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8.08.2015

Compassion

I am constantly using social media. Because... my friends really care about what I ate for breakfast, or what verse stuck out to me during my devotional that day, right?!?! WRONG! My abuse of social media is a whole other topic in-and-of-itself. Due to my lack of self-control regarding social media, I have seen many varying articles about the grotesque abuse and maltreatment of animals from around the world. I assume these stories pop up on my newsfeed, because I have befriended people who are compassionate about animals, because I am compassionate about animals, too. 

I am alarmed when I read stories of dogs overcoming abuse. I am concerned when endangered species continue to be hunted to the point of extinction. I feel guilty about deforestation and that I would choose what I believe to be deserved comforts over the safety and care of vast amounts of plants and animals. I am worried that (as much as I totally despise them) bee's are dying in scary amounts, and many die due to the chemicals used on our food sources.  

There are so many other stories about animal cruelty that make my heart heavy. I know that there are many people who choose to live their life differently, because of what they are compassionate about. I know that for many, that means that they will do anything and everything to spread awareness, donate to, and care for environmental organizations all over the world. I applaud that! I don't think that is wrong and I love that people care about these things! BUT...

I am confused about what people are so compassionate about. I think that is because, for me, personally, most of my compassion is for other humans. AND, in the spirit of being honest, I have no clue as to why EVERYONE is NOT more upset about the grotesque abuse and maltreatment of people! I just don't understand how hundred's of people rallied to save horses, and well over one hundred thousand people signed a petition to extradite a hunter, but only one person on my news feed posted a story about the truly mind-blowing amount of children who are abused, neglected, and completely broken in the foster care system
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About 17,000 children are currently in Arizona's foster care system! I don't understand why we are talking about the death of a lion in South Africa more than we are talking about the plight of hurting people in our own community, humans-CHILDREN-that are suffering right here in Arizona! I really don't understand how this isn't concerning every person I know! Is it because it is a harder problem to solve? Is it because it is too sad to talk about? Is it because we feel that animals are more vulnerable than people? Is it because we feel like there are too many people to blame for the issues regarding children in foster care? Do we feel like the government or some other form of leadership is going to take care of the issue for us? Do we feel unqualified to handle the abuse of humans, but better qualified to handle the abuse of animals? Do we think caring for another human is too big of a commitment, as opposed to caring for an animal? Is it because the cruelty humans have caused to other humans, and the subsequent struggle in caring for someone in that situation, has too much of an impact on our life or the lives of our loved ones?

I was a foster mom. I am an adoptive parent. BUT... there is so much more I could be doing, yet I am not doing it. I have lots of reasons (excuses), but I think it all comes down to the fact that I don't want to be uncomfortable. I don't want to stretch my money a little further so I can support another person. I don't want sacrifice my time, the time that will be needed to care for someone who has been physically and emotionally abused. I don't want to give up a little more of my space in my home, because it feels small enough already. I don't want to stay up all night with a crying child who is afraid to go to sleep. I don't want to have to take another child to a bunch of appointments each week. I don't want to do Shared-Parenting to try and help biological families stay connected to these children. I don't want to work so hard to love and care for someone, and then not have that love reciprocated. I don't want to love and care for someone for so long and so much that I will have to grieve their loss when they are no longer with me. I can grasp how you feel about all of this, because I experience all those same feelings, too!
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I read an article the other day, and this particular paragraph really stood out to me (and prompted this entire post). Please read the entire article, it is good!

"Creating attachment and teaching a child to trust is a difficult process. When we succeed, we rejoice. And when that child has to leave us, we grieve. These are not choices we make because they are easiest or make the most sense. They are the choices we make because we we want to do what’s right. We know these children didn’t choose this road, but we can choose to make it easier for them, even if that means life is harder for us."

So I challenge you, I challenge myself, to do what is right even if it means life will become harder. Consider becoming a foster parent. Consider donating your time and money to these children in need. And please be praying for Arizona's foster care crisis, the Department of Child Services, Arizona's foster families, and the children in the foster care system.  

6.29.2015

DIY Clay Face Mask

DIY Clay Face Mask
 Ingredients: 
(store-bought or from a plant, juice might work too, omit water if using juice)
1 t. Water 
Mix ingredients together until you have a yogurt like consistency. Spread the mask evenly onto your face (avoiding the eye area) and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. This dries very quickly and gets very tight. Wash off with warm water and a wash cloth. You can do this about twice a week to help clean out pores, blackheads, and heal acne. 

*I would suggest leaving the mask on for only 5 minutes until your skin adjusts to, or you feel comfortable with how your skin reacts to, the bentonite clay. If it burns at all, wash it off with warm water immediately. You can always test your inner wrist and wait 10 minutes to see how your skin will react to these ingredients, before applying it over a larger area of skin. 

*Do not use a metal spoon or bowl to mix bentonite clay. Use plastic, glass, or wooden objects only. 

Why these ingredients? Check out these links - Bentonite Clay | Aloe Vera | Apple Cider Vinegar

6.25.2015

DIY Body Wrap

DIY Body Wrap
If there is a beauty product I use, but might be able to make myself, I almost always do my research and try to recreate it at home! I have seen the before and after photos of people who were super successful at losing weight and inches by consistently using the body wrap products you purchase from a distributor. I have used those same body wraps, but without the same amount of success. How many wraps did I use, you ask? I used the body wrap 14 separate times, they were all the same brand of body wrap, 12 were used on the same area of my body, and I used them all exactly like the product packaging had directed.

I am NOT saying that the body wrap product I purchased doesn't work at all, or that it doesn't work successfully for other people. I am NOT saying that you shouldn't purchase the product and try it for yourself. I AM saying that I have no personal before and after photos to show people, because the after wasn't drastically different enough from the before, so it didn't show up clearly in any picture.

What happened for me as a result of using the product was a loss of 2 inches, not weight in pounds, just inches, and only for a temporary amount of time. However, for someone who isn't overweight, that is a lot, but for me, at my size, it is not that noticeable.

After my 14th wrap purchase, I decided to try and make a homemade version. I used my DIY Body Wrap twice, on two different areas of my body, and my results were basically the same as when I used the body wraps that I purchased from a distributor. I lost 2 inches, and here is how I did it...
1.) Exfoliate (using a dry brush or sugar scrub) and apply a hot wash cloth (or take a hot shower) to prep the area of skin you want to wrap.

2.) Whisk Together: 3 T. Jergens Skin Firming lotion, 1 T. Coconut Oil (room temperature is ok, it will melt a little while mixing), 1 T. Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 T. Epsom Salt, 2 t. Ground Cinnamon, and 1 bag of green tea (open the bag and use just the tea leaves).

** Optional: You can add 4 drops of Lemon Essential Oil to the lotion mixture for added cellulite healing benefits. You can also use a paper towel to spread the lotion mixture onto, and then place the paper towel with the mixture on the area of skin you want to wrap.
I did the wrap once without the lemon EO and a paper towel, and once with both. My results were the same/very similar each time. I thought that the paper towel method was messier (which I found interesting, because I assumed it would make the whole thing cleaner and easier, but it did not).

3.) You will also need enough Saran Wrap to go around the area you want to wrap 3-4 times.

4.) Spread the lotion mixture onto the area of skin you want to tighten up (or a paper towel), but do not rub it into your skin. Wrap several layers of saran wrap on top of the lotion mixture (or paper towel, if using) and leave it wrapped for 1 hour. If you will be walking or moving around a lot, an ace bandage will help keep the wrap in place. You will sweat (that is sort of the point) so drink plenty of water (a minimum of 10 oz while wrapping) to stay hydrated.

5.) After an hour, remove the wrap and wipe off the remaining lotion mixture with a warm wash cloth. Apply a little more Jergens Skin Firming lotion and you're done!

You can repeat this once a week to help maintain the firming effects, I don't believe that using it more often than that will benefit much. I used a cloth tape measurer before and after to measure how many inches I had lost. This is a temporary solution to help slightly tighten a specific area. It is not a permanent weight loss solution. ** PLEASE NOTE... I would not apply this anywhere on (or too close) to your face. Some people have adverse reactions to applying lemon essential oil or cinnamon onto their skin, so test a small area of skin and wait 15 minutes to see how your skin reacts to these ingredients before wrapping a larger area of your body.

Why these ingredients? Through my research on DIY Body Wraps, I saw that the common denominator in all of them was some type of firming lotion. I added some other ingredients that I am a fan of and believe to be effective, but I did read that people had success with just the lotion and saran wrap, so you can always try that, too! Check out these links to see why I like these ingredients so much - | Jergens Skin Firming lotion | Coconut Oil | Apple Cider Vinegar | Epsom Salt | Cinnamon | Green Tea | Lemon Essential Oil |

6.10.2015

Banana Muffins (Egg Free)

These Banana Muffins are delicious, and... because they are made with applesauce instead of eggs, they are a nice treat for anyone with that particular food allergy/sensitivity! 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3 Ripe Bananas, mashed
1/3 cup Butter, melted
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed

Crumb Topping (Optional):
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Butter, cold

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. 

In another bowl, combine mashed bananas, both sugars, applesauce and melted butter. 

Using a hand mixer, slowly add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and blend together until  everything has combined.

Spoon the batter into a muffin baking pan with paper liners. 
Directions - Crumb Topping:
In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Using a fork, cut the butter to mix it in with the dry ingredients until it looks like crumbs. Sprinkle the topping onto each of the muffins.
Directions Continued:...
Bake muffins in a preheated oven for 18 - 20 minutes (a toothpick placed into the center of a muffin should come out clean.) Let them cool and enjoy! 

3.09.2015

Fight Thinning Hair!

My hair has always been fine (not thick), but within the last few months my hair has been thinning (falling out), and that is just not ok with me!
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The first step I took to stop this madness was scheduling a visit with my doctor. I told her my concerns and she ordered blood work. It turned out that I had low levels of Vitamin D and Iron. I began taking supplements, and adding foods with vitamin D and iron into my diet more often. I eat fish and eggs for vitamin D. I also eat beef, chicken, turkey, spinach, beans, nuts and seeds for iron.
Next, I made a trip to the hair salon. My stylist noticed my hair loss as well, so we tried several things to help make my hair appear fuller/thicker. What ultimately worked for me was cutting my hair short (a pixie worked best for me, but a bob is a good option, too). My stylist then added dimension with heavy highlights, and a few lowlights throughout. I also started taking Hair Skin & Nails.
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I looked into Women's Rogaine and felt like it wasn't a good option for me. First, because I have very sensitive skin, I feared that I would have a bad reaction. Second, I looked at the label on their foam product and saw that it said, "Continuous use of Women's Rogaine Foam is needed to maintain hair regrowth. if you stop using Women's Rogaine Foam, the normal hair loss process will start again. You will probably lose your newly regrown hair in three to four months." The directions said to use the product once daily. A four-month supply from Walmart costs $43. That is only $130 a year, which isn't horrible, but it is $130 a year, for the rest of your life (or until you don't care about hair loss anymore). At this time, I am not interested in this particular product. However, that does not mean that this product doesn't work, or isn't a good option. You can read some customer reviews here.
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After working on raising my vitamin D and iron levels, I noticed that my hair was no longer falling out an abnormal amount. On the other hand, I did not see any regrowth, which was very discouraging. Therefore, I continued to research information on how to reverse hair loss. I came across some natural remedies on the Dr. Axe - Food Is Medicine site. You can read all of his advice on fighting hair loss here. Due to having polycystic ovarian syndrome, I decided to heed his advice and start taking a combination Ashwagandha-Rhodiola-Holy Basil supplement, as well as Saw Palmetto, to help balance out my hormones. It has only been a few weeks, so I don't have any significant results yet. I can say that I haven't seen any negative side effects, though (yay)!
Another tip I saw on several different sites was to massage rosemary oil onto your scalp. Once a week, I mix 2 T. of coconut oil with 10-20 drops of rosemary essential oil and massage it onto my scalp for 5 minutes (holding your head upside down as much as possible). I let the oil sit on my head for another 25 minutes, and then I wash it out with shampoo and conditioner. While I haven't seen amazing-ly crazy results from doing this, I am able to see a few new hairs sprouting up. They started showing within the same time frame that I began doing this! 
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Lastly, I recently read an article about the benefits of gelatin. I will be purchasing some gelatin capsules in the near future, and I will update as soon as I see some results (good or bad). As always, use caution when taking any supplement, and always check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns when it comes to supplements of all types. 

10.01.2014

SUPER-Parents

I am fairly certain parents are superheroes.
The phrase "super-mom" might have you picturing someone who works full-time, always has a hot meal ready for dinner, finds time to play with her kids at the park AND sew them fun play clothes, is extremely organized, and always has a clean home. Those are awesome, maybe even super-qualities, but when I say superhero I am referring to SUPER POWERS! 

X-Ray Vision
I can see that tiny dinosaur my son is hiding in his back pocket, or that toy car he quietly put into his backpack, thinking he will sneak them off to school without me knowing. 

Super Hearing
Even when I am in a different room, the TV is on, the dog is barking, and I am talking on the phone, I can hear my oldest son whisper to his little brother, "You should put your yogurt on you head!"

I am in my car parked outside of the daycare building, but I can distinctly hear my child's cry from inside the daycare that is full of kids. 

Built-In Lie Detectors 
Me: "Did you wash your hands"
Son: "YES MOM!"
Me: "No you did not, go wash your hands"
Son: "How did you know? Why does this always happen to me?"

Mom: "Where were you?"
Daughter: "At So-And-So's house, like I said already."
Mom: "Ok, so... where were you?"
Daughter: "OMG, Mom, I JUST told you *rolls eyes*!!"
Mom: "Where. Were. You?"
Daughter: "UHGGG, at THE MALL! You never let me do anything fun!"

Danger Intuition
When a dad comes home from work and knows before he even steps through the front door that its been a very difficult day (and instinct tells him to stay in the car for just a few more minutes). 

I am several feet away from my boys for about 5 minutes, and I know something bad is happening (usually because it has been quiet for more than 30 seconds).

Precognition 
Before my eyes have fully adjusted to the early morning light after sleeping for several hours, I pretty much know if it will be an easier day, or if it will be a particularly rough day. 

Super Strength
The ability to carry a weeks worth of groceries, a baby carrier, two sippy-cups, and your son's baseball gear from the car to the house in one trip.  

Psychic Ability 
When I am turned away from my husband talking to someone and he hears them comment, "you're kids are so amazing, you're so lucky to have such well behaved children!" He knows in my head I am thinking, "Are you CRAZY, lady? These kids are little terrors! Do you really like them that much? You can totally have them!" 

When my child walks up to me and says "apadee" I know this means he is thirsty. When my child walks up and points to the ground and says "there" I know this means he fell down and hit his knee on the ground, somewhere at some point in his existence. 

I am hoping the next set of abilities us parents master are... cloning (so we can be in two places at once, duh) and teleporation (because driving around from here to there is such a hassle, and it is better for the environment). 

7.21.2014

Black Bean Chili Recipe

BLACK BEAN CHILI
The first meal I cooked that caused my husband say "that is my favorite thing you make".
Black Bean Chili
2 T. Olive Oil
1 T. Minced Garlic Cloves
1 lb. Ground Beef
3 cans Black Beans (do not drain)
1 can (14.5 oz) of Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 t. Onion Powder
1 T. Dried Oregano
1 1/2 T. Chili Powder
1 T. Red Wine Vinegar  
In a large pot, heat the olive oil, then sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Brown the ground beef.
Stir in the black beans (remember, do not drain).
Stir in the crushed tomatoes.
Add the chili powder, oregano, and onion powder.
Stir in the red wine vinegar. Let the chili simmer, covered, for 1 hour. 
We like to top our chili off with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream! Enjoy!

7.20.2014

Don't Worry, Be Happy Trail Mix

We recently began working with a nutritionist to help us understand which foods will be the most beneficial for my son to consume to not only keep him healthy, but help him focus, regulate his emotions, sleep well, and remain fairly calm throughout the day. 
While most of the meals that fit this category need to be made/eaten in the comfort of our home (oatmeal, eggs with spinach, broccoli, peas with butter and salt, roasted green beans, black beans, turkey bacon, fish, smoothies, chicken, ground beef, quinoa, brown rice...). We do travel outside of the house from time to time (all the time) and need a good snack option for on-the-go.

Don't Worry, Be Happy Trail Mix

Pumpkin Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Walnuts
Sliced Almonds
Cashews
Raisins
Dark Chocolate Chips  

Other good choices: Homemade Popcorn, or Pistachios 

I made a big batch and separated it into smaller containers, or sandwich bags, so we can just grab some on our way out of the house. I try to do equal amounts of all of the nuts and seeds, and just a handful or so of raisins and dark chocolate chips. 

Health Benefits Of Each

Pumpkin Seeds: They contain many bone friendly minerals, such as Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper, Magnesium, Zinc, and Iron. They also contain Protein, Vitamin K, L-tryptophan (helps with sleep and lowering depression), and B Vitamins. 

Sunflower Seeds: They contain Selenium (fights cancer), Magnesium, and Copper. They also contain Vitamin E, and lots of antioxidants. 

Walnuts: They are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Protein, Manganese, Copper, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium. They have lots of antioxidants, Vitamin E, and B Vitamins.

Almonds: They aid in lowering "bad" cholesterol and the rise in blood sugar after meals. They contain Vitamin E, Phosphorus, L-carnitine (boosts brain activity). They are also alkaline forming (meaning they help balance pH levels). 

Cashews: They contain Copper, Phosphorus, Manganese, Magnesium, and Zinc. They contain monounsaturated (heart healthy) fats. 

Raisins: Aid in good digestion. They contain high levels of Catechins, which aid in cancer prevention. They also contain Iron, B Vitamins, Phenolic & Polyphenolic Phytonutrients (enhance immune response and cell-to-cell communication), and Calcium. 

Dark Chocolate: Contains Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Selenium, and Antioxidants. It is protective against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease). Improves blood flow to the brain and cognitive function.