No Winter Blues Over Here

We’re now on Day 3 of life around us basically cancelling for winter.

Public schools are closed. Mail is not being delivered. No city trash is being picked up. County offices were closed. No sport practices. Local board meetings rescheduled.

And for good reason! Here in the Midwest, we’ve been in an Arctic Vortex, with temps in the negatives and wind chills reaching a crazy -50F in some parts.

Baby, it’s ridiculously COLD outside!!!

When I check my social media, I keep seeing people complaining about the cold weather: its ill effects (likes pipes bursting & state officials asking people to drop their thermostats to 65F), people getting really squirrel-y, parents being SO ready for school to re-open, less business, the pain of rescheduling events, etc. You name it, and someone’s probably complained about it.

That snow tho… oh it’s been beautiful. And we’ve had lots of it– reminds me of the winters I used to experience when I was a child. Watching it fall is energizing… gives me goosebumps.

The kids have been enjoying all the frost:

We have a family of cardinals that live in the blue spruce right outside our kitchen window. When it snows, their colors just pop. And every time I see them, I tear up because they were my grandma’s favorite bird– I miss her so.

It’s cozy. Quiet. Laid back. Calm. Peaceful. So little stress and go-go-go of life and activity.

Lot’s of family nights of movie watching & board games. Extra time to KonMari the house and work on those long-neglected home projects.

It’s been a forced rest for everyone.

Rest brings rejuvenation. Rejuvenation brings productivity and creativity. It gives us some air space in which to think and plan. Helps us get schtuff done. It allows healing & growth.

So rather than being frustrated with the weather, try instead to enjoy this downtime and sweet rest we have been given. Take a breath. Get some extra sleep. Play with your kids. Write or paint or craft– cuz you probably haven’t done that in awhile. Bake up something yummy. Read. Visit a shut-in and *make their day*! Do some yoga or other exercise you enjoy. Make a cup of coffee or tea and get snuggly on the couch. Binge on Netflix. Get lost in your favorite music. Work on your gratitude journal. Call your parents.

SLOW DOWN. Enjoy this beautiful thing called LIFE.

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #slowdown #rest #restore #rejuvenate #stopcomplaining #dosomethingfun #enjoywinter

Meditate: Like A Child

As a child, I meditated all the time.

Now, I wouldn’t have called it “meditation” at the time– rather, I named it “playing outdoors“. But in essence, meditating was exactly what I was doing.

Sure I was out there making forts, climbing trees, go-carting & snowmobiling with the neighbors boys, stomping through ponds, etc. But I also spent hours (I literally mean: HOURS daily & weekly) just sitting there… staring out into nature… listening to the birds… zoning out… day-dreaming… watching the breeze rustle the leaves & grass… catching snow flakes & analyzing their intricate designs… observing bugs on the move… thinking about life & everything & nothing…

And if I wasn’t sitting somewhere, then I was hiking through the woods or riding my bike… usually alone… observing… fantasizing… entranced… wondering… quiet… smelling… watching… taking everything in…
Shoot, I was even out there tasting things: like wild strawberries & raspberries & apples I found, nuts that dropped from the trees by the road, clover, etc. (Nothing poisonous! LOL)

Rain… snow… sleet… hot… cold… Weather never deterred me. The world and nature absolutely entranced me. And anytime I got a spare moment, I would try to be out in it, enjoying whatever beautiful moment it could give me. Just couldn’t live without it.

It brought me PEACE inside.

HAPPINESS. CALM. BALANCE. RELAXATION. JOY.

And ultimately, it played a role in my SALVATION story. I’d heard about God & Jesus & the Holy Spirit & the Bible all at church. And one day, in one of my contemplative/enjoying-nature moments, something clicked inside me:

God knew every blade of grass, every leaf that falls, every call & feather of a bird, every snowflake, every star & cloud… How? Because He created all of it! And if nature is so amazing and beautiful and mesmerizing and entrancing and enthralling… then how much more is GOD, the One who made it all?! I finally shifted from worshiping the created to worshiping the Creator. He became my God & I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior on a warm summer sunset on a grassy hillside across the street from my house.


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Even during my college years… I made it outdoors nearly every single day to “meditate” alone: walking, rollerblading, finding a quiet bench/nook of a campus building in which to sit & enjoy nature (or journal), walking around the local park & along the river, sitting in my car with the windows rolled down/feeling the breeze, etc.

Something happened though when I became an adult/mother: my “mediation practice” pretty much stopped. Sure I took my kids outside regularly, but they wanted me to play with them, or someone pooped & I had to change a diaper :-), or they wanted to show me a caterpillar, etc.– nature was no longer a time without distraction. Plus, I had a bazillion kids (ok, 7… but it feels like a bazillion– *wink*)– so I was no longer able to spend time alone in nature like I used to. A one mile walk with my kiddos was about as far as their little legs could carry them– so gone were my long hikes & bike rides. And as much as I love my little darlings, they talk A LOT (like non-stop)– so my experiences with nature were no longer quiet.

Oh, my dear hubby would totally give me time-off from the mothering gig, but then in that time of freedom all I wanted to do was sleep (LOL).

I didn’t realize how vitally important getting alone in the quiet was for me (esp out in nature).
I didn’t realize it would totally fill my energy tank (& help me to be a better wife/mom/person).

I *could* have made it a priority.
I *could* have made time & opportunity for it.
I just didn’t understand how vitally important it was for my sheer sanity!

Do something enough & it becomes a habit. Do a habit enough & it becomes a script that constantly runs in the background (causing you to act instinctively without thought or notice). The habit of not getting alone (outdoors) to “meditate” had unfortunately become my daily norm. My “stress reliever” was now gone.

You can bet it caused me an emotional break at some point.
And you can bet anxiety/panic has been a close (but hated) companion of mine for the past almost 6 years.

About a year ago, I’d had enough: I wanted relief, I wanted release and rest and peace and just plain HAPPINESS. Since then, I’ve undergone HUGE strides of spiritual, emotional, and interpersonal growth (which I will share in future posts). I’ve plead with the Lord to help me see. And He’s been so loving in the process of bringing awareness. No big bites I couldn’t chew. Just consistent little baby steps that I could totally handle.

And FINALLY (like just here very recently!) I have become AWARE (thank You, Jesus!), have begun to peel back this layer of bad habit, and have been getting outside alone (yes even in these winter temps) to “meditate” in the quiet. And if it’s just too darn cold out, I’ve been MAKING the time to sit & do nothing indoors, to quiet my environment & mind, stare out a window, doodle in the frost on the windows, watch a candle flicker, listen to my fav calming music, stare at the ceiling, whatever! But it’s quiet… I’m alone… giving my mind a break… turning “off” for a bit.

It’s made me a better wife & mom. It’s made me a better homeschool teacher. It’s helped me become more patient and CHILL with disturbances. It’s helped calm me through stress & chaos that would normally undo me. It’s like I can finally breathe.

Meditation has deeply changed me. I SO wish I would have recognized the grand importance of maintaining my practice of “meditation” through all my early mothering years. Oh man, that would that have saved me a crap-ton of angst and turmoil and frustration and stress and just downright anger.

I’m finally so aware of it’s importance that I’ve been making it a daily practice for ALL (7) OF MY KIDS to meditate. No toys, no tech, no music, no writing/doodling, no nothing. Just go somewhere private & alone, either inside or out, and for 15-20 min daily they do NOTHING. No chores. No school. No conversations with their siblings. Seriously: nothing.

They say it’s the absolute BEST time of their day!!! They look SO forward to it. They even ASK me for it! “When can we meditate, mom?” 🙂

I’m beginning to finally see just how vitally important meditation is for EVERYONE: even little babies/toddlers, teens, adults, elderly, & everything in-between.

Quiet your heart & mind for just a few minutes each day. Call it what you want (meditation, quiet time, taking a rest, a break, etc) but just DO IT. Turn “off”. Do nothing. Listen. Sleep (if you need it). Enjoy nature. Give your mind & body a break. Just for like 15-20 minutes daily. Believe me, you will deeply enjoy it– and it will so help you to be your best!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #meditation #nature #getalone #turnoff #serenity #calmyourheartmindbody #itsthemostwonderfultimeoftheday #nevertoobusytomeditate

**And for all you Michiganders out there (that’s where I grew up!!!)… #puremichigan… you’ll enjoy this YouTube entry. Someone went down a dirt road/driveway somewhere in MI and recorded the local sounds of nature. BOY it took me back. It literally made me cry because THAT was my childhood. THAT was the background “music” of my childhood. I live in Indiana now and nature sounds a little differently– this was a total blast from my past– so thoroughly enjoyed it. I oftentimes actually listen to this tract when I’m alone & “meditating”. Enjoy!!! (esp if you’re from Michigan):

#yesmichiganthefeelingsforever #puremichigan

How To Naturally Remove Warts

Every once in a while, a wart will crop its ugly little head on either the hand or the foot of one of my little babes. Ugh. They just gross me out.

Wanted to share how we are able to quickly & naturally eliminate them!

Right there on the cuticle line you can see one growing. Blech.
Here’s the supplies you’ll need: organic apple cider vinegar, cotton pads (cut into 1/4’s), and bandaids.
If you have a little cup & lid like this, it’s SUPER helpful. We’ll put all the cut cotton pads in this and then pour the ACV until each pad is soaked. They’re now easily stored for later applications.
Put a soaked pad right on the wart.
Wrap the soaked pad with a bandaid.
Cut off the extra pad parts that stick out from the bandaid.
Voila
This is the very same wart after only 2 applications. In any one given day, we’ll change applications 1-2x, letting the finger air out a bit between. DEF leave one on overnight!
If you treat it aggressively, in about a week’s time it’ll be gone/dead. Even once we *think* it’s dead, we will treat it 1x/day for a couple days more (just to be sure).

Good luck!!!

Random: Automatic Public Toilets

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Yes, this post is totally random. You will most definitely get that from time to time with me. Well, today is that lucky, odd day. My totally random thought of the day is about: Automatic Public Toilets.

Regardless of the fact that it’s nice to not have to hand flush (or kick flush)… if you’re a parent of a potty training toddler… or maybe said toddler (or parent) is terrified of the automatic flush… or you just have the tendency to sit too still for far too long…
I think we can all agree that automatic public toilets can be a pain.

They sometimes flush too randomly… they sometimes flush too early… sometimes they repeatedly flush… sometimes the flush is just startlingly too fast or loud… sometimes you’re just not prepared…

Well, I have a tip for you!

Somewhere I learned the following hack (& boy, is it ever useful!). If you’ve already discovered this little trick, than kudos: you, too, have been enjoying being in the driver’s seat of toilet control. For those of you yet to discover, may I reveal the following secret to you. Ta-da:

I’ll tell you what… I was about 3-4 kids in before I discovered this trick! It’s so simple! I’ve never had freaked out kids (or me) in the bathroom ever since!

So, if this is the first time you’ve ever seen this: you’re welcome. Enjoy. Hope this random thought of mine today is actually a blessing to you.

Happy flushings!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#totallyrandomthoughtoftheday   #bathroomhack   #nomoresurprises   #pottypeacefully

Prancercise

Prancercise

Not quite sure why I was thinking about Prancercise this morning. Perhaps it was my own giddy gate as I “pranced” around the kitchen making coffee that shook the memory loose. Mornings are my absolute FAV time of day. I’ll get up at least an hour before the rest of the family just to soak in the aloneness that’s all mine. I’ll even forfeit sleep to have these moments of quiet. It’s.the.best. I get AM adrenaline surges that literally make me go “eeeee” and make my hair stand on end. My husband, aka “the corpse”, is my exact opposite. Our kids seem to (thankfully) be a happy middle ground between our extremes.

Let’s face it… I “prance”. Esp in the mornings. Or to 80’s pop music. Or to fantastic summer breezes blowing in my windows. Basically whenever everything is right with the world and I’m overcome with energy and happiness. I “get” this Prancercising lady.

Do I prance in public? Uh… no. I guess that’s why I kinda envy the boldness of Joanna Rohrback. She’s so genuine, so true, so… herself. Looks like she could give a flying flip about what anyone else thinks. She gets to walking. She gets to listening to some music. She gets to jamming. And then she just lets herself get lost in the moment to the music. Does her movement look like everyone else’s? Not at all. But that’s ok. That’s how SHE rolls. And I TOTALLY appreciate that. I LOVE that. She is who she is and she does what she does regardless of what other people say and think of her. She put herself out there and shared from her heart, probably in hopes of encouraging others to free themselves from the shackles of what others think and to embrace their own inner beat. To get fit while having fun.

But boy, she’s been made fun of for doing so. Lots of parodies and jokes and whatnot out there bashing her for being so weird/strange.

Anytime anyone puts themselves out there, they risk the chance of being made fun of. Actually, it’s a guarantee… they WILL be made fun of or ridiculed or bashed, etc.

It’s a shame really. And with social media, people can hide behind their anonymity. They say things online that they’d NEVER say to someone’s face.

There’s def an art to learning how to let crap like that roll off your back and not let it affect your heart. I liken it to bullying. The very mental flow of a bully is this: 1) the bully feels like crap inside (for whatever reason), 2) they see someone else that’s “better” than them (or that has something good going on), 3) the bully feels even yuckier (& prob threatened), 4) so they say or do something mean in hopes of tearing that “better” person down to their level (or lower), 5) their wounded ego (temporarily) gets stroked, and 6) they (temporarily) feel better. It’s primal and requires very little thinking. But that feeling of ok-ness only lasts a for a little while. Then they have to repeat the process again in order to re-feel better about themselves. The only thing that will REALLY heal a bully is for they themselves to work on/through their issues. Bashing other people is not a permanent fix.

But anyways, back to Prancing. Joanna Rohrback is prob a truly happy person. An energetic person (obviously). And this prancing… it’s from the heart. And if I had to bet, there’s prob a LOT of other people out there that, if stripped from the cares of what others may say, they too would prance in public. Even on a fitness level, that added movement incorporated with regular walking probably does indeed burn more calories!

Though I may not “prance” in public for my exercise routine, I do genuinely appreciate Joanna’s staying true to who she is. That’s a technique we should all be learning to do in our own lives– a lofty goal we should all be attempting to achieve. It’s taking that risk and putting ourselves out there. It’s sharing our life, thoughts, experiences, successes & failures… to help others, touch other people’s lives, encourage them, and to better someone else (even if it’s just 1 person). It’s standing tall regardless of the ridicule.

For more on Prancercise, Joanna has a YouTube channel. You can also read up more about it on Wikipedia.

In closing, I hope you my reader are learning to care less about what other people are thinking about you. I hope you’re taking that risk and putting yourself out there to reach and touch other people’s lives. I hope you are learning to listen to constructive criticism but to let hurtful criticism roll off your back (and to have the wisdom to know the difference between the two). In your life, do your own form of “prancing”– be & do what you were created to be & do.

prancercise

 

How to Wash a Pack-n-Play

We have (2) Pack-n-Plays over here… one, we’ve had since 2003 and the other is slightly newer, just over 3 years old. Our *old* PnP stays stored in the basement for travel and guests. The *newer* PnP was being used by our youngest child for FAR too long. Yeah, we actually JUST recently purchased her a toddler bed and we’ve discovered she LOVES to sprawl! Poor thing. Can’t believe we never thought to get her a big-girl bed all this time. With Baby I being due in 4 weeks, we needed that PnP from her. It’s all good. We got the newer PnP all ready for Baby… and Miss Pebbles got her big girl bed. Everyone’s happy.

Well before I went and got the bassinet and everything attached to the *newer* PnP, I decided I better clean the thing first. I found online a loooooong time ago a recipe and instructions for just how to do such a project. I think I originally found it here at Mommy and the Minister.

Before I went and washed my newer PnP, I decided to experiment with my older one from the basement first, ya know… just in case I ruined it. LOL. If it got ruined, I’d be upset, but not devastated. If I ruined my newer one, now THAT would be upsetting.

So here’s the recipe:

Pack-n-Play Cleaner
1 scoop Dreft (or comparable brand gentle detergent)
splash of white vingar
1/4 C baking soda
Fill a bathtub with the hottest water possible from the tap. Once filled at least half way, add the Cleaner ingredients. No need to stir. Place PnP pieces in the tub. If it’s not completely submerged, keep adding water. Leave for 30 min. Flip pieces. Leave for another 30 min. Take outside to rinse well with a hose. Allow to stand outside to completely air dry.

Now… I believe *all* GRACO Brand PnP’s have a particle board type filler in the mattress to make it hard. Other brands may be made with plastic. Of course I have GRACO’s so I was *not* able to submerge my mattresses. GRRRR. That was the part I REALLY wanted to clean super good. I even called to company to confirm the materials in the mattress. Yep… particle board. So frustrating. If you have a different brand of PnP, it could very well be made of plastic– if so, you are in grand luck. CHECK YOUR OWNERS MANUAL or the TAGS on your product JUST TO BE SURE before you submerge. If you submerge particle board, you will totally warp the mattress material and it’ll be ruined.

What I did was make up a smaller batch of the Cleaner and put it in the sink. I then used a wash cloth to spot scrub the mattresses. It still worked well… but man alive, if only I could have dunked it, it’d probably have had an even better cleaning success.

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Cleaner ingredients

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Going in

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After 30 min soak

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Made a smaller batch of Cleaner in the sink for spot washing the mattresses.

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Spot washing the old mattress.

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Getting ready to spot wash the newer mattress.

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After 1 hour soak.

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Pulled it out and laid it on some towels to carry it downstairs without it dripping on the floor.

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The water after the soak. YUCK.

 

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Newer PnP going in for a soak.

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Close up of grime.

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Old PnP after being hosed down. Air drying.

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Both mattresses, post hose down, drying outside. They look SO much better.

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The water after 1 hr with newer PnP. Not nearly as bad as the old one.

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Old mattress, after cleaning.

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After cleaning.

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After cleaning.

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After cleaning.

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Bassinet pieces of newer PnP after cleaning.

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The stain on the warning label came right off.

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Newer PnP all cleaned and dried and almost ready for baby.

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The mattress, after cleaning & drying.

Since I wasn’t able to submerge my mattresses and get a super deep clean, I will be sure and buy some mattress sheets. Probably would be a good idea anyway, what with spit up and diaper leaks that will for sure occur.

—————————————————-

This cleaning process worked SO well. I am QUITE impressed.

So impressed, in fact, that I decided to use this same recipe on some cloth folding chairs we owned.

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Filling up the tub.

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30 min soak.

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After 1 hr. Truly nasty!

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Out to air dry after a good hose-down!

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They look SO MUCH better!!!

I think I may do another soak on these chairs as there are still a few lingering spots. This time, though, instead of leaving to “soak” I will actually try scrubbing them.

If you try your hand at washing your Pack-n-Play using this method, be sure and let me know how it turns out. Hope you have as much success as we did!!!