Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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Essential Oils 101

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So what is Aromatherapy? Do you ever think back to a time before modern medicine? Before the time that the answer to everything seems to be to pop a pill? Well, before we had pills, the people  looked to the earth for help (sure, a s*$t-ton more folks died back then, but also nobody was willing to scrape the mold off cantaloupe and stick it on a festering wound either….but I’m splitting hairs. ).

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, derived from plants, roots, flowers, and saps and adapted into a concentrated oil to be used as aids in wellness of mind, body, and spirit. It can be inhaled indirectly, like in a diffuser( This one is super zen. ), via direct inhalation like using an Essential oil in your bathtub or an inhaler, or can be applied directly onto skin (be careful to be under direction of someone who is certified and knows about oils before you do this) via carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil.

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In my massage practice, I am certified to custom blend about 21 different oils. I use these blends for each client in a room diffuser. My favorite way to wear them daily for my own personal sense of zen is via my Essential Oil Necklace.

“Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Even the oils from varieties of plants within the same species may have chemical compositions different from each other. The same applies to plants that are grown or harvested in different ways or locations.” Says this article published by PubMed. This is important to remember when using oils for their medicinal properties.

Blending Smells

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Since the olfactory nerve can be sensitive to the chemical properties of the oils, it is best to smell each oil when pairing oils together. Each blend should have three different components. A top, mid, and bottom note.

Top notes are oils such as citrus oils: lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, being good examples. These top notes have the properties to “lift” up a mood. These oils are well known for the antidepressent qualities.

The Mid note is an oil that functions to balance out the blend. Lavender calms and sooths, eucalytpus balances and flows, and geranium is said to help regulate hormonal imbalance. There are many more, these are examples of the ones that I use frequently.

The Bottom notes are important. These are your saps, resins, barks, and some plants. Thick and earthy smelling, these function to ground you. They have very great propensity to help with sleep, anxiety, stress reduction, and overall centering.

Creating a delicate balance of chemical properties is important when blending oils. Smelling each oil one at a time can help you determine if the chemical properties of the oil are something your body can handle at that moment. For instance, you could think you LOVE lavender, but today you smell it and it smells awful! There are many other oils with soothing properties that may be less offensive to your nose, so move on to the next!

It is good practice to smell your blend and add ONE drop at a time per oil so you can be wary of the strength of your blend, and customize it directly to you!

Tips to remember

  1. Never put an oil directly on skin without a carrier oil as a base. Some oils (especially citrus) are phototoxic (breakdown in the presence of UV light) and will make your skin super susceptible to burning in the sun.
  2. Since oils are heavily concentrated (about 200lbs lavender flowers go into making just ONE lb of lavender oil) try to never blend more than 4-5 oils together.
  3. Make sure your oil is pure, in a blue or brown glass bottle that has been shipped and stored in a cool dry place (these are organic matter essences and have a shelf life) To tell if it is pure, you should see its latin name as well as its country of origin written clearly on the bottle. StillPoint Aromatics is a company that I like to recommend .
  4. Please DO NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER ingest essential oils. Unless you are under the direct care of a clinically trained Aromatherapist (not corporate trained), you should avoid ingestion. Like I stated above, these heavily concentrated oils can eat through surfaces like wood. Imagine what it could do with a stomach lining or liver!
  5. Be careful and do not use oils if you’re pregnant! Again, it is earth medicine and needs trained minds to approve before use.
  6. Have fun with it! It can become a very awesome ritual if you let it!

Here is an excellent guide!

 

Essential Oils Guide

Momday Faves: Part Deux

To continue a “few of my favorite things” on these Momday Faves list….

Kristy’s turn:

Mommy Hooks

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Does this look like you running errands or enjoying a day out with kids in tow…one in a baby wearing device, one holding hands, and one in a stroller? Trying to run errands, go to the farmers market, store, zoo,shopping mall, anything can be overwhelming when the “stuff” piles up.

“mommy hold this” twice from each kid….plus picking up that package from post office and the flowers that I told you to buy for yourself a few posts ago…..

Heres your solution…The Stroller Hook!

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This one, by Toogli, is one that I like but there are several comparable brands to choose from here: Hook Options

This lovely thing clips ALL YOUR BAGS into your cart, stroller, backpack, wherever you want it! Its a heavy-duty carabiner that saved my life with two kids, a diaper bag, a baby wearing device, all the coats, shopping bags, etc!

Home Meal Delivery 

I am way into things arriving on my porch, ready to be made! Taking my kids to the store ended up getting extremely expensive for a family of four who eats wants to eat a paleo diet. We found Sunbasket.com and have LOVED every box we’ve gotten. They have very healthy options, and it saves us the time and money of getting all the ingredients at the store. Most of you know Blue Apron, but Sun Basket offers organic, free range, and different options for different dietary restrictions.

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For the price point, we’ve found Sunbasket to be the most convenient and the most excellent. As cross fitters, we need to focus on the fuel we put into our bodies daily.  With our schedules as they are, we wouldn’t eat as healthy as we do without Sunbasket.  Give it a shot!

And finally, a HUGE thank you to all of you who promoted our blog and got us to 50 followers. Keep sharing the good news and we will keep posting fun/informative/inspirational/random stuff!!

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At Home with Christiana: In search of spring break sanity

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If you’re like me and you live somewhere that the weather is slightly less than spring-y (ahem, thanks ENTIRE east coast) you may be about midway through your kids’ spring break and about to go insane. Or maybe you went crazy on Monday… no judgment.

Either way, today was rainy, my boys were bored, and I needed like 5 seconds to shower without someone hanging from a light fixture. Enter … custom Star Wars coloring sheets!! And quiet boys. Like off-and-on quiet and sustained interest for HOURS. This is not something that comes easily in a household with a three year-old that yells “SMASH!” before beginning most tasks, and a five year-old whom his pre-K teachers dubbed “not an art guy”.

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Even little sister can dig it.

I know this may seem like a common sense idea, but it took me five years to think of it, so I’m going on the assumption that some of you haven’t tried this yet either. Basically, take a book that involves whatever your kids are interested in  obsessed with at the moment (For my boys it happens to be Star Wars despite the fact that they have seen zero Star Wars films, gee thanks Disney marketing!). Ask them to pick out some favorite characters, scenes, vehicles, etc. Trace said character, scene, or vehicle with a pencil (because if you’re like me you’ll have to erase the fingers that don’t line up a few times — why are the hands ALWAYS wonky?!) Label it, or have your kiddo write a caption for the image if they want. You don’t have to be artistic, or even creative, this is seriously just tracing. Trust me, I don’t craft!

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Traced sheets ready for copying

Once you have a traced original that all parties can agree on (you know you better make sure you get Elsa’s dress right! Good luck with R2-D2’s buttons…) take your traced original over to your printer/copier and show the kids how it can scan the image and print out copies magic coloring sheets!  As a bonus, if you let the kids make the copies, they get a major kick out of pressing the buttons on a machine they’re usually not allowed to touch.  Thats it. Literally.  Just be prepared that they will want to make approximately 500 copies. Each.

This super simple activity is free, improves fine motor skills, encourages creativity, and reinforces color and reading comprehension. And gives a parent enough time for a mimosa. I mean shower. BOOM! Happy (un)Spring Break!

Custom Coloring Sheet Supplies:

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  • Printer paper
  • Favorite kids books
  • Pencil
  • Printer/Copier
  • Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
  • Optional: Mimosa

Momday Feels: Kristy & Annie

Just because some parts of our region fall victim to the whims of a picky groundhog’s opinion on what is considered a shadow, doesn’t mean we can’t make spring bloom
whenever we (damn well) want inside our homes
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Go home March, you’re drunk!
Some fun indoor spring projects can boost the mind into happier places.  For instance, if you love summer gardening, starting seeds in February-March can get you a head start with those ripe summer tomatoes, squash and zucchini. Plus – seeds offer more variety (I see you heirlooms) and are wayyyy cheaper than buying started plants later on  (so more money for wine to go with that Caprese).
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Starting an indoor herb garden from potted herbs found at your local grocery store can not only provide you with some beautiful greenery indoors, but can also inspire delicious meals and teas for entertaining or relaxing. Or sometimes, you might just need to smash a sage leaf or lavender flower in your palm and snort sniff it when your kids won’t stop whining that they’re borrrrrrrrrred, when is it gonna be summmmmmerrrrrrr?!
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It doesn’t have to be plants either. Finding a way to do sometime just for YOU can turn your whole day around. Imagine if instead of getting addicted to cigarettes, or drugs or even your iPhone you were addicted to self care. It’s all well and good when you have those special times to really get away and treat yourself, but what about the days you’re stuck at home or at work?? Where could you sneak off to “get your fix”.
Maybe you take an extra minute hiding in the bathroom to swipe on your favorite lipstick.  Perhaps you hide in the pantry and just fully savor a bite of expensive dark chocolate. Maybe when the kids are (finally) good and distracted, you leave the laundry unfolded and dishes undone and just do 5 minutes of yoga, or dancing to your fave song, or put on a face mask or masturbate (lock the bedroom door for that one) or paint your nails… whatEVER makes you feel more present and joyful in YOUR body.
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I know keeping fresh flowers around my home helped me out of a rough bout of seasonal affective disorder. (Thanks to the suggestion of a certain DIY badass renaissance mama—love you Christiana) Seeing the fullness and brightness of the blooms, helped inspire the productivity of purging my kitchen of all the useless junk (tupperware tops with no bottoms and visa versa…why are there never matching sets??) which made more space for organization!  I also had the benefit and joy of picking out my favorite blooms and buying them for ME. Don’t wait around for someone to buy them for you. Treat YO-self!
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So try it sometime..buy yourself some of your favorite flowers, stop and smell them, and smile. I dare you to make yourself smile today…. Kindness to yourself is the ultimate gangster.
IMG_9104Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, Crossfitter, homesteader and massage therapist in Virginia. Annie, doctor mama of 2 in California co-wrote this with her.