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Archive for August, 2012

I never liked schedules or routines but it seems these days I have fallen into some that I really adore. The only schedules I ever had as a child were school, sports, work and family dinners. Aside from these things, everything else in my life could be done when I wanted to do them. As an adult I never stuck to a routine, not really anyway. Nothing hard and fast, that’s for sure save for bedtimes and, again, family dinners. So when and how did I fall into a routine around here and how in the world did I come to actually depend on it?

Most people would would think that having children would have caused this shift in my lifestyle, but that’s not it. Our lives have always been organic- in that we do what we want, when we want. I would clean when I had time, we would run errands anytime morning or evening, laundry was done on an as needed basis and breakfast and lunches were made when we were all hungry. As you can imagine it was chaotic, though I never would have admitted it at the time, if I even bothered to notice.

I didn’t sit down one day and decide our lack of a schedule wasn’t working for us. Nothing changed over night- it evolved all on its own to become what it is today. And now I am somewhat (okay, very) OCD that things stay the way they are. Why? Simply because this is what works for our family and our lifestyle and leaves mama a whole lot less stressed out everyday.

Five and a half years ago we moved to this suburban location and I learned very quickly that suburban living meant that anyone could stop over at anytime. Neighbors always had something going on and our outdoor meetings could, at any time, result in an invitation to come into our house, from a child needing a bathroom break to a friend wanting to see the changes we made in the house. I got it into my head that the house needed to be presentable at all times for this very reason. Thus was born my, “all chores must be accomplished by 10am,” philosophy. Why 10am? It seemed like the time when people would get moving around the development, when people would venture out to do yard work or play with children.

I personally define chores as those annoying daily tasks that always need to be done. For me it is getting the dishes from the dishwasher put away so that it is ready to receive another load and nothing should be in the sink. The bathroom should be cleaned up, clothing gathered up and put in the laundry basket, floor cleaned and nothing on laying out on the counter. I sweep and clean the kitchen floor and check to see if the floors need vacuumed- they usually do. My vacuum and I have developed a special relationship over the years. I also clean the cat litter everyday and change the bunny litter if it is needed. All of this is done by 10am, though if I am really motivated it gets done by 8:30am. Accounting for taking Logan to school it bumps it back to 9am.

I have also developed a routine for laundry that I really like. I am able to do the majority of laundry on Mondays and Fridays. Monday’s laundry gets us through the week and Friday’s through the weekend. It also opens the washing machine up during the week and relieves any stress if I decide to wash curtains, stuffed animals or bedding.

Generally, though not always, laundry is finished by 10am save for putting it away. On Mondays and Fridays, laundry is the first thing I gather up before starting my other chores.

I do other necessary evils throughout the day as I have time. These are on an as needed schedule. Cleaning the bathtub, organizing closets, wash down walls, dusting, washing windows and anything else that requires my attention though isn’t considered a daily chore. Having done everything by 10am and spreading out what I want to do means I’m not stressing about getting other things done throughout the day. Less stress= a happy mama and we all know what they say about mama being happy (insert evil laughter).

My philosophy is to have everything done so that if someone stops over I wouldn’t be embarrassed to invite them into my home. I also like to avoid any sort of real work on the weekends because we always have something to do as a family. On the weekends I do dishes and straighten up and that’s about it. I don’t want to have to wait on cleaning the house to be able to go out and have fun.

My biggest pet peeve in this whole world is a dirty kitchen. I spend a majority of my time in that room and can’t even consider cooking (which I do three times a day) if it is dirty. My mom taught me years ago to clean up as I go and that has stuck with me. Consider baking cookies. I’m a pretty messy baker. If I didn’t have my dishes done and the dishwasher available my sink would be piled high with mixing bowls, measuring spoons and other utensils and I would lose my mind- no really, I would, I know this from experience.

As if my morning routine weren’t enough, I have one for evenings as well. I once read an old wive’s tale that said something to the effect of, “a dirty kitchen left over night will cause a restless sleep.” Man, did that one stick! I don’t know when I became a neat freak, because if you ask my parents it didn’t happen soon enough, but now if something is left unfinished I do have a more difficult time falling asleep at night. I need my beauty sleep, so we can’t have that! After dinner, dishes are cleaned and loaded in the dishwasher. I usually run it in the morning after breakfast. The house gets a once over and I can retire to family time satisfied that everything is done.

Schedules are something I used to ridicule until mine was developed. Now, I really can’t imagine doing anything around here without my always dependable routine.

Wishing you all clean and uncluttered home harmony,

Lauryn

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The Mockery of Silence

“You are going to love it when your kids are in school and you finally have some time to yourself.”

STFU. I said it and I will say it again in all of its profanity laden glory, “shut the fuck up.”

It’s a bittersweet moment dropping your baby off at kindergarten. Of course I am thrilled and excited for her new adventures in school, but this house is too quiet with its walls whispering the memories of infants giggling and tiny footsteps in the halls. My youngest has taken her first steps in growing up and leaving the nest. She is no longer a baby, nor a toddler. She is a child- a school age child. How and when did this happen?

I look at the future with such optimism and enthusiasm. I have watched both of my children grow and learn with wide eyed wonder and curiosity that only the innocence and perfection of childhood can bring. I love listening to them form their own opinions and pursue new and ever changing interests. I am content to know that I am helping them develop into thriving tiny people who will grow into thriving big people.

The days of babyhood are over in my house. There will be no more cribs and strollers, 2am feedings and sink baths. Never again from a child of mine will I experience first words or steps and I won’t be wearing spit-up or pureed anything on my shirts. There will be many more firsts, but none so pivotal or sacred as those which happen during the days of babydom. It’s far too quiet in here.

I worry, as any mother would, that I didn’t give enough or do enough for my children when they were so small. Knowing full well and logically I gave everything I had or could wish to have to my little ones. I scold myself on the darkest of nights that our life isn’t perfect and it isn’t how I imagined it in my own childhood reveries- and somehow it’s never going to be good enough. In the cold harsh light of day those fears tend to melt as I watch them laugh and play- knowing nothing of their mom’s hopes and dreams of perfection. It is good, what we have. It’s great actually. I’d be lying if I said any differently, but I am being honest and candid here, so fears, insecurities and regrets, as trivial and unwarranted as they may be, still make their appearances in my psyche.

I don’t love my time to myself. I’m a mother- first and foremost and anyone who would trade the awesomeness that is being around their children for some damn time to themselves is selfish. I cherish the moments I have with my children- not count the minutes until they end. I know I gave up so much to be a stay at home mother but I knew from the beginning it would never become a regret or sacrifice. Time goes by so quickly- every single moment I have with my kids is so very important to me- so sacred. There is no other bond in life so great, so breathtaking.

I loved them both from the moment I peed on a stick and the line turned blue for fuck’s sake. That moment, more than eight years ago rendered me completely at their disposal. My life, my entire legacy was forged through the realization of motherhood and all of its glory. So here I sit. Typing away as my children take their steps toward independence. The only sounds to be heard is the ticking of the clock on the wall as Father Time mocks my denial and the clicking of the keys as I lay out the words that fill my head and the heaviness of my heart. It’s far too quiet in here.

I do not enjoy this time to myself. I’m many things- but I am a mother first and without the sounds of children around I’m not certain what to do with myself. I’m not ready to be done with babies. I’m not ready to cross over to another chapter in my life where there are no little cries, no tiny laughs, no first teeth and sore nipples. I feel like a woman who is going through, “the change,” who resigns herself to age and time and reluctantly accepts her child-bearing days have passed her by.

I have so much yet to do for the children I do have, yes. So many more firsts to enjoy and milestones to praise and welcome. This is a new chapter and I cannot wait to turn the page. I can’t wait for first dances and mother daughter conversations akin to Rory and Lorelie Gilmore. I look forward to projects in school and sports, for the day when my husband takes Logan to teach him to drive. I look even further into my crystal ball and envision first dates, weddings and even grandchildren. I look forward to reading the rest of this book, but my book of babies is finished- and my spirit cries to re-read it again…

It’s just far too quiet in here.

 

Logan, just one week old, laying next to Hippie Husband’s dedication tattoo.

Kaelynne, five months and her big brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a mother’s love,

 

Lauryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Abyss of Grief

I lost a really good friend on Thursday, just two days ago. It’s been so difficult to put into words the grief, anger and sadness that I feel over her passing. The past few days have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. I have tried in vain to box up my feelings and file them into some kind of category so I can more easily understand them and cope with them, but that has proven time and again to be impossible. What is much easier for me to do during situations like this is to write. Through writing I have always felt like I can just allow the feelings to happen naturally as I recount experiences. I can’t guarantee a coherent entry this time around- as I am writing only as I feel with no real structure.

Ashley was the first close friend I have ever known who has died. Died. That word feels so cold; so definite, so absolute. She passed over. She crossed over. Those words, to me, give hope to an event like death. I know, in the cockles of my heart that there is something that awaits us after we leave this world. In that I always thought I would find solace. It brings little peace as I wade through the shock and disbelief of her passing. In time there will be less anger toward this unfairness in losing someone I genuinely cared about and I am sure the anger will be replaced by acceptance. What I can’t say for sure is that peace will ever enter my heart. I don’t know how a person can make peace with such a tragic event.

I should explain some things here. When I say tragic and shocking, I am purposely conveying how devastating and unbelievable it was to find out such a vibrant and lively person was found fighting for her life; in the prime of her life, no less. Sometimes we expect death. It doesn’t make it any less painful to lose someone when death is lurking behind every corner. I remember the death of my grandmother. We’d known for days. It wasn’t much of a forewarning, but enough so that when the moment came we had prepared ourselves for the inevitable. Ashley’s death was a complete surprise.

There are many facets as to why the circumstances surrounding her death are so traumatic. Firstly, her and I had bonded over being mothers. Our sons were nearly the same age. They were both young, not yet tarnished by cold hard reality. For her little one, that all changed when he found his mother unconscious on the floor of their apartment late Wednesday evening. My mind can’t even conceptualize the horror he must have felt and I tear up thinking of the innocence he lost that fateful night. I have asked myself so many questions trying to understand how the situation could possibly be handled by a child, when I know that I, as an adult, would have lost my proverbial marbles. It also makes me wonder if I should sit down with my own children and discuss what should be done if, god/dess forbid they are ever faced with such a situation. For the time being, however, I have found myself just watching them carelessly playing and listening to their laughter and little voices none the wiser that life can be a cruel, cruel mistress.

Ashley’s situation immediately affected everyone who knew her. I personally didn’t know anything until late Thursday morning. Social media being the blessing it is when it comes to spreading information instantaneously. I went right into prayer mode. I’m pagan, but the pagans I am friends with all believe in the power of thought and prayer. Prayer doesn’t always bring the miracles we hope for and in this instant it failed us, but it does and always will bring comfort. For one, I am in Ohio and she was living in Tennessee. The mere act of lighting a candle and turning my thoughts to something greater than myself- beseeching the God, Goddess or infinite all-encompassing energy of the universe is all I could offer to assist her and her family. Even when the outcome is contrary to the prayer, there is a sense of connection to all that is.

Of all the events that have transpired over the last few days, only one brings the greatest amount of heartache and melancholy. The last conversation Ashley and I had with one another was like any conversation between two women; two mothers. We spoke of our plans for the future, of our families and the holidays to come. Her thoughts were always squared directly on those she loved and their lives together. It was just hours before she was found that we had talked about these things. What sort of cruel joke is that? It’s heartbreaking. How can someone with so much life, so many aspirations, so many dreams yet to be fulfilled just be gone?

There is a randomness to life that translates into unfairness in our grief. I have heard the poems and read the romanticized compositions that deal with death. I know the prayers by heart- the verses from the bible in Ecclesiastes:

 

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

and the other passages like this:

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

 

I can even recount stanzas from Shakespeare:

 

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow.

 

Death is one of the only constants in life; save for change. Though I personally subscribe to the philosophy that death is just a change; a transition from this world to the next. To idealize the notion of death’s absoluteness is one thing, to encounter it in life, I have found, is something altogether different. Anecdotes, ballads and sonnets all fall away into the hollowness of experience. The words hold their meanings as they always did, but they feel empty and lost in my despair. Those things that once brought me comfort, now bring pause. Not because their beauty is diminished or their words less true, but because the experience is no longer akin to waxing philosophical. The words are now concrete and apply to someone I knew, not some hypothetical discussion or sermon.

There are moments of clarity, like pin-hole size stars that radiate through the din of an overcast night. I am no astronomer, nor do I fully understand the intricacies of those far away glints of light; there is an appreciation of their majesty, an understanding of something greater out there. And so it is with death, I suppose. I know medically why a person’s body fails to recover. I know that the universe, in all  its splendor and glory, is random and chaotic. Yet, even logically approaching these things, death still eludes my complete comprehension.

There will come a time of resignation. After mourning, when grief, loss, pain, sadness and anger begin to fade and the light of acceptance will creep into my heart. That moment is too far off. This wound far too new and too deep to speak of healing, yet. Though I know someday I will carry with me this scar of loss across my spirit. I know certain songs or subjects will make me reach inside to touch it and recount these days. Until then, and until my own dying day I want only for Ashley’s death to stand sentinel in my life as a reminder of how truly precious every day, hour, minute and second actually are. It’s cliche to say the future is not promised to us, but a truer sentiment has never been uttered.

I will always miss my friend. I will always feel the horror when I think of her son finding her and losing his mother in the span of a mere 22 hours. I will always encounter sadness for her parents who lost a child long before her time. My promise to her is that I will live and remember her and through me she will live on as a memory, until that day when I, myself, become nothing but a memory.

My you rest in peace and may your smile infect the heavens for ever and ever.
Ashley Neal
October 20, 1983- August 16, 2012

All of my love,

Lauryn

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Recently, I was told I have my hands in too many projects. I have too much going on. The truth is, I do. I have interests and passions, projects and ideas that if I even tried to list them out I would get a hand cramp. It doesn’t stop me. I can’t imagine my life without these things. It would feel empty and unrewarding. I only have so much time in this world and there is just so much to learn and do. I will never be burned out, nor will I ever be so busy that the important things in life get ignored. My family always comes first and they know it. This is why they are my greatest motivation and biggest supporters. There is nothing I do that cannot be passed down to my children and so, for now, they share in my eclectic lifestyle.

My husband, who I met just over nine years ago (we joke that Shark Week is our unofficial anniversary since that was the week we got cable together after he moved in just days after meeting) and I have always had the same interests, values and goals for our life together. It’s one of the cornerstones to our relationship. It’s why we knew, after just 24 hours, we were meant for one another. I know, it sounds so cliche. We talked about everything that first night together and it was that long and winding discussion that sealed our fate.

We never compromised ourselves for one another and over the years as our interests have grown and evolved we continue to support one another. We have departed on some things- spirituality being one, but the important things, how to raise children, our lifestyle, our ultimate goals and dreams, we have grown more intertwined and stronger in our convictions.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I regret anything I do or think. I’m passionate and driven and that isn’t going to stop. Is there too much going on in my life? I don’t think so. If I weren’t constantly researching, learning or creating I am convinced I would be totally unfulfilled.  I’ve always been this way, too, even before Google and Youtube (which I attribute to my new found love for crochet).

As far as what it is I actually DO, it’s a little of everything. When I go to buy something I always ask myself if I couldn’t just make it myself. I am working on learning to sew- that is one thing that has always eluded me, but soon that too will change. And as far as what I think and believe that is ever changing- my interests vary greatly from prepping/homesteading to a very eclectic spirituality.

I have tried to define myself in the past. I have tried to make people understand who I am, but ultimately I really can’t be described in a few sentences. Even this entry is completely ambiguous. I can’t simply say, “I’m this and I do or believe such and such.” I do, however, think that life is about experiencing everything I can- learning about everything I can and never stopping. Does that make me fickle or inconsistent? I don’t think so. It makes me who I am. It’s taken me a very long time to get to this point, but I like myself, I like my life and I’m passed the point of apologizing for being anything but who I am.

 

Keep being uniquely you,
Lauryn

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I take my mission to live more naturally pretty seriously. It’s never been a fad for me. I didn’t just jump on the, “green,” bandwagon because it was cool (ask my friends, they can tell you I never do anything just for cool points. I’m anti-cool, lol). I’ve cut nearly all the chemicals out of our lives, I admonish convenience even though it requires more time and energy and I strongly dislike buying anything I can make myself. My motto? Simple, natural, frugal and healthy. There are items, however, I have been less inclined to give up. My hair color, for instance. I am dying to dye (lol!) my hair with henna the next time around though, so maybe I’m evolving!

When I first heard that there was aluminum in deodorant I was shocked. I didn’t know! I mean, deodorant is such a staple item I never questioned it. I did my research and found that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s and brain disorders and there is a possible link to breast cancer. So aluminum is a toxin? In 1993, the World Health Organization said, “There is a suspected link between Alzheimer’s disease and the toxicity of aluminum.” The Agency for Toxic Substances and & Disease Registry reports that “Exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory and neurological problems.”

Well that’s no good…

And the problem isn’t just with the aluminum, but with how the deodorant works. Aluminum compounds or aluminum salts, such as aluminum oxide (Al2O3), are key ingredients in almost every antiperspirant. They are powerful astringents that close pores, stopping sweat and odor from escaping the body.

Antiperspirants may leave the outside of the body smelling fresh and clean – but inside, the toxins that would have escaped the body in the sweat have nowhere to go. For this reason, antiperspirants have been linked to problems with the sweat glands and lymph glands in and around the underarms. What’s more, “antiperspirants are designed to be absorbed”; the aluminum and many other chemicals are taken into the body and may affect the endocrine and lymphatic systems, as well as being a potential risk factor in breast cancer.

Oh no… It’s really one thing to have this substance ON the skin, but to be absorbed? That’s so much worse.

So what does the frugal, crunchy person do? Deodorant without aluminum cost significantly more. Some might argue the cost is worth the benefit and of course, I agree but I still wondered if there was something better and more cost effective to keep me from being the stereotypical smelly hippie. More research!

What I found were testimonials from other people who use grain alcohol or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) in a spritzer in place of deodorant. The alcohol works to break down the bacteria that thrives in the warm, damp arm pit. Sweat itself doesn’t stink, you see. The bacteria that feeds on what our bodies secrete is to blame for the dreaded body odor. The bacteria munches it then emits an odor! We didn’t learn this in biochem! The alcohol creates an environment that is uninhabitable to this bacteria and the smell is averted.

My interest was piqued for several reasons. The anti-chemical reason was the first, obviously. The other reason this theory fascinated me was because I am a huge proponent of treating the cause of something by working with the body and it’s amazing functions rather than merely using the proverbial band-aid to fix a broken arm. In addition, using deodorant clogs pores and prevents the body from releasing toxins causing them to build up in the body and changing the physiology of how they are removed- much to our body’s disdain.

I love the human body. Anatomy and physiology has always interested me. I believe in holistic treatments when available. So the alcohol works with the body and it’s functions- not against it. Score for A/P nerds everywhere.

The only supplies needed: a small spray bottle and some Isopropyl Alcohol

I started my experiment several weeks ago. I wanted to give my hypothesis a nice long run and put it through all of the paces. Did I mention this experiment started during one of the hottest heatwaves we have seen in NE Ohio in a long time? Perfect timing, I’d say. I picked up a travel size spray bottle for about 88¢ and already owned some isopropyl alcohol. It costs about $3.00 for the big bottle so I was already seeing savings.

I used it once a day for two weeks and I was pretty impressed. My mom had always told me to never use deodorant over night- but hippie husband is like sleeping next to a volcano, so I had started breaking that rule nine years ago (were you as pained by that statement as me? Especially after what we now know about deodorant. Exactly.) After the initial two weeks, I would apply the alcohol twice daily. Once in the morning and once after my shower in the evening. It’s been incredible.

First, no smell. Second, no white residue on dark clothing. I haven’t picked up a white shirt yet (I want a brand new one for this next bit of the test) but I have read that the alcohol trick keeps the whites from being stained as well! I’ll keep you all updated about that one!

I can say that there is an adjustment. I’m not going to lie, it’s a big change. Using isopropyl alcohol means I smell pretty strongly like the stuff until it dries. It takes just a minute or two, but it is there. This is one of the main reasons people use grain alcohol, it doesn’t have such a pungent odor. The other thing I learned the hard way is that after shaving when applied it can burn for just a second. I have yet to find a solution to mitigate this one. It’s nothing bad and not intolerable- you just notice it. The image of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone always springs to mind and by the time the image goes away, so does the burning.

I also noticed that I smell human. Not floral or like baby powder. Now when I sweat there is a slight salty scent- one I don’t even notice until I stick my nose in my arm pit anyway. And I did this move a lot throughout this experiment, I assure you. I like smelling real. Like an ocean breeze on a deserted tropical island.

All in all I think this is advantageous to anyone trying to live more naturally and frugally. It’s hippie tested and approved!! In the words of LeVar Burton from reading rainbow, “don’t take my word for it,”! Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes!

Lauryn

 

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