Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bug Screen, otherwise known as: My husbandy is awesome

Summer has arrived in full force - meaning lots of sunshine and lots of outdoor time.  In years past I have made the transition from "lots of clothes on in winter" to "lots of bare skin in summer" (which, let's face it, basically means sweater and socks to t-shirt and sandals) without paying too much attention to it.  I was genetically endowed with naturally dark skin - sun burns really were never a concern for me and I soaked up as much vitamin D as I possibly could.  This year however, I had a little someone to think of, and this little someone did not win the genetic lottery when it came to the amount of melanin in his skin - he is as white as white can be.
As important as vitamin D is, I did not want Bean getting burnt.  But I also didn't want to slather him in the chemicals found traditional sunscreen.  So I took to the internets hunting down a recipe that would work for us.  I found this one (link opens in a new window) and whipped up a batch.

We were all set for fun in the sun when the mosquitoes began to take over the world.  Time to whip up some mosquito repellent.  I scoured the internets again, hunting for the perfect recipe that I would be comfortable with using on Bean.  My searches led me here (link opens in a new window).  I decided I would rather have it in a cream base instead of a liquid (less likely to make a mess), so I told Husbandy that I was going to use the same base that I used for the sunscreen, leave out the zinc oxide and put the mosquito repelling oils in instead.  This is where Husbandy's brilliance shone through.  He proposed that I not leave out the zinc oxide and instead mix the mosquito repelling oils in with the sunscreen!  In my mind it was a revolution - sunscreen that was also mosquito repellent!  Or mosquito repellent that was also sunscreen!   I set to work and our new invention, based off of the two recipes linked above was born - Bug Screen!

Here is the recipe I ultimately ended up using (ever so slightly altered from the first two):
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup beeswax
1/4 Cup coconut oil
2 TBSP zinc oxide powder
60 drops lemongrass essential oil
40 drops eucalyptus essential oil
20 drops peppermint essential oil
16 drops tea tree essential oil
4 (ish) drops lavender essential oil

Since I made the sunscreen first and then later turned it in to bug screen I melted the first three ingredients together in a double boiler (glass jar in a pan of boiling water) and then mixed the zinc oxide powder in, stirring super well to make sure the zinc oxide didn't clump.  While it cooled I stirred it periodically to make sure it didn't settle out.   When I was ready to turn it into bug screen, I remelted the sunscreen and added the essential oils in, stirring well to incorporate.  
If I were doing it again, I'd melt the first three oils together, add the essential oils and then add the zinc oxide at the end.

It appears to work well and is non-toxic - Husbandy tricked Littlest Brother into tasting some of it, and he lived - however he says it doesn't taste real great ;)

Bean enjoying some splash pad fun

Friday, June 06, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hands

It's been a while since I joined in the party, but it's that time of the week again -  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Hands.

Hands shape the world and hands change the world.  Two appendages, each with five digits and they can hold the whole world.  My hands can (and do) tell stories - I use them to make the words when I can't hear what's going on around me, I wave them wildly when I'm excited and slowly and heavily when I'm not.  I use them to sing.
My hands also bring the world.  They bring the world to my son as I take him form place to place, as  I gently carry him and gently care for him.
My hands show my day.  Today they are dry and clean - evidence of an afternoon spent in the pool.  Yesterday they were dusty and dirty - evidence of a morning spent skirting alpaca fleeces. They've been cut and blistered and burnt and roughened.  They tell where I have been.
My hands also bring these words into being.  Without my hands I could not type these words, I could not express myself here, in this format.  My hands do that.
My hands.  They are the part of me that so many people see.  Hands are what I watch.  They tell so many stories.  Stories of where people have been and where people are going.  Stories of wonder.  Stories of sadness.   Tiny hands, big hands.

I love watching these little hands grow!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


For the majority of my life thus far I have been a formal student - that is, enrolled in some type of formal academic program.  I lived and breathed and slept and sweated and cried academia.  My life had a rhythm that was dictated from outside of itself - the rhythm of the school year. It ebbed and flowed like the tide, cresting at midterms and finals, and entering a trough during the hot summer months, only to start up again in the fall. There were smaller troughs throughout the year when we had short breaks for Christmas, Easter, March, Thanksgiving and other such occasions.  Th rhythm was as predictable as it was familiar.   Busy times and less busy times.  Stressful times and less stressful times.

I'm still a student, though at a much slower pace, but primarily I am a mother.  My life has a different rhythm now, although it is still dictated outside of itself - this time by a squirmy little Bean rather than a calendar.  Our days settle into a rhythm of eating, sleeping, toileting, playing...however the rhythm is not nearly as predictable or familiar as the academic rhythm was.  If the academic rhythm was a steady march the rhythm of being a mom is a swing dance inspired by a group who is making up the music as they go along.

Along with the daily rhythm of being a mom comes the rhythm of living on the farm.  This rhythm not only goes from day to day but also cycles through the year.  While we don't plant seed (except for a few small container gardens) and will not (likely) be harvesting any hay this year, the rhythm of farm life is still dictated by the weather and cycles through the year, with only minor variations from year to year.  Spring brings the Alpaca Ontario show, followed by shearing, birthing, breeding, fencing and all manner of other summer activities - with swim team thrown in there for good measure.  The fall brings the Rockton Fair and the Alpaca Ontario sponsored fall show (this year it will be the all new Cavalcade of Champions), followed by Christmas craft shows.  The rhythm of farm life could be compared to a square dance - dances between couples (the day to day rhythm) taking place within the larger dance of the square (the yearly rhythm).

Dancing to the rhythm allows us to find order in our lives.  The rhythm give us all something in common, a common link, a common beat.  However, no matter the dance there is a something that all dances have in common: the need for rest.

When I got sick in 2008 I learned that my dance, my own personal rhythm would require more rests than the average dance.  My rhythm was slower.  There were are times when I forget that my rhythm is slower, that my dance requires great rests, and I pay dearly for those times.  It would be an untruth to say that I have completely embraced this slower pace of life - there are still times it frustrates me to no end that I have to slow down.  But it has taught me to savor the slow times.  It has taught me that without the rests, the dance becomes a dance marathon where you dance feverishly until you drop and a rest becomes forced.  Forced rests are not nearly enjoyable as rests that you choose - take it from someone who has been forced to rest many times.

You can't stop the dance altogether and you can't completely change the rhythm - especially when it is a rhythm from without - but you can choose to sit out part of the dance.  You can choose to take a pause, sit a spell, rest, and then join back into the dance.  I think that all dances would be better, and all dancers would do better, if our rhythms had more breaks, more rests, built in.  Life is not a dance marathon (unless dance marathons are your thing), but a dance party.  Take time to sip some punch, eat some chips, and catch up with friends.

The beat goes on!
Some rhythms are just plain special in and of themselves....