28 April, 2015

Rock the Cradle: A Lullaby Tribute to Billy Idol Review

 Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored post for Jammy Jams.  I received a sample product to test in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed are definitely my own.

     I was born in the 80's, late 80's actually.  As such, I'm not super familiar with the style and trends of that decade.  I mean, I know what they were, but there's not much about those years that I can really relate to.  I was more of a late 90's kid, Hanson and all that.  But if I could take just a couple things from the 80's and steal them for my own childhood, it would have been bangle bracelets, leg warmers, David Bowie, and Billy Idol.  Don't get me wrong, as far as nostalgia goes, I definitely love me some 90's pop, but seriously... Idol's pretty timeless.  How can you not love this:
     Yup!  I'll just let you gaze at that for a minute.  Take in all the awesomeness.
      Done?  Okay, so fast forward a few decades and most of us Idol fans probably have kids or maybe even grandchildren by now.  Most Idol fans are probably at the age where kids seem to be crawling out of every corner of your life.  Nieces, nephews, grands and even honorary ones that your friends and neighbors let you claim as nieces and nephews, they're everywhere.  I know 3 people just this month who had new babies and more are coming in the next few weeks.
     My Boog is just a little over 2 years old and Baby Bee turns 5 next week, so they're both pretty young still.  Sometimes they have a hard time settling down.  I usually put on a TV show to rot their brain a little and make them fall asleep, but it rarely works.  (Joking about the rot thing... I put on educational documentaries, this week's theme... Egypt!)  It mostly serves to keep me entertained until they do pass out.  And in some cases, like last night, it will keep me so entertained that I stay up watching it until 3 and wake up way later than I should, resulting in a mad dash to the bus for my poor school kids.
     So maybe it's time to try something new.  Insert lullabies, a classic kid-settling tactic.  Better than lullabies?  Billy Idol lullabies!  Yeah, baby!  Cause what could be better than falling asleep to a twinkly version of White Wedding?  Yes, that's my favorite Idol song, mostly because of the movie The Wedding Singer.  But luckily on Jammy Jam's Rock the Cradle there are 9 more tracks to boot.  And they are all adorably awesome renditions of the original songs.  I'm actually loving Dancing with Myself best, followed by White Wedding, Rebel Yell, and Be a Lover next best.  They're stinking awesome.
     Just so you can hear for yourself that I'm not being unjustly flattering towards the album, you can hear it below.  Listen to #7, you won't regret it.  It sounds like a multidimensional version of a wind up jewelry box song and you really can't help but feel entranced by it.  I can picture it being played by one of the Baby Einstein characters on an xylophone while little cartoon sheep jump little white picket fences.  Except you can sing along in your head to the rock version while the baby floats away to sleepy sheep land.  Or if you're like me, you'll sing a totally new and bouncy version just for baby.
     Here's a track list for you to drool over:

1. White Wedding
2. Rebel Yell
3. Can’t Break Me Down
4. To Be A Lover
5. Hot In The City
6. Flesh For Fantasy
7. Dancing With Myself
8. Cradle Of Love
9. Eyes Without A Face
10. Catch My Fall

      Ok, so this is where I let you know how to get your hands on one because why wouldn't you want to?  You can get a copy of the full album on Amazon or Jammy Jams, or you can get it track by track on Google Play, or iTunes.  Also, if you enjoy other types of music, there is plenty to suit your fancy on the Jammy Jams site.  Artists like Eminem, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Ozzy are all paid honor in various tracks, along with tons more.  As I type this, I'm bobbing my head to All About That Bass in lullaby form.

     I definitely will be enjoying the lullabies with Boog and Baby Bee for quite some time to come, especially Baby Bee who can sing along to her favorite songs as she drifts off.  I recommend checking them out, they'll be sure to have whatever music you're into.

Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

27 April, 2015

Hooligan Magooligan Loves Her Pets Book Review

     For those who don't already know, it might interest you to know that Amazon offers free ebooks all the time.  These ebooks come in every category you could want.  My favorite category: kids books, for no other reason except that I don't care to read for long on a screen.  I've been introduced to this awesomeness by Amber at Become a Coupon Queen.  She posts a new list of 10 free books every day on Facebook, I definitely recommend following her.
     One of the books that she recently posted caught my eye and I thought it really sent a great message to all kids.  It's a book about loving your pets unconditionally, no matter what little annoyances they might bring to the table.  I especially love the idea of this book because of a post that I came across not too long ago listing all of the reasons that people bring their pets back to the shelter.  One of the animals was returned for being a loud snorer.  No joke, it was sad.  I don't want my kids to ever grow up and find animals as replaceable as that.  That's why Hooligan Magooligan Loves Her Pets stood out to me.
     The book is written by Louise Lintvelt.  She writes Goodnight, Sleep Tight: What a Wonderful Flight and Things You Might See Swimming Under the Sea, as well as many others.  I suggest checking out her site if you get any of her books, which has kid art project ideas and audio tracks that go along with the theme of a few of the books she has written.  This book is illustrated by Julie Sneeden, who has an impressive portfolio of beautiful illustrations on her site, and many other artworks also.  Her art makes me want to read her other books.

     The main character, Hooligan, reminds me a lot of Baby Bee, so of course I am biased in how cute I think she is.  She's got strawberry blonde hair and bright blue eyes with piggies on her head... she's pretty adorable.   She lives in England, which of course is sure to give the reader inside your head a very English accent, a little added bonus.
     While the rhyming of the book and pet names do take some getting used to, it gives a very clear message to kids that it's the cool thing to love your pets for everything they are, even if they are dirty or even almost snobby.  Hooligan loves her fat, lazy cat as much as her skinny playful night owl of a cat.  She loves her mischievous bone-hiding dog as much as her wet, muddy, water-loving dog.  And they love her for loving them.
     This book doesn't only encourage unconditional love for family members, such as pets, but it also encourages the embracing of uniqueness and individuality.
     I recommend this book to any family with young children who either have pets or are thinking about getting one.  The lesson in this book can not be understated, even if you're not an advocate for animal rights.  Everyone has less than desirable traits, but we all want to be loved, animals too.
     To get a feel for Louise Lintvelt as an author, check out this video of the book How Andrew Got His Spots, also illustrated by Julie Sneeden.  For more Louise Lintvelt or Julie Sneeden news, their Facebook links are here:   Louise   Julie

Except for the product(s) given to me, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

24 April, 2015

An Interesting New Discovery

     So a neat little fact about me, neat as long as you're NOT me, that neat little fact is that I have felt sick to my stomach nearly every single day for over a decade.  I remember sitting in the seat of my now-husband's truck waiting for him to finish mowing an elderly lady's lawn, and I was doubled over in agony, almost crying as I waited.  The feeling was so intense that I remember biting his leather seats.  I can still taste it.  I said nothing because I didn't want him to feel rushed, I didn't want him to feel bad, and I didn't want the attention.  I didn't know why I felt that way, but it was only the beginning.  I started feeling sick every single day.  I worried that I had TSS or some other totally preventable thing and that it was doing me harm, but too shy to go to the doctor, I lived with it.  I started feeling that way at around 16 years old and have lived with it daily since, though I have learned to tolerate it for the most part.  Some nights I wake several times and writhe in pain and sickness.  Lately, almost every single shopping trip I take, I suffer silently as I scurry through the aisles and sometimes rush the kids out of the store and promise them that next time they can spend their money because next time I won't be so sick.  I'm always sick when I go shopping, the motion as I walk up and down the aisles increases my discomfort.  It always hits as soon as I pass through the store entrance and lingers long after we leave.  I could probably count the number of days on both hands that I have been sickness-free since it started at 16 years old, I'm now almost 29.
     A week or so ago, I had an epiphany, one that I should have had long ago.... it's lactose intolerance.  My mother and brother have it, but it never occurred to me that I would have it because milk and cheese (which bother them) didn't seem to bother me at all.  See, I'm missing that crucial problem solving, connection making pathway in my brain that helps relate cause and affect... it's an issue for me.  Had I had that pathway, it would have let me connect the bad feeling to the foods I was eating just beforehand.  But after this epiphany, I've started purposely watching how I feel with what I eat.  Yogurt is BAD, milk is okay, cheese is okay, M&M's and other milk chocolate treats are doable in moderation if I don't mind feeling "off", everything else that's non-dairy is pretty much okay to eat so far, but I'm still testing.  I'm purposely putting off the sour cream test because I don't want to say goodbye to that one.  But, problem solved, definitely lactose intolerance.  The reason I've been getting sick during every shopping trip lately... the coffee with creamer that I get while in town before hitting the stores.
     So long story made short: I'll be adding some restrictions to my new weight loss plan.  First thing is to cut the amount of coffee.  I love the taste of coffee, but I really only drink it to stay awake.  Tea has caffeine too.  I've downright hated tea for years, but after discovering my intolerance, I decided to try tea in iced form and realized that I actually love it.  Who knew, me... a tea lover!  Second thing is to drink more water.  This is hard because I never drink for thirst, I drink for taste just as I eat for taste.  I love how things taste.  So remembering to drink water will be hard.  Third, I need to cut out mayonnaise and yogurt unless lactose free.  Because why would I want to feel that way if I know I don't have to?  Feeling better will lead to improved mobility.  No more staying in bed all day to avoid the sickness I feel when I move about.  And Fourth, though not diet related, I need to increase my activity level.  I'm gonna try to take the family to a nearby track and see how rollerblading/ walking/ biking as a family goes.  Walking a mile or two a week is a drastic improvement from where I am now and would serve to open the gateway to more activities in the future.  When I was at my thinnest, I walked many miles each and every day.  How I miss living in-town.
     You'll be interested to know that I do have a starting weight.  Sad to say, I'm not 178 like I thought, but 188.  12 pounds away from the 200 mark.  I refuse to cross that milestone, kind of like when I refused to cross the 20 year old mark, only this time I'm serious.  At this point, regardless of how I felt about being classified as obese before, I am now actually becoming unhealthy and I AM in that obese range.  I've gained 30 lbs in the last 5 months.  I wake each morning with tingling hands, even when I haven't been sleeping on my arms.  When I sit up too quickly, my chest aches and tightens.  My hips ache if I lay too long on one side or if I sit cross legged for too long.  My face flushes now when I've always had very low blood pressure before, I haven't gone in for important, life-saving medical tests because of the shame over my weight, which could lead to undetected cancer or heart disease... I just can't bring myself to make an appointment knowing that my body would be exposed to other people, even knowing the risks.  Not to mention the toll on my mental and emotional health.  The disappointment in myself for getting so far off course is a heavy burden to carry.  But I have resolved to do this, this is my mission, my journey.  This year is my year.
     So tomorrow when I wake, I will have a lactose-free yogurt, some toast and some iced tea and I will do better than today.  And the next day I will do better than tomorrow and that is all I will ask of myself.  Some day I will look back at this day and thank God that I pushed through.  I will not look back on this day and wish that I had, because wishing that I had has never gotten me anywhere and regret makes for terrible company.  So, 140, here I come!

12 April, 2015

Dying to be Normal

In the middle of Normal, about 115.

     They say that the normal weight for someone my height is anywhere between 94 and 123 lbs.  "They" being pretty much anywhere with a weight chart, places like Rush University.  Now, I am not a feminist by any standard, it's not like I go out lobbying for women to go topless in public or anything.  But I do have a problem with someone telling me that I should weigh about 100 pounds to be "normal" and that if I weigh 130, I'm overweight.
     I remember  the first time I was classified as obese and how humiliated I felt, like there was a giant neon sign above my head wherever I went, pointing down at me so everyone would know that I was officially now obese.  Funny thing is, I felt a bit overweight for my preference, but I didn't feel obese at all!  I knew I was overweight and wanted to lose a few pounds like anyone else that's overweight might.  But it wasn't until I saw the word obese attached to my height and weight that I started to feel ashamed of my body.  Just for reference, here are a couple photos of me at different stages:
Overweight at 130, obese at about 150.
     I know I'm the self-proclaimed "Queen of Photoshop", but for the record, these aren't manipulated photos.  The size is real.  Maybe I have a seriously warped self-image, but I don't feel like I look overweight in photo #1 and I don't feel like I look obese in photo #2.  But at the time, what I felt I looked like didn't matter, the words that countless websites used to describe me is what mattered.  The word obese hit me like a train and whatever self-confidence I had started to disappear.
     Right now I weigh about 178 or so, considered by Center for Obesity Surgery to be severely obese.  I'm not positive about numbers.  The last time I stepped on the scale it said "error" and I stepped off it feeling like a failure, though I'm sure it just needs new batteries.  I'm not sure exactly how I got here, but I know it was a mixture of a lot of self-shaming, depression, stress, and exhaustion.
     For months and months I fought to stay awake.  I would have breakfast and pass out at the computer mid-meal.  I'd wake up hours later, make lunch and then struggle to keep my eyes open until dinner.  I slept most of every day away.  I would awake to find the house trashed even further by the kids and get stressed out about it.  Sometimes I spent days and days on cleaning sprees and wore myself out only to find that not much had changed, and then sometimes I just went back to bed and cried until I passed out again.  Life itself was overwhelming.  I missed appointments, kids were late to school, and I just couldn't stay awake.
     I did finally snap one morning.  I drove away and stayed away all day and all night.  I didn't want to go home.  I was on the brink of dying and I knew it.  Not because of my weight, but because of how I felt about myself and my life.  I wanted to die.  And at the same time, I wanted so much to just live.  When one of the kids had a routine check up a few days later, I asked the doctor (one of the best EVER) to help me with my depression.  Though running behind, she took the time to ask me some questions and then put me on the best medicine ever.  It's supposed to take a few weeks to start helping, but within the first hour, the stress vanished.  I was kinder, I felt less guilty about my actions and I had the motivation to work on the house.  The fact that I woke up seeing red shaking walls was a minimal problem.  The main side effect: exhaustion.
     The lack of energy meant we lived on easy food.  I got NO exercise, not even chasing after kids.  The house stayed messy and stressed me out.  All these things made me gain weight.  I knew I couldn't stay on my prescription forever.  The exhaustion would become a safety hazard when driving or cooking dinner.  Thankfully the kids ate at school for breakfast and lunch, most nights they ate at their grandparent's house and I slept, though I did fall asleep once with dinner in the oven and woke to find a black pizza.
     But overall I felt better.  I started to have confidence and when my life started falling together again, I stopped taking it.  I go back to it still when I start to feel myself going back to that place.  I only need a pill here, half a pill there, it's not a constant and it's not addicting or a problem.  On average, I have a bottle a year.
7 months ago, at about 175.
     One thing hasn't changed much though, I still feel shame and I feel it a lot.  Every time I squeeze into a pair of pants that used to be loose.  When I wear them for several days because I have no other pants that fit me and I don't want to wear pajamas.  When I finally change into pajamas and have to go somewhere public.  I worry that my weight embarrasses my children when I drop them off at school.  When I try on five shirts just to find that none of them fit like they should and I stick to wearing an over-sized t-shirt or hoodie, I live in my school hoodie.  When I open my bureau to find that it's mostly full of sizes that might never fit me again.  When I fill my plate and I'm hungry, but secretly shame myself for grabbing too much rice.  And when I pass by the full-length mirror in my bathroom and suddenly see a larger woman that I never noticed before... why do I look so fat all of a sudden?  When I go to cross my legs and remember that I now have to lift my leg with my arms.  And sometimes for no real reason, out in public, suddenly I feel an overwhelming cloud of embarrassment and panic that people can see me, they see that I'm fat.
     If you are feeling like me, I can't help you fight the exhaustion.  Only getting out of my depression helped that.  But I can tell you what did it for me, TIME WITH FAMILY.  Never over-rate that.  Spending more time with my family, specifically my sister helped me in more ways than I could count.  I was laughing again and I wasn't falling asleep all the time, my days were happy.  I forgot that I was fat when we were out shopping and running errands, it was only when I came home that I remembered how far off-track my life had gotten.
     So now I am on a mission to change that.  To stop being fat and lazy, or Flazy.  Before I officially start my weight loss journey, I'll be sure to replace those batteries in my scale and take a good before picture. 
     Let me say before I close, that I in no way feel that anyone should feel shame over their bodies.  Some people are born overweight and some people are born to be thin.  Some people gain weight easy and lose it hard, others gain it hard and lose it easy... each person has a different body for a reason.  Beauty standards change often and vary by country.  From bound feet to sunken collar bones and elongated necks, no one will ever be beautiful to everyone.  A number should not define who we are as people or define how we feel about ourselves.  This is a journey that I am taking to feel better about myself.  My goal is "overweight" because I liked the way that I looked when I was overweight.  130-140 is perfectly fine for me.  I'm not reaching for an impossible number or a number that is defined by someone else.  And while I AM motivated to get healthy by the the emotional toll that someone else's definition of obese took on me, I will not be defined by their definition of normal.  I think the term "normal" should be removed and replaced with the word "ideal" or "healthy", in some cases, it has.  but just Google the words 'Normal weight chart' and see how many pop up.  No, wait, don't... you don't need to see that.
     After all, the normal height for a woman is 5 foot, 3.8 inches.  The average weight, 166.2, making for a BMI of 28.7, technically overweight.  At my height, with a BMI of the NORMAL 28.7, I'd need to be about 145 pounds, not too far off from where I was.  So my only real advice.... take it all in stride if you can, it's all relative and none of it defines you.  You are beautiful, there is no one in the world like you.
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