Friday, June 28, 2013

20 Mule Team Borax -- the all-purpose household tool!

I was excited to hear that I was chosen to work with the Purex Insider team again to share some information about and a great giveaway involving 20 Mule Team® Borax.  Have you ever tried Borax? It is a great, inexpensive laundry booster plus can be used in your home hundreds of different ways.

I'm really big on having things around the house that are multi-purpose.  That's why I always have a box of 20 Mule Team Borax in the laundry room.  Borax is an all natural detergent booster and a multi-purpose household cleaner.  It can apparently also be used for fun science projects for kids (like growing crystals or making slime) but we haven't gotten around to doing that fun stuff yet....

A little background on Borax first.   Borax is the common name for sodium tetraborate: a naturally occurring substance produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. 20 Mule Team® Borax is 100% natural, and 99.5% pure (there is about 0.5% of naturally occurring trace minerals). 20 Mule Team Borax comes from California where one of the world’s largest deposits was discovered in 1913.  Once removed from the ground it is washed, dried, and boxed for consumers.  Absolutely nothing is added. No phosphates, per-oxside, chlorine, or other additive chemicals.  Who wants more chemicals in your house anyway, right? I was so happy to hear that. Borates, borax and boron compounds are with us throughout our lives. Families use it to soak and wash diapers and other laundry, but it’s also an ingredient in cosmetics, medicines, ceramics and building materials. You can use it to clean tons of other things too!  There are so many ways to use 20 Mule Team Borax!!

Check out some of these other cleaning tips in addition to getting your clothes cleaner in the laundry room:
  • For scratch-free cleaning of stains, grime, and grease throughout the kitchen, use a 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax dissolved in one gallon of hot water on sinks, counter tops, cookware, refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, and any other appliance in your arsenal. You can apply this dilution of all-natural 20 Mule Team Borax to any surface including tile, ceramic, porcelain, slate, marble, granite and stainless steel.
  • You can also add a half cup of 20 Mule Team Borax to your sink to reduce water spotting, remove grime, and put a shine on dishes, utensils, pots, and pans.
  • Power up your dishwasher detergent by sprinkling a 1/4 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax onto the bottom of the dishwasher to reduce spots and film on dishes and glasses.
  • Just dilute a 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax in a 12-ounce spray bottle of water to deodorize mattresses.
  • All-Natural Detergent Booster with Odor Control 20 Mule Team® Borax increases your detergent's power and controls odors to give you fresh, clean laundry. 
  • Sprinkle it on ant mounds or around areas on the outside of your house where ants seem to get in.  
  • And my favorite -- use it to make your own laundry detergent!!

DIY Laundry Detergent

(4 lbs 12 oz) box 20 Mule Team Borax 
1 (3lb 7oz) box of Arm & Hammer WASHING soda (not baking)
1 (3lb) container Oxyclean
2 bars Fels Naptha laundry soap (or use Zote, or Ivory, or my personal favorite -- I use bars from LuSa
1 (4lb) box of BAKING soda
Optional - 1-2 bottles Purex crystals, Downy unstoppables or my preferred method - just mix 1-2 cups of epsom salts with some essential oils

Directions:  grate soap with cheese grater or food processor.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bucket or bowl.  Use 2-4 tablespoons per laundry load.

It smells great and I have had no complaints about its cleaning power or how fresh it leaves my clothes.  I am totally converted!!

**Note -- I like to halve this recipe and make it that way.  It lasts a SUPER long time and I find it is easier to mix that way.  You could always make a full batch and share with a friend! **

You can also check out the 20 Mule Team® Borax website for lots of other great cleaning tips here. You also might be wondering "Where can I get Borax?"  Well, check out their link and you will be surprised it is readily available at all your fave grocery spots. 
Want to try your own DIY laundry detergent?  You can win your own 20 Mule Team® Borax in my contest below.  Enter to win a free coupon for a box of 20 Mule Team Borax.

Disclaimer: I received a free sample and free product coupons from Purex Insiders on behalf of Borax in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rock N Sole Summerfest 2013 -- I RAN IT 22.5 weeks pregnant!

See that?!?

I DID IT!!!!

I DID IT!!!!

I DID IT!!!!
(can you tell I'm still excited?)

I ran (and finished) the 2013 Summerfest Rock n Sole half marathon!!!

What an adventure it was.  I am so glad I was stubborn and I stuck with the goal.  I had a GREAT time running the half marathon, and I wasn't in too much pain following it because we had done a great job training for the run over the course of the previous 6 months (you can obviously train in a shorter period of time, but since we had a full 6 months we just used it!)

And just to have it all written out so I don't lose the details in my foggy memory, I'll share the whole story here with you too.  If novels about running bore you, feel free to skip this entire post. :)

The race was scheduled to begin at 7am, so we knew it was going to be an early morning.  My running partner, Laura, came over around 5am (she was actually a bit early that sneaky morning girl...).  I got up, put my clothes on (compression capris from Old Navy and one of Max's race shirts -- I wanted to wear something large and baggy so I wouldn't have to worry about it creeping up during the race.  I was also a little vain about the 'muffin top' my maternity support belt gave me so I didn't want that looking too obvious. In retrospect, this is the one thing I regret about the race.  In most of the pictures taken along the route, I kind of look like the stay puffed marshmallow woman because the shirt is white and non-conforming.  I'm not saying I'd wear spandex the next time...but something a little more form-fitting would've been ideal so people wouldn't look at me and question if that was fat or baby bump).  Ok, vanity rant over...

I drank a ton of water and a double batch of a banana, protein, coffee oatmeal smoothie on the way.  It had been storming all night long and it was raining (sometimes hard) the entire way downtown.  That was really discouraging because I really REALLY didn't want to have to run in the rain, and even considered backing out.  I'm glad, ultimately, that I didn't give in...the temperature - combined with the overcast skies - were a perfect combination although the rain did make it a bit muggy.  Luckily, the rain let up around mile 2 -- so it wasn't a hassle for the entire race (and it was pretty much just a light drizzle for those first two miles).

The crowd control wasn't the best (in their defense, they had warned ahead of time to allow plenty of time to get to your corral because of the new security measures) and we actually didn't reach our corral before they started the race and everyone surged forward.  From my perspective, the 5K runners (who didn't start for a full 20 mins after our start) were the ones clogging up the way.  They should really keep them back away from the corrals until the half and quarter marathon runners are out of the gates.

Anyways, since we hadn't reached our 'official' corral, we just jumped in with the closest one -- which happened to be the 2:10 pace group.  We knew that was going to be too fast for us, so we just did our own thing and let a bunch of people pass.  It was hard to not get disappointed when everyone around you is passing you -- I could sense Laura trying to keep up with them or bolt forward and I remember reminding her that these runners were faster than us and to try not to worry about it.  (Although I suspect that Laura might have been just fine in that 2:10 group, she stuck with me the entire race -- and I am forever grateful to her for that!!)

The first 4.5 miles of the race were ALL BRIDGE -- the Hoan bridge to be precise...  The bridge itself is pretty and has an interesting history -- but man -- it IS LONG!!  There is a slight incline up to the middle point (which SUCKED) -- but going up usually means there is a down, and that part was heavenly!  Oh yeah, the other sucky part of running across the Hoan bridge is the milorganite plant that it passes over.  Let's just say that doesn't smell too good when you are already gasping for air...  It was nice to have over a quarter of the race done after crossing it though.

One memorable event while on the bridge was seeing the elite runners coming back across the bridge while we were heading out.  It was SO incredibly cool to see them...and everyone was cheering them on as they passed by us -- even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes!  I had to make a pact with myself at that point that I wouldn't cry until mile 10...I had to make that pact because there were quite a few moments my emotions just overwhelmed me and I started tearing up -- not good for the breathing!!  It was super cool to hear the LOUDEST cheers for the first female elite to pass us -- that made me Milwaukee proud.  :)  

It was also cool to wave at Max as he passed by heading back over the bridge.  He was pretty easy to identify with his bright yellow shirt and headband -- I saw him before he saw me. :)

Also, at one point across the bridge I took my headphones out and just listened to the noise of all the shoes pounding the pavement -- that was seriously one of the COOLEST things I have EVER heard. You have to do it, if you haven't before!

Just after crossing the bridge, Laura and I stopped briefly to use the port-o-potties and slammed a goo. We were stopping at every water station to chug a cup of Gatorade or water, even though I was carrying my hand-held water bottle -- I wanted to make doubly sure that I was able to stay hydrated.  The race entertainment was pretty phenomenal -- lots of people on the sides of the street holding funny signs and cheering us on -- tons of signs in the median making us laugh -- polka music at mile 8...I was so surprised at how good I felt the entire time (good indication that I was truly listening to my body!) -- I'm sure some of that had to do with all the adrenaline.  My right ankle, the one that had been giving me problems over the last month, was a little worrisome for the first 3 miles but then it didn't even bother me at all!  I was a little short of breath until mile 2 -- but lately I find it has been taking me until mile 1.5 or 2 to hit my groove anyways. (It didn't help having the long bridge incline as part of those first miles).  All I can say is that I saw the mile marker for mile 10 and I remember thinking to myself -- Wow!  10 already?  I feel great!!

The last 3 miles were definitely the toughest both mentally and physically -- although according to my Nike they were also our fastest.  My Nike was off for most of the race which was SUPER annoying because it was using GPS so you'd think it would be accurate!! At first, it was only off 0.3 miles -- which I attributed to starting the timer before actually crossing the start line.  But, at the end of the race, it was a FULL MILE off (it said I ran 14.1 instead of 13.1), which also affected the pace times it would tell me every 0.5 miles.  At the very end, it told me that my average pace was 10:50/mile (which admittedly seemed quick for pregnant me), and the official race time gave me an 11:50/mile pace.  Basically, we oscillated between 11:30 and 10 min miles according to my Nike -- which probably meant 12:30 and 11 min miles adjusted in reality.  Not bad!  I'll definitely take it!  

So, as I mentioned before, our last 3 miles were our fastest!  No wonder they also felt the hardest, LOL!  I started tearing up the minute I saw my husband cheering me on at 12.75 miles.  He was on the sideline and ran alongside us for a little while taking photos of us.

Right before we got near the finish line, I turned to my friend Laura and asked her if she minded letting me cross before her.  Such a good friend she is, she agreed!  :)  I booked it at the very end and ended up passing about 5 people before crossing the finish line!  

The second my foot hit the line, I broke down sobbing and this sweet old man at the end was trying to make me laugh -- telling me that I was done running and there was no point crying now, LOL.  I was just SO HAPPY to be done, SO PROUD of what I had accomplished and SO AMAZED that we had actually done it!!  I am still on a high (over a week later) from it all!

The finishers chute was pretty cool -- they award you with your finisher's medal, and throw bananas, water, chocolate milk, etc. at you.  The photographers stop you to snap your photo -- which is nice until you learn later that they want you to pay ~$60 to get access to the digital copies!  I was SO PISSED. has all the photos for the race if you want to look at them -- freaking rip off though.  My ONLY complaint about the entire race, BTW.

I was pretty sore immediately following the run, but I stayed active for the rest of the afternoon and that worked to my advantage keeping my mucles from tightening up.  I also had done a really good job staying hydrated and that helped as well.  Overall, the entire run was a GREAT experience!  I can't wait to try it again NOT pregnant!


Showing off my sexy maternity support band -- I was SUPER happy to take that thing off.  No chafing though!

Seriously, Laura is the BEST running partner ever.  And she's CUTE!  :)

Max bought me a sweet pink 13.1 sticker for the back of my mom van and he keeps telling me how proud he is of me for sticking with it and finishing.  I was so happy to take off my baggy race shirt and put on this shirt -- I EARNED IT!  I guess McTrois can now say he/she ran their first half marathon in utero!  Maybe this little one will be a runner -- if they take after me, not a very fast one though, LOL.  But if he/she takes after daddy (or grandpa) they just might stand a fighting chance!  Max finished the half-marathon in 1:48 -- knocking 4 mins off his previous time earning himself a great new PR for the half marathon!  Way to GO honey!!  So proud of YOU TOO!  XOXOXO

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Catching Up

A lot has been going on over the last few weeks, and as a result blogging has taken a back burner.  I apologize because I know some of you who follow along here aren't on Facebook, so this is one of your only ways to stay current on the boys.  

So, I'm going to cram a lot into one post just to try to catch you back up on some of the going-ons around here!  Enjoy!

Sam enjoys watching his big brother at Tae Kwon Do.  He even gets into part of the workout!  We're not going to let him start officially for at least another year, but he's getting a great introduction to the basics just through observation.  And, he's got a great push-up down already!

Sam also really enjoys fishing with Grumps!  Last weekend, his Uncle Fran posted a picture online of a nice sized striped bass that he caught, and Sam was amazed by the picture.  The rest of the day he talked about catching a big bass like Uncle Fran.  The next day, knowing that we were going to Grumps' for dinner, he woke up from his nap and the first words out of his mouth were "I'm going to catch a fish as big as Uncle Fran's bass."  I think he succeeded!

Sam was very proud of his fish but he wouldn't touch it.  In fact, the minute it started moving he got a little squeamish.  Guess we'll have to work on that!

Sweet Sam.  Lover of all things boy and all things sports.  This kid keeps us on our toes and makes us laugh a million times a day.  But he's got the sweetest set of brown eyes (and super LONG lashes) that make you forgive him anything in a heartbeat...

And he's got a great throw already! Future quarterback?

Or future musician??

Big brother Max also is getting more and more fun each day!  I love seeing him so proud of the things he is learning at school and putting all his new knowledge into practice.  One morning I took both the boys with me on a shopping trip, and he insisted on bringing along his notebook and pen.  I caught him doodling this inside!!  He sure is smart! :)

Outside he is getting more bold and adventurous.  He can now swing completely unaided (thank the Lord!) and he loves to try doing the monkey bars.  He can't do them by himself but he can do one or two on his own with a spotter.  He's also super excited by the two-wheeler my parents have at their house for him to ride -- this surprised me a bit because he doesn't always like to ride his bike (with training wheels) at home...  

For the most part, these two are inseparable.  Sure, they annoy the crap out of each other a lot of the time, but if you try to separate them they throw a fit!!  They love sharing a room, and they really are the best of friends...

Last week marked the last week of school for little Max in 4K.  His class celebrated with a fun class picnic, which included a rousing game of duck, duck, goose (not duck, duck, gray duck you silly Minnesotans)!  Even Sam tried to play along!

Max made a lot of friends this year at 4K.  Any hestitations he may have had at the beginning of the school year were long gone by the end.  He even had a best friend (who he called his Best Dude).  His teachers were also phenomenal.  The lead 4K teacher celebrated her 25th year teaching 4K!  I have no idea how she's lasted this long, but I am awfully thankful that she has because she has been a wonderful influence on Max.

They even had a sweet graduation celebration and ceremony for all the 4K'rs.  It really made them feel special.  Max insisted on wearing a tie (as did Sam who wants to be just like big brother) and I can't get over how grown up and mature he looks!  He is quickly growing out of his baby face.  Though he constantly reminds me that he will always be my baby no matter what.  Thank goodness!  :)

Sam couldn't have been prouder of his big brother.  And he can't wait to start 3K next year at the same school as his big brother!!

And as for me?  I was busy enjoying getting completely spoiled by my boys for Mother's Day...

Hanging petunias, homemade cards, a necklace from Sam, a love note from little Max along with two perler hearts and a hand-decorated tote bag that I now use as my work bag.

He drew a picture of me on the tote bag...not bad, eh?  :)

My rhubarb hookup provided me with a plethora of delicious rhubarb so I canned some rhubarb preserves as well as some delicious rhubarb apple jam (with the last of the frozen apples from our old house).  Both were SUPER delicious.  Little Max enjoyed making the apple rhubarb jam with me.

We discovered a bleeding heart AND a trillium plant in our yard! 

Some cravings have started up again.  One night, while running, I started getting a craving for watermelon.  I knew we had a quarter of a watermelon in our fridge at home and it was all I could think about for the rest of the run.  The minute I got home I pulled that delicious melon out of the fridge and chowed down!  Big Max walked in the house from outside while I was mid-melon and just stopped and stared at me.  Then he took a picture of me (I had already taken one of myself because I realized how ludicrous I was).  Too funny!  

I haven't had too many weird cravings -- and of the ones I have had, most of them have been fruit related.  I've been a big fan of citrus -- oranges in particular, and McTrois also seems to enjoy bouncing around quite a bit after I eat one.  Overall, the pregnancy is progressing well and I am feeling good.  I am definitely  more tired this time around -- I feel like I'm STILL waiting for that second trimester burst of energy -- but I am chasing two young boys around and working full-time, so that explains a lot, I suppose.

Here I am at 21 weeks.  Heading out for my weekly Pi-Yo class.

In addition to the Piyo, I am still running.  I still mostly get out in the evening, and I love seeing cool things on my run like this whitetail deer that for some reason wasn't frightened away by my heavy labored breathing!?  Odd... :)

And the culmination of all my training will occur THIS Saturday at the Summerfest Rock N Sole half-marathon.  I am excited, nervous, thrilled, you name it!  I can't wait to give it all my best -- knowing that I probably won't do as well as I'd have liked to, but also knowing that I no matter what I do I'll be accomplishing something pretty awesome.  The running has definitely gotten harder the last few weeks -- the weight of my belly is affecting my stride which affects a bunch of other factors of my running.  I bought a support belt in the hopes that it will help keep the front of me more stabilized during the run. I'm not so sure about the chafing that will likely occur....but I'm going to give it a go.  If you have any extra good thoughts or prayers laying around, please send a few my way Saturday morning!

I think that about covers the updates for now!  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Soft Scrub 4-in-1 Toilet Care Review and Giveaway - WINNERS POSTED

I'm new to the Purex Insider program, and I just got picked for my first product review!!    I received the new Soft Scrub toilet cleaner.  New Soft Scrub 4-in-1 Toilet Care is the latest product from Soft Scrub to help make your life easier! It's a toilet cleaner that cleans and freshens for up to 4 weeks.  Woah -- that's huge!!  As the mom of two little boys, my bathroom can always use a little cleaning and freshening!  

So far, I have been very impressed with the Soft Scrub 4-in-1 Toilet Care Cleaner.  It leaves the bathroom with a fresh clean smell and so far it seems to be keeping the toilet bowl clean.  It was really funny to hear my oldest son exclaim "Mom!  The toilet has little balls!" the day after I first hung it in the toilet bowl, LOL.     

As I mentioned before, as the mom of two little boys it seems like our bathroom is always smelly no matter how much I clean and scrub, so I'm happy to have a product that works for me and saves me some scrubbing and cleaning!  

This new rim hanger really stays in place!  With each flush, the 4-in-1 Toilet Care cleans, prevents buildup, fights toilet ring, and freshens.  It is available in Alpine Fresh with bleach, and Sapphire Waters without bleach.  I am reviewing the Alpine Fresh scent.  It is a clean, fresh scent that is not overpowering.  It really leaves my bathroom smelling nice.

This toilet bowl cleaner works on the toilet bowl ring, tough stains and prevents future build ups.  It cleans, prevents, fights and freshens for up to 4 weeks.  At a price of less than $2.00!  You can't hire a personal toilet cleaning service for that price!  

And here's the best part!  I have 2 free coupons to share for your own free 4 -in - 1 Toilet Care to try!  Just enter below!!

Disclosure: I received a sample(s) of Soft Scrub 4-in-1 Toilet Care for free in exchange for a review as part of a Purex Insiders campaign. The giveaway is not sponsored by Soft Scrub. I was not compensated in any other manner. The opinions expressed in this review are that of my own and any claims should be verified on the sponsor's site. Thank you to Soft Scrub and Henkel Brands for allowing me to review their product!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crowdtap Old Navy Activewear Sample and Share!!

How lucky am I that I got selected, once again for a Crowdtap and Old Navy Sample and Share???  

SO lucky!!!

And just in time for a new season of activity (spring/summer)!  I was super stoked to be able to refresh my workout wardrobe for the warmer weather.  And also, to buy a few different sized to accommodate the growing bump :)

My trusty running partner Laura scoped out the goods with me... 

Our store was fully stocked with some great stuff for warm weather fitness!


You can't beat the selection...and the colors were so fun and bright!

I also brought my littlest helper along and he was such a big help picking out only the 'pretty colors'.  

The compression wear was plentiful and I can tell already is going to become some of my new favorites.

You can see my belly poking out a little bit here, but this shirt is loose enough that it easily hides the bump for now.  19 weeks in this photo!  I ran in this shirt already and it is super comfortable, lightweight, and wicks well!  Highly recommend it!

 I think Laura and I are amply stocked for summer now...and for our half marathon in 10 DAYS!!