Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Great Lakes Retreat

In three days and ten minutes from now, I will be leaving for Michigan for six days, to make my grand return to The Great Lakes Retreat, after a three-year absence. Last year I was unable to attend due to an already-high travel budget and already-busy travel schedule for iPEC coach training. The year before that, I had a 15 month old, who I was still somewhat nursing and was not ready to leave for a week. The year before that, I had a 3 month old, so apply the previous reason and multiply it by seventeen. The year before that, my husband went to Retreat with me, and our son was conceived. The year before that was only my second year there, and the year before that was, obviously, my first.

My first year there, I already felt like I'd found a new family and had discovered the happiest place on Earth. It's a spiritual retreat, full of all levels of psychics and healers and numerologists and (literal) tree huggers, and I freaking loved it. In normal life, I'm just far enough into hippie and outside of normal that I feel just a little bit odd and like it's best to dial myself down. There? I almost feel out of place being so low-level odd. There, it's "normal" to be really, really far out there, which is a totally different mindset, and one I enjoy adopting. There, everyone has different spiritual beliefs, and can direct their "prayers" or "energy" or what have you toward God, Goddess, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Jesus, their Higher Self, the Creator, or Whomever They Choose and everyone else is simply okay with that. There's discussion about what others believe and why, that is discussion and not argument, brought forth from genuine curiosity rather than skepticism or an intention to convert or ridicule. In short: it is so happy there, with such a feeling of love all around you at (almost)* all times that it makes you want to cry with happy at the end of the week because it is the very manifestation of "can't we all just get along?" and you see that yes, actually, we can, so why can't we?

*(I mean, there is the occasional Odd Duck who is really, really odd whom you kind of want to avoid if you can. But then, sometimes, those Odd Ducks are the folks you end up learning a lot about yourself from by the end of the week. Usually about judgment from calling them Odd Ducks and then watching them have a life-altering realization and transforming themselves by the end of the week, when you'd written them off at the beginning. Or seeing someone you thought was closed off and negative be incredibly loving and positive. You just never know, and sometimes it's good to be reminded of that.)

I'm going to miss my family like crazy. My husband, though, is looking forward to some Daddy Time while Mommy's away, to catch up with the little guy a bit while we're not in default Mommy Just Handles Everything mode. I'm sure that popcorn and pizza will be consumed in abundant quantities. I also figure that tents will be built, and sleeping on the living room floor will be done. My husband, I have to say, turns into Superdad when I'm away, and while sometimes I lament that it'd be nice if he were Superdad while I'm here, too, it's good to know that they'll have a great time together while I'm gone.

The little things that I'm looking forward to:
  • Morning meditation -- something I keep meaning to do for myself at home, but which never seems to happen.
  • Having three meals per day provided for me without the "I dunno, whadda you wanna do?" conversation taking long enough that there's no more time to cook.
  • The healing center -- even if you take a total skeptical point of view about energy-type healing, you'd still have to admit that going to a relaxing room where you have the full attention of someone only intending good for you, is a good thing.
  • Taking the same seat at the morning and evening lectures that I've taken every other year I've been there, just because.
  • Having real, thought-provoking discussions that give me a chance to explain and challenge my ways of thinking.
  • Popcorn, and bad karaoke.
I just hope I remember to pack pictures of my kid.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Au natural.

For no apparent reason, I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to share with you all the natural, chemical-free stuff that I use on a regular basis.



I currently mix 2-3tsp of baking soda with 8oz of water. Don't laugh; I mix it in the peri bottle I got from the hospital when I had Raiden. And I only use about 1/4 of the bottle when I wash my hair.

This took a lot of trial and error, and seems to have finally decided to work perfectly, after I cut nearly a foot of hair off my head. My long hair seemed to feel like there was build-up on it a lot, and my short hair doesn't at all. I don't know if my long hair was damaged or just not rinsing cleanly or what, but it felt yucky, and I'd still have to use shampoo every fourth shampoo or so to get rid of it.

Since getting the hair whacked off, I haven't used shampoo once. The way it gets dirty now is completely different than how it got dirty before. With shampoo, you're stripping away your body's natural oils and your scalp freaks out and overcompensates by making itself more oily. With baking soda, it just sort of removes the excess oil without stripping anything, and it feels like a cleaner oil. I can go 3-4 days without washing at this point, and even when it starts looking like it needs to be washed, it doesn't look gross, and it doesn't feel dirty when I run my hands through my hair. Just a totally different world.


About 2tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in about 8oz of water. Typically I slosh some ACV into a cup and hold the cup up to the shower head until it looks like about a cup or so. After washing and rinsing well with the baking soda, I pour the entire cup of water over my head, massage it in, and let it set until I'm ready to rinse it out. My hair is the softest it's ever been.

I have definitely learned to use a higher quality, more natural ACV. Braggs is good, though there was another natural, organic variety right next to it at the health food store for a dollar or two cheaper, so I got that instead. Before, I used Kroger brand cheap ACV, and it made my hair feel really oily. Also the smell isn't as strong, and goes away faster, with the higher quality ACV. Yes, the smell goes away when it dries. It kind of smells like, um, nothing.


This is a recent one. I tried making homemade flax seed hair gel (boil flax in water and then strain; I've seen varying amounts of flax/water suggested online). Hahaha, fail. Trying to "strain" this mixture of goo was absolutely ridiculous and looked totally inappropriate, dripping out the bottom of the strainer. I'll say it: I nicknamed it "flax jizz." I was able to salvage enough to put in a little bottle and it doesn't suck to use, but oh man, not a process worth repeating. I saw a suggestion somewhere online that said to put the flax in some old nylons and then boil, so you don't have the problem with straining, but we'll see.

My next try -- lemon hairspray -- worked much better. Cube one lemon, or orange, or half of each (something, somewhere said that the orange is better for dry hair) (I used a large lemon), and boil it in 2 cups of water until the amount is reduced by half; strain and pour into a spray bottle. This, I love. I probably ought to strain it a little more thoroughly, as a bit of pulp came through the wire mesh strainer, but I'm not bothered by it enough to do anything about it.

I've used this a few times now, both having sprayed it on when my hair was wet and letting it dry along with it, and spraying it on when dry, and it seems to work well either way. It's just enough to keep the flippy-outty part of my hair from falling flat, and helps it keep some of the wave, without feeling yucky later.


I use henna, instead of dye. Check out for all kinds of info. The color looks more natural (it stains each hair individually rather than dying it one certain shade, so there's still a natural color variance), it makes your hair stronger and softer, and it's an anti-fungal, which means anti-dandruff. I mix mine with tea (what kind depends on what mood I'm in, but it's been apple-chamomile the past few times), and you can get a different color shade depending on what you mix it with, as well. Turns out mixing it with chamomile is supposed to make it more golden. I wish I'd read that before I mixed it with chamomile and hoped it'd turn out a cooler red rather than warmer. Oh well, now I know.


You'll see some repeats here.


The same baking soda and water mixture I use on my hair. I squirt some on a wash rag, and wash my face. The end.


A 50/50 mixture of ACV and water. I keep a mixture in a tiny Gladware tub in my medicine cabinet, and dip in a corner of a wash rag then run it over my face.


Raw, unrefined coconut oil, with a few drops of Rose essential oil and Sweet Orange essential oil. Coconut oil is good for pretty much everything and is supposed to be a good anti-wrinkle product, too. Rose oil is good energy, sweet orange oil is supposed to be energizing, and mostly, I just like the combination of scents. I'll use a little of the mixture for lip gloss every now and then, too.


Another repeat: while I'm slathering the 50/50 ACV/water mixture over my face, I do the same for my underarms. The acidity in the ACV raises your pH so bacteria can't grow. No body odor. No chemicals giving me breast cancer. I still sweat (it's not an anti-perspirant), it's just not stinky.


Next up, I want to try making my own natural bug repellent from essential oils as seen here (at the bottom) and here. The little one and I can attract every chigger and mosquito within a 12 mile radius. My poor kid, he even had chigger bites on his scrotum recently. I can't imagine that would be pleasant.

I'm looking into some natural flea remedies today, too, as I don't like the idea of spraying my cats or carpet with chemicals and poisons that "should" be safe when they dry. So far I've found Diatomaceous Earth that I could sprinkle around the house, and a few more natural options to use in/on the pet, that I need to do a bit more looking on, but it's a good starting point.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The no-penis discovery.

I've been waiting for this age and this discussion, and it was as cute and hilarious as I expected.

Raiden has been practicing going peepee standing up (and there is much less cleaning up afterwards involved nowadays than when we first started this endeavor), and is very proud of himself every time he "hits the target."

Earlier today, after he'd gone peepee, I had to go, too, and I told him so.

Raiden: "You're gonna go peepee standing up?"
Mommy: "Nope, I'm a girl so I don't have a penis, so I can't aim like you can. I go peepee sitting down."
Raiden: "You don't have a penis?"
Mommy: "Nope."
Raiden: "What happened??"
Mommy: "Nothing happened; I'm a girl, and girls don't have penises."
Raiden: "Why?"
Mommy: "Boys and girls are just made a little differently."
Raiden: "...Daddy has a penis?"
Mommy: "Yep, Daddy has a penis."
Raiden: "You don't have a penis?"
Mommy: "Nope."
Raiden: "Because you're a girl?"
Mommy: "That's right."
Raiden: "You go peepee sitting down."

This was a command; he left the bathroom and shut the door behind him.

We had a bit of a review of this topic at bedtime, after he went peepee standing up again.

Raiden: "The little boy at JumpMania has a penis?"
Mommy: "Yep."
Raiden: "The little girl at the fireworks, she doesn't have a penis?"
Mommy: "That's right, she doesn't."
Raiden: *holding up Bunny Bear* "Bunny Bear has a penis?"
Mommy: "Yep, because he's a boy."

Best not to confuse him with the non-anatomy of stuffed animals at this point, I think.

Personally, I just can't wait for him to ask MIL and FIL about it tomorrow, without them having any clue that we've had this discussion *grin*.