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?

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?

To Do List 2012: How did I do?

Oh look, it’s almost 2013! Time to look back at my To Do List from 2012 and see if I accomplished any of it.

1. Eat better.
To make this a little more measurable, I’ll just say that I want to get back to eating at least 5-7 whole fruits and veggies per day.
Sort of done. I have been doing a lot better as far as cutting out the extra sugar and carbs but I’m probably still not up to 5-7 veggies a day. Mostly because I give all the fruits and veggies in the house to my kids, and there are rarely any left for me. Those things are expensive! But I am still drinking my NingXia Red, which is packed with antioxidants, so I think that helps.

2. Resume meal planning.
I did pretty good with this probably 6 months out of the year, off and on.  At one point, I got depressed about how much money we spend on groceries and stopped even trying. Then we found out that Little Sir is dairy and soy intolerant and that threw another wrench in the planning because I can’t use Food On The Table or eMeals since they all contain dairy ingredients that I can’t always substitute. I am currently off the wagon. This is going to show up on the 2013 list again, dang it.

3. Regular exercise.
I want to aim for 3 days a week.

Oh thank God, one that I can actually cross off the list. Thanks to becoming a Lagree Fitness instructor at Ultimate Pilates Plano, I am now in better shape than I was before the kids. I actually do have six-pack abs, not lying. I would love to take pictures but that seems really indecent for a family-friendly blog. OK, I did take pictures in the mirror once but I haven’t shown anyone. However, this is not bragging because it is very hard work and continues to be very challenging. It’s not like I am saying “oh look, I have magically great abs! Whee! Be jealous!”. Nooooo, I write routines that are specifically heavy on moves targeting my transverse abdominal muscles and my obliques, and I do those routines for 50 minutes, at least 3 times a week. And I must mention, I teach these routines in my classes so if you want to work on your post-baby body like I did…you know where I am!

4. Attempt monetization of this blog
“Attempt monetization” is not a very measurable goal, but let’s just say I’ll research and apply for some ad networks and work on ways that I could increase my readership. Such as participating in blogger link-ups.

First of all, I would like to give yet another shout-out to my wonderful sponsor Tanya of Happy Feet, Healthy Body who has an Etsy shop selling handmade bath and health products that are completely free of toxins but also provide the natural healing powers of essential oils. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing her products! She has an excellent headache remedy and an amazing lavender lip balm that I use every night. And if you are in the Dallas area, she can even arrange for local delivery rather than paying for shipping.

I feel like I have done some positive work in this direction. I have also joined up with a number of other green bloggers via The Green Sisterhood and some closed Facebook groups. I actually don’t participate in a ton of link-ups, but that is because I am very picky about my topics and I don’t do a lot of giveaways. I feel like I am heading in the right direction and I’m looking forward to 2013!

5. Start potty learning with my son
This is pretty much done! Now that we’ve addressed the stomach issues of dairy and soy intolerance and provided both negative and positive incentives (positive alone did not inspire him), he has very few pee or poop accidents. Well, thank goodness that only took about 7 months.

6. Decorate the kids’ rooms
I think they look a lot less bare now. I put the animal and letter decals up in my son’s room and hung his name picture and handprints, and he accumulated a number of additional toys and books to fill up some of the extra space. I put up a lovely tree decal in my daughter’s room and bought some curtains. She also got a bookcase with bins like brother’s and a bureau for her clothes. I am sure I could do more but there’s not a ton of space. I like what we have right now!

7. Plant a garden
Hahaha, that was pretty much a failure except for the bell peppers, but there is a good reason that I didn’t specify that it had to be a successful garden. I ended up getting enough bell peppers that, when chopped, fill up a plastic baggie (I know, PLASTIC, I lose my green cred yet again) in the freezer. That is a significant crop considering how small they were. But they died in the snow on Christmas Day, so that’s done. Since we have such a nice raised bed setup now, I’ll try again next year.

Merry guilt-free Christmas!

We were excited to have a white Christmas this year, and so many things to be thankful for!

We celebrated here at our house with our family of four plus my brother-in-law, Garrett. For pictures and info about what we do as a family, you can always check out my family blog, which I am terrible at updating.

We had a great day full of presents and food, and while we spent very little money and chose the childrens’ gifts conscientiously, there are a few that were plastic, and therefore not terribly “green”. The majority of my son’s gifts were actually secondhand, if that helps any. I’d rather not expose myself to green blogger criticism by going into detail about what we gave them, but be aware that we chose even those toys conscientiously because we felt that the experience outweighed the risks.

I don’t have a beautiful picture of our entire family together wearing matching anything near a tree because I was unable to corral my children long enough to get anything like that, and honestly, they spent most of the time arguing and fighting (keepin’ it real, here). Instead, I have this delicious picture of  the (vegan, soy-free) birthday cake they decorated for Jesus. Obviously, artificial colors were used in the toppings but no trans fats, dairy, or soy.

I hope that each of you had a wonderful, delicious, and guilt-free holiday! I’d love to hear your not-so-green confession in the comments.

I’ll be back later this week to review the success or failure of my To Do List from 2012 and explore my new To Do List for 2013!

Last minute teacher Christmas gift

I just wanted to do a quick post on my favorite teacher “thank you” gift, since I know we all love to thank our childrens’ teachers at the holidays. Instead of some trinket that might break or sweets that they might otherwise try to avoid (my son’s preschool teacher is gluten-free so I wanted to avoid anything that she couldn’t eat anyway) — how about flowers?

My favorite place to get beautiful, unique, and inexpensive flowers is Whole Foods or Central Market. In fact, I got the flowers for my wedding bouquet at Central Market!

Since my son’s teacher spends more time with him than my daughters’ once-a-week Mother’s Day Out teachers, I also added a personalized May Books lined notebook to her gift. May Books are hand-sewn without using plastic or synthetic glue with nasty chemicals. The covers are cloth-based so that they wear to a soft finish.

It’s not too late to buy some fresh flowers today!
What is your favorite teacher gift to give or receive (if you are a teacher)?

NOTE: I did not receive any compensation or product for the mention of May Books, although the owner is a personal friend of mine. I just love her products, and I pay for them just like everyone else!