The pine tree is a popular symbol of the new year around the globe. It signifies renewal, power, and longevity. Many cultures believed that it made one youthful and it helped to ward off illness and disease. I can certainly see the association when I see the tall, strong, evergreen pines among the winter landscape when all it’s comrades look like puny shadows of their former glory. When the days are dark and the going is tough, pine trees stand out majestically…as if to say “Nothing keeps me down!”
Turns out that the the qualities of pine go far beyond looks however and those ancient cultures were quite wise. Pine is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral, and stimulant. Booyah!
To celebrate the renewing power of a new year why not try a pine bath? They are spectacular all winter long but in the first few weeks of the new year they seem particularly fitting. Renew your personal goals, renew your health, and stimulate your senses to achieve everything you desire. Pine revitalizes the mind and the body and its protective qualities help keep you well when everyone around you is getting sick.
How to Use Pine in the Bath:
Tie some pine branch tips together with hemp cord or muslin. Put it in your bath water while it heats or tie it underneath the spout while the tub is filling. Add 4-6 drops of pine essential oil to a 1/2 cup of epsom salts, pour into the bath water (this helps dilute the oil). Light a pine scented beeswax candle or diffuse some pine oil in your diffuser. Diffuse alone or with some complimentary oils such as lavender, lemon, clary sage, or grapefruit.
Divine! Here is to a great new year!
We will never be a TV free family. We enjoy our televisions and our gaming consoles here. We also have smart phones, tablets, and rokus. These are modern luxuries that we happen to love. It is all about keeping things in perspective though. Sometimes we need to do a technology cleanse (or detox) if usage is getting out of hand. We also need to remember that life should be experienced with all of our senses and not just viewed with a screen.
Kids may need assistance from mom and dad with this issue because they aren’t known for their abilities to self regulate (yet). This is an issue that could have profoundly positive effects on your family. Do you think you could resolve to live without television or computer games for a week? An entire month? Okay maybe smaller… how about large block of time each day when no screens are allowed? You decide. The computer would be used for work purposes only (homework, jobs, and so forth) but not entertainment. And you couldn’t cheat by watching videos on the computer!
Do you think you could do it? If you’d like to take this plunge, here are some ideas on how to get started, and some of the effects your family will likely enjoy.
1. Hold each other accountable. If you’re going to do this, no one can cheat. Make sure everyone is on board, however reluctantly. Even if your kids do not want to go with it, as parents you need to make sure you stick to the resolution and keep the television and computer games off.
2. Focus on the positive – emphasize all the things you can do now. Has someone in your family always wanted to learn to ride a bike, explore a particular natural area, or view the stars? Now that you are unplugging for the month, take advantage of the free time and do those things. Point out that you are doing this-and-such activity (perhaps watching a meteor shower) because you aren’t watching TV or playing computer games.
3. Make plans to fill the void. Replace computer games with board games and card games. “Parlor games” are also fun, like charades. I like educational games like Wildcraft or cooperative games that each us to work together to meet a goal.
4. Read books as a family. In the days before visual and auditory media, families would take turns reading aloud to the family. Try Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or classics such as the Little House books.
5. Family members can learn to play an instrument, and have family “concerts” or recitals. Other skills that can be showcased in this way include drawing, painting, singing, sewing, and other crafts. Think how much your family will learn about each other this way.
6. Have a cookout. In fact, cooking outside saves a lot of energy, and you can engage in some really interesting energy projects this way. You don’t have to use fire to cook out, although that’s fine if your property allows. But you can also make a solar oven with aluminum foil and cardboard boxes. Let your kids build an outdoor oven like this and cook various foods.
7. Plan outdoor activities. There are concerns today that kids are not getting enough of the great outdoors. Go on hikes and explore the landscape. Use field guides to identify birds, plants, rocks, and other interesting things in your area. Look for the locations of natural springs and local waterfalls. Hunt for covered bridges in your area. Whether it’s cold or warm weather, there is something fascinating to discover in nature.
By the end of the month (or week) you probably won’t even miss the television or computer games. And your family will have a greater appreciation for each other and for what it is to live life and not just watch it.
I was so encouraged by my progress on my New Year’s goals for the month of January. It was an awesome start to the year. Then along came February and I was bombarded by one stressful situation after another. Much of it was stuff I could not control and feeling helpless is no fun at all. Some of it though was just reaping the consequences of being so disorganized. They say that once it rains, it pours and that is the way February went. It’s all about the Law of Attraction. Once the bad stuff started happening we attracted more of it to us and I felt like I was dodging landmines all month.
Well, I am bound and determined to start March off right. I woke up this morning with all sorts of plans, to clean and declutter, improve the situation February left for us, and get more organized. I must say that I was so very proud of my children for how they helped my husband and I through a tough time. It was no fun for them either (for various reasons) but they saw us floundering and really rallied to support us. My oldest boy in particular is such a champion when he needs to be. It has just shown me all the more that we are doing a great job with him (with all our kids really) and that it is time to step it up and let them do more in regards to responsibility. We also have to make sure we are setting a better example because we didn’t hide anything from them. When a problem arose that could have been prevented had we not been disorganized or just plain lazy, we were truthful with them about it! They need to see us grow and learn from or mistakes.
Anyway I am already putting my plan into action and part of that is going to be relying on tech more to stay organized. I am on the computer lots so it just makes sense to go more digital when it comes to getting organized. I recently discovered DropBox, which is a lifesaver and I have a few other programs and tech apps like that, that I need to explore more. One I have been using is called Me in a Tree. It is hard to classify really but in general it is a family life organization application. Yet it is not just about getting organized but also spending more time together and increasing the quality of that time. After joining I did a family assessment…okay actually first thing I did was set up everyone’s avatars. That was so fun. We all look so adorable (see above)!!
After that is when I did the family assessment with 35 questions and it helped identify areas that need some work and others that are good to go. According to the assessment we are pretty solid on behavior, communication, and health and wellness. Areas that need work… money matters, organization, and family union. Say what??? Yes, it is so true and that is why I made it a goal this year to have more fun as a family. We all do our own thing and this is because I made sure my kids knew early on that they had to get creative and entertain themselves, not rely on mom to be their funship cruise director. I am sure they can hear me saying this in their sleep “Only boring people get bored.” Well I am glad that they can self soothe and entertain themselves but we also need to bond more as a family now that they are getting older. But I digress…
The app also has a calendar which I need to use to keep track of PJ day at school, eye doctor appointments, and parent conferences. I tried a white board above my desk but often times it still has the info from three months ago. It also has a section with things to do. You can choose from activities in your area (just pick your city), things to do with your spouse only, where to find parenting programs and seminars, and also where to find family volunteering opportunities.
The app also centers around a concept called The Family Huddle. You schedule a time each week to sit down as a family and “huddle”. What that means is up to you but it is a time for everyone to talk, share, and touch base. Everyone has a role (chosen at random) and there is a challenge or question for everyone to get the ball rolling. The Pledge Stone is a place where everyone shares what makes their family special and what everyone needs to do to keep things run smoothly, efficiently, and peacefully.
The gratitude journal is available for each family member and I loved that it asks everyone to write down five things that were grateful for each day. How wonderful is that?! The “My Duties” section is the place where everyone can go each day to see what needs to be done. You can assign everyone their chores and they can login and mark them done and collect rewards like stars which can be used in Star City to create star constellations. So it is educational as well as fun. I also liked that you can add anything you want and assign it to any family member. This means you can completely customize it, adding small things like ‘take your vitamins’.
I think I have only scratched the surface with what this application has to offer and I look forward to digging in even further. The more I see, the more impressed I am. I think this is just what I need to get March off to a rocking start.
My son and I – Photo Credit: Bryan Saums
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the largest climate change rally in the history of the US. Some are saying it ended up being one of the largest environmental rallies in history as well. It was a humbling experience to march on Washington and stand united with others who share my concern for the environment and my frustration that progress on climate change has been virtually nonexistent. It was a doubly wonderful experience because I was able to take my 12 year old son with me and share the experience and the activism with him.
When I heard about the Forward on Climate Rally that was taking place in DC I knew wanted to attend. It works very well with my New Year’s goals for this year to be more involved with philanthropic activities and personal activism. I have a tendency to use my words more than my actual voice. I blog about important issues to help educate others, I encourage letter writing and petition signing, and I encourage voting with our wallets. What I don’t typically do is use my actual voice to get the message out. Trying to impact change with my blog is great but I also want my kids to see me going out and taking action as well. This year I want to step away from the computer and do more in person, for myself, but also for my kids who really cannot see what I am doing behind the screen.
I want to set an example for my children and show them that we must do more than gripe and complain about the issues and problems we see, that we have to take action. I took my 12 year old with me, so he could experience the rally and learn from those that attended it. We had many great conversations and I think he learned something valuable that he couldn’t get from just hearing mom talk or seeing a news story. I hope that it sets the stage for his own activism and that as a group we also made it clear to our political leaders that support for cleaner, greener action and legislation is in fact there. Attending this rally accomplished that and so much more.
Me (left) and some other Ohio moms, including Jenny Linn Confer of MCAF – Photo Credit: Bryan Saums
My son enjoyed just about every aspect of the trip/rally, except perhaps the biting cold, but who did like that? He got to hear Rosario Dawson speak and she makes an appearance in a few of his favorite movies. I think that had to make an impression on him. Also amazing was the energy and enthusiasm of the 40,000+ people there. We met many great people, including the amazing folks we carpooled with and roomed with. They made the experience so much more and I look forward to teaming up with them again on other issues. Big sloppy kisses to the Sierra Club and Moms Clean Air Force who made this experience possible.
Another aspect of the rally that really stayed with me is just how diverse the people and interests were at this rally but how united everyone was. They all had different reasons for being there and different “hot” issues that they cared about… Tar sands, Keystone KL, coal, fracking, clean water, clean food, clean air, species protection, toxic environments for children, etc. There were also people there from a variety of states showing how the issues impact them personally. The large Ohio group for instance was very concerned about fracking. It is big issue for us here in the Buckeye state.
The energy was contagious. If we want to impress upon young kids that these are important issues and causes then we have to find a way to reach them. There were people of all ages there and getting to know them and learn about why they care so much ensures that you cannot help but care too. It was a great experience for my son and has spurred many deep questions about issues and politics. It was important for him to hear it from other people instead of just me. Sometimes I believe he thinks I am being overly dramatic. Now he knows just how many other people are concerned and that he should be too.
This year I meant business when I made my New Year’s resolutions for 2013. I have been keeping those goals close in mind and heart and taking action every day to make them happen. I have made headway on all four of my goals and have discussed some of my recent successes in other posts. Goal #2 was to have more fun as a family and it was made after my year long goal in 2012 to have more fun myself.
There was just one hitch. Goal #1 and Goal #2 conflicted with each other slightly. In order to make more money it would make sense to travel and attend a few professional events and conferences. Yet it would not be inclusive of my family and I would have to look at their sad faces as I leave them at the airport to go off and have fun without them. After deciding to attend the NAIAS just this past month it seemed like I should forgo any other events unless I could take my family. Either that or I would have to plan so much fun stuff for us to do together that it would balance out in the end. Well, when you set an intention and then act on it accordingly to demonstrate your commitment, amazing things begin to happen.
I offset my Detroit trip when an opportunity fell in my lap to take my kids to a blogger event that involves a resort and indoor waterpark. We go this weekend. Then I spotted a Facebook post about the Bloggy Conference taking place at Cedar Point this year. After seeing how affordable it would be to go and seeing that you can get up to 5 free passes to the amusement park if you stay at a Cedar Point hotel property, I knew I could have my cake and eat it too. I can attend the conference and my family can come with me. The hotel is right on the beach, which my kids will LOVE and they have long wanted to go to Cedar Point. I often tell them stories of my own trips there as a kid.
I love when everything works out so deliciously.
Let me know if you plan on attending. I look forward to meeting lots of new people!