Monday, April 14, 2014

A Healthier Home, A Healthier World: Celebrating Earth Day with Ology {#WalgreensOlogy #CollectiveBias #shop}

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. #WalgreensOlogy
As a child, I became quite obsessed with protecting the environment. My school folders were covered in stickers declaring things like, 'Save the Earth!' and 'Recycle, Reduce, Reuse!', and I found myself writing school paper after school paper on ways to protect the environment, save the animals, increase our social responsibility. Perhaps, it started with my love of Captain Planet, but whatever it was it was most certainly something I was passionate about at a young age. As I got older, I always remained somewhat eco-conscious, but the somewhat militant attitude certainly died down tremendously. When I became a mother, I again began taking a look at ways to live more naturally and create a better environment for my kids. It seems with each passing year, I have become more and more aware of the chemicals we are surrounding ourselves with- the products we use in our household through cleaners, medications and even beauty supplies. In the last year or so, my family finally said enough is enough and have really made the effort to do what we can to make our home more earth friendly. With Earth Day quickly approaching, many more of us are taking this opportunity to take a look at our own lives and evaluating the measures we take to live a more natural and healthy lifestyle. Perhaps one of the first steps we can take is switching out all of our chemical heavy products with products that are better for the environment and free of harmful ingredients, so I took a quick trip down the road to our local Walgreens store to stock up on some great products from their Ology collection.
So, what makes Ology such a great choice for my healthy home? First up, it's convenience, availability and affordability. One issue that we so often can come across with more eco-friendly cleaners is that they can be difficult to find...especially when you live in a small town without specialty health food/natural eating stores. As moms, we don't have time to search the earth and sea just to find the products we need, we need something that is readily available. Ology products can be found exclusively at your local Walgreens store, no need to travel anywhere special. Ology offers a wide variety of products as well- cleaning and laundry, health and beauty, paper products...even baby and light bulbs!! You can truly find everything you need in one quick trip. They are also quite affordable compared to their other natural cleaning counterparts so you can feel better about the products you are using, WITHOUT breaking the bank. All Ology products are free of ten harmful ingredients: Ammonia, Chlorine bleach, DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), Parabens, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Nonylphenol ethoxylates, Triclosan, SLS, SLES. They also do not contain any artificial dyes or fragrances. They are also free of animal byproducts and do not test on animals. As a mom, I also love that they are endorsed by Healthy Child Healthy World, an organization dedicated to creating healthy environments for children. The goal is to leave behind a better world for our children and even grandchildren. Let's take a better look at some of the many specific products Ology has to offer and how they fit into our goal to lead a healthier, more earth friendly lifestyle: Laundry & Cleaning
As a mom, I feel as though I am always doing laundry! Kids are messy and stains are an inevitable part of life. I want a laundry product that will work well for my daughter's sensitive skin, but still provide a great clean. Ology Laundry Detergent is gentle on clothes and skin, and still does a great job getting them clean. And it's cloth diaper friendly! This is great for me because it means I can use ONE detergent for ALL of our laundry needs. I feel the true test of the cleaning power of any detergent is how well they clean dirty diaper laundry...afterall, it's probably the messiest laundry in our household for sure! I am happy to say my daughter's came out smelling great and completely stain free! The Spring Lavender and Vanilla scent is also great for kids clothes for that little extra calming power! For all the other messes kids tend to leave behind, the All-Purpose Cleaner does a wonderful job. Like all Ology cleaning products, this all purpose spray gets a boost from plant based cleaning power rather than harmful chemicals. It easily cuts through grease and grime without the harsh solvents or ammonia. From laundry to dishes to windows and everything in between, Ology cleaning products offer a great clean that I can feel confident about being safer for my children! Personal Care
  To be honest, when I first starting making the switch to more chemical-free options in our home, I didn't give our personal care products quite so much thought. After all, these were items made to go on our skin, they could not be THAT harmful, right? Wrong! After my daughter was born and we discovered she had extremely sensitive skin, I was forced to take a better look at the ingredients within our mainstream products. They didn't have all the crazy warning labels as our household cleaners had, but they certainly had just as many unknown and unnatural ingredients. So, we have put in the effort to detoxify our beauty routines as well. Ology skin and hair products give that gentle nourishment we need to feel naturally beautiful, without the addition of harmful chemicals, parabens or sulfates. I most love the White Pear & Cucumber Shampoo and Conditioner, as I've found reasonably priced, chemical-free hair care to be among the hardest to find!
Paper Products

Okay, so paper products many not be as riddled with chemicals as our cleaning and personal care products can be, but they are still not the most earth-friendly option...all this disposable product just ends up straight in the garbage. Sure, there are reuseable options for most paper products, but let's just be honest here some of them are just not ideal. As much as I want to create a healthier, more earth-friendly home for my family, the idea of cleaning reuseable toilet paper from myself or my husband...just not my cup of tea. More power to those that can, but I- like many- simply cannot. But with Ology paper products like paper towels, bath and facial tissue, I can still use more natural products while still having the convenience of disposable. Their paper products are 100% Tree Free! Instead they are created from readily renewable sugar husks that would have been disposed of anyway, as well as quick-growing bamboo. Unlike trees, this bamboo regenerates in as little as six months making it a much more environmentally friendly option. They are also super absorbent, soft and strong...and the toilet paper is still septic safe and biodegradable.

From cleaning to bath to paper products and everything in between, Ology truly does offer everything my family needs to create a healthier home for my family and my children. If all of us takes the time and effort to change out even one of these area of our home to more earth-friendly options like Ology, imagine the impact it could make on our future generations. My son is a huge fan of the movie Wall-E. It's a fun film for kids, but it also has a great message. Do we want our future generations to live in a world that is so riddled with garbage that it is unsustainable? Do we want them to be cleaning up OUR messes and dealing with the results of the chemicals and garbage we left behind? Or would we rather take a look at what WE can do right NOW to make their future world healthier and better. On this Earth Day, I encourage all of you to take a look around you and see what changes you can make for a greater future for our children and environment.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? What changes have you or will you make to leave behind a better world for our children and grandchildren? Which Ology products would make the greatest impact on your healthy home?


Want some more fun for Walgreens and Ology, check out this fun video:

Cloth Diapers for Your Little Prince or Princess with Royal Fluff (A #SpringSweeping Giveaway)



Welcome to the Spring Sweeping Giveaway Hop, hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network.
The days are getting warmer, brighter, and longer which may lead many to start Spring Cleaning. But we're not ready to start cleanin' until we're done sweepin'! Take the next two weeks to sweep along the fabulous giveaways that a group of bloggers have come together to offer you! Be sure to hop around to all the giveaways, in the linky below, as they all have great prizes for you worth $25 or more!
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**Product received for review.



Is there anything more adorable than a sweet little baby with a cloth diapered bottom? Oftentimes I find myself leaving my daughter in just her diaper and tee and/or leg warmers because they're just too cute to hide. Though it wasn't our primary reason for choosing to cloth diaper it certainly is an added bonus. So when it comes to choosing diapers, we don't want something boring. We want fun prints, bright colors...we want fun! When I received this adorable LOVE diaper from Royal Fluff it certainly fit the bill! Let's take a look at some of the great features available:

Design, Fit & Functionality.


Royal Fluff diapers are a one size pocket diaper. They offer four rise options, allowing them a great fit for babies 9-35+ pounds. Of the many pocket diapers we've tried, I found this to be perhaps just a little wider than many, but worked wonderfully for our chunky twenty pound 7-month-old. I would say it was probably one of the better fits as far as pockets go. Would it fit a thinner/small newborn as well? I couldn't say for sure, but it certainly worked well for us.

When I hear the name Royal Fluff, I think luxury. So when I opened the diaper and felt the interior, it certainly lived up to the name. It is lined with a soft fleece material that is not only super soft against baby's delicate skin, it also keeps baby feeling dry. Who says diapers can't be luxurious?




Each diaper includes one insert made with three layers of microfiber terry-cloth. I found this insert to be a bit more plush than other microfiber inserts we'd used in the past...I can only imagine this adds to the comfort for baby too! Royal Fluff does recommend additional inserts for older babies, overnight and heavy wetter, but it worked well for typical daily use as it was for us.


Style

One of the greatest features of Royal Fluff diapers was most certainly the style. They are gorgeous! So many fun colors (with stunning contrasting snaps) and adorable prints. The LOVE diaper we received is probably among my favorite. So many bright colors! Personally, Finley has all these great little tops from Gymboree that we loved so much we bought in several colors...and this goes with them all wonderfully! This will definitely be one of those diapers that will be worn with a t-shirt and leg warmers come summer time (and around the house now too!)



Value

Royal Fluff Diapers range from $23-$24 so are probably about average as far as pockets go (of course, with so many price ranges for diapers, that can certainly be subjective). Their luxurious feel and great fit certainly make it worth the cost in my opinion (not to mention the money saved on disposables!). And you can save 20% until May 15 by using the code royalLOVE20 at checkout.

Overall, I was very happy with Royal Fluff and would certainly add more to our stash. Want to learn more or purchase some for your little prince or princess? Connect at the links below:

Shop the Website.
Like on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter.

And as part of the Summer Sweeping Giveaway Hop event, one lucky winner will win one of their very own (in addition to a detergent sample). Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.
So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Spring Sweeping participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Disclosure: I received the product mentioned above in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bath Time Made Easy with KozyBaby {A Review}

**Product received for review.



Bath time with baby is fun isn't it? Both of my kids have been big bath fans...splashing around, having fun, getting clean (okay, perhaps not the getting cleaned part). But do you ever take a look at yourself afterwards and find yourself wondering who got the most water on them- baby or mommy? I find myself in this situation after each and every bath. Couldn't there be a product out there that could make bathtime a little easier and dryer for parents? Fellow mom Amanda West thought the same way, and decided to do something about it and created the innovative baby must have- KozyBaby.


KozyBaby is a genius combination of apron for mom and hooded towel for baby. It snaps around mom (or dad's) neck at bath time, so when baby splashes, you stay dry! And when it's time to get out, there's no fiddling around with a squirmy wet baby and pesky towel, you can simply wrap baby up right in your arms. Sounds genius, right? But how well does it work?




In my experience- wonderfully! Unlike a typical baby towel, it is super thick and absorbent, so it truly does help keep the wearer from getting too wet, but still soft for baby too. It's large enough to provide plenty of protection and making it ideal for bigger babies too. When bath time is over, convenient hand pockets make it easy to wrap baby in a big squeeze to cuddle them dry! It can even be used as a hooded towel for bigger kids too. The adorable koala design is fun and perfectly gender neutral. Personally, I would love to see more color options as well, but still I have no complaints!

Overall, I loved the KozyBaby. Aside from being a great product, I also love supporting mom created companies. Really, who knows better what a mom needs (or at least what could make her life a whole lot easier and her clothes a whole lot dryer) than someone who has been there herself.

If you'd like to learn more or purchase for yourself, check out the links below:

Visit the Website.
Like on Facebook.

Disclosure: I received the product mentioned above in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Supporting Autism {The Great Divide}

Please note: I write this post not to say that I am right, or that there is a right or wrong organization to support. I am merely writing because I know there are people who question the differences and I wanted to share my own personal experiences and viewpoints on the subject. While I may have my reasoning for supporting one over the other, we have at one time supported each organization and I truly believe that at the end of the day, choosing to support autism in ANY way is a GOOD THING!

My husband was recently asked why there was a competition when it came to autism organizations. Autism Speaks, TACA, ASA... All are supposed to be supporting autism so there should be no conflict, right? Unfortunately it's not that simple. It all starts with the many clashing views within the autism community itself. There are those who believe that autism is purely genetic and there are those who believe there are environmental triggers (to include vaccines) that play a role. There are those who seek a cure and those who simply ask for understanding and accepting. There are those who want to find a specific genetic marker that will allow prenatal testing and those who do not want such a marker to lead to terminated pregnancies as is seen with Down syndrome. There are those who follow a strict gfcf diet and those who do not. There are those who see autism as merely a hardship and those who see that there are great things that go right along with those hardships. Should it be this way? Absolutely not, we should all be working together to stand for out children young and old and all others affected by autism. After all, we are all ultimately trying to do what we feel is best for our children- we just have different viewpoints on exactly what that means. Seeing where the divide is within the community, we can now take a look at three of the larger autism organizations and how they fit into all of this.

First up, the big one- Autism Speaks. They're everywhere. Billboards, Toys R Us, chocolate bunnies- they've got advertising down. For this reason, they truly have done a LOT for bringing autism into focus and raising awareness. If the growing numbers weren't making autism a household name, Autism Speaks certainly has. Aside from all of these advertisements, their focus tends to be in research. This is where the largest portions of their money is spent. Many individuals with autism and their families (myself included) feel that AS uses scare tactics and create a stigma of fear of autism going very much against the idea of embracing individuals with autism for the gifts they possess but instead seeing only the disability. You can read more about my thoughts on that here.

TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) tends to focus more on bio-medical treatments. Many children on the spectrum also have gut issues and are actually physically ill. For those individuals a gluten casein free diet has been shown to be not only effective in taking care of the physical issues, but also reducing (and in some cases eliminating) many of the behavioral and speech issues associated with autism. Those who support TACA also tend to be those who believe that vaccines and other environmental factors are the cause. Though their focus is bio-medical treatments and finding the 'cure' they offer many great services benefiting families as well.

Autism Society of America
 is probably- in my experience- the middle ground. ASA has branches all over and truly does a LOT to make life better for those living with autism. In California, they offered a monthly family support outing that my son still talks about fondly. They offer support meetings and activities as well as resources for families. One big thing they are known for is sensory friendly films- a night where individuals with autism and other sensory issues can enjoy a night at the theater with brighter lights, lower noise level and the option to move around and bring your own snacks to fit special diets. For many, this is the only way they would be able to enjoy a family movie night and is such a wonderful event for families. (Unfortunately these are still too much for my little man but awesome nonetheless!) This is just one of the many ways they actively try to improve the life for those living with autism.


So where so we stand? We are among those who DO NOT seek a cure for autism.  We do not see our son as having a disease or illness. We see that his mind works differently than others. Not worse or less, just different. Though raising a child with autism certainly presents it's challenges we realize that autism is part of what makes Shaun who he is and we could not imagine seeking to 'cure' him of who he is. (We do of course see the need for treatment of those who have physical issues associated with autism- in our minds that is completely different but in our case, Shaun is perfectly healthy in every way. There is nothing to cure.) This comes in large part after having read articles from adults living with autism who have stated they would not want a cure either. Instead we want to help him to reach his highest potential and learn ways to better adjust to society- as well as bring acceptance and understanding so that he might gain the respect he deserves. We also do not see autism as a burden. Again, I say this not to make little of the challenges we face. There are many days when I want to cry as I'm washing dirty underwear from my not-quite-potty-trained 6.5 year old, wondering when it will finally click. Or when I see him struggle to make friends. Or even the physical aggression. It's not easy. But along with all those things comes an amazing mind capable of so much. It is truly astounding. The near photographic memory, the attention to detail, the quirky little traits that make Shaun the little boy we love, we would not trade him for anything. We believe that research is important, but it is not all there is. We would love to have definitive answers for a cause, so perhaps future children need not suffer in cases where it is preventable, but cannot fathom the idea of terminating a pregnancy due to autism. We believe more than anything, regardless of the cause, we need to take are of those that are already here and already affected...offering them the support and services they need to lead a better life and gain the respect they deserve. We believe that understanding, education and acceptance are at the utmost importance, so that children like my son are seen for their amazing attributes rather than their diagnosis. It is for all these reasons that we find ASA to be the best fit for our family and throw the bulk of our support behind them.



Again, I just want to say that while we may not agree with everything each stands for, I cannot find fault with anyone wanting to support any and all organizations geared to supporting autism. As parents, grandparents, friends I know we truly are just trying to do our best for our loved ones- we just have different opinions on exactly what that means. My greatest advice is just to personally look into each organization and find which bests suits your views and objectives. If your biggest concern is researching the cause- support Autism Speaks. If you want support bio-medical research and finding a cure- TACA is a great fit. (Again, they offer more services as well- certainly worth looking into!). If you want to more directly impact families, ASA is fantastic. And of course, these may be the big three, but there are certainly many more wonderful organizations as well and as an autism mom, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping in whatever way you see fit. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Everything Beautiful Begins with God


As some of you may recall, shortly before I became pregnant with Finley, our family experienced an early miscarriage. If you have ever experienced a miscarriage, my heart goes out to you. If you have not, I pray that you never will. It is a pain that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. No matter how far along you may be, you begin to fall in love at the very moment you discover you are pregnant and you grieve just the same. It was a very difficult time for me, but through it, I tried to remember that THAT was not the baby that God intended us to have here on earth and that we WOULD have another baby someday soon. So, when we became pregnant again very soon after, I was overjoyed.

Now, as I look at my 7 month only Finley Grace, I am in awe. I know with everything in me that she is the sweet baby that God intended for us, and I could not love her more. I could not imagine another baby being any more magnificent than her. She is truly beautiful and absolutely AMAZING! It does not mean I don't still mourn for that baby we lost, or that my miscarriage was a good thing...but I do understand why it happened and I thank God for bringing us something so beautiful out of the darkness.

I took this photo of Finley a few days ago, and found that it perfectly sums up exactly what she means to us. She is proof that if we wait for God and are patient with his timing, things will work out as they are supposed to. Be it waiting for a baby, or waiting for something else, I have to remind myself that through it all, it will be beautiful in the end.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.- Ecclesiastes 3:11

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Insta-March

Another month has come and gone...and while I wish I could say with March came warm weather, unfortunately here in Indiana it was still mostly cold! We even had more snow over spring break. We have had a few warm days, and have taken full advantage of them when they came. Here's a brief look back at March via Instagram.



One of the big happenings last month was our new couch!!!
When my husband and I were married, we had absolutely nothing. He had been living a bachelor's life in the barracks, not saving a penny...and I was just out of high school. Seriously, nothing! So we went and bought the cheapest sofa set we could find. It last us over 7 years, despite having been moved several times, placed in storage, etc...but we had both hated it since about 5 years ago! What a relief it is to finally have something we like again. We love that we can all cuddle when we want, but have our space when we don't!


This is the face of a boy who is threatening to fart on you. He's ALL boy!



And this is the face of a girl who LOVES Frozen!



And this is the face of a boy who has just locked his mommy and sister outside!



Sweet nursing cuddles are my favorite!



This kids cracks me up...never a dull moment.



Just like Daddy.



Shaun and his friends! Such a sweet boy, isn't he?



We picked up this adorable hat on sale at Gymboree. Such the perfect spring/summer hat for our little princess! She could not look more precious!



This silly boy made Pikachu a ketchup sandwich! 



I love the look of adoration on Finley's face. She truly loves her big bubby!!



Mom and Fin



Enjoying the sunshine when we can!




Foods, foods, foods...carrots and sweet potatoes...yum!



Shaun thought she needed to look like Baby Mario!! Adorable!!



While watching Tangled, Shaun decided he needed to brush my hair. I don't know how I got so lucky to have such a sweet boy!



Another Gymboree hat...this one is bubby's but he thought sis needed to wear it too!



My St Paddy's Day Beauty






I love nighttime cuddles with both of my kiddos...I only wish I had a bigger lap.

April is already off to a great (and mostly warmer) start! I cannot wait to see what the rest of the month has in store for us.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

It's here, it's here, it's finally HERE! Today, marks the beginning of the Ultimate Blog Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

What's the Ultimate Blog Party? It's a huge link up party that allows bloggers to share their blog, and readers a chance to discover more great blogs! And all you have to do to join in the fun is introduce yourself! For some of you, this might be old news, for other newer readers, you may just learn something new.





My name is Randi and I am horrible at writing introductions...seriously! I am a 26 year old Marine Wife and mom of two. I married my prince charming, Matt, at age 19 after meeting him online through his sister while he was deployed to Iraq. We have been living our happily ever after since, surviving everything the military and life has thrown at us. My husband is my complete opposite, but we complement each other well and somehow manage to make it all work. You don't see MANY pictures of him around here because...well frankly because he's too stubborn! But I promise he does exist!




My son Shaun is the sweetest, funniest, SMARTEST kid I know. He was diagnosed with autism at age two and has made tremendous progress over the last 4.5 years. He astounds me! He loves video games and computers, and did I mention he was awesome?



My daughter Finley is 7.5 months old and already has us wrapped around her itty bitty finger. Isn't she beautiful? She's the happiest baby I've ever seen and loves baby dolls (particularly her Disney Princess dolls) and the music from Frozen.

Here at A Modern Day Family I write about all things that make up our life. I write about our life in the military. I write about raising a child with Autism. I write about natural parenting- breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing. I share the occasional recipe or DIY (simple easy ones, as I'm not the most crafty!). I write about our day to day lives. I write about our mission to live a more green life- green cleaning, natural beauty solutions, and will even soon start sharing about my adventure in starting a garden. It is truly an eclectic mix, as is my little family. I also share family friendly product reviews- from natural baby products like cloth diapers to fashion and home decor and everything in between, there is a little something for everyone! I hope you will all stick around and enjoy everything A Modern Day Fairy Tale has to offer!