Friday, December 30, 2011

#Winning in 2011

I've always said that I never win anything.  It's been mostly true until 2011.  I just want to take a minute to thank the giveaway & contest hostesses.

1 - We won a family photography session & 11x16 portrait from C.S. Photography, Inc. We were nominated and friends from Twitter & Facebook made this happen for us.  Chris & I haven't had formal pictures taken together since we were married, so this was a big deal.  I cannot express how grateful we are to have won this package. A big fat thank you and sloppy kiss to everyone who voted for us.

2 - I won a BBC dvd set, The Rise & Fall of Margaret Thatcher, from All Things Fadra.  Shut up. I'm a history major and Maggie Thatcher is phenomenal. I am super excited about this.  Chris? Not so much. I haven't decided if I am going to make him watch it with me.

3 - I won Best Buy gift cards from The Little Hen House.  Yes, she let me interview her about raising hens and it was hilarious.  Chris has already commandeered these gift cards.  Hopefully, this will make it a little easier for him to watch the docudramas with me.

We did not win anything at the squadron Christmas party.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 12 Posts of 2011

To close out 2011, I am using one of Mama Kat's prompts to justify listing some of my favorite blog posts.  This is definitely an exercise in self-love.  I hope you enjoy the list & maybe find a post that you haven't seen before.  Feel free to comment on the original post...some of them are quite controversial.

Just a little family shot to make things more interesting


The Dish on Diapers - a one stop shop for information and links regarding our switch to cloth diapering.  I compiled all of the information I wanted when I first began researching cloth diapers into one post.


You & Me, Free to Disagree - I pretty much got tired of people taking my personal parenting decisions as an attack on their different choices. I made my choices because, yes, I DO think they are the best choices. Who the hell decides to do something they don't think is the best choice? I share information, resources, and freely discuss the reasons & facts behind my decisions and I will continue to do so.


Klaw's Birth Story - I finally posted Klaw's birth story on his first birthday. It was definitely a birth I would have...complete with me calling a nurse a bitch. (In my defense, she WAS one!)


Jessica - The mood struck me to write about my friend, Jessica. She was taken from this world all too soon and my heart still grieves her loss.  She was a beautiful soul and everyone who knew her was better for it.


Never Forgotten - For Memorial Day, I wrote about my friend, Chris.  He was killed in Iraq while saving another soldier's life.


Spanking: The Problem or the Solution? - Yep. I tackle one of the big ones. I think it went pretty well.
Feather Hair Extensions - I'm cheating & doing two this month because I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish more people would read this & let the roosters live.


WTH is wrong with my face? - Totally worth looking at my almost anaphylactic face. I'm going to eat shrimp again sometime in the near future. I'll post it if my face swells up again.


10 Tips for Starting a Blog -  If you learn nothing else, turn off CAPTCHA.
Choices NOT Chains: Raising Our Daughters - A blog post set me off on a rant about we raise our daughters.


Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week - I hosted guest posts for Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. I hope you'll take a minute to read & share something that is very personal & important to our family.


Run a Marathon, Give Birth, Who Cares? - Yep. I'm ranting again - this time, I was set off by people judging the mom who ran a marathon & gave birth a few hours later.


Stupid Husband Tricks - This is the funniest video I've ever seen.  You can tell.  It was hilarious when I was filming it.


An Open Letter to Santa Claus - Contrary to what you might think, my mother actually found this funny.  A commenter got huffy with me and I quite possibly overreacted.  I wouldn't be me if I didn't overreact every now & again.

Mama’s Losin’ It

1.) The year in blog posts...choose a favorite post from each month of 2011 and share.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Livin' Like No One Else: Endgame

Want to start at the beginning of our Journey to Debt Freedom?

After leaving California, newly in debt AGAIN!  We knew we had to make a final change.  We camped our way across the nation to our temporary home in Rotten Groton, CT, where we lived for 6 months.  Then we made the move to our current duty station in Hampton Roads, VA.

We found a reasonable place to rent in New London, CT in a decent part of town, within walking distance to The Broken Yolk (awesome breakfast spot) and Ocean Beach Park (lame beach that costs too much with terrible sand and cold water).  I was not able to find a job for such a short period of time, so I focused on available jobs down in Virginia.

Dave Ramsey always warns about Murphy's Law when you are in debt and that happened to us big time.  We had been going along fine, even after we purchased my Highlander...and then it happened.

Holly got sick. She went into renal failure, in a rare reaction to a medication* she was taking.  Our vet recognized the signs, and worked quickly to get Holly into Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in Rhode Island so that she could get immediate, around the clock care, which would be the only way she had a chance to pull through and, thankfully, she did

Needless to say, five days at a specialist in another state is not an inexpensive venture.  On top of that, Holly now required IV fluids throughout the day, which I was taught to administer.  Although the animal hospital and a local pharmacy worked with us greatly to get Holly's supplies at cost, this was still a huge part of our monthly expenses.

This care for Holly had to continue as we made way for our move to Virginia.  We decided to buy a house this time since we'd be in the region for at least three years and the housing market was finally in the buyer's favor.  I continued, unsuccessfully, to look for a job.

We finally came to the realization that we absolutely had to get on a written budget if we were going to have to live on one income, care for our four-legged responsibilities, pay off my car, and pay off our new mortgage.  This meant moving back to the "envelope system" and using cash to pay for most of our day to day items, at least until we got our spending back under control.

*The makers of the medication reimbursed us for her medical costs directly related to the renal failure.  Due to a confidentiality agreement, I can not disclose the specific medication.

Almost 2 full years later (and with a 4 month old Klaw) on a written budget that helped us pay double on the car payment, it came time for Chris to receive his annual "bonus" from the Navy. We had planned to put the bulk of it down on the car debt.  When the amount was deposited, I realized we could pay off the remaining care note in its entirety, with enough leftover in our account to cover our budgeted expenses.  Chris was away but available by phone, so I called him immediately to make sure my math wasn't wrong.

In one fell swoop, we were able to pay off our final debt (not including the mortgage) and become debt-free for the second time in our marriage.  However, we made a commitment to each other to not put ourselves in debt again.  This has required patience.  A LOT of patience, a lot of waiting, and a lot of saving in order to buy things we would like to have (like a dining room table that we finally purchased this year).

This road was not easy for us and it was incredibly long (far longer than it would have been had we been more focused). We made plenty of stupid choices along the way, especially prior to getting married.  Our story is not to brag, even though we are very proud of this journey, but to show another example of how an "average" family can become debt-free.

Just make sure you like the taste of rice & beans. ;-) 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where are we???

Hey, everybody!

I just wanted to give a quick & dirty update on some of the places you can follow Really, What Were We Thinking in addition to this blog.

Twitter -
@TheDanaK - I post about a lot of stuff, including politics & activism that I don't typically delve into on the blog. I cuss sometimes. Consider yourself warned.
@Yetibizzo - Chris mostly, um, complains about sports. He complains rather colorfully. Again, consider yourself warned.

Facebook -
Really, What Were We Thinking? - I post links to articles & blog posts I think people would find interesting.  I ocassionally share pictures & videos. I also pose random questions to our followers.

YouTube -
ReallyWWWThinking - Our YouTube channel is mostly videos uploaded for #VlogTalk BUT I have started uploading random videos (mostly of Klaw) that are not going to be published on the blog. So, if you are interested in more up to date videos of Klaw (I'm looking at y'all, grandparents!), you may want to follow Klaw's playlist.

 I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Last Christmas set the bar pretty low, so I can honestly say this is the best Christmas season we've ever had with Klaw.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jesus, Take the Wheel???

C' KNOW this is better than toast.

ETA:: This is not paint. It's tubes & hoses just hanging on the back of the truck!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Evolution of a Tantrum

HEE HEE Look at me!!! I can run!!!

Huh...I guess they are coming now.
Oh, hai! Glad y'all could join me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa Claus,

First of all, thank you for delivering many gifts over the years.  I really do appreciate it.  I especially appreciate the fact that you even delivered my brand new bicycle even though I had been misbehaving and being rude to Mama right before Christmas.  I realize you didn't have to do that.

I think the two page "note" explaining how much I did not deserve the bicycle but you felt you had to bring it because Mom had already paid for it *may* have been overkill.

I won't go so far as to blame that note on the fact that it took me three years to learn to ride a bike.  Although, guilt can do crazy things...

Secondly, I'd like to know why I only got gifts that my parents had paid for in advance. I don't remember this being the case for any of my other friends and they got a TON of toys each & every year.

Leslie always smiled.

What's up with that, Santa?

I know my neighborhood was rough. Did you feel like you deserved some monetary reimbursement for putting your reindeer at risk?  I'm okay with it now, but it kind of hurt my feelings at the time.

Thirdly, why did you mostly bring me underwear and winter clothes?  I wanted toys.  I would've settled for books.  Seriously.  Underwear.  From Santa.  Do you realize how mortifying it is to go to school and have everybody ask what you got from Santa?  Underwear.

Snoopy underwear is not happiness

Not cool, Santa, not cool.

Finally, I didn't intend to be so bitter about this.  I do appreciate everything I received growing up.  I'm not very materialistic and I definitely think that's a wonderful lesson to have learned the hard way as a child.

However, I'm really weird about receiving gifts now.  I'm not going to go so far as to blame you for this, Santa, but I do think you have to take a little credit for my strange behavior.

I didn't even need to be home to be weird

Oh, I'm sorry we never left any food out for you.  Mom said it would attract roaches and that you'd understand.

See you soon?


PS - I have technically never officially stopped believing...keep that in mind (iPad 2 with 3G)

Mama’s Losin’ It

Inspired by 3.) Open Letter To Santa Claus

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PHOTOBOMB: Crappy Playgrounds

When you drive into our neighborhood, you may notice the nice green space with the cool looking play structure in it.  Additionally, there's a toddler playground right by our house (sounds awesome for moms of toddlers like Klaw, right?).

What you don't see is that both of the playgrounds are unsafe and don't even meet minimum Consumer Product Safety Commission public playground guidelines.  We've been here for 3+ years and didn't realize how bad it was until Klaw was old enough to run & play.

 The Toddler Playground

Yeah, definitely not enough loose-fill, huh?

hard to tell, but there's about 2" of space beneath the post

Broken gate

Broken picnic table

The Kid Playground

So much for a soft landing, eh?

It's missing railings

This trash can is ALWAYS full

I thought this was concrete, it's so hard

 Okay, I do laugh at the graffiti:

"amw is an ugly ass hoe"


I'm writing a letter to the HOA president because this is ridiculous.  Of course, the contact form for the property management group is broken and the HOA website has been suspended.

What the heck do our HOA fees go to?  I totally get that this is a first world problem but I'm paying fees that should cover care & maintenance of children's play areas.  It would be better to just have open, grassy fields for the kids than broken, damaged playground equipment.

Have you ever had to work to get a public playground maintained properly? Ever dealt with an HOA?  Do you have any tips you can share?  Please???

Monday, December 5, 2011

Find Me at "Life With Levi" Today

Hey, y'all!

After a brief holiday sabbatical, I'm guest posting over at Life With Levi about Why I Chose Cloth Diapers.  Take a few minutes to check it out.

BONUS:  You can enter the Stocking Stuff with Fluff giveaways all week long!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You Won't Marry Me - Challenge Accepted

Have you ever wondered why or how Chris & I got married?  Here's our love may want to have the tissues handy...

August 2001

Chris was fresh out of Officer Candidate School & working at The Citadel in Charleston, SC, waiting to attend the Naval Weapons Station for training.

I was starting my third year in The Holy City, living with one of my oldest & dearest friends, Arynn.

It just so happened that my roomie's ex-boyfriend was one of Chris's best friends and fraternity brothers at Georgia Tech.  Arynn was the only person Chris knew in the area, so one evening he called and offered to take her and her roommate (ME!) out to dinner.

For some background, I was happily & decidedly single...not lonely...single.  I was also working 50+ hours a week for barely more than minimum wage in a very physically demanding job, so I was also hungry.

Enter Chris...Chris, a frat monkey I already knew stories about and had seen pictures of from various trips during his Georgia Tech days.

Years before meeting Chris
Dana: "He's kind of cute."
Arynn:  "Yeah. He knows it."
Dana: "Oh. One of those...gross."

He dated another girl I knew. It didn't end well...much like most of his relationships prior to me.  So, to put it mildly, I didn't like him before I even met him.

However, I'm never one to turn down a free meal.  Especially when I'm hungry.

We went to one of my favorite local restaurants, The Wreck, and I ate so much food. I ordered extra hush puppies because he was flashing cash like he just got his bonus.  A girl's gotta eat...

September 2001

We went out a few times after that. I took him to a local band's concert so I could try & make a bass player jealous.  Fun stuff like that!

One night, we had a real date.  We went to dinner at a nice French restaurant I worked at for a while and then saw Jeepers Creepers together.  He drove me home, walked me to the door...

Chris: "Well, I feel like we've gotten to know each other and we've become more than friends. Would it be appropriate if I kissed you goodnight."
BitchDana: "First of all, we're barely more than acquaintances. Second of all, if you have to ask if it's appropriate to kiss someone good night, it's obviously not."
Chris: "Okay. You can call me when you get back from your sister's if you want to." (gets in car immediately and leaves)

I left the next day to visit my brand new niece and had several days to reflect on what had happened.  A guy had, for the first time, completely not put up with my bitchtastic BS.  Also, a girl, for the first time, had not swooned over Chris giving her attention.  Obviously, I couldn't stop thinking about him. I emailed him while I was in Virginia and called him as soon as I got back.

I went out with Chris and other friends for my 25th birthday a few days later on September 27th.  My best friend called the next morning and I told her I had met the man I was going to marry.

October 2001

A few days after my birthday, one of us made the comment "you won't marry me." This started a "no, YOU won't marry ME" type stupid argument. We are REALLY REALLY good at stupid arguments. I called his bluff and told him to call my mom and tell her we were getting married. He did it, poor sap.

Mom assumed I was pulling her leg so she started telling Chris that he wasn't good enough for her daughter and she did not approve of him, etc.  I saw his face just drop. Poor guy didn't know what hit him.  I took the phone away and told her I wasn't kidding.  She has a conscience, unlike me, so she felt bad and only laughed a little bit before she told Chris he had to spend a weekend with her...without me.  He did it, poor sap.

April 2002

We got married.

November 2011

9+ years later, we're still married, poor sap.

Had we known each other any better, it probably wouldn't have happened. We didn't like each other very much that first year of marriage.  Thankfully, we like each other now.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Inspired by: 3.) Married? Tell us the story of how the question was popped.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Use a Neti Pot #VlogTalk

I promised friends on Twitter & Facebook that I would vlog myself using a neti pot if enough people expressed interest in it.  I never defined "enough" because, honestly, I was gonna do it anyways.

I apologize for the wind noise, but, really, it's the visual you want, right?

I generally use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt in warm water. Many people prefer a mix of non-iodized salt and baking soda because it adjust the ph of the solution and may be more comfortable.  Some people use water at room temperature, but I find that room temp water is not comfortable at all.

My own little testimony is that I have "dainty" nasal passages. I did not make that up, a former ENT specialist told me that.  It's the only "dainty" thing about me, so don't judge.  She also told me that I would continue to be plagued by sinus infections if I didn't have surgery or find something else that a neti pot.

Thankfully, the neti pot has worked. I still get sinus infections but it only gets bad enough to warrant antibiotics maybe once a year. I'm able to push through with a neti pot & pseudoephedrine combo and feel better in a matter of days instead of weeks.

Vlog Talk

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 10 Reasons the West Coast is Better Than the East Coast

Chris has been on a blogging roll lately...

If you know me at all you know that I would prefer to live back on the West Coast any day of the week. How could you not? I talk about it constantly and even dish out a West Coast "W" whenever I can.

Chris at Yosemite - Half Dome in the background

So to even further my push of the West coast and to continually remind myself how much I love it, I decided to let everyone know why the West coast is better than the East. I've lived in both, although a significantly longer amount on the East, and it's not even close. Of course, this is just one man's opinion. I encourage you to develop your own.

In no particular order.....

1. Better Scenery. Snow-capped Olympics and Cascades, Mt. Rainier, Yosemite NP, Big Sur, San Diego, Palm Springs, etc. versus the Appalachians and Florida beaches. I prefer mountains, real mountains, so this is a no brainer. While the Florida beaches are nicer, the West coast wins on mountains alone. By the way, Yosemite NP is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Pebble Beach

2. More Animal-friendly. Not to say there aren't animal-friendly people and places on the East coast, but there are just so many more out West. From animal-friendly restaurants to huge, I mean huge, off-leash dog parks and beaches to numerous no-kill animal rescue organizations, the East coast can't compete.

Samson, Holly, & Boomer chillin' at a winery

3. Better Radio Stations. Okay, I'm sure this is up for debate, but let me tell you. I've heard songs on the West coast that didn't make it to the East coast until months later. And Seattle? Forget about it. You don't move to the West coast to make it on the radio stations.

4. Better attitude. Everyone who has lived on the West coast will tell you that things are just more laid back. It's no lie. A stress-free, care-free life is so much healthier (and more fun) than an up-tight, care-what-people-think attitude. Not saying the entire East coast is like this, but it seems to be the case that the further you get from DC and politics, the more laid back life is.

San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge

5. West Coast Time Zone. Yeah, so in the fall I can wake up at 6am, walk the dogs, turn on College GameDay at 7am, see my first game at 9am, even catch the night games, and be able to go out after it's all over.

6. Wine, Wine, Wine. From Washington all the way down to California, there are so many wineries. In many areas, you don't have to drive any more than 5 miles in any direction to have 15-20 wineries. And they are good.

a vineyard in Sonoma Valley

7. Beer, Beer, Beer. I will argue until I'm blue in the face that the beer on the West Coast is better and more plentiful. I could name several dozen breweries that are awesome but all of my favorites are out West. Green Flash, Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, and Pyramid are just a few.

8. More National Parks. Yeah, this kind of relates to the scenery, but it's worthy of its own number. Just pull out a National Park map and you will see that the West Coast has so many more.

Crater Lake & Mt Rainier

9. Better Food. You can find the same genre of foods on the East coast, but all of the genres taste better, in my opinion out West. All of my favorite restaurants are out there.

10. More environmentally-friendly. People on the West Coast care about the environment and go out of their way to show it. A lot of companies don't charge to recycle, and even if they did, everyone would still do it

So that's it. I'll say again, this is my opinion. There are a couple of things that are worse on the West Coast (cost of living) but they don't even compare to the great things out there. If you haven't been, please go. I can recommend numerous places.  Especially if it involves camping, beer, or wine.  Just ask.

What's your opinion on the East Coast vs West Coast?  Do you have a favorite of the two?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I Won't Birth 20 Kids

So, the Duggars had a big announcement this week.  Michelle Duggar is pregnant again.

image credit: ivanmarn

First of all, more power to her and I sincerely hope she has a safe & healthy pregnancy.

However, all of the publicity got me thinking and that's always a little scary.  I started thinking about 20 kids and I realized I could never do it for a lot of reasons.

1 - I'm 35 years old.  I only have one child. The thought of being pregnant well into my 50s in order to have 19 more children doesn't appeal to me.

2 - We have a soft spot for big dogs. Really big dogs.  That leaves little room for 19 more children.

3 - I hated being pregnant. I was sick and miserable the whole time.  As much as I love Klaw, the thought of being pregnant again, even if only one more time, makes me cringe.

4 - I don't like to do laundry.

5 - I can barely remember the names of my pets. There's no way I'd remember the names of 20 children. I've watched the Duggars rattle off the names of their children and I am in awe.

6 - If we had 20 kids, statistically speaking, about 5 of those kids would have VLCADD.  Granted, it's a manageable condition...but that first year is awful.  Hospitalizations, weekly visits with specialists, regular blood work, cardiology appointments, waking the baby up & force feeding him/'s emotionally and physically draining.  Thinking about going through that four more times is overwhelming.

7 - I imagine cosleeping is pretty difficult with 20 kids.  How many king size beds would we have to buy & shove together?

8 - Chris would eventually deploy again.  That would SUUUUUUCK!!!

9 - I don't think 20 kids would fit in our pop-up camper.  This is not acceptable.

10 - I have nightmares about blown out vajajays.

What it all comes down to is this:

Her body; her choice.
My body; my choice.

How about we leave each other's uteri alone.
You hear that voters?

ETA: I'm very sorry to add that the Duggars lost their baby.
I'm even sorrier to add that many people have not been very compassionate about it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5 Things That Make a Camping Trip Merely Good

This is continuation of my post 5 Things That Make a Camping Trip Great. While camping is like pizza to me (there is no bad pizza) there certainly are those things that can make it merely a good camping trip and not great one.

Here are few things that can take a camping trip from...

Great to Good

1. Seeing your team lose, live!!! While Oklahoma is my team, I still follow and support Georgia Tech (I actually spent more time at GT than OU). When a college friend was selling tickets to the GT-UVA game, Dana and I decided to purchase two and take the opportunity to go camping. I figured this would be a perfect game to go to. GT was highly ranked, undefeated, and playing a Virginia team that hasn't had a good football team since 1990. Surely, this would be in the bag. Yeah, not so much. While our seats were great, everything about Georgia Tech's play was terrible. They came out flat and made UVA look like they were the ranked ones. Can I get my money back, Ashley? 

Dana being smug because GT is losing.

2. Lack of cell phone coverage. So camping in the foothills of the Appalachians, while beautiful, isn't cell phone friendly. I'm not normally one for needing cell phone coverage while camping, but we left the dogs at home for this trip and I was a bit curious on how they were doing. If there had been a problem there would have been no way to contact us. Fortunately for the free wi-fi at the campground, we were able to communicate via messaging on Facebook.

3. One lane gravel roads. Due the lack of cell phone coverage, we were unable to find out if one winery, Sugarleaf Vineyards, was accessible for a truck towing a camper. We decided to risk it and let me tell you, it was stressful. This one lane gravel road was the worst road I have been on in a long time. Plenty of potholes and plenty of blind bends. Fortunately for the trip to the winery we encountered no other traffic. We were not so lucky leaving the winery. Backing up with a camper is not easy and I'll leave it at that. We came out unscathed but I don't need any more gray hair.

4. Crowded campgrounds. When we go camping, we don't come to socialize with the other campers and, frankly, would rather be the only people out there. When we made reservations, there were only three spots left so I knew this was going to be a crowded campground and boy was it. It was kid hell, as I had to dodge little Hell's Angels as I walked to the restroom. For further reading on why this sucks, see number 5 below.

5. Loud, Drunken Rednecks. As if crowded campgrounds aren't bad enough, throw in Billy Ray, his first cousin/wife Bobbie Sue, their 12 chil'ren, and plenty of Busch Light and Boone's Farm and you've got a recipe for disaster. Oh yeah, did I mention they were our neighbors? Quiet hours evidently didn't apply to these asshats as they sang Skynyrd and loudly laughed into the wee hours.

All in all, it was a good trip. Honestly, take away the rednecks and the Georgia Tech loss and it would've have been a great trip.

If you camp, what are your camping pet peeves?  Do you have any funny or harrowing stories to share?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stupid Husband Tricks

Today is usually #VlogTalk day, but I did not choose one of the prompts this week.  Another video opportunity presented itself and I am not one to ignore a wonderful gift when it is given to me.


So, what's the dumbest thing your significant other has done lately?

Vlog Talk

Monday, November 7, 2011

5 Things That Make a Camping Trip Great

Chris is back & inspired by a recent camping trip...hope you enjoy!

just outside of Charlottesville, VA

Ok, so I didn't title this "10 Things That Make a Camping Trip Awesome". Nope, I didn't want to focus on just those things that made our recent camping trip awesome because for every awesome there is usually a terrible. Instead I'm going to provide 5 things that make a camping trip go from good to great in this post and 5 things that make a camping trip go from great to good in another post.

Good to Great

1. Beautiful weather. Nothing says "its a great time to camp" than fall weather. Chilly nights and mild days. Combine that with bountiful sunshine and camping is on point.

also near Charlottesville, VA

2. Well-maintained campgrounds. You never know what you are going to get when you make a campground reservation. Pictures don't always tell the whole story and for every bad review you can always find a good one. When there is only one campground where you want to go, well, there is no choice and you get what you get. The KOA in Charlottesville was nice. Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, there was plenty of fall foliage, nice level sites, each with their own campfire ring, a nice store, and clean restrooms.

3. Free WiFi. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that when you are camping you are supposed to become one with nature and all that jazz and that's fine. But fall camping coincides with another love of mine: College Football. I schedule camping around OU's games so I won't go if they are playing in a tough game. So they played Kansas this camping weekend so I wasn't really concerned but having WiFi afforded me the opportunity to run ESPN's GameCast and keep up with it, play by play.

4. Nearby libations. Dana and I are all about supporting local wineries and breweries. We don't necessarily go out looking for them, but if they are nearby, you can bet we are going to make a stop. I didn't do any research ahead of time but was told that there were some wineries in the Charlottesville area. Much to my surprise and delight, there were four of them within ten miles of where we were staying. Unfortunately Klaw isn't old enough to drive, so we limited ourselves to two of them. We will get the others next time.

Dave Matthews's Blenheim Vineyards

Sugarleaf Vineyards

5. Cooperative children. We've only taken Klaw camping once before and he was good. Since that time, he has, how do I say this, developed a penchant for throwing temper tantrums periodically. Not that he is ever bad but sometimes he shows his tail, as on old family friend used to put it. This trip he was great! He went to bed when we did, slept the entire night, and even was good enough to allow us to stay the entire 4 quarters of a GT-UVA football game. Thanks buddy!!!

Chris, Klaw, & Buzz

Do you enjoy camping? What are do you think makes for a great camping trip?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Fun = Football #VlogTalk

Look, we love football around here.

We LOVE football.

It's need to find us...just stop by our house.  We'll be watching football all day long.  We might even be eating some delicious Lime, Apricot, & Soy Sauce Wings.

Unless, of course, we are watching from the STADIUM!

Vlog Talk

1) What is your favorite fall tradition?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Run a Marathon, Give Birth, Who Cares?

Evidently, a lot of people do.

40 weeks pregnant 
photo credit

I wasn't one of them until, Liz, a twitter friend & blogger at a belle, a bean, & a chicago dog, posted an innocent question on the twitter:
Everyone keeps praising the pregnant woman who ran the . Anyone think that wasn't such a great thing for her to do?
Some of the responses she got made me realize how many people are coming down hard on this mom for her "reckless" and "irresponsible" decision to "run" a marathon at 39 weeks of pregnancy. Not just, "I wouldn't do it" or "I don't think she should have done it" but people seriously calling her "reckless," "irresponsible," "selfish," and "risky."

In case you didn't catch the news coverage, Amber Miller got clearance from her doctor & support from her husband to run half the marathon & walk half the marathon at 39 weeks of pregnancy.  Obviously, she didn't just up & decide to run a marathon.  She is in excellent physical condition and had no contraindications to continuing her physical activity during pregnancy.

I'd like to point out that my Google news search for "chicago marathon birth" on 10 OCT 2011 turned up more articles about the winner of the marathon & the firefighter who died than it did for the woman who gave birth.  She was mentioned in a few articles, but only rarely mentioned in the titles.

Why is this a big deal?  I wasn't in condition to run a marathon BEFORE I got pregnant, so it would be asinine for me to do so while pregnant.  Personally, I think running when you aren't being chased by a knife-wielding maniac is pretty crazy, but I'm a lazy sloth. Other women have continued to train for marathons while pregnant, so this isn't anything new.  The key point is that your activity level during pregnancy is individual to you.  I was walking 3 miles a day towards the end of my pregnancy with no issues.  Some women are on modified bed rest.  I am not going to judge another woman's pregnancy needs based on my own.

Most people understand difference between discussing/debating a controversial issue (which I greatly enjoy).  However, when I see words like "irresponsible" and "selfish" coming up repeatedly, I tend to think it's no longer a discussion but a judgment.  It would be very irresponsible for ME to run a marathon ever at 39 weeks, but it's not irresponsible for everyone, as evidenced by Amber Miller.

Guess what?  I have a few confessions:

1- I ate sushi while pregnant.
2- I cleaned the litter box while pregnant.
3- I had half a Guinness while pregnant.
4- I ate soft cheeses while pregnant.
5- I took zoloft while pregnant.
6- I did not get the seasonal flu or swine flu vaccine while pregnant.
7- I slept on my back more than once while pregnant.
8- I went to a party, wore heels, & met Donald Rumsfeld the night before I went into labor.
9- I labored at home for several hours after my water broke.
10- I hired a midwife and not an OB.

For each of these things (okay, maybe not meeting Rumsfeld, I just like to throw that in whenever I get the chance), I was told by at least one person that I was being selfish and putting my baby at risk.  I never asked for anyone's opinion, but my growing belly made some people think they needed to tell me exactly how irresponsible and negligent I was being.

Guess what? I have the right to make decisions concerning my own body.  Just because a woman is pregnant does not suddenly mean that she loses the right to make her own decisions. Random members of society don't get to make these decisions for me based on what they think I should do.  In fact, unless I'm declared mentally incompetent, no one gets to make decisions for me.

This kind of thinking worries me because it can lead to pregnant women being forced into birth interventions, surgery, or tests without their consent because someone else deems the mother's right of refusal invalid due to her being pregnant.  It can throw us back decades with women's rights.

the New Jersey appellate court found that V.M. and B.G. had abused and neglected their child, based on the fact that the mother, V.M., refused to consent to a cesarean section and behaved erratically while in labor. The mother gave birth vaginally without incident, and the baby was "in good medical condition." Then she was never returned to her parents, and the judge in the case approved a plan to terminate their parental rights and give custody of the child to foster parents.
Melissa Ann Rowland stands charged of murder by the State of Utah forfailing to permit a timely cesarean section that could have saved one of her two babies from in utero death.  Her case demonstrates the classic maternal-fetal conflict: Mrs. Rowland refused to consent to a procedure that had substantial risks for her and no benefits, but which could have saved her stillborn child’s life.  The charges represent the farthest extent of state action in favor of fetal rights over maternal autonomy and proceed against a jumbled background of contradictory precedents.

These were just two examples and the facts surrounding the cases are murky but the charges were brought against these women due to their refusal to do what someone else decided was best for them.

This leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.  It tastes like paternalism & misogyny.

I'm going to step off my soap box now but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think women lose their autonomy upon getting pregnant? Should doctors/caregivers/loved ones have the authority to overrule a pregnant woman's decisions regarding her body?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Gave Up 'Poo for a Week!

No, I'm not constipated.  I gave up commercial shampoo for a week, commonly referred to as "no 'poo."  Clever, eh?

Baking Soda
{click image for attribution}

I have never found a shampoo that really works well for me & my hair. I even used "Thicker, Richer, Fuller" for a while but it was pointless.  My hair is very thick, very straight, & very heavy.  When the natural oils start to flow down (which is about 5 minutes after I wash it), it becomes a thick, heavy, boring, lifeless mess.

Over the past couple of years, I started hearing about a lot of people doing the whole "No 'Poo" thing and, well, I scoffed at them.  I mean, sometimes I'll go several days without washing my hair but it's not on purpose.  It's just gross, right?

Wrong.  In fact, my snap judgment couldn't have been MORE wrong!  I'm so glad I challenged myself to give up shampoo & conditioner for a week to see what all the crunchtastic hype was about.

9/4 wash & condition (Suave Naturals for volume)
9/5 baking soda
9/6 baking soda
9/7 jogging - baking soda
9/8 jogging - baking soda
9/9 a little oily - baking soda
9/10 baking soda
9/11 wash & condition (Suave Naturals for volume)
9/12 baking soda

My hair was fuller & less oily with the baking soda rinses. It felt limp when I washed/conditioned it but was super shiny. My hair was, again, awesome when I used baking soda the next night.

I won't be switching 100% to baking soda right now, but I will be cutting back on shampoo/conditioner. I have been very pleased with the results and I continue to space out my shampooing with baking soda rinses.

I definitely recommend giving the baking soda rinses a try if you have hair similar to mine.

Have you tried "no 'poo"? What were your results? Any other "no 'poo" tips for other hair types?

*note that many "No 'Poo" instructions use vinegar. I don't. I can't. 
It reminds me of that time I had head lice and I want to vomit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lime, Apricot, & Soy Sauce Wings #VlogTalk

We are from The South, so college football is only slightly less important than God & family.

College football = Tailgating
Tailgating = Chicken Wings

Our friend, Crystal, found a recipe for delicious chicken wings in Gourmet Magazine (December 1999 ed) and cooked them for a party a few years later.  Everyone fell in love with her the wings, so she shared the recipe with us all.  It has since become a staple college football food for us and Chris is the master chef.

If you are short on time & delight in the pain of others, just skip to 2:50...

Lime, Apricot, & Soy Sauce Chicken Wings
Serves: 8 adults plus 10 children in appetizer portions
(or just Dana & Chris)

8lbs chicken wings
1 cup fresh lime juice (~10 limes)
1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup sugar
4 large garlic cloves

Special Equipment:
2 large disposable roasting pans

-Preheat oven to 425°
-Evenly divide wings in a single layer in 2 roasting pans
-Purée remaining ingredients & pour over wings
-Bake wings in upper & lower thirds of the oven for ~45
-Stir wings and switch oven positions for the pans
-Bake wings for 45min-1hr, until liquid becomes thick & sticky

Wings can be served hot or at room temperature.

-We have successfully halved the recipe for smaller groups.
-Watch the time during the second half of baking. We have used four different ovens, electric & gas, with this recipe & they all required slightly different cooking times to avoid "blackened" wings.
-This particular recipe can be rather messy, so if you are opposed to using disposable roasting pans, please allow yourself several hours to clean, which is fine if you hate football.

Vlog Talk

1)  Are you ready for some football?  What is your favorite tailgating (or couch-watching) football food to make?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Children's Museum of Virginia

I have to say, right off the bat, I love this place.

Shortly after we moved to Virginia, the Children's Museum in Portsmouth closed down for a remodel that was supposed to make it better than ever.

I have no idea what it used to be like because I don't hang out at places like Children's Museums or Chuckie Cheeses without kids.  However, I am impressed with what it is today.

There are two levels.  The entrance level contains the majority of the stuff that will be interesting to younger kids and toddlers.  Much of it will also be interesting to older kids because it's just neat.

There is a section and a half devoted to trains, complete with a running rail system with areas kids can crawl into & get a great view of the action.  Off to the side of the main train room is a Thomas the Tank Engine play area.  There are two train tables, one with attached tracks and the other left free for kids to build their own track system.  There are TONS of trains.  Klaw absolutely loves this area.

Klaw's other favorite area on the first floor is the toddler play area. It's a good place to hang out if your toddler is getting overwhelmed or if there are school groups/big kids running amuck.  It's kind of removed from the main area, so it's quieter.  It's also enclosed, so you can let your toddler play at will.  There is a conveniently located family restroom and a nursing room in the area.

You can also find a grocery store, veterinary hospital, loading dock, bank, doctor's office, HRT bus, fire truck, police motorcycle, plus a few other fun attractions down stairs.  If there are a lot of older kids, it can be loud and overwhelming for Klaw, which is why we spend a lot of time in the toddler area and the train area.

Upstairs, the activities become more geared towards older kids with science & art taking the stage. Younger kids can definitely enjoy the exhibits but older kids (and adults) can learn (or remember) physics & math while having fun.

 I really enjoy the house that demonstrates energy usage and ways to save & recycle. It meanders out to a "yard" showing different habitats and animals (not real!).  There are things to crawl through for the younger kids and interesting facts for those of us who don't crawl so much anymore.

The Children's Museum of Virginia really does have something for everyone.  We ended up buying an annual membership because it is something I can take Klaw to every couple of weeks and it doesn't get old for him.  The price per visit is a little steep if you plan to go more than a couple of times of year, so it's worth looking at a membership if you are local and your kids like it.

Are there any "go-to" museums or parks your kids enjoy?  What is your favorite place to take your kids that you enjoy, also?
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