Thursday, October 30, 2014

One Month of Selfie Love Reflection

So, I did it. If you follow my Instagram page, you saw it, one month of selfies. It was an interesting experience.

First, I did not realize what I had really stepped into with the whole selfie thing. I guess I'm getting older, but I did a little quick research and learned that the selfie fad was strangely loved and hated by the great vastness of the internet. I also, had not really taken many selfies and did not realize that there was apparently an art form to them.

More importantly though, I realized that I didn't have many pictures of myself and I generally didn't like having my picture taken. It was interesting to see how I became more comfortable with my own appearance but continued to notice areas that I would like to see improved. I became more comfortable with having my picture taken and also learned to be more comfortable with the fact that my everyday life isn't always photo-ready and that's okay. Overall, I think I accomplished the goal of learning to love myself just a little bit more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hi Again

Oh, it's been a long time since I wrote for you, my lovelies. I hope you've been well. Things have been interesting over here to say the least.

One Month of Selfie Love went really well, I'll post more on that later. The hubby turned 30! Woot! We had a ton of turn over at work, but that seems to be over for now. Oh, and I had major surgery.

I've had tummy troubles for a little while now, but for the most part I was able to control it by watching my diet, until one Sunday morning early this month. My usually tummy troubles got started (nausea, terrible tasting burps, diarrhea, and just generally unpleasantness) but this time it was accompanied by severe pain. The pain was bad enough that I was comparing it to labor and we decided a trip to the ER was in order.

Turns out, I had gallstones, "a whole mess of them", according to the ultrasound, and I was advised to get my gallbladder out as quickly as I could. I met with my PCP and got in to a see a surgeon and began a vegan diet within just a few days. The vegan diet would keep me from having another attack until surgery day and I was told to expect a quick and easy laparoscopic procedure, a few days out of work with some soreness, then no more tummy troubles.

Well, that didn't really happen. The surgeon here in Abilene began the procedure to remove my gallbladder and as part of that inserted dye to ensure that there were no gallstones in the common bile duct. The dye however did not pass through the entirety of the duct. The Abilene surgeon consulted with a surgeon in Dallas and it was decided that he would close and I would be sent to Methodist Dallas Hospital for the surgery.

I was taken to Dallas by helicopter for the emergency surgery that evening in Dallas. The surgeon was able to remove my gallbladder, but also had to remove most of my common bile duct and replace it with a loop of intestine. Bile duct injuries occur in less than 1% of gallbladder removals but can be potentially very dangerous. We were lucky that the Abilene surgeon noticed the problem and sought counsel before proceeding.
A graphic showing the loop of intestine that now serves as my bile duct.

I've recovered fairly well so far. I'm two weeks post-op now and I still have my staples and this glorious JP drain that helps drain out the excess bile. I've slowly been able to be more active and I'm almost getting the hang of what and how much I can eat (too much at once or too much of the wrong stuff and I get very sick very quickly). I see the surgeon again on Monday to get my staples and drain removed and see when I'll be able to go back to work.

One thing that has been incredibly clear through out this process has been the support of our friends and church community. The day I went to the ER, we had a friend come stay with the boys and she not only took excellent care of them, she also cleaned our house while here. Following the surgery, our church started a meal train and has been supplying the majority of our meals since the surgery. Further, they paid for a babysitter to watch the boys on the Saturday that I was in the hospital so that Philip could come visit me. Another friend who was local to the Dallas area brought me a hairbrush and puzzle books while I was there, and trust me, that hairbrush was much needed! It has been such a blessing to know that my family was being loved and cared for when I could not be there, and I know Philip appreciated that help as well.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Whole Month of Selfies?

If you're joining me on this journey of One Month of Self(ie) Love, you may be thinking you will run out of selfies to take. I mean, come on, there's only so many ways to take a selfie, right? Maybe... Here's a list for some inspiration. Many thanks to Marlo from Night Dreams & Daymares for helping me come up with this list. Feel free to comment below with more ideas.

  1. basic selfie
  2. with someone you love
  3.  doing something you love
  4.  doing something you're good at
  5.  learning/trying something new
  6.  doing something healthy
  7.  eating your favorite food
  8.  outside
  9.  favorite body part
  10.  making a silly face
  11.  happy selfie
  12.  be active
  13.  creating something
  14.  wearing your favorite shirt/outfit
  15.  fancy selfie
  16.  with friends
  17.  with family
  18.  your favorite place
  19.  first thing in the morning
  20.  at work
  21.  showing an accomplishment
  22.  about to go to bed
  23.  right out of the bath/shower
  24.  the emo selfie
  25.  the in the mirror selfie
  26.  in the car selfie (but not while driving)
  27.  bad hair day
  28. full body
  29. listening to favorite music/watching favorite show
  30. upside down selfie
  31. reading selfie
  32. messy selfie
  33. productive selfie
  34. lazy selfie
  35. hand drawn selfie
  36. over emotional selfie
  37. excited selfie
  38. angry selfie
  39. post workout selfie
  40. awesome selfie

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recipe: Acorn Squash Muffins

We cannot keep acorn squash in the house. The reason being that my husband and son will inhale acorn squash muffins. You'd think these muffins gave super powers with how quickly they get devoured!

This recipe is my pumpkin bread recipe but you use the acorn squash and cook it in muffin tins!

Halve the squash and scoop out the guts.
(Give the guts to some back yard chickens for a natural dewormer.)
Lay the cut side down and bake until the squash gives in easily when pressed.
Scoop the meat from the skin while warm and mash with a fork.

2 cups flower (choose a gluten-free flour if serving guests who are gluten-sensitive)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup acorn squash mash (you don't need to puree the acorn squash, a good fork mashing will do)

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

A great breakfast food and easy way to sneak some extra vitamins in to your baked goods!

One Month of Self(ie) Love

Tomorrow will start an important month for me. No, there's nothing particularly special about August, but next month will be a big one. Next month, some friends and I will be participating in a little experiment. For one month, we will take a selfie every day and post it with a caption stating something we like about ourselves.

The goal isn't to take really awesome selfies. The goal is to be intentional about changing how we view ourselves. Having a positive self-image might come easy to some people, but for me, it's hard. My self-talk can be incredibly negative and the way I view myself isn't always very kind.

I'm not going to point fingers or place blame. I'm not trying to figure out why I am the way I am, I just know that I need to change my self-image. So, for the month of August I will take a selfie every day and I will post said selfie every day with a caption that says something positive about me.

And if you feel like your self-image could use a boost, I invite you to join me. Be intentionally positive about yourself just once a day and see what happens.

A selfie I took after dying my hair earlier this month.
I LOVE the new color!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

6 Reasons Why I Love The Floor Bed

When we moved back in November, we transitioned Alex into a Montessori style room. It's not 100% Montessori, but we've incorporated a lot of the ideas and concepts into how his room is set up. The room is safe for him to be in without supervision and he has free access to his bed, books, and some toys. One of the aspects of Alex's room that gets the most raised eyebrows is his floor bed. Alex's bed is just a plain crib mattress on the floor in his room. He has a pillow and two blankets (he recently has decided he needs two) and can get in and out on his own.

Alex's bed when he got up one day last week.

As this picture shows, yes, he does get out of bed and play on his own; but that's not a problem, in fact, it's amazing! If Alex isn't tired when he goes to bed, we can hear him playing in his room for a little while (never more than an hour). When he wakes up in the morning, he will play by himself for about 30 minutes and then knock on his door when he's ready for us to come get him. (And yes, he really does knock. It's so freaking adorable!) Some mornings I've gone in to see Alex reclining on his bed reading a book. Now that's the way to start your day!

I absolutely love the floor bed and look forward to transitioning our youngest to one when he's a little bit older as well. Here are my main reasons to love the floor bed (in no particular order):

  1. You don't have to buy a toddler bed. Put plain and simple, it's just cheaper. We took the mattress Alex had used in his crib and just plopped it on the floor.
  2. Allows for the child to be independent at bed time and awaking. We have our bedtime routine, then Alex gets put on his mattress. Currently, he lets out a little fake cry while you leave the room, calms down within 15 seconds, and then plays until he goes to sleep.
  3. Encourages the child to self-soothe to sleep at night and during mid-night wakings. Alex does still wake up occasionally at night, but I've only had to go in his room once in the past month or so. He will put himself back to sleep just fine.
  4. Gives parent and child more peace in the morning. I often get Locke dressed while Alex is waking up on his own. This gives me a little more time to take care of some morning tasks, and Alex gets to wake up slowly and gently on his own.
  5. Makes Rest Time easier on parent and child. We don't have "naptime" any more, just "rest time". Alex often protests for the first little bit, then plays for a while and generally falls asleep, but we no longer require a nap.
  6. Gives the child their own space in a world that is adult-centered. Our whole world is built on an adult scale. Children cannot access a lot of their environment simply because they are not yet tall enough. A floor bed (and Montessori room in general) is suited to their smaller statures and fosters a sense of belonging and awareness of their bodies.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trash Talk


This is probably my favorite awareness day all year long. Two years ago I wrote about some simple steps towards more sustainable living that give you very quick and easy little tips to live a more sustainable, earth-friendly life. Today, I want to talk a little more deeply on one specific area that we've been focusing on in our home: trash.

Trash is an inevitable part of our lives, but what we do with it can make all the difference. You probably remember being raised with the Three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but now it's commonly the Four R's with repair/repurpose added in. Using these four principles, you can greatly reduce what of your waste becomes trash to sit in our landfills.

This is the first, biggest, most important step in reducing waste. The concept is to reduce the potential trash that makes it into your home. Here are some tips to reduce your waste:
  • Borrow instead of buy. Ask a friend to borrow a dress for a formal occasion. Borrow that tool that you only need once a year from a neighbor. Borrow books from the library. Rent movies from a local video store. By buying less, you'll have less waste coming into your home from packaging, receipts, tags, etc.
  • Buy used. Check out pawn shops, consignment shops/sales, garage and yard sales, church rummage sales, etc. for things you need and will use often. Kids clothes are a great item to buy used as they out grow each size so fast that there's usually a plethora of used kid's clothes that are hardly worn. Check out garage sales for appliances that need replacing or for unique housewares.
  • Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk can help reduce the packaging that comes into your house. Just don't get fooled by bulk packages that are really just multiples of the normal package with extra packaging holding them together.
  • Don't buy single use items. Paper plates, napkins, and towels, plastic cups, flatware, and bags- these convenience items are a terrible drain on our resources. Whenever possible, use reusable alternatives and if you have to buy one-time use items, try to recycle or compost them afterwards. (Go the extra step and eliminate single-use diapers, toilet paper, or feminine hygiene products.)
  • Bring your own packaging. Bringing your own shopping bags is becoming more and more popular, but you can also bring your own reusable produce bags or mason jars for loose items.
Reusable items can make any home more sustainable with minimal extra effort. Most items will simple need to be washed in between uses. Here are some reusable items to consider: cloth diapers, un-paper towels, cloth snack and sandwich bags for kids' lunches, glass food storage instead of plastic bags, cloth rags instead of paper towels for cleaning, cloth menstrual pads, menstrual cups instead of tampons, cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.

Also, reuse items that are designed to be single use. 
  • Save gift bags you receive to use again when you have a gift to give.
  • Rinse and reuse plastic food containers.
  • Save bread and tortilla bags and reuse to hold snacks or as trash bags for road trips.
Repair or Repurpose
How many times has something around the house broken and you immediately thought to go buy a new one rather than repair the one you have? It's an easy thing to do and we've been told for over a generation that we shouldn't have to repair old things. Whenever possible, repair broken items or buy a replacement part rather than replacing the whole thing. Learn how to fix a busted seam and sew a button back on. Ask friends to lend their skills to help you fix appliances or tech as it breaks. See if there's a trade school in your area that would like to have the item to teach students.

When something is truly past repair, repurpose the item. Find it something new to be. Many household items can be changed into interesting planters or lawn art. Cut up worn out clothing for cleaning rags. Shred magazines for packing material. There are craft projects on Pinterest to cover just about anything from bottle caps to burnt out light bulbs. Before tossing something in the trash, make sure you can't find some sort of use for it.

Most of us think of taking bags of plastic bottles and soda cans to big green dumpsters when we think of recycling, and while that is an awesome way to reduce your trash output, there are other ways to recycle things around the house as well. If you're just getting started, check out these tips on recycling.

Composting is the ultimate green recycling. Home composting can take your kitchen and yard scraps and turn them into glorious dirt, perfect for growing your own organic veggies. There are plenty of ways to compost and I'm sure you can find a system that works for your household. (Foods that can't be composted can usually be sent through the garbage disposal instead of doing in the trash bag.)

Return food packaging to the producer when appropriate. Local egg farms usually love for you to return your egg cartons as they can be pretty pricey to buy new. Some companies will take back their glass bottles to refill them (many companies stopped this program some time ago, but there are still some accepting bottles, check with any local bottling plants).

You can do it!
We just took our trash can to the curb to be picked up for the first time in over a month (maybe about six weeks). It took us that long to fill the can up. It may seem cumbersome at first and it can be trying, but if you just take it one step at a time, you can significantly reduce the amount of trash your household produces.

Here are some Pinterest boards to help you find tips and tricks to reduce your trash output:

  • Tips to Reduce Waste:
  • Reusable items:
  • Composting:
  • General "green" tips:
  • Canning Info (great way to keep food from being waste!):
  • Cloth Diapering:
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
  • Earth Day Activities for Kids: