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Archive for the ‘Personal Accounts and Reflections’ Category

I am so ashamed of my lack of writing lately- and when I say lately, I mean, over the past few months. MONTHS! This is by far the longest I have gone without penning, or typing something. No poetry, no prose, no additional chapters to my novel, no blogs, no substantial writing of any kind. Nada. The guilt is overwhelming. Writing is my first love and I feel like I am forsaking a little piece of myself every time I close my laptop without putting some thoughts on the digital paper.

My life, since October, has been a whirwind of change. I don’t like change, by the way. I was very comfortable with my routine and schedule. In October, though, I became a working mom. Not just any job, a night job. Graveyard shift. For a long time I wondered if I could do it. Could I maintain my higher-than-normal expectations of all things domestic and parent related? How in Sam Hill was I going to be able to balance my work life, get to the school three times a day, keep the household up and running, care for the pets, run errands, and still find time to sleep? It’s been more than four months now and I’m not really certain how I pull it all together. I just do. I’m not saying it’s been easy, or that my house is spotless by 10am like it once was, but things are falling into place quite nicely.

I am fairly well adjusted to the new schedule and while finding time to sleep is still a little tricky, I’m not fighting my urges to nap anymore. It took a long time to reconcile the fact I HAVE to sleep during the day and that I wasn’t being lazy. Naps are no longer considered a waste of time, they are a necessity. I’m finally okay with that.

On the topic of change, some other things have changed for our family since I went to work. Namely, our financial situation. It’s a good change, but it hasn’t changed us or the way we run things around here. I am still frugal to a fault and prefer to live with simple pleasures. Hippie Husband makes enough to cover our bills, my pay covers the new car we purchased just weeks before taking the job with enough left over that compared to our previous situation I feel like Ivanka Trump! Comparatively.

I’m sure I have said it before, but we live completely debt free. No credit cards or personal loans. We don’t rent-to-own anything, despite the temptation. If we can’t pay for something, we don’t buy it. Simple as that. We have learned to feel blessed and thankful for all the little things and be pleased with what we do have, rather than get caught up in consumerism and the need to have more and better.

Our extra income is something that has afforded us the pleasure of comfort. It has taken away so much anxiety and worry. We spent so many years not knowing how bills would be paid or how we would afford the next meal. And we haven’t forgotten how that feels. Those struggles have groomed us into adults that make good money decisions.

In spite of all my sleeplessness and walking this tightrope of work and family, it’s all working out. My time with my family is even more precious now that I lose evenings to naps and work. I still consider myself  a stay at home mom, I just work when they sleep now. I’ve learned that change is part of living and growing. Struggle can and will be rewarding. I’m grateful to those who have supported and encouraged me through this adjustment. I’m still guilty from time to time about my lack of motivation to write, but it will come; it always does. I’m still the simple, crunchy hippie I always was, just a little busier- but I don’t think I would change this for the world.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Alan watts

 

Lauryn

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For real. I wasn’t so stoked about this new life change. I wasn’t at first. Oh, lawd no. In fact, I was overwhelmed, frustrated and just plain cynical. Sure, I had done some light reading to brush up on the basic philosophies and I was slightly encouraged by friends and relatives who had embraced this way of life with great results, but me? Low carb? Aw, naw. My diet consist of potatoes, pasta, bread and rice. How can I ever give those things up? Plus, you know, I’m not in need of losing any significant weight.

 

It was hippie husband who brought up the idea of starting a low carb diet, just over a week ago. We had toyed with the idea in the past, but again, it just felt overwhelming. This time though, he was adamant. We were doing this and being the supportive and encouraging wife I am, dove in head first with him. We officially began our low carb journey just four days ago on November 13, 2012. Our first meals consisted mainly of our normal meat dishes with a side salad, completely omitting the typical sides of pasta, potatoes or rice. For four days we have done it this way, but we both know we can’t sustain a diet when the options are so limited. And I can only eat so much salad.

 

This drew my attention to blogs, forums, groups and the advice of a dear friend who offered support, ideas and encouragement. Sure, we are less than a week in, but I am an eternal planner. I’m in this for the long haul. I need options. I need alternatives. I have found those and much, much more.

 

For me, I’ve never had to diet. I actually recoil at the sound of the word. Diet. As if it is mocking me. Telling me I’m not good enough the way I am. Low carb, I’m learning, isn’t all about limitations it’s about making smarter decisions and awareness. I need to be more aware of what I put into my body. I’ve had a high metabolism my entire life, but my luck could run out as I reach thirty. Making informed decisions now will help me maintain the weight I am at and the added bonus of feeling happy and healthy is a peace of mind I can’t get at the bottom of a chip bag or, in my case, a heaping plate full of potato skins.

 

Shopping has become an adventure as well. Like a scavenger hunt, I check labels for carbohydrate counts and dream up creative solutions for snacking. There are so many tasty things I can still indulge in without knocking my carb intake into deep space. Some things, like oven baked almonds (for me it’s mint dark chocolate) are very low in carbs but high in nutrition and flavor. Once a splurge, honey roasted peanuts have become a staple for snacking. When I subtract the amount of money I would have once spent on chips and other munchies, they aren’t that splurgetastic as they once were, either.

 

Nothing like homemade low carb munchies 🙂

 

One of my all time favorite snacks, pita chips, are ridiculously easy to make at home. I picked up some low carb pitas today, cut them up, sprayed them with olive oil and seasoned with course sea salt and baked them in the oven at 275 degrees for a delightful, healthy snack.

 

The added bonus to finding low carb pita bread was learning that spinach dip has no carbs!! SCORE.

 

Tonight’s dinner is based on a suggestion by my husband. Chicken, bacon, ranch wraps. Mmmmm. He’s promised to help in the kitchen too, which makes me hugely excited! This experience is making for some great kitchen whitchery with my partner in low carb crime 🙂

 

So, what is the moral to this story? There are a few, actually.

1) Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if it is healthy.

2) Find a great support system. Whether it is a forum or a friend, support and encouragement will eliminate the overwhelming feeling of a substantial life change.

3) Low Carb isn’t all about limitations or sacrifices, it’s about awareness and substitutions. Find options and get creative.

4) Have fun!! Laugh at your trials (like our first night when we had meatball subs sans the sub buns).

 

 

If you are curious about some resources here are some great ones:

My low carb muse, Leeann, has an awesome blog all about baking! You can check her out here:

http://lowcarbsugarfreelife.blogspot.com/

Some of her suggestions for great resources can be found below.

Livin’ la Vida Low Carb

http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/

Healthy Indulgences

http://healthyindulgences.net/

Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal

http://mariahealth.blogspot.com/

 

 

Wishing you all happy and  healthy holidays!!

Lauryn

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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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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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