Thursday, November 26, 2009

A-B-C's of Thankfulness

I've been a bit quiet this week while working on this list. Some of the items might not make sense, but each represents a person, thing or memory for which I am thankful.  It was hard to keep each letter to one item, and in the case of some letters, hard to think of something that begins with the letter. I mean, I'm sorry "X," but you are a toughie! Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

Family and Friends
Good books
The Boy
Yale Ave Christian Church
Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Book Clubs?

I admit it. I have always wanted to be in a book club, but I never knew how to find one, nor did I know how to start one. This past year, however, things have changed.  Erin brought up the idea of doing one over the internet, and Bethany started one in Tulsa!

That's right.

I went from zero to two all within a few months! I love it! Being in a book club encourages me to read-- and read outside my normal selections-- which I love.

Do you belong to a book club? What do and/or don't you like about it?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

When Sunday comes...

Last week I taught my Sunday school class for the first time. Oh, let's make the full confession, it's the first time I have taught any class for persons above the age of twelve. I thought it went well, and I have been asked to teach again next Sunday while our normal teacher visits his son's church to hear him preach.  Anyway, please pray for me again! I need it more than ever.

Today was Consecration Sunday at Yale Avenue, and while it is relatively easy for me to check the box on the number of Sunday services I will attend and who I will pray for (church, family, others) and to fill in the line for financial giving, I always struggle with how to share my talents. This is one area where I am constantly at a loss-- especially in recognizing my talents and applying them as gifts towards others. Sure, I can host an amazing dinner party, but I don't think that's what was meant.

In discussing this with the teacher of my class, he tells me that I am talented in vigilance.  Sadly, I had to ask what he meant, not because I didn't know what the word means, but because I was having a hard time applying it to our class and how I could use it to help others.  Apparently, I am alert and take in what is around me and can go one step further in applying it to our class (paraphrasing his reply).  I read a lot, even books outside my comfort zone, and study the Bible. I was happy to learn he thinks this is a good thing, and I keep him on his toes, but I am still thinking about what that means and how I can use it when it comes to church. I admit, I have never thought of it as a talent, and sometimes see it as a burden! 

I ended up writing on the line that I would continue to volunteer to substitute for our teacher when he must be absent from class. This is stepping outside my comfort zone, but I will NUTS (never underestimate the spirit) and grow in the process!

What do you see as your talent? How do you use it?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Feature: Kindle app for iphone

I have not blogged much about my favorite applications for iphone, but I have to give a shout out to the Amazon Kindle application. I held out for a long time, but I wanted to have something I could read in bed while The Boy slept next to me when I didn't want to get out of bed after snuggling with him while he went to sleep. Plus, I like to read, and I have been missing the opportunity to read at the drop of a hat.

My husband had been using a Kindle for six months or so, and he liked it, so I decided to try out the application on my iphone. Quite honestly, I love it. I love being able to read in line, during lunch, in bed...everywhere! I tend to use the black background, because it is easier on my eyes (dark room, bright light), but I have not noticed any fatigue in my eyes from reading on my phone.

The books do not seem very expensive, and I am able to use it for my book club reading as well. The application allows you to take notes and bookmark pages too, which I did not know at first, but now that I do, it is on! If you have an iphone and like to read, you might check it out.

Do you have a favorite application or tool on your phone? What is it?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of my favorite parts of greening, simplifying, and taking charge of my health is my ever increasing sense of self-awareness. Before you begin to think I am self-centered, allow me to explain.

The deeper I dive, the more aware I am of how my body feels when it is functioning in perfect health, as it was designed. When something starts to go wrong, I can pinpoint it, usually quite quickly. I know at the first tingle what is going on. I know when I ovulate, not based on a calender of an "average" cycle, but rather my unique cycle. I know when a cold is coming. I know when my diet is not in my unique balance, and when I am not meeting my body's need to recover. I understand the first sign of stress and distress in my body often times before I would have even thought of stress in my younger years.

I have become incredibly self-aware, and I like it. It increases my happiness to be able to help myself be and stay healthy. I suppose this post has no point other than to say that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deodorant versus none

Deodorant. Oh, my love-hate relationship with you! In late August, a fellow basketball wife asked about what people use for deodorant and why. She was concerned about some of the impacts to her body of the ingredients as well. Of course I chimed in, most of which is repeated below and is the background/basis of my own dilemma. If you know all about deodorants, antiperspirants, and the body functions and chemicals involved, skip the next few paragraphs and hit my dilemma!

It's not sweat that causes the odor, but for most people the bacteria that are in the armpit (your scalp and other hairy areas excrete an oily sweat from the glad, as opposed to the rest of your body that sweats more fluid/water) munching on the oils that cause the smell . More than you wanted to know, right? The trick is to form a barrier between the bacteria and oily sweat, if the odor bothers you. I notice regularly that I can smell myself but others cannot.

Antiperspirants use aluminum to block the sweat gland, where as deodorants try to minimize bacterial growth by changing the pH of the skin. Equally worth avoiding are aluminum (linked to Alzheimers) and parabens (found in many breast cancer tumors). What I use and don't use depends on the time of year/season. I also try to avoid as many chemicals as possible, so generally that is where I am coming from.

In the summer months, when it is hot and I sweat more, I use Tom's of Maine. It is the easiest to find/most mainstream of the non-Aluminum deodorants and uses hops to inhibit microbal growth. I generally do not like to use fragrance (most fragrances are carcinogens).

In the spring and fall, when it is still warm, I tend use crystal body deodorant stick.

During the winter, unless I know I will be in a sweaty situation, I use nothing.

You can make your own by mixing cornstarch with baking soda and apply it with a puff after you are thoroughly dry post bathing. You can actually do this anywhere you feel the need. You can also make your own with a recipe.

You can always check the chemical make up of your deodorant, etc on the EWG's skin deep database-- 0 is the best rating and 10 the worst.

Since I wrote that I have given up all deodorants and the crystal, but lately I have come to a dilemma due to shower timing issues. This might be TMI, but I need to find an answer!

I used to shower every other day, mostly due to my hair getting funky. However, now that I have ditched the poo, my hair can go three of four days without a washing (amazing, no?), but my underarms cannot! So, the way I see it, I can a) shower every other day and wet, but not wash my hair each time; b) shower every three or four days but use the crystal, if that works; c) shower every three or four days but use Tom's or similar deodorant stick; or walk around stinky.

Now, obviously when I am working out as I should and not every three or four days like I have been, I will need to switch up my shower pattern, but I'm not really sure which I want to do as far as my body or the environmental impact.

Who said being green and making conscious decisions about product usage is always easy and straight forward?

Anyone want to chime in?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good ol' Meme to get to know me.

Kearstin, a fellow basketball wife, posted this on her brand spanking new blog today, and I am borrowing from her. :)

1. WAS I NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Not exactly, but I suppose kind of.
3. DO I LIKE MY HANDWRITING? Hmm... my rushed writing? no. My take my time writing, yes.
5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? The Boy...our one and only.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? They exited the premises without me.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? No cereal please.
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Their smiles or lack thereof.
15. RED OR PINK? Pink.
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Sometimes I am easily excitable, and not in a good way.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Kevin. No contest, hands down.
18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE ELSE TO PUT THIS ON THEIR BLOG? Seems like it could be fun, so yes!
19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black patent leather.
20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A juicy pear! Nummy!
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Definitely a rich green color.
23. FAVORITE SMELL? A spring day after the rain.
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? A coworker who kindly updated me about the traffic situation, so I could make it across town in time to pick up The Boy. Construction EVERYWHERE + Accidents = long drive
25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I stole it outright, and yes, I like her.
26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Gymnastics- hands down, but I also like basketball.
27. Hair Color? Dark blonde/light brown.
28. EYE COLOR? Hazel .
30. FAVORITE FOOD? Watermelon.
31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy Endings, but I struggle to make it through movies. Too much sitting!
32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Madagascar 2. No comment.
34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Minnesota...
35. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs. And kisses.
36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Hmm... this is so complicated. Who can pick just one?
38. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? 99% of the people visiting this blog.
39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? The Memory Keepers Daughter, Eating Animals and Respectable Sins.
40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I don't use one.
42. FAVORITE SOUND? "Mommy, I love you." is right on up there with Kevin saying he loves me. Other than that, I LOVE silence!
44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Um, Izmir Turkey? I think that's the furthest, but I am not going to get a map out to check.
45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Talent? Um, I make milk! Well, I used to anyway.
46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Paynesville, MN

Play along! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

When Basketball and Charity Collide

My friend, Erin, is holding a contest on her blog this week, and it's a good one. A friend of hers issued a challenge to raise money for the organization Wine to Water, and while I generally support Living Water International, I see no reason not to throw my hat in Erin's (and Tyler's) ring! For every point and rebound that Tyler racks up this season, I will be donating towards his goal of 35 wells. Please, join us! I can and do vouche for Erin's honesty, and if she tells me Tyler is a good guy, I believe her. Plus his writing is FUNNY! I might be looking forward to the emails as much, if not more, than his point totals. Ha ha!

35 wells. No problem, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crown Financial Ministry And More

Yesterday, I didn't Crown Financial Ministry's Journey to True Financial Freedom one day seminar. Quite honestly, I had no idea how many practical tools I would walk away with! Yes, there was a lot of scripture, and there was some information on tithing, but the REAL LIFE practical budgeting, spending, and getting out of debt information was heads and tails above any other financial seminar I have attended. (Two to be exact.)  I think it was well worth my $25, and I am glad I went. I hope to write a bit more about our journey down that path more in the future, but first I have work to do!

Today I am substitute teaching in my Sunday School class. Pray for me. I thought I was going to teach a lesson on being Fearless (courtesy of Max Lucado), but instead, when I went shopping for a hard copy of the Lucado book (I read it on my phone courtesy of the Kindle app), I found a book called "Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate," which has some great material that I will use as a foundation in a lesson on judgment. There are portions of the book with which I do not agree, but it was written by a conservative evangelical (Jerry Bridges) for conservative evangelicals, so that does not surprise me. However, much of the material crosses over in to other denominations. 

I can't wait, but I admit, I am a bit nervous. This is my first time leading, and I have no idea what lead me to approach the instructor and VOLUNTEER (ACK) to teach a lesson in his absence.  Something in my heart...the in courageous ways. Pray for me!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And the winner is...

First, thank you to everyone for entering the contest! I really enjoy holding them, and I hope you enjoy entering! I hope to make them a more regular occurrence on A Piece of My Mind.

I wasn't sure how this topic would go over when I posed the question, and I might have changed the wording because "activism" means different things to different people and even different dictionaries, but I certainly am glad that so many took the time to ponder the question, no matter what or how you view the term! I have learned something from each post, and I hope that everyone will take the time to read the entries.

Without further adieu-- the entries and results!

Carrie writes at After all the Folderol, "I try to encourage others to be green, not tell. I try to explain, not insist. And I try to inform, not preach. And I try to be positive, not judgemental." Check out her full entry!

Bethany at Adventures in Mommyhood writes about being torn between her job requiring her her to insist on proper dosage and taking the back seat when the situation warrants it for other passions. Bethany got a bonus entry for tweeting the contest. :)

Anadia from Desperately Real Housewife wrote, "how do i balance being humble while attempting to spread the Word, advance His kingdom, remain in love, and fulfill His will? it's written plain and simply in His Word... give him the glory. ...  i find my balance in LIVING the Word." Anadia earned a bonus entry for tweeting too. :)

Carol left a comment on my post about being passionate and saving humbleness for later.

Alexandra from Traveling Allowed writes about being an encourager and motivator and "I think the only way to achieve humility in activism is by asking God for help" and "Living a life of humble activism means understanding that there may be more than one 'right' answer."

Erin from Married to a Baller focuses on Jesus and God's grace. Erin writes, "The best way I know to stay humble is to know who I truly am."

And the winner is... (yes, I made a video of The Boy pulling a name out of a hat.)

Congratulations Alexandra! Pick your prize. The Kleen Kanteen or the itunes gift certificate.

Thank you again everyone for entering. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Feature: Envirosax & Baggu

I was going to do these two separately, but I love them both for different reasons.

I love the Baggus for throwing in my purse and carrying in my pocket. Their individual pouches are handy (throw it in the bottom while bag is in use), and I have a sack to carry them to the market. I also REALLY love their produce bags. They are durable, easy to use, and super light. Baggu now offers a "Duck Bag," which is made of 100% recycled cotton canvas.

When I am going to be grocery shopping, especially on busy days or with The Boy, I prefer to use Envirosax. Why? They roll up nice and neat and are easier to get out and unrolled quickly. Envirosax just came out with an organic line, which I am excited to try.

I have found the quality to be equal for both brands, and both companies allow you to send the bags back for a credit of $1 off the purchase of a new bag once a bag has become damaged (not enough for a new bag, but a little something), so they can reuse/recycle the material.

Friday Feature...a two for one special.

Tomorrow, I'll announce the contest winners! :)

Drawing for Contest to be Saturday morning...

I know there are several people finishing up today, and that is great! Unfortunately, The Boy and I have a small conflict that will prevent us from drawing a winner tonight. I promised him I would take him to watch the "basketball guys" (as he calls it...we're going to the TU game). As such, he will draw a winner tomorrow morning. I hope everyone understands. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reflection on Stand and Deliver: A shock

In early March, I drew attention to a recently published article co-authored by blogger Rixa Freeze. The abstract of "Staying Home to Give Birth: Why Women in the United States Choose Home Birth" is available online. Rixa was kind enough to email me a copy, and I am finally getting around to reading the article. On page 120, the authors state:
"Given that women choosing home birth in the United States are a minority population, and that their choice to birth at home is not well supported, the aim of our study was to describe the reasons why women choose home birth."
So that's where we are going... why are women making an unpopular and relatively unsupported choice?

Some initial things that stood out, and I'm sure I'll have more because I have not finished the article yet, but I wanted to bring this one up now--
  • Less than one percent of the US population delivers their baby at home.
I knew that the percentage was small, but I had no idea it was that small, especially considering the number of women I personally know (more than 1% of my female friends) who have birthed at home. Certainly my lifestyle lends itself to friend-ing a certain type of woman, but it was a shocking statistic to me. One of the most disturbing things is that home birth is as safe as hospital births, yet due to the culture of fear perpetuated by many and logistical hurdles, many women do not or are unable to choose a home birth. For reference, the article mentions "In 1940, 40% of births to white women and 73% to nonwhite women in the United States occurred at home." (p.119) In spite of this, our births are not getting safer. No shock there.

I am looking forward to finishing the article. I know why many of my friends chose to birth at home, not at home, etc, but to see a more holistic view on why women (and their partners) do chose home birth is fascinating and exciting to me.

What do you think? Do you know anyone who birthed at home? Intended to birth at home? Did you birth at home? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Commercialism-- Another year, same topic

It is no secret that I am not a fan of commercialism and marketing, especially marketing geared towards children. As the holidays, and I mean ALL holidays, begin showing up in stores months and months in advance, I become increasingly disgusted. I saw Christmas items out in early October this year. Halloween items in August. Valentines as soon as Christmas is over. It's overwhelming, and in my opinion, completely unnecessary.

So what am I doing about it?

This year, I am carefully crafting a letter to my family asking that in lieu of gifts for me, Kevin and The Boy, they donate the funds they would have spent to charity.*** Each of us is picking one or two. Well, I will pick for The Boy, but he will pick when he gets older. We are still deciding which to will be picked for this year.

Every year, on average, Americans spend $450 BILLION on Christmas. Less than 10% of that could bring clean water to everyone in the world.

Instead of "things" I don't need, I think of how much good that money can do. I am one person. We are one family. But you are one too, and together, we can make a difference! We are joining the Advent Conspiracy. Giving less stuff and more of us. Won't you join us?

***If you are family and reading this, consider yourself ahead of the game. I will also be respectfully asking if you truly desire a gift or need something specific, and if not, I will do the same-- donate the money to the charity of your choice. I have something small picked out for each of you, but you know where I'm going.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

S.A.D. and Happiness

Often times when I reveal that my family does not fit the mold, so to speak, of the standard American diet (SAD), I hear back "I could never do that," "It must be so hard," "It's so restrictive," or perhaps best of all "You are denying The Boy a normal childhood!"

Yes, that last one really gets me like someone scratching a record.

To start, our journey towards a truly healthy diet is just that-- a journey. For us that includes considerably less meat, more raw fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods than the SAD. Actually, if you look at the list on Dr. Sears' sight above, and change all the highs to lows and lows to highs, that is how we try to eat. However, I do not feel like it is restricting our life at all. Below are a list of things we do to help make this work for us.

1. Food and eating is enjoyable. We enjoy the taste of raw food. At first it was different, very different, but the further we get away from processed foods, the more we enjoy foods closer to their natural state. The taste is vibrant, and the colors are stunning. We've said goodbye to brown and welcomed the rainbow in to our lives!

2. Food is fun. We try to keep our food fun by being creative in our preparation. We make a lot of whole food smoothies, and we are open to experimenting like a child. No combination is off-limits, and we share our "food is fun" mentality by inviting guests over fairly regularly.

3. When we are guests in someone's home, we do not force our diet choices on them. In other words, if we go to someone's house, we eat what they serve irregardless if it is something we'd serve in our own home.

4. When we invite guests to our home, we make healthy meals that conform to our ideals that are tasty and satisfying. Generally, we receive very positive feedback from this! I usually try to keep the meals simple(r), so when the guest asks, I can share the recipe and not scare them from trying it on his/her own.

5. The "rules" are guidelines (i.e. we're not rigid). We don't eat fast food. Well, except when... You get my point. Generally we do and don't do a variety of things, but that does not mean we never eat differently. I go on "Friday Dive" with my office-mates, which generally includes meat, fat, and S.A.D. My son does like his occasional trip to Sonic when I am sick or we are rushed and ill-prepared.

6. Don't keep food in the house that unnecessarily tempts us! For us, this means we generally do not have candy, chips, etc in our home.

7. If I am not hungry enough to eat an apple (insert any vegetable/fruit), I am not hungry. Sad, but true.

8. Drink a lot of water. Often times people misinterpret their thirst for hunger. I try to drink a lot of water. We purchased a reverse osmosis filter, and I am reminded at how much I love the taste of fresh, clean water!

9. Dining out is for pleasure and relaxation, not to rush. Europe has taught us to enjoy our dining out. Certainly with The Boy, at times, we eat quicker than we might otherwise, but it is not unheard of for Kevin and I to take 2 hours or more enjoying our meal away from home.

I know there are areas that we continue to improve on-- fighting the rush of American life and resisting fast food is top of the list. For a while, every Wednesday when The Boy has his gymnastics class, we would go to Sonic. Now, I like Sonic and make decent food choices there, however, no matter how I spin it, Sonic is not healthy! However, now that I am back in the swing of Tulsa (yes, two months later), I have meals frozen, and Sonic has taken a back seat again.

I love the way fresh local organic food tastes, and I love sharing that with others.

What works for you and your family?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh my hair!

About a month ago, I said goodbye to shampoo. I wanted to get rid of additional chemicals, which has been and continues to be a long process for me. So far, I have used baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) diluted with water. One of the nice things, because I have already made the baking soda paste for my hair, is that I can also use it on my body; therefore, I eliminated two products in one swoosh!

The hardest part in this process for me has been figuring out the ACV to water ratio. Because ACV coats your hair like a conditioner, when poured undiluted on to my hair, my hair became a greasy mess! I have been working on finding the right mix, and I think I have it down now. For me, it's approximately 1-1.5 tablespoons of ACV to 1 cup or so of water.

My hair has adjusted nicely. I am able to go longer between washes, and I think days two and three it looks the best. I am not 100% sure if I will keep it up forever or switch to a shampoo bar, but I am very glad that I gave this an honest opportunity. For now, I am 'poo less and will continue down this road.

Have you tried to ditch the poo? If so, what has been your experience?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Resonating message

Last week I was cleaning out my Google Reader like I generally do every couple of weeks. I subscribe to way too many blogs, and I can never keep up, but sometimes those I might have deleted bring a delightful message, so I am hesitant to cut too many out. None the less, I was reading through, when a post titled "We are Killing the Church" on Lives of Significance rang through to my heart. 

I fully believe that Jesus loves us. I truly believe that Jesus formed the church and loves the church. And I fully believe that we, the institutional church of North America, make Jesus want to puke.
I often think the same thing, especially as the institutions turn inward and forget the outward missions of Jesus. I think of this when I hear the considerable anger expressed during public discourse. And yes, I fall on the side that thinks this when I see other Christians failing to love their neighbors, irregardless of faith or non-faith, in the certainty that one group is so very right that all others are regulated to second class citizens.  I am convicted by the post, and yet my lack of certainty and humility leads me to know that I might not be right either.

I am currently reading The Faith Club, which has opened my eyes exponentially to the parallels of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. A lot of my past doubts about my own faith have been shared, but I am once again reminded that even if I am not "right," Christianity helps me to lead a good life-- one of love and compassion.

Yes,  I am convicted, but I am ok with that too. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Contest prizes

Someone once asked on twitter (sorry, I don't remember who) if people purchase their own contest prizes. For me, the answer is yes. I purchase all of the gifts I give away on this blog. I generally chose items that I have enjoyed and want to share with others.

I have been asked to review and promote products, but I turn down those opportunities and the prizes that go with them. When I started this blog, I needed a place to dump a piece of my mind-- the pieces that I didn't feel belonged on the family blog. I would define that point as the time in my life when I became a lactivist. I do not feel like I can maintain that freedom of expression and keep my Friday Feature neutral. I feel like I would be compromising my message.

This is not to say that others would be doing those things, but that is how I feel. And so... I will continue to buy the giveaways. I hope you don't mind. ;-)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Activism and Advocating (and a contest)

When I wrote about arrogance, I am sure that some would conclude that the only way for me to be humble would be to stop advocating for issues that are dear to my heart.  In the past few weeks, I have spent a considerable amount of time praying, thinking, replaying, thinking and praying about how to be a loving person while advocating for positions and causes in which I believe. Yes, I am going to continue, and yes, I think these issues are important-- to me and to others.

I know not everyone will be happy or like everything I say, but I also know that activism is working for change. Change is not easy, but if I simply sit and pray, who will be the feet? Who will do the work? Sometimes sitting and waiting is the answer, but sometimes we are called to be the hands and feet too. My hope and prayer is that I do it while loving those in disagreement.

And so... the contest.

Post on your blog (and leave a link) or Facebook or leave a comment describing how you balance humbleness with activism.  I will have The Boy draw a name from a hat a week from today. You can earn a bonus entry by tweeting the contest. The prize?  Your choice-- a $25 itunes gift card or a 27 ounce kleen kanteen bottle.

Next Friday, the Friday Feature will return! :)

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