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 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 ( 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!