The Price of Beauty

I am a tomboy; always have been, always will be.  I have never been one for designer clothes, shoes, bags, hair products or make up.  My wedding dress was a white cotton dress that was $15 at Ross.  For every expensive, unnecessary “beauty” item, I can think of a thousand other things I could want or do with that money.  Why is all that considered beauty?  When did our society become so wrapped up in outward appearance?  Even if you can afford it, why?  Why is our self-image a thing? I won’t even go into how magazines and starving, airbrushed, inch-thick-make-up models continue to make us feel worthless.  I am not even talking about it in the sense of an art form.  Our self-worth somehow rides on what we look like, men and women alike. There are people that genuinely like make-up and clothes and it is a fun, artsy thing.  They just like coloring their hair, cutting it different ways, wearing different colors of make-up.   Then there are some that think, “I can’t leave the house unless I look like a million bucks.”  The word “make-up” is taken as that; making up for something.  No thanks. Thrifty shopping and homemade “beauty” products are my thing. Coconut oil is all I need!  I am not worried about gray hair or wrinkles, because guess what?  We all get old, we all wither and die.  A sad part of life, but life all the same.  No one cheats it.  I wear dresses…but only when someone gets married or dies.  Wait I lied, I do love a nice sun dress over a bathing suit for the beach or pool, but because it is comfortableComfort is key for me. I do not like nice dresses, and the second I put one on, I am counting down the minutes to when I get to change.  Give me yoga pants and Yankees shirts all day.  In heels, I am a baby giraffe learning to walk, so I don’t own any.  I absolutely hate tweezing my eyebrows and will let them get to the point right before a unibrow is visible before tweezing them.  I wear a little make up; concealer, eye liner and mascara, because I like the way it looks, and maybe foundation and eye shadow, again, if someone gets married or dies.  I leave the house all the time without make up and even the times we go out for family time or a date night, it doesn’t take me very long at all to get ready.  For a few years now, my hair curls naturally so I haven’t straightened it in years.  My hubby is a lucky guy, huh?  🙂

However, just liking the way something looked wasn’t always the reason.  I thought I looked bad.  Every time I looked in the mirror, it was all critical, and sometimes still is.  It is a constant struggle, but not so much with my face or hair, just the rest.  I started out growing up with self-esteem issues, and it morphed into self-image problems.  I am pretty confident in who I am as me, and also as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and so on.  We won’t even talk about the time in my life where the two overlapped.  However, the self-image started when I gained weight.  I was always athletic and active, but during that “I hate myself and don’t know who I am,” phase, I let that go.  I have never been obese, but overweight nonetheless.  I’ll take a cannoli over a carrot any day.  I have gotten A LOT better, though.  I started caring more right before my hubby and I got together, and although I never got back to the almighty “high school weight,” I was active and started feeling better about myself.

Then I got pregnant.  Which was crazy and awesome all rolled together.  The greatest thing I’ve done to date.  Having a baby is the single greatest and most bad ass thing the human body can do. Thanks to not-so-good genes, I earned my tiger stripes and even if I get in the best shape of my life, I will have a little pooch forever, and that is okay! I had a ways to go losing weight post pardum, even though I ate super healthy while pregnant, breastfed and lived on the third floor of an apartment her first year with no elevator (great workout). Then I started criticizing myself again.  The best thing is that I have a hubby who is crazy about me and compliments me all the time, but it makes it harder because he is still super attracted to me.  So yes, pass the cookie…he loves it so who cares, right?  Then I started really changing my perspective.  It isn’t about looks, it is about health.  It is about being there for my daughter and the next (and last) child.  It is about actually growing old with my husband and being able to enjoy retirement, not live it in pain and misery because I didn’t take care of my body now.  It is about feeling good, feeling healthy, feeling alive.  Then I thought about this the other day and it brought me to tears.  My daughter hears everything now.  She may not be able to say it all, but it is safe to say she understands the English language pretty well and has moved to mimicking EVERYTHING.  I will make jokes about being a “fat kid” or make a comment about myself that really is a joke and has no bearing on how I view myself, but she hears it and doesn’t understand other than I am saying something negative about myself.  I never want her to feel that way.  EVER.  Her Daddy compliments me all the time, in front of her, why would I counterattack that with insults, jokes or not?  It is bad enough society will break her, why should I not be her source of strength and a great example?  It isn’t even a woman thing, although we may take advantage of it more because we tend to be more emotional.  Every magazine, every commercial, bullies, the lot, constantly make us feel like we aren’t good enough.  Your hair isn’t good enough, you don’t smell good enough, your workout routine or diet isn’t complete without X, Y and Z products, your apparel isn’t good enough, your sex life isn’t good enough, etcetera, etcetera.  Screw that!  WE need to change.  WE are society.  Let’s get rid of this awful plague that we aren’t good enough for ourselves or someone else.  Your weight is a measurement of gravity, nothing more. Male body sprays smell AWFUL.  Too much make-up looks fake and bad most times unless you are really good at it.  Have a cookie once in a while as long as you are making the norm a healthy lifestyle, a cookie won’t kill you…we do only live once, so moderation of health and splurging is key. 

To the moms who think their body was “ruined” by having babies…STOP.  We did something so amazing and wonderful that we should think of the visible reminder as battle scars, tiger stripes, morphing from girl to woman.  We are women, hear us roar!  If someone isn’t attracted to you physically, it is okay.  Remember, there are 7 billion people in the world…kick ’em to the curb, on to the next one!  Everyone deserves to be with someone that wants to be with them and that appreciates who you are. 

Yes, be healthy, set a good example for your kids, teach them to take care of what they have, including their body, but for the right reasons.  Change your perspective.  It is about health, not beauty. 

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Hippie Parenting 2: Cloth Diapering

I know…when a lot of you think “cloth diapers,” you think, “smelly,” “dirty,” and probably “gag me.”   At first, every time Therese delivered a lovely gift, I thought all those things and sometimes gagged.  However, it got better. I mean, the gift didn’t get better, but I became desensitized.  Thinking of the immense environmental impact you make when choosing cloth diapers, it fills you with pride.  Another bonus is it is cheaper in the long run.  You have the diapers forever for all future kids and they are supposed to potty train quicker because cloth doesn’t soak it up too much.  When most kids were cloth diapered, they were potty training at 18 months.  Now, some kids have a hard time well after 2.

At first, we had a service.  $125 gave us a rental of the diaper bail and bag, snappies (fasteners), diaper covers, air fresheners (attach to the inside of the pail) and a tutorial on different techniques!  Then for $100 a month, we got the dirty ones picked up with new ones dropped off once a week.  The air fesheners work well until the little one starts eating solids, then you have to supplement with spray.  We did that for a year and then used a new service after we moved.  That was only $85 to start, came with the same supplies and was only $19 a week for the weekly pick up/ drop offs.  Two months after, they went out of business and were the only service!  They sold us the diapers and let us keep the supplies and I started cleaning them myself.  Now when Therese was around 9 months, we had to start using disposables more often because she would get bad rashes from the new foods she was eating.  We used Seventh Generation recycled ones and they work well.  Sometimes she has to wear them exclusively a few days depending on the rash situation, but for the most part, she only wears them during nap time and during the night.  A huge help is when we started putting coconut oil on her bottom...EVERY TIME.  Now, I clean them myself.  Ones that are only wet can go right in the pail.  The dirty ones should be rinsed before going in the pail.  I just rinse it in the toilet….gross, I know, but as parents we either have seen or will see much worse things!  Some use sprayers that hook on the toilet, making it a little easier. I strip them, then wash them every time.  Not everyone strips every time but I find it cleaner and better working against rashes when done every time.  See what works for you, but definitely strip if they are sick or have a rash.  No two washing machines are created equal, but here is what we do and you can tweak it to your washing machine.  This is the only time I use Dawn (more chemicals than I’d like) and chlorine bleach (yuck yuck yuck, look out for a blog post on that at some point).

Strip (we have a top loader so we throw them in and put everything on top)
-1 tsp Dawn (I use regular blue)
-1/2 cup Bleach (with chlorine)
-1 pouch MelaBrite Oxi

Set on Hand Wash (works them more than a regular spin cycle), Water Temp-Hot, Soil Level-Extra Heavy, High Spin cycle, Extra Rinse cycle, and Deep Clean cycle.  We have a sweet washing machine.  Takes 63 minutes.

Sometimes, if the diapers look stained and/or moldy and you want to get that out, after the strip cycle, you can “sun” them by soaking in lemon juice and laying it out in the sun. Hanging them doesn’t always get it all out because the whole thing isn’t evenly facing the sun, so laying them down works best.

Wash
-Detergent (MelaPower 6x Concentrate)
-1/2 cup Bleach (non-chlorine)
-1 pouch MelaBrite Oxi
Set on Normal Wash, Water Temp-Cool, Soil Level-Heavy, High Spin cycle, Extra Rinse cycle.  Takes 60 minutes.

Here are a couple different types of cloth diapers.  These are the ones a service will give you and just a small batch of what I have of both diapers and covers.  I believe there are 4-5 sizes from Newborn up.  The covers come in snap or velcro.  Snaps last longer because they have snaps that adjust the size, but of course velcro is quicker!  The covers can be cleaned in the laundry with their clothes. 

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These next ones are a diaper and insert.  The ones at the top of the picture are the cover and insert that comes out.  Sometimes you can change their diaper before the diaper gets wet or dirty, so you can just change the insert, but you have to be quick.  The ones at the bottom of the picture have inserts that don’t come out.  I find these really needing to be changed more often than the cloth with covers.  These get washed with the cloth ones.

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Below is her swim diaper!  I wash it in with her clothes because she usually just gets it wet, but if it is dirty, we rinse it in the toilet and wash with the diapers.

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Oh and this is her pail.  A standard trash can with a lid works.  The bag is a laundry bag with a drawstring.  I wash it in the wash cycle with the diapers (not the strip cycle).

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Here’s a few stats.  These are not for a service, but if you wash them yourself from day one.  Some numbers are different because they are averages, but are pretty close and it really depends on where you live, how big your child is (size-wise), where you shop and how often you buy bulk

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*UPDATE* 

She was showing signs of being ready to potty train, but reverted back to not only shying away from it, but not wanting cloth diapers at all. She started freaking out and not only not wanting them on, but not going to the bathroom on the toilet either!   She is now just in regular diapers at almost 2 1/2, but I feel a lot better about it knowing that we saved so much in the beginning!

Teriyaki Marinade

4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
Salt and Pepper

Directions
Combine all and whisk!

This made enough for marinating a half of a package of tofu.  This would be enough for one or two pieces of meat depending on size.   Multiply for multiple meals!

This was the meal I used it for.  Marinated tofu overnight, then grilled.  Spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, grilled onions, grilled peppers, grilled squash and a little shredded swiss cheese.  Teriyaki and honey mustard is a favorite combination of mine, so I used honey mustard dressing.  Therese used to eat anything, but has been picky lately.  This was no exception, but I loved it!

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Sugarless, Flourless Cookies

1 1/2 Cups Oatmeal
2 Bananas, mashed
1/3 Cup Raisins
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce (see applesauce recipe)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all.  Form 10 balls and put on a cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes.  I sprinkled extra cinnamon on top. It will seem “underdone” in the middle, but I like regular cookies like that so this was no exception!

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Egg Salad

6 eggs
2 Tbsp Mayo
1 Tbsp Mustard
Salt and pepper

Directions
Bake eggs at 350° for 25 minutes.  This method is not as stinky as boiling, and if you live with someone who hates the smell like my hubby, they appreciate the gesture!  Let cool, then peel.  Smash egg and combine with the other ingredients.  Regular mustard is good, but spicy mustard gives it a little zing and honey mustard gives it a hint of sweetness!  Makes about 3-4 servings. 

It is really yummy (and healthier than bread) wrapped in a piece of romaine lettuce! I like spicing my egg salad up sometimes, and throwing in some chopped black olives is really good too!

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Trench and Worm Composting

I have not been gardening long; maybe 4 years.  My paternal grandfather was a gardener, and I always loved his massive backyard with trees and plants always growing! Mine started out as some herbs, grew to a container garden and now I’ve done in-ground gardening (keeping herbs in containers).  To start, it can be expensive, especially if you have sand for dirt like we do.  I only bought seeds and dirt (A LOT OF DIRT) and the wood for the beds you see in the pictures below was picked up from someone’s curb that they were throwing away.  Yes, I am one of those people that sees potential in some of the things people throw away, and NO, I am not a hoarder!  If I don’t use it in ample time, I will throw it away or have a garage sale and sell it after fixing it up.  One man’s trash is another man’s garden bed barrier.

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My new project has been composting.  Anything to avoid having a trash full of garbage attracting bugs.  We try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.  We only go through one trash bag a week, and I’d like to keep decreasing the output. As lucky as we are to live in an age where we can look anything up on the internet and try it, composting has been like my many tried and failed attempts at making peppermint oil…no two people do it the same!  I decided to still try.  My mother-in-law found an article of different ways to compost without purchasing a $100 bin.  I am now trying trench composting.  I knew when composting the ratio is 4:1 for all the kitchen scraps and live matter, you need 4x more dead organic matter. I had raked leaves into a giant pile and decided to use what I had.  Low and behold, as I started shoveling some of the leaves, I found earthworms everywhere!   Most people use red wiggler worms.  They are usually the most efficient at breaking everything down.  The red wigglers are the ones on the top in the graphic below; the ones in our yard are the ones at the bottom.

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The ones at the bottom of the picture break the compost down and reproduce at a slower rate, but I didn’t have an insane amount of compost material to begin with.  I dug two trenches along the long sides in a bed I already used.  I filled it with kitchen scraps like eggshells, coffee grinds, lemon peels, banana peels and other vegetable and fruit scraps.  I then shoveled some dead leaves and more nutritious dirt, ensuring I got enough worms in there, covered it with the rest of the soil I had and let it sit.  I started sifting it every few days, which is the only time you smell it, but then I read the trenching method still aerates enough so you don’t have to do that!  I still plan on planting more lettuce in between the trenches and adopting a new method from now on, which is putting some scraps in a little at a time around the edges of the bed along with some dead leaves and a worm! 

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DIY and Montessori: The best of both worlds!

I love the Montessori program.  For one, my auto-correct tries to change it to “Nontraditional,” which I love.  The main reason I love it is because if this program was around for me, I think I would have done better in school.  Even though the education system in this country surrounds testing, originally understanding the material can help, whether your learning style is condusive to testing or not.  For those not familiar, the main principles are Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind.  This is a great go-to website that goes in depth into what each of those entail and the basics of what to expect from each stage of your child’s young life.  http://www.dailymontessori.com/montessori-theory/

I want Therese to go to a Montessori school eventually, but it is never too early to start doing activities that fall under that.  Not only is it easier than you think, it is fun to come up with!  I am big on DIY projects, because it falls under Reduce, Reuse and Recycle AND it saves you from buying new toys. Plus, it is fun to put together!  All the activities are big on motor skills.  The first thing I put together was a container with a slit in the top to put money in.  I recycled an old oatmeal container with the lid.  I had her color a piece of construction paper to cover the container.  I slit a hole in the top, cleaned coins and she LOVES this thing!  Today, I finally emptied another container so I can make the hole smaller and more challenging.

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This past weekend, I finished a more elaborate one.  I used recycled cans that I painted different colors.  I also used hot glue to buffer the tops of any metal that might cut her.  There was only a tiny bit on each, but I did a ring around it just to be safe.I found little toys around the house for each color to use.  At first, you introduce the toy/activity and let them play.  I just set it on the floor, did each color to show her and then left it alone.  After they get acquainted, you can start helping them separate by color more.  I have started just doing one color at a time, and then we’ll work up to all at once.  The last step is observing, but letting them do it themselves.  She is at that stage with the coin and container activity, but not quite with this.  She’ll get it!

Before:

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After:

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Pinterest, as always, is a great resources for making these activities.  I didn’t find this exact one, I just found ideas and made it my own!