Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Happy Place

Sometimes you just have to run away. To Disneyland. Which is what I am doing this weekend. Finally.

I haven't been on an actual vacation in I don't know how long. Way too long. Months and months. Christmas was NOT a vacation. I had only Christmas day and New Years day off. (That's right, I worked Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. And it sucked). So THIS is my Christmas Vacation. And my Anniversary Celebration. It is a lot of things.

It is leaving the worst air in the nation. It is going to sunshine. It is leaving work and school behind. It is warmth. It is a hot tub. It is the happiest place on earth. Is roller coasters. It is the best breakfast in the universe (more on this later). It is stress free time with my busy husband.

It is the best thing EVER.

And amid all my frustrations, panic attacks, papers, work, laundry, dishes, French and chaos I get to go to my happy place. For reals guys. Not just closing my eyes, taking deep breaths and imagining myself in my happy place. I get to physically go there.

You can't beat that!

Of course, as I have thought about the joy of physically going to my happy place, I have decided that I really need to work on developing this inner peace that allows me to physically be in a new happy place. A place that doesn't need anything to exist. It just simply is. It is. Peace. Quiet. Love. Acceptance. Serenity.

Yeah, I want all of that in my life all the time.

So here is to my happy place, physically and spiritually. Cheers!

Where is your physical happy place? How do you develop a spiritual happy place you can carry around with you? Do tell, I want to hear what you have to say!

This little guy has obviously already found his happy place!
P.S. - This was my dog Dexter. I miss him like crazy!
(Linking up with: followers to friendsWhat I'm Loving WednesdayWhatenver, WheneverSo What It's Almost Friday Thursday Blog HopBlack Tag DiariesIt's Ok Thursday,)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Crunchy Mama

Today, y'all will be hearing from Mrs Rogers. AKA - one of my best friends. We are army wives together, and while she may be "Crunchier" than I am, I'm not too far behind in some things. I love being around her because she is honest, hilarious and sincere. She is here today to tell us about her dive into crunchie-dom. If you like what you read, which you will, head on over to her blog!

First, I want to say thanks to Jeannie for suggesting this post swap! I'm excited to be here on One Wish Short... sharing with all of Jeannie's lovelies!

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat--I'm a weirdo hippie witch doctor. And a cheapskate. Happy now? Okay. Moving on.

As the world turns, it continues to get more strange...and complicated. We are constantly bombarded with products and practices that are supposed to make our lives easier. Like most people, I just went with the flow of society for a long time. Sort of. I mom and brother and sister all have ADD, so my mother was all about keeping our sugar intake in check. No kool aide, no coco puffs, etc. Aside from that, though, we were pretty "normal".

It all started when my mom went back to school and did this research project about a "controversial" subject. She chose to address the "Is milk REALLY good for you?" topic. What she found was horrifying on multiple counts. We were milk drinkers. A couple of gallons a week. We drank it with everything. And that came to an abrupt halt after Mom's research project. There was a lot of protest from us, but after I did my own senior year research project to prove her wrong (and accidentally ended up proving her right), I gladly gave it up and haven't looked back.

Since then, my mother and I have challenged the mainstream on almost all fronts. If the government is trying to convince us that cow milk is okay to drink (and that it's actually GOOD for us!), what else are they allowing us to naively bring into our homes and put in our bodies?

Holy crap. Do NOT dive into that subject until you are fully prepared to be disgusted, guilt-ridden, and outraged.

I'm serious.

The more homework I do, the more my life changes. I'm not some crazy super-hippie, but I definitely don't live the way society expects me to. I'm fine with that, though! We (my family) are slowly working our way toward being toxin-free, y'all. It's all about baby steps. Everything--EVERY. SINGLE. THING.--I'm about to discuss seemed so "out there" and weird to me when I first heard or read about it. Almost all of it took a few times of seeing or reading about it to get me to a point where I would try it. I would see something and think "Okay, I'm not THAT crunchy..." and, sure enough, I would eventually try it and it would life-altering.

Let's talk cleaning. How many different cleaning products do you have in your house? Count them--kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, etc. There's stuff for dishes, something else for floors, another thing for carpets, and about ten thousand different items for counters, sinks, tubs, toilets, walls, brass, stainless, ceramic, glass, etc. So now that you've gathered all of those things up (or you've got them your head...) tell me how many of them you would drink? *crickets* No takers? Okay, how many of them would you let a small child/toddler/baby play with? Still none? Huh. Weird. Guess what my number is? Five. Yup. That's it. And I don't have to lock my cleaning cabinets or call poison control if my three-year-old gets his hands on them. I clean with vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, all-natural dish soap, and all-natural laundry detergent. No toxic chemicals. No dyes. No artificial scents. Just a happy, clean, poison-free home! Super weird, huh? I swear they all work! And can we just talk about how stinking CHEAP it is to clean "my way"? No need to break the bank. You could probably get all of the "cleaners" on my list for under ten bucks and clean your whole house. And guess what? I actually just found out about an all-natural home made "bleach" that I really really really want to try. I can't wait to see how it works!

Moving on. Take a look at your medicine cabinet. Ho-lee-crap. Talk about artificial, toxic crap. I won't lie to you, though, I do still have some of that junk in my house. I really should just throw it out, but I've spent so much money accruing my little pharmacy and I wince at the thought of tossing it out...even though I have a natural alternative that works even better. This is where "witch doctor" gets thrown around. When I first heard about this, I rolled my eyes. A big, huge, exaggerated eye roll. It sounded SO hokey to me. I'm talking about essential oils. Hear me out, though! I really thought it was all such a crock until I used some good quality (and by that, I mean doTERRA--internationally recognized as the best, purest essential oils you can get your hands on IN THE WORLD) oils and they worked better than anything I had ever tried. And now I'm hooked. I mean, why take an aspirin when you can use the naturally-occurring form of it (wintergreen) instead. Especially when the natural form works better, faster, and has no negative or harmful side effects? There is no over-dosing. There is no harm when mixed with XYZ. Just all natural health--the way God intended it. It's fantastic! And while everyone else is complaining about their kids getting sick? Mine are healthy and happy and fit as a fiddle. Call me a witch doctor all you want, but this stuff works! I'm a believer for life!

Now I want to talk personal care. What you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your body. Because what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body--so it's basically the same thing. What do you wash your face with? Take a look at the list of ingredients in your "skin care" products. Do you know what every single thing on that list is? Can you tell me why each ingredient is in there and what effect it has on your body? Probably not. Guess what I wash my face with? Olive oil and castor oil. Super weird, right?! That's what I thought the first fifty times I heard/saw it. And then I tried it. My life is changed forever. Guess what else? Also CCCHHHEEEAAAPPP. What do you moisturize with? I have a challenge for you. This is an easy first step into hippiedom. Try coconut oil. No joke. That's all I use (well...I also use some home made body butter that I whipped up a few months ago--but it contains FOUR ingredients--all natural, and one of them is coconut oil) on myself and my children. My husband has switched over too. It I know what you're thinking--"OIL? You want me to moisturize with OIL?? Gross." But it's not. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts at about 76 degrees. It smells awesome and it's naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal. It is antioxidant. BA-ZING! Now you have no reason not to try it. "But, Ashley, I have a skin condition..." Hold it right there, buster. You are NOT excused! Have you ever heard of keratosis pilaris? KP is a skin condition that I passed on to my son. The doctor prescribed Amlactin (stinky lotion that stung). KP is successfully combated in our house with coconut oil. I even converted a friend who has a bad case of eczema - she tried coconut oil and totally wiped it out! If you take nothing else from this--at LEAST go get yourself some coconut oil.

There are so many other things I would LOVE to talk about today, but no one wants to read a novel on blogger. If you wanted to read a novel, you'd be reading one. So I'm going to leave you with one last crunchy mom topic of discussion: cloth diapers. Don't log off! Cloth diapers nowadays are not what your grandmother used fifty years ago. They're cute! And easy! Sure, you can still get flats and prefolds (what Grandma used), but you can also get cloth diapers that look like...well, diapers. Same shape, velcro and/or button closure, water proof, leak proof, and cute to boot! I first explored cloth diapering when I was pregnant with my oldest, but was overwhelmed and gave up on the idea...until I became pregnant with my daughter. I did some good old fashioned research and I just couldn't bear the thought of using disposable diapers anymore! There are three things that converted me: cost, health, the "green" factor. First off--do you know how much the average American family spends on disposable diapers in a year? $1500. In ONE YEAR. Holy hell. Cloth diapers? Well, you spend a few hundred bucks (varies depending on what style of diapers you choose) and that's it! For the ENTIRETY of your diapering. Sure, some will wear out after a ton of use and you'll have to buy more. But a good bunch of them can be used for multiple kids--the savings just keeps piling up! Second issue--health. There are so many chemicals in disposable diapers. (how do you think they get the pee to gel up?) And they are all right up close and personal with baby's tender parts! Yipe! Cloth diapers...not so much! You've got natural fibers (cotton, hemp, etc.) and whatever laundry detergent you decide to use. We have happy heinies at my house. And finally, the green factor. We are all trying to be more environmentally conscious, right? RIGHT?! I don't think I really need to get into the details about how BILLIONS of disposable diapers are clogging up landfills all over the country every year. Or about how it takes over 500 years for them to decompose. Cloth diapers remedy that problem. Shazzam. And again--so cute.

I dare you to challenge the mainstream. Do a little digging and see how you can simplify your life with natural, non-toxic solutions. I promise you'll be glad you did!! If you have any questions to ask or want to point your fingers and laugh at me from a safe distance, feel free to do so over at Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood. We'll be addressing each of these topics (among others) in more depth in the coming weeks, so be sure to tune in!

This is Crunchy Mamma (a.k.a. Mrs Rogers) signing out!

P.S. At some point we may explore my overuse of quotation marks, ellipses, and exclamation points. Maybe. (I make no "promises"!!!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coming Home

This is a post I wrote last year when I got to see my husband for the first time in months due to his service in the military. I thought I would share it again with everyone because it just hit me how wonderful it is to know that at the end of this work day, I get to go home to my husband. It is the most beautiful miracle a girl could ask for.

I was waiting for Stephen at the airport. And I thought I would pass out before he actually got here. I was bouncing around, trying really hard to hold still, and failing miserably. The airport was crowded with a bunch of people with signs for LDS missionaries coming home, long lines of people waiting to get through security and people pouring out of the exit and into the baggage claim. They all smiled at me indulgently, probably thinking I was waiting for a missionary.

I saw Stephen coming around the corner from his reflection in the glass and I promised myself that I would hold still.

I lied to myself.

As soon as he got out from that long hallway I found myself running towards him and throwing myself in his arms. The whole airport burst into cheers. People in the security line were jumping up and down, random people took pictures. It sounded like we had just won a big football game. Everyone was yelling, clapping and cheering like crazy. And it went on for a while. I was crying, with my head buried in his uniform and arms wrapped firmly around his neck. He maneuvered us to the back of the crowd, carrying me and two large back packs. I was too overwhelmed with happiness to be of much help. We just held each other for a minute, and I cried some more, and then made our way to the escalator.

As we went up, people below saw us and again started cheering.

It was awesome.

And I think that for the first time ever, the outside world sounded exactly like how I was feeling inside.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Plans for the Current

Holy guacamole on a hot beef burrito, ALL of my friends have a baby or are about to have a baby. And I'm all, "I'm about to have a degree."

Which I am ok with.

Which scares a lot of people.

And I'm ok with that.

Which really scares people.

And... I could go on forever like this. You catch my drift.

Fact is, I don't want a baby right now. Eventually, yeah I do. Right now, I want a kitten.

Like this one:

Or this one:

Or this one:

But I digress... (I think I just looked at pictures of kittens for like 20 minutes...) What I am trying to say is right now I would love to have a kitten over a baby. Even a puppy seems like too much work right now.

Guys, I am not some freak of nature for wanting to wait on the whole kid thing (which might sound reasonable to some, and crazy to others). I want time with my husband. After all the time I have spent away from him, and all the time we've spent on homework and work instead of having time for each other, having a baby right now seems... kinda horrible to the baby.

And, here comes the big part (mother, hold on to your parasol), I want to start a career. A business. Finish writing a book. Travel.

I was raised believing that being a mother was the highest and greatest calling a woman could ever have. And I still believe that. Motherhood is beautiful and terrifying and wonderful and important. And I want to be ready.

I want to live so I can show my kids how to go after their dreams. I want to learn to help them learn. But mostly, and this is most important even if it does come across as selfish, I want to better myself. I want to be strong, happy, successful (by my definition) and most of all I want to just love the life I have.

I haven't had time to really live. I haven't learned to live until recently. I've been busy with the formal education and working part. I am so close to the "living" part now. I am learning that each day is a day to live. Whether or not I have homework, laundry, angry customers or a cold. I can still LIVE. And that is what I want to do. Live as just me, before adding the title of mother.

And that is ok.

(Linking up with: followers to friendsWhat I'm Loving WednesdayWhatenver, WheneverSo What It's Almost Friday Thursday Blog HopBlack Tag DiariesIt's Ok Thursday,)

Monday, January 14, 2013


I fully recognize that I should be doing homework right now. And by should, I mean I should have started and finished about three hours ago. But life happens. Like grocery shopping... or watching  The Bachelor.

See, life.

And even as I sit here to write, I realize that I don't have a whole lot to say. I just simply wanted to open up my conduit of creativity and let words become thoughts. And those thoughts help me release, realize and rejoice over so many things.

Recently I have discovered that I have found strength. Strength in demanding my worth, in defending my sanity and in never backing down from a fight that should be fought (most fights aren't ones we should be dividing ourselves over).

You see, I have hated my job. And when I say hate, I mean panic attacks on Sunday night when I know I have to go to work the next morning - hate. Crying in the bathroom at work because the pressure and the stress is getting to be too much. And knowing that at the end of every day, I am not doing anything that builds me or anyone else up.

I answer the phone, direct the calls, enter the orders and do the menial tasks that no one else wants to do. I get screamed at for other people's mistakes, and it is my job to apologize like there is no tomorrow. I have task after task heaped upon me because, after all, I am just the receptionist. What in the world do I have better to do than to create a ridiculous spreadsheet?

I am capable of so much more. I have so much more to offer the world. In the past, I have just laid down and been a doormat. Being silently miserable. But no longer. Thanks to so many life lessons, and mostly to a husband who supports and loves me, I had the moral courage to walk into my boss's office and tell him how absolutely miserable I am. To tell him he was most definitely NOT paying me enough. To tell him that the expectations placed on me were unrealistic. And man did it feel good.

At the end of the talk, I am afraid my boss felt that he had assuaged all my fears and given me many comforting words of advice. And he did have a couple of plans to help make my day a little easier. But the truth of the matter is, I am not satisfied working a dead-end job as the "front desk girl". And if something better comes along, I WILL take it. Because I deserve better. Because I am someone worth fighting for. Because my happiness is worth a whole lot more than that measly paycheck.

I have found strength in my weakness. That is what God does to people. And I am so grateful He does.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Because I Am

I need to write not only as a release, but to build in my life everything I have been looking for everywhere else. My world has been peopled with imaginary friends, villains and passersby for as long as I can remember. Romance has flowed like music through my thoughts since I was a child, sparked by my parents' love for each other. And that romantic side of myself was nurtured, and often over watered, with books and movies and love songs. And soon I thought that love could only come in that form. In the form of perfect lyrics and cinematic drama. With a grand force that left me with no choice but to surrender my heart and soul to my handsome, modern day prince.

But love came jarringly. With heartbreaks, abandonment, fear and quiet moments of revelation. I have moments that I can recall looking at the face of the man I loved, and loving the very particles of air that touched his skin. Of memorizing the lines in his face, the contours of his chest and the sound of his voice. But those moments were broken, shattered by the harsh realities of two separate lives, headed in directions that would not meld. In utter rejection. In finally seeing that the fairytale man that I had so sacredly given my heart too, was human. And couldn't love me then. And my love had not learned patience.

And so I learned to love the real in a man. The faults, the fears and the temper. The misunderstandings that will always fuel arguments and feeling shut out. And as I fell in love, I had to loosen my iron grip on a real life fairy tale for the beautiful, brutal reality that is marriage. The kisses, the love and the quiet moments blossom among the dirty dishes and unmatched socks. I've learned to find romance and love in my husband's act of paying bills.

And though I have had to let go of the idea of beautiful moments, complete with background music and sweeping panoramic views, I still have my romance. And I am still very much in love.

But some part of me wants the dramatic beauty that comes from a romance in the land of fairies. In a made up reality. And so I write. And though I may be feeding the fire of some other girl's need to step into real life and hang up the fairy wings, I think that this belief in true love, prince charming and romance gives us all hope. Because myth was based on fact. And the fact is, I love my husband more than any movie character has loved another because I have stood outside the door as he vomited loudly, ready to jump in and take care of him regardless of how disgusted I was. Because he has loved me in my foolish moments of temper tantrums and hurtful words.

I have my fairytale. And what I write is merely taking all that is in my heart and interpreting it in a new way. I couldn't tell you what really happens to create so much love in my life because that will remain forever as the infinite and sacred bond between the man of my dreams and my faulty self.

I love because I am. I am because I love. I write because I have learned love.

(Linking up with: It's Almost Friday Thursday Blog HopBlack Tag DiariesFirst Day Of My LifePretty Little InspirationsLink and MingleIt's Ok Thursday,)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's Been a Bit

Hello Friends!

I know it has been a while.

I had to take a break and LIVE. Not worry about link ups, blog posts, pictures, social media... all of that. I just wanted to enjoy what I could of my crazy busy holidays, and then take a breather.

My breather is over, and I am BACK! And excited to just.... write.

I've had a good couple of weeks. I've been hiking, sledding, movie-going, arcade playing and sleeping. I've enjoyed some time "unplugged". And I have also started to stretch and grow and discover more about life and love and myself.

And I am happy. Happier than I can ever remember being.

I can't wait to share more things with you. But for now, I will leave you with something I've recently discovered:

Learning to simply love. To think in love, to act in love and accept with love everyone around me. That is my focus. And though sometimes I fail and sometimes I blunder, I always try to return to who I am. To who we all are. A being of love, made in love, sent to earth to learn how to be the light of God's love to all the world.

(Linking up with: followers to friendsWhat I'm Loving WednesdayWhatenver, WheneverSo What)