3 hours.  We were tired.  I was hungry because there were no gluten free options at the concession stand so I didn't have lunch. And we still had a birthday party to throw.

Yes, you heard that right.  My baby boy was having a birthday!!  And every good birthday calls for a good birthday party.

This year David chose to have his party at the bowling alley.  Bowling parties really are easy.  I just pay the money and the bowling entertains the kids.

A big cousin hug
It's bowling time!
Then Sunday rolled around and it was David's actual birthday.  He was up early and super excited all day.  After church, we let him decide where to eat and he chose "that place with the unsliceably soft rolls", i.e. O'Charley's.  He got lots of those yummy rolls (sigh, the ones I can't eat anymore) and a free piece of birthday pie.  After coming home and opening his gifts, I played with him and his new toys all afternoon.

Overall, I'd say it was a pretty good 8th birthday weekend for my growing boy.  

Happy birthday to my snuggly, loving, smiley little boy.

Monday, June 24, 2013

How Cascade Platinum Makes my Life Easier

Summertime is the time of staying up late to catch firefliess and sleeping in the next day.  Its the time of swimming, lounging in the sun with a good book and catching up on all those movies you've wanted to watch all year.  Summer means barbecues, grilled veggies and fresh garden treats.

It also means more laundry, more messes and more dishes.

Yup, with all that fun comes a whole bunch of extra work for a mom.  We go from eating 2 meals at home to eating 3 here every day.  That means 3 more plates, cups and silverware to wash each day (Tim still eats his lunches away at work every day).  Plus there are added snacks which generate even more dishes to clean.  Needless to say, our dishwasher fills up a lot more often in the summertime.  We go from running it every 2-3 days during the school year to running it every day in the summer.

So when Mom Central Consulting asked for bloggers willing to try out a new dishwasher soap, I jumped on the chance.  Free dishwashing packets in exchange for an honest review?  Yes, please.  Sign me up.  Just so we're all clear:  I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.  All opinions are my own.

During those long, leisurely summer days,  I want to go have fun with the rest of the family and do the least amount of work possible on dishes.  That's where Cascade Platinum Pacs come in.  I have used Cascade in my dishwasher for years.  More recently, I have used Cascade dishwashing packets to make running the dishwasher so quick and easy.

So when I heard there was a new kind of Cascade Pacs that used triple cleaning action, eliminating the need to pre-wash dishes and leaving them super shiny, I was ready to jump right in and try them.  Cascade Platinum Pacs offer more than my previous Cascade variety by preventing hard water buildup on both the dishes and on my dishwasher walls.  East Tennessee is known for its hard water so anything to help out with hard water stains is a plus in my book.

Let's run through a typical day in our crazy household.  The kids get up first and are hungry.  So we all use plate #1 for our breakfast and maybe, bowl #1, because we can't have anything touch, you know.  Then it's time to run around and play until midmorning when, once again the natives are hungry.  So it's bowl #2 for each for snack time.  After some screen time, I tear them away for lunch - plate #2 for each and bowl #3 (fruit can't be anywhere near our sandwich or the juice might touch it so we must use extra dishes to prevent this horrible situation).  Are you getting the idea?  By bedtime, our dishwasher is full of dishes that look like this:

Does anybody rinse these babies off?  Uh, no, not usually.  They just get thrown in like they are.

Then it's time for the magic, that colorful little Cascade Platinum Pac just gets slipped in the dispenser and closed and...

Voila!  Sparkling clean, shiny dishes!

I love how quick and easy it is to use Cascade Platinum Pacs.  I love that I can be as lazy as I want and just stick those dishes in without prewashing them.  I love that Cascade Platinum helps prevent that hard-water film build-up that so common around here.  And I love how clean and shiny all my dishes look after I've used Cascade Platinum.

Since people eat with their eyes as much as with their mouths (just ask my son, who refused to eat a perfectly good meal because "it looked yucky"), food critic, Gail Simmons has partnered with Cascade to show just how important presentation is.  Gail states, "The easiest recipes pop with unexpected, gourmet presentations.  Drizzle bright sauces on sparkling white plates or layer desserts in crystal-clean glassware.  Keep your presentation sparkling with Cascade Platinum, which keeps dishes perfect for anytime entertaining and impromptu guests."  Visit the Cascade YouTube page for more advice from Gail.

Here are some things to know:
  • You can buy Cascade Platinum Pacs in both Fresh scent and Lemon Burst scent.
  • You can connect with Cascade on Facebook or on Instagram at #MyPlatinum.
  • You can enter the Cascade "My Platinum" contest on Instagram where each week two contestants will be selected to receive a brand new Whirlpool dishwasher!  One lucky grand prize winner will receive a Platinum kitchen makeover!  Check out all the details here.  (Hurry, the contest ends on June 30.)
  • Visit the Cascade YouTube page for more information about their partnership with Gail Simmons
Hope your summer is long, leisurely and full of easy dishwashing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Gratitude Project

My one word for this year is Gratitude, being thankful to God for all he has given me.  Join me in the Gratitude Project every Thursday.  I list what I'm thankful for and you tell me what you're thankful for.

Julie and I just got home on Wednesday after 5 days together at Centrikid camp.  The camp was wonderful.  It was well run, fun and all about the kids.  We were very tired when we got home and it took 2 nights of good sleep and good sleeping in to feel rested again.  

Tonight Julie is off to tent camp at Papaw's house for the first time.  She is super excited, as in scouring-YouTube-for-camping-videos-for-days excited.

Tomorrow is David's baseball team tournament game.  His team has an 18-4-1 record in the regular season and is undefeated in the tournament so far.  The championship game is Saturday morning - Go A's!  

Then Saturday afternoon is his birthday party at the bowling alley, where 11 of his friends get to come and bowl together.

Then next week is VBS.  Very fun and rewarding, but also time-consuming and tiring. 

So...needless to say, the rest of June is just as busy as the last 2 weeks have been.  But there's always something to be thankful for and there is always time to say it.
  1. I'm thankful that Centrikid camp was a huge success and that Julie got to make a lot of new friends.
  2. I'm thankful that David's baseball team is winning, but more so that they are working together well as a team.
  3. (from Julie) I'm thankful for technology, especially tablets.
  4. (from David) I'm thankful for my mommy and that she is home from camp.

Now it's your turn.  What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guest Post: The Pros and Cons of Alternative Medicine

To go along with my recent series on Alternative Medicine and my experience with it, I have a guest post today from Tammy Mahan of Healthline.com.

Pros and Cons of Alternative Medicine

Balance is the basic principle behind a number of alternative medicine types. Various energy medicine forms, tai chi and acupuncture are used to bring balance back to the body. This can return health to normal in theory.

It is important to keep balance in mind when alternative medicine is being considered for yourself or a loved one. There are things that you should remain cautious of, even though alternative and complementary medicine has benefits. The pros and cons should be taken into consideration before beginning a therapy that is new.

Pros of Alternative Medicine

There are approximately thirty-eight percent of adults and twelve percent of children according to the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) are using a type of alternative medicine. The reasons are as follows:

Treatment of the entire person - There is a view in traditional medicine that the person is a different entity than the disease they are carrying. There have been a number of advances in treatment as the trend for medical specializations are increasing; physicians were previously distracted from the part of the patient that was still healthy. Care of the entire body is the focus in alternative medicine. The overall spiritual and emotional health of the patient is addressed by alternative medicine practitioners. Among the main reasons that there is a rise in alternative medicine is the increased interest in the holistic approach according to the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

Alternative medicine practitioners provide an increased amount of personal attention to patients because of the whole body care focus. Full waiting rooms, insurance companies pressuring them, and being strapped for time, occur with traditional physicians. One on one attention has an increased emphasis for those practicing alternative medicine because the fee structures and philosophies are different.
Prevention is focused on which is another attraction of alternative medicine. There is an encouragement for treatment on prevention of disease when you well in addition to when you are sick unlike with traditional medicine when the focus is only on being sick.

Cons of Alternative Medicine

There are key factors that should be kept in mind prior to attempting new types of alternative medicine. You should not be prevented from using alternative medicine by the concerns that follow. They provide additional information in the process of making a decision.

The scientific research has been limited. There has been an increase in the funding for alternative medicine research studies as the demand has increased. The evidence is limited and there are a lot of unanswered questions in comparison to methods in traditional medicine. There are a number of studies being done. To learn more about them, ask your healthcare provider or visit the NCCAM website and use the link for research. You can also inquire about online resources or scientific journals at your local library.

The herbal product or dietary supplement that you are considering taking is something that you should see what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies have to say about. The websites for the various agencies can provide alternative medicine reports.

You should think about balance when you consider alternative medicine. Your best option could be to take the best health care from each alternative.

Tammy Mahan is a certified natural health consultant. She enjoys writing articles about alternative therapies and shares her knowledge on Healthline.com .

Monday, June 17, 2013

The big 1-0

I have now officially been a mom for a whole decade.

To my sweet, sensitive, loving, super smart, beautiful daughter, Happy 10th Birthday!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

For dressing up even when you didn't want to...

For always making us laugh...

For enduring the water park when you're more of a lay in the sand kind of guy...

For loving me and our children...

For being mostly patient when building wooden derby cars with the kids...

For cutting up things that I can't and for using your husband-sized strength...

For catering to my whims of hanging pictures with velcro...
For all those things and many more, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to the greatest dad and husband in the world!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Gratitude Project

My one word for this year is Gratitude, being thankful to God for all he has given me.  Join me in the Gratitude Project every Thursday.  I list what I'm thankful for and you tell me what you're thankful for.

  1. I told you that I visited a chiropractor for a massage earlier this week.  Today, I'm thankful that I felt really good on Wed.  I was able to do a fair amount of chores without being in too much pain.
  2. I'm thankful that both kids are in camps this week and I get a few hours to blog while I'm home alone.
  3. I'm thankful that I have a washer and dryer and it can make my life easier when trying to get clothes washed and ready to be packed.
Julie and I are headed off to camp this weekend for 5 days of tween craziness, or maybe that's just my view on things.  Anyway, we expect to have lots of fun and to be insanely tired when we return.  I'll post some pictures next week.

What's on your plate for the weekend?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Booksneeze: A Matter of Trust

A Matter of Trust (A Mia Quinn Mystery)

I received a complementary Kindle version of this book from the Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

(Book description from the Booksneeze website)

When life is murder, who can you trust?
One minute Mia Quinn is in her basement, chatting on the phone with a colleague at the prosecutor’s office. The next minute there’s a gunshot over the line, and Mia listens in horror as her colleague and friend Colleen bleeds to death.
Mia’s a natural for heading up the murder investigation, but these days she has all she can do to hold her life together. As a new widow with a pile of debts, a troubled teenaged son, and a four-year-old who wakes up screaming at night, she needs more time with her family, not less—and working Colleen’s case will be especially demanding. But Colleen was her friend, and she needs to keep her job. So she reluctantly teams up with detective Charlie Carlson to investigate Colleen’s death. But the deeper they dig, the more complications unfold—even the unsettling possibility that someone may be coming after her.
Lis Wiehl’s signature plot twists and relatable characters shine in this absorbing series debut . . . with an intriguing cameo from her best-selling Triple Threat series.

My Thoughts

I loved Lis Wiehl's earlier Triple Threat series.  But I love this book even more.  Wiehl does a great job of capturing all sides of the central character.  We see her struggle to raise her children by herself and make mistakes along the way.  We see her fail and cower and weep. But we also see her pick herself up again both at home and in her new job.  She's such a real person, you just want to run over to her house and give her a big hug and tell her everything will be OK.

A Matter of Trust has a little bit of everything - parenting, intrigue, a budding romance, and most of all, a murder mystery.  Let's not forget that the main point of the book is to solve a murder, and Wiehl does it in style.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, wanting to keep reading to figure it all out.  There are so many possible culprits that you will keep guessing until the very end.  

There is really nothing bad I can say about this book, except for the fact that there isn't a sequel...yet.  

I give A Matter of Trust 5 out of 5 stars.

If you enjoy my book reviews and plan on purchasing the book for yourself, please consider using my above affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Alternative Medicine: Chiropractors, are they worth trying?

Dreamstime stock photo - source
Other posts in this series:
What is an alternative medicine doctor and what do they do?
What testing do you get when you choose alternative medicine?
What is a detox diet and why do you do it?
What supplements and shakes do they recommend?
Results of the food sensitivities testing.
What kind of therapy did my osteopath recommend?

I kind of visited a new doctor yesterday.  I say, kind of, because I really went in to get a massage, not to get a medical consultation.

But let's go back to the beginning.

Since about September of last year, I have been getting regular medical massages every two or three weeks.  What that means is that I go and pay someone to press really hard on all the trigger points (muscle knots) that I have.  My pain condition, myofascial pain syndrome, causes me to have many, many of these spots.  They get so entrenched in my muscles and fascia that they cause my whole muscle to stay contracted.  When the muscle is contracted long enough, it starts to spasm.

I want to do everything I can not to get to the spasm point.  Out of everything I've tried, massages are the most effective in getting rid of trigger points.  I guess I feel a little guilty at times about telling people that I get a massage every two weeks.  People tend to look at me as if I'm a little too pampered.  So I just wanted to get the background out there to let you know that these aren't "feel good" massages.  They are not relaxing.  They hurt and they continue to hurt for several days afterward.  But then I feel better and I can move better and I can function better, at least for a short time.

The guy that I was getting massages from was great.  He was a former biology teacher in Rwanda.  During their civil wars, he brought his family to the US and decided to go to massage school.  Both of those (biology and massage school) made him very knowledgeable in muscles, how they work and how they are connected.  I could just go in and tell him what was hurting the most and he would concentrate on the trigger points affecting those areas. He could help me be able to move again.  I do not think my shoulder would have gotten better as quickly as it did if it were not for him.

However, after going to the same massage therapist for 6 months, he decided to close his shop and move away in hopes of getting more business elsewhere.

So I had to find a new masseuse.

At the recommendation of a friend, I went to see her chiropractor, who is also a licensed massage therapist.  Even though I was scheduled for a massage, I still had to talk to the doctor about my condition beforehand.  Like a lot of medical professionals that I've met over the last year and a half, she spent most of the time trying to re-diagnose me from her point of view.  I say that because it seems like every specialist sees an issue according to their bias.  A GI doctor sees a digestive issue.  A osteopathic doctor sees a lifestyle issue.  A chiropractor sees a back issue.

Are there issues with my back?  Probably.  Will they fix all my pain?  Probably not.

The chiropractor was great at giving a massage.  She actually pressed harder and found more trigger points than my last guy.  That's a good thing.  But she also wants me to come back as a chiropractic patient and get adjustments.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.

It's hard to go to doctor after doctor and get re-diagnosed each time.  They say "Oh, this (one thing) is what is wrong with you.  All you have to do is this simple exercise/stretch/diet, etc. and you will be cured."  Then I get my hopes up and I do whatever it is they are asking.  And it doesn't help.  It never helps.  And I've just spent a lot of time and energy and money.  And I've been disappointed time and again.

I don't know if I can do that again with a new doctor.

What would you do if you were me?  Would you go try the chiropractor for a while?  

Monday, June 10, 2013

May books

These are the books that I've read in May, my "other" books.  Feel free to read the list of 12 books that I'm planning to read in 2013.  You can also see all the books I've read this year and find links to their reviews on my Pinterest page.  There are affiliate links in this post.

Echoes of Titanic

(I got this book as an exchange when I took back a duplicate Christmas gift.  I've been anxious to read it for a while and I'm glad I finally got it in.)

Synopsis:  In 1912, Adele Brennan becomes one of the few to escape the sinking of the Titanic with her life.  Adele rides the rescue ship to New York to live with a father she hasn't seen for 16 years and never looks back.  She uses her natural business sense (and a few secret sources of income) to bring her father's company safely through the Great Depression and into the new century.

Now Brennan and Tate is in the capable hands of Adele's great-granddaughter, Kelsey.  But when Kelsey's boss is murdered, Kelsey starts to investigate her own company and finds that things are not what they seem to be.  Can she find the murderer in time and prevent the hostile takeover of her company?  Will working with her ex Cole Thornton help her or hinder her?

My Thoughts:  As with all of Mindy Starnes Clark's book, this one's a winner.  Great plot, great mystery, great characters.  I loved it!

(I bought the Kindle version of this at the suggestion of my brother.  It was on sale when I got it, but it's definitely worth full price.)

Synopsis: The Insanity of God is the lifelong account of searching for how God works in the hard places.  After leaving Kentucky to become missionaries, Nik and Ruth Ripkin and their three kids (pseudonyms) endured 6 hard years in Africa.  It was the mid-90's and they had been asked to minister in Somolia to those ravaged by years of civil war and famine, a place so heart-breaking and needy that Nik found it hard to figure out which need to start with.

At the end of 6 years, all relief workers were kicked out of the country and Nik was left wondering if he had really made any difference at all.  He decided to embark upon a journey of discovery.  He spent the next 15 years visiting oppressed Christians in nations hostile to the Gospel, those who have to endure imprisonment, torture and hatred because of their faith.  How is it that Christianity is flourishing in these countries?  Is God still working in places where evil abounds?  In this book, Nik shares his thoughts and conclusions on those topics and more.

My Thoughts:  Absolutely phenomenal book!  Nik Ripkin tells story after story of those who suffer so much.  It opened my eyes to what a lot of people endure in the world just because they believe in Jesus and want to tell others about Jesus.  It makes me appreciate the freedoms we have here and makes me wonder why I'm not more open with sharing Jesus to those around me.  Very convicting book.  Should be required reading for every Christian.

(I won a copy of this book through an online contest.)

Synopsis:  Two successful small business owners tell how they have used Pinterest to increase their sales.  They give tips and ideas for marketing your products on America's fastest growing social media site.

My Thoughts:  This book really wasn't for me.  First of all, it was written last year, which doesn't seem like that long ago, but with social media sites, things change lightning fast.  Some of the specifics they write about the site don't apply any more.  The book is also very much geared towards someone with a product to sell.  Since I don't have a product to sell, I didn't get a lot out of it.

(I've had this book forever, so I'm not really sure where I got it, but I'll bet it was on sale.)

Synopsis:  Are you too busy to pray?  Bill Hybels helps us slow down and remember to take time to talk to God every day.

My Thoughts:  This is my list book for the month (my fifth list book for the year, so I'm right on track).  I guess I didn't realize that this isn't actually "the book", it's a workbook that's supposed to go along with the book.  Since I've never read the actual book, I was afraid that I would be lost.   Thankfully, that was not the case.  This workbook was just wonderful and seems to be completely separate from the regular book.  It gives you a new prompt on each page with an idea for prayer.  Then it gives you space to write out a prayer for the day.  I found it was a good way to think of new and different things to pray about.  I haven't finished the whole thing, as it's more like a devotional, meant to be used over a period of time.

(I bought the Kindle version of this book as soon as it came out.  I really like Jill Savage as an author and snatch up everything she writes.)

Synopsis:  Are you a mom who is tired of trying to measure up to those lives you see on social media?  Are you unable to survive the Perfection Infection that Pinterest brings?  Are you a tired, real mom wading through the child-rearing years needing a cheerleader?  Than this is the book for you.

My Thoughts:  I've read bits and pieces of this book before, but this time I read it from cover to cover (relatively speaking, it was an e-book - no covers :)).  This time Jill Savage, the author, hosted an online Facebook book club to go along with reading the book.  I had never participated in one of those before and it was a lot of fun.  We read one chapter a week.  Jill would then post discussion questions on Tues and Thurs and we would get to have a conversation with other moms in the trenches about that chapter.

I thought the book and the idea behind the book were both just wonderful.  I constantly feel that pressure to measure up to others.  My kids don't eat healthy enough. I'm not smuggling sweet potatoes into their brownies.  My house isn't spotless or decorated well. I don't take good enough pictures.  Jill addresses all these things and more and teaches us to change our expectations in order to fight the Perfection Infection. We don't have to be perfect to be good moms! There is a website/online group that goes along with the book, that includes videos and discussion questions for each chapter.  It was just really fun and encouraging to read this book along with others.  I got a lot out of it.

(Dana White writes the humorous blog A Slob Comes Clean.  She offered an e-book sale one day.  I took her up on the offer and bought a book bundle that included this book.) 

Synopsis: After being overwhelmed by the mess in her house for years, Dana decided to do something about it.  Now you can too.  Follow her simple steps to a much saner existence.

My Thoughts:  What Dana writes about isn't rocket science.  It's coming up with daily cleaning routines and having the discipline to follow them.  In that sense I didn't learn a whole lot from this book.  However, the way she writes is just fantastic.  She's funny and conversational and you feel like she is right there in the room talking to you.  But as the title says, this book is not for the mildly disorganized.  It's really only for those who are covered up in clutter and mess and need help fast.  If that's you, read the book.  If not, I would just pass.

(I got this book through the Paperback Swap program. It's great, you should try it.)

Synopsis:  Told from the point of view of Dinah, The Red Tent follows the story of Jacob from the Bible.  It explores the lives of Jacob's four wives and their only daughter Dinah as she comes of age in a world of men.   See inside the women's tent, the red tent.

My Thoughts:  You know, I am torn about this book.  I thought the writing was great and the characters were even better.  The idea of seeing life through the red tent (the tent that women had to visit during their monthly cycles and for childbirth) is very intriguing.  But I can't get over the fact that she messed with the Bible in the sense that this book does not agree with the Biblical account.  Even though the author makes it clear that she is writing a novel and not a historical account, I still get upset when people mess with the Bible and reinterpret the stories.  I can't in good conscience recommend this book.  If it was just a fiction book about people not in the Bible, than I would have loved it.  But not this way.

I have read 8 books this month, the ones listed above as well as Take a Chance on Me.  That brings my total up to 33 for the year.  I think I'll make my 40 book goal.  Feel free to check out my Pinterest board to find all the reviews.