Ranting 101- The insidious perfection module

This post will be founded in rhetoric. Focused in a semi-dreamland. My hope is to provoke conversation that may or may not entice change and movement. We need one another.

The ridiculous notion of being “everything” as a parent has left a void in our connectedness. It’s left the human element incomplete. We are, in fact, left with missing pieces of ourselves trickled throughout the “have-it-all’s” that society pressures us to adopt. Not pressures, bulldozes. Why can’t we just have what we actually want?

We long for community, for organized togetherness. We stretch ourselves thin to be mom, wife, sister, aunt, lover, friend, daughter, boss, co-worker. Why? Why can’t we have a village. When we are hurt or injured, why can’t there be an answer right next door? When we are out of sugar, why must we run to the store? Why can’t we ask a village member?

When one of us cannot do life anymore, why can’t the one who can at the moment take over the dishes or the parenting or the damn laundry? And not just for a day or a week at a time. Not just as a visit here and there throughout the year. My wish is for it to be the NORM. The gold standard of living. We complete each other.

We are blasted with media images about “wolf-packs” and tribes and sisterhoods, and we answer those panging feelings of missing with a “thumbs up” to the photos that resemble those sentiments. Yet, we don’t seek to connect the virtual ones with the tangible potential of actual community. We longingly reach towards equally needing hands for comfort, for purpose, and for help, and yet…we don’t have the means/capacity/job or resident flexibility to celebrate it. We acquiesce to alienating motherhood. We post impossible perfection, only to close our eyes after we commit to send the farce that is said post. We are not always perfect. We are not always happy. And we DON’T have to always be alone.

So my question is, why the hell can’t we? Why can’t we find a piece of land with our wolf packs, and choose to live simply? To be there for one another unconditionally? To quench the thirst for our tribe on a daily basis. We need the guts, the money, and the cessation of excuses. I know these four friends talk about it, communicate and dream about it on the regular. Will it happen one day?  I think it will. I pray it will.

Let’s bring together all our talents and live the life of COMMUNE-ity. Isn’t that the root of the word after all? To be together in a sense that everyone has one another to lean on. Through the hardships of marriage strife, work stress, kid drama, and interpersonal agony. This is my solemn confession. A dignified admittance for the need to coexist. A demand for more like mindedness.

I am in….Are you in?

 

Let’s stop the social media epidemic. Let’s remember the times of friend therapy being a half mile bike ride away. Let us teach our children of cord phones, and the advancements of human cohesion. Let’s help fuse the gaping chasms technology has created amongst our generations by teaching older ways of loving..of being…of human being.

We live in an era of separation. I personally, am against it. No matter what side you stand on, however, know that I love you. For your part in the experiment we call life. For my part in the choice to participate in yours, and for the benefit of all of us.

 

Friday Fails

This week was a doozy ya’ll.

And today I am just drowning in a swamp of mom guilt and “not enoughs”.

I left Mimi crying for me not to go at Daycare this morning so I could get things done without the extra walking and lifting of bringing the girls with me. Cue severe mom guilt for being selfish.

I need the help today because I didn’t do enough rehab on my knee this winter when we were selling the house, moving and I started a new job and I tore a ligament again. Cue severe self guilt for not being stronger and more disciplined.

I didn’t get a “real” Friday post organized because I was late at work and then bedtime and my husband has been at work till 10:30pm every night this week and I crashed. Cue professional guilt.

I have a house that’s a wreck and still only 3/4 unpacked from moving in May, a mountain of laundry and a poor sad dog who hasn’t gotten a walk in weeks because of said knee and the fires even though it was his birthday this week. Cue alllllll the rest of the guilts.

It’s so so stinking easy to focus on the ways we are not doing enough and so much harder to give ourselves permission to celebrate the wins.

I also worked incredibly hard at my “day job” this week and helped over 60 people with their problems. I fed my family mostly healthy food. I stayed well hydrated. I did not push myself too hard on my injured knee (my default is to ignore, hence why the knee got so messed up to begin with). I caught up with several friends I’ve been missing. I organized things for my side business. I got dressed and brushed my dang teeth every. single. day. I know what Jen Sincero would tell me…

Why do we feel this need to push push push and not in the productive “make my dreams come true” way, but in a nit-picky, judgy way?? Why do we talk to ourselves in a way we would never let someone else talk to our kids?

I honestly used to do a lot more of this. I would drag myself down with the negativity until I felt more worthless than a slug marring someone’s garden walkway. I did a LOT of cognitive behavioral therapy learning to reroute those negative pathways. I have gotten WAY better at balancing the inner demons, but they still creep in now and then. And I know I’m not alone in this.

This is why I’m writing this today. We all have our down moments and there are ways to fight it. You can turn the negativity train right around. Try a few things that work for me:

  • Say the thoughts out loud. To someone supportive of you can or to an imaginary supportive friend if not. Let them reality check you.
  • Read inspiring books. I have had my life changed by The Science of Happiness, The Happiness Project, The Universe Has Your Back, Girl Wash Your Face and now You Are A Badass.
  • Write down the positives. See them. Internalize them. Pat yourself on your damn back.

Happy Friday everyone! May you be filled with positivity!!

Dr. Annie

Kristy, Au Naturale: “The Road to Serenity is Ahead” No Judgement Journaling

*Explicit language warning 😀 in this post…

IMG_9854I don’t feel like I am alone in this when I say that I have the best of intentions when it comes to making the time to write in my journal  all my journals. Mustering the courage to write my truth has always seemed too daunting a task. Faced with a blank page and SO MANY FEELINGS?

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so many journals, so little time

But… where do I start? What do I say? Somehow, my therapy via written word always finds a way of brushing itself aside with “I don’t have the time right now. Maybe later” and “Its 2:38 am, I should sleep. Ok, now its 3:02, 3:15, I’ll totally fall asleep because I’m so tired.”

Or, the all time most frequent anti-journaling monster…..distraction.

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Why should I journal anyways?? Before I got myself on the journaling wagon, I read a bunch of information about the benefits of journaling in PsychCentral.com articles, books and even Huffington post. Why bother? Here’s a few reasons:

  1. Writing can be an impressive way of challenging the mind to find words that otherwise may not be used in your everyday speech. Thus, expanding your vocabulary and your brainpower. (higher IQ levels for the win)
  2. Writing can also help boost your memory by actively beckoning the mind to remember events or ideas and then recalling them to the present.
  3. Bringing you into a state of mindfulness, journaling can create a level of self-awareness of just how deeply an issue, situation, or an emotion is felt. It helps you truthfully live in these experiences, so that you may be able to relate more appropriately to others.  Empathizing can be a powerful tool in emotional development. Being in the present moment, as well, can help to subdue the gravity of worries of the past, or the fiery pangs of the anxious ones to come. In essence, it’s helping you figure out your sh*&, so you can learn handy tools in dealing with your well-being going forward, and stop lamenting the worries of yesterday. (see what I did there?? I never use “lamenting” when I’m speaking to people. BRAIN BOOST POINTS)
  4. Others benefits, according to the PsychCentral.com article, can be related to problem solving, clarity of thoughts and feelings that can help you to know yourself better, and improving your interpersonal relationship communication.
  5. Sleep!!

So I touched on sleep above. Err, lack of sleep, rather.  Has anyone had those glorious nights where your kids are happily nuzzled cozy in their beds and sleeping all night, yet YOU can’t sleep because your mind is running around anazlying and worrying about everything and anything?

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The process of journaling has also been found to decrease the stressors that typically affect one’s ability to rest peacefully through the healing power of RELEASE. Dr. James Pennebaker authors a book titled, Writing to Heal, in which he expresses the true art of unblocking emotional barriers and traumas. We can give them a voice to be heard, understood, and therefore not over analyzed in our minds. He explains that writing exercises can

leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world, and the ability to accept that life can be good–even when it is sometimes bad.

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I know all this and yet…. Think of an excuse, and I’ve said it to myself to avoid journaling my thoughts and emotions that cause me stress and at their worst, keep me from sleeping. Truth is, if I just took five minutes out of my day to write that “thing” that is sucking my awareness into it down on paper, the huge monstrosity of looped thought may just exit my brain altogether. And hopefully, for good.

Here is the kicker: Journaling is also an awesome lesson in self-discipline. And with self-discipline, practice makes perfect.

I’ve admittedly been highly unsuccessful at keeping up with any journal.  It wasn’t that “I sucked at journaling” self judgey much? I just felt so overwhelmed with it, that I never even began to try. Frustration would set in before any therapeutic benefit could be reached.  The answer was that I hadn’t yet been connected to a journal that fit my personality/emotional needs.

It was through a gift from a dear friend that changed my perspective on that feeling. Suddenly, I was given a daily theme, a dated logbook with meditations, and small practical guidance to look within myself.  I found the points above were key factors in my adherence to writing behaviors. Helpful and simple tools, like this one below, are very powerful.

So, going through these insightful motions of jotting down my physical, emotional, and psychological thoughts for that day and relating them to an intention was my Aha! moment. I loved it, and looked forward to the time in bed right before I fell asleep when I could journal.

So, to Recap what we have learned:

  1. Keeping a journal is a healthy and awesome way to release emotional blockages and enhance your super smartness (which you already have a level of that for reading our blog;))
  2. You’ll need to find a journal that excites you, enticing you to make the time to use it as the tool it can be.
  3. Start slow. Pick a theme or an emotion to narrow in on in order to really understand it.
  4. Write quickly, without judgement, and in a space that can feel private and safe.
  5. Enjoy the process of opening up to yourself. You might be surprised at how in tune you become with your inner workings.

I’ll use my current theme as an example.  It is related to one of my favorite books, the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck The title speaks for itself. Buy it. Read it. Live it. You will thank me.

The Journal, also a gift, called “Zen as F*CK” A Journal For Practicing The Mindful Art of Not Giving A SH*T”, has me laughing like an awesomely carefree mad scientist and I am 514B7Y42PML._AC_US218_LOVING it. Each page can take less than 20 minutes. I find myself smiling when I am done, accomplished in my mindfulness task for that day.

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One of the factors that I never found in my research about writing therapy, was the amazing affect it has had on my hopefulness. In the last 2-3 months since beginning this practice, albeit not daily but almost, I am slowly rediscovering who I was always meant to be. I am finding a woman who knows how to be confident in feeling happy, kind, warm, and balanced. Oh, and hilarious. Definitely hilarious. (if you can’t laugh at yourself, right?) And to think, it wasn’t that I found any old journal and started writing.  This all started to happened because,

          a journal helped me find my way back to me.

-Psssst, and I totally dig this new me. She’s kinda awesome.

I hope you take this time to rediscover you through the art of writing. Because chances are, you’re freaking incredible. Have an amazing voyage!

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, mom of 2 and homesteader in Virginia.

Save Our Water Series, Vol. 2: Sustainable Agriculture and The Importance of Supporting Regenerative Practices

In our first volume of the Save Our Water Series, we spoke about rain barrel production and the benefits on small gardens to big farms.  Today’s volume will illuminate the myriad of important information gleaned when researching sustainable farming, and what it can do to really save our planet.

We will begin by understanding what Sustainable Agriculture is.  In short, this type of farming practice keeps the greater good in mind. It protects the environment, public health, animal health and habitat, and allows us the ability to produce good food without hindering the next generations ability to do so.

Well what is GOOD FOOD? Great question. “Good” food, in my opinion, is local(the further it travels, the more preservatives have to be used), truly organic (get your round up out my face) properly fed (grass fed, or true omnivore diet for chickens because chickens are NOT vegetarian), non hormone or GMO enhanced (screw you Monsanto and the three headed , genetically modified horse you rode in on), FOOD grown or grazed in soil that not only is rich in proper nutrient densities and ratios, but also maintains a pesticide and herbicide free grade.

Let’s break down the difference between Industrial Practices and Sustainable practices.

Industrial Crop and Livestock Production

So basically, Industrial crop and livestock production uses a type of monoculture. What is Monoculture, you say? Oh, let’s let the experts explain.

“Monoculture is a common practice in modern agriculture in which large acreages of land are planted with one type of crop, usually multiple years in a row. Often such techniques are used to supply goods to other regions or countries. Monocultures deplete the soil and crops grown in this manner become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays (i.e. pesticides). Monoculture on animal factory farms refers to the raising of one type of animal (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) confined in densely packed expanses, often treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent the diseases that would otherwise spread quickly through the farm. These operations produce much more waste than the surrounding land can handle, and the farms are associated with numerous environmental hazards as well as animal cruelty. The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”

Sounds AWESOME, right?

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This seems, to me, that they are operating under the notion that they are gonna treat everything like crap, just to “feed the world” chemically downgraded food that is low in nutrients, and high in toxic crap.

Sustainable Livestock Production

Farmers that use practices with sustainable focuses allow their animals to eat an instinctive, natural diet, to move freely on pasture, and to eliminate the stress and disease (hello no disease, no antibiotics needed…f*#%ing DUH) that a cramped environment produces.

People are led to believe that in order to feed more people, we must use genetics to produce food that can withstand drought, bugs, weeds, and weather patterns. That is just untrue in a lot of cases. Sure, the big companies take a hit in the wallet when these things happen, but to truly teach sustainable farming will impact our whole world.

“Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.”

I cannot explain the benefits any better than Regeneration International can in their well researched list below.

A Global Shift to Regenerative Agriculture Can:

  • Feed the world: Small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Decrease GHG emissions: A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Reverse climate change: Emissions reduction alone is simply inadequate. Luckily, the science says that we can actually reverse climate change by increasing soil carbon stocks. > Read the Rodale Institute Report
  • Improve yields: In cases of extreme weather and climate change, yields on organic farms are significantly higher than conventional farms. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
  • Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More
  • Revitalize local economies: Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies. > Read the FAO Report
  • Preserve traditional knowledge: Understanding indigenous farming systems reveals important ecological clues for the development of regenerative organic agricultural systems. > Read the Action Aid Nepal Report
  • Nurture biodiversity: Biodiversity is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation. > Read the Report
  • Restore grasslands: One third of the earth’s surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence
  • Improve nutrition: Nutritionists now increasingly insist on the need for more diverse agro-ecosystems, in order to ensure a more diversified nutrient output of the farming systems. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

We Can’t Afford Healthy Food

This is a legit concern as health food stores are quite pricey when it comes to organic food. Finding your local farmers market (yes, they have them in cities all the time) or finding a crop sharing organization such as Agriberry here in Virginia and Maryland, helps keeps the cost of truly organic farm fresh foods down.  It also provide the added benefit of having your family eat what is in season, which requires less industrial farming interventions.

 

In small towns, like ours here in Virginia, farmers markets supply these local farms a venue to sell the fruits of their hard labor. We utilize these markets for produce, and have a gone in for several years on purchasing a cow sharefrom a local SUSTAINABLE farm here in Orange, VA called Renewed Pastures Farms.

Farmer’s Market Setup

The owners, Jason Goforth and his wife, invited the family and I to tour the farm and see exactly what the farm does to remain sustainable. We could even see how the cows live and graze if we wanted to!

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‘Sup, Jason?!

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In the health food store, a pound of Grass-fed meat is roughly $6-$8 depending on the store and the company. Over time if you are an avid beef eater like we are, the tax, price for gas for the trip, the packaging, and price fluctuation in the market adds up quickly. So, we do a cow-share with some friends of ours. We get 1/2 a cow that is cut to order and will last us roughly 8-12 months. At less than $8 per pound, we get filets, flank steaks, London broils, and even or ground beef allotment for a STEAL compared to grocery store. And Jason delivers it right to our deep freezer!

So we have local (within 100 miles), preservative free (freezing is their only method), and true sustainably farmed meat that our family can rely on for an unbeatable price.

How can we NOT afford that?

*** Check out this PDF on Grass-fed Cow Market News.***

The simple truth is this, we have to support our farmers who work their butts off to uphold truly sustainable farms. They rely on us to purchase their products, be it produce or meats, in order to keep their higher standards up. So let’s get out there and support our local folks!

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At Home with Christiana: A No-Nonsense Guide to Listing and Showing Your Home

News flash from your resident real estate mommy blogger: the real estate market is off-the-chain this summer!! Many markets are experiencing a housing supply deficit and increasing demand, inducing many homeowners to consider placing their home on the market for sale or for rent.

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As a former Realtor, I am often asked for advice on listing and showing a home in today’s market. As anyone who has worked in a service industry knows, there is a delicate balance between honest disclosure and a client’s feelings. This definitely rings true in the arena of real estate advice.

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However, since the basis of this blog is keeping it real, (right?!?) I have included without pretense, the following essential, no-nonsense, “if your agent was your best friend they’d tell you” advice for listing and showing your home.

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First Impressions begin Outside

Now that we have all OD’ed on HGTV (thanks, Joanna Gaines) it’s pretty common knowledge that interested parties make a decision on a home based on their first impression and that curb appeal is important. Just how long do you get as a homeowner to make that first impression? Experts estimate about a whopping thirty seconds. And what many homeowners forget is that by the time prospective buyers or tenants get to your front door, their clocks have already been ticking.  Enter: The importance of curb appeal. 

The good news is you don’t have to go all Fixer Upper and make structural changes to give your home a major curb appeal facelift. Here are some quick and inexpensive ways to improve your home’s first impression and keep potential buyers and tenants rolling in.

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Tidy the yard and patio.

It seems like a no-brainer, but so many people don’t bother with this. Basic maintenance in this area really goes a long way. Mow and trim your grass. Put down a few bags of fresh mulch. Weed. Sweep. It matters!

How well a yard is cared for is often seen as a reflection of how well a home is cared for, and plenty of prospective buyers and tenants will drive right by based on their first impression. So, get out there and do it yourself for free, or pay a kid down the street. Nextdoor is a great website/app if you are looking for local, affordable help in your neighborhood.

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Power-wash, everything.

Pretty much any surface that can be power washed, would likely benefit from it. Fences, siding, brick, patios. You can rent one from the hardware store, pay a local handyman, or depending on the size of your project and willingness to DIY, purchase one yourself for a couple hundred bucks.

Clean the gutters!

I can’t count the number of properties I toured where plantlife was legitimately growing out of the gutters. And people always notice. It reflects a lack of care that buyers/renters worry carries to the inside of the home.

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Add some cheer.

If you have the time and budget, a nice little planter and some cheerful blooms can go a long way on an otherwise plain entry. Sprucing up garden beds, or simply placing potted plants or hanging baskets is a great way to up your home’s appeal.

Keep it Clean, but Personal is OK too

The notion that anything personal becomes instantly undesirable when placing a home on the market seems to have, at some point, permeated homeowners’ minds. A common question from prospective sellers preparing their home for sale is “do I have to take my family pictures down now?” My answer is no. Don’t sweat the small stuff. What I absolutely do suggest instead is focusing on major decluttering and cleaning.

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Temporarily remove large toys or furniture pieces that make rooms seem smaller, clear small appliances and STUFF off of counters. Spend money on a cleaning service,  and put STUFF AWAY! (Hell, hide your unfolded laundry in the car! I’ve done it!)

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Not all personal touches are bad after all, and can often lend warmth to a space. Very personalized spaces such as large murals or a room packed to the brim with memorabilia can usually be mitigated by a good decluttering (and maybe some temporary wallpaper in the case of the former). So keep it clean and personal. Picking up and organizing is always more important than removing your family photos from the hall, no matter how nerdy those photos may be.

3. What is that Smell?!?

Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory, thus making smell a very important sense in establishing our idea of home. Yet, for some reason, that “smell of home” is something that many homeowners neglect in the marketing and home staging process.

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On the real: When prospective buyers/tenants view your home, they don’t want to smell your gym shoes, what you had for breakfast, what’s in your trash, or what kind of pets you have. PLEASE, PLEASE light candles, buy diffusers, or burn incense, or something.

Clean, light scents work best. Here are some of my favorite candles, by James and Maria Organic Co. The scents are long-lasting and lovely. They are made in the USA, and give 20% of their profits to help educate under privileged kids in third world countries by giving them uniforms, materials and means of transportation. Done and done.

No Pets Please

Speaking of smells…

No, seriously. I LOVE animals, and I LOVE having pets. (Like to the point that my husband is thankful for zoning requirements that keep me from having a yard full of them.) But pets don’t sell houses.

Before you go crazy, I am not in any way saying to get rid of your pets to sell or rent your house. What I am saying is please don’t leave your pets unattended in your house during prospective buyers’/tenants’ home tours. While it may seem like common sense, I can’t tell you how many properties I toured where I was quite literally greeted by an animal at the front door. (The most memorable being an uncaged a macaw with a seemingly endless wingspan. Forreal.)

If you have an agent or someone you trust showing your property and have the ability to leave, consider taking your pet on a walk, to the park, or for a car-ride during the showing. If you are showing the house yourself, check into local pet daycare options to allow prospective buyers/ tenants to view your home, pet-free. At a minimum if you have to be there with your pets, keeping them contained in fenced areas or crated (if they are comfortable in one, of course) can help home-viewers feel more at ease.

“Let me take a selfie!”

but really, don’t. 

How your home is presented online more times than not will determine whether you get prospective tenants/buyers through the door. If you’re selling with an agent, screen their listings and ensure that they are presented in a polished, professional way. If you are listing your home yourself, consider springing for professional photos. No matter how good you think your iPhone pictures look, the professionals will look that much better.

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Considering the money a quicker sale or lease will save you, the expense of a photographer is often a worthwhile investment. At a minimum, screen your listing photos carefully. No kids in the background, cats on the sofa, mirror reflections, or dirty plates allowed.  Include a photo of every room in your home and order them as you would see them walking through your front door. As in most things in life, and particularly in our internet age, presentation really matters.

Set the scene

If there is something you love about your home, feature it. If it’s seasonally appropriate, light that gas fireplace, or open the windows and let in that breeze off the water. If your home has strong selling points that you can’t necessarily put on display, consider creating a features list that includes them, such as distance to attractions/eateries or schools. A good agent will take care of that for you.

Don’t Creep

If you are using an agent and have the ability to leave your home during showings… get outta there. If you are listing your home yourself, you can have a trusted third party supervise a home tour, OR if you will be present during the home tours keep your interaction with prospective buyers or tenants as minimal and professional as possible. In other words, do answer questions, but don’t follow prospective buyers or tenants around and describe every room in detail. They’ll ask if they want to know. Trust me.

 

Do Your Research

Whether you are listing with an agent or on your own, be informed and be realistic about pricing your home for rent or for sale. An overpriced home will be on the market longer, and will often end up selling or renting for less after multiple price reductions, than a competitively priced property.

Industry professionals determine pricing based on a number of factors including the price per square foot of comparable sales or rentals and other factors such as location, inventory, and the features of your home. Don’t assume that because your neighbors house went for a certain price, that yours will too. While a professional’s experience and input can be invaluable, with homeowner internet resources readily available like Zillow, RedFin, and Trulia, you can research comps in your neighborhood yourself and be informed about realistic, competitive pricing.

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May the Force be With You

Selling or renting your home can be stressful, but I hope this no-nonsense starter guide is helpful (or in the least, entertaining as you imagine me running from a macaw in heels) as you pursue a successful home listing and showing experience. As always, shout out with any questions!  Cheers to happy homes!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

The Tale of the Contaminated Pool

My family and I just had a wonderful camping week at the beach. The sun, swimming, tiki bar (what what?), and nights by the wonderful campfire with extended family were all relaxing and rejuvenating.

We reflected on the the fact that the only things we took away from camping were wonderful memories, big smiles, sun-kissed skin, and a better understanding of a need for personal space.

“Well,” we thought. “That one day was weird when we had to leave the pool because it had been contaminated.” We had just thought some kid (even though “it” happens, amirite?🤣) had pooed, which is awful in and of itself. But what it turns out to be, oh, is much worse.

Resuming daily activities Monday morning is when I quickly realized that sunsational vibes were not the only thing we brought home with us.

Phone rings: 10:00am

“Hi, Mrs. Wright…….little #2 has HEAD LICE and needs to be picked up immediately”

<Screech screech screech horror movie noise>

Those who really know me understand that I have an incredible visceral repulsion and hair-trigger panic button when it comes  to flying insects and now also to tiny creatures you can barely see that latch on for dear life and suck your bodily juices for sustenance.(Is that too graphic?)

I panic. BIGTIME. We’ve never had lice in our house before!

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It’s coming from INSIDE THE HOUSEEEEEEEEEEE

I immediately stop my work and go to get her, all the while assuming I am going to pick her up and she’s going to be covered in these horrible blood thirsty pests.

A little History with my bug hysteria can be explained in the flea “epidemic” of 2015 when my dog had two fleas. I assumed the whole house had been taken over and went a little nuts and replaced all our carpets and our couch, bought a Dyson cordless and vacuumed six times a day. Totally normal behavior…

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So, I vow to go immediately home, burn all clothes, shoes, beds, pillows, couches, carpets.

“That won’t be enough. The whole house will have to go up in flames. BURN IT DOWN”

So instead of going back down the road of epidemic, I reassure myself that I should assess the situation first, then react. High fives for rational thought.

Restoring my wits, I remember the thousands of other parents/kids/humans that have dealt with this issue in the past. And I got a lovely suggestion from our daycare provider (who was an angel and bagged two to educate me since this was our first time dealing with it) for a service we have here in Virginia called “The Nit Fairy”  They searched for, treated, checked me and my daughter and scheduled a follow up with us! I paid for it….$300 to be exact…but the peace of mind that someone did a thorough job in finding them and treating them while teaching me what to do step by step feels priceless to me. Hopefully y’all have this in your area as well! It’s worth the search.

Now…..the aftermath. As soon as my son and husband get home, they are checked and treated. I use the OTC RID lice treatment on both, and vacuum and spray all carseat heads, and regular seats, seat belts, bike helmets with the home spray included in the kit.

Now, we wait….

24 Hour Report: So far so good. All have been checked several times with combing twice.  Bug and egg free for today.

1)Mental itching and feeling of bugs all over level: expert.

2)Shampoo game: on point

3)House cleaning status: laundry done, things bagged and tagged, brushes/toys/ shoes drowned for two hours and counting.

What Do I Do Now?

I am not going to lie to you, looking through photos to show you what one of these things looks like made me throw up in my mouth.

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HOWEVER! For the sake of me never wanting YOU to have to question “what the heck do I do?” upon the words “Mommy/Daddy, my head itches.” arriving at your door, here is a guide on what to do:

Step one: Saddle up, you’re riding this suck fest for two weeks plus.

The average lice egg takes up to a week to hatch. Meaning, if you don’t get the nits (lice eggs) out, you’ll have a brand new harvest in a weeks time. You’ll have to go through the WHOLE rigamaroll again if they go unnoticed.

Get a treatment kit either OTC, call for a prescription from your pediatrician on what they recommend, or go to a place like I did that treats you there. To decide, think about how you feel about chemical OTC treatments versus using an oil based solution such as a blend of Rosemary and Tea Tree Oil in a carrier Olive Oil.

Step Two: Treat yo’self and your WHOLE FAMILY

Get enough kits for your whole crew. Even if you don’t SEE anything on them, chances are there at least one. After you treat, wait seven days and treat again.

********Always follow the FULL instructions on how to treat in the pamphlet. Better yet, call your doctor and ask them!***********

This Comb is pretty legit as a replacement for the normal comb! Not necessary, but made me feel like I was doing more to alleviate my irrational tiny bug abhorrence.

Step Three: Housekeeping Diligence

The second most important step is to be violently and insanely diligent with cleaning up anything that anyone treated has touched in the last two days before finding the, gulp, infestation.

Wash: All clothes, sheets, pillow cases, hats, princess dresses, gloves, blenders, miniature schnauzer-doodles, goldfish… I don’t care ….WHATEVER THE KID(s) or y’all HAVE TOUCHED, wash it in 130 degree water. High heat for 20 minutes and roast the little things.

Dry Clean: Anything you cannot wash at 130 degrees and put on HIGH heat in dryer for at least 20-45 minutes, should be dry cleaned. Comforters, pillows, dragon pillows, fort roofs, fort sides, fort anything.

Bag: Anything else such as toys, tiaras, magic wands, and seal it for FOUR weeks in a bag and shake it like a polaroid picture when you take it out before use.

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Vaccuum: Everything. Everywhere. All the time. Carpets, floors, couches, mattresses, headrests and car seats, your desk, headboards on bed. Just get an iRobot and call it a day.

Step Four: Pete and Repeat.

You know the old joke, “Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell off, who was left?” Yup…..basically you can clean and wash and vacuum for as long as you want. But everyone needs to be checked daily until you see no more lice or nits. Up to two weeks after last treatment. If you still see lice or nits after the two treatments, get your butt to a doctor cause you’ve got a superbug.

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You could also just shave your head if you want. Believe me, in my initial freak out mode I told the day care provider that I was going home to shave everyone’s head. I mean, why not?

Please Share what has worked for you and your family to rid yourself of these evil effers that can hold their breath for TWO HOURS under water. Unless you say Powdered Sugar is delicious and the lice hate the sugar. (name that movie??) download (8).jpeg

<Kristy mumbles “holding their breath for two f$%king hours?” BLEEECCCHHHH >

Hope this helps you not to freak out like I did. Do as I say, not as I do:)

48 hour report: One sluggish bug found……Repeating steps above….AGAIN.

Godspeed good soldiers…

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Kristy, Au Naturale: Survival in the woods, aka tent camping with kids.

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Camping is one of those activities that our family has always enjoyed doing together. Being in nature, grounding ourselves, and slowing down for a weekend has been really effective in helping us reconnect and bond when daily  life seems so busy. We camp with extended family as well, which, for us, has always been an amazing time.

Our camping journey started in a tent for seven people. There were only two of us and a puppy, so that made it roomy and doable. Our spacious luxury camping getaway quickly became a cramped space when we had our first kiddo.

When little #2 came around, that seven person tent turned into a giant canvas bag of emotions!

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So, we bought a Pop-up.

 

Now at least we had a roof overhead, a stove, and heat and air conditioning!

“What a step up!” we thought until even that became cramped with “baby stuff” and then the space above began to feel like more like this…

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Our camping nights started to become very very difficult. It was almost like going back to newborn stages for the first two nights every time we took a trip.

8 pm: Honey, the cloth diaper blew out, we need to go to bathhouse to hose the baby off.

10 pm: Mommy, I have to potty

Midnight: Dangit, now I have to pee

1am: diaper leaks onto mattress

3 am: Mommy I have to potty (again)

Suffice it to say, we…never…slept.

Now that we are GLAMPING it up in a tag along trailer with a bathroom, queen bed, and kitchen, I can look back and give a list of all the things necessary for tent camping with tiny kids. (If you’re not wanting to totally give up on it like I admittedly did)

Kristy’s no bull survival guide to tent camping with kids:

A large tent: 

Don’t want to pay $250 for a large WATERPROOF tent? Well, sorry Charlie, you’re gonna be cold and wet in a cheaper one. They can leak, not hold up in the wind, and have a tendency to be crackly and loud when the wind does blow.  Better investments equal better experiences in my opinion. This tent is big enough for your overnight bags, the essential change of clothes needed for any accidents, and extra towels/wetbags for any messes or laundry. Dew will make everyone damp and miserable even if you’re not rained on while camping.

A Sleeping Pad

Content_Team_081417_71478_Choosing_Sleeping_Pads_lg.jpgIn addition to a specific sleeping bag meant for outdoor slumber, you’ll need a buffer between you and the ground. TRUST ME, even if the beautiful weather during the day is warm, the ground at night gets cold! Putting a pocket of air between you, your littles, and the ground can help insure a better night sleep for you all. You can also use a camping pad, or an air mattress (but good luck trying to get the kiddos to sleep when you’ve basically just blown up a bouncy house in a tent!)

Pillows

One of the things people don’t usually think of, is how bulky pillow can be in the car ride and especially in a tent. They make specific camping pillows that have their own cases for storage when you’re out and about during the day and need more room in your tent to move around.

Proper Footware

What shoes you will need for your kiddos depends on time of year, and typography of your campground. We usually do a water based (crick, creek, or lake) campground so our kids can explore, fish, and collect shells and rocks. So we select our favorite Keens that can be amphibious. They are also great on hiking trails that aren’t too rocky. You’ll want an option that’s easy to slip on and off for those bathroom breaks.

Fire Utensils

Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, let’s be real…who knows who has let their dog pee on a stick nearby! I usually resort to bringing my washable Roasting sticks for all things S’mores related.

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For fire stoking, do yourself a favor and have a proper set of fire gloves incase you need to adjust any logs or one goes astray.

For cooking, we use this adjustable tripod that cooks veggies, meats, and will even toast bread right over the fire! It breaks down and goes right back in the box as well for easy traveling.

Lighting

You’ll obviously need flashlights for when you’re walking around at night. We always have these solar lamps hanging around as well, for use inside the tent as well as around the site itself. Kids and adults alike do well with headlamps as well. Just make sure you teach your kids not to shine it at your eyeballs.

Snacks

Overestimate the snacks you bring – basically double what they would go through at home. Pick things unlikely to melt/squash like nuts, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, etc…. One of the worst possible camping situation is running out of food. While you’re at it, pack yourself some extra adult beverages.

Cooler packing hack: Prep ahead of time by freezing water bottles, juice boxes or pouches, and squeezable yogurts. Use these along with ice packs and bags of ice. These will keep things cold in there for longer and also be nicely chilled when your kiddos or yourself want to eat them.

And the Piece De La Resistance

The Toilet Tent

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I cannot stress to you enough how important this little bugger is. You think, “Oh, we are camping, there’s a bathhouse right there that I’ll walk to” or “I’ll just pee in the woods cause I am woman hear me roar!”

Awesome thought. Really, it is.

HOWEVER, 9 times out of ten when your kid wakes up, you wont want to trek the 100 yards to the actual toilet when they are freaking out about the dark walk or first thing in the morning when the entire campground is sleeping and your kid is screaming that they have to go.

This tent is taller as well, so you can change in it without the hassle of ducking, if you’re tall like my family.

Putting The Fun in Family Time

We like to stay at campgrounds with lots of activities. Crabbing on piers, shark tooth treasure hunts, easy hiking, wagon rides with water balloon fights, splash parks, gem mining, local watering holes and breweries with picnic style seating can be all great things to look for. When hanging fireside, though, we always love to add magic to the experience of being outside and away from home as a family.

These amazing fire color packets change your campfire into a magical rainbow of colors that can spark the imagination of even the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons.

I hope this helps some of y’all get your family out and exploring your area or surrounding areas in order for more tiny humans to learn to appreciate and love this earth that sustains our lives. I know I am awed by the majesty of its landscapes, and weather patterns every time we go.

Oh, and no light pollution of rural campgrounds equals amazing star gazing! (Throw in a little romance for you and your partner as well!) Or some educational constellation spotting with your science kid! (There is an App for that)

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Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”