Monday, March 26, 2012

A Busy Sunday: Some Natural Cleaning and Beauty Products

The fit of energy I experienced Sunday afternoon may have come from speed-reading through The Hunger Games between Friday and Sunday in preparation for going to see the movie this coming weekend with some friends. (May the odds be ever in your favor!) Whatever the cause, the effect was interesting.

Let me back up. We let ourselves run out of commercial dish soap earlier this week, in preparation for trying to make our own. I did make my own. I may not have done it right. I’m not sure. Either way, the resulting dish soap is weak and leaves a thick greasy smear around the bowl of the sink after I drain the water. I find myself wanting a commercial dish soap just to clean off the grease ring.

So, I finished The Hunger Games yesterday afternoon. My thought process after putting the book down was as follows:

Hmm. Husband has been picking up our empty hand soap dispenser periodically this week and wiggling it, while looking at me expectantly. I guess it’s time to try that new hand soap recipe I found online.  Oh, yeah, I wanted to try to make hair gel again, since it still bugs me that I couldn’t get that recipe to work the last two times. Ah! Here’s the shea butter my lovely sister-in-law brought me last weekend! I’m going to make lotion. If I don’t do it today, it probably won’t happen until next weekend. That reminds me: my hair is dry, and sometime I want to try a hot oil treatment on my hair. Oh, look! I happen to have a recipe on my computer for a hot oil treatment for hair! I’ll do that today too!

I proceeded to make all of those products mentioned above. And then I gave my hair a hot oil treatment, humming ‘Go, Grease Lightning’ all the while. This frenzied activity resulted in a veritable mountain of greasy dishes by the sink (and soft, shiny hair).

I looked at the mountain of dishes. And then I whipped my head to the left to stare at the bottle of weak watery homemade dish soap.

I called Husband. And asked him to pick up a bottle of real dish soap on his way home from work.

Recipes Used

If you’re at all curious to check out any of the recipes I used yesterday, here is a list of them, complete with their status in my home right now and link to where I found them:

Homemade Dish Soap

Check it out here.

Weak. Very weak. But the blogger who posted the recipe sings its praises so much I think I’ve just got to try it again. I want it to work.

Homemade Hand Soap

You can find it here.

So far this is still sitting on my stove. The first recipe I tried said to use 4 oz. of grated soap to four cups of water. Basically that made a gel like overcooked tapioca pudding. I’ve reheated it and added water, oh, three or four times. Now the soap is diluted with almost a gallon of water, which makes my concoction about the same as this recipe.

Homemade Hair Gel

I’ve seen it enough places that I’m not sure who to cite for it. I added ½ t. of plain gelatin to one cup of boiling water. Then I let it sit overnight. I forgot about it this morning, but I’ll try it tomorrow to see if it worked. (Just as an aside, I’ve read that you do have to keep this hair gel refrigerated.)

Homemade Lotion

I’m not sure where Sister-in-law got this recipe from. This is exactly what she sent me:

"The lotion is 1 1/2 c. pure shea butter, 1/2c. coconut oil and 1-2 oz. jojoba oil. Melt shea butter over stove on low, once melted add other two (coconut oil will be a solid but will melt very quickly). take off heat and start whipping with a mixer. Mix for a few minutes then put in freezer for a few minutes, keep repeating until you want to quit and buy lotion instead! Eventually (usually 20-30 minutes later) the liquid will almost instantly turn into a nice whipped butter texture. Once it feels like a whipped body butter it is done."

 The lotion is whipped and creamy, and I love the feel of it! I added essential sweet orange oil to mine, and next time I will add more. The lotion still smells kind of like shea butter, which isn’t my favorite smell. If you make this yourself, don’t expect it to act exactly like store-bought lotion. It leaves your skin looking kind of greasy at first, but it will absorb in.

Homemade Hot Oil Treatment

Basically just ½ c. of olive oil heated up on the stove until warm, then applied to hair. I’ve read that you can also add ½ c. rosemary leaves to the oil and then strain them out before applying to hair. I don’t really want to spend that much money on my hair.

Right now my hair is about an inch above my shoulders and it’s naturally pretty thick. The half cup of oil was a little more than I needed. Next time I will probably just heat up a third of a cup of oil.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend With Family (Mostly Spent Outside)

This weekend our little house was happily invaded by Husband's sister, her husband, and their little boy. Here are a few snapshots from our fun weekend:

On the swings!

Uncle gaining some parenting skills
Getting ready to fly kites!

Flying my faithful Yoda kite
Watching kites in Mommy's stellar shades


Not having any fun. At all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Midnight Clonking

I just about started bawling at the library circulation desk today.

I was sitting comfortably, innocently reading through our new children’s fiction books when I came to one called God Found Us You.  The stage is set for the story with a little white fox saying to a large red fox, “Mama, tell me again about the day I came home.”  

Mama Fox goes on to describe how she had been waiting a long time. She says that she prayed very hard but she still had to wait. (I started getting a little teary-eyed at this point.) Then she says that it was hard for her to see other mamas with their babies. (I started skimming so as not to burst into tears and alarm library patrons.) Suffice it to say, Mama Fox waits and waits and waits, and eventually God gives her a little fox, to whom she is telling this story.

As adoption books go, I wasn’t even that impressed with it. There’s not even any mention of the Papa Fox, although the title, God Found Us You, makes it sound like there should be another parent in the picture.

Why, you may ask, did an adoption story about foxes push me almost to tears?

Sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation, my friends, is the answer.

I honestly can’t figure out why, but I haven’t slept well since being at Husband’s parents’ house last weekend. Last night I woke up around 3:00 a.m. and laid there, thinking about nothing in particular except the fact that I was very tired until about 4:00 a.m. All nights prior had involved some of the same insomnia, save Monday night.

On Monday night I had trouble falling asleep to begin with. When I finally did fall asleep, I slept fitfully until waking up suddenly to a loud WHAM! I clutched my head and groaned and noticed Husband clutching his head and groaning. We both mumbled an apology to the other before turning over to go back to sleep. The next morning, telling a co-worker about the collision, I was laughing, but at the time, I remember thinking, “Really? When I’m already having trouble sleeping?”

All in all, though, I’m glad Husband and I bonked heads because whenever I think about how our faces must have looked as we groaned and clutched our foreheads, and then both mumbled inarticulate words of apology, I can’t help but laugh. Anything that can afford me that much entertainment is well worth the midnight clonking.

In any case, I haven’t gotten enough sleep this week, and my emotions are proving it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Job Changes

It’s really not my fault that my dessert intake this week was eight instead of four.

See? (However, I want it noted that I did not eat any of the frosting balloons. I left all of those to Husband.)

Besides shaking your head at my lack of self-discipline, you might also be wondering what I am being thanked for with this giant frosting-covered, food-dye laden cookie.

In this blog, I’ve really been focusing more on infertility and all of its effects on me and Husband, and I haven’t been focusing on much else that has been going on in our lives. Though the disproportionate focus on infertility has been a pretty fair representation of where my mind has been, I want you to know that I do have a life beyond infertility.

My job life has changed significantly in the last two weeks. I had been working part-time at our church, overseeing Sunday morning children’s programs, and part-time at our public library, also working in children’s programs. As of last Sunday, however, I am no longer working at church and am now working full-time at the public library. Though I’m sure it would be accurate to assume that the library staff did somersaults of joy when they found out I was coming on staff full-time, it was actually the church that gave me the cookie. (Wink, wink)

I am a little sad to give up my position at the church, but I am excited about increasing my time and responsibilities at the library. Now, in addition to working in children’s programs, I will work more at the circulation desk and will be in charge of some adult programming. I’ll be leading the adult book club and will be in charge of planning the adult summer reading program, as well as a few other odds and ends.

One of the things I love most about working at the library, besides being surrounded by books for eight hours a day, is that I get the chance to interact with many Spanish-speaking patrons. I love being able to make them feel more comfortable and welcome in the library than they would be if they couldn’t be sure they were understood.

I’m excited about beginning to work full-time at the library, and I’m a little excited about no longer balancing two part-time jobs. I’m also excited to try to limit my dessert consumption to four again this week, now that the delicious giant cookie is gone.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Another Unexpected Blessing

My nephew Million came home from Ethiopia last August. He’s intelligent, a reader, and incredibly loving. Yet another blessing I never thought to ask for!

He even loves to read like I do (a love that I know is encouraged by his wonderful mommy and daddy):

Here we are reading Where's Walrus, which I will promptly request to have added to our library collection. Please do not take note of the crease appearing between my eyebrows at the ripe old age of 25.

Blessings Asked for and Blessings Unexpected

I drove up to Minnesota this weekend for a baby shower. Overall, baby showers are not my favorite pastime right now, but this shower was for my dear sister-in-law, and for her sake (and my new niece’s!) I didn’t want to miss it.

Throughout the day on Saturday, both during the baby shower and after, my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law quietly asked me how I was feeling, whether being at a shower was difficult for me. I felt so very loved and cared for. And after the shower, when we sat at a coffee shop for an hour, chatting about everything from books, to the future, to the pains and frustrations of natural hair care, I was blessed again, both by compassion and by lots of laughter.

This is us:

I’m the short one on the far left. Then next to me is Helen, Amy (who’s expecting a little girl in two months), Heather, and Mom.

As I was brushing my teeth later that evening, I reflected on how much I love my in-law family. I feel right at home among them and am developing friendships with my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law that are precious to me.

I realized that though I’ve been blessed over and over again by my husband’s family, I never asked for them. I asked for a godly compassionate husband, but I didn’t ask for godly compassionate in-laws.

Now, though I’m asking for a child and not receiving, I am conscious of the fact that God has given me many blessings I never thought to ask for. I may not always be able to believe this, but right now I can believe with certainty that God knows better than I do what gifts I need and when I need them. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Silences of God and Sacred Cows Part 2

Yesterday, what with one thing and another that I would prefer not to go into presently, I had had enough of God's silences. Enough of no. I wanted yes. And I was an emotional wreck. Even Husband, who is very precise in the words that he chooses would probably say that that description is not far off the mark.

In the evening I had an hour at home alone, and I sensed that God wanted my attention during that hour. I was able to take a good look into my heart, and I saw, erected there, a beautiful golden calf.

Motherhood, I realized, has become for me the sacred cow, the one thing that in my mind is non-negotiable between me and God. I want to start our family now and God will make it possible one way or another. 

Husband and I have sensed for a few weeks now, I think, that God is gently letting us know that He isn't ready for us to start our family yet. He has other things for us to do first. I don't know what those are yet... Husband and I have some ideas, but we're not sure. But all along, as God has been giving us these ideas, I've been saying to Him, "OK. Sure. We can do that. But baby first," or "Yeah, we'll do that, but we're going to have a baby at the same time." I was not willing to accept the idea of waiting to start our family.

In the last few days, God has slowly and gently pulled the last semblance of control away from me, leaving me completely at his mercy. (Not peacefully, I might add. As I mentioned, yesterday, I was an emotional wreck.) At the same time, the other ideas of things that God could possibly be calling us to do have become more apparent, more concrete, even. 

And last night, when I finally sat down with God, I realized that the painful, wrenching, tearing sensation I had been experiencing all day was my letting go, my accepting that I will do whatever God calls me to do, even if that ends up being before we start our family. In the process of accepting God's will, the sacred cow in my heart began to be uprooted. And those sacred cows, I'm learning, are heavy.  

I don't know why, exactly, God has been silent to me in the last month, but I do know that He has used His silence and our life circumstances to show me what was in my heart. He has shown me what was in my heart, and He has shown me that, painful as it may be, God can and will uproot any sacred cows He finds in the heart He's claimed for His. 

I want God, and I want God's will more than a baby. I truly do. Though motherhood might not be a part of the plan yet, I'm ready to take steps of obedience.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Silences of God and Sacred Cows Part 1

Husband and I have been going through the study Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. I highly recommend this study. Though I don't think it's perfect, I do think it's a very good study. I'm thinking a lot and learning a lot about God because of the meditations in this book.

This morning's reading was especially pertinent to my life right now. The authors write about the silences of God. They first reference Job, which almost made me skip to the end. I don't want to think any more about Job right now. I just don't. But then the talk switches to the account of the death of Lazarus, found in John 11:1-45. I want to share what they write:

John reported that Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Although Jesus received word that His good friend was sick and at the point of death, He delayed going until Lazarus died. In other words, Mary and Martha asked Jesus to come help their brother when he was sick, and Jesus was silent. All the way through Lazarus's final sickness and death, Jesus did not answer. They recived no response from the One who said He loved Lazarus. Jesus even said He loved Mary and Martha. Yet He did nothing. 

Lazarus died, and Mary and Martha went through the funeral process, preparing his body, putting him in the grave, and covering it with a stone. Still, God's silence continued. Finally, Jesus said to His disciples, "Let's go." 

When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Then the Spirit of God began to help me understand something. It seemed to me as if Jesus said to Mary and Martha: "You are exactly right. If I had come when you asked, your brother would  not have died. You know I could have healed him, because you have seen Me heal people many times before. If I had come when you asked Me to, I would have healed him. But you would have never known any more about Me than you already understood. I knew you were ready for a greater revelation of Me than you had known before. I wanted you to experience that I am the Resurrection and the Life. My refusal and My silence were not rejection. They were opportunities for Me to disclose to you more of Me than you had ever known."

Over the last month, God has been silent. To me, anyway. I've asked for fertility medications to be effective. I've asked for healing. I've asked for a baby. On all accounts over this past month-- and year before that-- God has remained silent. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A False Start and Sugar Detox Reviewed

I've been wanting to write a post about infertility that was a little tongue-in-cheek because I think I am far too serious about this topic, but I just can't do it. Maybe I'll be able to look back at myself and laugh in a few years, but right now all I can do is sigh and shake my head.

In fact, I don't even want to talk about it now. Consider that a false start.

I realized that I have neglected to share an update about Husband's and my sugar detox that we undertook for the months of January and February. We finished last weekend, after undergoing a week with zero added sugar or bread products. 

I told my husband after we enjoyed a delicious caramelly pie called 'Crack Pie' on Friday night that I thought the last week of the sugar detox was the easiest week. It was almost as though not getting even a taste of sugar was like switching my sugar cravings into the off position. Nothing was fueling the fire of desire, so to speak.

Honestly, I didn't feel amazing on the sugar detox. At least, I didn't feel any more amazing than I usually do. I may have noticed a slight increase in my overall energy level, but it's hard to say. I did enjoy a lot less guilt while eating on the sugar detox. As I chewed away on my fruit leather instead of a cookie, my brain was telling me, You are so good. You are eating something that will nourish me. Yay!

The sugar detox began the process of ingraining in me the idea that all those sweets that I love so much (cinnamon rolls come to mind ...mmm...) are really empty calories and empty energy. They fill me up and fill me out but they don't feed my body with the nutrients it needs. I've also recently learned that refined sugar is an immune depressant. Lots of good reasons to stay away from excess sugar.

I don't think that Husband has any long-range goals for the sugar detox, but I think, given my current reproductive health, that some long-range goals are in order for me. I'm keeping it simple. Going off of an idea that was shared on another blog (I can't remember which one or I would link to it!), I'm going to limit myself to four 'desserts' per week. Desserts include anything from a cinnamon roll for breakfast to a sweet bread to cookies or cake. I'm also going to try to completely avoid candy. I don't tend to crave candy unless I eat a piece, so I should be pretty successful on that point.

All in all, the sugar detox was a good experience for me. I hopefully have been able to make some life changes from the experiences of the eight weeks. I learned a lot about new ways to cook, ways to cut back on sugar in the things that I do cook, and most importantly, that I can live without chocolate if necessary.