Tuesday, July 24, 2007

De-Stinkify Your House

Babies are small and sweet creatures, but I think we can all agree that they don't always smell so sweet. Add in some pets with touchy digestive systems as well, and it can be pretty easy for a room to smell not-so-fresh. Cleaning helps, but what do you do when guests are coming any minute and you just had to change a toxic poopy diaper, leaving baby poop fumes floating in the room?

We've used scented candles to help hide diaper and pet odors, but most just add a new layer of scent over the smells already in the room. So I was skeptical when asked to try the new Febreze scented candles.

The Febreze candles are not only scented, but also contain a special core that helps to remove bad odors from the air. Seriously?

I was impressed by the performance of this candle. I have no idea how the special core works, but it does seem to remove bad odors. While it didn't get rid of the garlic odor in the kitchen as well as I hoped, it did seriously minimize the scent, and when used near the diaper pail I couldn't catch even the slightest hint of a dirty diaper.

Best of all, the scent provided by the candle isn't overpowering, either. I had the Apple Spice & Delight scent (one of my favorite smells), and I loved it. If that's not to your liking, there are four other scents to choose from.

If you like scented candles, I recommend giving the Febreze candles a try. With a 30 hour burn time, you'll be able to de-stinkify many areas of your house, or one particularly bad area, with just one candle.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Read This Before Taking Your Next Pill

It's pretty clear that in this modern world we're a medicated society. Have high blood pressure? There's a pill for that. Depressed? There's a pill for that, too. Need help getting it up? Of course there's a pill for that.

But one problem with taking all of these pills - chemical compounds created by pharmaceutical companies - is that many carry side effects. A pill may fix one problem, but cause a different problem in return, which warrants another pill to fix the new problem. It's a slippery slope that can lead to needing one of those little pill boxes divided by day just to keep track of the cocktail of drugs needed to stay relatively healthy.

Do we need all those pills, though? In some cases, yes, drugs can improve the quality of life and even be life-saving. But Suzy Cohen, author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist, argues that in many cases we can look to natural ways to improve our health without abusing our bodies with the side effects of some medications.

Cohen believes that many of the medications we take in our daily lives - like birth control pills - rob our bodies of nutrients that are needed to maintain our systems. When we lose these necessary nutrients, our bodies can't function as well, and so other health problems crop up. But through diet and the use of naturally-occurring compounds, we can correct these imbalances and feel better (not to mention save money on prescription drugs!).

Before you think she might be an alternative health quack, know this: she's a pharmacist. So she really knows her drugs and how they affect the body. Her explanations of how a medication can impact systems other than the one it's supposed to help make perfect sense, and are put in terms that someone without a medical degree can understand. And in recommending herbs and supplements to treat conditions, she gives a brief explanation as to how they help, along with stating any studies that have proven their benefits.

The book is easy to read, with short sections and engaging, sometimes humorous writing. The chapters are divided up by different health problems, covering everything from heart disease and joint pain to fatigue, depression, and sexual desire. The fatigue chapter was the one I paid special attention to. While I knew about thyroid problems, I had no idea an adrenal gland problem could lead to fatigue, and I plan to follow her advice to see if I can get over this constant run-down feeling.

Cohen does caution that the book should not be used in place of a doctor, and it's always wise to consult your doctor before trying anything new. But one big advantage of the supplements she recommends is that most can't hurt your body if you try them. For example, if I were to take the recommended dosage of pantethine to see if it could help me with my fatigue, but I don't have an adrenal gland problem, the supplement still won't cause damage to my body. And if I do have an adrenal gland problem, it could help me feel better.

I honestly love this book and will be giving it a nice home on my bookshelf. I fully believe in the power of supplements and natural cures before trying prescription medications, and this book is full of useful advice to solve health problems without costly drugs. I really don't have any complaints about this book. OK, I suppose I could complain that Cohen writes for women as her audience, which could alienate any men who were reading it, but then again, how often do guys actually seek out options to improve their health without a woman pushing them to do so? (Or maybe that's just my husband?)

If you don't like taking prescription drugs, want to balance your body's nutrients being stolen by your current prescriptions, or simply want to find natural supplements to compliment the drugs you are taking, I highly recommend The 24-Hour Pharmacist.

Want to win your own copy of the book and a $50 CVS gift card? Click here and leave a comment on the Parent Bloggers blog to enter the contest!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What To Really Expect When You're Expecting

The first time I was pregnant, I bought a ton of books so that I could be as educated as possible. However, I think the popular books scared me more than educated me. They covered all of the exotic, strange things that could go wrong while pregnant, making me feel that anything out of the ordinary was leading to a miscarriage, when in reality it was nothing to worry about.

The one thing I wasn't prepared for with pregnancy was the emotional toll it would have on me. I was thrilled to be pregnant - we had planned this, after all - but at the same time I felt scared, a little lonely, overwhelmed, and a little sad at the life I was leaving behind. Did the books tell me how to deal with this emotional overload? Nope, and it took me well into my second trimester to finally seek out help for the depression these emotions were causing.

I wish now that I had the book Body, Soul, and Baby back then. Parent Bloggers asked me to take a look at this book, and now that I've read it I think it might be one of the best pregnancy books out there. Dr. Tracy Gaudet approaches pregnancy from a whole person perspective, addressing not only the physical changes happening while pregnant, but also the emotional changes that shape you throughout this journey.

The book covers all aspects of pregnancy, from preconception (are you really ready for a baby?) all the way to postpartum. Dr. Gaudet introduces ten exercises to help you feel connected to your body, your emotions, and your baby - the goal of these exercises is for you to actively experience your pregnancy, not just go through the motions. Let's face it: it's far too easy to go to all your doctor's appts., take your prenatal vitamins, and not give much thought to how your body and life is changing until you're suddenly being sent home from the hospital, baby in arms, shell-shocked at the whirlwind of changes. Your body is saggy, the little person you're holding seems like a stranger, and you're unprepared for hormonal bombardment on your emotions. I know that after my first, I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore.

Using the ten tools, you explore the mind-body connection, paying close attention to your internal signs to determine what your body, soul, and baby needs. These tools include journaling your feelings, dialoguing with your physical and nonphysical self, and dreamagery (which is a type of guided imagery).

I received this book right after having Mira, my second child. Yet even this time around, I don't think I was fully engaged in this pregnancy. Reading the postpartum chapters of this book helped me to sort through my emotions of her birth and my conflicting postpartum feelings. I was impressed with how thoroughly the book covered the postpartum period - in most books it is usually an afterthought crammed into the last few pages. I also didn't have a vaginal delivery last time, so it was nice to read that much of what I'm going through physically is completely normal.

Body, Soul, and Baby is an excellent guide for anyone having a baby or thinking about having a baby. The whole person approach is a refreshing change, and it is the only book I know that aims to help you nurture all aspects of yourself in preparation for this life changing event.

My only suggestion is I would have liked to see her give some ways to use the tools in helping to prepare for a second child. Other than that, I was thrilled with this book, and plan to pass it along to an acquaintance who has suddenly found herself pregnant. I know she isn't really ready for what's coming. I think this book will help her prepare more than any other.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Maybe Not The Worst Household Chore Now

When it comes down to household chores, bathroom cleaning ranks at the very bottom for me. I would rather scoop litterboxes and soak poop-stained toddler clothing than clean the bathroom. There's something about cleaning in and around the toilet that grosses me out (maybe it's the guy factor, with all of the drips on the rim?), and being forced to chip off dried toothpaste from the sink gives me chills. And let's not forget the harsh fumes from cleaners that burn my lungs and make my eyes water. That's why I usually leave the bathroom cleaning up to my husband.

But then Parent Bloggers sent me two new products to try: the Kaboom Neverscrub! Continuous Toilet Cleaning System and the Kaboom Shower, Tub, and Tile spray cleaner. The huz has slacked off a little in bathroom cleaning since Mira was born, so this was the perfect time to test out the products.

At first I was skeptical of a product who promised me I wouldn't have to use the toilet brush again. I tested the Neverscrub! Continuous Toilet Cleaning System on our downstairs half-bath. That toilet gets the most traffic, from both of us as well as any visitors.

I haven't used many toilet cleaning products that are placed in the toilet tank, mostly because I worry about the chemicals being poured into the water with each flush. We usually keep the toilet lids down, but if they're up, our cats have been known to try for a quick drink. And while Cordy has shown no interest in playing with toilet water, I didn't want to test Murphy's Law in that way. But the Kaboom Neverscrub packaging calmed my fears - it's non-toxic to pets and kids!

The results after a few weeks were noticeable. The upstairs toilets looked dirtier than the downstairs one, even though the downstairs toilet had more use. While it wasn't perfectly spotless (I won't go into the intestinal problems of certain family members), I will say that the Kaboom system did a good job of keeping it as clean as it could, and it saved us the hassle of having to constantly scrub at the toilet, too.

Next up was the Kaboom Shower, Tub, and Tile cleaner. It's a spray that foams up and then wipes off, and it can be used for most bathroom surfaces. The first thing I noticed right away was that it contained no harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia. So when testing it in the hall bathroom, which has no windows, I was spared the sting of chemical fumes - my eyes and lungs would like to thank Kaboom for that! It's not my favorite scent in the world, but the Kaboom cleaner scent is like fresh spring air compared to that other stuff we've used in the past.

Did it work? Yes, surprisingly well! I sprayed our guest bathtub, and after letting it sit for a few minutes, wiped the grime right off with barely any pressure. It took out a black ring around the tub without the need for a Brillo pad and lots of manual labor. No scrubbing, no multiple applications - it did the job easily the first time.

I was impressed with how well both of these Kaboom products work. With cleaners that make it this easy to clean the bathroom, maybe I'll pitch in on this chore more often? Nah, I'll let Aaron keep that job, but at least it won't take as long!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Have a Rockin' Fourth!

Any true fan of rock has to have at least a small soft spot in her heart for the Rolling Stones. After all, they're practically rock royalty, right up there with the Beatles and Elvis.

So for those big Stones fans out there, a new big DVD set has been released. The Rolling Stones' The Biggest Bang is a four DVD boxed set crammed full of some of the best from these rock icons. It includes two full length concerts, including the Rio de Janeiro concert at Copacabana Beach, as well as two behind the scenes documentaries.

The set also gives viewers the chance to see some new, never-before-released tracks and rare footage from concerts all around the world (including my favorite Stones song, Sympathy for the Devil).

The Biggest Bang is an amazing collection of Rolling Stones music and video footage. Available exclusively at Best Buy, this would make a great gift for the rock music lover in your life. Or you could just keep it for yourself, too. I won't tell.