Category Archives: Uncategorized

Keep the Beat With Brad


I’d like to take a moment to ask you all a personal favor…send a prayer or your good intentions up for our dear family friends Brad and Becky E. Bad is waiting for a heart transplant, and I can’t imagine a more difficult daily waiting game. Please, please….have the #donationconversation with your friends & loved ones…know their thoughts on being doners or recipients.

Ideal Life Mom Freaks Out About: Baby Bath Products


Today a specific article keeps rolling up on my news feed. Thing is, it’s NOT new information…but I keep seeing these virtual ‘gasps’ from shocked parents and grandparents. Now, if any of you knows where I might obtain a pocket-sized soap box, you might want to message me. This is one of those topics that REALLY gets my dander up!

First, let’s make sure you have a link to the article. Now rest assured, this is NOT new information. In fact, my husband and I became aware of the concerns swirling around some baby products in 2007, before our little flower fairy arrived. It had been a long time since we had taken care of a baby-and while I would identify us a “technologically impaired” we were still able to stumble across enough cautionary information to make us seek out a safer line of baby products.

Now, as I stared before, we were aware of this in 2007. J&J products had been removed from shelves on other countries, and the buzz was that some of the ingredients had cancer-causing and neurotoxic ingredients. Now, again-this isn’t new information. It’s not even a nearly 10yr old concern…in fact, there has been a public outcry and demand for more responsible products for over TWENTY YEARS. That’s right…check into that.

In 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, along with 40 other organizations (including American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners) sent a letter to J&J outlining their concerns with the company’s products, particularly its baby shampoo. In the last 6 years, J&J has made numerous assertions regarding “safe” levels of known toxic and dangerous chemicals. They also repeatedly “promise” to reduce and/or remove these ingredients…and periodically make a press release lauding their reduction. Admirable? Maybe. But not enough…not NEARLY enough, considering that J&J already sells their standard product line overseas (Finland, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, The UK) without those very same chemicals they bemoan their troubles and cost in removing.

So, what’s up with this? Why is this a concern? What the soap box, you ask? Simple. My kids’ world is full of things that I can’t control. So whenever possible, I want to choose the best products that I can…especially in products that I regularly use IN, ON, and AROUND my kids.So many of these ingredients are shown to contribute to an infinite number of health concerns, from infertility, asthma, allergies, eczema, leukemia, ADD, depression…the list goes on and on. Will one product be the tipping point? I don’t know…I don’t think anyone does. How much is too much? Can I prevent all of those things? Maybe not…but I can take intentional steps to remove things that i KNOW increase my children’s risk. You know what scares me? Household products that are plastered with cautions. “Neurotoxic.” “Hazardous to Pets.” “Do Not Inhale.” “Do Not Ingest.” “Flush Eyes Immedialtly.” “Avoid Contact With Skin.” And one of my personal favorites….”If you cannot read (…) warnings, do not use this product.” These things are written all over products you use! Now, how scary is that? (Seriously. Climb under your bathroom sink and start reading.)

How do I choose better products? Well…couple things. First, if you can’t read it, you probably don’t want it. Second, if you yourself are scared to eat a teaspoon of it, don’t dump it on your child’s head or in their bath water. Thirdly, consider that many overseas countries have much, MUCH higher standards for baby product safety than the US. I once had a doctor tell me that just because something was toxic to small animals did not mean that it wasn’t safe for my newborn. (really.) He explained that a small animal’s metabolism differed significantly from a human baby’s, which explained why a small animal might die from a certain level of exposure, but my baby would be…uhh…”just fine.”

Another question I hear: “I get it that what you feed them is important, but it’s JUST soap and lotion.” Consider this: chemicals are absolutely absorbed through the skin. We regularly does everything from nicotine and birth control to nitroglycerin and pain medication through skin patches. As in…on a patch. In a controlled dose. Care to chance a full-body application on your newborn?  In 2005, the Environmental Working Group published a combination of two studies that found toxic chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies born in the U.S. in the fall of 2004. They screened for more than 400 chemicals, and an astounding 287 toxins were detected within the umbilical cord blood of these newborns. Of these 287 chemicals, 217 were neurotoxins, and 208 are known to damage growth development or cause birth defects. These toxins included mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polybrominated and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and furans (PBCD/F and PBDD/F), perflorinated chemicals (PFCs), organochlorine pesticides like DDT and chlordane, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated napthalenes (PCNs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and many others. These study results have been largely ignored by the media.

That explains why this commercial is infuriating for me: 

Ok, so let me tuck this soap box back into my pocket…for now. And let’s wrap this up by asking you to PLEASE, please consider your baby’s skin care products. There are so many better (and not always more costly) options! I adore Mustela baby products, Dr. Bronner’s makes great washes for adults and babies at a great price, and even plain organic coconut oil can do about 10, 000 amazing things. Check out the info at to find a better option for yourself and your kids! Also check out our own homemade baby, bath, and home products…expanding rapidly and available at


Pinterest is Sabotaging Your Self Esteem


It started innocently enough. My daughter’s birthday was creeping up, and having recently indulged in a cake-decorating class (mostly to get out of the house alone…) I began to question her about what “kind” of cake she would like. Let me clarify: I was looking for a flavor and a theme. Preferably a theme like…red dots. I had failed to take into account that this was my perfectionist child…

Two hours on Pinterest later…she wanted a blue-flavored (???) cake with frosting between the layers, sparkly-dangly things, Frozen-themed with lots of candy-and jewels!-and some snow. And Olaf…don’t forget Olaf. (This is the part where I started to feel a little sick…) An entire afternoon of work, $40 in candy and decorations, and after terrorizing my teenage son and husband (They called me the Cake Nazi!) I had it. Exactly what she asked for.

The cake was a big hit, the child was pleased…until it was time to cut the cake. We’re talking Epic Birthday Meltdown…with Tears. She didn’t want anyone to EAT her cake.

Today’s mom is pushed harder and harder…hold a full-time job, be a full-time mom. Look put together, have it all together, do it all together…somehow managing to channel Martha Stewart, Julia Childs, Mary Poppins, Heidi Klum, Florence Nightengale, and Alice of the Brady’s all at once. Pinterest perpetuates this mythical standard we set for ourselves by sucking us in to a vortex of virtual idealism.

I agree wholeheartedly that Pinterest is a goldmine of ideas. It’s a great resource for recipes, crafts, and the like. But we all have those “When I Get to It” boards full of things that (realistically?) we’re never going to get around to. And who should? Really…the outfit you just repinned from your sister’s Board doesn’t actually exist in her closet. Heck, there aren’t even links to purchase the items! And when did it become the standard to make individualized craft projects for every kid in your child’s class for every holiday imaginable? Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Last Day of School…if you’ve got it together, you have a Pinterest project for that. You got the complimentary laminator when your child was born, right? Pinterest can help you overhaul your body, your mind, your home, and your diet in one afternoon!

I do love a good Pinterest project now and then-who doesn’t love to have their crafting/cooking/gardening skills oooh’d and ahhh’d over? Pinterest is just a wealth of ideas, though…its fine to spend your time there occasionally, but don’t get caught up in measuring your abilities as a wife, mother, friend, etc by how many of those projects you can get done. Your home and table might look amazing on your Pinterest boards, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t so much more valuable in your real skin.

It’s great when things look good on the outside, but what Pinterest can never provide is the intrinsic value of being a good friend. Pinterest can’t read your child a story, make a chalk masterpiece in the driveway, decide to order in some pizza and eat in bed with PJ’s on. Pinterest doesn’t make connections with the people you love, and if does not define your worth.

So the next time your husband or friend comes over and finds you with your hair wrapped up in a sock bun, toes super-glued together after your tie-dye pedi failed, face dripping with a honey-and-lemon miracle cure…frantically planning freezer meals for the next month and printing seasonally-appropriate phonics charts for the kiddos…look them in the eyes and have a good laugh. Because laughing together? That’s the good stuff…for real.

Essential Oils-Join Free Promo


Interested in essential oils, but just getting started? My supply company is hosting a short “Join Free” period…you’ll get a $100 kit (with basic oils and a diffuser) FREE! Pay only shipping (about $20.) OR upgrade your kit and get $100 off!

1) Go to:

2) Watch the “Getting Started” webinar

3.) Get a code for $100 off, which makes your basic kit free or your upgraded kit less! Pay shipping only (mine was around $20.)

4.) Remember to join my team! (Aimee Schneider)

Rethinking Christmas…


My husband and I discussed it, and the number one thing we would like to change about our kids’ holiday experience (which, of course, develops into tradition) is to take the focus OFF of the gifts. Our kids pour over the holiday flyers for months. They circle everything! I have, admittedly, been the one to traditionally feed into this “want, want” mentality the most. I want Christmas to be magical for them…BUT…I have two older teens whom I have raised, and who were spoiled beyond belief. There were Christmases during which they actually tired of opening gifts. They became teary and demanding and distracted…and in retrospect, my “over the top” gift giving not only stretched the seams on our wallet to the breaking point, but it diminished the experience of gift giving and getting for grandparents, friends, and other family.
So this year, we have decided to adopt a new policy…mom and dad give “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.” That’s IT. They may ask us for a very special gift as “something they want.” But this will help make small gifts from brothers and sisters and others more valuable. We simply don’t want the giving and getting to be the shining focus any more. We plan to read the Christmas story, and have a holiday meal. We’ll attend church services and come home to open gifts…and instead of being overwhelmed and teary, surrounded in wasted paper, batteries, and screwdrivers, we’ll snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie.
Santa will come the next day, with a bit of magic under the tree. But we commit to start learning, as a family, to cherish one another and the gift of God’s salvation through a miraculous and precious baby. And THIS is the Christmas we wish to pass to our children.

Teaching Your Kids About Emotions and Reactions


One of our cubs ran in to the house to wash her hands for a third time this weekend while we were paining the Den. “Oh, don’t worry about your hands! Just go have FUN and we’ll wash up when we’re done.” I said, a little impatiently. “Wait…you want me to get dirty?!” She asked, baffled.

Do your cubs have preconceived ideas about behavior, emotions, reactions, etc? You bet they do…and it starts early. Just take a minute to consider your OWN childhood. Did your mom let you get dirty? Could you play in paint? Did you clean your plate at every meal? Are you afraid of things your parents were afraid of? Was it ok to cry? Are you a ‘hugger?’ How important is church…education…work….family time?

So much of what we do or say sends a message to our kids every day. Now, I’m no Mary Poppins-you bet I lose my crap sometimes. But as the eldest of my cubs approaches adulthood, it makes me reflect. What have I passed on to her as far as “how to deal with life?” I’ve certainly done some things wrong, and some things right, and I see some things that need improvement. It makes me think more…just stop and think…about how my daily emotions and reactions impact my children. Some areas to consider:

1.) Do you have fun? Do you play? Or is that something that is reserved for only children?

2.) Do you display affection to those around you? Is that something that you like or don’t like about yourself?

3.) Do you listen well to what others are saying? Do you make others feel like their opinion matters?

4.) Are you able to say “no” when you don’t want to do something, due to time, money, stress, etc?

5.) When you have commitments, are you prompt? Do you follow things through? Are you a procrastinator, or timely?

6.) What are your attitudes about work, vacations, money, church, hobbies,sports, school?

7.) How do you act when you are angry, sad, disappointed, fearful, tired, joyful, relaxed? Do you SAY how you are feeling?

8.) Do you take good care of yourself with sleep, illnesses, stress? Do you show your children how to self-soothe as an adult?

9.) How do you talk about others on the phone, to your spouse, and to your best friend?

10.) How important is taking care of your health? Are you active? Do you make good food choices? Do you take definite steps to improve your lifestyle and health? Is your family involved in that?


No one is perfect. The idea is that your littles are watching and mimicking all of the time. They learn about life from you, firsthand. Try to pick out some good life skills-for me, it works best for me to pick one or two areas that I am weak in at a time, and work to improve them. I often find that as I work to improve my own attitudes, emotions, and skills in an area my cubs experience little changes too. Make small goals, and involve your family. Some of those will work out to become habits. Some of them won’t go so well, and that’s ok. Talk about your successes and failures, and put them back on the list to be worked on again if you like. Talk to your children, love on them, and gift them with a giood start. Children are your chance to change the world!

Playful Parenthood

Playful Parenthood

I’ve always been of the opinion that the best laughs are the ones that make you laugh and gag at the same time. Parenthood has done nothing but exacerbate that for me, and unfortunately…maybe by default…also for my husband. I was reflecting on this after a hurried trip to the gas station. As I was walking back to the car, I noticed a real suspicious chunk dried on to my nursing pendant. I removed the suspicious chunk and decided to let PackDaddy play along. I instructed him to close his eyes and open his hand…having placed the gem in his palm, I gleefully asked “mango or booger?!” Now, you know you’ve been partners in parenting for a LONG time when these games amuse both of you…anyone in their right mind would only be tricked into that game once…

We started discussing other “fun” games we have played as parents. No more beer pong. (PackMam…we never played beer pong, I PROMISE…) No more cute tickle games, no more spin the bottle, gone is the “You hang up first” phone phase. Here’s a list of games we can recall chuckling over since we had kids:

1)Poop or Fart? (Pro version includes a who’s the culprit factor)
2)What did the baby just eat? (Pro version: can you guess it by breath-smelling)
3)What did the baby eat to turn poop this color?
4)Here…hold this…(always a classic)
5)What’s in my hair and how long has it been there?
6)I.D. the non-flusher by the poop characteristics
7)Who peed on our bed while we were in it
8)Who peed on the floor (Pro version; baby, dog, or cat)
9)What’s clogging the drain?
10)What’s overflowing the toilet?
11)What’s floating in my drink?…you want to try to catch this one early…
12)Who’s writing is this in permanent marker on the _____?
13)Booger or food chunk on the wall?
14)Who puked this up? (Pro version: baby, dog, or cat?)
15)Where did you get that fruit snack? IS that a fruit snack?

Anyway…I could go on and on. I guess the moral of the story is that parenting isn’t pretty. It’s USUALLY not sunshine and roses around here. In fact; these adorable little yard apes are pretty disgusting little creatures! It takes a lot of soap, a lot of elbow grease, a strong stomach and an even stronger constitution to parent a pack like ours. But it’s worth it.

The Goldfish Day


Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Particularly if there’s any vomit involved in my day…but I hardly ever get any sympathy from my Mom (PackMam) Now, it’s not that she won’t listen to me moan and complain, because she will. It’s just that it all comes down to one thing: Is it as bad as the Goldfish Day? Invariably, the answer is no.

The Goldfish Day is something of a family legend, although it’s *not* a legend, because it really happened. I was there. I lived through it. It scarred me. No blog about our family would be complete without sharing the Goldfish Day…it’s a way for you to put everything in perspective. It’s a measuring tool…was it a Goldfish Day? If not, relax. It could get worse.

PackMam, bless her heart, had her hands full. She was a recent divorcee. She was bravely mothering a 10yr old (who was stunning and smart and a joy to everyone around her…well, maybe I’m editorializing…) She also had under her wing a very unruly 3yr old, a 2yr old, and an infant. She worked full time hours in and out of the home, and there were never enough hours in the day.

I returned home from school one day to find that PackMam was a bit worn out, and had laid the 3yr old and the 2yr old down for an afternoon nap. All was well, right? No. No, all was NOT well. When I entered my room I knew it was not well, because I think I recall a slightly evil chuckle coming from the 3yr old. The 2yr old peeked from the bars of her crib with a cherubic grin. Something strange clung to one of her bouncing curls…and a fish fin dripped out of her mouth. In horror, I realized that my beloved fish Flippy and Finny no longer inhabited their fishy water paradise. I had BEGGED for those fish! PackMam was a “we-don’t-do-animals-in-the-house” kind of lady. Those fish were a hard-won battle…and they had just been fed to my sister.

Now, I am quite sure that I  had every right to throw the teary booger meltdown that I did. PackMam did her best to console me. When the wails had quieted to a sniffle, she left to scold her sushi-master and wipe up the happy diner. Unfortunately, she discovered that the diner in question had decided to wrap up her gourmet experience and move on to the makeover portion of the afternoon, which included a deep conditioning treatment for her hair. She has smeared a tub of A&D ointment into her fine, silky curls.

PackMam was good, but I’m pretty sure the edges were starting to fray. There was nothing to do but plop the diva into the tub and begin a long lineup of whatever home remedies she could think of that might remove a pound of thick grease from a baby’s head.  She scrubbed, and rubbed, and soaped, and scraped…and phoned her mother. While they brainstormed, the baby decided to top off her tank with whatever was left in a small cup of laundry detergent forgotten on the edge of the tub.

Enter again the unfortunate gem of a child who was just subjected to a fish-massacre. I beefed up the drama. You know how kids are. They seem to have a sixth sense for weakness. I knew if I hit fast and hard I had a chance…a small one, but a chance…at getting those fish replaced. I know PackMam was crumbling fast at that point, because she combed the soapy, peanut-buttery greasy fish chunks out of the baby’s hair and loaded everyone into the car.

When we arrived at the store, PackMam gave a last valiant effort to regain control of the situation. she strapped one child to her chest, one child to her back, and plopped fish-muncher into the cart. I happily trotted along as we made our way to the back of the store, and began the tedious process of selecting my new fishy-family. No one noticed that the baby was starting to look a little green around the gills. The pet-aisle employee finally arrived with his scooper-net, like a knight in shining armor. He was about to begin sloshing about for my scaly trophies when….the laundry detergent kicked in. With a whimper the baby exploded, launching  puddles of foamy goldfish parts out of her pant legs. The shame of my Flippy and Finny’s untimely fate became an undeniable reality. I’m not sure who was most distressed…the baby, me, PackMam, or the unfortunate pet-aisle employee.

We left without fish, and thus The Goldfish Day was born.

And no, Tom, I still haven’t forgiven you.