The Hair Saga

I’ve been reading here and there around blogland for a year or more about hair care regimes that do not include shampoo and conditioner. As I’ve been trying to minimize our use of harsh and unknown chemicals for the last several years, the idea has fascinated me. From all I read, people are having great results with very simple hair care. However, I also read that during pregnancy is not the best time to switch from using shampoo, due to all the changes already going on with the pregnant body. So, I set aside the idea at least until Andrew arrived.

In mid-August, I finally made the leap and dropped the shampoo. (How’s that for a visual?!)

Here’s my routine:
“Washing” – I put 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in one of my little squirt bottles (a peri-bottle works great, for those who save them from post-birth care), fill it with 6-8 ounces of water, and shake.  Once I’m in the shower and have wet my hair, I shake my baking soda again and proceed to squirt it all over my head, focusing on the scalp, not the hair.  I give it a good massage, then rinse well.  Sometimes I leave an inch or so of baking soda solution in the bottle on the first round, add more water, massage and rinse again.  A wise friend suggested a second wash with a lower concentration of baking soda, and this is my lazy way of accomplishing that.

“Conditioning” – I have a spray bottle in the shower that has water and apple cider vinegar in it (1T to 1c water). I use cheap ACV from the grocery store, not my good Bragg ACV. My method has morphed over the last month into me holding my hair in a “ponytail” with one fist and spraying what’s long enough to stick out from my fist with the ACV solution. This is to keep the ACV from getting too close to my scalp (you can read all about why in the links above). I usually proceed with the remainder of my shower routine and rinse before I get out, but I think that’s a holdover from my slathering conditioner days, not a necessity.

How is it?
I love it. My hair feels soft and silky, it tangles much less and has more body than when I was using shampoo and conditioner. I had a fairly easy transition, with just a few days of feeling a little “gunky” as the baking soda worked out build-up of product. I’ve started washing my girls’ hair this way, and it works great for them as well.

I would defnitely recommend that you give it a try for at least a month and see what you think. I’d try to pick a month when it’s not a huge deal if you have a few “off” hair days, especially if you currently wash your hair daily.  Again, see the links above for more information. I’m not an expert, I’m just sharing my experience.

His Consolations

The Lord brought to mind this morning the sweet verse, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (Ps. 94.13, NAS)

I was thinking on this verse and, to be honest, trying to talk myself into being soothed/comforted by it. Then I realized what was missing… His consolations. While it is lovely and true that when our thoughts are anxious, His consolations can cheer our souls, knowing that and simply meditating on that verse isn’t what brings consolation or delight. That would be like thinking all day about how Mama’s lasagna delights my tastebuds and fills my belly… and expecting the thought of the delight/filling to actually fill me.

No, I was reminded, if I want His consolations to delight my soul, I need to actually receive His consolations.  So I went seeking.

Here are a few of the consolations which have cheered my soul this morning…

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Psalm 94:18-19

My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.
Lamentations 3:20-26,31-33

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:3

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Psalm 84:11-12

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
Psalm 62:5-8

May His consolations delight and cheer your soul today!

Plantain – The Wonder Weed

Several summers ago, I was bitten by a brown recluse spider.  I set about researching online.  Most of the information I initially found pretty much told me that I was out of luck – that unless I had made it to the doctor almost immediately, I would just have to suffer the effects of the poison.  And from the way my body was responding to the bite, I was guessing that I was going to lose a good-sized chunk of my thigh.

Then I happened upon this article: It is a pictorial story of a woman’s experience with a brown recluse bite.  The pictures are scary-looking, but they also show clearly that things really turned around when this woman started using plantain poultices.

I started using a plantain poultice the day I found Linda’s story.  Jonathan went out and found a bunch of plantain and chopped it in the Cuisinart (because neither of us wanted to chew on that much plantain!), and added a smidge of filtered water to make a paste.  We then applied the paste to my bite and covered it with a wet washcloth (as hot as I could stand).  I wrapped in all up in an ace bandage to hold it together.  I don’t know if it was my fertile imagination, but it seemed that I could feel that plantain going to work!  We could see a difference in my brown recluse bite within about 6 hours.  We continued using the poultice several times a day until it was obviously not needed.

The next summer, our oldest son was bitten by a brown recluse.  It was several days before he showed us his bite, but as soon as he did, we started using the plantain.  Right away, the reaction started to go down and it worked toward healing.

A plantain poultice is made using plantain, which is, to my knowledge, the most common yard plant in North America next to dandelions.  Yes, plantain is a kind of super-banana that grows in South America.  I don’t know why a common yard plant in North America shares the name.

One type of plantain has a rounded leaf, similar in shape to a baby spinach leaf.  The other has a longer, skinnier leaf.  The main distinctive about plantain leaves is that their veins are parallel, rather than branching off in many directions.

While the two types of plantain seem to be equally effective, I find that I prefer to use the rounder variety.  The skinny variety seems more “veiny” and is harder to chew.

Plantain seems to be effective in reducing reactions to any sting or insect bite.  For smaller bites and stings, I get a couple leaves of plantain, chew them up into a mush, and put on the bite.  If we’re at home, I’ll take the time to rinse them off, but if we’re without water, I don’t worry too much about it.  I’d rather stave off a huge reaction to a bite or sting.

We have used plantain many times for bites, stings, and even for snake bites.  The Blessings are trained to go find plantain and chew it up to stick on themselves.  It has saved us many extended recoveries.

Here are some more pictures to help you identify plantain:
Spring Plantain

Late Summer/Fall Plantain

The First Four Months

A look back at our first four (and a half) months with precious Andrew Caden…

If you click on the first picture in the gallery, it will come up in a larger size, with a thumbnail of the next in the series at the bottom. I like this WP feature, now that I’ve figured out how it works!

Oldie/Goodie – If He Goes Before Me

An encouraging post from my friend Angela reminded me of this song from my younger years.  I’ve had it running through my head all day, and found it on youtube so I can share with you.


This album (Whitecross – In the Kingdom) was a large part of the soundtrack of my life my second year of college, when I engaged in the public education system for the first time since Head Start. I especially loved this song as a reminder on my way to classes. My circumstances are much different now, but I’m still so thankful that He goes before me!

Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”

Just for fun

Kathy tagged me and I haven’t done one of these for a while, so… just for fun, here we go!

First, the questions Kathy answered:

1. What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
I love the Advent season.  We spend it focusing on why Christ was born and what His life, death, and resurrection mean to us.  Beautiful time of year.

2. If you had a candy jar, what would be filling it regularly?
Chocolate Chips

3. What month of the year is your favorite?
I don’t think I can pick just one!

4. Which of the chefs on the Food Network would you want to cook you dinner, and what would you ask them to make you?
I don’t watch any, but I’m sure something with chocolate would put a smile on my face

5. What store would you love get a $50 gift card to?
Do they sell Etsy-wide gift cards?  I love all the wonderful personally-made items on Etsy.  But I also have a huge wish list on Amazon.

6. What’s your favorite way to pamper yourself?
Bubble bath.  Good book.  Candles.

7. What color are your toenails painted right now?
A deep purplely color with a strong dash of red.  Aren’t you glad I don’t name nail polish for a living??

8. If you could live in one other state besides where you live now, what would you choose? (Or what would be your second choice?)

And Kathy’s special questions:
1. As a Mom, how do you find time for exercise?  I often don’t, unfortunately.  Pre-pregnancy/baby, mornings worked best.  Now, whenever I can find a few minutes.
2. What type of exercise {if any} do you make time to do?  I am most successful at getting to Pilates right now, but I’m really wanting to get back to walking/jogging.
3. What is your favorite healthy snack?  Salad with an avocado and cheese
4. What is your favorite ‘splurge’ snack?  Chocolate… is that a snack?
5. What fall TV show{s} are you looking forward to watching?  none, but I’m looking forward to the arrival of Season 5 of Doctor Who on Netflix!
6. What activities do your children participate in?  Not sure what direction you’re aiming on this one, Kathy.  We have one vehicle, so the Blessings and I are pretty much homebodies during the day.  We do lots of reading, animal/homestead care, board games, computer games (limited time), cooking/baking… 

7. What do you love most about Fall?  Mmmmm… the smell and feel of a fall breeze when I’m bundled up in a comfy sweatshirt.  Or is it the crunch of the leaves under my feet?  The start of football season?  The beautiful leaves?  Apple harvesting?  Fall-scented candles?  Too many from which to choose.  I love fall!
8. What book are you currently reading?  On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (I love my children’s books)  I also am in the midst of 5-6 others, but that’s the first to come to mind.

If you’d like to play, just for fun… consider yourself tagged!

Linkage ~ from early July

I guess I never got around to posting this one…

I’m not able to embed it, but a trip to see the video for Andrew Peterson’s “Dancing in the Mine Fields” would be well worth your time. It’s terrific.

Part 2 of Ann Voskamp’s series on Rest. An appetizer: These are right and necessary, pauses. Who can make a song without rests? There will be more song in the morning, fresh mercies, and God will let us again undertake the unfinished work of the Kingdom and this is good. The winds lilts and lifts the branches of the spruce trees. I think about tomorrow. It’s work and refrain and the dust. Rest is never how a body relaxes, but how a mind lies down into Jesus. No matter how the hands fly, there is always rest when our interior gazes on Jesus. He is our rest.

An article everyone should read – Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Debt Free is Beautiful – I’m definitely checking out this smart lady’s stuff!

Some common sense from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada:

“Physicians should no longer automatically opt to perform a cesarean section in the case of a breech birth, according to new guidelines by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

The new approach was prompted by a reassessment of earlier trials. It now appears that there is no difference in complication rates between vaginal and cesarean section deliveries in the case of breech births.” Read the rest of the article here

Another Sort of Garden Work

Today, we did a little work in the front “flower garden.” That gets quotation marks because, since we moved here, we have seen very few flowers in the raised bed out front. However, my assumption has always been that there were probably bulbs and such that were deep under the soil and needed to be dug up and replanted. That job has been on my “want to” list since we moved here, but it’s finally made it to the “to do” list.
We got started today on a very small section of the flower garden because I wanted to plant some mums. I pulled out the weeds (also known as all existing fauna/flora) from an area about 18″ x 5′, then Jonathan dug up the top 8 inches or so:

My helpers and I started working or way through the soil Jonathan had dug up, pulling out weed roots and searching for treasure. The definition of treasure varied according to the goals of the worker… Ellie and Stephen were mostly searching for worms for fishing bait (but willingly picked out bulbs as well); Katie and I were more focused on finding bulbs and such:

Once we had sifted through the soil, we replaced it and planted a few mums. Jonathan got a great deal on these and they haven’t even opened yet. I had always thought that mums were annuals, but they’re perennials. Neat!

And from that 18″ x 5′ area, we gathered all this treasure!

As you can see, we’ve only conquered a very small portion of the raised bed area, but the treasure we found makes me even more motivated to clear it out and replant!

A “school year” underway

While we have school going at some level all year, I appreciate the opportunity for evaluation and goal-setting that comes with the start of a “new” year.  In our family, this usually means evaluation and goal-setting for me as much or more than for the Blessings.  That is certainly true this year, perhaps to a greater degree than usual.

I thought I’d share some adjustments that I/we are making.  Perhaps they’ll encourage or challenge you, or bless you in the knowledge that you’re not alone in this or that.

No-Internet Days
I think I have neglected to share my new habit of considering the internet, for the most part, turned “off” during the day.  I do take a little online time during Siesta,  and there are other reasons for exceptions, but for the most part, I’ve made the internet off limits for me while Jonathan is gone to work.  Why?  Because I need to be with my children.  That sounds cliché’ when I look at the words in type.  But I had gotten to the point where I hid in my room from my children most of the day, considering them intrusions rather than Blessings, being irritated with them for bothering me, and just not BEing with them.  That is not the mom that I want to be, the mom God wants me to be, the mom my Blessings need.  The internet was not the culprit, I was.  But the internet was my enabler and the Father convicted me that I needed to change my habits. So, since mid-summer, I’ve been having a lot more face-to-face time with our Blessings!

A Developing Routine
I’ve realized that with six children officially doing school, we are in need of more structure to our days. Several years ago, I tried using a very structured program for scheduling our days, and it didn’t for me. Great program; I just had a hard time hanging on to the fact that it was my tool, not my master… and I turned into Monster Mom. It wasn’t pretty. So we’re working on figuring out a schedule/routine that will be flexible, yet give us some needed structure.

Breakfast and Lunch
During Andrew’s (very physically challenging) pregnancy, the Blessings generally got their own (cold) breakfast and (not necessarily healthy) lunch. Keepin’ it real. It was physically needed for them to do the preparation, but I fell out of the habit of making sure that they had what they needed on hand for healthy, varied meals. Part of our new routine is eating breakfast together as a family, which makes it natural to work toward the goal of providing more nutritious breakfasts. Since I’m more mindful of breakfast planning, it’s relatively easy to remember to plan better for lunches. Not being “stuck” at the computer all day lends itself to actually fixing these meals for my children more often instead of them needing to do it every time. And you know what? I’m enjoying it!

Memory Work
My friend Hope inspired me this summer with her system for Bible memory with her children. In short, after prayerful choosing of a passage, the mom “(reads) the passage three times every day and the children (chime) in as it becomes familiar. … By the end of the month, they have got it!” We’ve been incorporating this into our morning after-breakfast routine, and are loving it. We started in mid-August with Psalm 1 and all the Blessings who can talk have it memorized. We’re working on Ephesians 1 this month (and maybe next), and we need to put some prayer into choosing passages for the rest of the year. Check out Hope’s helpful and inspiring post for more fleshed-out ideas.

There are other adjustments we’re working on making, but this post has gotten long enough.  Have a blessed week!

Be All at Rest

A friend shared this poem yesterday, and it’s so worth passing on to you.  I especially love the imagery in the first stanza.  I’d never thought of “let not your heart be troubled” from that perspective!

Be all at rest, my soul, O blessed secret,
Of the true life that glorifies thy Lord:
Not always doth the busiest soul best serve Him,
But he that resteth on His faithful Word.
Be all at rest, let not your heart be rippled,
For tiny wavelets mar the image fair,
Which the still pool reflects of heaven’s glory–
And thus the image He would have thee bear.

Be all at rest, my soul, for rest is service,
To the still heart God doth His secrets tell;
Thus shalt thou learn to wait, and watch, and labor,
Strengthened to bear, since Christ in thee doth dwell.
For what is service but the life of Jesus,
Lived through a vessel of earth’s fragile clay,
Loving and giving and poured forth for others,
A living sacrifice from day to day.

Be all at rest, so shalt thou be an answer
To those who question, “Who is God and where?”
For God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness,
And they who dwell in Him, His rest shalt share.
And what shall meet the deep unrest around thee,
But the calm peace of God that filled His breast?
For still a living Voice calls to the weary,
From Him who said, “Come unto Me and rest.”
~ Freda Hanbury Allen ~