Lazy Hippie Mama

One woman's attempt to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort

A 3 Year Old’s Perspective On Holiday Traditions – A Guest Post by T-Rex

Today's guest blogger is by my very favorite pre-schooler in the world. When he's not blogging, T-Rex enjoys playing with blocks and Legos, watching The Wiggles and eating random things he finds on the floor. His previous guest post is, "Reasons My Mama Is Crying."

Today’s guest blogger is my very favorite pre-schooler in the world. When he’s not blogging, T-Rex enjoys playing with blocks and Legos, watching The Wiggles and eating random things he finds on the floor. His previous guest post is, “Reasons My Mama Is Crying.”

Something screwy is going on around here. OK, let’s be honest: my family is not like other families we know. None of my friends has ever had to shoo a rabbit out of their bed or been dive-bombed by a parakeet while taking a bath. I’m starting to think it’s not “the norm” to have to clear nearly a dozen musical instruments off the dining room table in order to eat dinner. I concede the possibility that my mother spends more time moving bugs out of the house “so they can carry on with their buggy little lives” than other moms. But… seriously… something’s up.

This is M and me. He's my best friend!

This is M and me. He’s my best friend!

It all started almost a month ago. We went to my friend M’s house and ate a huge dinner. Of course, when I say, “we” I mean all of the grown ups ate a huge dinner while M and I consumed the fluffy center part of the dinner rolls while surreptitiously feeding the outer layer to the dog. Afterward, even though we hadn’t eaten a single bite of vegetables, M and I both got pie AND a cupcake. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I was too excited about going face-first into a plate full of whipped cream and bright red frosting. Looking back, though, that day was the start of the Season of Strange Stuff.

The very next day Daddy dragged a tree into our house.

That’s weird, right? I mean – this wasn’t a pretty vase of flowers or one of Mommy’s potted plants (FYI – she does NOT think it’s charming when you “pick” those and give them to her). This was a full size pine tree. It was taller than Daddy and he can ALMOST touch the moon! And that’s not even the strangest part! Daddy set this big box on the floor. I opened it up and it was full of the shiniest, sparkliest, most fabulously touchable glittery stuff I’d ever seen! Mommy called them “ornaments” and she must have told me 700 times that day to be very gentle with them. Geez! I tell you! Shatter a few glasses and plates and the woman has trust issues for life. So we’ve got the tree and we’ve got all of these lovely glass ornaments and (you may not believe this but I swear it’s true) then my parents and sister started hanging the ornaments on the tree. In our living room. I could not make this stuff up!

Just about the time I was getting used to seeing the giant tree in the living room, Mommy started telling me to repeat after her: “Today we light the candle of hope.” I would say it and then she would tell me, “great job! Let’s try one more time, nice and loud and clear. Today we light the candle of hope.” There were no candles. I had no idea what she was talking about but, you know, I love her and I aim to please so I went along with it. Then, on a Sunday morning, right in the middle of church, she took me up on stage and handed me the microphone and I stood there with my big sister. She had a lighter in her hands. If you don’t know, this is breaking just about every rule there is, regarding Sunday morning church. It has been made clear to me, repeatedly, that I am NOT to go on the stage during church. The microphones are NOT for touching. And, under no circumstances, is ANY child allowed to hold the lighter. But there we were – big sister and me. I looked out toward the pews and not a single grown up was making a move to stop us. They were all just sitting there, like they were waiting for something to happen. I glanced over at Mommy and she whispered, “today we light…”  I remembered what she had told me: loud and clear. I held the microphone to my mouth just like I’d seen other people do and, in my VERY LOUDEST most clear voice yelled, “TODAY WE LIGHT THE CANDLE OF HOPE!!!” I glanced at the people again as sister lit one of the big purple candles. I think I may have a future in preaching because, let me tell you, not one person in that church looked even a little sleepy. There were nothing but wide-awake eyes in the whole room.

I really enjoyed having a beard. I'm considering making it permanent. What do you think?

I really enjoyed having a beard. I’m considering making it permanent. What do you think?

I did so well that they let me go on stage AGAIN, the very next week. I got to wear a beard. Pastor Z has a beard. Mr. M, who leads the singing, has a beard. Maybe you have to have a beard to talk in church? But Daddy talks in church sometimes and he only sometimes has a beard. Oh! I am SO CONFUSED! Anyway, there was no fire the second time I was on stage. No microphone either, but several of my friends were there and we all sang a song we learned in Sunday school called, “Away in a Manger.” It’s about a baby, asleep in the hay. The baby wasn’t in his crib. The song clearly states that: “No crib… asleep in the hay.” I’ve seen chickens and rabbits and cats asleep in the hay but… babies?!

You may think my story ends there but, no. It gets even stranger.

We went to the mall. I dearly love the mall; Those long, wide corridors, just perfect for running, moving stairs, colorful objects to be examined everywhere you look, and there is a tiny inside park where you never get your bottom wet from rain water puddled at the bottom of the slide. The MOST IMPORTANT RULE at the mall is, “stay with Mommy.” I know this, because Mommy says it at least 900 times every time we’re there. She also tells me, “NO! Get down from the edge of that fountain!” But that doesn’t come up as often. Come to think of it, she hasn’t gone down the fountain hall the last few times we were there. I’ll have to remind her about that. She must have forgotten what a great fountain it is, just begging to be jumped in. But I digress…  the rule is to stay with Mommy, yet she took me to this guy in a giant, fuzzy, green chair and told me his name was Santa Claus. She put me on his lap and walked away. Uhm… Mommy? Mommy! MOMMY!!! Of course, she came back pretty quickly. But still. It’s weird, right?

A 3 Year Old's Take On Holiday Traditions - A Guest Post by T-Rex | LazyHippieMama.com

Later, she told me Santa Claus is coming to our house and he’s bringing candy. There’s nothing so strange in that. People come over to the house all the time and they bring all sorts of stuff. But Santa, apparently, is going to put his candy… wait for it… this is really just too much… I swear I’m not making it up… IN OUR SOCKS. I thought maybe I’d misunderstood at first but she’s told me repeatedly now. “Santa is coming! He’s going to put some candy in your sock!”  I asked her, “Why is the candy going to be in my socks?” She said, “because we’re having a party! It’s Jesus’ birthday!”

I had a birthday a while back. Sister and Mommy both had one not long ago, too. I clearly remember cake and singing and a pretty gift-wrapped box. There was no sock candy. I’m certain of it.

I’m baffled, I tell you. I can sense that all of this is connected, somehow but I just can’t quite wrap my mind around it. If there can be a tree in the living room and candy in my socks, if kids can hold the lighter and say VERY IMPORTANT THINGS in the microphone at church… well… I think maybe anything could happen in this crazy topsy-turvy world. Next thing you know they’ll be telling me furry four-legged animals can fly or something.

I’ll keep thinking about all this. Maybe I’ll figure it out. If I do, I promise to let you know.In the meantime, may your days be full of fun and may your socks runneth over with candy.

A 3 Year Old's Take On Holiday Traditions - A Guest Post by T-Rex | LazyHippieMama.com

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The Empathy Way – A Review

I believe that humans, from an extremely young age, have an extraordinary capacity to be empathetic. I can remember my own children, as tiny infants, being upset when I was upset or calm when I was calm. Of course, the other side of that coin is that we can be very selfish creatures. My preschooler will snatch a toy he has never seen before out of the hands of another person and simply declare, “this is mine!” Having spent more than a few Sunday mornings with him and his peers in the church nursery I’ve seen that that’s pretty much a common trait among the preschool set. So, when I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of The Empathy Way books by Anne Wessels Paris and Marian Brickner I happily agreed to take a look. I love the idea of introducing this powerful word and concept at a young age and incorporating ways to encourage little ones to examine the situations they find themselves in from the point of view of the others involved.

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

 

The Empathy Way books tell stories of the every day interactions of the bonobo apes at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The full page photographs are gorgeous! They show the apes in every day situations that any child would be able to relate to: They are playing, dealing with illness, frightened or meeting new friends.

What do you do when you encounter someone who seems scary because they look different? How can understanding a bully help you deal with the way the treat you? How can empathy help us make our friends feel better in hard times?

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.comThose are lessons that anyone, of any age can benefit from learning!

The book series comes with a teacher’s guide and would be a great addition to any classroom or homeschool program. There are discussion questions and some simple crafts to help children remember to follow “The Empathy Way.”

The material says that it’s appropriate for grades k-3. I thought it was great but I would suggest that it’s more appropriate for the younger end of that spectrum.  T-Rex, at age 3 1/2 thought these books were wonderful. He caught on right away and, pointing at the pictures asking, “is she scared? Is he sick? Are they laughing? They think it’s funny?” The comments he made as we read showed that he understood the concept of empathy, even though he had never heard the word before being reading these books. The language is simple, but never simplistic.

If you have a young child at home or if you are a teacher who works with this age group I would strongly encourage you to visit The Empathy Way website. The books are available there as are some really great videos and resources.

In a society where too many news stories are about children and adults who have been hurt lashing out at the world that hurt them we could all use a little more empathy!

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

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I Believe In Magic – Or At Least In Possibility

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.comEvery year, about this time, I always see several articles talking about all the reasons why parents choose not to embrace “the whole Santa thing.” The reasons usually boil down to one of two things: either these parents are rejecting Santa because they want to focus their family’s attention on the religious importance of the holiday or they feel that embracing the Santa myth is a form of lying to their kids.

I get it. I really do. I think both of those are valid points and, if that’s the way you feel then fine. I’ve got no issue with you. Kudos for raising your kids with strong values. Keep up the awesome job!

I just thought I would take this opportunity to chime in on the other side.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

Yesterday the Wise Men were wandering across the desk, looking for baby Jesus, when they got sidetracked by A Charlie Brown Christmas.

We embrace Santa. We are full-on believers in this house. Bring on the flying reindeer! We also have three Magi wandering about during Advent looking for the baby jesus. Our house is full of magical things all year long. We’ve found green foot prints on St. Patrick’s Day morning and the occasional trail of tooth fairy dust.

Not once have I ever felt like I was lying to my children or taking our focus off God.

Follow me, here…

In Dean Koontz’s book, The Taking, he quotes something known as Clarke’s Third Law which states, “Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.”

Send me back in time with a backpack full of common, every-day items from my home and I will convince those people that I’m the most powerful magician who ever lived. I have a device that can play thousands of songs, each with it’s own unique instrumentation, and the whole thing fits in my pocket. There is medicine in my bathroom cabinet that will instantly open the airways of a person struggling to breathe. I can make fire by pushing a button.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

Magic, I tell you!

And it if those things don’t knock your socks off, consider this: what are you made of? Flesh and bones? Water? Carbon? Ok… but look closer. Cells? Atoms? Protons, neutrons and electrons? OK, but look even closer. You’re mostly just… well… nothing. Look closely enough and there is nothing there other than energy. Scientists are only just beginning to touch on what that means but, when you look at things that closely something amazing happens. All of our rules about “the way things have to be” just fall apart. Things can exist in two places at once or move forward and backward through time. Energy of one thing can decide to become something else. Literally anything becomes possible.

It’s magic!

At the end of The Taking, one of the characters flips the observation around to note that the converse would be true as well. If a people became sufficiently immersed in developing ever greater technology they would completely misunderstand when something truly magical happened.

A baby, born to a virgin, come to reconcile the entire human race to their Loving Creator-God?  THAT is some POWERFUL magic.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

What does all of that have to do with Santa?

When my child asks me, “Mama, is Santa real?” my answer is an unequivocal, “I believe he is.” I’m telling the truth. We have friends that don’t believe and she knows that. She understands that many people pretend the whole Santa thing by putting presents under the tree with his name on them, even though they came from a person who bought them at the store. She’s neither oblivious nor ignorant. She also understands that, a few years ago, we had no money to “do Christmas.” None. Not even enough to fill the stockings. Yet, on Christmas morning we woke up to a whole living room full of new furniture including an entertainment center with a flat screen TV and a Wii. She got a gorgeous high-powered telescope that year and new skies. There were even presents for mom and dad. She had told Santa that her baby brother needed some bottles and bibs and he got a whole box full. I honestly don’t know where some of those things came from. I do know that neither my husband nor I purchased any of them. Were they made by elves at the North Pole? Probably not. But I can’t prove it. I choose to believe in magic. Or, at least in the possibility of it.

And for the record, I think that love and the generosity it fosters in our hearts is absolutely as magical as a chubby guy dropping gifts down a chimney. I’ve had that discussion with my children as well.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.comAs a Christian, I believe that God created this universe as a big, beautiful, wondrous place. There are planets made out of vapor and animals living in our oceans that are, in every way, just like a rock until you cut it open and see that it’s actually a living creature. We’re constantly spinning and traveling at unfathomable speeds yet, as I sit and type this I feel still and have no fear of being flung off the planet into deep space. If our planet were just the tiniest smidge closer or further from the sun it would be completely uninhabitable. There’s a whole ecosystem in each of our belly buttons. It’s true! Google it.

All that and you’re telling me that it’s TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE that there’s a guy whose life-mission is to deliver presents to children around the world in a flying sleigh. Phfffbbbttt, compared to the Ted talk I saw the other day about what happens inside the human brain when a musician makes physical contact with his instrument a flying sleigh doesn’t even seem impressive.

I embrace Santa and I teach my children to do the same not because I want Christmas to be all about gifts, but because I want their lives to be all about wonder. I want them to grow up 100% convinced that NOTHING is outside the realm of possibility because, if the past generation is any gauge, by the time they are grown, they will be living in a world that would seem utterly magical to those of us existing here in 2014.

Plus… you know… stockings full of candy. I really enjoy candy.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

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I Don’t Want My Children To Be Independent

I Don't Want My Child To Be Independent | LazyHippieMama.com

I keep seeing things pop up on social media about how to make sure your child is independent and, after a great deal of thought on the subject, I realize that I don’t really want my children to be independent.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for my babies growing up. Let them tie their own shoes and wipe their own bottoms. I thrill at them taking the initiative to learn something new, all on their own and I sincerely pray that sooner rather than later, once they reach an appropriate age, they feel equipped to go out into the world, find a way to earn a living, contribute to society and generally be productive citizen’s (refer to the tagline, above).

That said, I’m wondering if we Americans aren’t placing way too much emphasis on that word, “independent.”

People will tell you that they “did it on their own.” We are proud to say we’re “standing on our own two feet.” And then there’s the be all and end all of American achievements: “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.”

But is that reality? And if it is reality, is it a good one? Is that the life I want my kids to live?

I look to the people I see and they fall largely into two categories.

There is the group that feel like they’ve done it all on their own, “with no help from anyone.” Many of those people are quick to judge anyone who hasn’t achieved a level of material success at least as high as their own.

“They should just get a job.”

“They need to stop looking for a handout.”

“They’re too lazy to do better.”

“They need to budget more wisely.”

No doubt those things are often true, but if life has taught me anything it’s that, “but by the Grace of God go I.”  Women left without husbands, children born to parents who never show them a good example, people who struggle with prolonged physical and mental illnesses, and so many others may be pushed to the fringe and hanging on by a thread by circumstances they never asked for.

I don’t want my children to grow up so “independent” that they have no place in their hearts to foster compassion for those less fortunate than themselves.

And is it really true that anyone “does it all on their own?” I don’t know a single person who has been successful in any sense of the word without significant help and mentorship. Where would they be if those who helped along the way would have turned their back and said, “just get a job! Try harder! Find a way.”

I don’t want my children to be so “independent” that they forget to be grateful for the multitude of people who have helped them along the way.

Then there is the other group – those who are scraping by just to exist. They are lying awake at night wondering how they’re going to keep the water on for another month and crying every morning as they drop their kids off at day care because they have to go to work which provides just about enough money to pay for daycare.

Those are the people who weep with shame when they have to go to the food pantry or the diaper bank. They glance around nervously when they pull out their food stamps card, hoping no one will judge them and say something harsh. They wither a little every time they notice the kids have grown out of their clothes again.

It’s traumatic because they’ve been told it’s shameful to need help. If you can’t do it on your own you’re a moocher, a drain on the system, something less than those who get a bigger pay check.

Never mind if you’re facing huge obstacles and need a temporary reprieve. Forget it if you’re an awesome parent or a gifted artist or an inventor with ideas that could change life as we know it. Society shouldn’t have to support you while you chase castles in the sky. Go flip a burger and be thankful to live in the land of opportunity.

I don’t want my children to be so “independent” that they feel it’s shameful to ask for help.

I pray that my children are strong, that they never take unfair advantage of a person or situation, that they are brave, clever, innovative, hard working, forward-thinking and open-minded. And I pray that my children grow up very conscious of the fact that we, as a species, are, by our very nature, extremely dependent on one another.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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A Great Gift For The Gardener In Your Life – Bloem Planters

A Great Gift For The Gardener In Your Life - Bloem Planters | LazyHipipeMama.com

I was asked by the Bloem company if I would like to receive a free sample of their planters in exchange for an honest review. I agreed, a bit reluctantly. How do you review a planter? It’s a bowl that you put flowers in, right? At least that’s what I thought until my samples arrived.

I opened the box and found three beautiful, colorful pots. From the literature Bloem enclosed with them I learned that they don’t just feel sturdier than regular plastic planters (though they do feel super strong), they really are. They are made from 75% post-consumer plastic with added UV stabilizers which means that you can set them outside in the brightest sunlight and they won’t fade or grow brittle and crack like other plastic planters will.

A Great Gift For The Gardener In Your Life - Bloem Planters | LazyHippieMama.com

Plus, these planters are made in the USA. If you’ve read many of my posts you know that I’m a big fan of things made closer to home, rather than overseas. Not only does buying domestically manufactured products boost the economy and create jobs, it reduces the amount of consumption and waste create by shipping goods all over the globe.

The planters I received have a great drainage system built into the bottom of the pots so you won’t have to worry about liners or double potting or any of the other tricks that are necessary for keeping potted plants healthy. If you, like me, are really bad at keeping the water levels just-so in your potted plants these planters may go a long way toward turning your thumb a bit greener!

A Great Gift For The Gardener In Your Life - Bloem Planters | LazyHippieMama.com

My hope was to put some gorgeous fall flowers in my new planters and show them off on the front porch. Alas, Mother Nature has been a bit moody this year and sunny 70+F weather turned to subzero snow in less than 2 weeks. There will be no plants on my porch again until sometime around Mother’s Day. However, I am looking forward to trying my hand at starting some plants from seed in them over the winter so that I have some pretty flowers to liven things up as soon as spring arrives!

If you have an avid gardener in your life, check out the Bloem line of products. In addition to traditional pots they have railing planters, bird baths and more, all in gorgeous colors they’re going to love.

A Great Gift For The Gardener In Your Life - Bloem Planters | LazyHippieMama.com

Bloem planters and pots are available at Menards, Meijer and in local home improvement and garden stores, as well as online through Amazon.com.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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Confession Of An Introverted Mother

When I was growing up there was a conversation that happened repeatedly between my mother and me.

“Why don’t you go talk to so-and-so (call them, go to a certain place, do a certain thing)?” She would ask.

I would shrug, “I don’t want to.” I would tell her.

“But WHY?”

“Because I’m shy,” I would say and go back to reading my book.

“You’re not shy!” She would declare, and she was right. I’m really not. I’m not timid. I was always happy enough to raise my hand in class or take a part in the church Christmas program.

I was probably 35 years old when I finally found the word I was looking for.  Not “shy,” but “introverted.”

Thank you Facebook with all your silly little quizzes and pop culture therapy for explaining this word to me!

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.comIntroverted people are not necessarily timid or frightened in social situations, but they do find social interaction to be work. For an introvert, to be around people is to be constantly giving of your own mental and emotional energy. An introvert doesn’t get charged up in a night club full of people. They get sucked dry. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the great music or good food or stimulating conversation. It just means that there is a limit to how much of that type of situation they can take before something inside starts to feel withered and weary.

The same is true if you’re with just one person, it just happens more slowly.

The only way to “recharge” is to be alone. Totally alone. I’m talking solitary confinement: locked in a room with no phones or social media kind of alone. After a while the internal balance is restored and we introverts can crawl back out of our cave and rejoin polite society once again.

Spend 5 minutes on social media and you’ll find links like this one, this one and half a dozen others that will explain exactly how all this works.

So, finally, I had a word to explain the way I felt and I came to understand that being an introvert is not better or worse than being an extrovert any more than having blue eyes is better or worse than having brown eyes. It just is. Some people are one way, some people are another way. It takes all types to make this big beautiful world go ’round.

I understood that when it came to interacting with the world at large, but it actually took another couple of years to figure out that it applied at home as well.

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

Somehow, the great cosmic soup ladle stirred the ingredients of Handsome Hippie Hubby and my children and, from two fairly extreme introverts, produced two obvious extroverts.

You know those kids who will sit happily coloring in a corner for hours, serving tea to their teddy bears and humming a little tune? Yeah… my children are pretty much the opposite of that. They want to have someone over to visit or they want to go to someone’s house. “Let’s go to the mall, the store, the park, the library!” they beg. We are often busy every single day and evening of the week. We’ll get to Friday night and the only two things I want in the whole entire world are space and silence. Do I get space and silence? Not so much. What I get are two children literally climbing all over me, physically in my space and peppering me with: “Let’s play a board game, read a story, go for a walk, ask someone over for dinner…”

I have, at times, done what any rational person would do: Locked myself in the bathroom. Of course, then they just stand outside the door and continue the litany but at least there’s a buffer zone.

I share all that to get to this:  being an introverted mother can be a really guilt-ridden experience.

I have had moments where I think, “I just want them to go away and LEAVE. ME. ALONE.” Instantly, I’m repentant. Please, God, don’t take my kids away and leave me alone! I don’t really want that.

Except I do. Just for a little while. Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

 

A friend of mine recently said, “I can’t imagine sending my kids away for the weekend. I just love them so much I don’t want to miss a single moment.”

Oh, the guilt!

I WANT someone to take my children for the weekend! Someone I know and trust and love, of course. I want to know they are safe. I know that I would miss them. I’m sure that I would, every few minutes, all weekend long, have that, “Gosh, I hope they’re OK,” feeling in the pit of my stomach. I love those little people so much it hurts my heart! But… 2 days and a whole night without anyone climbing onto my shoulders or pulling off my glasses or asking me what the meaning of life is?

Ahhhhh……  just the thought of it makes the knotty muscles in my shoulders relax.

Another friend recently confessed that she’s thrilled that her 20-something kids still live at home. “I can’t imagine them ever leaving. What will I do?”

I just smiled and nodded politely while my brain painted a picture of me, stretched out on the sofa – the whole sofa, one end to the other – reading an entire novel, cover to cover without being interrupted. That’s what I would do. And when I was done I would stretch and smile and send a text (introverts will avoid the phone as much as possible. I can’t exactly explain why but every introvert I know feels the same about the dreadful things.) to my grown children and tell them, I miss you and I love you with all of me and I hope we can get together for dinner tonight. And I will mean it. Because after the whole day alone I’ll be ready to exist in community again.

A third friend said to me, “After a whole morning of homeschooling and then going to the grocery store I’ll come home and go straight to my room and lock my door and not come out for half an hour.” I looked at this woman who loves her family with an obvious, tangible, fierce passion and I was so relieved to know that I was not alone. You know… philosophically speaking.

And that was a good thing.

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

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Stolen Woman – A Book Review

Stolen Woman by Kimberly RaeWhat would you risk? That’s the question posed on the cover of Kimberly Rae’s book, Lost Woman.

If you met a 16 year old girl who was being sold by human traffickers and she was begging for your help, what would you be willing to do to save her?

Ms. Rae sent me a copy of her book for review and I am so happy for the opportunity to share it with you. You should read this! If you are part of a women’s book club they should read it, too – and discuss it at great length. If you have a teenage daughter she really needs to read it.

In many ways I very strongly related to the main character, Asha. She is a young woman who has lived in America for as long as she can remember. One year over summer break from college she has the opportunity to travel to India as a short-term missionary. It is there that she learns a horrifying reality that too much of the world remains silent about. Millions of people, primarily women and children, are stolen from their lives and sold as slaves every year.

When Asha gets to know one of these women she learns some of the horror of what the girls face as well as how difficult and dangerous it is to try to help them escape from the life they’ve been forced in to.

This issue is one that is dear to my heart and one I’ve written about on this blog before (here) so, of course I was thrilled to learn that a talented author had written such a captivating story that helps to raise awareness. This extraordinarily serious problem will never be solved if no one is willing to talk about it!

In addition, though, I found Asha so very relatable! Like her, I grew up in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian people and attended a Christian college. As a young person I had not had a great deal of exposure to cultures or belief systems beyond my own and when I first went into the wider world and saw what was outside my previous little bubble of existence I, like Asha, had something of a crisis of faith. Why would God allow something like this to happen? How can people who call themselves Christian turn a blind eye? What can one young woman do to make things right?

I so hope that you will find time to read this book and buy a second copy to share! It would make a great Christmas present for an avid reader. I’m certain that you will enjoy it and be challenged by it as much as I was!

Stolen Woman is available on Amazon. This is not an affiliate link, I just wanted to give you an easy way to get a copy for yourself. Happy reading!

Kimberly-Rae-Stolen-Woman-Info

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Winter “Life Hacks”

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.comAs a Michigander, born and raised, I’ve learned a thing or two about winter. Lenawee County is no Fargo, ND or anything but in an average winter our temps hover in the mid twenties during the day and we’ll get about 3 feet of snow before the spring thaw, which any gardener will tell you is just before Mother’s Day.

Then there are years like last year. The average temperature last winter was slightly below, “OMG, Hell itself must be frozen solid by now,” Hell is a city in Michigan, by the way. True story. Google it. Our snowfall was extraordinary too. We were careful to constantly dress our toddler in bright colors just in case he fell in. At one point we had to dig the car out. I don’t mean we had to clear the driveway behind the car. We actually, literally had to assess the lumps in the snow, determine where the car was, swim across the snow to get to it, and dig it out.

And now the Farmer’s almanac is saying this year will be similar. Hmmm… guess we’ll find out.

On top of the "mountain" the snow plow created.

On top of the “mountain” the snow plow created.

Did I ever tell you I lived in Arizona for eight years? True story. I came back to Michigan, in part, because I was homesick for seasonal weather. I just thought I’d share that glimpse into my insanity.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up and ask you if you have any of your own.  If so, by all means, please leave them in the comments!

#1 – Improvise an ice scraper.

If you have a lovely modern vehicle with a satellite radio and a sound system custom designed to make the best use of your MP3 player, I salute you. You probably also have a remote starter and a defrosting system that is actually warm enough to melt frost.

 If you, like me, are driving a 15 year old van that can barely muster up enough warm air to blow the fog off the windshield when it’s 50 degrees and raining then you, like me, may still be able to enjoy the Madonna: The Immaculate Collection cassette you bought (explicitly disobeying your parents’ forbidding of such music) in 1991. Cassette cases make perfect frost scrapers! CD cases and credit cards will do as well, in a pinch, but they just don’t fit in your hand like a good old tape box. See? There’s a silver lining to every cloud!

#2 – Dress warm!

If you keep a heating pad by your bed to soothe those winter time aches and pains turn it on and lay it on top of your clean clothes in the morning before you put them on. When you get dressed they’ll be fabulously toasty!

#3 – Stop the draft.

Doors that have a drafty gap at the bottom can be sealed up easily for pennies using a piece of foam pipe insulation, cut open along one side.

#4 – Invest in some litter.

Keep a large bag of cheap, non-clumping kitty litter in your trunk all winter long. The extra weight will be useful on slippery roads and if you get stuck in the snow or ice sprinkling a generous amount of the litter around your tires may be enough to give you the traction to get back on the road.  Your car’s floor mats will also serve as traction in desperate times, but driving on them with snow/ice/mud/salt/yuck covered tires really isn’t good for them so try the kitty litter first.  Make sure it’s not the clumping stuff, which may react weirdly to the wet environment.

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com#5 – Rescue your dry skin.

I get extraordinarily dry skin in winter. Places like the space in between my fingers and the corners of my mouth will actually crack and bleed. Believe me when I tell you I have tried just about every “extra moisturizing” product on the market over the years. Then I started breastfeeding and found the best product in the universe for people with this issue – lanolin. Not lotion WITH lanolin. Pure lanolin: the kind they sell as nipple cream in the baby department.  On hands and feet, slathering it on and covering your skin in loose fitting cotton socks or gloves…. ahhhh…. a bit of bliss, I tell you!

#6 – Make the most of your baking.

Cook in the oven frequently. Leave it open to cool when you are done. The heat from the oven will help warm the house.

#7 – Light ‘em up!

Likewise you can add heat and improve the ambiance by burning candles. Of course, keep an eye on them and make sure they’re in safe places, but you’d be surprised how much heat a few tiny candles can generate in a small room!

#8 – Save water.

While we’re on the subject of heating tricks, consider plugging the bathtub drain while you shower and leaving the fan off and the door open. Humid air is more conducive to heat than dry air so your whole house will benefit from the steam and the hot water in the tub will continue to release heat and steam for some time after you are done.  Putting a pie tin with a bit of water in it on your heat vent will increase the humidity in the air as well.

#9 – The right shoes for the occasion.

For staying warm outdoors, choose shoes with rubber soles over other types. Rubber is a fabulous insulator!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com

#10 – Double up your mittens.

If you just can’t get your hands warm, try a pair of those really cheap stretchy gloves from the dollar store under a pair of bulky mittens. The combination of tight fitting and loose fitting will more than double the warmth factor. In cold weather, layers are priceless.

#11 – Let the sun shine!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.comIf it’s not the cold, but the dark that gets you down open the blinds and face the sunlight as early as possible each morning.  If you wake up in the dark and you’re under fluorescent lights by the time day breaks your body gets very confused and stressed.  Even just standing in a sunny window for a few minutes each morning can help reduce winter time blues.

#12 – Quick dry.

If your shoes get really wet, stuff them with those super-absorbent micro-fiber towels they sell in the automotive department. They will suck the moisture right out of the fabric of your shoes, leaving them only the tiniest bit damp. Don’t forget and leave them in there, though, or you’ll end up with a wet, stinky, moldy mess. Ew.  30 minutes or so should be more than sufficient.

#13 - Have a lot of sex.

Hey, any survivalist will tell you that skin-to-skin is the fastest way to warm a cold person. And, it’s dark by 5pm. And you’re not safe out driving around on those slippery roads so… you know… let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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3 Things You Never Need To Say and 3 Things You Can Say Instead

3 Things You Never Need To Say and 3 Things You Could Say Instead | LazyHippieMama.com

I’ve overheard a few comments lately and it made me realize that there are a few statements that simply never need to be uttered.

1. “You’d feel better if you stopped your bad habit.”

Fat people know they are fat and that they would feel better if they would eat less and exercise more. Smokers are aware of the Surgeon General’s warning. Alcoholics figure out pretty quickly that it’s the drinking that’s leading to the morning headaches and digestive issues. People who bite their finger nails, consistently skip meals, spend too much time gaming, procrastinate, obsess over clutter or do anything else to an unhealthy level are generally aware that there is a better way. Yet we humans are a flawed bunch with a tendency toward vice.

2. “That was a really stupid thing to do.”

This just happened to a friend of mine. He did a stupid thing. He got hurt. He missed work, got behind on bills. It was a fiasco. Looking back it was clear that he shouldn’t have done the stupid thing. Having it pointed out by multiple people did not fix anything. It did, however, go a long way toward humiliating him and adding to the depression he was experiencing from having his world crumble after doing a stupid thing.

3. “You can’t (insert dream here).”

Haven’t you ever heard of Helen Keller? The Wright brothers? That guy who broke the 4-minute-mile barrier? It’s not your place to squash anyone’s dream. You know what you can’t do? You can’t know the power of someone else’s passion.

On the other hand, there are some things that are very nearly always appropriate.  If taking the above statements out of your vocabulary leave you with nothing to talk about, try these. You’ll pretty much never go wrong.

1. “I appreciate you.”

Don’t you just love it when people say that to you and genuinely mean it? I think it may be one of the best feelings in the whole world!

2. “I’d like to help.”

We’ve all found ourselves in a jam at some point. Maybe it was because life threw us a curve ball. Maybe it was because we made a bad choice. Either way, thank God for the angels who come along and lend a helping hand.

3. “I believe in you!”

When you put your heart on the line and share a dream with someone there are few phrases more wonderfully empowering than, “I believe in you.”

What would you add to either list?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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Writing Is Easy!

Writing Is Easy | LazyHippieMama.comIf you’re new around here you may not have heard: November is National Novel Writer’s Month, affectionately referred to by writers as “Nanowrimo” or simply “Nano.”

The idea behind Nano is that you spend 30 days just spewing out a 50,000+ word story. There’s not much (any?) thought given to making it clean and tidy, editing, spell checking or any other kind of detail.  You just get the story out of your brain and into the world.  Once it’s out you can neaten it up and make it presentable for others to read.

Last year was my first attempt at Nano and I fell in love. Around the first of October this year I started chomping at the bit. I couldn’t wait to do it again! As of writing this post I’m 5,840 words in and wondering if drinking 5 consecutive “5 Hour Energy” shots would give me the energy to stay awake for 25 hours straight. I want to write! The words are burning in my mind. My fingers itch. This story is BEGGING me to tell it.

People hear that I’m participating in this particular challenge and they say, “Oh! I could never do that. Writing is HARD!”

image from leavingcertenglish.net

image from leavingcertenglish.net

What?!

No way!

Writing is easy!

Writing is just like talking… on paper. It might even be easier than talking because when I talk you’re looking at me and judging me. My words are colored by your preconceived notions of what a chubby Caucasian woman of a certain age wearing a maxi skirt and a hoodie would say/believe/think/do.  The paper never judges me. It simply accepts my words for what they are.

The computer is slightly more harsh. It tells me, with a series of red and green squiggles that it does not approve of my spelling and grammar.

I’m creating ALL. THE. TIME. There are worlds in my head that have been growing and developing since I was a little girl in the 1980s with horrible yarn bows on my pigtails. Everyone I meet is a potential character and every character in my head has a fully developed life and personality. That outfit I saw on the mannequin at the mall Saturday? That would be the perfect outfit for Raziel to wear when he meets Simone face to face for the first time.  I saw a dragon fruit at Meijer yesterday. That just sounds cool. “Dragon fruit.” I bet that’s something Freyja would eat for breakfast.  There are two squirrels who have spent this entire day running to my backyard for walnuts and bringing them to a tree in the front where they are stashing them in a hollow space.  That’s the kind of thing Ike would notice and tell his mother about.

If you’ve ever been speaking to me and gotten the blank stare/smile/nodding combination it’s because thoughts like the paragraph, above, are never ending background noise in my head.  You may be talking to me about the upcoming township election and I really do value what you are saying but I can’t help thinking that the light, refracting from the chipped fake emerald in your earring dances across your cheek like a fairy… no a water sprite… yes, that’s it… a water sprite would dance across the turgid (hmmm… turgid? Is that word too much associated with books of a certain type?) surface of a rippling pond.

Writing is release. It’s a purging. All of that babble pours out of my brain and onto the paper (or, more often, into the computer) and creates space for living daily life out here with the rest of humanity.

Writing Is Easy | LazyHippieMama.com

On the other hand, coming back from writing can be painful. If I’m submerged in one world where the moonlight is brightly shining, illuminating the sweet-smelling prairie with it’s quiet silver light and I’m suddenly ripped away by screaming children fighting over who gets to pick the next TV show to watch my brain gets all twitchy.

Editing is like trimming body parts. I’d just as soon cut off a pinky toe as a chapter of my book.

Marketing and promoting are exhausting. Trying to tap the collective consciousness to figure out just the tag line that will get people to click on MY post, as opposed to one of the other 52,876 posts that they will see today sucks at my soul. And that’s not even figuring in the effort it takes to make sure the various social media sites allow a decent number of people see the post in the first place!

Waiting is Hell. You would think that a business so utterly obsessed with deadlines would move a little faster. No such luck. You rock a book out in a month and spend another six months editing and polishing. Then you write to agents and wait. They ask for samples and you send them and wait. They ask for full manuscripts. You send them and wait. Finally you reach an agreement for someone fabulous to represent you! Hooray! They send your samples to an editor and you wait. The waiting never ever ends. You want instant gratification? Become a server. You bring food. People give you tips. It’s done. You move on. As a writer, instant gratification just isn’t going to happen.

Writing Is EasyBut writing is easy. I wrote 2 blog posts, half a chapter of a novel, a newsletter article, several emails and a note to a co-worker today. Putting words on paper couldn’t be simpler.

Life is hard. People ask me to do things. They are offended if I say no. Loved ones suffer and I’m helpless to do anything at all for them. Am I doing enough to help my children grow into well-adjusted, productive, happy, healthy adults? Have I been supportive enough of my husband and his dreams? Am I contributing enough to my community, paying forward all that my neighbors have done for me over the years?  Am I being wise with my money and material blessings? Did I remember to send in that form the insurance company needed? Some days I feel like I spend the whole day cleaning up poop. Some days I worry all day long about why my little people haven’t pooped.

The blank page doesn’t ask for anything but words. Any old words will do. I can tell the truth or a complete fabrication. I can recite the day’s events, share how I feel, or create a 43 hour day on a planet with 3 suns where the rocks are all purple and the rulers are gentle octopi covered in soft green fur.

Lots of things are hard. Writing? Writing is easy.

Writing Is Easy | LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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