Saturday, December 14, 2013

What decorates your tree?

 We have all seen them; the amazingly decorated theme trees. The kind where you pick the latest colors and buy up everything "that color" by way of ornaments, tinsel, garland, etc. They are a wonder to behold, really. It actually becomes the showcase of Christmas decorating among a home.
Ours isn't that. It never has been. Ours is filled with memories like when one of our twins wanted to be different and decided to like Michigan State rather than Michigan. So he got an ornament to remember that. Or the ornament made in school by my little brother.  A sled where Popsicles and markers were it's medium. Or the precious ornaments Nana gave her grand babies before there were so many that it would take a small fortune to purchase them each year for all of them. Just before we married, we received one which makes us think on such a time. Some make us laugh like the one from our good friends that says, with two snowmen on it "our best friends are flakes." Some just lay in pieces at the bottom of our ornament box hoping that a little elf will secretly glue them so we don't have to.

So this year my husband comments "this tree is a little homeschool." We homeschool. We love homeschooling but our tree feels a bit homemade, a tad too crafty, less refined, slightly kittywampas, absolutely no tinsel. It's perfect. Perfect because, with Selah's "oh Holy Night" playing, we reminisce about the memories behind each ornament. It's our version of oral tradition. It is our way of remembering all we have been through, God's graciousness in our lives over the years. Then, as patriarch of our family, my husband places the star on the top, like a period at the end of a sentence. Completed.

Now that I think about it, our tree IS a theme tree. Our theme isn't the beauty we could purchase but the beauty of us, reflected in our tree. We are less refined, a tad crafty, definitely homemade, very kittywampas, and constantly waiting to be repaired. If we were perfect that would be much less exciting. We could then rely on our own decoration, less on the one who decorates us.

As I write, I gaze at this tree and am thankful. Thankful. 

What decorates your tree this Christmas?

Monday, December 9, 2013

what's in your skin care?

I have recently been bombarded with people saying "I'm using this natural product," knowing full well that it is far from natural because I have researched these things. Being the pushy salesperson isn't my style so often I will just let them believe that while cringing inside. Would you want to know?

Right now I am restraining myself from hopping on my soapbox to preach how complicated and toxic products are, and for what? So we can feel the rich and creamy "goodness" as we scoop a huge amount of product on our finger? So we can spend a ton of money on products filled with water and other cheap ingredients? I hate wasting money  on cheap things. Because in my book, less is always more and that applies to products that effect our body. Less is more because when you purchase products with healthy ingredients whose only job is to soothe, cleanse, and restore luster why would you need the other stuff? They are simply ingredients for the sole purpose of emulsifying, thickening, suspending, preserving so it can sit on a shelf for years. All those waxy, alcohol-based, synthetic ingredients need to go somewhere. Either they are absorbed into your bloodstream (you don't want that) or they need to be washed off. Hence our obsession with washing our face morning and night with harsh cleansers. We need these to wash all the crud off. I digress. 

O.k. I guess I didn't do the best to restrain myself! But really, we need to speak with our wallets and let these companies know that we know. We are on to them and their cheap ingredients. Cheap isn't always cheap in the long run because our health is affected by these ingredients. Think of how the medical industry is growing. It's enormous! We must be doing something wrong when it comes to what we put in and on our bodies when medical care is expanding at an amazing (not in a good way) rate. The more we "invest" in healthy choices the less we will need to partake of the massive medical facilities. Do you agree?

we love on our babies but what do we put on them?

When my babies were babies (seems like forever ago), I used the yummiest combination of Johnson's Baby Wash and Baby Magic to cleanse and moisturize them. Assuming someone was looking out for me in making sure products were safe, I blindly slathered the stuff on them. You can imagine my disgust once I began to learn about ingredients found in products.

It is possible to soothe (FDA won't allow certain "heal"ing words to be uttered) diaper rash without petroleum based ingredients also known as mineral oil, baby oil, etc. Those ingredients act like a raincoat on the skin so skin cannot breathe. It's the truth. Now you know. If little bums cannot breathe the skin cannot heal. Yet we flock to the store to purchase Desitin or most other bum rash ointments containing mineral oil. While they may work in some ways by not allowing moisture to get at the irritation, they are toxic, absorbing in the blood stream and planting in the heart, brain and liver. This is happening! BumButter is our diaper rash cream made with raw shea butter, sweet almond butter, lavender and grapefruit. That is it!

Also, putting harsh cleansers (many containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) or bubble bath on the gentle and precious skin of our little ones is not safe. Now, we all know there are some areas that need cleansing (who hasn't experienced diaper blowouts) but all other areas should be hydrated with a hard-working, bacteria-fighting cleanser. I make a product called NOURISHbaby which does such a thing. I had it tested in a lab and it consumed all the yeast and bacteria that was introduced to it. What this means is you will be gently providing protection from diaper rash by putting a breathable barrier between their bums and wetness but also killing the bacteria that can grow. It is your first line of defense for diaper rash, by prevention rather than prescription but also as a body moisturizer.
To learn more, you can visit our kids products here...bloom naturals kids products

The bottom line is make the best decisions you can, hug and kiss your kids as much as you can, and let go of the rest. You can't do it all just do your best. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

healthy shampoo? is there such a thing?

Out of frustration with ingredients in shampoos, I sought other options. So, for a year I used baking soda and water with an aloe vera/apple cider vinegar rinse. It worked...for a while. Then a beautifully creative friend told me how she read that baking soda can dry the scalp and hair. So true. "There are other options," she told me. Also true. I began to research.

Today I mixed up some raw honey in hot water (to melt it), added some plant oils like broccoli seed oil, blueberry seed oil, grapefruit oil, and washed my hair in it. Actually, I applied it on my roots then massaged it in. 

Honey has anti-bacterial properties while broccoli seed oil can be used as a replacement for silicone in hair products. I figured blueberry seed oil added extra nutrients to the deal. Water held it all together. I'm curious to see if I can keep it in the shower for a few days without molding.

Right off the bat I could feel the difference. My hair was soft and easily brush-able  While it was drying (i always air dry it), soft curls appeared where limp hair once hung. There was a bit of crunch or the look of gel in hair (not my favorite look). Once completely dry, I realized it was oily looking. All is not lost, yet. I will tweak and try again, maybe with a photo. I will find a healthy way to shampoo hair. I will. How did woman back when do it? Stay tuned.

UPDATE...I tried to use Castile soap, honey and warm water but I think my hair was too oily to notice a difference. Once I get rid of the oiliness, I will try again with the Castile soap and honey. Anyone else have any suggestions?

Friday, December 6, 2013

gingerbread tradition

My parents began the tradition of gingerbread making as a means of a competition among families each Christmas. The creative side of me begged to break out of the mundane creativity found in the kit from the grocery store. So we the grocery store to purchase all the candy we never normally purchase plus graham crackers and frosting. One son, who hates to break with tradition, fought this crazy idea yet his eyes sparkled with the idea of all this candy while I threw in the "it's not an option" authority card, I wanted this.  

Lest you look at these photos and think I have it all together, on the contrary. For years, every time I hear the word Advent, I sigh thinking of all the "should haves." I so desire to make this time of year a special one, bathed in amazing moments of understanding all that this time holds. Each year I think, this will be the year we get it, our kids get it, the real meaning of Christmas. This will be the year they look back on as being the year they fell in love with the saving work of Jesus and giving rather than receiving. I even have the Ann Voskamp Jesse tree devotional. I've had it printed for a year now, encased in a binder. So, this year I did it, began reading the devotionals, asking the questions of what it would look like to bless others, practically, and after a busy day, began our own tradition of making gingerbread houses or rather a village. A walkable community complete with a public toilet, ice rink, homes, and a work/live unit created by the architect in my husband. The end result was beautiful meaningful conversation about a homeless man we met that day and what we would do about it, Christmas music, laughter, appreciating how each person's talents or cares came out in their creation. Exhausted and happy, I turned out the lights before bed and smiled. So thankful that this big beautiful God is gracious, merciful, loving. That he took my desires and gave us the time and energy to complete it. So thankful that this was or will be the year when we learn something different than what I planned. That in my meager offering lies a God who is full of filling in where I fail. So thankful.