Wellness Wednesday: Coconut Oil is Your BFF

 coconuts-final

If you know anything about me, you know how much I love coconut oil. I quite literally use if for almost everything in my house. It’s like my windex :)

I’ve noticed a lot more people asking about it lately, so I wanted to make it easier to trudge your way through the information overload that’s out there on the topic.

Your First Coconut Oil Purchase

This is what you want to buy: Organic, unrefined, virgin (or extra virgin) oil in a glass jar. I use Trader Joe’s most of the time, but Wegman’s, Whole Foods, and many places online sell it as well.  As with all health products, you want the best quality oil and it will yield better results.

Coconut oil turns solid at room temperature. So right now, mine is rock solid. Other times of the year, it’s pure liquid. Either forms are fine to use! I scoop it from the jar and it melts into my hands pretty quickly.

What Do I Use My Coconut Oil For?

  • After shower from head to toe as moisturizer
  • Instead of baby lotion, we have used coconut oil from day 1
  • Tablespoon into Xavier’s bath in the winter for dry skin – this is a sneaky way to get it on their skin as well
  • Replace olive oil and cook with it. Because it doesn’t get damaged at high heat levels, it retains all of its natural flavors and health benefits
  • Last week, I made homemade frosting with it! Recipe coming soon :)
  • Shave with it (Mike does as well)
  • Repair split ends: Apply with fingers to dry strands. Let sit for 30 minutes and then wash it out.
  • Oil pulling/detoxification
  • Base ingredient in my homemade hand and body scrubs
  • Furniture polish

Okay, I think you get the picture! I LOVE the stuff and think everyone should try it out.

And if you want more information, my two favorite blogs are Wellness Mama and The Nourished Life!

 

Wellness Wednesday: Let’s Drink!

One of the new features I want to bring to Our Spirited Life, is Wellness Wednesdays – and what better time to start than today!

Happy Wellness Wednesday :)

Fruit Infused Water

Fruit Infused Water

 

Your body is made up of about 70% water.  So it’s no wonder that without enough water intake we can experience things like:

  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger pains
  • Poor digestion
  • Muscle cramps

Without enough water, our organs are unable to perform their functions and our systems begin to work in overdrive, leaving us feeling the effects.

I heart infographics

I heart infographics

Some signs that you aren’t drinking enough water:

  • Thirst, sticky or dry mouth
  • Dark urine
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • You may feel hungry when in fact, you are just thirsty
  • Difficulty going to the bathroom (numero dos)

So…how much water should you be drinking? As a guide, I like follow Chris Powell‘s rule:

Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water each day                                                         (If you are 200 lb = 100 oz water)

This can feel like a real chore sometimes, so to make it easier,I carry around a pink Camelback EDDY thermos almost everywhere I go. And when water bores me, I add cucumbers, frozen berries or whatever else Xavier decides to throw in there…sometimes dirt.  Speaking of Camelback, they have this cool feature on their website where you can enter a few things about yourself and see how much water you should be drinking daily, check it out here.

There’s no denying that water plays a major part in our health. Just the other day I came across an article about a woman in the UK who witnessed incredible results to her body by upping her water intake. Read about her journey here.

As a challenge, the next time you have a headache or aren’t feeling 100%, have at least 2 glasses of water before you reach for those meds…it can’t hurt to give it a try!

 

A Book Bender: Our Favorite Toddler Books

Some of the best

Some of the best

One of my main goals as a mother is to harness a creative environment for Xavier where learning is always self led, fun and exciting.  So often, as our kids get older, their creativity is hushed and shushed as they are made to sit still and do workbook pages and flashcards. While I do believe there is importance in being able to contain oneself at a certain age, I feel pretty strongly about wrangling small kiddos and forcing education upon them. Learning is natural and as John Holt puts it,

“Children do not need to be made to learn about the world or shown how. They want to, and they know how.” 

Recently I read an article from one of my go-to resources, Dr Laura Markham, that said:

“The single best way to increase your child’s IQ is to read to her and instill a love of reading.”

As if Xavier were reading my open browsers while I slept at night, he almost immediately went on -and has stayed on- a book bender.  We must read 40 books a day here, it’s kind of nuts. Praise baby jesus for the Free Library of Philadelphia or we’d be broke by now.

I wanted to share our list of faves:

1. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

2. Catch Picasso’s Rooster by Julie Appel

3. Into Your Dreams by Parragon Books

4. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

5. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Rinker, Sheri Dusky

6. Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess

7. Only One You by Linda Kranz

8. City Lullaby by Marilyn Singer

The other thing I’ve been doing more of is reading my own books in front of Xavier. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!? Just 2 days after doing this, he has begun doing the same with his books and even asked me to read a few pages from my book to him. Don’t worry, I am re-reading The Alchemist, not 50 Shades of Grey :)

Happy Reading!

 

Back in Action

It’s been a LONG while since I’ve written much substance here, but lots of topics have been stacking up in the writing queue of my jumbled brain.

Here’s a quick list of things I’ve been trying to find the time to write about:

  1. Our trip to Puerto Rico
  2. Turning 30
  3. Thanksgiving/Chrismakkuh/New Years
  4. Toxic family members and how to deal with them
  5. Wellness and health
  6. Books galore
  7. Marriage/love
  8. Unrealistic expectations

There have been a lot of unexpected changes ’round here lately and finding time to sit and write ended up taking a back seat.  But I am making a conscious effort to get back to it because I love it and miss it and it’s good for my soul.

So, let this serve as your warming: this blog may be all over the place for a little while as I scramble to re-find my voice. It will probably be messy and out of order and that’s okay, because such is life.

xo

Ocean Park, Puerto Rico

Ocean Park, Puerto Rico

 

My Go To Resources

With the busyness of the holidays upon us, sometimes us well meaning parents can forget what all the hustle and bustle is like for our little ones.

Lots of family and friends, food, music, presents, and TONS of very strong feelings and emotions going on.

I have a few “Go To” resources in times of need and thought today would be the perfect day to share! Grab a cup of coffee and find a warm nook, these will keep you busy for a bit :)

1. Janet Lansbury of Elevating Child Care, is hands down, my all-time favorite resource. She keeps it short, sweet, relatable and DOABLE. She also has a book list on the right side of her blog that is fantastic.

2. Aha! Parenting with Dr. Laura Markham is another goody.

3. Dr. Momma is great with peaceful parenting solutions and recently did a nice piece on handling toddlers who are physical that you can read here. 

Enjoy!

Confessions of a Hypocritical Yogi

When I stumbled into my first hot yoga class back in September 2012, I will admit that I was beyond intimidated.

I was about 35 lbs over my normal, pre-baby weight, give or take a burrito or two, stressed out beyond belief, tired, lost, and uncomfortable in my own skin.  As I sat there on my $8 Marshall’s mat, drowning in self-loathing and beating myself up for even coming in the first place, into the humid room pranced about 10-15 twenty two year old chicas sporting perfect yoga buns, all the right gear and wearing skin tight Lululemon outfits accompanied with matching hair accessories. I tried not to stare, but they were all so beautiful – it was difficult not to. And down I went, down the dangerous path of being mean to myself, because certainly they were being beautiful AT me (or so I felt).

As much as I attempted to shut out my grandiose insecurities over the next 75 minutes of the class, they crept in and set up shop for a good, long while.

I judged each and every one of those girls in their yogic perfection that day, all while I swore to myself that I would never purchase Lululemon yoga gear.

It's soooo pretty!

It’s soooo pretty!

Which brings us to September 2013. I celebrated my one year anniversary at Hotbox yoga, which marked many enormous milestones in my life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In that short span of time, I lost the 35 lbs, turned the rest into muscle and most importantly, I worked my ASS off for the first consistent time of my adult life to accomplish my personal goals! Woot woot!

And I celebrated by purchasing my very own, beautiful, blue, Lululemon yoga mat :)

I know, I know. I had done the unthinkable! Or…have I?

So…what made me do it?

1. I am all about being thrifty, but sometimes, you get what you pay for, and performance gear is one of those things.

-I no longer slip off my mat moving from one pose to another.

-My mat doesn’t smell like wet dog anymore – you’re welcome everyone around me :)

2. I have shown enough dedication to my yoga practice that I felt it appropriate that I have a nice piece of equipment.

And perhaps, the most important one:

3. Back in September 2012, those girls intimidated me with their perfection because I felt like the opposite of them and so desperately wanted to BE them. I understand completely that that part is ALL about me and my own insecurities.  However, not one of them helped to make me feel any less uncomfortable or welcome that day, and I’m positive it was written all over my face, or my old mat, or my baggy t-shirt.  It was like some secret, perfect sorority and I was 100% NOT invited.

I take my experience and make an effort in each class I attend to connect with the newbies, the ones that look afraid and nervous, and say something to make them less scared or just give a warm, welcoming smile – in hopes of getting rid of the Lululemon stigma and in hopes of creating a more loving, warm community in which we can all just practice our yoga and love ourselves for wherever we might be – in that moment.

30 Things I’ve Learned by 30

Today is my 30th birthday.

Does life look the way I thought it would? Nope. Do I love my life? YES! And along the way I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two.

As I lay here in my sun soaked hammock rocking to the wind from the Atlantic, I share with you the 30 things I’ve learned by 30.

1. Change is good. It helps you to grow.

2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

3. Don’t take things personally. Chances are great that it’s not really about you anyway.

4. Don’t believe everything you think.

5. Don’t let your past define your present.

6. Being beautiful is not about the flawlessness of your skin, the shine of your hair or the clothes you wear. Its about how you feel about yourself and true beauty radiates from within.

7. We cannot have it all. You will need to decide what’s important to you and dial in on it. The rest will have to wait for it’s time.

8. Mistakes are good. Great, even. They mean that you are taking risks and the more mistakes we make, the more we learn.

9. Have the spirit of a child.

10. Worry is a useless emotion. It doesn’t help, it only hurts, so let it go. Just know that whatever happens, you will find the tools within yourself to handle it.

11. Have faith in yourself.

12. Your happiness is up to YOU.

13. Stop waiting for (FILL IN THE BLANK). We spend all our time waiting for the weekend, for the summer, to be married, to have kids. Just enjoy where you are in the present because you will never be there again.  We miss the beauty in the present by looking to the future.

14. Less is more, always.

15. Invest in experiences, not stuff.

16. Being healthy is more important that you think.

17. Finding what you’re passionate and pursuing those things is crucial to your happiness.

18. The things you don’t like most about people are usually things you don’t like in yourself. Recognize the triggers and work through them.

19. Awareness is the best kind of freedom. It removes obstructions and allows us to focus on what really matters.

20. Our fears are often unjustified. Make a list of your top 5 fears. Then write out what the worst-case scenario would be. Then find a way out of that same situation. I bet you just talked yourself out of your fears :)

21. Pain is useful, suffering is not. Suffering is a choice that you do not have to make.

22. Surround yourself with people that bring you up, not down.

23. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s end. Actually, just don’t compare at all. Yes, that’s better.

24. Find your tribe.

25. Never make important decisions when you have PMS.

26. Get outside every single day.

27. Life is not what Facebook makes it seem like – you’re watching the highlight reel.

28. One person CAN make a difference.

29. When a person really desires something, the universe conspires to help that person realize their dream.

30. Everything you need to know about life can be learned from Bob Marley.

End of Summer Veggies: Fresh Corn & Zucchini Cakes

cornandzucchini

I’m drowning in zucchini over here and have found the perfect solution: fresh corn and zucchini cakes. Perfect for snacks, side dishes, husbands and toddlers :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup low fat milk (I used raw milk)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (I used himalayan pink sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
  • 3/4 cup kernels of sweet corn
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil (or whatever oil you prefer to cook with)

Method:

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper until smooth.

Add corn, zucchini, onion and stir until combined.

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Working in batches, drop batter by about 1/4 cup measures. Cook turning once, until browned (3-4 minutes per side).

Serve warm or room temperature.

The best thing about these pancakes? You can make them with whatever veggies you have around the house. Enjoy!

Go The F*ck To Sleep

Xavier is an excited dude. All. The. Time. Which is great and entertaining and makes everything we do more fun.

So much to be excited about!

So much to be excited about!

 

Except for sleep.

Sleep has never been an easy thing for us to conquer. From getting him to fall asleep to keeping him asleep, you name it, we’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked for us.

He turned 2 ½ last week and I am just now starting to feel like my body is getting used to functioning on little and/or broken sleep.  Suggestions for people that want to have kids: train for it. Stop sleeping WAY before you have kids and by the time you’re bundle of joy arrives, it won’t affect your body so harshly. You’re welcome :)

Anyway, over the years we have come to understand the bedtime routine of a spirited kiddo and I’ve come up with a short list of helpful things that we use to get Xavier to fall asleep more easily.  Keeping him asleep is another issue. One that I still have no clue about!

  • 1. Limit the number of people doing bedtime routine.  
  • It used to be a family affair that we all enjoyed and had fun doing, bath-time, reading books, talking about our day, cuddles. But once X was in his room, he would protest for 10-20 minutes, sometimes hours (he’s very tenacious). When I went away to Puerto Rico back in January and M did bedtime alone, he discovered the protest didn’t happen, not once.  So we implemented a one person bedtime ritual and have been good to go since.

2. Limit stimuli in the bedroom.  From his sheets, to the furniture, decorations on the walls and the carpeting – everything is plain in pattern and neutral tones. It’s soothing and minimalist, allowing his senses to shut down easier. There are no toys in his room either, which sounds harsh – but once I left a book on his dresser and he shook his crib about 2 feet over to it so he could get to it.

3. Limit stimuli before bedtime. For most kids, reading books is the thing to do before bed, and Xavier loves to read. But I noticed that his books were jump starting his imagination and revving him up, so we read before the bath now and afterwards, we just cuddle while he drinks his milk and I play with his hair. It’s quiet and peaceful, allowing his overactive senses to begin the long process of shutting down.  I rub his legs and feet and we say goodnight to all his body parts, one-by-one.

So what do you do that helps your little one get good and sleepy?

Nighty Night

Nighty Night

Morris Arboretum

Last September, we spent my 29th birthday at Morris Arboretum climbing the tree top canopy and running through the hanging bridges. It was a blast! So a few months ago when Living Social offered a discounted membership, I scooped it right up. Since then, we have spent many fun hours skipping through the arboretum’s 92 acres of brightly colored flowers, splashing in the fountains and chasing the swans and geese.

Take a look at all the fun we have had!

Excited to get to Morris!

Excited to get to Morris!

 

Resisting the urge to jump in

Resisting the urge to jump in

 

Impulses take over

When impulses take over

 

Love these!

Love these!

 

Could spend hours at the water fountain

Could spend hours at the water fountains

 

"Da, be ladder pwease?"

“Da, be ladder pwease?”

 

If you look cool while parenting, you're doing it wrong

If you look cool while parenting, you’re doing it wrong

 

Exploring

Exploring

 

Silly faces

Silly faces

 

It started raining...hard!

It started raining…hard!

 

Best Buddies

Best Buddies

 

Beauty all around us

Beauty all around us

 

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Making wishes

Making wishes

We love Morris, and go whenever we get the chance. If you’re ever around the Chestnut Hill area, I highly recommend swinging through!