Live simply.

Grow naturally.

Love greatly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Non-Natural Christmas

Where have I gone wrong? No holiday, other than Christmas, can show me how far off the natural path my daughter has moved.

It started with the decorating. In my mind, less is more. A few lights, some pine needles and juniper and nandina berries to decorate the window, an outdoor tree decorated for the birds. Doesn’t that sound lovely?  Sarah seemed to like our minimalist efforts as well…until we went to WalMart and she got a look at the pink and purple fiber optic Christmas trees and all the outdoor blow-up Santas and reindeer. I could barely pull her out of the home and garden section. Then, when one of our neighbors lit up the outside decorations they had been putting up for three Sundays, we were forced to slow down every time we drove by; “I wish we had a polar bear like that…Look at that Santa…can we get one of those?” Mentioning how much electricity and non-recyclable material is used to power that scene didn’t seem to have much of an effect on her.

The big day finally arrives. Sarah opens presents at THREE different locations! That’s just crazy. Was she overwhelmed with gratitude at the gigantic pile of gifts we took home? No…she only wonders if there are more to open. Was she shocked at the excess? No…she seems to expect it!  

Finally, Christmas passes. Now is the time for Sarah to play with the things she has received. I am confident that the emphasis I try to put on being outside and exploring and creative play will lead her to choose those types of gifts – The ant farm, or the creek scope that lets you see what’s in the water, or the wooden blocks that you can make pictures out of. Sarah, however, gravitates towards the shiny purple pom poms with the drum beat and the plastic microphone stand with more drum beats and the doll with clothes that match hers – all bright and fluffy and about as non-natural as you can get.

It’s not so much that I am disappointed in my daughter. She has obviously been exposed to a lifestyle that is not so natural, and I can only blame myself for that. I’m disappointed that I took her to see those tacky Christmas decorations every time we went into WalMart and some of her stocking stuffers from us were pretty anti-natural. What is my worst offense? I found it cute to watch her try and come up with cheers while shaking those awful pom poms and I recorded her singing Jingle Bells into that plastic microphone and it was I who suggested she and her doll put on their pajamas for the night. Ugh. What was I thinking and how can I fix it?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekend Challenge #2

Here is the second installment to my weekend challenge series.  The purpose of these posts is to get you and your family or loved ones outside, enjoying God's good green earth. Don't delay - before you know it you will be 70 years old with arthritis, back pain, and no stamina wondering why you didn't take advantage of the good years.

In a previous blog entry, I mentioned future plans for a nature walk that involved finding places that critters call home. We have since taken that hike, and what follows is a photo essay of what we found. Your weekend challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to do the same. I look forward to hearing about what homes you discovered!

For those of you who lost sleep trying to figure out the theme of the last weekend challenge, hop on over to the comments section of that specific blog (Weekend Challenge #1) to find out what the photos were showing! 
 The Squirrel nest. They are all over the woods. Someday you will learn just how much I dislike squirrels. I'm just not quite prepared to alienate my readers yet

I wasn't fast enough with the camera to catch the cockroaches running away when Sarah pulled back the bark

                                                                      Bird House

                                                                 Daisy, the flea motel

You never know what you'll find when you pick up a rock. This was the only thing slow enough for my camera

Happy Habitat Hunting!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Picture Perfect

I realize that most parents think their newborn bundle of joy is one of the most beautiful babies they have ever seen, but my daughter really was above average on the beauty scale. She was born with this thick dark head of hair and her eyes were framed by long, lush eyelashes. People couldn’t look at her without oohing and aahing and more than once it was suggested that we should enter her face into the coveted Parenting Magazine’s yearly photography contest. Of course I would never market my child like that, but I had to agree that she would probably win.

Among the accolades, there was only one dissenting voice. My father has always clearly made his opinion known; “All babies are ugly.” I took his comments with a grain of salt. True, I had seen some ugly babies – be honest, who hasn’t – but my daughter was definitely not part of that group.

Fast forward 3 ½ years. I am expecting my second child. Memories of my daughter’s beginning months flood my mind and I decide to take a good old walk down memory lane. I open a random photo album. Wait a minute! This is not my daughter! Someone has switched out her pictures and replaced them with a kind of ugly baby. This child has chipmunk cheeks that look full of nuts, hair that can only be described as mohawkish, and her eyes are looking suspiciously cross-eyed. I try to comprehend exactly what I am seeing. Wow, I have been duped by friends, family, and what must be motherly hormones. My dad was right all along: Babies are ugly.

When my second child decided to make his presence known, I feel like I was able to successfully take off my rose colored glasses. I took the oohs and aahs with a grain of salt, and basically listened to my dad, “Yep, he looks like all other babies…kind of ugly…but he’ll turn out okay in a few months.” I was able to admit that, yes, his cheeks did remind me of Alfred Hitchcock.

Of course, now he’s 3 months old and is surely above average in the handsome baby scale. That ugly baby syndrome is a thing of the past. And my daughter is absolutely gorgeous. And, no, I won’t be looking at baby picture albums a few years down the road to prove it. I will instead remember the way my children made me melt when they said things like “you’re a great mommy” or “I love you” or when they smiled and laughed with me or when they asked me for “some loving.” There is nothing more beautiful than that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

3 Tips One Never Admits to Learning from Experience

Throughout history, knowledge has been gained from a variety of sources. Books, and now the internet, offer information on whatever topic you can come up with. Scientists often employ the method of observation to discover great truths. Go to any school and you are likely to find teachers passing off knowledge left and right. On the job training allows one to learn from experience while being guided by a trained professional. And then there is what I would call the “living life” method – maybe one of the best ways to learn. The following is a list of informative tidbits. You will never hear admittance that these were learned from the “living life” method, so don’t even try get it.
  1. Eggs explode – That’s right ladies and gents. If you have the hankering for some hard boiled eggs, go ahead and begin the preparation. Pot? Check. Eggs? Check. Water? Check. Boil for 5-10 minutes? Simple in theory, but it might be suggested that a timer would be useful. If you don’t use a timer, you might just forget about the eggs. You’ll likely head off to make the beds, straighten the living room, and take a bath while the offspring are sleeping. Wow, you got a lot done! Now you can sit down and read some with your child. “Honey, did you here that pop?” you question as you take a break from the fifth book of the morning and go investigating. That is when the distinct smell of cooked eggs will hit you. It won’t be overwhelming, just enough to remind you “Oh no, the eggs!”  There is no need to rush. The eggs have already exploded. Simply turn off the stovetop, move the pot off the burner, say a prayer of thanksgiving that the house didn’t burn down and start the cleanup process. Check the walls, floors and ceiling for bits of eggs.
  2. Hold on to the stroller’s safety strap. Because you are such a great mother, you realize the importance of getting your child out into the fresh air. Normally you wear your little one, but you have decided to start the exercise regimen that’s sure to get you into the best shape of your life. Thus the need for the stroller you pull out of the shed that is specially built for the active parent. There are a number of features to help ensure the safety of your child during your jaunt into nature: 3 big wheels, an easy to use brake, and an elaborate safety belt are things you are familiar with. Do not dismiss the safety strap that belongs firmly attached to your arm. Even if you think you have things under control, you don’t. You might just hear someone calling your name from behind. As you stop, you note that the incline you are on is very minimal and so you ignore the brake and the safety strap, let go of the stroller, and turn around. The look of horror on the caller’s face will alert you that something is awry. Your head whips around and that same look of horror transfers to your face as you see your child picking up speed on that insignificant incline, stroller tipping back and forth and then –as if in slow motion-you see the stroller gently lay itself down in the ditch on the side of the road. Be very glad that the safety harness is so elaborate.
  3. Do not take your smart phone into the bath. Your husband has warned you any number of times that things like smart phones can’t get wet. Yes, you are his wife, not his child. Yes, you are an adult. Yes, it is your right to make your own decisions. Yes, you are very careful. Despite these very true statements, there are times when you can listen to the advice of your husband without taking offense. This is one of those times. You are basically playing with fire…I mean water.. Even if you somehow make it through 50 baths without damaging the phone, one small misstep can ruin your perfect record. For example, you might always put the toilet seat down before the bath so that you can place the smart phone there when it’s time to get out. However, while in your bath, your cute little 4-year-old girl might come into the room needing to go pee-pee. After she leaves, you finish the chapter of the e-book you were reading, and place the smart phone on the toilet seat…SPLASH!!!...that is no longer down because your cute 4-year-old daughter lifted it up to go to the bathroom. By a miracle, your phone may survive, but why take the chance?

There you have it: 3 tips for those who would rather not learn from experience

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Avoiding the Common Cold

During the flu season, I tend to halfheartedly apply various immune boosting remedies to my weekly regimen. However, more often then not, I get the common cold along with the rest of my family. No matter what anybody tells you, we all get sick sometimes, no matter what remedies we employ.

However, when my daughter got sick just 3 weeks after my son was born, I was very concerned. Newborns don’t have the immune system built up to successfully fight off even the common cold. My concern escalated when I woke up with a sore throat. My only solution was to give my daughter a strict “No Touch Baby” policy and to use any remedy I had heard or read about in my quest to stop the progression of my symptoms. I am happy to tell you that my newborn and I remained cold free for the duration of my daughter’s illness. What I can’t tell you is whether it was from prayer or from my actions. My thoughts are, it did no damage to try them. I haven’t included any science reports or references in this article – I just employed ideas that I heard from somewhere.

1.      Garlic:  I ate 2-3 garlic cloves a day. In addition to that, I put a garlic clove in each cheek for a couple of hours as a barrier against germs. I threw them out afterwards. In answer to your obvious question, yes garlic kept people out of my personal space and then some.
2.      Water: When I woke up with the sore throat, I immediately started drinking one 8 ounce cup of water every ten minutes for one hour. I did this 2 times the first day and then tried to remember to stay well hydrated. I also kept a cup of water hot and sipped it when I had the urge to cough.
3.      No Dairy and Sugar: Pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll spell it out anyway. I stayed away from all cow products and sweet edibles.
4.      Sunshine: I was lucky to have nice weather during this time and made sure to take daily walks, normally between 3:00-4:00pm
5.      Contrast Shower: I took two contrast showers a day. A contrast shower consists of getting the water as hot as you can handle and standing under it for three minutes, followed by 30 seconds of cold water. I did this rotation three times per shower, always ending on cold.
6.      Vitamin C: I used three sources of vitamin C; the natural kind you can find in citrus fruits, the pill version, and the FizzyC packets that you add to hot water.
7.      Russian Penicillin: I have seen a lot of Russian Penicillin recipes out there and personally like the following: The juice of one grapefruit, a tablespoon of parsley, 2-3 radishes, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp of honey, a dash of salt, and 8 ounces of water. Blend all ingredients together and drink up!
8.      Colloidal Silver: You can find this in most health food stores. I took 1 tsp. 3 times a day for 5 days. Colloidal silver is probably the most controversial item on my list, so I encourage you to find out more about it before using it as a supplement.

There you have it, the regimen I used to avoid getting me and my baby sick from the common cold.