Month: November 2017

Festive Fall Centerpieces

Festive Fall Centerpieces

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If you’re like me and prepare everything for the holidays at the last minute, then this is for you.

I tend to buy flowers, change the water a few times, and then leave them dying in the vase. Today this tendency actually proved itself useful when I decided to make fall decorations for Thursday:

You can do this alone or with your kids, up to you.

Supplies:

A mason jar (or many of different sizes)

Fresh, dried, or dying flowers

Optional: coordinating ribbon

Steps:

1. Cut the flower heads off of stems. Discard stems.

2. Pluck the petals from most of the flowers. Leave some intact for variety and dimension. My kids liked this part!

3. Arrange flowers and petals in mason jars. Have fun! Top with a large flower.

The Ultimate Skin and Hair Care

The Ultimate Skin and Hair Care

Alright, it’s about to get all crazy up in here. Today I’m going to talk about my awesome, super fancy skin and hair maintenance routines and the logic behind them.


Hair Care

Problems that I sought to fix: dry, itchy scalp; psoriasis; oil imbalance

A few years ago I wanted to end my struggle with dry scalp and psoriasis. I had read about this thing going around called the “no poo” method and decided to give it a try. I did the baking soda scalp scrub and apple cider vinegar rinse, and it was okay. Once I cut the baking soda scrub out it was a little better. But I always had this problem: my natural oils would build up at the base of my scalp. Not bad or anything, but it was annoying. Combing my hair could be difficult some days.

In the meantime I had Karissa and it became more convenient to go back to using a natural shampoo and conditioner instead of mixing my vinegar and herb mix, and my scalp went back to being itchier. I sucked it up–after all, I’ve dealt with it for my entire life, no biggie.

But then two things happened. First, I had Madilyn; second, Karissa had the same terrible, crusty, scaly scalp that her mommy has. It’s funny how your children can get you to do for them what you aren’t willing to do for yourself, isn’t it?

I began thinking about it and reading about it. You know, it turns out that we did not evolve scrubbing our hair vigorously underneath cascading waterfalls every day. Not even a few times a week. Heck, I would reckon that early humans didn’t even bathe in water much at all. Shampooing strips hair of the natural oils that your scalp is producing. The more you wash your hair, the more your scalp is convinced that something isn’t right and tries to correct the problem. Our bodies are very intelligent, they try to fix problems for us even when we don’t realize it.

We went back to a mostly auto-immune paleo diet to try and eliminate anything that might be causing inflammation, and then I did something crazy. I went cold turkey on my hair–nothing touched it except for water. No vinegar, no baking soda, no magical hippie formula. I knew that the transition phase would be rough, and my hair would feel gross for a week or two and hard to comb, but it’s just part of restoring balance. Lo and behold, much to my surprise, after just two weeks I woke up one morning and my hair felt soft, easy to comb, manageable, and not at all oily. Not even a little. Holy cow.

It’s crazy what your body can do if you let it. I don’t put any kinds of crap in my hair, except for the occasional coconut oil if I feel inclined to get really fancy.


Skin Care

Problems that I sought to fix: keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), dry skin

Following my experiences with my hair, I unwittingly embarked upon a unique skin-based adventure.

One afternoon I was lazily watching a nature show on Netflix. Some hippos were covering themselves in mud and then walking around, something like that. And suddenly, looking at that, I had some small kind of epiphany.

My silly brain went, “WTF I don’t need to use soap! We probably didn’t bathe regularly in the wild! My hair doesn’t need shampoo, why on earth would my skin need soap?!” And I thought about the myriad of animals that roll in dust or cover themselves in mud as cleaning or cooling methods. Guess what? We are animals too.

I got super excited thinking about this and decided to look on the wonder ol’ worldwide web for people talking about rejecting soap use and their experiences, and it turned out that a lot of people had already thought of this too, and had great experiences rejecting the idea that you need soap to live. People reported lifelong skin conditions clearing up, reduced body odor, and healthier looking, more vibrant skin. Makes sense–have you ever seen some of the garbage that they put in soap? It’s absolutely cringe worthy. Your skin is your largest body organ, and like your gut, has a natural optimal bacterial balance. When you eat bad quality foods your gut flora become imbalanced and overall health suffers. When you wash your natural bacteria off of skin it allows harmful bacteria to flourish in place of beneficial bacteria.

So I took to it the only way I know how, hard and fast. Hop in shower, stand in water for 5-15 minutes, hop back out. Rinse (ha) and repeat day after day. After about a week I noticed a spot where a pimple had been trying to form had gone away, my skin was smoother and less itchy, and my keratosis pilaris was improving a little. Awesome!

I’ve also added dry brushing my skin to the routine this week to see if it will help resolve the remainder of the bumps that I have on my arms and help me feel better at all. It’s been 3 days and so far my arms are already noticeably softer and I’m feeling good, but I do think that having the ritual is helping me a lot too.

So if I need to remove makeup I return to my ever-trusted coconut oil and cotton pads. Moisturize? Coconut oil. Deodorant? Coconut oil. No, just kidding–I’ve been using a coconut oil based all natural brand, though (that is, if I even remember to put it on. Forgetting it isn’t a big deal since I don’t stink.)


Conclusion

Yes, I am seriously advocating ditching soap and shampoo. You only need soap when you’re dirty. If you’re handing raw meat, in the hospital, covered in grime or sick then yes, absolutely wash your hands with soap, but otherwise? It’s totally unnecessary.

Painting with babies

Painting with babies

Karissa has recently fallen in love with art projects. Which is awesome, I love art. I’ve been trying to encourage artistic exploration for probably a year now and it’s just starting to blossom in her. Madilyn likes to draw, too, so it’s very fun.

I’m still not used to the chaotic nature of toddler arts and crafts, though. I handle the mess just fine, but it still surprises me sometimes just how much paint there is. It looks like such a minuscule amount when you squeeze it out of the bottle.

In all of my mommy brilliance I thought, 2 year old and 1 year old–let’s do an art project. We’ll do a handprint zoo! What could go wrong?

Lots, mom. Lots.

So I already know that Madi can’t have regular paint. I squeezed food coloring gel and tossed sprinkles onto her tray to entertain her.

Karissa made her own artwork and put a “lion” handprint on our group zoo paper. Madilyn did what would be the tiger.

Buuuuut Karissa wanted to paint a lion herself.  So much for the zoo. So cute, though. We ended up with a red globby mess and a happy kid. No real lesson here except to expect to be flexible with your expectations.

My Sweet Kids

My Sweet Kids

I never knew what I was in store for when I became a mom.

Karissa was fun, curious, and energetic. We read, played, laughed, and loved for 13 months. We had our struggles, too, but it was amazing. But I was so scared. People would tell me that she was going to hate and resent her little sister. I was terrified that she would hate both of us, that she would hate me.

I wanted her to have a sister though. I wanted her to experience that form of love–a sister is a unique, special bond that is ineffable. I can’t imagine life without my sister.

Then Madilyn was born. My second all natural birth, how lucky and amazing. Karissa didn’t like seeing another baby nursing, but she slept in the hospital bed with us. She was curious and excited. She was also jealous and still is sometimes. No big deal, she is human. She fell in love with her little sister. So did I.

Madilyn, my love, I had no idea how awesome you are when you were born a year ago; you were this screaming little mess that had been resuscitated and handed to me. You are adventurous and fearless, you are smart and strong. You have an amazing big sister. You are always happy and your laughter is music to my ears. Your sweet smile makes my heart melt.

I am so thankful that those people were wrong. I am so happy that I had both of you 13 months apart. You spend every waking moment together, and nearly every moment of the day is pure joy. I never knew how much love I would feel. I never knew how protective and scared I could be. I never expected that you two would change my life in different ways and make me into a new person. I am stronger, better, and wiser because of you two.

A year ago tomorrow our family grew one stronger. Happy birthday little miss Madilyn.