Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soap and Chemicals

I used Dove soap very happily for years and years and years. Love the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty" that promotes self esteem for girls and women. I WANT to like the product, but I don't. See, I have eczema, which typically only bothers me in the dry winter months. This past winter we traveled and spent time in a hotel where they had some fancy spa soaps. I tried the oatmeal soap and it seemed to help the itchies. After returning home I started to experiment with the oatmeal and natural soaps they sell at Whole Foods. I didn't get the same results, and after about six months of trying various natural soaps my eczema was worse, since I'm now itchy in the summer, too.

So I went back to Dove. Only now I can't stand the smell. I never noticed it when I was using Dove all the time, but it smells like plastic! The smell doesn't linger or anything, but I don't like it when I'm washing. (I use the unscented hypoallergenic stuff.)

I don't like anything, soap, food, cleaning products, etc., that smells or tastes of chemicals and/or plastic. When I drink bottled water (with apologies to the environment) I avoid Evian because it tastes of plastic. Or it did the last time I tried it, which was a bazillion years ago. I never could understand why Evian was so popular for so long. It's also the reason I don't like Agave. That aftertaste... might as well be an artificial sweetener. Blech. Same thing for TV dinners, although I've found a brand that tastes like FOOD, of all things. That would be Amy's. They put out some pretty good frozen food! The whole family loves their Margherita pizza. Some of their other frozen food items are also good, although I have to avoid the ones with soy. The kids like them though, so they're good things to stock for a quick meal the kids can make themselves.

I guess we're spoiled since we usually cook from scratch. We have the Amy's pizza about once a week, along with a home made salad, and that's about it. The kids may eat the frozen dinners but I don't. It's amazing how your taste buds can reject the garbage if you're used to eating the good stuff. The same thing goes for fat levels in food. We are so used to cooking and eating low fat/healthy fat foods that now a serving of restaurant french fries will make us ill. Not just me, the kids too. Well, maybe not The Wild Child since he's such a junk food junkie. It always amazes me how we can have such healthy food in our house, yet he still manages to eat an unhealthy diet overall. For instance, we still eat regular white pasta. I know, I know, we should switch to whole grain, but I've tried several brands and no one eats it. So we stick with the white, but we'll put all sorts of healthy stuff with it. The Wild Child will ignore the healthy stuff and eat just the pasta with barbecue sauce on it for a meal. We're having our pasta as a base for a veggie and egg stir fry. He's eating... pasta and barbecue sauce. What the heck can you do? I throw up my hands in despair, is what I do. The child's got to eat.

But I digress. The main point was to write about soap; guess I'm going all Faulkner again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where Did Summer Go??

Summers are supposed to be time to relax, take a breather, maybe go on a vacation, and take a break from the normal routine. Not this summer. It was a busy one with my dad's illness and my son's schedule now that he's been diagnosed with a reading disability. He went to day camp all summer where he got one on one help from a reading specialist. It got hectic getting him back and forth- something my friends with "regular schooled" kids know all about, but which my family is not used to at all. There were a lot of days when I dropped him off and went straight over to see my dad in the hospital.

By the end of summer things turned out alright... mostly. My dad will have some permanent disability due to complications from his surgery but he should be able to live on his own again, and considering how close he came to dying, I think it's the best outcome we could hope for. He's in a rehabilitation center now where he's receiving the therapy he needs, both physical and occupational. I won't be able to visit him every day during the school year, but then I don't feel he's in a state where I need to.

My son is working through his reading program and making progress. We'll continue with the reading specialist during the year, probably a few times per week, but we'll see.

Then there's the dog. We got to bring her home on July 2nd and she is the highlight of the summer for us. What a sweetheart! We want to be good, responsible pet owners so we managed to schedule time with The Wonder Trainer even when I was going to the hospital almost daily. We also wound up volunteering at the rescue center. The Eldest decided she wanted to work at the kennel, which is only open on weekends, which means I get to drive her there. (She STILL does not have her license.) I stayed and volunteered too a couple of times. I also dropped her off then went on to see my dad a couple of times; just depends.

I've fallen in love with some of the dogs there but we can't bring them home. The Dog does not approve of our choices and since she's the queen bee at our house, her decision goes. (Oooh- blog name for the dog- Queen Bee!!) Just as well. Anyway, the dogs I am particularly fond of are a lot of fun. The first one is a mess. He has an under-bite that gives him a fang coming up from his bottom jaw. His nose is stumpy (for a greyhound) and crooked. He's scrawny but muscle-y and his coat is a mess. He's still a puppy and can't walk on a leash so I've taken him on as my personal challenge. I've walked him three times so far and it's been an experience to remember each time. He doesn't walk so much as LUNGE when he gets on a leash. Silly boy; he'll never get adopted that way. He's a little excitable but calms down when he's off the leash. He's still young at just barely 2 years old, but he has wormed his silly little messed up face into my heart.

The second dog is one my daughter noticed first. This one is a girl and she LIVES for affection. She's a barker; she won't shut up when people are in the kennel. My daughter and I were hanging out without a specific job to do last weekend when we decided to see if we could get her to quiet down. We stood by her cage and turned our backs on her when she was barking, but turned around and gave her treats and attention when she was quiet. She got it almost instantly! It was amazing to realize how trainable that dog is; much more so than the Queen Bee. I've been in touch with the Never Say Never Greyhounds blogger about her to see if she thinks this dog would be good for agility and if she knows anyone who might want to adopt her. The NSN blogger said she would need to be evaluated, and she knows of someone but that person lives too far away and is looking closer to her home. I haven't given up! I can't do anything about placing large numbers of dogs, but I can certainly help out with one or two. (So if you know of anyone who would want to provide a loving home for one incredible, trainable greyhound let me know. Or for a butt ugly, scrappy little guy that is too much fun.)

And now summer is over. The Eldest is officially a college student now and starts classes, that I have to drive her to, tomorrow. Regular school starts on Monday and since we try to follow the public school schedule, that means it starts for us, too. Our homeschooling group will get going, Girl Scouts will start meeting again, and the roller coaster has started up once again.

I love my life, but I sure could use some more sleep time!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

I've been on a reading binge lately. First I ripped through the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs which were very entertaining, although not exactly literary classics. Next I gobbled up Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) by Ann Brashares. I read the other Sisterhood books several years ago after getting them for The Eldest. (Who had no interest in them whatsoever; they aren't fantasy, after all.) I enjoyed them and also enjoyed the movies so I was happy to see a new installment. This book follows the girls as adults, all of them almost 30. There is travel, with time spent in Sanotorini, Greece, several locations in the US, Australia, and London. There is sadness, too; I won't give too much of a spoiler other than to say keep reading. It gets better and the girls come to terms with what happens in surprising ways. It dragged in the middle and I got aggravated with how much time was spent on detailing the grief the girls felt over what happened; that part was over-done, although it does make the point. I don't generally enjoy sad books so I found that aspect hard to take. Once the writing got past that, however, the conclusion felt right.

Now I'm searching around for what to read next. I think I've settled on a Neil Gaiman book, Neverwhere. I read the sample on my Kindle and ordered the book, so that's the next review you'll get!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Dog in Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures of our new baby:

Looking regal:

Looking goofy: