Why I Love My Earth Runners: A Review

earth runners

A couple of years ago, the makers of Earth Runners contacted me and asked if I’d like to try a pair of their minimalist sandals for review. I said Yes, please! I’m embarrassed that it has taken me this long to finally share my review, only because my blog took a back seat in my life due to my son’s high needs. But on the positive side, I’ve had two full years to try them out. I know these sandals and I know that I love them!

Note: I received a free pair, but otherwise, I get nothing if you buy from them. I just think Earth Runners are an awesome product and I want to tell you about them! P.S. I chose the Circadian style, which has the thinnest sole.

Minimalist Sandals: The Second Best Option to Barefoot

earth runners review - minimalist sandals

As longtime readers know, I’m a passionate barefooter. As soon as the temperatures here in Canada are above freezing, you can see me traipsing about without shoes. I believe shoes are (for the most part) unnecessary at best, and harmful at worst. (I’ve written before about why I don’t wear shoes. Wellness Mama has a pretty great article on the benefits of going barefoot, too.)

But occasionally it’s good to wear shoes.

And at those times, I typically reach for my Earth Runners.

Honestly, my primary reasons for wearing shoes are (1) protection from the cold in winter, and (2) to keep people out of my business when I’m in stores and restaurants. (I used to enter public buildings barefoot all the time but got tired of being asked to leave just because I wasn’t wearing shoes.)

Granted, the sandals can’t really help with the first. I have to wear waterproof, insulated boots during our Canadian winters. (In these situations, I look for boots with the flattest soles. Even a one-inch heel can negatively affect your gait.)

But they’re fabulous the rest of the year, especially when I’m in public places.

Why I Love My Earth RunnersEarth Runners review - minimalist sandals

  • They look awesome. Their appearance is unobtrusive and mainstream enough that they don’t draw attention (No one’s like, “WHAT ARE THOSE? Those aren’t regular sandals!”), but they’re stylish and unique enough that I get compliments from my friends. And they go with everything. Casual or semi-dressy. I’m equally comfortable wearing them to the grocery store, on a hike, to church, or on date night.
  • They’re durable. They’re not your cheapo flip-flops made by slaves overseas that only last one season. They’re handmade in the USA. They are well-made and sturdy. You can hardly see any wear on mine after two years. All of the parts are strong and well-assembled.
  • They’re so comfortable. The design of the straps keeps them so secure that they never chafe. The piece that goes between your toes is flat and smooth. Unlike flip-flops, they don’t require an adjustment period in the spring when I first start wearing them. I just slip them on and go. No weird rubbing. No awkward change in my gait pattern to keep them on.
  • They’re as close to going barefoot as I can get. The thin, flexible sole allows my feet to experience the terrain and still move all my foot bones (unlike regular shoes, which immobilize your feet, essentially casting them). The wide toe area allows for proper toe spread. They even contain copper discs in the sole which allow your feet to “ground” with the earth, if that’s something that matters to you.earth runners - minimalist sandals
  • Easy Sizing: If you’re reluctant to buy shoes online because you’re worried about sizing, Earth Runners has an awesome system for finding you the perfect size. They nailed my size exactly.

I still go barefoot more often than not, of course.

If you’re a fellow barefooter, here are the times when I’ve found it helpful to own a pair of minimalist sandals:

  • In the early spring, when transitioning from winter footwear to going shoeless. My feet naturally get more sensitive over the winter when I spend most of my time indoors. It takes a few weeks to adjust to rough outdoor surfaces and colder temperatures in the spring. My Earth Runners are perfect for this.
  • On trips, when I’ll be going in and out of a lot of stores/restaurants/museums. (Normally, if I’m just going into one store, I carry a pair of flip-flops I’ll slip on just before entering, but that’s a pain if I’m going in and out a lot. Better to just keep my pair of Earth Runners on.)
  • When doing yard work. They’re helpful when I need to use a shovel, which are not barefoot-friendly, or when I mow the lawn and I don’t want my soles to be stained green.

So there you go. Whether you’re a full-time barefooter or you just want a healthier alternative to shoes, I love and highly recommend Earth Runners!

P.S. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of going barefoot from an actual expert, and would like information on how to safely transition to minimal footwear, I highly recommend the book Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman. If you’ve been wearing conventional shoes your whole life you may need to transition carefully in order to avoid injury.

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Our First Year of Unschooling, in Review

our first year of unschooling

The school year is winding down for kids in Canada.

Not that Lydia — now almost six — would know. We spent the year “unschooling.”

At the start of the school year (i.e. last September), I thought I might implement daily lessons or at least set aside special time for schoolish stuff every day. That lasted about a month.

I guess I could see that Lydia was learning plenty without my interference. She also started to really resist my attempts to instruct her on things. And since I really, truly believe that children learn best when they’re driven by their own interests, and that they can learn everything they need without formal instruction, I just let it go. At least for another year.

So we just continued to live life, the way we had for her first four years.

We had fun, we read piles of books, and I answered her questions or helped her find solutions when she came to me with them. And she learned and learned and learned.

We didn’t try to slice learning up into different “subjects,” but as I reflect on our past year, I feel we covered a pretty good range.

Here’s a bit of a recap of our first year of unschooling.

(Note on photos: most of these were taken with my cheap Android inside our darkish house during the darkish Canadian months of Sept-May. Apologies about the quality.)

Socializing

I know this is a big concern for a lot of people, and the reason many parents send their kids to school. I felt we got a great amount of socializing in without school.

Since we didn’t have to be anywhere in particular most days, we had lots of chances to just hang out with friends in the mornings and afternoons. We got together with a few other homeschooling families when we got the chance. We went to the park, met at the petting zoo, and went for walks in the forest. We visited the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch in the fall. Lydia and I stopped in at the local forest school a couple of times, too.

friends

picnic

forest school

One of the coolest things was that I was able to exchange weekly babysitting services with another homeschooling friend, meaning that twice a week, Lydia got to spend a whole day with a friend. They’re becoming like sisters (including the squabbling.)

dressup

Literacy

harry potter

To my surprise (and admittedly, dismay — I majored in literature for six years), Lydia showed little interest in learning to read and write this year. I tried a few lessons from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but she just wouldn’t have it.

So I didn’t push it. Dutch kids aren’t taught to read and write until about age seven, yet they scored at the top of educational achievement and participation in the latest UNICEF study. Waldorf schools do the same. So I’m not too worried. When she wants to learn, I’m sure she’ll pick it up no problem.

Sometimes she would want to write a note to a friend or label a drawing and would ask me how to spell it out. To her annoyance I just helped her sound it out until she had something readable. She knows what letters make what sounds, for the most part.

We also played with her moveable alphabet, figuring out how to spell names from her latest media obsession.

moveable alphabet - how to train your dragon

moveable alphabet - tmnt

Most of all, we read books. Stacks and stacks of picture books. We visited the library almost weekly. Before bed, I always read a few chapters aloud from a novel.

library(bringing home the library haul)

Eventually I know she’ll want to do it on her own, but for now I’m cherishing reading aloud to her.

Math

We learned a lot about geometry by playing with our Spielgaben set. We went through the learning guide that came with it, and she really enjoyed it.

spielgaben - symmetry game(playing with symmetry)

pyramid

geometry pizza - spielgabengeometry pizza

She enjoys counting and doing basic adding and subtracting, just in everyday life. She was so proud the first time she counted to 100 by herself.

We also went through a few Bedtime Math books, which she loved.

Science

microscope

Science has been one of Lydia’s favourite subjects this year, though she doesn’t know that. She just knows she likes books about bones, bodies, plants, and animals.

I also bought her a microscope which was a big hit (We got this one, and are completely delighted with it. A great price for a fantastic piece of equipment). We spent hours poring over slides and specimens. We were surprised by the appearances of kitchen ingredients and different fabrics under the microscope. And we were amazed the see the microsopic creatures swimming around in a single drop of pond water.

We went to a museum in the middle of the week when it was nice and empty.

museum

Art

art

Painting and drawing have been a huge part of Lydia’s life since she first picked up a crayon, and this year was no different.

I went through an obsessive phase learning about watercolours, and she watched every Youtube video with me that she could.

painting with watercolours

Time in Nature

mushrooms

This kind of falls under science, but I thought I’d make it a separate category.

Skipping the classroom meant we had plenty of time to spend outside. We took lots of walks around the neighbourhood and nature parks, looking at plants and animals. That was really important to me.

Practical Life

Staying home also meant lots of time to help out around the house. Since mornings weren’t rushed, she was able to make her bed and put away her laundry every day. She enjoyed helping in the kitchen, too.

dough

cooking

I think that covers most of it!

I didn’t spend a minute regretting our choice to unschool, or wishing we had done anything differently. I’m looking forward to many more years of learning together!

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How to Make Sun Prints

How to make sun prints. Fun summer activity for kids!

Hi friends! Lydia and I recently did a fun, inexpensive, outdoorsy+artsy activity that I thought I’d share about: making sun prints. It was pretty cool!

sunprint kit

You can buy a little Sunprint Paper Kit for about $6.50 USD on Amazon. That’s the one we got, anyway. It’s the 4×4-inch kit, and it has 12 sheets of sun print paper in it. Somehow I was surprised how tiny the squares were. You can only fit, like, one maple leaf on a square. It ended up looking awesome, though, when you put them all together. I discovered you can get much bigger kits, too — in the future it would be fun to try this kit that contains 8×10-inch sheets (i.e. closer to the size of standard printer paper), for about $12.50.

Anyway, here’s how it works:

First, gather your materials and take them outside. (You need pretty bright, direct sunshine to get a crisp image.) All you need is your Sunprint kit and a small square/rectangular dish of water to rinse your prints. Plus the things you want to print, of course.

Next, collect some objects you’d like to make prints of. I decided we should stick with items from nature (leaves, flowers, seeds, etc), but you could just as easily use household items with distinctive shapes (toys, keys, etc). They had to be small, though, to fit on the 4×4 sheets. Flat objects work best, but you can use 3-dimensional objects, too (for example, we did a pine branch.)

nature items

(These are the items we used, after we were done with them. That’s why they’re wilty.)

Time to make your prints! You have to make them one at a time, because the kit only includes one acrylic cover.

Lay down a sheet of print paper. It starts out blue. Lay your item on top, and then cover with the acrylic sheet that comes in the kit.

making sunprints: fern 1

Tip: we made sure to keep our materials in the shadows our bodies cast as we prepared them.

The acrylic sheet keeps the item from moving around. You can print 3D items (e.g. the pine branch) without the cover, but when possible (e.g. with flat object like leaves), the acrylic sheet really helps.

Anyway, let it sit in the sun for about one minute, until the blue turns almost white.

fern2

Then remove the cover and the item. It now looks like this:

making sunprints: fern 3

Cool! But the magic isn’t over yet: quickly rinse your new sun print in water. For about another minute.

making sunprints: fern 4

making sun print - rinsing

Now lay it flat to dry in the shade. Be amazed as the colours reverse: the background goes back to blue, and the silhouette of the object turns white! Whaaaat? #science

fern7

Over the next few hours, the blue will deepen to a deep, rich indigo.

 

making sunprints: fern

Some other items we tried were maple keys, an English ivy leaf, a pine branch, a Japanese maple leaf, and a stem of bleeding heart blooms.

sun prints - maple keys

making sun prints

They looked so pretty together that I decided to frame them. I already had a floating frame that was just perfect for this.

Lydia wants this up in her room. I agree that it will look awesome! What a lovely piece of artwork!

sun prints framed

(PS trying to take a photo of something so shiny and reflective is HARD!)

There you go! Give it a try and tell me how it goes!

Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I get a tiny commission. Thanks for your support!

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What I’m Into: Spring 2017

blossoms edited

climber edited

sensory table edited(The only way we can get him to eat vegetables: dehydrate them and serve them in his sensory table.)

passionflower watercolour(Still obsessed with watercolours.)

Our lives have gotten so much better since the weather started warming up and the days started getting longer. It’s hard to go outside in the winter when one of your kids can’t walk, but since the snow melted we are spending as much time in the back yard as we can.

I wrote a few weeks ago about all the stuff I’ve been making; here’s a recap of some of the stuff I’ve been consuming.

Admittedly, most of it is kids’ stuff, but it has enriched my life nevertheless.

Audiobooks

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. This is a great read for any Gilmore Girls fan. It’s fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at both the original series and the Netflix reboot. Graham is smarter and funnier than you might suspect. Her writing proved so impressive that I might actually give her novel a try.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; read by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The first word I would use to describe this book is “long.” Holy crap, this book is long. It took 35 hours to listen to. (Most audiobooks I listen to are between 7-12.) But the next word I would use would be . . . probing? Geez, I’m having a hard time putting it into words. I really wished I had a book club to discuss this profound work with. Tolstoy has the ability to dissect human nature and see the soul. I definitely feel it was worth the investment of time, even if it meant sitting through hours of conversations about 19th-century Russian agriculture. And it took quite a while to figure out all those Russian names. But it’s not for no reason that this book has been called one of the best novels of all time. The characters are astonishingly three-dimensional. Levin, Kitty, Anna, and Oblonsky all feel like real people. (Not Vronsky, though. That guy’s just a jackass.) I was moved to be a better and more courageous human being as I witnessed Levin’s spiritual journey and Anna’s tragic spiral. If you’re looking for a classic, give it a try!

A word on the narration: I would rate Gylenhaal’s performance as “meh.” It was fine. Nothing spectacular.

Children’s Read-Aloud Chapter Books

spiderwick

Lydia (age 5) is ALL about the fantasy right now and I LOVE it.

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. We read the first two books in the series and enjoyed them both. The authors are masters of atmosphere. The fabulous illustrations add a lot to the experience. Lydia grew immediately attached to all the characters and we can’t wait to find out what will happen next. They are very short and packed with adventure. They definitely have to be read in order, as each book only feels like a short part of the whole story.

Children’s Picture Booksharry potter book

First, I need to talk about the illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I got it for Lydia for Easter (it was literally her only gift). It is absolutely breathtaking. It’s the whole text of the novel, with gorgeous, full-colour illustrations on almost every page. It’s normally very expensive — about $50 in Canada — but I got it on sale on Amazon for $35, I think because the second book was recently released.

Anyway, we’ve been re-reading the book together and the illustrations add a wonderful new dimension to the experience. It has helped ward off further begging to read the third book (Sorry! Five is just too young!). Lydia has pored over these images for hours. I feel it was totally worth the investment.

Anyway, The following books are our library favourites in the last two months. They’re all beautiful, interesting, and moving. I got a lot of these suggestions from The Read-Aloud Revival’s Favourite Books Lists for April and May. Those monthly lists are an awesome guide for finding quality, seasonal picture books.

spring books 1

The Easter Egg by Jan Brett. Jan Brett’s books are always gorgeous, with tons of detail to explore. Hoppi the Bunny (<– that name is the only stupid thing about this book) inadvertently fulfills his dream to become the Easter Bunny’s helper when he makes a big sacrifice for a fallen egg.

The Country Bunny by DuBose Heyward and Marjorie Flack. You guys. What a completely charming book. The BEST nonreligious Easter books I’ve read. A (brown) mother rabbit fulfills her dream of becoming an Easter Bunny, and ends up being the fastest, kindest, bravest Easter Bunny of all. It’s cute and inspiring and full of surprises. Published in 1939! With a surprisingly feminist message! Now I want to train my kids to keep house so I can pursue my dreams like Mother Cottontail.

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and David Small. A lovely story about a tenacious little girl who improves her community and her uncle’s world by growing flowers in unexpected places.

An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long. These are the kinds of books that will help kids fall in love with nature. Both of these books are stunning to look at and poetic in their language, slipping in a ton of memorable information about elements of the natural world. Highly recommend.

spring picture books 2

When the Root Children Wake Up by Audrey Wood and Ned Bittinger. Again, gorgeous illustrations and mesmerizing text. The four seasons are brought to life through mythical beings engaging with the natural world. If you’re fond of Waldorf education and philosophy you will adore this book.

Mossy by Jan Brett. Again, this is Brett at her finest. I can’t stop looking at these illustrations! Mossy the Turtle grows a garden on her shell, which draws the attention of a (woman — yay!) scientist who decides to put her in a museum so others can enjoy her beauty. The scientist’s niece helps her find a better solution when she realizes Mossy isn’t happy in her new home. A lovely story to help encourage respect and appreciation for nature and wild animals.

Movies and Television

Our children don’t sleep, so we don’t have time for this nonsense. Sounds fun, though!

And that’s what I’ve been into so far this spring! How about you?

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April in Review: A Month of Making

making

I don’t know what it was about April, but I was seized with a need to MAKE STUFF WITH MY HANDS.

Beautiful stuff. Practical stuff. Fun stuff. I just had to do it.

Writing was not in the program.

So in lieu of a proper blog post, here’s a gallery of the things I made, or had Ben make, during the month of April.

I don’t even know how we did it, honestly, on so little sleep and with so little free time. Or why. Except to somehow hang to our humanity in the midst of continuous existential crises?

Anyway, here’s what we’ve been up to.

First, a painting that my mom commissioned for her living room wall. She paid me in free babysitting, the best currency.

painting

tree

Then there was the wooden Waldorf rainbow stacker that I had Ben cut out in his shop. I helped sand it and then painted it with food colouring diluted with rubbing alcohol. As a late Easter present for Felix.

rainbow

I then got the urge to break out my sewing machine and finally make that canvas teepee/tent I’ve been wanting to make for the kids. I followed a pattern I bought from Etsy.

teepeeLydia and a friend enjoying a snack in front of their chalk “bonfire.”

I was also recently overcome with a passionate desire to learn how to paint with watercolours. I’ve been obsessively watching tutorials on Youtube whenever I feed Felix. I dream about it at night and take out stacks of books from the library for inspiration. I think I’ve already spent $200 in materials.

watercolor paintingMe and Lydia taking over the kitchen table with our artwork.

watercolours

poppy

And lastly: I asked Ben to make Felix a Pikler triangle to practice his climbing.

Felix’s gross motor development kind of plateaued last year despite continued physiotherapy and the use of orthotics, and I’ve been trying to think of ways we can add to his environment to encourage his development. I came across the idea of the Pikler triangle from someone on Instagram — it’s fairly common (or at least recognized) in Montessori and RIE circles.  Anyway, my amazing husband whipped one up in an afternoon, just by looking at a few pictures online. (He’s a carpenter by profession, if you didn’t know.) Felix immediately took to it and has been getting some awesome practice in.

pickler traingle - Montessori

(P.S. isn’t his hat adorable? We put it on him to help him keep in his hearing aids.)

Anyway, if you wonder where I’ve been or why I haven’t been blogging, this is part of the reason. I’ve been busy making stuff.

That, and I’m struggling to understand who I am in the world and the purpose of my existence. My life feels like a mess and I’m stumbling through it aimlessly, wondering what it’s all for and how we can find meaning and happiness.

You know, that kind of stuff.

(Turns out, it takes a really, really long time to process a child’s near-death experience and continued special needs. Right now, my spiritual journey seems to be taking me through arts and crafts as a form of coping and healing. I’m trying to follow the prompting of the Spirit and see where it takes me.)

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What I’m Into: March 2017

March continued to involve very little sleep, but at least I watched some quality movies in those midnight hours (when the toddler wasn’t screaming.) (I instagrammed them, by the way. P.S. you should follow me there!)

pride and prejudice bbc

We went on a mini-vacation to Michigan to visit a museum and do some shopping, and most of all, to get some sleep. (Felix stayed with grandparents, God bless them.) It was very refreshing.

museum

snow

It wasn’t exactly the two-week Florida trip we’d originally been planning, but it was something.

Well, here’s what I’ve been into!

Audiobooks

audiobooks

A Man Called OveFrederik Backman. A completely heartwarming story from a Swedish blogger. Ove may be the most endearing grumpy old man you’ve ever met. You will fall in love with every single character. I cried both sad and happy tears. The writing is vibrant and lovely. I already think it might be one of the best books I read in 2017. (And the narrator is great.)

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern. A delight for those who love magical stories. Two young magicians are forced into a lifelong duel of magic they don’t fully understand, and the setting for the competition is a mysterious traveling circus. And what happens when the opponents, who must battle to the death, fall in love with one another? The descriptions of the magical circus are breathtaking and riveting. The audiobook is read by the talented Jim Dale, famous for his narration of the Harry Potter series.

KultiMariana Zapata. I listened to the audiobook after Leigh Kramer’s glowing recommendation. I enjoy the occasional romance story! It was kind of fun to try a subject matter I don’t usually go for — it follows the story of a female soccer player, whose childhood idol becomes her coach. Turns out, I’m more old-fashioned than I thought, because the explicit sex scene at the end completely ruined it for me. I swear I grimaced through the whole ten-minute scene. I might have even said, “EWWWWWWWWWWW” out loud, more than once. This from a happily married woman of almost twelve years.

Children’s Picture Books

picture books about art

This month I decided to focus on books about art. (I got most of my ideas from this list.)

Ish – Peter H. Reynolds. Ramon’s older brother makes fun of his drawing, so Ramon gives up drawing . . . until his little sister helps him see the beauty in a drawing of a vase that’s “vase-ish.” A sweet story about the beauty of the artistic process.

The Dot – Peter H. Reynolds. About a little girls who thinks she can’t draw until her teacher encourages her to draw a dot. Her creativity is ignited and we learn that anyone can be an artist.

Art & Max – David Wiesner. This one is a feast for the eyes and a ton of fun. Things go awry when Max has his own take on what it means to “paint his friend.”

Frederick – Leo Lionni. Frederick the mouse teaches us the real value of art.

Children’s Read-Aloud Chapter Books

oz

The Wizard of Oz – Frank L Baum. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU REMEMBER FROM THE CREEPY MOVIE. If you have any negative preconceived ideas about this book based on the film, let me assure you it is nothing like it. (I repeat: Oz is NOT a shudder-inducing hellscape populated by overacting old men in costumes and little people in bad wigs.) Get this edition with the gorgeous cover art to help you get a fresh perspective. I’m so glad I gave this book a try despite my misgivings. It is completely charming. Lydia is loving it. The characters are lovable and the story is exciting. (However, it does contain some bloodless violence. The Tin Woodman is handy with his axe.)

Movies

Beauty and the Beast. I took Lydia to the theaters to see the new live-action remake. LOVED IT. It was visually stunning and everything my grown-up six-year-old heart would have wished.

Pride and Prejudice (1995 BBC version). Can you believe I had NEVER EVER seen this version of P&P? I borrowed it from our library and watched it in segments during Felix’s middle-of-the-night wakings. I thought it might be boring (Five hours of idle upper-class Brits standing around and talking!) but I found it utterly delightful. Heart-eyes for young Colin Firth! You have to seriously suspend your belief to imagine that Jane is the town beauty, though. (P.S. I still like the 2005 Kiera Knighty version the best, SUE ME.)

Pete’s Dragon – saw this with the famjam. It was enjoyable for everyone. Heartwarming, good music, impressive visuals.

What have you been into?

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Why the LGBT community might not feel loved by Christians

Why the LGBT community might not feel loved by ChristiansPhoto credit

Note: I consider myself a recent but very imperfect LGBTQ ally and also a Christian. So if I say things that are hurtful or incorrect to those who belong to either/both camps, I apologize in advance. And I’m aware that there are affirming churches out there, so I’m not talking about them when I say LGBTQ people might not feel loved by “Christians.” I’m talking about those individuals and groups that express the attitude I’m describing below.

As many of you are probably aware, there has been much debate and discussion around the new Beauty and the Beast movie in the Christian community. Much of it has to do with the inclusion of what the director has called an “exclusively gay moment,” and whether or not parents should let their children watch it.

This post is not about that. (But I will say that I took my daughter to see the movie, IT WAS DELIGHTFUL, and that any hints towards homosexuality were very, very subtle.)

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was something I read in one of those well-circulated articles by a Christian mom debating the merits of the movie.

Overall, the article is a very thoughtful, kind and gentle reflection on the kinds of things we want to share with our children. She doesn’t tell us whether or not we should watch the movie with our kids, — in fact, she seems unsure herself — only that we ought to be thoughtful about such decisions.

Here’s the part that stood out to me, though, and made me pause. It comes at the end of the post:

…if you are one of my gay friends, and you read this and heard me hating you or disrespecting you or looking down on you, hear me now: I love you. I love you more than you think I do. I pray for you – not to not be gay. I pray you have a good day, that your kids are protected and grow up kind and strong. I pray you are happy and loved. I pray you’ll know Jesus in an intimate and amazing way. I pray you’ll know His love for you. [Italics in original]

Outwardly, this seems like a very loving and respectful sentiment. She loves gay people! She wishes them well! She doesn’t even want to change their sexuality! Who could object to that? I’ve heard this sentiment repeated over and over by many wonderful, caring Christians, and it sounds really loving.

But something didn’t sit right with me, and it took a couple of seconds to figure it out.

The part that bothered me was this: “I pray you’ll know Jesus in an intimate and amazing way. I pray you’ll know His love for you.”

Future tense.

The author seems to assume the gay reader doesn’t already know Jesus in an intimate way, or already know Jesus’ love for them.

The author appears to assume that the gay reader isn’t already a Christian.

That’s what bothered me. How can she possibly know that they aren’t already Christians? Maybe the gay reader already feels perfectly aligned and in tune with God, in a perfect, loving relationship.

It seems really presumptuous to assume that because the person is gay, that necessarily means they are not already a Christian. Maybe that person has a different interpretation of Scripture which allows them to feel they are already in good standing with God . . . while still being gay. Heck, maybe they’re better Christians than the author!

After reading this passage, reiterating a sentiment I’ve heard a hundred times and even shared myself in the past, I couldn’t help thinking that LGBTQ people will always feel unloved and unwelcome by the church as long as we believe you can’t be gay and Christian at the same time.

(Of course I can’t speak for how gay people feel, as I’m not one of them. But when I imagine myself in a situation where the dominant group thought it was impossible for me to be one of them on account of my sexuality, I think this is how I would feel. I’ve heard from LGBTQ people expressing similar feelings.)

This isn’t about the author specifically, but about all Christians who say they love gay people but believe they are living in sin. I’m not saying they’re wrong, I’m just saying I’m not surprised if gay people aren’t flocking to their doors for church invitations.

If you think it’s impossible to be gay and also be in a good relationship with Jesus, I suspect you will never feel like a completely safe person for an LGBTQ person to be around.

I couldn’t help but think that if I was one of the author’s gay friends, I still wouldn’t really feel loved or accepted, no matter how nicely she told me she loved me. Because she doesn’t think I’m in a good relationship with Jesus!

It made me think of how insulted I feel when an evangelist comes to my door and starts trying to convert me to their particular brand of Christianity without learning a thing about me first. I’m already a Christian! I want to tell them. How do you know I need saving? How do you know I shouldn’t be teaching you about spirituality??

It reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago. Some friends were talking about Ellen Degeneres and her show, and how much she amuses us. Ellen is one funny lady! Then one friend piped up, “Too bad she’s going to hell.” And everyone nodded sadly in agreement.

Wait, what? I thought. How do we know anything about Ellen’s soul and her eternal destination? We’ve never even met her in person! And even if we had, how much do we really know about a person’s relationship with God? How can we possibly know if someone is “going to hell”? Who are we to say we know such a thing? But it’s fairly common among many Christian circles to assume that people living “the gay lifestyle” ( <– a really problematic phrase, BTW) are destined for hell unless they change something dramatic.

Again, if I was gay, I don’t think I’d feel comfortable hanging around people who “knew” I was going to hell. I wouldn’t feel loved. I would feel judged. Even if everyone was polite and friendly.

If you do believe being gay or being in a homosexual relationship is a sin, I am not trying to argue with you. I think it’s your right to believe that. I know it’s possible to hold that belief and be perfectly civil to people who disagree with you. We can live in harmony and hold different beliefs. I’m just saying, don’t be surprised or confused if gay people don’t really want to be around you or listen to you.

Would you want to be around someone who thought you were living in sin and going to hell? Even if they repeatedly told you they loved you?? I just don’t think I would. I would want to seek out people who thought I was their complete equal in Christ.

That’s all I’m trying to say here. You may think you love gay people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they feel it.

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DIY Natural Mineral Makeup Liquid Foundation (Only 3 Ingredients!)

makeup header

Those who know me know that over the years, I’ve transitioned to non-toxic home and body care products. I make my own deodorant and toothpaste, I wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and I moisturize with natural oils. I clean most of my home with baking soda, vinegar, and elbow grease.

One thing that took longer to change up was makeup. Yes, the best thing to do would be to give up makeup entirely. I am not a high-maintenance girl, and I wish I could do that; but man, I have the worst skin. I have had terrible acne since I was 11 and it is not letting up at all in my thirties.

I . . . I don’t want to talk about it. It really bums me out. Suffice it to say, I’m really self-conscious about my skin and I feel better with a bit of makeup.

I tried a few commercial brands of less-toxic makeup, but they were very expensive, the ingredients were still kind of sketchy, and they didn’t work as well. Making my own makeup just seemed too hard. How would I get the right shade for my skin? How could I get homemade mascara to not run?

The first thing I changed in my makeup kit was my eyeliner. I started making my own eyeliner out of activated charcoal. That was super-easy and inexpensive, and also really effective.

But the rest? It stayed the same for years. I’d been buying the exact same CoverGirl liquid powder foundation for the last 13 years. (I’m from the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it camp on just about everything.)

I live in a small Canadian town, so I don’t have access to a lot of local shops making small batches of homemade lotions and makeup. And shipping is bonkers expensive here. Buying makeup online is risky because you can’t test it out. What’s a girl to do?

Mineral Makeup: Almost Right?

mineral makeup powder

Finally, a few years ago, I got a chance to try mineral makeup, which I’d been wanting to try for years.

Mineral makeup uses minerals such as iron oxides, talc, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide, which are ground and milled into tiny particles to create makeup. It sits on the skin rather than being absorbed into it, making it safer. It’s free of parabens, chemical dyes, and perfumes, and are healthy for all skin types. Many brands even claim to nourish the skin rather than damage it.

But real mineral makeup always comes in a loose powdered form. One of the main reasons is because the ingredients that turn makeup into a liquid are generally the most toxic ones.

Basically, you need harsh ingredients to create a liquid makeup that won’t go bad.

Microbes thrive in water, so liquid formulations must include some kind of preservative. If you don’t want nasty preservatives in your makeup, you can’t have it in a liquid form.

So I gave powdered mineral makeup a good try. I watched all the YouTube videos on how to apply it and bought the fancy kabuki brush.

Brush, brush, brush, brush, brush, I went. And then brush, brush, brush, brush, brush some more. (Mineral makeup is hardcore, you guys. So much brushing.)

I couldn’t get it to work for me.

Like I said, I have really crappy skin: I have constant acne, and it’s always simultaneously dry, too. Powder always looks cakey on me, and it takes a ton of it to cover all my blemishes.

Mineral makeup is expensive. And I’m lazy. I can’t be brushing powder all over my face for ten minutes every day.

I wanted the natural-ness of mineral makeup, but the creamy texture of my favourite CoverGirl liquid powder foundation. But none of the toxic ingredients necessary for a commercial liquid makeup.

It was time to turn my powdered mineral makeup into a DIY liquid foundation.

(So in case it wasn’t clear yet: my DIY recipe uses pre-purchased mineral makeup powder. This is not one of those recipes that uses cinnamon and cocoa powder to provide colour. So you will have to go out and find a good mineral makeup that matches your skin tone to follow this recipe.)

MY DIY Liquid Powder Foundation

homemade liquid makeup

I realized that if I wanted to make my own liquid makeup, I would need to make it in small batches to prevent contamination and growth of microbes.

And if I needed to make it frequently, the recipe needed a minimum of ingredients to make it quick and easy.

One DIY recipe I came across online demands that you make a small batch every single day to prevent the growth of mould. Sheesh! I’m not that concerned about contamination. So I make a batch that lasts me about a month. I figure that most makeup you pick up from the drugstore shelf is probably already a month old by the time it gets into your shopping cart, so I’m at least doing better than that.

That same recipe claims to have only “two ingredients,” but one of the ingredients is a homemade lotion consisting of five other ingredients. So . . . no thanks. I wanted something quicker and easier.

After experimenting with a few different natural oils and butters, and playing with the proportions, I found one that made me happy. Just plain shea butter was too thick and pastey, so I added skin-friendly jojoba oil to thin it and add some slip. You may want to play around with it, too, in order to control the amount of coverage it offers and how thick you like it.

Okay, so now you’re wondering, Does it work? How does it look?

Here are my before and after pictures. I am being very vulnerable showing you my untouched, blemish-riddled “before” picture, so be nice. I really hope this isn’t the image that gets pinned. (I did not retouch these photos at all.)

homemade liquid mineral makeup

So maybe I don’t look like a model in a shampoo commercial, but I feel a lot more confident leaving the house looking like the “after” than the “before.”

(P.S. the homemade eyeliner recipe can be found here.)

The Recipe

This creates a thick, creamy foundation similar to CoverGirl’s Ultimate Finish Liquid Powder. It’s not pourable at room temperature. It can also work as a concealer.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp shea butter
  • 1/2 tsp jojoba oil
  • 1 tsp loose powder mineral makeup*

*I buy mine from a small store in London, Ontario. I’ve heard good things about Jane Iredale and Bare Minerals, available at Sephora. I’ve also purchased a decent mineral makeup from the Body Shop.

Tools:

  • double boiler (I just put a ceramic bowl over a small pot of boiling water)
  • small container (I use a Tupperware pill box)
  • makeup sponge

Place three ingredients in double boiler, and warm just until shea butter is melted. Then stir well. Scrape it into a small container and allow it to cool.

Apply to skin using a good-quality makeup sponge.

That’s it! I make a batch about every 6 weeks, but then, as a stay-at-home mom I rarely apply it.

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A Note on Future Felix Updates

Hello, dear friends!

I recently wrote an update on Felix’s latest big change: hearing aids. And while I wrote it, I found myself reflecting on how much I want to share about Felix’s life from now on.

When Felix was first diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and we found ourselves living in the hospital, I needed you. I needed you to know what we were going through. I needed you to pray for our family. And you all needed to know what was going on, too. I couldn’t just leave you hanging while we embarked on one of the most difficult journeys of our lives.

You supported our family financially, emotionally, and spiritually as we sat at our sick child’s bedside, separated from our daughter and miles from our home. You encouraged us as we traveled across the continent to get a life-saving experimental treatment for him.

And I continued to provide regular, detailed updates as he miraculously improved.

Now that Felix is two years old and doing well, I’m starting to become more aware of how his story is becoming less my story and more his own.

I want to respect him as his own person with his own future. And that’s why I think that from now on, I will be sharing less about his growth and development in this public space. I will probably share fewer close-up pictures, too, than I have been sharing.

You can be sure that I will let you all know if anything really dramatic changes in his health. But otherwise, I think most of the details will stay in our family.

I’ll continue to share about some of our family experiences, which will involve both kids, of course. And my monthly What I’m Into posts will likely often involve my kids’ interests, just because I love sharing the things we’re loving together.

I still haven’t 100% figured out how this will work, but I just wanted to let you know I intend to keep Felix’s life a little more private from now on.

I am so grateful for all the ways you’ve supported our family over the years. You people are the best. Thank you so much for your ongoing support.

What I’m Into: February 2017

crying CollageMy life right now

Remember when Felix used to wake up to play for two hours every night?

Yeah. We now refer to those as “the good old day.” His wake-up time can now be anytime between 11:30pm and 5am. The duration is typically three to four hours. He plays, drinks anywhere from one-half to three bottles, and throws a couple of tantrums. Every night.

I’M NOT COMPLAINING, YOU’RE COMPLAINING.

All right, so I’m also just a little grumpy because we were supposed to go to Florida for two weeks and then that fell through. So we planned a mini-vacation to Detroit and then that also fell through. We’ve hardly left our home to go anywhere but the hospital in the last three years but THAT’S OKAY, EVERYTHING IS FINE, I’M NOT COMPLAINING, I’M A SELF-ACTUALIZED HUMAN ADULT AND I MEDITATE AND I HAVE A FRIEND IN JESUS.

And if I reflect back, there were plenty of good things that happened on February. Like the following:

syrupTapping the maple tree to collect sap…

syrup boilingBoiling it down into syrup…

muddy walkA few days warm enough (IN FEBRUARY!) to walk barefoot . . .

forest schoolGoing to the forest school drop-in . . .

libraryAnd our local library finally opening after an eight-month strike!!!

Anyway, none of this is what you came here for! You would like my book and movie recommendations for the month! Right? So here’s what I’ve been into!

Books

Movement Matters – Katy Bowman. You guys probably know by now I’m a huge fan of Katy Bowman. I’m a devoted podcast listener and I’ve gushed about her other books. Movement Matters is paradigm-shifting collection of essays exploring the consequences of our sedentary culture. She puts forward the daring idea that we could improve our health, the environment, and our communities if we would just move more. It will probably take me years to make any kind of progress in this area because it’s just so counter-cultural, but I definitely want to move in that direction.

Audiobooks

I’m just gonna say once again that I THANK GOD for audiobooks and Overdrive. I’m going on year five of no sleep (on account of children who don’t know what nighttime is for), and these technologies have allowed me consume WAAAY more books than I’d ever be able to read with my eyeballs in this season of life. I listen while I cook dinner, scrub the bathtub, and sweep the floors. It’s amazing.

(These books would all be equally great in text form; I just happened to receive them as audiobooks.)

Bossypants – Tina Fey. This lady makes me laugh out loud. She is brilliant and delightfully self-deprecating. I always enjoy hearing the story of how folks like her get where they are. And hearing about how she became Sarah Palin’s double was a treat.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things – Jenny Lawson. Another woman who can make me laugh until I cry. This is The Bloggess’ second memoir. Her discussion of mental illness is both needed and weirdly hysterical. She is a strange, strange, wonderful human being. (Major language warning. I’ve never hard anyone use the word vagina as much as Lawson does.)

Jane Steele – Lyndsay Faye. A complete delight. If you’re a fan of Jane Eyre, I think you’ll get a kick out of this novel. It follows a young Victorian orphan girl who, like Jane Eyre, goes to an awful boarding school and later becomes a governess. She’s clever and brave and self-aware. And also? A murderer. With a heart of gold, of course. (She only kills horrible men.) From the start she’s aware of her similarities with the famous fictional heroine. I promise, it’s better than it sounds. It reads like an authentically 19th-century novel and all of the characters are stunningly three-dimensional.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell. I listened to this one just to see what the fuss was about. It was cute, and it’s clear that Rowell has a vivid memory of what it feels to be like a teenager. She conveyed all those feelings of first love fabulously. I enjoy a good romance every so often but I only thought this one was okay. (Don’t hate me, Rowell fans.) (Again, lots of salty language.)

Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari. I checked this one out mostly because I’m a Parks and Recreation fan (He’s the actor who played Tom Haverford). This book completely surprised me: it’s more of a sociological study on romance in today’s technological world than a humour book. He wrote it with an actual sociologist, and they conducted actual research projects, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups all over the world. It was insightful and informative and surprisingly hilarious. I think hearing Ansari read it himself was a huge bonus. He’s got a unique way of expressing things and made comical asides to us lazy audiobook listeners. (Warning: very explicit language.)

Television

DRAGONS: RACE TO THE EDGE HAS A NEW SEASON ON NETFLIX!!! Okay, ostensibly this is Lydia’s show. She is obsessed with it. But I finally gave up all pretenses of just “overhearing” the episodes she was watching and started to sit down to watch with her. SO SO GOOD. I laugh out loud multiple times during every episode. I find the twins genuinely funny and I have a soft spot for villain-turned-good-guy Dagur. Hiccup and Astrid (“Hicstrid”) are ADORABLE. I love that the main character has a disability. I love that all the nonverbal dragons have distinct personalities. And I still haven’t gotten tired of the whole Vikings-riding-dragons conceit. It’s the best. Warning: this is definitely a show written for older kids. There is a surprising amount of violence (of the face-punching kind) if that kind of thing bothers you. (I don’t mind, despite the fact that I’m a pacifist.) Lydia’s four-year-old cousin found it so scary she cried. And this season finally introduces a romantic subplot that I LOVED but Lydia HATED. (She covers her eyes and yells every time they kiss.)

Movies

Arrival. Oh my goodness. If you enjoy a good ugly cry, this movie is for you. (I personally DO NOT. I started bawling five minutes in. I cannot handle stories that center around the loss of a child.) I can’t deny that it was stunning and surprising and original. Brilliant sci-fi storytelling at its best. But oh, my poor heart.

That’s it for now! What have you been into?

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