Thursday, November 12, 2015


This afternoon we were in the car. On the radio a song with the lyrics "You saved me from myself" was playing.
Josh asked, "How could someone be saved from themselves?"
I replied, "Well one way could be if they had really negative self-thought, like 'I'm bad, I'm terrible, I'm worthless.' and someone helped them to realize that negative thinking wasn't true."
"So, like, their therapist?" Josh asked.
"Therapists definitely could help their clients eliminate negative self-thinking, but people who love and care about the person could help them realize it too, like friends and family."
"I see."
"The funny thing about negative self-thought, though, is usually it comes from someone else saying those negative things about you first. 'You're bad. You're terrible. You're worthless.' After so long hearing those things your mind changes it to 'I'm bad.' etc."
"So it's just like Inception," Josh said. "Inception /is/ possible."
And there I sat slack-jawed and mind-blown.
But seriously, I love how movies and music and other forms of media help give us launching pads and aids for contemplating abstract ideas.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Water Only Hair Washing Experiment- Take 1

I'm lazy, you guys. Or rather, I prefer not to do things which I don't want to do. So when I heard that washing your hair with water only was a "thing," I figured I'd give it a try. Why not? I've tried just about everything else on my hair including henna dye, no-poo, and even being bald. (The only thing I haven't tried yet that I want to try is dread locks. One day.)

Me bald. It was awesome, and so liberating. I recommend everyone try it!

My Hair Backstory-

I have very fine hair. It's neither thin nor thick, just average. It's got natural wave to it, but nothing orderly. I don't get it trimmed nearly often enough. We have pretty hard water and every time I have gotten my hair professionally cut, they recommend a clarifying shampoo for the build up. I found ACV (apple cider vinegar) to work pretty well if I kept up with it. Prior to trying this water only thing, I had done no-poo (baking soda wash and ACV rinse) for over two years and was very happy with it.

My two year no-poo anniversary.
Then I got nostalgic for my dark hair days of yore and picked up a box of do-it-yourself hair dye, and everything went to crap. My hair wasn't feeling clean from the no-poo anymore, so out of desperation I used some Pantene Pro V a friend left in our shower after staying the weekend. When that ran out I started using the store brand dandruff shampoo my husband buys. I was shampooing 2-3 times a week. My hair was dull and lifeless and boring. I really had nothing to lose with trying Water Only.

It Starts-

I washed my hair on a Friday, then just happened to not wash it again by Monday when I decided to not wash it "on purpose". I got until Wednesday before my first Rinse. I scritched and preened with my boar bristle brush beforehand (here's a great video on how to do that). I rinsed with hot water and pulled as much oil down with my fingers as I could. I towel dried my hair, and blow dried it on the coolest setting. Here are the results-

Not too bad. Some orderly waves in there. Okay. 

I scritched for 5 minutes everyday and preened twice a day while watching tv. Friday I Rinsed again. 7 days since last shampoo. So oily. So greasy. So heavy feeling. Gross. But I powered through.

This is not wet hair, this is how oily my hair is!

I made it through the weekend with a headband. Monday I had to go out, so I did a cute little up-do thing to keep the hair away from my face. I actually got 3 compliments on it! Although I think it was more do to the fact I NEVER do my hair than how great it looked from not shampooing. My husband said it just looked like I had product in my hair. 

Monday night I slept with it in that up-do. I woke up Tuesday and it hadn't moved. Pretty nice. It felt better too. My scalp felt really good, and the hair didn't feel greasy next to my face, even though I looked like Snape's long lost sister.

But Then....

I spent all day Tuesday going through old pictures to make the kids scrapbooks. All these pictures of me with long, shiny, sexy, chemical ridden hair. Well, maybe not that great, but definitely better than what was on my head at the moment. All I could think was, "What was so bad about washing my hair with commercial shampoo anyway? It looked so great!"

Side Note-

I'm 30, and I spent a day looking at pictures of myself in my early 20's thinking, "Damn, what I would give to look like that again!" We never seem to appreciate what we look like in the moment, do we? So next time you look in the mirror or see a picture of yourself, be proud of yourself. Take a minute to love yourself. This is the youngest you'll ever be again.

Anyway, those pictures broke me. I wanted to wash my hair, right now! I picked up some Burt's Bees shampoo at Target and washed washed washed all that effort down the drain. Except, my hair was more oily and disgusting AFTER I got done than when I'd started. 12 days of Water Only, plus a shampoo with Burt's got me this- (sorry for the poor pictures)

It was weird. My hair was still heavy and oily, but I now also had all these little fly-aways and frizz. The back of my head was especially heavy and oily feeling. It did not feel clean AT ALL. So I threw it in a ponytail and headed back to the store. I got a $2 bottle of Suave Daily Clarifying shampoo from Walgreen's and lathered that bad boy all throughout my hair. Here's what that got me-

There's that untidy wave I was talking about.

And my roots from that darn hair color that ruined everything!

So light! So clean! So wonderful! I purposefully didn't use any conditioner afterward because I wanted to see exactly what the shampoo alone did to my hair. It certainly left my hair drier than I'd like, but I think that's to be expected from a clarifying shampoo not followed by conditioner. 

I think this gives me a much better starting point to try the Water Only method again than what I had before. I had tons of build up from the other shampoos I was using, not to mention our hard water. I think if anyone is going to try Water Only, a clarifying wash to begin is ESSENTIAL! The plan now is to scritch and preen everyday and see how long I can make it before I Rinse again. I do plan to use ACV when I rinse to combat the hard water buildup until we get a filter for the shower head. That's not anywhere near the top of the shopping list now though. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weekend Update

What are we up to lately?
Last weekend we took a trip to Beaver's Bend Oklahoma. We went tubing, swimming, canoeing, rode a train, saw deer, and generally had a really lovely time. Josh was in his element. Bug, not so much. He's not adventurous in that way.
Otherwise, Josh is looking for license plates from all 50 states. He's halfway there. Yesterday we drove through parking garages and lots and found nine new plates, including one from Ontario, Canada! He's built an elaborate cardboard box fort system, is writing a book based on his minecraft adventures with his friends, reading through every Geronimo Stilton book in the library, watching The Sarah Jane Smith Adventures, and is currently playing the piano. Maple Leaf Rag. It's tricky, but he's taking it slowly.
Bug spent all day yesterday mixing food colors together in water, saving his favorite combinations in zip lock bags and taping them to the window so light could shine through them. He was so excited to pick cantaloupe from the garden Monday! He was given snap circuits and transformers recently, and has been eagerly learning how to manipulate both. Last night he read us a story on his own, mostly from memory, but sounding out a few words he forgot. Currently he's playing a felt story from the library.
How is summer going for all of you?

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Kids are Awesome

Anyone who thinks raising a child without spanking, without chores, without rules, without school, without coercion, without manipulation CAN'T produce a person who is kind, thoughtful, self-disciplined, productive, inquisitive, motivated, and ethical, I wish you could meet my children.
I woke up to this on my bedside table. Josh, 10, got up, took care of the pets, made me coffee, and is now practicing piano. I'm so often overwhelmed by their Inherent goodness.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Interruptions are one of my triggers.
We're driving home from the store. I'm getting hangry. Bug asks me a question. I'm answering, and Josh interrupts me.
I fume, "I was just in the middle of answering Bug's question. I don't like being interrupted."
"Oh, sorry", said Josh.
In my head I'm running through what else to say. " So rude! " "Every time!" "Seriously?!" "How many times do I have to tell you?" I'm really huffing and puffing up there, stomping my foot and everything.
We turn a corner and Bug's book falls to the floor. "Ugh! I can't reach my book!" he grumbles.
"Where is it?" Josh kindly asks. Bug points and Josh gets it for him.
We've all seen the quote "We can't make kids behave better by making them feel worse." (Paraphrased) These 4 years working on parenting peacefully and I just now really understand that phrase.
Josh is a kind, considerate, helpful person. One interruption doesn't change that. My berating him for one interruption certainly doesn't set an example of kindness for him to follow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Trust and Consequences

I was listening to TED Radio Hour- Trust and Consequences and this part of the interview hit home SO HARD.
Interview with Simon Sinek. He's speaking in reference to companies, but think of it in terms of family leadership.
"What's the connection between feeling safe and trust?
They're inextricably linked. The sense of feeling safe comes first, so when we feel safe trust will emerge, and this is what the foundations of leadership really are. The reason we call someone leader is because they choose to go first. They choose to extend trust first, even before, maybe, any signs have been offered that they should. It's the willingness to express empathy before anyone else.
And presumably that feeling changes behavior?
Absolutely. And when we assess that someone would do that and we see that they have that integrity, they would willingly sacrifice their interests for our lives, we cannot help ourselves. The natural human response is trust. And this is the point, which is, as human beings if those in, especially, leadership positions express empathy for our well being, we reward them with our trust and our loyalty and our love to see that their vision of the company [family] is advanced."
Our kids need this type of leadership.

Reflecting on My Scrapbook

Healing from our own childhoods can be so hard. Making parenting choices vastly different than those our parents made is really, really, difficult if we haven't prepared ourselves in advance.
I'm thinking about this lately because over the weekend I cleaned out a ton of photo albums from my closet. One of the albums was a childhood scrapbook my mom gave me when I turned 19. Each year had a bullet point list of memorable moments from the year. Papa and I were reading through it and laughing hysterically because things like "Had teeth cleaned" and "Drank lots of water" made the lists of highlights. It was really funny. At first.
As I continued reading through (I started at age 18 and worked my way backward) I got progressively more sad. The trend of non-events continued to be the highlights of my scrapbook, with sprinklings of outright negativity thrown in. My parents' divorce, being suspended from school for swearing in a note to a friend, being forced to go to counseling for suspected drug use (suspected by my parents, I wasn't using drugs though).
It hurt to see how vastly differently my mom experienced my childhood from the way I did. None of my cherished memories were in that book. None of my ambitions or interests were recorded. It drove home that my mom didn't, and still doesn't, really know *ME*. My heart aches for that relationship which I don't have.
But the beauty of it is the reminder to stop some of the things I'm doing and go sit with my children, to just *be* with them. To ask them what they think about the world and really listen. To be involved with their interests. To cherish the joy the feel in their accomplishments. To heal my hurt by nourishing my relationship with them. To do all I can to create a legacy of love and connection.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gardeners Don't Tell Flowers To Grow

I saw this yesterday and it made me think of the idea that a gardener doesn't tell a flower how to grow, or even to grow, they just provide the environment needed for the flower to flourish.
We humans are biologically evolved to be social creatures. Like a flower doesn't need to be forced to grow, our children don't need to be forced to learn social cues. It is in their biology. They are made to get along with their group, to read people, to empathize, to make amends. We simply need to provide the right environment for them to flourish, then watch the beauty of it all unfold.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Making Positive Changes

All of our children's behavior is a direct result of our behavior. They are a reflection of our actions, and they cannot, repeat CANNOT- are completely incapable of- making any positive changes until WE change our behavior and outlook. Maybe that means we do some reading and self-reflection, maybe that means we go to see a counselor, but whatever it is, the focus needs to be on changing ourselves instead of changing our children.
Yes, as parents we do have a responsibility to help our kids become the best adults they can be, but we do that by being a living example to them. Not by trying to manipulate them into being something we're not. (Example, we can't reasonably expect a child to learn patience and respect if we're not modeling that for them every day.)
Inevitably, when we start making positive changes in ourselves there comes the time when we will think, "I've been so positive and worked so hard for so long; why is my child still behaving the way they did before?"
To understand that we need to understand the parent-child relationship is involuntary on the child's part. They are completely trapped in this relationship with us. If they feels unhappy, neglected, abused, etc, they are helpless to leave and too immature to know how to effectively change the dynamic of the relationship. It makes trust a very delicate thing. Try to put ourselves in their shoes. If we were literally trapped in a bad marriage, how would you feel if our partner treated us the way we treat our children and we had no autonomy? For our entire lives this is all we've known.
Now imagine our partner became more respectful, patient, loving, etc. How long would it take to rebuild that trust? How long would they have to continue to act that way before we really believed it was permanent? That is why when we make positive changes to our behavior it will always take much longer for our children to follow suit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Josh's Morning

A typical morning for Josh (10y) looks like this-
Wake up around 8:30am. Let the dogs out. Feed the dogs breakfast. Do one lesson each in math and grammar workbooks (this is not something he's forced to do). Make coffee for me.
I never asked him to do any of these things. This is how he's self regulated and self organized his morning. He loves his dogs, so he loves caring for them. He likes getting his work done early so he's got the rest of the day to play. And my personal favorite, he knows I'm a happier camper when coffee hits my system as soon as I shuffle out of bed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

EGG-citing EGG-speriments!

In anticipation of Spring Equinox this Friday, we decided to do some egg themed experiments.

The first focused on osmosis, with a bit of chemistry as well.

1 egg (fresh, not hard boiled)
clear container
white vinegar
corn syrup

Osmosis is the movement of materials in a solution across a membrane, typically from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. An egg has a membrane we can use to see this, but first we have to get rid of the shell.

Before we began we found the weight of our egg on a simple kitchen scale. Ours was 2.25 ounces. We then placed our egg in a glass and covered it with vinegar. The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell to make calcium acetate and carbon dioxide. The bubbles were visible almost immediately.

We left the egg in the vinegar for 48 hours and got this- 

Since the vinegar had a higher concentration of water than the inside of the egg, some water moved into the egg by osmosis. At this point the egg weighed in at 3 ounces. We put it back in the glass and covered it with water to see if it would take on even more water.

After just 30 minutes in water the egg looked like this. The lighting accounts for some of the color change, but not all. At this point the egg weighed 3.25 ounces. 

We then poured out the water and covered the egg in corn syrup. The corn syrup has a lower concentration of water than the inside of the egg, so we're expecting to water to now move out of the egg into the corn syrup.

At this point the egg had been in the corn syrup for about 4 hours. You can clearly see the less dense layer of water which has come out of the egg floating on top of the more dense corn syrup. We left the egg overnight in the corn syrup.

We woke up to this. The egg weighed 1.25 ounces, losing a total of 2 ounces from when it was placed in the corn syrup. 

We had so much fun with this experiment! The boys especially loved touching the egg without it's shell and showing everyone who would look at it in the various stages. 

Peeling Oranges is Tough

Last night I let Bug have some ice cream after dinner, fully knowing he would be a sugar crashing mess afterward. At bedtime he was acting as expected, and wanted an orange. I calmly told him no, and he ended up trying to peel the orange himself. When he couldn't get it, he got frustrated and slapped the orange.
I said, "Peeling oranges is tough, huh."
And he responded, "Yeah. And shirts." (He had struggled getting his pajama shirt on earlier.)
"And pants" (He's just learning about the tag going in the back of pants and often has to take them off to turn them around.)
"And socks" (I've not noticed him struggle with socks, but it does take him time to get them on just right.)
I was suddenly overwhelmed with how many obstacles he faces every day, and he handles it really well considering his emotional immaturity. If I felt half the frustration he does in a given day, I'd be a mess and need to be held while I cried too, which is how we spent the next 30 minutes or so before he calmed down and fell asleep.
Being a kid is tough work. What are your children working through lately?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Praising Hard Work

There's plenty of research now showing that praising your child's hard work instead of their being "smart" sets them up for future success.
I did not follow this advice with Josh (10y). Instead I doted on him throughout his younger years, telling him how smart, special, talented, etc I thought he was. This has set us both up for a lot of frustration. He has trouble handling situations in which he struggles and feels like a failure if he doesn't achieve perfection on his first try at something.
Which leads to one of my worse parenting moments, or perhaps on of my better ones.
Josh was struggling with piano drills. He shut down, threw things, yelled, and told me to leave. I refused. He didn't need to be alone with those emotions. I needed to help him find a healthier way to express himself. But after so much yelling AT me, I snapped as well. I said some harsh things, things that negated all the doting I'd done for years.
It was a sobering moment for us both.
We came up with a mantra- "I will work hard and figure this out." He said it, yelled it, and tackled his piano drills. Practice ended on a positive note. wink emoticon
Later at bedtime we were doing our Best, Worst, and Looking Forward To (where we reflect on our day), and I told Josh my worst was yelling at him. His response was, "That's okay, I needed to hear it."