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Month: April 2017

Saving time for reflection.

Saving time for reflection.

I wrote a post a while back about the busy boycott, about allowing ourselves to slow down and enjoy some space in our days and in our lives.  Some might think that being a stay at home mom with “only” one kid would leave me plenty of free time, but with the terrible twos in full swing, I assure you that is not the case!  I have, however, been trying to follow my own advice and leave some time in my day that is just for me.  Time that is not spent cooking, cleaning, planning, packing, or even socializing.  When I first started scheduling down time, I didn’t really know what to do with myself.  Normally, if I have a few spare minutes, I can find something to clean or some way to get ahead for tomorrow, like laying out clothes or packing snacks and lunches ahead of time.  But, when you let yourself totally off the hook for a couple of hours, what do you do?

Sometimes I watch too much TV.  I think that’s one of the reasons that I  like to stay busy.  When I’m not busy, I feel like I waste my free time zoned out in front of some mindless show.  Like Vikings.  I loved Vikings.  I want to be a Viking warrior like Lagertha.  If you haven’t seen the show, you probably shouldn’t start because there are five seasons of it and you will waste months of free time glued to your TV.  Plus you’ll start wandering around your house using various objects as weapons and fantasizing about charging into battle with your sword and shield.  I  don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with TV for those of you have self restraint, but moderation is not in my vocabulary, so when I get into a show, it takes over my life.  I become Lagertha!

Anyway, watching TV is fun in the moment but it does nothing to improve my overall quality of life.  In fact, I think it has a negative effect on me.  For one, it’s not really relaxing.  I don’t feel rested after watching TV.  But it’s not stimulating either.  I don’t feel fulfilled or challenged or satisfied after watching TV.  It’s just a way to pass time.  And time has become such a precious commodity that I don’t want it to pass any faster than it already is.  So then, what to do with my free time?

I’ve found that I have been spending a lot more time reflecting on myself and my life.  I like to think about, and sometimes even write down, my beliefs and ideas about who I am and how I should live my life.  Surprisingly, I really like doing it.  It’s like getting to know yourself.  What a strange concept!  I  think sometimes we get so busy doing things that we don’t take the time to figure out who we are.  And that’s an important thing to know.  There’s an old country song by Aaron Tippin that goes, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”  What do you stand for?  Who are you?  Do you really like yourself?  Do you even know yourself?  These are the types of questions that I ask myself.  I don’t know, maybe I should just watch Vikings, but it seems like a worthwhile way  to spend a few minutes a day.

Sometimes I think we’ve lost the ability to truly relax and do nothing.  Think about it.  When you have a free moment in the evening or on the train or in the airport, do you ever just sit and think?  Or do you immediately grab your phone, open up your computer, or turn on the TV?  Maybe all three at once?  I find myself doing this all the time.  I will have five free minutes while my son is playing on the playground and instead of relaxing and enjoying the breeze, I automatically grab my phone and check my email, Facebook, and Instagram.  When did I become that girl?

So, in the interest of being less busy and slowing down my day, my goal is to use my phone only as a phone, texter, and camera.  I will sit down once or twice a day and send emails from my computer, but I’m not going to worry about them while I’m at the park with my son.  I can check out Facebook and Instagram for a few minutes in the evening after my son is asleep.  My days as a stay at home mom are numbered so I’m going to enjoy every minute we spend playing outside.  And when I  have a moment to relax, I’m going to do just that.

Packing Light.

Packing Light.

As promised, we took a little road trip over Spring Break.  We didn’t want to  take a big, expensive vacation but we wanted to get out of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet, or as close to peace as you can get when you’re hanging with a two year old.  So we took a little four day, three night, road trip.  The plan was really simple…

Day 1: Drive an hour up to Evergreen and stay at my sister’s house.

Day 2: Drive a little over 2 hours down to Buena Vista to stay at the Cottonwood Hot Springs Lodge

Day 3: Drive back to Evergreen and spend another night there.

Day 4: Hangout in Evergreen for the morning, and then head back home.

While the vacation was simple, traveling with a kid can still be complicated.  In the past when we’ve traveled with James, I brought everything but the kitchen sink.  I remember going up to Steamboat to visit my family for two nights when James was just a couple weeks old.  I  filled up my entire car!  No joking.  The ENTIRE car.  It was so much work to pack, and so stressful to keep track of all that stuff, that it really took a lot of the fun out of our trip.  If I could go back in time, I would have brought diapers, blankets, and a couple changes of clothes.  What else does a breast feeding newborn really need?  I wish I hadn’t made things so difficult!

Anyway, this time we packed pretty light.  Here’s what I brought for myself…

In addition to the clothes I was wearing, I brought a Ziplock with my toiletries, a water bottle, running shoes, running tights, one sports bra, one workout tank, a jacket and hat, two swimsuits, two T shirts, one long sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, one bra, three pairs of underwear and two pairs of socks.  Everything fit into a small backpack with room to spare.

Here’s what I  brought for our son…

One sweatshirt, one rain jacket, two T shirts, two long sleeve shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of PJs, two swimsuits, two swim diapers, three pairs of socks, three pairs of undies, four overnight diapers, 10 regular diapers (he was sort of half potty trained when we left), wipes, sunscreen, changing pad, diaper rash cream, tooth brush, tooth paste and a comb.

I knew my sister had this little fold out pad that’s just the right size so James slept on this thing for the whole trip.  We even stuck it in the car and took it to Buena Vista with us….

Oh, and I brought his Thomas the Train blanket!

My husband also brought a small backpack with his stuff and we let James fill up his toddler backpack with toys.   Then we packed a cooler full of food and James’ Stryder bike.  I brought food to make while we were in Evergreen but we planned to eat most meals out while in Buena Vista.

Over all, it was a pretty great trip.  I pretty much wore one outfit the whole time and just changed my underwear daily.  I felt like we could have easily left for a full week with the few clothes we packed.

How to save money on beauty products.

How to save money on beauty products.

Want to know how to save money on beauty products?  Stop using them.  A lot of them are probably toxic, anyway.

That’s what I did.  I have VERY acne prone skin.  Even in my 30s, my skin has been more often than not, a mess.  I have spent a TON of money on beauty products, spa services, dermatologists, and acne treatments.  Do you know what worked the best?  Nothing.  Like, literally, nothing.  No soap, no lotion, no acne treatments, and just enough concealer to cover the acne scars.  For the past month I have been washing my face with a cool, wet wash cloth whenever I feel the need to, but not more than once a day.  If my skin feels dry, I rub a tiny bit of coconut oil on my skin.  That’s it!  I wish I could tell you that my skin magically transformed into a perfectly clear, supermodel caliber, complexion, but that would be a lie.  I still have some zits, but my skin is a little bit clearer, and my bank account is a lot fuller!

That’s not all.  Here’s the best part…

I also quit using shampoo and conditioner.  My hair is pretty long these days and it was starting to get dry so I switched out my $2 a bottle Tresemme shampoo and conditioner for a more expensive spa brand called Umberto.  After a few uses, my hair felt a little better but my entire back broke out into deep, painful, cystic acne.  Awesome!  Totally worth it, right?  My skin from the neck down was totally clear before this.  I tried switching back to the Tresemme but once your skin starts breaking out, it’s really hard to stop it.  I finally got fed up and decided not to put any chemicals on my body whatsoever (except deodorant because everyone has got to draw the line somewhere).

For the first couple of weeks, I just quit washing my hair all together.  I was afraid to use shampoo and conditioner because I didn’t want to make my back acne any worse.  The acne on my back got much better but, as you can imagine, my hair got really greasy!  I started googling natural shampoos and came up with the “no poo” method.  It turns out, you can wash your hair with water only and it actually works.  I followed the instructions on this blog and it really works!  The basic idea is that shampoo strips the oils from your hair, and conditioner replaces those natural oils with manufactured ones.  Doesn’t that sound kind of dumb?  Why not just leave the natural oils in your hair, right?  As it turns out, the oil that your body naturally produces is a great shampoo and conditioner in one.  You can check out the blog.  It takes a little time and effort to get used to it, but it works, it’s free, and it doesn’t cause painful, cystic acne on my back.  Here’s what my hair looks like now…

It’s soft, shiny and it never gets tangled.  When I used regular shampoo and conditioner, and then brushed my hair, a ton of hair came out in my brush.  I always thought that was normal and it would somehow grow back fast enough that my hair wouldn’t get thinner.  After using the water only method for a couple of months, no hair comes out in my brush.  None!  Maybe three or four strands, but nothing like the gobs of wet, gross hair that I used to have to pick out of my brush every couple of days.  And if my ends get a little dry, I just use a touch of coconut oil.  It works for everything!

So, here’s what my new beauty supply list looks like…

  1. coconut oil
  2. uh… that’s it

You really don’t need to wash your body with soap either, just warm water and wash cloth does the trick.  Okay, maybe I’m just a dirty hippy, but I haven’t noticed any bad smells.  If my skin is dry, I use, you guessed it, coconut oil!  For shaving… coconut oil.  Are there other oils out there that work better?  Quite possibly, but I use coconut oil a lot when I cook so I already have a ton of it.  Basically, I replaced soap, lotion, face soap, face lotion, shampoo and conditioner with coconut oil and water.  If we didn’t live in such a dry climate, I think I could even skip the oil.  Now I just need to figure out a replacement for deodorant and sunscreen, and I will have completed my dirty hippy transformation.  Do I get a badge or anything?