2014 To Do List

I don’t do resolutions. I intend to live every day making conscious choices, so whatever I am doing, I have thought about it and already decided to do it or not do it. That is a lifestyle, not a one-time resolve that is going to fade by February.

2014 To Do List | Conscientious Confusion

2014 To Do list

1. Go to the dentist.

Seriously, I need to do this. It was on last year’s list and I never made it. I’m now a little over 3 years since my last visit. My teeth aren’t as white as I’d like them to be. The barrier is that we don’t have dental insurance so I’m going to be buying a Groupon, and I have to find a place that has availability during the hours that my kids are in preschool. It can be done, it just takes lots of calling ahead before buying.

2. Fix the paint in the half bath downstairs.

It’s embarrassing that we paid thousands of dollars for a painter who did stuff like this 2 years ago when we moved in:

bad paint job

I’ve located the paint and I should be able to fix this at some point.

3. Eliminate the part time jobs that do not generate income.

I have a bunch of part time jobs right now, some of which don’t actually pay and some that only pay sometimes (classes based on attendance, for example). I am wasting my energy and taking time away from my kids pointlessly if I am not getting paid. I will not say “yes” to things that do not compensate, and I will attempt to eliminate anything that is currently not profitable. I have a few commitments that I need to see through before this can be completely accomplished, so it might take the better part of the year to do.

4. Try to blog at least 3 times a week.

This year’s NaBloPoMo was much less painful than last year’s. I think I am more comfortable in my blogging niche now than I have been in the past. I have gained a lot of readers and THANK YOU! If I make a priority to blog immediately about the things that are on my mind I tend to a) blog more often and b) produce higher quality content. The barrier is being able to sit down and blog. I’ve tried to blog on the iPad, making it a more portable endeavor, but then I can’t access my pictures from iPhoto, since they are not accessible from outside our home WiFi. When I try to use the “real” computer at home, there are 1 million distractions and I can only get to that computer a few times a week. I’d love to blog while my kids are in preschool but they only go twice a week and one day is completely allocated to kids yoga all week and the other day is my errand day. Need to figure this out.

5. Address my health issues.

I blogged about my 30 days of Macrobiotic Eating here. It is an attempt to clear up my skin and help with my digestive issues. If that does not work to entirely clear things up, I am planning to go back to our naturopath. I tried Western medicine this past year and it was a horrible failure, so on to other things.

6. Keep up or even expand my personal yoga practice.

I have loved getting back into yoga and teaching children. In order to teach, however, we must learn and grow. I cannot teach what I am not learning, myself. So it is important for me to continue my own practice, either at home or at a studio.

It’s a short list this year, but I might add to it as we go along. These last few weeks with the kids at home and all the family here all the time have left me with little to no reflection time, so this list was put together hastily. I hope to reflect more fully on my 2014 intentions and add to this list within the next week.

What are your To Do’s for 2014?

Last day of #NaBloPoMo: Lessons learned

NaBloPoMo November 2013

It’s the last day of #NaBloPoMo! I made it…sort of. You might have noticed that I missed about 5 days in there. But overall, I feel like that is pretty good. Here are some good and bad things I learned in this year’s blogging-every-day challenge.

  • It’s a good thing to put my post ideas out there ASAP before I forget. Blogging daily makes that easier.
  • Some of the things I do every day aren’t unusual to me but seem to solve problems for others, so it’s good to blog about them (essential oils, natural remedies).
  • The pressure of having to blog every day tends to unbalance me: due to the number of commitments I have in my life right now and the age of my children, the time to write has to be taken away from my kids or from my own self care.
  • I don’t like how I treated my kids when I was trying to bang out a blog post before the end of the day sometimes. There was far too much “Please stop that and leave Mommy alone for 5 more minutes” and “Can you please stop that, it’s keeping Mommy from blogging”. Sometimes I wasn’t able to get down on the floor and play with them after their nap because I was still messing around with Pin-able graphics or doing social media promotion of yet another blog post.

Overall, I am glad I did the challenge. It was less uncomfortable than last year, it felt more beneficial. At the same time, I am glad it is over. I can’t handle blogging every day because it requires me to make choices in my family and personal life that I am not comfortable with. I will continue forward, attempting to blog more but also giving myself grace to have a day or two (or three) where I can just relax.

Paperless Kitchen: go paperless for less

Even though I try to participate in Buy Nothing Day as much as possible after Thanksgiving, I do realize that everyone else is in the middle of gift buying. If you are aiming for a more conscientious holiday, like I am, would you be interested in supporting a small business targeted exclusively at reducing waste? And since you may have just participated in a lot of cooking and eating, and will probably do it again at some point in December, how about starting with the kitchen?

I have been working slowly toward a paperless kitchen over the years with my reusable kitchen towels and commitment to using real plates and utensils even when we have guests. So I am super excited to have signed up for the affiliate program over at Paperless Kitchen (affiliate link), an online store that provides all that you need to go paperless! My favorite is their Skoy cloths. When dry, the cloths are stiff like paper, but when wet they become flexible and extremely absorbent, like a super thin sponge or an extra plush paper towel. Each Skoy cloth is as absorbent as 15 paper towels! You can rinse and use again and again, and when dirty just throw them in the laundry. I put them in with all my other cloths and kitchen towels. They air dry extremely quickly (less than an hour), but I have even dried them in the dryer by mistake, and they come out completely unharmed.

Skoy cloths from Paperless Kitchen
Skoy cloths from Paperless Kitchen

Anyway, the big news is the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale at Paperless Kitchen!

The following items are 50% off from 10pm Thanksgiving evening (last night) through Monday, December 2 using the code “paperless50”.

Here is the list:

BONUS: If you order in November (before end of day Saturday), you will receive a 4 pack of Skoy cloths free with your order!

And did I mention FREE SHIPPING?

So if you order today (November 29) or tomorrow (November 30) and purchase only a 4 pack of Skoy reusable paper towel replacements, you’ll pay approximately $4.49 and also receive an additional 4-pack free! That’s 8 reusable Skoy cloths for $4.49. I am totally doing this. They make great stocking stuffers too. Pair Skoy cloths with a spray bottle of my homemade Lysol alternative cleaner and you’ve got an inexpensive and eco-friendly gift.

Happy paperless holiday!

Today I am thankful for YOU!

I do celebrate Thanksgiving, and today I wanted each of my readers to know that I am thankful for YOU today! I have been slowly growing this little blog in the last year and I am so grateful for all the new friends that have joined me as we talk about everything from fitness to food to essential oils to BlogHer and #NaBloPoMo. I hope that you enjoy the journey as much as I do and that you feel comfortable hanging around with me for another great year!

I am thankful for each of - for reading, commenting, and sharing the journey!

My Self-Care List: suggestions needed

Drinking coffee & reading

This week, I was very inspired by this post by Green Moms Collective about self-care for moms. In the post, the writer encouraged us (even if we aren’t moms!) to make a list of things that make us feel renewed and happy, and even to write down how much time each of these activities take so that we can intentionally build them into our days. While this might sound unnecessarily detailed to some people, this approach sounds perfect for me! I loooove to multitask and I constantly have a list in my head and on my iPhone of various tasks that I mentally (and physically) arrange and re-arrange according to the length of time I have available and the length of time the task requires. So I thought I’d make a quick list of things I love to do and the amount of time I could allocate for them. Hopefully this will keep me accountable for actually taking breaks during the holiday season.

  • Read: magazine (like Green Child Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, or Shape) – 30 min
  • Read: book club book – 30 min
  • Read: other peoples’ blogs – 5-30 min
  • Read: bible/bible study – 30 min
  • Take a detox bath with epsom salt/baking soda – 20 min
  • Deep breathing – 1 min to 5 min
  • Take a nap – 25 min
  • Do a yoga vinyasa – 5-10 min
  • Entire yoga workout (Ashtanga series, from online instructor, or ad lib) – 20-45 min
  • Watch a TV something – 30 min
  • Drinking tea – 5 min
  • Eating something chocolate – 2 min

Well, that’s all that I could come up with off the top of my head, and I am realizing that unfortunately most of my “happy” things require at least 20-30 minutes. Which might explain why I never seem to have time to do what I enjoy. Who has 20-30 extra minutes?! Not me!

Now accepting ideas: things to add fun to the day that take less than 5 minutes?

4 ways to stay hydrated when it’s cold outside

Staying hydrated

At the chiropractor last week, I was reminded of how I frequently fail to drink enough water when the weather turns cold. When it’s 110 degrees outside in Texas summers, it’s fairly easy to remember to hydrate, but when it’s chilly I just don’t crave that cold stainless steel water bottle anymore!

Since this is a recurring problem for me, I’ve developed 4 tricks to increase my water consumption when it’s cold. Maybe these tricks for staying hydrated in winter can help you too!

  • Keurig – turn on your single-serve coffee brewer without any coffee grains in it and it will provide instant hot water, no tea kettle required!
  • Hot tea – use that instant hot water to make your favorite tea! It’s much easier for me to drink hot tea than ice water when I’m cold.
  • Hot water – to avoid too much caffeine (even green tea has some caffeine), I add just hot water from the Keurig to my travel mug when the tea is almost gone. There’s still a little flavor left!
  • Travel mug – stainless steel is ideal, because it’s toxin-free and holds warmth the longest. If you carry something around with you at all times, you’re more likely to drink it!

Being Conscientious During Christmas

Ever since a few years ago when we kind of cancelled Christmas due to a housing situation, we haven’t looked at Christmas the same way. That year, we had not one but 2 Secret Santa boxes show up at our door and bless our children with gifts. Neither that year or even last year did we actually buy our children gifts from us. They had plenty to open thanks to BlogHer toys and toys from their grandparents and other family. I can guarantee you that a (then) 1 and 3 year old never noticed the difference between 4 toys and 14 toys. And even this year at 2 and 4 years old, we will continue to share with them that Christmas is not about getting, but about giving. Last year we even had the opportunity to be a Secret Santa to another family in a situation similar to ours.

I shared on my blog Facebook page this graphic from my friend Stephanie:

The fact that stores are even open on Thanksgiving day this year, forcing already low income workers to go to work instead of spending time with their families, is a sign of our severe consumption addiction in this country. We are not even willing to let retailers rest. We are asking them to serve us rather than thinking about who we can serve in our own abundance. Something I want us all to stop and think about.

Operation Christmas Child

If you’re looking for a way to give back this season, one thing we have enjoyed doing as a family and with our community group is Operation Christmas Child. Run by the nonprofit ministry Samaritan’s Purse, this program distributes shoebox-sized boxes to needy children across the globe. The fun part is that you get to pick the age range and gender of a child and fill the box with suggested items for them. My kids have had so much fun participating in this each year! Our boxes just went out today, through our church — we save on shipping if we send them all together.

There are a lot of different ways that you can abstain from consumerism and instead opt to give back. Will you take your “down” time this holiday to think about how you can turn the tide in your own family?

Eyelash extensions: less toxic choice?

NOTE: I had a coupon for free eyelash extensions from Amazing Lash Dallas, which I used for this first application. They did not ask me to write about them or give me any compensation to do so.

If there’s one place that I tend to deviate from my eco-friendly and low-toxin lifestyle, it is beauty products. It’s a horrible vice, but I have to say that some of the “green” choices out there just don’t deliver the same quality as conventional brands. So far, I have done pretty well in replacing all my makeup with lower toxin and botanical choices. I have replaced almost all my makeup, but I really struggle with finding a natural mascara that a) doesn’t smell weird (looking at you, Aveda), 2) doesn’t flake into my contacts, and 3) actually makes my pale blonde lashes show up (most of the options so far don’t provide much length or thickness AT ALL).

Last week, a friend of mine invited me to the grand opening of Amazing Lash Dallas, where I got to talk to the owner and franchise owner about eyelash extensions. My main question was: are eyelash extensions a less toxic option for eye enhancement? Because apparently, when you have quality lash extensions you don’t actually need to wear any other eye makeup. What if, instead of trying to find natural eyeliner, mascara, highlighter and eyeshadows that actually work, I was able to stop smearing all that stuff on my eye and just glue extensions to my natural eyelashes?

I got my lash extensions on Tuesday. It took about 2 hours, total. It takes that long because they don’t glue the lashes to your eyelid, they glue the lashes to your existing lashes. This post from Real Posh Mom on 7 Tips You Need To Know Before Getting Lash Extensions was super helpful to read before I went.

Lash Extensions - how eco-friendly are they?

Lash Extensions - how eco-friendly are they?

And for the comparison shot…

Lash Extensions Before & After

It’s now Thursday and I’ve had the extensions for 2 days. So far, here is my take on the green and not-so-green aspects of lash extensions.

Pros:

  • Eyes really don’t need any other makeup, in my opinion. I got the “Cute” style, which is a little more dramatic than the “Natural” and I haven’t worn makeup on my eyes in 2 days. See the pictures above for what they look like with no makeup.
  • No makeup on your eyes = no worry about crying and getting makeup everywhere!
  • You can get synthetic lashes or real mink. Synthetic would be the vegan, animal-friendly option.
  • The adhesive is applied to your lash, not to your skin, so technically there is no skin-to-skin contact with the chemicals in the adhesive.

Cons:

  • While the adhesive isn’t applied directly to your skin, there are fumes during application. You can ask them to turn on a fan, but the fact is, you’ll be breathing fumes for 2 hours at a time. It wasn’t noticeable at first but it got to be a little moreso toward the end. You might try bringing your own mask like the one the technician wears.
  • Even though there is no skin-to-skin contact with the adhesive, there can be a little bit of ongoing irritation if you wear contacts. I think this might be due to some of the chemicals being near the eye and the fact that my contacts are breathable. It isn’t really that bothersome to me, and not much of a “con”, in my mind.
  • Cost. You’ll have to see if extensions are something that fits into your budget. Factor in that the cost of most lower toxin eye makeup is higher than the conventional options — don’t compare extensions to the super low cost of cheap, toxic eye makeup.

I hope this little rundown might help you decide if lash extensions are a green option for you. I love mine but I’m not sure I can keep up the expense long term.

What about you? Have you had lash extensions? If so, what did you think — low toxin option or no? 

An Afternoon of Music: The Sense-able Gym Celebrates 6 months!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching kids yoga classes beginning in 2014 at The Sense-able Gym in Garland (near Richardson)! We’ve written about The Sense-able Gym on Dallas Moms Blog in the past, and the kids and I were able to visit last month to check it out. While it is geared to specifically assist children with sensory needs, it’s a wonderful play space for kids at all levels of learning. My kids LOVE the “Quiet Room” which is dark and has wonderful lighted toys, a music keyboard with shapes that you can jump on, and a light-reactive touching wall. I could go on and on, but I want to tell you today that The Sense-able Gym is celebrating their 6 month anniversary with a FREE special event THIS Saturday, November 23 from 3-5pm including demos and Q&A with myself, the music therapist, and a kids karate teacher. There will be sign-ups for all of our classes available and you can ask us any questions. Be sure to also follow Sense-able Gym on Facebook for updated info and their new open play hours.

The Sense-ableGym - Afternoon Of Music, November 23 from 3-5pm

 

 

Almost too late #NaBloPoMo

We’re over halfway through #NaBloPoMo. Woo hoo! It’s 10:37pm and I have only skipped one day before this one almost passed me by. Did you notice I missed a day? Hopefully not. It’s posts like these that I dread when I commit to #NaBloPoMo. Posts that have no point, aren’t helpful to anyone, and ramble on and on leaving the reader thinking that 2 whole minutes of your life were just sucked away pointlessly. Causing me to want to apologize for writing anything at all. But we have to keep it up, don’t we? Because we said that we would. And so, I post pictures of my kids and husband doing yoga in the living room because this is not a Mommy blog but they are a lot cuter than anything else I could come up with right now.

Yoga in Living Room