16 February 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!

HUGE thank you to the following blogs for Awarding Me! Especially since I'm so new to the scene!

Eight Days a Week

Mommy to a Little Lady[bug]

Diapers, Dogs, and Deployment

When you receive this award there are 3 things that you are asked to do:
1. Thank the person who nominated you with a back link to their blog.
2. List 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 newly discovered or fondly followed blogs

7 things about me

1. I have watched a lion team hunt and kill in real life (something most people who visit Africa never see).
2. I have studied three languages and was best at Swedish.
3. I used to live for horses, riding horses, and everything horses, but at this point I doubt I'll ever get back on one again - it just seems too... remindful...
4. I love all things banana scented, banana flavored or with bananas in it but don't actually like eating bananas.
5. When I was pregnant I was so sick (and so unprepared) I threw up on the side of the road in three countries.
6. I've always considered myself a real "Islander" even though I've never lived on an Island.
7. I've always had a fear of sharks and my mom said that was ok since I wouldn't have to encounter any during my normal, daily activities... except you actually encounter shark stuff a lot and my fear is getting much, much worse.. it has officially become irrational.

I award the following 15 blogs the Versatile Blogger award! There are SO many great blogs out there, it was hard to choose!

1. http://www.babygiveawaysgalore.com
2. http://journeyoflifeandluv.blogspot.com/
3. http://green-baby-goods.com/
4. http://alifeofpeaceloveanddiapers.blogspot.com/
5. http://parentingpatch.com/
6. http://spoiledbutnotrotten.com
7. http://www.heatherandavery.blogspot.com/
8. http://www.simplecitylifeblog.com/
9. http://zephyrhill.wordpress.com/
10. http://www.adventures-in-fluff.blogspot.com
11. http://mommyadventures-leasha.blogspot.com/
12. http://burpclothsandsaddlepads.blogspot.com/
13. http://unravelingmotherhood.blogspot.com/
14. http://thecrunchywife.com/
15. http://adventuresincraziness.wordpress.com/

14 February 2012

What is LOVE?... Well It's #ClothDiapers

Well it’s certainly no secret I am a HUGE fan of cloth diapering. I can’t hide it, I won’t deny it, and I’m telling you I LOVE that fluffy bum! While I hope to make this blog one of interest that connects to people of all walks of life, please understand that my personal walk includes the Fluff! Really, it’s part of the reason for starting this blog. I’ve gotten so involved in the fluff community and love the camaraderie, and well, it’s SO not a “me” thing to do! I had never once changed a diaper in my 25 years of life until Miss O came along. Now, not only do I change them, I dunk them, swish them, spray them, and actually love them. I mean it. I love my stash in a personal way.

So before I go all “Barry Manilow” on my fluff stash, I think now is a great time to give a shout out to the diaper that started it all: Charlie Banana!

I remember a time in the not-so-distant past that I viewed anyone who cloth diapered as extremely archaic and, well, rather weird. Then, Zulily (my personal favorite discount site – here’s my referral link, I’m not ashamed! - http://www.zulily.com/invite/kmeeker876 ) featured Charlie Banana diapers and, curious by their bright colors and smooth, sleek design, I found myself uttering the words: “well, maybe with the NEXT baby, what do you think, Honey?” At that moment, my husband pointed out that our CURRENT baby was only four months old and buying two diapers “just to try them” certainly couldn’t hurt… (well more on just how “WRONG” he was at a later time! ;))


How gorgeous is that? The cross over tabs, the smooth material, the well stitch seams, the super soft liner… If lovin’ Charlie Banana is wrong – I do NOT want to be right!

Miss O is very tall and skinny so we had trouble with a few brands fitting around her waist (the term “duct tape” comes to mind) so the fact that Charlie Banana has cross over snaps on the tabs sealed the deal. And, while the inside elastic adjustment may deter a few folks, I promise it is simple to figure out and so much easier to deal with than snaps coming undone as you try to put the diaper on (my husband’s personal diaper peeve).

Best of all, if you need disposables for grandma or traveling, or if you’re truly so concerned about starting cloth diapering (although, after one night of Miss O sleeping in a Charlie Banana and waking up with a bone dry bum was enough to convert me for LIFE) Charlie Bananas offer a “2-in-1” system – not only can you use their provided microfiber inserts (yes, plural, how awesome), you can combine the cover with their disposable inserts. Honestly, I have not been a disposable insert person so I have no idea how these fair (just being honest) but if they are anything like the Charlie Banana diapers they will be of the highest quality!

Should that not be enough to excite you: Charlie Banana also donates 1% of worldwide profits to Operation Smile., which is an organization whose mission of helping children with cleft lips and cleft palates hits very close to home for me.

If you haven’t tried cloth diapering and are even just a teeny bit curious, please feel free to contact me with any questions – but don’t be afraid when I answer back! If you’re ready to take my word for it (and why wouldn’t you?) Zulily might have a *few* Charlie Bananas left from their current sale, otherwise I recommend checking out their fabulous retailers online!!

I just realized this will be posting on Valentine’s Day, how appropriate!

*Disclaimer: I was provided absolutely nothing for this review. I cannot say Charlie Banana does not know I exist because I often tweet or facebook with them about how fabulous their products are and I did win a giveaway once (but you can’t have them! They’re mine!!! ☺), but they definitely did not know I was writing this review and I can only hope they are happy with my words!*

07 February 2012

#FoodForThought: The Lost Cheese

Gorgonzola is, by far, the most under-used of all the cheeses. (*disclaimer: I have done NO research and have no bases for this conclusion other than my extreme love of the cheese and a casual recognition that it is not as popular as it should be.)

Never being a big fan of cheese, I had not tried the Great Gorgonzola until I became pregnant with Miss O. While I will get into the pregnancy details at some point, I'm sure, for now I will simply say I happened to be traveling at the time. My big dreams of enjoying the exotic foods of The Netherlands and Indonesia quickly came to a crashing halt as I resolved myself to living off various forms of cheese pizza (and banana pancakes - but that is for another day!). Soon I discovered that the Dutch (well, ok, Italians who had immigrated to The Netherlands) were sheer geniuses in using Gorgonzola on their cheese pizzas and my love affair was born! (Indonesians, on the other hand, make killer mocktails..) This, surprisingly, led me to discover that it wasn't cheese with which I had a problem - it was those gross cheese platters the grocery stores make up to serve a dozen or more people! In fact, when you buy the expensive cheese, I LOVE IT! I am a bonafide CHEESE SNOB!!!! (*disclaimer: I have no certificate or degree granting me this title, I bequeathed it upon myself..)

When I started this blog I knew I wanted to do a #FoodForThought segment that broke the traditional mold (here mold - cheese, get it?) of recipe posts. I truly LOVE food. I truly DON'T want copyright infringement lawsuits - and we all know I don't cook, let alone make up my own recipes. So I decided when I write about food I am going to incorporate the meaning and emotion behind my introduction to the particular ingredient highlighted in the post rather than review a specific recipe.

With that being said, I would like to share a few of my favorite ways to enjoy Gorgonzola (feel free to google specific recipes, but don't tell anyone I sent you...)

(1) Gorgonzola, Bacon, BBQ Burgers
(2) Gorgonzola Polenta
(3) Gorgonzola and Honey on toasted flatbread (do not feed to children under 2 no matter how much they beg and scream and cry and give kisses!)
(4) Gorgonzola and Cream Sauce on Filet Mignon

Feel free to judge that we have had Gorgonzola at dinner two times this week and it's Tuesday...thankfully Miss O finds Gorgonzola just as delightful as her parents do!

What is one food you never knew you loved? Was there a food you specifically fell in (or out) of love with during pregnancy? What is a good that takes you back to a specific memory in life?

06 February 2012

Just Another Magic Monday

Did you ever notice that when you light a candle from one already illuminated, the original candle does not lose any of its brilliance! And in doing so, the light from the original candle can light up the entire room, magnifying itself over and over again by lighting other candles. ...you can illuminate the lives of others. 
-- Mary Kay Ash

Personally, I LOVE that Monday comes directly after Sunday. Perhaps, this is because I LOVE church AND my job. But mostly, it's because I love that church gets me excited about work and work gets me excited about my relationship with God. How powerful is THAT?

As I sit in the pews (eerr chairs) at church, I love the feeling that comes as I recognize the awesome power the Lord has blessed me with - the power to CHANGE LIVES. Your life is NOT something to be taken lightly. We have this incredible power to influence others, to build up esteem, to encourage strength. This power comes from our hearts through our words. We owe it to others to be a blessing to them every single day. We owe it to ourselves to be a blessing to others. What an impact we can make on the world simply by channeling our energies into spreading positive energy.

Mondays are Mary Kay Success Days! We start each week (optional) with a powerful Success Meeting where we celebrate our accomplishments and receive encouragement and training for pursuing the future! Because of these meetings, I truly feel every company’s meetings should start by dancing to a fantastic song and clapping for every single person in the room!!! If you think I’m lying, you should check out a meeting ;) We Mary Kay Women LOVE to celebrate life!

Through my “job” I have an incredible opportunity to spread my faith, my support, my confidence to other women. I have an opportunity to impact women’s lives and give them financial stability, self-worth, and the ability to dream! What an enormous responsibility. What a shame it would be to waste that chance.

When I was in law school I knew I wanted to help women and children. My dreams involved social corporate responsibility, sex-trafficking and domestic violence abolition, and third world country development. I worked really hard. I was really smart. I was really motivated. I LOVED studying these issues.

Needless to say my life took a different direction. At first I felt frustrated and hurt that I had let my life slip away, but my dad (always my voice of reason) carefully explained to me he never thought I would have a typical 9-5 job – especially if that job involved an office and suit. My personality simply requires that I have a job where I am on the go, can express my individuality, and, honestly, do things my own way. Suddenly, I began looking at my current “job” through new eyes. I can STILL help women and their children. I can STILL offer the world something powerful. I can do it with more pizazz and more individuality than I ever could while working in a corporate or government setting. My “job” is LIFE CHANGING. Not just for me, but for the women with whose lives I cross paths.

I know I can speak for myself when I say I do not want to be at those pearly gates and feel I wasted all my God-given talent. Sure, I am a talking cliché, but how many people actually follow through?

If I could wish anything for myself, I would wish my life to illuminate others, to light the path for them to follow, but only for as long as needed for them to get started on their way. May my ego never grow to forget that being a blessing to others does not equal bringing others to rely on me. Rather, being a blessing requires that my light fade in order to allow another’s to shine for herself. If I could wish anything for others, I would wish they would experience life as it was meant to be lived! That they could truly enjoy themselves and everything they have to offer the world.

This week I want you to challenge yourself, step outside the box, and really start to tap into your full potential. What is one goal you have for yourself today, this week, this year, or in life? What is something that would take you out of your comfort zone, but would help you reach that goal faster?

03 February 2012

Miss O's Mama

Miss O’s current favorite book is “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud. She could read that book one hundred times in a day and still want to take it to bed with her. The premise of the book is teaching children to fill the invisible “good feelings” buckets of everyone around them.

Miss O is definitely a bucket filler. She has never met a stranger, never suffered insecurity, never ignored the lonely. DH and I half-heartedly joke that we know more about living the life of a celebrity than most, as we can never go anywhere without being stopped by a half dozen strangers so they can chat with O. For example, when we lived in Wisconsin (for 10 minutes) I received a text from Ray saying "Why was I filling up the car at the gas station and someone yelled hey! it's Olivia's dad!"

I would give almost anything to make others feel the way Miss O makes them feel (but I would not give up O!). People really take to heart how much she loves them. I once heard an elderly woman tell her husband “did you see how she smiled at me! Oh she really liked me!” I refuse to admit how choked up I got – it would be bad for my image – but I think it is safe to say her bucket was filled that day.

At one of my doctor’s appointments when I transferred to the military hospital at Andrews, the doctor read a note on my file that a nurse had written saying that this baby was one of the liveliest she had seen. I’m sure this had some medical purpose such as “watch out if the baby only kicks one bajillion times instead of two bajillion times” or “danger! danger! baby let mama sleep without dancing all night!” – but the doctor smiled as she told me and said “wow, this baby is making people laugh and he or she isn’t even here yet!”

Yep. There you have it: Miss O in a nut shell.

I know people will think “sure, every mom thinks her kid is great” or “sure, kids say the darndest things.” Well I don’t. Sorry. I’m not a mushy gushy, baby loving, cheek pinching, head smelling (c’mon you know what I’m talking about..), default kid lover. I think there are really cool kids out there, but not all. There is just something about being in O’s presence that is so humbling, so engrossing…I am starting to wonder if the great purpose God was prepping me for this whole life was simply to bring her into the world so she could work HER magic.

Sometime, in another life, I sparkled the way she does. I know it’s in me: I just have to find it again. Well, unless through giving birth I somehow transferred my powers to her. That may very well have happened. I have this theory that moms are so tired all the time because children suck all the energy out of them during the birthing process and that is why a child can run around the couch one million times and not get winded and moms cannot do the laundry without stopping to rest (or is that just me?).

Alright, I digress - I warned you I talked too much and often without point. But, really, when do we lose that childlike wonder? When do we lose that ability to love without fear of rejection? Better yet, when did we stop realizing that people aren’t all bad? Rest assured, that if you smile at someone in the grocery store, you will make their day and will mostly likely get a smile in return – how great would that feel?! Smiles and warm greetings should be handed out like free candy! And you know what? If you do not make someone’s day when you smile at them, they are the ones who needed your smile the most. So do not take their rejection to heart and, instead, recognize that their heart is hurting more.

I challenge you in the next few days to try to fill at least one bucket a day. A smile, a “hello,” a phone call or note – anything that raises the self worth of another.

When is the last time you filled a bucket? What is your favorite or most creative way to encourage others?