Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 6

Today was a different kind of really good day filled with family and friends. I love days like that. I got my green smoothie in, but that was the only thing I did as far as challenges go. Instead, I ditched all of that and went to go see a good friend out in the country. We hung out and talked for hours, while my son played and my daughter nursed. Her husband came home during the last part of our visit and so he and Will played in the yard. Will had the time of his life digging a hole and building a mountain with the dirt from the hole. LOL, I love it! Anyway, today was just all together pampering and renewing.

As if that wasn't enough good and fun stuff for one day, the midwifery bill passed the Licensing Committee in North Carolina (unanimously!!), so now it is off to the Health Committee. That just put me on cloud nine. I cannot wait for the party we're all going to have once it finally makes it through all the hoops and CPM's are legal and licensed in this state.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 5

Today has been a wonderful and busy day. I had a green smoothie this morning with plantains, strawberries, carrots, medjool dates and pea tendril microgreens. I weeded in the garden and there is something exceedingly therapeutic about that. Instant gratification at its best. I managed some yoga practice while the kiddos were sleeping -- nothing planned, no videos, just my own practice and it felt divine. Around the house, I got a ton of stuff done including cleaning the oven inside and out, washing all the window treatments in the kitchen/dining room area, starting a new batch of sprouts, cleaned the inside of the windows, dusting around the bench in the kitchen and cooking a batch of chickpeas. My daily pampering mission was to sand down some of the rough areas on my feet. Five minutes of work and now my feet feel like a baby's bottom.

Day 4

In the future, I think I might try doing a weekend recap blog post on Monday. I just don't have a lot of time on the weekend to think about blogging because I'm trying to spend every precious moment with my beautiful family.

Yesterday, I got my green smoothie in, the same kind I made on Saturday. I managed to spread the rest of the mulch in the garden and for my pampering mission, I slept in until after 9:30. Luxury at its finest! I didn't worry too much about the house or the workout. I don't seem to need that as much on the weekend since I tag team with Allen when it comes to the kids.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 3

Short and sweet today. Busy but fun day!

I had a green smoothie this morning. This one was a little different: plantains, strawberries, carrot, cucumber, microgreens, medjool dates. Yum, yum! I managed to splatter it all over the kitchen while the blender was running, though. Epic! LOL.

Physical pampering -- nice loooong shower and a smooth shave. Felt so good.

I'm not worrying about the extra workout on the weekend. I didn't get to the house challenge, but it's all good. :-)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 2

Today has been a busy day! The kids and I went an hour away to meet a friend and her kids for lunch. I made my green smoothie in the morning before we left (same one as yesterday).

I spent another 20 minutes out in the garden working on mulching and that felt good. I've got about half the garden done now.

I did a short relaxing yoga, but it was waaaay too easy for me. If you're brand new to yoga, check it out, but otherwise look elsewhere. Sometimes I forget that I've been doing yoga off and on for about 15 years now, so my idea of easy and someone else's idea of easy could be two different things.

The challenge around the house was to clean off the top of the fridge/freezer and wash the doors of cabinets and any shelves in the kitchen. The cabinets were no big deal since I did them a couple of weeks ago. The top of the fridge/freezer was in desperate need of help.Things are much improved now.

My physical pampering mission for today was clipping my fingernails, filing them, oiling my cuticles and pushing them down. My hands are so busy between housework, gardening, violin, caring for kids, cooking and other things that my nails get to be in pretty sorry shape. I'd been having issues with hangnails the past week, so I knew it was time to pamper my hands. They feel so much better now!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 1

Ahhh, so here I am at day one again. I think this is going to be a much easier way to do this. I had my green smoothie this morning. Try it out if you want to feel energized all day. Really, it makes such a huge difference. Most of us do not get enough greens and this is a wonderful way to sneak in a ton of them quite quickly. I do different smoothies on different days. Today, I combined 1/2 cup frozen sliced plantains, 1 cup frozen whole strawberries (local and organic), 3 pitted medjool dates (as a nutritious sweetener), 1 1/4 cups water and a head of romaine lettuce (yes the entire head). Blend everything but the lettuce until it is smooth, then start adding lettuce one leaf at a time. I put the entire head into my smoothie, but if you're new to green smoothies and like a milder flavor, try adding a little less. Your taste buds will adjust over time and you will be able to add more greens and enjoy them.

For my home challenge, I cleaned out the deep freeze. Doesn't seem pampering to you? Well, to me it does because there is something so renewing about opening up the freezer door and seeing lots of space for good, healthy home cooked food and frozen produce. Throughout the summer, I like to buy from local farmers and then save some things for the winter. Yummy.

When the kids went down for their naps, I headed out to the garden to work on mulching. This is the secret tool that will hopefully help me keep the weeds under control so that we can have a nice yield this year. It was hot out there, but seeing everything come together felt so good.

When Lily got tired and went back to sleep, I did a nice relaxing yoga routine, Crunch: Candlelight Yoga. This was about 45 minutes instead of 10-15, but I splurged today and did it anyway. It was so very relaxing and renewing and incredibly easy, so give it a shot if you can carve out the time.

Following yoga, I gave my feet a nice massage with some ginger and clementine lotion and they are feeling all soft and energized.

What have you done for yourself today?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Starting Over!

The past few months have been a whirlwind around here, between scattering Mom's ashes in Hilton Head, being active with the local midwifery issues and discovering Will's food sensitivities (artificial colors, flavors, etc), I totally derailed in my efforts to pamper myself. Sure, there was the token nail polish change, sleeping in, or work in the garden, but nothing consistent or truly nurturing on a regular basis. At one point, I got so burned out that we basically did nothing for an entire week to recharge.

It's time to redesign my life a little, to prioritize and make time to focus on myself again. I am going to start this thing over from day one and see how I do. I'll re-evaluate as I go and play it by ear. Some of my posts might be kind of short, if it means the difference between getting a little rest that day and not. I'm sure that's not the end of the world for any of you, as you all have busy schedules just like I do and you are looking for quick ideas and thoughts. Perhaps some of you will be inspired to join me in my renewed efforts.

Our giveaway for Burt's Bees hand cream is still on when we reach 100 likes on facebook. So, invite your friends and I will draw a name for that prize once we reach that magical number.

I need some inspiration and creativity to get me going on this journey, so I've decided to participate in some fun challenges that will have me feeling great quickly. First, I'm participating in a Green Smoothie Breakfast Challenge. Even though I drink green smoothies on most mornings, there are the days when my morning gets harried and I get tied up in taking care of everyone else and don't get to make a smoothie for myself. That's when I end up eating cold leftovers from the fridge for breakfast. Not very appetizing and I really do notice a difference in my energy level and mood. I just want to make sure that I really take the time for myself and even learn to think ahead. I've heard that some mamas make their smoothie the night before if they know the morning schedule will be cramped. I've never done that, but I'm curious to see whether or not the smoothie still tastes good in the morning.

The second challenge I'm participating in is a month-long challenge with some friends to get our homes cleaner, more clutter free and peaceful. We have different tasks we're going to do each day in our homes, as well as some personal reflection tasks. I hope to share some of those things with you. It may sound like this is actually work and not pampering, but one of the things that makes the biggest difference in my mood and energy level is the state of my house. We live in a small home, so any amount of clutter or mess really feels suffocating. I'm hoping that these challenges will transform my home into someplace that is more fun to be and less work for me -- at least by the end of the month. The pampering piece of all of this is in how it makes me feel to walk into a room that is clean, clutter free, peaceful and relaxing.

The other things I'm working on don't have anything to do with a group activity, though I'd love it if some of you would join me. One of the biggest things that feels spiritually renewing to me in the warmer months is gardening. So, I would like to commit to spending 15-20 minutes per day in my garden for the month of June (excluding rainy days). There's something about planting flowers, watching vegetables grow and getting my hands into the soil that just makes me feel like a million bucks.

I love to run when I can, but I would like to add a stress-relieving workout to the middle of my day when the kids are napping. It doesn't have to be more than 10-20 minutes or so -- just long enough to release some of the tension from chasing the littles all morning, homeschooling, making meals, cleaning, etc.

Finally, I would like to do a beauty pampering mission each day. This could be something that takes just 5 minutes, or something that takes an hour, just depending on the day.

This might all sound like a lot, but I'm not aiming to spend hours and hours on anything. Everything together should take me about 90 minutes on an average day. Considering how much time I spend pampering everyone else, I think this will be time well spent and perhaps make me feel more renewed and productive the rest of the day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pampering Day 28: Goats Milk Lotion

For the first time in weeks, I had a day where I could just relax at home (without being sick). Downright luxurious! This morning, I watched "James and the Giant Peach" with Will and nursed the baby, who is on a growth spurt, teething and trying to figure out how to roll over all at the same time. Poor sweetie! This afternoon I waded through about 2,000 emails (no joke!) and worked on getting my appointments book updated. It looks like I have a busy couple of weeks coming up with homeschool stuff, midwifery stuff, social occasions and going out of town. Fun times!

I looked down at my hands today and realized that they are once again showing the business of my life. You can really tell when I don't have a minute to stop. See? There's chipped polish, the nails are long (which doesn't work with playing the violin) and there are all kinds of rough spots:

I didn't have long enough to myself today to paint my nails. I was constantly holding or nursing Lily, who is very sweet but a bit needy with everything going on with her. Instead, I removed the old polish, clipped the nails and took care of the rough spots. Then, I slathered on a nice helping of some new goats milk lotion that my Dad's wife gave to me during the weekend we were in Minnesota for Mom's memorial service. I couldn't find a website for her, but the phone number is listed on the container. If you're inclined to try it, I'm guessing that is the best way to find it.

Seriously, that lotion is better than anything I can find in the store and it makes my hands feel so soft. Incidentally, it also feels good on my face after I wash it. Moisturizing without being greasy. 

Even though I don't have polish on my nails yet, my hands look a lot more pampered now and it feels good to do something to physically take care of myself. Love it!

Hopefully sometime in the next few days, Lily's stuff will calm down a bit so I can paint my nails. This coming weekend, Allen and I are going to a marriage retreat and it would feel so good to have sparkly nails.

As an added bonus, Lily lost her two Hanna Andersson outfits from Mom when Delta lost track of her suitcase. I ordered her new ones to replace them and the jammies showed up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pampering Day 27: Silence!

I had a marvelous day today. This morning, I got the pleasure of bringing lunch to a friend who had surgery not too long ago. It was so wonderful to see her, her kiddos and to meet her mama. This afternoon, we met with another friend who had surgery not too long ago. She came to our house for lunch. Will was ecstatic to see her!

The day was a blast and filled with activity and nursing a baby who is teething and on a growth spurt, but it left me feeling joyful. There was also a lot of activity and a pretty good noise level. Anyone who has ever met Will knows that he is a ball of energy. That intensity of energy all day long can sometimes make me downright desperate for quiet time, just so I can hear myself think. LOL!

By the time the kids went to bed, I was so noised and activitied out that I couldn't even figure out what I wanted for dinner. LOL! So, when Allen went to the store to get a couple of things, I used the 15 minutes to pamper myself with a scarce commodity for moms: SILENCE. Yep, I sat down on the couch, put my feet up, closed my eyes and did nothing. Talk about luxury! It renewed my spirit and I was able to get on with the evening and enjoy watching "Glee" and "Raising Hope" with Allen. Fun times!

The past few days, I have focused on pampering missions that renew my spirit. After all the emotional turmoil I have been through, that has made the most sense and was exactly what I needed. Now, I feel like those emotional/social needs are pretty much met and I feel some physical pampering coming on in the next few days. Not exactly sure where I'll go with that. But, I know I'm craving something like a luxurious bubble bath, manicure, pedicure or massage. I also wasn't able to exercise with the vertigo, so I'm craving some good runs -- something long enough to feel the burn that hurts so good (3 miles? 5 miles?). Tomorrow it's going to be rainy, so the run likely isn't an option but tune in to see what I decide to do. Looking forward to a change of pace!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pampering Day 26: Mama Time

Every week, some of my friends and I meet with our kids at my place for cooking class. We all cook, the kids play and the mamas get some much needed grown-up time. Last week, we didn't have class because we were flying home from Minnesota, so I missed my mama time and felt it all week. Add to that the lost luggage with irreplaceable items, vertigo and the missed rally in Raleigh and I was just desperate for social hour. So many times I feel like the Lord refreshes my spirit through time with friends.

My pampering today was to renew my spirit during cooking class. It seems all my pampering the past few days has focused on that. I suppose that makes sense after everything that has been going on the past couple of weeks.

Well, we had a blast today, making granola bars, listening to the kids bang on the drums and talking about mama stuff like birth, kids and schedules. LOVE!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pampering Day 25: Extra Honey Time

I love spending time with my hubby, and date nights at home are great pampering for the spirit, especially after the kind of week I've had. Tonight, I made some french bread pizza with sun-dried tomato basil pesto, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. About 15 minutes at 450 makes those thimgs perfection. Add nonalcoholic sparkling juice, crystal stemware and good television to enter into date night perfection. Bliss!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pampering Day 24: Sleeping In

Most of the time, I have to get up early in order to get Will dressed and fed for the day. During the week, Allen isn't home so it's my responsibility to take care of all of that on my own, even though Lily and I would probably sleep much later than 7:00 in the morning. The past few weeks, we've had so much going on during the weekend that I didn't get to sleep in even when Allen was home from work.

Today was the first time I didn't have to worry about getting up to either take care of Will or tend to some other responsibilities. I got up in the night to nurse Lily a few times, but she went right back to sleep after eating. My pampering today was the fact that I did not have to get out of bed until 10:30!!  That is a miracle around here and I felt so much better all day after all that rest.

My word to all you mamas out there: Sleep when you can! The housework can wait. Your to-do list can wait. Ask your spouse, a friend, or family member to watch the kids and get a few extra hours while you can. It is amazing how two or three extra hours can make all the difference in the world, even if you don't get them all in a row. I feel like a new woman!

Oh, and for your added pleasure, a cute picture of Lily in a tutu. This tutu came from my cousin Janet. She gave it to us at Mom's memorial service and it was one of the few items that was in my suitcase instead of hers, so it wasn't lost in the bag that Delta can't find. I'm so grateful to have this!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pampering Days 15-23: Getting Back on Track

I wanted to post to let you know that I am still here and I'm going to be posting daily again. I honestly did not mean to take a break. But, we flew to MN for Mom's memorial and then on Monday we flew home, only to have the baby's suitcase gone missing on the other end. The airline thinks someone stole it at baggage claim. Anyway, I had that coupled with some mean vertigo that kept me from going to the Birth Freedom March in Raleigh that I so desperately wanted to attend. I felt like I let folk down but sometimes our bodies make calls for us when we won't do it on our own. I must have needed the rest.

Here is a video from the event that is so near and dear to my heart even though I didn't get to be there. It is awesome to see so many friends on camera. Way to go y'all!!

Anyway, some days were better than others when it came to pamper missions. Mom's memorial service was amazing and it was so incredible to see so many friends and family members that I hadn't seen in years. What a blessing!

Thursday March 24th: We flew to MN and when we got to the hotel, I took a nice long hot shower and treated myself to my favorite lotions, quite the luxury after traveling. As an added bonus, the body cream was a gift from Mom before she died.

Friday February 25th:I think this is the only day I missed! It was a good day, but I just didn't take time for myself.

Saturday February 26th: This was the day of Mom's memorial service and it would have been easy to forget to take time out with all the action, but Tammi's mom, Carol, made me some super delicious cupcakes, so I spent my pampering time savoring every bite. Yummmmmmm (I need to get that recipe).

Sunday February 27th: My Mom was friends with Jill for years and years. She and her husband had us over for a delicious home cooked Caribbean meal. Two of their kids, who I grew up with, were there as well and it was so much fun to connect again as adults. This was exactly the relaxation we needed. Their hospitality was absolutely amazing. I only wish we lived closer.

Monday February 28th: Lily fell asleep on the plane on our way home and I decided to take a nap, too. That was pure bliss! Afterward, I browsed the Sky Mall magazine and lusted after all kinds of useless gadgets that I figured were sure to make my life easier. LOL!

Tuesday March 1st: I felt awful with vertigo this day and I was so emotional about having lost Lily's suitcase and was really focusing on the things she'd bought for Lily and Will that I would never have back again. Not sure if there's anything I could call a pamper mission, but I did try to lean on friends for support and I tried to rest a little, which helped.

Wednesday March 2nd: My vertigo wasn't too good and I was quite depressed about not being able to go to Raleigh and about the things lost in the suitcase that were in one way or another touched by my Mom. But, Steph took Will for the majority of the day and that gave me time to get some rest, put my feet up, pray and get put back together again. That was exactly what I needed!

Thursday March 3rd: I took Will and Lily to the mall to replace several items that were in the suitcase that the airline lost. While there, we stopped for frozen yogurt. That was my pampering. I discovered my new favorite flavor at Yogurt Mountain: pistachio. Truly delicious, especially with fresh fruit.

Friday March 4th: The house was looking drab and not smelling too fresh, so I took some time to straighten up some things that were bugging me this week while I wasn't feeling well with my vertigo and then I sprayed some delicious smelling cherry blossom spritzer all over the house to make it smell nice before putting my feet up on the couch. Normally, I would count that as work, but sometimes after being sick it feels like pampering because I get to wanting a nice environment again, you know?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pampering Day 14: What a Whirlwind!

Today has been a whirlwind day, where ICAN of Charlotte published our press release in regard to the CPM issue in NC. Once that happened, I did not have a moment to myself. My phone was ringing off the hook and next thing I knew, I had two news stations coming to the house to interview me for the 10:00 and 11:00 news tonight. The story that aired on channel 9 and 64 can be found here. I was frustrated that the reporter did not have accurate facts regarding the arrest.
 The piece done by channel 36 was much better in that they had their facts straight, it was short, concise and supportive. They don't have it up on their website yet. Hopefully soon.

Pampering was hard to come by today. Honestly, I don't know if I really got it in, other than to have a green smoothie this morning. Plantain and mango blended with romaine. It surely gave me the immune and energy boost I needed to get through the rest of the day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pampering Day 13: Massage Chairs

Today, I've been continuing efforts on behalf of my midwife. I've talked with legislators, sent letters and continued to work with others in the community. I am hoping to have an Etsy shop running this week or next where we can sell cookies with the proceeds going towards her legal defense fund.

I took the kids out today for a little break from everything we're doing in preparation for our MN trip and with all the midwifery stuff. We headed over to the mall to get outfits for the memorial service, grab some ice cream and spend some time at the play area there.

My pampering mission was a blissful 15-minutes in the mall massage chairs. You can pay $5 for 15 minutes of relaxation in these things. We'd finished with our first store and a miserably teething Lily was ready for some nursing action and quite fussy. I spotted the chair and paid for both Will and I to get a nice 15-minute massage while I nursed Lily. It was ambrosia!! I didn't have anyone to take a picture of me, so I took a picture of Will in his chair...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pampering Day 12: Springing to Action

This post is a bit late because I have been preoccupied with other things that are going on. Many of you who know me know that I have a passion for home birth and love my dear midwife so much for following God's call on her life. She and her apprentices, whom I consider dear friends, have touched my family's life more than they will ever know. After our hospital experience with Will and all the trauma that ensued, we were led to pray about a different way of doing things. Our homebirth experience with Lily was healing and breathed a certain spiritual gift into our family that I can't even describe. That gift makes me want to shout from the rooftops what God-led birthing can be like. Words cannot even express...

Today, I learned that my midwife was arrested for providing services that she's qualified to provide and does so responsibly and faithfully to God's call.. I'm sad and enraged and moved to action. Please, go to North Carolina Friends of Midwives to learn more about how to take action and then go to the NC General Assembly page to find your legislators. Contact them daily and tell them we urgently need the CPM legislature to go through. If enough of us make our voices heard, things can change. As I look down at sweet little Lily cooing on the couch, I want to make sure that homebirth is an option for her when she is older. I will not rest until I am satisfied that she will have access to choices in childbirth.

This picture sums up our homebirth experience. It shows the spirit of praise that was present at our daughter's homebirth. The Holy Spirit was surely present in that experience...

My pampering mission seems kind of inconsequential today. I spent most of the day in correspondence with others about everything that is going on.  Nonetheless, I got together with a bunch of good friends this morning for a Valentine's Day party with our kiddos. What a blast! That was my pampering mission for the day because it renewed my spirit, brought me joy and gave me energy for all that the rest of the day entailed. Sometimes taking time out to be with people you love is the best form of pampering available. I am so grateful for my friends, our children and the amazing time we have together!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pampering Day 11: Yummm

Allen and I had a wonderful date last night. We went to Mai Thai, one of our favorite restaurants and then went to see "Big Mommas" at the mall. I got all dressed up in one of the dresses Allen got me for Christmas and we truly enjoyed talking and spending time together without any kid interruptions. We hadn't had that in a few months and were long overdue for five hours of couple time.

The kids spent the evening with Steph's family, where they played outside, grilled out and watched a movie. All four kiddos and adults seemed to have a ball. Normally when folk watch the kids they come to our house but the kids see Steph enough that they're comfortable in her home. Will gets so excited to go over there and has so much fun that he asks when he can do it again. lol. When we arrived to pick up the kids, Will was playing and Lily was fast asleep. Steph took a picture of us:

Today was pretty laid-back. My friend Heather was going to bring us lunch, but 7 of the 8 in her family got sick, so we rescheduled for when we get back from MN. We had the afternoon to chill before my violin students came and I decided to make my pampering mission about yumminess. I took a trip to Food Lion for produce like romaine, cilantro, green onions, oranges, apples, grapes and more. 

I came home and made myself an old favorite from college: Flatout pizza. Flatout is this super delish soft flatbread that you can find over by the deli counter. Add a few tablespoons of tomato sauce, herbs, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and your favorite toppings. I used tomato and green pepper and topped it with a little fresh ground pepper. All it takes is about 3-5 minutes under the broiler to cook the pizza. I also made a green smoothie to go with the pizza and then sat down to munch and enjoy the energized feeling from all the good healthy food. When life is really busy, sometimes the best thing I can do to pamper myself is properly fuel myself and allow enough time to really enjoy it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pampering Day 10: Hair Day

I went to Carmen! Carmen! this morning and saw Emily Allen for a haircut. She rocks and I feel so much better. This pic says it all:

Had a bagel sandwich for breakfast, bought some Girl Scout cookies and picked up some mineral powder on the way home. Yay for kid-free mommy time! Looking forward to a nap this afternoon and my extra special date with Allen. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pampering Day 9: Personal Limitations and Rest

Originally, I was going to go to CVS and get some new pampering stuff and then come home to try it all out, but the day ran away with itself and that didn't happen. The morning was fun, as we got to have brunch with a friend and her two kids, followed by a trip to the park to enjoy the warm, sunny weather.

By the time we left the park, Will was misbehaving and needed to get home, He was beyond tired. Behavior was an on and off issue with him today. Tantrums, defiance, throwing things, crying. Will is still having a hard time with Mom being dead and his behavior sometimes really reflects his struggles with understanding and communicating his issues as a three year old. Things are better than they were at first but we have a ways to go. When Will has a hard day it is very tiring for me.

On top of Will's issues, the phone calls and emails with regard to Mom's stuff were rolling in. Her memorial service is in a week and we leave in less than a week, so communication and responsibilities are really picking up. It's just that I'm only one person and I'm a person with two kids who homeschools, nurses and works from home on top of trying to keep on top of Mom's stuff. I'm also helping a three year old with his grief and dealing with my own. I can't do it all. I can't always get things in or to people in a timely fashion. I can't always get to the phone, answer voicemails or return emails. I do the best that I can but people are going to be disappointed in me because I just cannot do it all.

Everyone who contacts me is contacting me about something genuinely important and I recognize that but I just can't do it all. Something being important isn't going to add extra hours to the day or give me energy that I don't have or get my kids to sit down and be quiet (ROFL!!!) while I get things done. I just cannot do it all and I have to just handle the next most important thing and what doesn't get done is lower on the priority list not because I don't care, but because something even more important had to be tended to. I fully realize that people are entitled to have expectations of me and to feel that their requests are of the utmost importance, but I am also entitled to be human and to let them down and right now I feel like I am doing that more often than not and that's just the way it's going to have to be. People are going to have to be frustrated with me and that's okay --I can take it. I am just one person and I can't run myself into the ground so that I'm unable to take care of myself or my family when we fly to Minnesota next week.

I tried to do too much today in the way of correspondence while I was trying to help Will through his issues. I got to the point where I just couldn't do one. more. thing. Unfortunately, there are still lots of people waiting to hear from me on things but that's just how it's going to have to be. I got way too worn out today. I should have stopped sooner. I should have rested sooner, but I didn't. Around 3:30, I finally sat down on the couch and must have fallen asleep. I don't even remember it. The next thing I knew, Allen was getting home from work at 5:30. So, my pampering for today was finally getting some rest. It wasn't planned that way, but sometimes my body just demands what it needs and takes it....it knows how to pamper itself when I don't slow down on my own.

Tomorrow morning, I have a hair appointment and then Allen and I are going on a date in the evening: dinner and a movie while the kiddos play at a friend's house. I cannot wait. I need that break soooo very badly and that time to reconnect with my husband, just he and I. I might even stop at CVS sometime tomorrow and pick up those pampering items I wanted to get. We'll see. All I know is that I need some time out. I need time to be with my family and enjoy them before all the business and emotions of the coming week. So, if you're waiting for something from me, you're just going to have to keep waiting while I get myself together tomorrow.

Today was going to be a pictureless post because it's kind of hard to take a picture of myself sleeping (lol) but, I'm going to put a picture of Mom and I up here just for kicks:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mom's Urn Box

I posted pictures of my Mom's urn box over in my other blog. You can check them out if you are curious. The box was hand painted by my cousin who is an artist in Key West.

Mom's Urn Box

Pampering Day 8: French Toast Recipe, Manicures and Fluffy Magazines

My pampering mission for today was going to be to try to accumulate 8 hours of sleep within 24-hours. However, we went to bed last night at 12:45 and when I looked at my clock this morning it was 9:00 am! I slept through the night for the first time in 2 1/2 months. Hallelujah for that! I feel like a new woman and didn't even feel sluggish mid-day like I usually do. So, since the sleep happened on its own, I didn't really need to do it for my pampering mission.

This morning, a friend and her 1-year-old came over for brunch. I made baked french toast and she brought some delish fruit that is always a big hit.

Baked French Toast

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
8 slices whole wheat bread

Put 1/4 cup butter in the bottom of a 9x12 baking pan. Turn the oven to 400, put the pan in there and allow the butter to melt. Meanwhile, whisk cream and eggs. Mix sugar and cinnamon and then sprinkle it evenly into the melted butter in the baking pan. Dip bread in egg mixutre and put it in the baking pan. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. YUMMY!

We had a wonderful time talking and Mom's urn box came via FedEx from my cousin who is an artist in Key West. She hand painted the box herself and it is exquisite. I will likely put pictures up on my Mom's blog later and link to it here, too. By the time our dear friends left it was nearly 2:00. Since I wasn't exhausted, I had no idea it was that late.

I got the kids down for their nap and then settled in for some pampering. I've had trouble keeping up with the mail lately, between stuff with the baby and my Mom's arrangements and I knew I had a backlog of fluffy magazines mixed in with the mail, everything from Essence, Jet, and Ebony to Martha Stewart Living, Marie Claire, and Glamour. Before kids, one of my favorite indulgences was sitting down with the mags, flipping through them and dreaming about things I could buy or new looks I could create for upcoming dates and romantic evenings.

I went searching through the mail and found a few of the magazines I knew were lying around and decided on today's pamper mission: Manicure and fluffy magazines. I set out my manicure tools:

I trimmed my nails. I have to keep them short for teaching violin and they hadn't really gotten out of hand, but I trimmed them a little anyhow. Then, I followed up with the nail file and then used a bunch of different cuticle tools to push down my cuticles and trim them.

I haven't painted my fingernails since May of 2007, when I graduated from grad school -- before Will was born. I've told myself that I use my hands too much and that they get too nasty with baby diapers and that I don't have time to keep up the polish. But, like most mamas out there, I think we all know those are all just excuses. If I want to have pretty nails, I should just take the time to do them and make the time to keep them up. Why not? So, I broke out the polish and this is what I ended up with:

Yay, pretty nails! While they dried, I flipped through the mags and got to dreaming about upcoming pamper missions based on what I was reading. Magazines have so many amazing ideas for stuff like that!

I have a date with Allen on the weekend. We're having our belated Valentine's Day night out and I'm going to get all dressed up. I will feel extra special adding shiny nails to the mix for the first time in years. Sexy sexy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pampering Day 7: Quiet Thoughtfulness

This morning was a laid back morning and then I loaded up the kids to go meet Allen at IKEA for lunch. We haven't done that since before the baby was born and it was time to give CPR to this beloved family tradition that started a few years ago as a way of helping to break up Allen's work week. It has long been one of Will's favorite parts of the week and his smile was beaming ear to ear when I told him we were going to "go go IKEA see Daddy" today.

We got to IKEA, grabbed our food and chose a table. Not too long after, a family from Germany came and sat down at the table across from us. It looked like it was a grandmother, mother and granddaughter (who was maybe 2 years old?) with a family friend. They immediately spotted Lily and made friends with her by making cute faces and baby noises, while chattering busily about her in German, especially explaining to the little girl as I nursed Lily. Apparently, that's thought to be a cute thing over there and they thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Quite different from the American attitudes on nursing in public! LOL!

All of this reminded me of Mom, who taught German for many years and loved nothing more than holding a good conversation in German and talking with native speakers. She would have been all over getting to know these visitors from Germany, both because of the opportunity for conversation in a foreign language and because they were showing such joyful interest in her granddaughter.

Will was intrigued by everything as it unfolded. When Mom was living, she worked a little on teaching Will some German words and phrases. I really know nothing about that kind of thing but it was thrilling and joyful for Will. Ever since Mom died, Will has been asking about learning German and after today's IKEA experience, he was downright begging. I wasn't planning to start a homeschool language curriculum until kindergarten, but it looks like I'll be starting now and instead of doing Spanish, we'll be doing German. It's funny to me because I've never been a language person and that drove Mom nuts (lol). So, now I'll be not only learning a language, but learning German. LOL, I'm sure she's having a good laugh in heaven.

All of this got me thinking about my Mom and thinking fondly about old memories and wonderful times we had together, along with little things she used to do, like greeting me in German or saying something totally over my head just to get on my nerves (in a lighthearted way. lol.). When I got the kids in bed, what I needed to do for myself more than anything was just have some quiet time to sit with my thoughts. I didn't need a fussy beauty routine, a guided meditation or a massage -- just some time to quietly center myself and think about good times. So, I pulled out the knitting and enjoyed just that as the children were peacefully slumbering. Apparently quiet thoughtfulness is good for knitting projects because I got a lot done. It won't be long until Ms. Lily has a hand knit square of her Grandmama's yarn to snuggle with at night. The ball of yarn is about half gone now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pampering Day 6: Homemade Moisturizing Sugar Scrub

Today has been one of those marvelous days that just flies by and is filled with friends and family. This morning, the kids and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up for a play date with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time. The afternoon was filled with my Mom's memorial service arrangements and conversations with good friends and family.

I did make my pampering time a priority, even with all the stuff going on in my day. Today's mission: a deliciously luxurious sugar scrub moisture treatment for my hands. There's no need to shell out big bucks for a scrub from the store or even pay the salon to do it for you. You probably have what you need to make the scrub on hand already.

I use sugar instead of salt because it creates a scrub that is less abrasive and more moisturizing. I mixed two tablespoons of a special oil that a doula friend mixed up with two tablespoons of sugar. You could use any high quality oil like olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil or massage oil. It turns into a paste that looks like this:

I apply that scrub to my hands and lower arms and gently massage it in for a full five minutes before rinsing with warm water (no soap). I rub the remaining oil in and then slather on good thick moisturizing cream. I finish by allowing cuticle cream to sit on my cuticles and the rough spots on my hands for ten minutes before rubbing it in and wiping off excess oils with a clean hand towel. My hands are silky smooth now and I feel like I spent some time at the spa without the hassle of making an appointment, finding childcare and driving across town. Bliss!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pampering Day 5: Valentine Comfort

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope you are all doing something today to make yourself feel loved and pampered. I have been enjoying a day of sunshine and kids. We decided to ditch homeschool this morning and head to the park instead to savor this warm weather we're having in North Carolina. I went for a run on the loop that circles the playground and then spent a few hours playing with Will on the equipment. It was even nice enough to nurse Lily on the park bench rather than having to go back to the car and turn on the heat. Bliss!  We came home afterward and enjoyed a heart shaped Valentine's lunch before the kids went down for their naps.

When they hit the hay, I set out to figure out some pampering. Today is the first holiday without my Mom and when that hit me, I started joyfully remembering all the good times we had on Valentine's Day when I was little: filling out school valentines, making valentine boxes, playing with sparkly red heart stickers, eating nice dinners together, watching funny movies and the Peanuts special on tv. As an adult, Mom always wanted me to have a romantic and wonderful Valentine's Day (romance was high on her priority list!) and would be waiting by the phone the next day hoping to hear all about what Allen and I had done, joking that she didn't call to check on us in the middle of it. LOL! I am going to miss filling her in on the fondue dinner Allen and I are planning to enjoy at home this evening. She would have loved to hear about that.

My pamper mission today was to enjoy a little bit of comfort. I made myself a nice cup of Aveda tea, one of the few teas I'm allowed to drink with my kidney stone issues. Sometimes I like to make mine in milk instead of water and that's what I did today.

To make my extra special cup, I heated some milk on the stove and poured it in the cup. I filled the tea ball with one or two teaspoons of Aveda tea, dunked it in the hot milk and let it steep for five or seven minutes. Pure comfort in a cup.

Once I made my tea, I settled onto the couch with some knitting that my Mom had started several months ago but never had a chance to really work on. She got as far as casting on and I got as far as adding a couple of new rows today. Mom taught me how to knit when I was in the 6th grade and came down with the chicken pox at Christmas. I've never finished a project, though. Maybe one day I'll fix that!

As I was knitting away, I had "Amelie" on in the background. Mom loved foreign movies, especially that one and I think it was just what she would have watched on Valentine's Day.

Not long after my 15 minutes of pampering was up, Ms. Lily woke up hungry, so she enjoyed most of the movie with me while playing on the couch. I took a video of some of her adventures and posted some pictures to facebook. She's now out like a light again and I'm waiting for my valentine to come home so that we can get ready to spend a quietly romantic evening together in the comfort of our own home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pampering Day 4: Smooth Heels

This is going to be a shorter post today. I'm not feeling especially deep or reflective and I am enjoying spending time with my wonderful little family. We didn't get sleep last night because Ms. Lily was burning the midnight oil until nearly 5am. Little stinker! We're low energy but enjoying our day anyhow. I missed a birth event I really wanted to go to tonight because I was just too tired to get behind the wheel and drive an hour in the dark.

Other than that, it's been a wonderful day. I got to go on a run in the sunshine this morning that totally recharged me. The first mile was uphill and made me feel like Superwoman and the second mile was downhill with a delightful breeze in my face. Other than that, we went grocery shopping, picked up some redbox movies and I made a couple of delectable desserts for Valentine's Day. One is a chocolate cheesecake on a chocolate chip cookie crust. The other is brownies, with a layer of ganache and a layer of raspberry cheesecake on top. Anyone who is lucky enough to stop by the house in the next few days is likely to get a piece of either or both. :-D

Today's pamper mission is heels. The other day I pampered my toes and made them all shiny but didn't have time to tackle my heels. Here are the tools I use to tackle my heels. I normally use a pumice stone, too, but I need to get a new one because the old one bit the dust.

I started by filing down the callouses with the sandpaper file thing on the far left. Next, I used the goop in the blue bottle. It's this nifty callous eating stuff that I squeeze on my heels and let sit for a minute or so before scrubbing it with a washcloth and washing it off. Next, I pulled out Allen's trusty watermelon bowl (beginning to think I need to start a blog on the secret life of his bowl!) and filled it with epsom salts and essential oils and soaked my feet to soften the remaining callous. Then, I used the razor blade tool with the clear handle to shave off the rest of the callouses. If you ever use one of those tools, be careful. You can cut yourself if you're not careful and you should make sure to store it where your kids can never get their paws on it. After the soak and scraping, I lathered my feet up with shea butter cream and put on my soft fluffy socks.

It feels so good to have soft feet again. Now, when we celebrate Valentine's Day my feet will look delicious in my strappy heels. Allen and I will have fondue at home tomorrow night but we won't formally celebrate Valentine's Day until the weekend. Originally, we were going to go out on a date this weekend but everyone who normally watches the kids magically got sick all in the same week. LOL, oh well! Next weekend we'll get to celebrate more peacefully since there won't be crowds of other couples out doing the same thing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pampering Day 3: Deep Thoughts

Every now and then, I get the feeling that I'd like to do a little deep reflection. Most of the time I keep things pretty lighthearted and free, trying not to think so much that I'm doing more pondering than actual living. But, every now and then I get the hankering for some deep reflection.

My friend over at "My Life Transformed" has been going through a challenging season in her life as she confronts the PPD (Postpartum Depression) that crept into her life following the birth of her daughter. In one of the comments I left on her blog, I suggested that she read "Let Your Life Speak," a book by Parker Palmer that I read for the first time in undergrad while helping to plan an event where he was the keynote speaker. Since that time, I've read and re-read the book a few times. Everyone should have good books that feed the soul and this is one of my favorites, so much so that if I think about it too much I can't help but read it again.

I've been thinking about the book nonstop since I mentioned it to her, so as soon as the kids went down for nap time today, I started contemplating incorporating it into today's pamper mission. I settled on a few minutes of reading that book while enjoying one of my favorite comfort foods: salad.

I know salad isn't comfort food for everyone, but I think we tend to crave what we grow up with. This salad is extra special to me because it's one that my Mom used to make. So, when I get to thinking deep thoughts and want to snuggle in a bit, this is one of the first things I think of making. To replicate it, throw some romaine in a bowl and then add chopped cilantro, green onion, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes and candied pecans. Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette and you are good to go.

I made myself comfortable on the sunny bench at our kitchen table and set about reading the first chapter, where Palmer talks about listening to your life instead of telling it what to do. Most people decide what virtues are important to them and then set out to meet those ideals. They decide what they want to do with their life and then try to achieve those goals. But, Palmer argues that we should learn to listen to our lives instead of ordering them around.

"'Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.'" (Palmer, 3)

This chapter always gets me thinking about times in my life where I've ordered my life around verses when I've listened in the quiet for it to speak and become what it is. As a young teen struggling with addiction, I certainly wasn't letting myself speak, nor was I letting it speak when I tried to work in corporate America and came home each day so tired from resentment that I fell asleep in my dinner. It also didn't work when I went into the birth of my first child with preconceived notions of how things were supposed to be and ended up with every intervention in the book. The times in my life where I have been most miserable, depressed or sick (physically, emotionally, spiritually) have been those times where I got bossy with my life and tried to make it into something that it simply wasn't.

Conversely, the times of greatest happiness and meaning in my life are when I am able to let go and let life be what it will, without expectation and force. When I started college, I knew I had picked the right institution for me. It was a spiritual decision. I could hear my life speaking and just felt I was in the right place, even though I didn't know why or what I was going to do there. I trusted God. I thought I might major in music but when that wasn't a fit, I was able to let go and the next thing I knew, I found myself majoring in Religion, accepting the call to ministry and working in the chaplain's office and the office of church relations. It was a deeply fulfilling time in my life because I allowed it to become what it was meant to be.

Meeting my husband online, moving to North Carolina, raising my children, homeschooling, doing ministry work, birthing my second child at home, participating in ICAN, teaching music, writing and many other things also fall into this category. These are not things that I placed in my life plan 10 or 20 years ago and I didn't force them into being, They just became and they are not important because of what they are, but rather because they are my life force and embody the values I represent. They're things that I am passionate about, things that draw me into deeper relationship with God and humanity, things that push my life forward and bring meaning and passion to my days.

Right now, I'm in a time of transition in my life. I've just had a baby, my Mom just died and I'm contemplating work transitions that will allow my days to more easily be what they are meant to be (family focused, community focused, relationally focused). Part of listening to my life means that I am able to enjoy the journey. I do not know where these transitions will bring me, but I haven't been able to predict the outcome of any other changes in my life either, you know? Life is a pilgrimage of surprises, meant to be enjoyed. My life is speaking in the quiet, telling me to move more and more toward communion with others, to take the pressure of deadlines off of myself, to find more and more ways to laugh and enjoy good company.

One of the things my Mom's death has brought to mind is the reality that none of us know how long we have to live, so we must live with passion and do the things that we must now.  Live your life now and do not assume that you have a tomorrow! Waiting until next year or ten years from now to do the things that bring you joy is risky when all we are guaranteed is today. Be grateful for the way things are and find joy in your life as it is unfolding, without the expectation that it should be something different. Listen to your life today. Be authentic today. Do what is important  today. Seek joy, meaning and worship of God today. Enjoy your life today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pampering Day 2: Toe Time

Back in 1999 and 2000, I worked at a luxury linen store in a fancypants part of town, in the most upscale mall in the area. Across from the linen store was a high-end salon. Well-to-do women would go to the salon and then come over to the linen store to redecorate their homes in all the latest styles. A broke college student who took the bus and couldn't afford to buy lunch out on my lunch hour, their sheltered existence seemed so far removed from anything within my realm of experience.

You might think it was the designer clothes, expensive highlights or the  parking lot full of Mercedes Benz that caught my attention, but it wasn't. Do you know what it was? Their toes! Those women would come into our store after going to the salon for a pedicure, wearing the latest brand-name flip-flops and sporting the shiniest toenails I had ever seen. Their feet didn't have a single callous in sight and the polish was perfectly applied.

In contrast, my feet ached from standing for 10 hours on the retail floor, they smelled like a goat's rear end, were cracked, the polish was chipped and I had toenail fungus. YUCK! I vowed to myself that one day I would be able to stay off my feet long enough for them to be presentable and sweet smelling. I promised myself that I would learn how to do a proper pedicure and get my toenail polish to look all shiny and glossy. Most people aspire to reach a point in life where they have a booming career, a nice car or a big house. Me? I just wanted to reach the point where I could have shiny toenails. It symbolized so much more to me: rest, time to take care of myself, a little more in my pocket, a better job, different opportunities.

I've since learned to duplicate the pedicure that I envied so badly while working in that store. Every year or two I splurge on a salon pedicure, but the rest of the time I replicate it pretty well at home. I have found that my feet are a good barometer for how crazy my life is and how much time I am taking to tend to my own needs. When life is calm, my feet look amazing and when life gets nuts, those toes are the first thing to go.

I had a crazy morning this morning. After homeschool, I was going to take the kids to do a bunch of fun stuff, but long story short, the 3-year-old was intent on tantruming and our plans got canceled and I had to deal with a couple of hours of little one rage. For those of you who don't know, my Mom died on 12-27-2010. She lived with us and she and Will were extremely close. Since she died, Will hasn't known how to handle her absence and every now and then his anger and hurt comes out sideways in seemingly unrelated tantrums and outbursts. We're working with him on it and it is getting better, but today was not a good day.

Once things finally settled down and both kids went down for a nap, I looked at my feet while prancing around the house barefoot and realized that my toes looked like heck. Apparently, having a baby and losing my mother in the same week as my husband's birthday, Christmas and the anniversary of the baby I lost in 2008 is not good for toes. With Valentine's Day coming up, I just couldn't stand the thought of rugged feet and chipped polish glaring up at me from my designer pumps.

So, today's pampering mission is toes. I didn't pay attention to my heels, as they are so far gone that they'll require their own pampering day.

Here are my supplies:

First, I lit the candle and put on some spiritually renewing music: 

I filled up my husband's watermelon bowl (shhhhhhh) with hot water, epsom salts and sweet smelling oils and then soaked my feet while listening to music and doing deep breathing exercises. Breathe in the peace of God. Breathe out tension and stress. I prayed for God to give me peace, relaxation and renewed energy. I asked to be the mother and wife God wants me to be and to be able to enjoy the rest of my day.

After a good soak, my toenails were ready for clipping. I also worked on my cuticles and slathered them with Burt's Bees cuticle cream, before soaking them for a few more minutes.

Next came a nice foot and leg massage with shea butter and lavender massage oil, followed by fuzzy blue spa socks. I left those on while I put my feet up and disinfected Allen's watermelon bowl (lol). 

With the bowl safely stowed away, I removed the old chipped polish. I do this after I moisturize because the lotion makes it so that nail polish doesn't stick properly to the nail. I was left with nicely groomed bare naked feet.

Next up was polish. I've done all kinds of polish colors over the years but nothing makes me feel as sexy as red nail polish. Sometimes I wonder why I ever even try anything else. Red makes me feel hot and it's by far Allen's favorite color. Always makes him want to have a date night. LOL! I started by applying a ridge filler to hide bumps on my nails and then followed with two coats of red polish and one coat of clear topcoat. 

Do you see how shiny those toes are? Yep, I got it! I have shiny toes. As I sit here and type, my toes are still drying and I can't help but peer over the laptop screen and smile at them. I am at a point in my life where I can have shiny toes. It's the little things!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pampering Day 1: Green Smoothie

Lily is six weeks old and not known for her ability to sleep. She's often up from 1am-4am, making for a tired mommy during the day. Last night she finally slept pretty well. She was down from 12:00-4:30 and from 4:45-8:30. It was pure bliss!

The only thing about Lily sleeping was that it got my morning schedule off-track. I was supposed to meet a friend for a play date at 9:00 and I didn't set the alarm because I am always up at that time. Needless to say, the play date didn't happen and it kind of derailed my hopes for a peacefully social morning. The kids and I had a hard time getting going and the next thing I knew it was 11:00, we hadn't left the house, the 3-year-old was defiant and bouncing off the walls and the baby was fussing.

We had to get out of the house or we were all going to go insane! Despite temperatures in the 30's, I bundled up the kids and loaded them in the car for a trip to the park. I went for a 30 minute run around the playground pushing the baby in the stroller while Will played and felt so much more positive when I was done, positive enough to figure out my pampering action for the day.

My friend Stephanie (http://nuttybrown.net/) frequently talks about how green smoothies help her to feel healthy and energetic. A week or two ago she brought me some recipes for two of her favorite smoothies. Green smoothies are filled with healthy greens and fruits that are packed with vitamins that charge up the body and make it feel just delicious. After a morning where we were just a little 'off' and frazzled, feeling delicious sounded downright alluring.

The kids and I headed over to Food Lion to get ingredients for the cilantro shake: grapefruit, lime, pineapple, cucumber and a big bunch of cilantro, along with some raw honey, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

I peeled the cucumber, grapefruit and lime; cut up the pineapple and stuck all that yuminess in the blender for a whirl. It ended up looking like this when it was done:

Once I got the kids both down for their naps I took my 15 minutes to slowly sip that goodness down. I paid attention to how my body felt and found it recharged me better than a shot of any form of caffeine. Highly recommend!