Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Halloween

So today we all dressed up... (if you missed our costumes last year, go take a look, they were cool!)
First Bear and I made monster cookies to take to the party at the school.

Bear was a wizard, although it took a while to convince him to take off his hat, and longer to convince him to let go of the sippy cup...

Wolf was a ninja

Hubby was Wolverine!
(you can see the resemblance, right? We put elmers glue in his hair, and it was quite the ordeal trying to get it to stay up...)

isn't he hot?!
(and by the way the hair didn't stay up well at all, so he switched midday and went with something else...)

By the way, if you like trick-or-treating, Pelican is the place to live. This was Bear's first year going up to any doors, and I only took him to 6 (yes SIX) houses, and here is his haul: (yes, that is a homemade caramel apple!)
Wolf got so much that he filled up his bag AND Hubby's backpack!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Works In Progress
stuff I do when I'm not blogging...
and yeah, there's been a lot of it lately!

A sweater I'm knitting for Bear
(top down--how exciting! also my first project that's actually bigger than a hat...)

A felted hat for me--made from lots of scraps of other things.

washable (cotton) tampons! They roll up for use, but unroll so they get really clean in the wash. This photo doesn't show it very well, but there are some short rows on the end so that it 'caps' the roll, making it easy to use. They are SO soft, and of course eco-friendly and all that jazz. ☺ I'm so excited about these--I tried the prototype a couple of weeks ago and am now sending a few to some friends who have volunteered to be additional test subjects...if they like them as much as I do then I'll be offering them in my shop in the very near future...

You can also find me on ravelry...I don't get over there a ton, but I do check in from time to time and put in photos of what I'm making!! (and hey, if you're there too, be my ravelry friend, ok?!)

By the way, I still prefer to purl (all these projects are being done inside out ☺), but I did finally learn to knit straight...I dunno what I was doing (I always twisted my knit stitches for some reason) but I finally knit 'normally' now. And Wolf wanted to learn how to knit, so I've been teaching him. He's pretty good!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wan Too Ree

The little Bear is nearly 2 (just 3 more months!). I don't have a hard and fast weaning schedule by any means--I'm certainly willing to nurse for naps and bedtime for a while longer--but I want him to pretty much let go of random daytime nursings before his birthday. He doesn't spend a lot of time on them, doesn't need them for nutrition, and does them out of habit as much as anything. I'm hoping to get pregnant soon and SUPER tender breasts is one of my earliest and strongest symptoms of pregnancy, so I'd like to minimize pain and trauma for everyone involved here by getting him to ease off now while we have the time to do it gently. (I'm also trying to get him to let go of the mid-night nursings, and developing a habit of short nursing times rather than long ones will help with that I think...they'll just shorten up until they go away!)
Anyway, I decided to do counting with him. So when he comes up to me during the day and wants to nurse, I latch him on and then count to 10, then say "all done!" and we're done. The first time he gave me a funny look but accepted it. The second time he gave me a dirty look and promptly asked for the other breast (which I gave him--also for 10--and then he was satisfied). But since then he's gotten into the rhythm of it and it's going well. We count, he smiles, and readily lets go on his own when we get to 'all done'. He's even stopped asking for 'nurn' or 'nanu' much of the time--instead he comes over and pulls at my shirt and says 'wan, too?" (1, 2?)
He also wanders around the house saying things like "wan, too, ree(3), foe(4), sen(7), eight, nine, ten, AWW DONE!!" It is so stinkin cute!

Wanna read other cute stuff that kids say? Check out Tiny Talk Tuesday, celebrating our kids, the things they say, and their view of the world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fun Times on the Phone

At one point my dad left a message like this on our machine:
"Hello, if it's Sunday, we're at church. If it's Monday, we're having family night. If it's Tuesday or Thursday we have soccer. Wednesday is scouts. Friday is date night--you wouldn't possibly call then would you? Saturday we work in the yard. So that's why we didn't answer the phone, and why we may not be able to find time to call you back...but if you want to leave a message then go ahead and we'll probably listen to it."

Here was my favorite one he ever did (on our machine, if someone pressed a button it would just skip the rest of the outgoing message and go straight to the beep):
"If you'd like to leave a message for [dad], press one.
If you'd like to leave a message for [mom], press two.
If you'd like to leave a message for the kids, press three.
If you have a dog, press four.
If you have a rotary phone, press five.
If you'd like to press six, press seven.
Thank you."

So, how about you? What are some of the funnier messages you've heard? (or, alternatively, some really amusing phone conversations you've had?) Or even if you just really hate the phone. whatever, I just need some good laughs this week. ☺

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thoughts about Toys

“Children should be surrounded by a few multi-purpose, open-ended items that encourage imaginative play, social interaction, and healthy bodily movement.”
~~Waldorf theory (Rudolph Steiner)

We have to plan ahead for Christmas here, because there are no stores here in town so we have to order everything in, and in the wintertime the seaplane often gets grounded for a week or more at a stretch (sometimes three weeks) so mail gets backed up and things take a while to get here. So in other words, if we want it here in time to put it under the tree, we had better order it in October.
This isn't a huge deal for me because I was raised to think ahead about these things, but it does mean that lately Hubby and I have been talking about Christmas and what to get for the boys, and I thought this would be a great time to share my philosophy on toys.

I'm a proponent of fair trade over free trade, avoiding sweat-shop products and lead-based paint, and sure, boycotting stuff made in China. But those are not my main guiding points when choosing toys for our household--the toys I choose usually do fall within those parameters, but they are secondary.

I look for toys that are:
open-ended (meaning that they can be used in more than one way) building toys such as legos, tinker toys, erector sets, blocks, and lincoln logs are a classic example of open-ended toys. Wolf has used his lincoln logs to be airplanes, catapults, and alphabets (as well as the more traditional use of building buildings with them!). Playsilks are another popular open-ended toy.
encourage imagination and creativity
not plastic (wood, fabric, metal, etc is better...Legos are one of the few exceptions to the plastic rule) Natural materials will last longer, are kinder to the Earth, and are safer for kids. They are also usually pretty washable, which is a definite bonus in my book!
non-electronic (no lights or noises to make me crazy, no batteries to wear out) Stuff like the little police car with real sirens, or the magic want that makes twinkly noises...and yes, this includes video and computer games...yes we do have some of those, but they're on time-limits and are only allowed after reading. ☺
educational (meaning that they allow the child to learn, not necessarily that they are from the school supplies aisle. This would be things like books, musical instruments, or toys that imitate adult life, such as tools, kitchenware, toy foods, or 'babies')
will last through many years and many children here's the frugal part. What is the point of spending 88cents on a toy that will break the second time it's used? Isn't it a better use of your money to spend $12 on a toy that will last for years, through multiple children? I guarantee you'll get a better value than 88cents per use!

We have some great little crochet fruits and veggies, a cloth doll/wood ring teething toy, wooden stacking rings, homemade beanbags, dress-up clothing, art supplies, puppets, books, and lots and lots of legos. Sure, we have some cheapo toys that have been given to us, or that we ourselves purchased in a less-idealistic time... but slowly and surely we are getting rid of the poor toys (which don't get as much playtime anyway) and we're aquiring good toys. It makes me happy to see the beautiful, fun, and high-quality toys starting to take over the shelves.
I'll be making some additional posts about specific toys/shops that I love

For additional information on Waldorf's philosophy of toys, including an excellent list of recommended toys for various ages, visit here (it's a document that you'll have to upload, you can't just view it on a webpage).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In which I am a Wuss

I am scared of oncoming traffic. I didn't realize this until I spent 10 months away from it...and then this summer on our road trip I was reminded of how much I dislike oncoming traffic. I'm afraid that the other driver will swerve at the last moment and hit me head-on; or at least that he'll mis-judge his lane position and swipe off my mirror or something. Seriously, as I drive along some nearly-deserted road in northern Canada, each and every vehicle I approach makes my heart pound just a little...

I'm also scared that when I open the oven to get out something, the oven door will flip up and burn my arm. I think I may have known someone who had this happen to them, but I confess I'm not sure. I just know that I always make sure to set the door all the way down before I start reaching in (I never reach in with it open halfway).

Of course I have real, deep, valid sorts of fears too...but they are not so quirky.
(For more 'quirky thursday' entries, in which I confess my weirdness to all of you, click here)

C'mon now, it's your turn. What silly things are you scared of?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Diaper Edition

Once upon a time a young mother bought some side-snapping fitted diapers for her baby. He wore them for many months before outgrowing them. Then his younger sister wore them for many more months, as did the next sister after that. By this time the diapers were quite worn. The mother was done having children, so she didn't need diapers anymore, but her friend had babies so she offered the diapers to her friend.
The friend was me. I was happy to have some side-snapping diapers because my little one had recently figured out how to open velcro, drop his diaper, and streak through the house. I didn't have a snap-press of my own yet (although I've recently ordered one!), so I wanted to find a way to keep these diapers around for a while. These threadbare diapers had a great design, but the outer fabric was literally falling apart, so I decided to give them a makeover.
(old diaper, new diaper!)
Viola, I still have my side-snappers (and I kept the core of the diaper, which was working just fine) I just added new layers on the inside (powderdry) and outside (flannel) to restore the comfort of a new diaper.
I love them! And they'll last through another kid or two.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Holding Tomorrow in My Arms

[Thank you to Nemmer for showing me this quote. It's at the top of her blog and inspires me every time I visit.]

In our modern kingdom, it is no accident that women were, through the Relief Society, assigned compassionate service. So often the service of women seems instinctive, while that of some men seems more labored. It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone.We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby’s first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child’s first day at school which bespeaks a special selflessness. Women, more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word
self is militantly placed before other words like fulfillment. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms.

Neal A Maxwell
"The Women of God"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In honor of Alaska Day...

I thought I'd write a post about what it's really like to live in rural Alaska. If you have any burning questions, post them to the comments and you know I'll answer them there. ☺

FYI, from what I understand, Alaska Day is the day that the paperwork got back to Alaska informing the locals that the land had been purchased by the USA. (The purchase was made in the spring--April I think--but it took them 6 months to get all the way out here to let us know!)

Ferries or seaplanes are the only way in or out of Pelican (the ferry that comes out here is actually about 1/4 the size of the one shown here, but I didn't have a photo of our ferry handy). The seaplane comes daily (weather permitting)--it comes 2-3 times a day in summer, but we may go as long as 2-3 weeks without a plane in winter weather. The ferry comes once a month Sep-Apr, and twice a month in summer.

I love living in Alaska, but you have to understand that there is more than one Alaska...the larger cities (Juneau, Anchorage, even Sitka and Ketchikan and Kenai) have ferries and jet airplanes on a daily or nearly-daily basis. They have paved roads, grocery stores, banks, libraries, restaurants, and even craft shops and movie theaters. Living in the bush is completely different.

we live over the firehall in a little apartment that was clearly an afterthought
the third picture here is the view out my front window...not quite as snazzy as the one from my bedroom (which can be seen here)!
Pelican has a population of around 70 people--and we are 4 of them. This is the kind of place where they would change the number on the sign ("Welcome to Pelican, pop: ___") for each birth or death...except there is no sign.
We have two bars (one of which is only open in summer), one cafe (also only open in summer, and then only for breakfast and lunch), and a general store which is one step up from a gas-station quick-mart. They carry a variety of canned goods and junk food, but very little produce. There is meat in the freezer but it's usually freezerburned, because almost everyone here catches their own meat (fish, crab, shrimp, and sitka deer).
We have a library which is open about 10 hours a week, alternating afternoons and evenings. All circulation is done by hand, and the librarian rarely has to ask names because she knows everyone. She counts every single person who enters the library in her statistics, and if you leave and come back again, she'll count you twice. If I read a book to my kiddo she counts it as a storytime. She has to justify to the state why they are funding us.
When we want groceries, we have four options: 1--go catch or shoot something. 2--travel into Juneau ($165 one way on the seaplane, or $50 on the ferry). 3--call up the grocery store and pay them $7 to pack our order into a box and have it shipped out on seaplanes for 60cents/lb. 4--call the stores and make orders, then pay Greg $15 plus 20cents/lb to bring it out to us on the ferry. We usually take a trip into Juneau in the summer and really stock up, then 4 or 5 months later have Greg bring a big load or two... We periodically will order some perishables via method 3, but as you can imagine this is really expensive.
I do all my baking with powdered milk and powdered eggs (one upside of this is that I have no guilt about letting my kids eat the cookie dough!) We can't go out to eat even if we want to, so there are no cop out dinners here. I do get a bit burned out, but Hubby is sweet enough to cook once a week or so, and on weekends I usually just tell everyone to fend for themselves in the leftovers in the fridge.

This is a temporate rainforest. Yup, over 100inches of precipitation a year. I had a bag of brown sugar that had gotten really dried out...I left it open in the cupboard and within a week it was as soft as could be. If I don't keep my white sugar in a sealed container, it gets clumpy from the moisture. If you leave a mat on the front porch, it grows things.

We pay extra shipping on almost everything we mailorder (even the people that offer free shipping for certain size orders still give us the $7 surcharge to get it to AK). Obviously very little is available in town, so here again it's either go into Juneau/Sitka, or else mail order. We are blessed to have daily mail delivery (via the seaplane)...unless of course the seaplane can't get out that day. If the plane is full they'll bring the letters but not the packages. My mother lives in Washington state--sometimes she sends something which gets here in three days...and sometimes it takes three weeks. I have given up trying to predict when something will arrive. FedEx, DHL, and those folks don't deliver out here--although they say they do. If you send us something via FedEx, for example, they will mail it to Anchorage and then drop it in the regular mail down to Pelican. UPS puts it on the seaplane (so we get hit with extra freight charges).
There are no paved roads--there is a boardwalk, and about a half mile of gravel (though it scarcely qualifies as a 'road'). We walk everywhere (a bike is speedy travel here). A few folks have electric golf carts which they drive...this has its downside as they move fast yet are silent, and can really sneak up on you.
Three people/vehicles within 20 feet of each other constitutes a traffic jam. After living here for a mere 3 months, I took a trip into Juneau. I was borrowing my cousin's car, and as I drove along I noticed that everyone was passing me--I thought I was going pretty fast until I looked down and noticed the speedometer at 35mph (in a 45mph zone). Um, well, it felt fast!!
If you go beyond the edge of town, you get this:

hiking (bushwhacking?) in the mighty Tongass National Forest (yes we are literally nestled in the edge of it)

There are two kinds of people who live in the wilderness like this: one kind is extremely friendly and hospital, realizing that we've got to take care of each other or we'll all freeze and starve--thankfully this is the majority. However there is also a distinct other population: people who live out here because they don't like people. They are more or less hermits and, well, it's best to just leave them alone.
For those who find Pelican too large a metropolis, the community of Sunnyside is a mile or so up the inlet--accessible only via boat--and has no services at all; just a few houses. For those who don't want even that, Phonograph is a mile beyond Sunnyside. (Sunnyside got its name because apparently it is sunnier than Pelican...uhhhh...)
Wolf with our boat--it's a lot more practical than having a car out here. In the background you can see the boardwalk...the light brown building on the left is the library.

this is my little sister with a fish she caught here this's a 'yelloweye' aka red snapper. It's half head, and quite an ugly fellow really. Gorgeous color though. (I prefer halibut anyday, but hey, ya eat what ya catch!)

Happy Alaska Day!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wave of Light

Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. As one who has lost several angels, I always try to take note of the day as an opportunity to share the stories of Thomas and Kjersti, or to teach my readers about what to say/do when someone you know miscarries, or share ideas of how to cope with your own losses.
Last year on this day I wrote this post Empty Bellies, Empty Arms, and I don't really have anything to add to that... however, if you are touched by any of my posts on the subject, or if you have ever lost a little one, or know anyone who has, then I invite you to participate tonight in the Wave of Light.
Having my toddler often distracts me from the memories of my angels, and I guess time does soften the's been 3 years since my last miscarriage and it does get easier with time...I wonder how much of it is forgetfulness and how much is true healing. I'll probably never know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Locks of Wha...?

"Oh, you have such long pretty hair, you should donate it to Locks of Love!"
"I'm growing my hair to donate."
"I love my long hair, and I can imagine how hard it would be to have to lose it, so I'm going to donate mine to a kid with cancer..."
Sound familiar? I've heard them fact, that last one was me up until a couple of years ago. I planned to donate, and actually felt a little guilty that I wanted to wait until after my wedding (because I wanted to have long hair in my wedding pictures). How selfish of me, eh?
Then I learned that Locks of Love ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Some basic facts: the hair does NOT go to kids with cancer. It goes to people with permanent hair loss, such as alopacia (sp?) or scalp burns. Granted, these are good causes...but it's false advertising. Even if it did go to kids with cancer, human hair wigs are hard to care for, and actually wouldn't be good for kids anyway...they're better for adults. (Now, as someone who has worked with wigs in the theatre, I will vouch for human hair being superior to synthetic's just much harder to take good care of it.)
LoL cannot use any hair that is damaged, has been color-treated in any way, or even that has been conditioned with silicone-based conditioner (ie, the majority of hair in the USA). They will sell it to get cone-free hair from other countries. Most of the hair ends up either thrown away (because it's damaged or otherwise unusable) or else it is sold. NOT donated. The hair that is sold is used for things like extensions, or theatrical wigs (think Hollywood).

Here are some numbers which really opened my eyes:
A little math using information from LoL's own website and the BBB:
LoL receives about 2000 donations per week, by mail.
That's 104,000 per year.
Let's say that only half of that is usable for wigs.
That's 52,000 per year.
It takes 6-10 ponytails to make a wig.
Ok, let's say each one takes 10.
That's potentially 5200 wigs per year.
Now, in fiscal year 2002, how many wigs did LoL provide?

So, given those facts, I realized that it didn't make sense to donate my hair--it wasn't going to do the good I had been led to believe it would. (I also realized that my hair wasn't terribly healthy and wouldn't make a good donation anyway).

If you want to cut your hair anyway, and it's long enough to do something with, then sure, donate to LoL. They are making SOME wigs for bald people, after all.
There are also a lot of other places where you could donate hair.
Or these guys use donated hair (in any condition) to make mats to clean up oil spills. (That is so cool!)
Alternatively, many theatre groups would love to have some hair for making their wigs.
Also you can sell the hair yourself, and use the money to keep or donate. (A long thick ponytail can bring in hundreds of dollars.)

However, if you love your long hair (which, I might add, you grew yourself, and have a right to keep) then hey, keep it. After all, it's yours. The New Testament says a woman's hair is her glory and is given to her for a covering...I don't think it's selfish or vanity to like your own hair. Some folks may not have to give it much attention, but if you're like me then you have to baby your hair to have it long and pretty, and hey, you're entitled to the fruits of your labors.


Here are some more reference sites:
The Better Business Bureau reports that LoL does not comply with all of the standards of being a non-profit organization. For one thing, they have documentation of LoL earning money... uhhhh...
This blog post is well laid out and has lots of reference links.
The New York Times wrote an article about this.
Even the Wikipedia article has mention of it.
LiveJournal threads from longhairs about LoL.
LongHairCommunity thread. Another LHC thread.

And next time someone says "Oh, you have such long pretty hair, you should donate it to Locks of Love!" I will retort "Oh, you have such nice blood, you should donate it to people who are dying!" And then I'll fill them in on the truth about Locks of Love.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Lens of Eternity

Some of you sisters may feel inadequate because you can’t seem to do all you want to do. Motherhood and parenting are most challenging roles. . . In general you noble sisters are doing a much better job of holding it all together and making it work than you realize. May I suggest that you take your challenges one day at a time. Do the best you can. Look at everything through the lens of eternity. If you will do this, life will take on a different perspective.
I fear you sisters do not realize in the smallest part the extent of your influence for good in your families, in the Church, and in society. Your influence for good is incalculable and indescribable.

James E Faust
"Instruments in the Hands of God"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Let's Party!

A friend recently posted about her daughter's birthday party, leading me to reminisce over the many birthday parties of my childhood.
My mother threw some awesome birthday parties. Apparently her mother had started the trend--hosting themed parties throughout the years for her children. But my mother has always known how to take a good idea and run with it.
I am the oldest of 9 children, so there were a lot of birthdays. In order to keep things sane, we alternated friends-parties with family-only parties. We had friends parties when we turned 5, 7, 9. 11, and 13. If we wanted them older than that we were welcome to co-ordinate/pay for them ourselves. My sister and I each held a slumber party or two in our teens, but otherwise we were old enough that we were ok with not having parties anymore.

The big secret is to start with a theme, and then connect everything back to that theme: the invitations, the cake, the decorations, the games, the party favors... and it's not as hard as it might seem! We always had homemade parties, so when I say there was a theme I don't mean that we went out and bought Tinkerbell plates, napkins, and banners. Far from it. Rather we made invitations from construction paper, made our own cakes, used regular plates/cups/napkins, and decorated with regular old balloons. We didn't do large or elaborate favor bags either--just something small like a pencil, some stickers, or a tiny toy (think $1 maximum per kid). If there was a pinata then they'd have some candy too, but that was it. Birthday parties were about fun, not about stuff.
Here are a few themes we had over the years: dinosaurs, outer space, cars (the brother who is now in mechanical engineering), ponies, hidden treasure (pirates), The Hobbit (that's my little Wolf!), wild animals/jungle, medieval times (yes, that one was me), dolls, Lord of the Rings (my 13yo brother right after the movies came out) and Water Play.

We had a variety of standard games that we would just adapt to each theme. The most popular was the treasure hunt--with the treasure either being the cake or a little selection of inexpensive favors. We did pinatas sometimes. Sometimes we had themed cakes ("Family Fun" magazine is full of great ideas) or often we'd just make cupcakes and then set out 3-4 colors of frosting along with a variety of sprinkles, chocolate chips, red hots, etc for decorating...left to their own devices, children will do some remarkable things with frosting! ☺ We also did the game 'going on a lion hunt' but adapted it to whatever the theme was... I'll list more about specific games (directions, etc) in the comments...

Here are a few classic examples of adaptations:
For the dinosaur party, we used little 'candy rocks' on the cake, along with a few small toy dinos. The favors were more little dinosaur toys (just the tiny plastic ones).
At the cars party, the favors were (what else?!) hotwheels cars. The cake was a racetrack.
At the doll party we each brought a favorite doll, and one of the activities involved using moms fabric scraps to design gowns for the dolls, and then holding a fashion show.
For Wolf's Hobbit party (age 5), I titled each invitation with "A long expected party," and Hubby dressed up as Gandalf to meet each child at the door. We gave each child a dwarf hat to wear. I made a spider pinata (since in the book the dwarves/hobbit fight spiders). On our "Lion Hunt" we hunted Smaug, the dragon!
For the LOTR treasure hunt, mom played Galadriel and gave each party goer a gift--a code key, a pencil, paper, etc--and then each of the clues required one or more of them to utilize their gift. At the time we had an exchange student, and he was told that he already had his gift and would know it when the time came...sure enough one clue was in Spanish, and he was the only one who could interpret it for the group!
Wolf has a summer birthday, and when he turned 7 he wanted a Water-Play party, but we couldn't afford a waterpark or renting a pool. So we told everyone to wear sunscreen and plan to get wet, and held the party at the park. I bought cheap waterguns and a package of water balloons. First we let everyone play on the playground for a while, and then we played waterballoon volleyball (tossing the balloons back and forth on beach towels). Then I sent them on a treasure hunt (which ranged all over the park) and once they opened the treasure (a watergun for each child) then they had a watergun war. The watergun war lasted at least 20 minutes, and then we had cake and opened presents. Seriously, it was one of the easiest parties I've ever hosted!

How long can you grow YOUR hair?

This is just for fun, but hey, I had fun there!
How long can you potentially grow your hair?
You'll need to give it an estimate of how many hairs you lose each day, as well as an estimate of how much your hair grows each month. (FYI, the average person's hair grows about 1/2 inch per month.) You'll also need to give an estimate of how many hairs are on your head--but it has some guidelines for helping you figure that out. ☺ (Make sure you read the directions about how to enter the numbers--if you use a comma it will mess up the equasion!)
I adjusted the numbers a few times since of course they're all gave me numbers from 23 inches to 46 inches...with most of them between 35-39inches. Since my hair is currently about 29 inches, and my goal length is 36 inches, it sounds like that's probably realistic!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

First Snow has Come

I took these this afternoon.


Yes, it's almost 2, and yes, I'm up. It's because the little Bear is up too. He's been feeling sick today (feverish and, well, let's just say the diaper situation is more like a newborn than a nearly-two-year-old). I gave him some infant ibuprofen to lower his temperature so he could sleep tonight, and it definitely helped...but around 11 he woke up (first dose wore off) and he is only just now going back down... At first I was hoping he would just nod back off without additional ibuprofen (I try to avoid medicating my children whenever possible, but both my kids have a penchant for fevers that keep them awake, and being able to sleep seems helpful for recovery, so I will dose them up just to sleep). Anyway, he was clearly miserable--and was NOT sleeping--so I gave him a second dose around 12:30 or 1... I left the bottle out on the counter in case I should need it again (yes I put the child-proof cap back on, but I left the bottle out). 30 minutes later Bear was yet again climbing out of bed and running down the hall, and I rounded the corner behind him just in time to see him pushing a chair over to the counter, climbing up, and grabbing the bottle and dosing syringe...yes, it seems that our second son likes bubble gum flavor as much as our first son. (Bear was very much upset that I would not let him have more of it...poor sweet kid!)

Anyway, it's finally kicked in, his head has cooled and he's gone to sleep. So now I'm finally going to sleep too.

By the way, our internet finally seems to work properly, but our computer imploded. So Hubby is bringing home his laptop from work a couple of nights a week plus weekends, but otherwise I'm sans computer...I'm scheduling blog posts so that won't be much different, but if I take a few days to post your comments or reply to you, well, that's why.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hair Washing Routines

In a previous post I spoke about how over-washing (or washing too often) actually hurts hair health more than helps it. (Wow, that was a lot of H-words all together)

Since we're clear on the fact that less-often is generally healthier, now I want to talk a bit about the actual washing routine.
Each person's hair is different, and will need to be handled differently, including different lengths of time between washings, and different shampoos/conditioners as well as methods for washing. So my goal here is to share a few that I have tried or learned about which might be helpful for you. With each method I've listed what hair types it is probably best suited for.

A few basic guidelines:

  • Don't pile your hair on top of your head or flip your head over and wash it upside-down. Remember how it's bad to rub hair the wrong way, especially when wet? Well, this would be a classic case of that. Just keep it down, work with it from top to bottom, and spray the water in from top to bottom. Remember your hair is like fine antique lace! Treat it like you love it, and it will love you back!
  • If you comb your hair when wet, use only a wide toothed comb--never a brush, and not too narrow a comb as either can stretch or break hairs.
  • Remember that there is no 'one method fits all' way to wash hair. Your climate, hair length, and personal body chemistry will all affect what your hair needs. But hopefully these suggestions will help you see some of the alternatives you can utilize to improve your routine!
  • The fewer products (sprays, gels, etc) you use in your hair, the less often and less harshly you'll need to wash it. Oh, and the less often you wash it--stripping all it's natural oils--the more healthy it will look and the more soft and manageable it will feel. At least, that has been my experience! Using product was a vicious cycle...I'm so glad I ditched all that stuff!
  • Be wary of 'cones' or silicone products in conditioners. Essentially they coat your hair with silicone, which does give lovely shine and reduces tangling, but then requires harsher shampoos to get the goop back off. It can make damaged hair look great, but the subsequently harsher shampooings may cause more damage than there was to begin with. Most of the top-shelf conditioners contain cones. Cones are not inherently evil, and I recommend reading the article I linked there to help you understand them and make your own decision about whether you want them around or not. (The article also has a list of 'cone' ingredients, since the ingredient list on most conditioners looks like latin!)
good for dry ends and oily scalp, or for any hair that is dry/damaged at the ends
Get all your hair wet, then put in conditioner from about the ears down to the ends. Next, shampoo just the scalp--the conditioner on the rest of the hair will prevent the shampoo from getting into it and stripping it. Massage the shampoo on the scalp and roots. Fully rinse hair. Condition full head as normal.

"CO" or Conditioner-Only see details here
can be nice for dry hair, but won't work if your hair is very oily or you use a lot of product
If you go this route, you definitely need a cone-free conditioner. Basically you just only use conditioner. No shampooing. The benefit here is that you never fully strip the natural oils from your hair...

"No-Poo" (no shampoo) or washing with baking soda
this is an excellent deep clean, and certainly cheaper than standard shampoo!
Get some baking powder, put it in a cup, mix in some hot water until you have a paste...then goomp it in your wet hair and massage your scalp thoroughly with the pads of your fingers--not your nails. Spend several minutes on the massaging part, as baking soda is gentler than mainstream shampoos and needs longer to work.. The baking soda will absorb oils and pick up dirt, so you are left with very clean hair and scalp.. The one downside of this is that it affects the ph balance of your hair, so especially if you do it regularly you will need to replace the natural acidity of your body/hair by doing a vinegar rinse afterwards--mix a couple Tbs of vinegar with warm water and rinse through. I'm told this leaves remarkably shiny and clean-feeling hair.
Please note that I have had people tell me that they fried their hair doing this long own experience is limited to the occasional deep-cleansing wash this way, and I still use regular conditioner afterwards

Deep Condition with Mayo
this is nice for dry hair, or just to pamper your hair if you live in a dry climate
Both oil and egg can be beneficial to hair. Get your hair damp with warm water. Goomp in mayonnaise that has been blended with some water to thin it out--focus the mayo on whatever areas need the moisture, and don't put it on oily places. Wrap it all up in a warm towel, and let it sit for 20+ minutes. Then take a good shower, washing well... I did a double shampooing to get it out, I've heard others say they have a hard time getting it out but I think the secret is to get your hair damp before putting the mayo in.

Oiling Your Hair
a lot like doing the mayo, only vegan, and a little classier☺
This helps keep hair moist all the way to the ends, as well as being a detangler. It won't do much good on its own, but is supposed to be excellent as part of a healthy-hair-care routine. I've never done this, but here is an article explaining the how and why of it, as well as discussing different types of oil and where to get them.

Oh, and did you want to know what *I* do? I do plain old shampoo at the scalp and then condition (cone-free) from the middle down and comb it through (distributing the conditioner). I finish up with a cold rinse. Occasionally I deep-clean with a no-poo treatment. If my hair seems on the drier side I do a condition-shampoo-condition routine for a couple of weeks. I also use henna from time to time. Of course, when I lived in Utah I did things totally differently.

I have mentioned before about doing a cold rinse at the end of your wash cycle to stimulate growth? Well, here is an article which explains how that works--and it seems that this cold-rinse thing helps with hair strength as well as growth, because it's stimulating the muscles that hold the hair shaft (basically giving yourself 'goosebumps' on your head).

Here is a link to several articles with additional details/recommendations for healthy hair care.

By the way, I'm currently only washing my hair every 8 or 9 days...up from 6 or 7. It just doesn't seem to need it sooner than's lovely! I know that keeping it up or braided does help because I'm not playing with my hair (getting dirt in or stirring up scalp oils). Even if I do leave it loose though I can easily go a week without it looking greasy or gross. Is that cool or what?! Nice for a busy mommy who has a hard time finding time for anything!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mothers who know Do Less

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.

Julie B Beck
"Mothers Who Know"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Politics meets Religion

I'm registered as 'undeclared' in political party. If you've read any of my other political posts you know I have some pretty strong feelings about people who vote party line just because it's the party line (brainless idiots). Well, I have the same problem with people who get all hung up on one issue--like abortion, or gay marriage, or healthcare, or the environment. I'm not saying that these are not important issues, just that I don't think that any one issue can trump all the others, and it's pretty rediculous to vote like it can. I have spoken with some very intelligent people who feel that one certain issue (such as abortion) is important enough that they will look at a candidate's stance on that issue over any other. All other things being equal, ok, but what if all other things are NOT equal? No, I don't want babies to die, BUT there are children and adults dying every day because of the pathetic state of healthcare in this country, and there are soldiers dying in a war that is dragging on and on and if I'm truly pro-LIFE then that should include ALL lives, not just the unborn ones...and that means I've got a foot in each of the major camps because nobody out there is commited to protecting ALL life. (I could go on about this but the more I talk about it the more upset I get so I'm going to shift gears now...)
I grew up in a liberal state and thought I was conservative. Then I moved to a conservative state and discovered I was liberal. I concluded that I must be a moderate, but of course even that is not true: I simply refuse to be bound by labels such as 'liberal' 'conservative' 'democrat' or 'republican.' Instead, I try to look at things through scripture-colored glasses. On any issue, I consider the word of God...what has He said about this? Does scripture give a stance on abortion? Yup. Does it give a stance on homosexuality? Definitely. Does it give a stance on caring for the environment? Yes. Does it give a stance on welfare? war? fiscal responsibility? Oh yes it does.
Do all these stances fall within one political party? Nope. And that is why I cannot, in good conscience, declare alignment with any existing political party.

(Darn, what if there was such a party? Could we call it the "More Right" party?!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Banff National Park (June)

Lake Louise
My boys (and dog) playing on the ice on the lake
The Canadian Rockies

overlooking Peyto Lake

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