Oil Cleanse Method, on Gaiam

About two years ago I started the process of cleaning up what I was putting on my body, not just in it. Your skin is your largest organ; everything that goes on it ends up in you; so anything that was going on my skin was subjected to intense scrutiny. Sixteen months ago I finally ditched my face wash, and started using the Oil Cleanse Method.

In brief: The Oil Cleanse Method uses clean, natural oils to dissolve the dirty oils on your face while moisturizing in a way that helps your skin regulate how much oil it needs to make.

Sounds intriguing, right?

Read more HERE at Gaiam's blog, Stream of Consciousness.


Belate Memorial Day

I didn't write about Memorial Day on Memorial Day, but I did stop to think about it. And I have just kept thinking about it, I can't stop. Yesterday the morning was chilly, but the kind of chill that heralds the coming heat. The Memorial Day pictures I've been seeing give me the same goosebumps.


Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm an old school peace-touting hippie. I want to bring our soldiers home. I think they should be here, with their families, not dying overseas. But coupled with that is a huge, overwhelming respect for those who chose to serve our country and defend my right to wish they didn't have to fight. The love and sadness I have for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for love of country and countrymen makes Memorial Day one I have a hard time looking at too hard. Its overwhelming.


The thing is, for me Memorial Day is one day, or maybe a week, of thinking about these fallen heros. For the families, everyday is Memorial Day, and everyday they have to live with that loss.


I'm sad that for a lot of people, Memorial Day has become BBQ Day... First Beach Day of the Year... Pool Opening Day... and nothing more. So here I am, remembering, being thankful, and hopefully helping others remember too.

Do you do anything to celebrate Memorial Day?


semi-wordless wednesday {random weekend photos}

This past weekend in random photos:

Bird condo on our front porch.

With Cassie, one of my best girls from high school.
Just realized Gwen and Trav are in this picture too!

With Cassie and Sebrina, at Sebz's going away party (on Memorial Day).
She's moving to Florida!

Behind Sebrina's parent's house. I will never get tired of this view.

Asked Siri about the meaning of life...  :-)


maybe I'm not so bad at this...

Love the little moments that make me think I might actually be okay at this parenting thing:

First time she's spontaneously drawn something like this for me.
Normally she just does shapes and squiggles... this is a person!

Saturday evening Ro, Pat, and the girls came over to celebrate Trav's birthday. During the course of play, Gwen dove out of the way of a bouncing train, and got a carpet burn/scrape on her chin. It was bothering her a lot, and she was quite nervous about me putting some ointment on it, but I explained that it would help her scrape heal faster, and hurt less. She braced herself and let me do it, after which I praised her for being brave. I told her that someone is brave when they know something might not be fun, or might not feel good, but they do it anyway because it is the right thing or best thing to do. Since then she's been walking around repeating, "Mama, I'm a brave girl!" Damn straight sweetie! Of all the things that she could label herself, this is one of my favorites!

"Reading" to me. Love the imaginations these two have.

On Sunday night when putting Gwen to bed, she told me, "I need to put good things in my belly so it feels good. My belly feels a little funny, so for breakfast maybe I'll have peas, or fruit. Whoever gets up with me in the morning, I'm going to tell them to get me peas because I want to eat good things."

Uncle Pat stuck these two in the empty cushion container at Jerry & Kerry's.
They thought this was pretty much the best play place ever!

Monday we were at a picnic, and there were a lot of foods Gwen has never had before, so she wasn't eating a lot and had a few more chips then I normally allow. We were passing through the area with the food and she turned to me and said, "I should really have some good foods so my belly doesn't hurt." At which point I offered her some carrots, which she happily accepted... and ended up eating a ton of!

With my high school girl Cassie's daughter, Riley.

On the way home from said picnic, we saw a farm with some sheep, which sparked a conversation about what animals live on farms and what they eat. She would list animals, then we would mention some. At one point Trav asked, "Do you think alligators live on farms?" Gwen thought that was hilarious, and pronounced, "NO Daddy! The alligator would eat all the other animals!" She has a point!

Sometimes this kid of mine is pretty awesome.


a little tgif linky love

A little linky love for your Friday afternoon. 
Are you doing anything for the long weekend? 

I'm so proud of my cousin, who started a health and fitness company, DC Health Coaches, at the beginning of 2013. They offer personal, group, and corporate fitness, and yoga services throughout the DC area. Business is going well. Check them out:

I just found out that one of my pictures is in the finals at the Natural Parents Network for "what natural parenting really looks like!" I'm very excited. Feel free to check it out and vote for my picture (#26) and your 4 other favorites. There are a lot of amazing ones! #7 is a fellow Connected Mom writer!


CM: the loud sound of emotion

My most recent piece from Connected Mom. Keepin it real, and in perspective. 


I have a preschooler now. It really blows my mind to say that, but its true. Gwen is 3-years old, and is definitely full of "big kid" spunk, fieriness, and emotion; however, she is still learning how to control those rollercoaster emotions of hers, and learning the frustrations of not having complete control over her life and world. I find myself having to give myself more and more "time outs" to breathe and regroup so as to not lose my cool. I also find myself needing some new tools in my arsenal.

I think some days, like yesterday, have the odds stacked against us. She's been using her inhaler for a week now because of a bad cough/cold (we start stepping it down today, thank goodness); it was rainy and miserable outside, so we were stuck inside; we had a random interruption in the middle of the day and never refound our groove. By dinner we were all prickly. Cue the meltdown.

Once upon a time I could talk Gwen down from most disruptive behavior, but the days of her being comforted merely by the sound of my voice are over. She feels things so big, this child of mind, and while I try to talk quietly and gently to her, she can't even hear my desire to help her over the loud sound of her own emotions. There are some ways that people are all the same, and one of these ways is in our desire to be heard and understood. I find my quiet voice rising, far beyond where I wish it would rise to, as I struggle to just have her hear me; her voice rises because she just doesn't understand why we just can't make it all right, and if only she could express her wants/needs to us enough, then we would of course fix it all.

In these moments, I wish I could scoop her up in my arms and help her to understand both the depth of my love for her, and my motivation for not giving into an ungrantable request. At the same time, the last thing she desires is for me to hold her, and I have to fight to keep my words as simple as possible, because her brain is consumed with anger, sadness, confusion, and a new found need for control leaving no room to process long explanations.

As an adult I've long since mastered the impulse to scream my frustrations, and let the tears flow at any grievance, regardless of location or company; but that doesn't mean that I don't have and understand such impulses. My longing to help her learn more productive ways of expressing emotion are balanced with my desire to never make her feel that her emotions are wrong, or should not be expressed.

So what is a frustrated Mama to do?

Well, last night at bedtime Trav and I weathered the storm of anger (without backing down), and when allowed doled out the hugs needed to sooth her sadness. After Trav said his good nights, Gwen and I lay next to each other on the couch in her room, and told each other how much we love each other no matter what. Then I gave hugs and kisses, rubbed her back, and said our sweet dreams like we do every night. I went down stairs and relaxed, before heading to my own bedtime, where I took a deep breath, climbed into bed, and told myself, "I try again tomorrow."



be patient and watch things bloom

My lilac bush, the one I received for a Mother's Day gift last year, just bloomed. Like, over night. It didn't bloom last year, which was not unexpected considering it had just been transplanted and needed to recover. This year I was ready for it though, and feeling so impatient with it, wondering when those beautiful fragrant blossoms were going to show up already.

As is the case with all things... patience it a beautiful thing, and it will be rewarded.

A lesson that is a timely and very fitting reminder for my relationship with my 3-year old right now.

This weekend was one of highs and lows. Highs: We had a really nice time at my parent's on Saturday celebrating a belated Mother's Day with my mom, birthday with my dad, and early birthday with Trav. I cooked us all a nice dinner, the timing of which worked out well, and which everyone enjoyed. We ended the weekend last night on a really nice note with lots of Gwen snuggles before bed, and then she slept through the night (something her inhaler has been messing with for the past week)!

The Lows: Sunday was fine overall, but Gwen has been having a rough time lately (I think the inhaler she's on right now for a cough is a big contributor), and she had a huge screaming meltdown on Sunday which sucked. She also had a rough moment earlier in the day and told me she didn't want me and generally made me feel crappy, and even though I know I can't take it personally (she's 3!), I ended up crying in the shower. (Read more about this over at Connected Mom.)

What a weekend.

The important thing though is reminding myself that it is all fleeting, that if I hold my patience, the blooms will come. The I love yous before bed, the snuggles and kisses, and the cooperative sweet kid who greeted me this morning, well, they were some pretty sweet blooms.


so much

Sometimes life seems to get so full that it becomes a tad overwhelming, even if its all good things. We have a lot going on right now, and I'm feel a bit ... oh, I don't know, stretched? pulled? like 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week is not nearly enough?

I'm sitting down this morning with a calendar and a list of things that need to happen and when they need to happen by, and I'm getting this plotted out so I can feel more in control again.

I'm so grateful for my work from home days, which give me a bit of extra time for finding balance. Regaining my commute time (which isn't huge, but is ample time for getting other small tasks done) helps me just sit and breathe and check off the little things that otherwise get pushed aside. Little things like sitting down with my calendar, which is obviously a big thing for my mental health right now! These days are also great for rainy spring weather. Looking out my window at this moment, I'm certainly glad to be in here, while it pours out there.

All this to say, sorry if posts are short, sporadic, or mostly pictures for a little while. Things should settle down soon.


sunny days and sick snuggles

Playing catch up today after a surprise day at home yesterday due to a sick Gwen. She's better today, thankfully, but leaves little time for blogging. Lets give it a shot though.

This weekend was full and wonderful. Saturday I attended a sweet, surprise wedding shower. Then Trav, Gwen, and I headed over to Ro and Pat's for a little cake cutting for Ro's birthday.

Sunday I got to sleep in, then received some sweet presents in bed.

New upcycled glass bottle garden decor.

We headed out to breakfast afterwards.

Trav had tennis that afternoon, so Gwen and I used that alone time to do some crafts. Something for Trav's upcoming birthday, and a little something for the grandmothers for Mother's Day, and my dad for his birthday.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent grilling with the neighbors.

Monday morning poor girl wasn't feeling well. Her cough had kept her up much of the night and she had a low-grade fever. We slept in until almost 8:30, then spent most of the rest of the day lounging around alternating between watching cartoons and reading books.

We did make two excursions out. One to meet Trav for lunch since we needed to bring him his wallet. The other for a walk around the block with Gwen up in the sling. I'm a big believer in the power of fresh air!

Napping, still holding her lunch balloon.
She didn't eat much all day, but she was downing liquids like no one's business. Thankfully after an early bedtime last night, and a good night's sleep, she was feeling back to normal. Still coughing, but otherwise fine.

So, back to work for Mama... and time to play catch up!!


over "dew"

Its funny, the things you wish for. I spent all of April wondering where all of the rain was. Wishing we could get a few good days of it, so my poor flowers could wake up already after the long winter.

May has finally delivered on that promise (my garden thanks it!). Finally my flowers can bloom. Better late, then never.

Work has slowed down a bit this month (event-wise), in anticipation of the upcoming summer, which is our slowest time of year. That doesn't mean its not busy, but now at least I'm busy catching up on all the things that have pushed aside over and over to have time for event details instead. I can finally see my desk again, and I'm happy for that change. I think it happens every year that the pressure builds and builds as we have so much going on in the new year through beginning of spring, until we slow down a little in May/June and can all finally breathe. This year that breath is especially appreciated since there is much going on outside of work in the next few months, all of which I'm looking forward to, but which would seem that much more overwhelming if work was taking everything out of me.

The day is about over, so I'm going to finish up with the hope that you are also enjoying a big spring exhale.


semi-wordless wednesday {walk down memory lane}

Looking through some old picture at my parents. Here are some of my favs:

My Mom's gorgeous Mom.

My Mom's Parents

One of the first times being held by my Papita.

Hanging the "It's A Girl" sign
outside the Allentown Midwifery Center.

Me, 7 weeks, with my older sister.

Big sis and I again.

My mom and I, soon after Ethan was born.
Also at the Allentown Midwifery Center.

Ethan and I.

My Gram and Ethan.


Navigating the Booby Trap

Today I'm over on Intoxicated on Life, with my submission to Navigating the Booby Trap, on The Evolution of the Breastfeeding Relationship.

As those first days, then weeks pass, you worry, but you also learn together. Soon enough a feat that initially required 2 pillows, special positioning, and at least one more hand then was actually available is now, if not second nature, then at least a heck of a lot easier! One pillow to prop your arm, pull out your breast, and off they go. [check out the rest HERE]



A few first this weekend:

- First Saturday of the month, so Ridley Creek park clean-up. I missed last month, so I was happy to be there this month. We went back to the trail we made the last time I was there to do some "benching" and remove a few stumps. Man is that trail looking gorgeous! It's hard to believe it wasn't there just two months ago.

The spring green is helping obviously, but I was a bit proud! LOL. 

- Gwen had a first this weekend too. Can you guess what it is?

She had asked me about this a bit ago when one of her classmates came to school with her nails painted, then I came home last week after getting "its warm and the sandals are coming out" pedicure and she asked again. So I ran out to get some piggy paint, and she got her first mani-pedi this weekend. 

She was quite pleased!

I did my fingers too, at her request... and now you can probably see our fingers from space!  ;-)

- First really really hard night for Gwen and Trav in a long time. I had a much needed and long overdue dinner out with a girlfriend of mine, which was so nice. Not so great was Gwen crying for me not to go. I felt so crappy leaving her, but she called me on the phone, we talked for a bit, and she seemed fine. Apparently she gave Trav a hell of a time going to bed though.

I think me being away in the morning, then again at night was hard. We had a great time between. Doing her nails, then heading outside to do some biking on the tennis courts. 

I try not to plan days like that, but they come up sometimes. So that was hard.

Showing off the insane green.

Thankfully she and I spend all day Sunday together.

- First day of the new "tennis season" for Trav! He's helping teach our neighborhood tennis camp again this year.

This picture has nothing to do with tennis,
but I just thought it was too cute.

He stayed home on Sunday to head to day one of tennis, while Gwen and I headed into the city to see some friends for a welcome back to town brunch they were having. Our half-hour drive turned into an hour drive thanks to accident/construction/Broad Street Run traffic. Still fun, but makes for a long day.

Lots of firsts. Now its time to get ready for the new week!


big girl underwear pants

About 2 weeks ago, we ran out to the store for a very exciting first... Gwen got to pick out a package of real underwear. She's been wearing pull ups for a few months now, and had been wearing her cloth training underwear for a while, and doing really well with keeping them dry, so it was time. She was so excited, and I was pretty damn happy too. She picked some nice Mickey Mouse ones:

(Yes, they are "boys underwear." No, I care not a lick.)

After an early, then very slow start, she really did the work of potty training on her own. And in the last two months or so especially, she just got it, it clicked, and that's that. There have been some accidents, of course, but she wears her new underwear in the car to and from school, and has been doing so well. So, I would consider her potty trained. And it blows my mind.

I just can't believe how big my girl is getting. We went for a walk together last night, it was just too nice to stay in, and as usual, Gwen wanted to help walk Daisy (she's been doing that for a while).

But soon that turned into this:

Daisy is such a damn good dog.

(Never fear, Trav and I were always right there.)

My girl. She'll be running off to college before I know it.

Thank goodness, once she got tired from walking, we did this. She's not too big yet.

So yeah, check potty training off the list!