Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Wishes and Candy Dreams

"Does the Easter Bunny represent Jesus?"
"Are these eggs for Jesus or can I eat one?"
"Why do we have egg hunts for Easter?"

These are the kinds of questions thrown at me lately. and I usually stumble through a confusing and inaccurate explanation as my son gazes up at me with skeptical blue eyes. "Jesus was crucified, then three days later he rose from the dead and the tomb...was...like an empty egg, so we fill that tomb egg with candy and hide it in the grass."

"Jesus...is that you??"


Honestly, this is what I hate about Christian holidays.  "Let's celebrate the birth of Jesus with...toys!! His resurrection? Candy!!"  The secular aspects have merged almost completely with the religious, so that it's hard to distinguish one from the other and frankly, a lot of religious practices don't always make a lot of sense to me. But I was raised with a set of beliefs and I never really thought to question any of them or reconcile that which seemed illogical.   When my kids were little I didn't have to explain anything, which made my own ignorance easy to mask. However now that they're getting older and more cognizant of the world around them, I'm faced with a choice. To continue feeding them the same vague, half-hearted explanations or to reject the status quo and go another way. Considering my options, I'll choose the latter.

 There is no reason to believe that my children cannot be both religious and pragmatic, or that forgoing the fairy tale will make the world any less magical.  In fact if anything I think it will make their spiritual experiences that much more profound and personal. 

In the end, where Easter in concerned, I want them to know that he lives, but not in a plastic egg.








Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anjolee

I was recently asked to review Anjolee's Customizable Diamond Jewelry website and although I don't worship at the alter of that sparkling rock, it's hard to deny that they have some gorgeous pieces. Like, A LOT of gorgeous pieces. From classic solitaire earrings to the most glamorous diamond tennis necklace, they have a seemingly endless inventory. And the best part is that it's all customizable. 

So let's say you want to invest in your first pair of diamond princess cut earrings. You click on these beauties, then pick your metal type, carrot weight and quality and basically build the perfect pair (in your price range).


The website is easy to navigate, includes customer feedback ratings and a detailed certification and standards page as well as a 30-day return policy (even on customized orders).  Anjolee has seemingly taken the hassle out of buying high quality jewelry on a budget, without gimmicks or pressure. Now if only car dealerships would follow suit...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Camp Khaki and The Matriarch

How is it that I can be standing in March one minute, then blink and suddenly it's the middle of April? Time is like the eternal watched pot that never boils.

Last week was Spring Break and while Cole went off to scout camp, Aidin and I were left to carry on alone. We ate pizza, explored around our favorite island haunts, watched movies,  swam in the sea and read a bunch of books. Miracle of miracles he never once complained of being bored, probably because every time he started a sentence with, "I'm b-" I screamed, "LET'S GO GET ICE CREAM!!!!!!"


 At the end of the week we went to scout camp to visit Cole, who showed us around, introduced us to his new friends and camp counselors and told us more stories than we could keep straight.  Every kid there was emanating the same electric joy and I'll admit, I felt a little guilty remembering that I was initially reluctant to let Cole join scouts. I've always thought of it as a utopia for nerds, instead of simply a utopia.  Maybe not my ideal, but someone's.  As my kids have gotten older I've started to realize that where their personal tastes are concerned, asserting my opinion belittles theirs. They're mature enough to know what they like and what they don't, or at least what interests them and what doesn't. I'm no parenting expert but I know that when I support and encourage, my kids thrive; When I manipulate or compel, they struggle. 


So I sat contently, huddled by the bonfire in a field of khaki as he recounted the harrowing tale of how he almost lost his eye. 




Friday, March 28, 2014

Botanical Gardens

 I spent the day at the Botanical Gardens with a few ladybros and I'm kicking myself for not going sooner.  It's one of those places you drive by and see the signs for but inexplicably drag your feet to venture in. 
Then, when you finally go, it's like...whoa.







You can check out my Instagram for more pics!




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Signs From The Universe

(This is a photograph taken by amateur astronomer Georgiy Suturin using just a camera and a home-made telescope. Insane.)

Every once in a while when I'm wrapped up in my own thoughts, something catches my attention in a way that suggests more than mere coincidence. It is often something as small as an overheard conversation or found object, yet for some reason it seems as though it was intentionally placed in my path.
Now, before you write me off as some sort of mystical hippie please let me assure you that I rarely remember my reusable grocery bags and I talk more about Jared Leto's hair than my own spirituality. However, I think that sometimes in this life we are so afraid to act on intuition that we need these little signs, or clues, to point us in the right direction or give encouragement when we need it.

Maybe it's all in my head, but then Dumbledore told us that just because it's in our heads doesn't make it any less real, so that's my gospel.

The Empress
Years ago I bought a deck of tarot cards from Goodwill, thinking it might come in handy for Halloween or something.  The other day I walked into my office to find this lone Empress card upside down on my desk. I had completely forgotten about them and couldn't even remember where the rest of the deck was or how this one card got there. Out of curiosity I Googled the meaning of The Empress and again, it was as if I was meant to find it.
"The Empress reversed indicates that you are feeling discontented because something is missing or lacking in your life, or because you want to find something creative, meaningful or fulfilling to do but you do not know what. This card can indicate a creative block. You may find your mood is depressed or negative."  -Biddy Tarot


The Reincarnated Orchid.
I put this dead thing outside more than a year ago with plans to reuse the pot. And when I say dead I mean DEAD. Tan Mom's skin dead. But last week I went outside to clean out my garden and this beautiful orchid had literally bloomed overnight.


What do you think? Do you believe in signs from the universe? A higher power guiding you? I know on my computer screen these happenings suddenly seem very small and inconsequential, but I don't think signs have to be loud to be heard.

Sometimes a flower is just a flower, but other times it's hope.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oh, Henry

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you know that we had a big scare this week after Henry  ate a section of this veil:


He threw up all night and the next day it took three veterinary offices and lots of money just to get a very confusing prognosis. 
A might happen, or B might occur, but if X is a variable then C could kill him. Or not.

The only vet who had the endoscopy machine did NOT have a translator, so it was sort of surreal and confusing. Ultimately he was pumped with injectable saline (he was dehydrated), steroids (to stop the swelling in his intestines) and laxatives (to hopefully flush the veil out). The vet gave him 24 hours to improve and we went home to watch and wait and hope.
 I was completely overwhelmed by the frustration of the day, my fears for Henry and the brooding anger that builds in moments like these, when I rage against having to so often deal with life alone. I am not one to look on the bright side. I look on the dark side and then think of every worst case scenario until I'm drowning in my own angst, so I was one straw away from breaking when I started doing the dishes last night.  I turned on some Billie Holiday, opened all the windows to let the breeze in and took a deep breath. Henry ran by chasing Rosie, I could hear the boys outside playing and I just had this overwhelming sense that everything was going to be okay.

We're not out of the woods yet but I feel like I have an ax now. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Real Life Health Hacks for Lazy People

Confession time. 
I love watching tv and I hate going to the gym. Sometimes I don't call maintenance right away when something breaks because that would mean I have to clean my house. I stopped taking my kids to jiu jitsu when their dojo moved out of walking range. I've thrown things away rather than go back to the store to return them. In a word, I'm lazy.
However, I also want to live as long as I possibly can because death really bums me out. So in the past year I've made some changes that have absolutely improved my health and that of my kids. Nothing crazy or hard and no gimmicks. Just little tweaks that made a big difference.

1. Stop Buying Cereal
If you've ever opened the cabinet to find several empty boxes of cereal just a couple days after buying them, then you know how much of it kids have to eat to feel full. In addition to cost, cereal is fairly unhealthy. I tried to buy "healthier" cereals for a while but even the organic options had loads of sugar and sneaky additives. Finally enough was enough, so I found other options.
Healthier
Cheaper
Easier
I make a bunch of oatmeal (not instant) or steel cut oats on Sunday. I add flax and crushed almonds and whatever else appeals to me and I sweeten it with honey and coconut milk. Then I chop fresh fruit or thaw some frozen berries and put them in a separate container for the boys to add as they please.
I also hard boil eggs and keep those in the fridge in case they wake up late or don't feel like oatmeal, but they can just have fruit if they don't feel like any of that.  On the weekends we mix things up with bacon and eggs, paleo pancakes or smoothies. We indulge with pastries or donuts sometimes but I don't feel guilty because we eat so well during the week.

2. Stop Buying Milk
 That mental picture you have of a farmer going out in the morning to milk his cow Bessie is not an accurate depiction of where modern cow's milk comes from. In a great piece in the NY Times Opinionator, the author's doctor urged him to quit dairy in order to eliminate his heartburn (it worked) and stated that, "What's clear is that widespread existence of lactose intolerance ... is a pretty good sign that we've evolved to drink human milk when we're babies but have no need for the milk of any animals." 
If you want to drink it because you like it, that's your prerogative,  but modern milk is all a bit too sci-fi for me.  If a recipe calls for milk I use almond or coconut milk and I don't miss the cow whatsoever. 

3. Stop Buying Vitamins
If you're eating mostly vegetables, fruit and protein, you don't need a multi-vitamin. Vitamins in whole foods are more easily absorbed by the human body and recent tests showed that many vitamins are a scam. So don't waste your money on bottles of pills or gummy bears. Buy some freaking fruit.

4. Tune Out The Hype and Do What Moves You
There is a lot of diet and fitness controversy in our society. Is cardio good or bad? Should I lift weights? Should I try Zumba? Should I do a cleanse? Crossfit? Low-carb?
Tune it all out. 
Listen, I hate working out. I hate going to the gym. I tried and tried but it made me miserable. Some people love it --ROCK ON!--But I had to find my own ways of staying in shape.   I walk, I ride my bike, sometimes I go to yoga and I have a small collection of workout equipment I use at home (kettelebells, medicine ball, jump rope and some hand weights).
Ultimately as long as you're moving your body and eating a healthy, balanced diet you're going to stay fit.  So find what makes you feel good and do that.