Not a Hippie

I sort of have a reputation for being a tree hugging-fruit leather eating-greeting the sunrise with gratitude hippie.  Now, I am the first to tell you I’m really maybe 60% hippie, because I do like shopping at The Gap, eating cheese fries and spending an inordinate amount of time reading celebrity gossip.  More often than not, friends and acquaintances choose the “hippie” reference when we’re talking about things like politics and social issues.

You should know that we tend to nerd out on politics in our house (but in a cool Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert way).  We never miss a debate.  We watch all news coverage.  Election season is a major sporting event.  Policies, platforms, campaign speeches – it’s exciting.  Unless you’re living off the grid (Hippie Level 100), you’re probably well aware that we are entering another Presidential election season (SUPER EXCITING) which means more than ever, these discussions among social circles are occurring.

Now, I’m not here in an attempt to change any person’s view or beliefs, because we are all entitled to our own (hello, Democracy).  And I’m also not asking for you to attempt to sway mine (hello, R-E-S-P-E-C-T).  I am only here to clarify something…

I am not a hippie.  I am a Christian.

Sometimes I receive comments and criticism from folks with beliefs differing from my own; I am always open to lively discussion and comparison, but I find more and more that my explanation of beliefs is based less on what some interpret as a Liberal POV, and more on me just living my faith.

I believe in equality.  I believe in fairness.  I believe that we are called to help the least and the lost, always.  I believe that we are all deserving of forgiveness and grace, and that regardless of past actions, our lives are valuable, full of wonderful potential, and worth living.  I don’t believe I have the right to make choices for others; they have their own free will, and I know nothing of their own personal situations.  I don’t believe I have the right to judge another person’s morality; that’s the job of my Creator, and I’m fairly certain that He can handle it. (Judging a person’s obeying of the law is not the same as judging or governing their morality).

Most importantly, I believe in LOVE.  Unconditional, unquestionable, unfathomable love.

I serve a God who believes in second chances, clearly evidenced in scripture by those He chose to do the greatest of His work.  I serve a God who loves us  – all of us – equally.  To understand the depth of that incredible, amazing and powerful love, consider this: God loves Charles Manson just as much as he loves YOU.  Does that thought make you uncomfortable?  It shouldn’t; I hope it fills you with hope and peace and awe, because it’s completely true.  This doesn’t make the actions of others acceptable, and it does not mean they are condoned, but it does mean that those people would be welcomed with open and loving arms by my God should they truly desire forgiveness and accept Him as Savior.  Because he wants us – all of us – to come home to Him.

And so, when I’m told that I am a liberal hippie, I’m really forming my belief by considering what Jesus would do.  Would he belittle, condemn, and disown?  Or would he reach out, help, and love unconditionally?  I’m going with Mark 12:30-31 (Rules: Love God, Love Your Neighbor…simple, right?)

Not a hippie.  Just a Christian.


Naming Your Unborn Child: More challenging than naming your cat.

Things that are difficult to do: picking out a name for a girl, sitting through 20 minutes of Around the Horn on ESPN, 8th grade Algebra, birthing a child without drugs.  (Those things are listed in order of difficulty, for those unaware).
People, names are important.  Like really super super important.  The name you give the child is the name they will have to live with for all of their lives, unless they head down to the courthouse when they turn 18 and spend $50 to change their name to something else.  I assume most people are as lazy as I am, so legal name-changing is off the table, which makes the task of choosing the *perfect* name even more daunting.
And because we didn’t find out what gender Kid Two will be, we’re tasked with choosing both a boy name and a girl name.  Some of you are thinking, “Well, that should be super easy, just use the girl name you had picked out for Kid One.”  And to you people I will pose the question: Do you even know me?  The favorite girl name two years ago was for potential Baby Girl 1.  The names for Thing 1 were chosen early, but became the names over the course of that pregnancy, because I could feel the personality radiating from my uterus.  And it seemed a little weird for me to use a “leftover” name for Thing 2.
You should know that when it comes to names, I am picky.  Very, very picky.  Spelling, pronunciation, number of syllables, current popularity, characters with the same name, pets with the same name…those are all things my overly OCD mind considers.  I don’t like common names that are misspelled for creativity.  If you like the name Bob, then spell it BOB.  Don’t spell it BAUHB, because your kid is going to have to explain that for the rest of his/her life.  I should know; my name is definitely not unique or unusual, but there are 487 ways to spell it and its variations, and I rarely have someone get it right the first time. 
Our conversations usually go something like this:
Person: And your first name?
Me: Kristin.
Person: And do you spell that C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N?
Me: Sigh.  No, it’s K-R-I-S-T-I-N.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh big deal, you have to spell your name.”  I have to spell my name a lot.  Because most people don’t just say, “Oh, is it IN or EN?”  They think I actually said Kiersten, Christian, Crystal, Cristina, everything but what my actual name is.  And so, after 31+ years of name spelling, my conversations now go something like this:
Person: And your first name?
Me: Kristin.
Person: And that’s K-R-Y-S-T-I-A-N-N-E?
Me: YES!  Amazing, no one ever gets it right on the first try.
I give up.  Sometimes I’ll tell them my name is something simple, like Jill or Sue.  I don’t dislike my first name; I dislike the frequency with which I am forced to spell it for people.  And no, I won’t go by Kris, because after Rule One of naming (it must be a standard spelling) my Rule Two is this: NO NICKNAMES (other than cute nicknames I give my kids, but that’s not for roll call at Harvard in 2021).
I’m not going to name a child Elizabeth and call her Betty; if I want a Betty, I’ll name her Betty.  Nicknames are confusing to me.  Our children won’t have to worry about their first names every being converted into nicknames because Rule Three on my Crazy Train of Baby Names is this: One syllable first names only.
I know, weird right?  We like one syllable.  We have a one syllable last name, and I think the BOOM BOOM of simple syllables sounds strong.  And if there’s anything my kids will be, it’s strong and independent (and probably smartasses, because that’s an inheritable trait, as I’ve learned with Miles).
Rule Four: The name must have some sentimental appeal.  Our son’s name is Miles Clark.  Miles for Miles Davis, my favorite musician, and Clark for my grandmother. 
Rule Five: Unique.  The name needs to be unique, but not weird.  When Miles first started school, his infant room had 12 babies and five of them had variations of “Aiden.”  The other 7 were usually McSomething.  I went to a teeny tiny school in a teeny tiny town, and I still shared my name with at least one other classmate.  Of course, no matter how unique your name is, you’ll probably run into at least one other person at some point in your life carrying the same name.  When I chose Miles, I had a specific and sentimental reason.  I did not know that Miles was a name shared by 1. A college football player and 2. A character on some semi-popular sci-fi TV show that has since been canceled.  And so, lo and behold, Miles actually has another Miles in his classroom now.  My victory is this: my Miles was born first.  But you know what?  I have seen at least two other Miles in my Facebook newsfeed.  Clearly this is a name that could be popular.  I hope not, but if it blows up in five years, well I guess I can appreciate my own unique coolness for choosing it first, and also in knowing that it was chosen for a special reason.
Rule Six: Not weird.  When we consider names, I always like to put Dr. in front of it, just in case I birth a neurosurgeon.  Then I also consider whether the name is too stuffy, because if my kid wants to be a pineapple farmer in Hawaii, it still needs to be a cool name.  Dr. Miles and Pineapple Farmer Miles both sound pretty awesome, in my opinion.  I couldn’t name my son Blackjack Dangerson because no one would ever take him seriously as a pineapple farmer.
We also avoid names in the Top 100 list in the Social Security database and baby name sites like Nameberry.  So yes, I have a lot of rules, but like I said before, the name is super important.
I have found that boy names are super, super easy.  It took maybe two weeks to narrow down our boy names, and only a few more days to decide on what we liked for sure.  Girl names?  Totally different story.  I feel that with a girl name, I could be a little more unique and different, and she could pull it off, but I still want something that fits our other requirements.
If you give your kid an exceptionally offbeat name, like Apple or Moxie Crimefighter (both actual celeb baby names, FYI) then it works just fine if you happen to be a celebrity.  If you are celebrity, I’m 99% certain that your child’s future will be different; the children of Mick Jagger aren’t exactly donning police uniforms or drawing blood or selling insurance.  Your child could have a relatively normal career, like me, in which case having a super weird name would just mean constant explaining (like having to spell it all the time isn’t bad enough…)
Trust me, if I were a brilliant and well-paid writer/musician (like I am in my dreams) then I would totally name a girl something like Barefoot Stevie Juniper Moonbeam.  But we would probably also be living in a cabin in the mountains, and I’d never wear shoes and do lots of twirl-dancing and singing and tie-dyeing in my spare time. 
Me on the weekends.

Me on the weekends.

The rest of our kids would be named after jazz musicians and Grateful Dead songs and plants that flourish during Summer Solstice, and we’d all shake tambourines and make fruit leather.  Then on Saturdays, we’d go into town for Dairy Queen because I’m only like 60% hippie and I need chocolate sauce – the REAL chocolate sauce, none of that carob-raw honey-seaweed stuff.  I still need sprinkles in my life.  And yes, I am fully aware of how specific my daydreams are.
But I’m not a brilliant and well-paid writer/musician.  I have to wear shoes and normal-ish clothes and I cook things like homemade chicken nuggets for dinner.  So this potential baby girl needs something less Moonbeam-y and more Murphy Brown-y (but not Murphy; too many syllables and I don’t like things that end in “Y”).
So we have names.  Both a boy name, which was super easy and chosen MONTHS ago, and a girl name, which has changed half a dozen times but we sort of think is definite now.  And both are names that we think are cool and unique and strong and pineapple farmer worthy.  And of course I’m not telling you what they are, because only three people know other than Evan and me, and even that is three people too many. 
Let’s be real…I will probably have to give my favorite girl name to our next cat, because after all these months of deciding, I have sealed my fate in birthing yet another boy.  Fo’ sho’.
Moonbeams and fruit leather and Y chromosomes,

Hippie Medicine Cabinet

Some of you think I’m crunchy; some of you know of my love for Chick-Fil-A, which negates some of my crunchy hippie points.  I don’t talk about my holistic-naturopath-weirdo habits very often, but today I’m making an exception.  Let’s talk about the Hippie Medicine Cabinet.

You should know that I am a former hardcore over-the-counter remedy lover.  Papercut?  Advil, please.  Back ache?  More Aleve.  Tummy rumbles?  Tum-ta-tum-tum-TUMS.  Allergies?  Claritin-D, even if it made me hallucinate.  Flu?  Robitussin (which also made me hallucinate).  Then I met my husband, the anti-medicine man (Did you know they have hippie tendencies in Jersey?  Me either; I thought it was all Goodfellas and meatballs up there).  At first I thought his papaya enzyme chewing was totally weird; but, the more I researched and educated myself, the more aware I became of what’s in some of the stuff we frequently take.

Let’s get holistic…

  1. Papaya Enzyme: This is the bees knees for stomach issues.  It helps to break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  It also tastes way better than anything else you can take.  You can get it in chewables, or you can just eat raw papaya.  Fun fact: It can also be used as a meat tenderizer.  Important fact: You shouldn’t take more than a normal “food amount” while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar: Drinking a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water can help with indigestion and relieve a stuffy nose.  Sore throat coming on?  Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar with warm water, and gargle.  Dandruff?  Take that same equal parts vinegar-water mix, and spray it on your scalp.  Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse.  Acne?  Splash some on your face as a toner.  Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties to help fight infection (tummy and throat troubles) and balance the pH of your skin (face and hair).
  3. Raw, Natural Honey: Not the stuff in the squeezy bear bottle, people…you’re going to find this in a glass jar, and more than likely you’ll need to hit up Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Mother Earth to find it.  Raw honey has incredible anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  Colds, sore throats, allergies, indigestion, ulcers…you get the idea.  There are several types of raw honey; most of my crunchy friends look for Manuka honey, but I’m of the mindset that anything is better than nothing.
  4. Aloe Vera: Everyone knows about aloe vera and its ability to soothe and heal burns, right?  I can’t begin to tell you the love I have for this plant.  A few years ago, I used a stainless steel skillet to sear my porkchops, then toss them in the oven to finish baking.  When they were done, I removed them from the oven (still in the skillet) and set them on top of the stove.  Not five minutes later, I grabbed the handle of the skillet to move it, and burned off what I am certain to be 4,573 layers of skin.  We slapped some aloe on that sucker, and the throbbing (which was intense) stopped within the hour.  By the next morning, I had minimal pain, and my hand never blistered or peeled.  That plant is a miracle worker.  I have also given up porkchops.
  5. Yoga: So you can’t store this in your medicine cabinet, but it’s worth adding to the list of remedies.  Aches and pains, headaches, allergies, digestion, energy, focus, there is absolutely nothing this practice can’t help improve.  Seriously.  Just a few stretches a day can work wonders.  Add in a glass of red wine, and you’ll feel like a new person.  Red wine is in hippie medicine cabinets, right?
  6. Water: Okay, another one you can’t exactly store in your medicine cabinet, but getting enough water is crucial to overall health.  And this one isn’t really a hippie thing, it should be an everyone thing.  You need 8-10 glasses of the good stuff daily.  I’ve also heard that you should halve your body weight (your real weight, not the one you lie fudge by five pounds) and drink that number of ounces.  So if you weigh 140 pounds, you should at least drink 70 ounces of water daily.

Finally, coconut oil.  This baby should have its very own special cabinet, with rainbows and sunbeams shooting out of it.  If you don’t have a jar of organic coconut oil, we need to talk.

Have you ever seen the moving “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”?  You know how they use Windex for everything?  Coconut oil is Windex for hippies (not for windows…I’m attempting a metaphor, people).

Let me get that eczema...

Let me get that eczema…

Things we do with coconut oil:

  1. Bake and cook.  I know, this seems obvious, right?  But really, it’s true.  All the things Food Network shows you with olive oil are kinda wrong.  Olive oil has a high smoke point, and can quickly turn rancid when cooked.  For how many years did we use olive oil at high temps to cook things on the stove top?  A million, and I do still use it on occasion.  We just try to sub coconut oil whenever possible.  If you get refined coconut oil, lots of the coconut flavor/smell has been removed, making it perfect to cook or bake most anything.
  2. Dry skin.  Those harsh Florida winters can cause dry skin, especially for our kiddo.  A couple dry patches on his cheeks showed up in January; rub some coconut oil on them a couple times a day, and they disappeared in no time.  Bonus: His cheeks smelled like delicious macaroons, making them even more edible than normal.
  3. Eat it.  No, really…have a shredded carrot salad with equal parts coconut oil and apple cider vinegar as a dressing.  Helps with digestion and keeping your hormones in check (read: no estrogen crazy pants).  It’s also a natural way to get an energy boost, and it helps increase your metabolism.
  4. Give it to the dog.  We have a Collie; they’re prone to dry skin, which equals dandruff.  Maggie gets a teaspoon of coconut oil in her dogfood, along with a massage on her dry spots, to help keep her dandruff at bay.
  5. Oil pulling.  Oh yes, I do oil pulling, and I cannot sing its praises enough.  From what I’ve seen, oil pulling is also becoming a fad, with articles and blogs touting the miraculous things it can do (such as providing the winning Power Ball numbers, picking up your dry cleaning and sorting your recyclables).  It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not everything some folks want you to believe.  The benefits I have personally experienced from oil pulling include healthier gums, clearer sinuses, and fewer sinus headaches.  I used to wake up every morning with a wicked sinus headache, and green snot for days (lovely, right?) After a few days of oil pulling, the headaches disappeared and my sinuses are so much better.  No pressure, no pain, no stuffiness, and minimal green snot rockets.  It’s awesome, and if you think it’s weird, don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, a naturopath, or an super hippie.  I’m just a mom (ha, JUST a mom…we are superheroes, are we not?) sharing her holistic thoughts.  Take it with a grain of sustainably harvested sea salt.  And get the damn coconut oil…you’ll thank me later.  Next week we’ll talk oil of oregano and composting, m’kay?

Coconut oil 4EVA,



Here’s your sporadically produced Round-Up. I know you’ve been waiting eagerly for this one, because who doesn’t want to know what I’m doing when I’m not spending my time here, writing? That’s what I thought. So while you’re enjoying that final sugar rush of the holiday season, tree still twinkling in the window, leftovers still fresh in the fridge, enjoy this belated Christmas gift.

The Heathens
You remember The Heathens, right? The little scoundrels we discussed in this post? Well, they got golf clubs for Christmas. ALL OF THEM. How do I know they got golf clubs? Because they were at the park committing arborcide yet again. I’m surprised they weren’t wearing their karate uniforms and shooting paintball guns at squirrels, too.

How squirrels feel about the Heathens.

How squirrels feel about the Heathens.

We have a “no heathen” rule in our house. Miles – and all future sons – are banned from exhibiting any heathen-like behavior. Guess what Mr. and Mrs. Heathen got for Christmas? Matching Lexuses. Lexi? Lexusi? I’m not sure how you pluralize “obnoxious” but that’s what Santa brought them. Mrs. Heathen even got a pink bedazzled license plate cover. Barf.

The Crunch Off
Let me preface this by saying I’m not that crunchy mama, but on a scale of Fig Newton to Mama Earth Arrowroot Cookies, I’d probably fall somewhere in line with a Pepperidge Farms Sausalito (side note: DROOL). Here’s what I’ve learned: No matter how crunchy you think you are, there’s someone crunchier. And if you boast about your crunchiness (which I would never do because I’m lazy, and my buggy probably has some non-organic produce in it because I’m also thrifty) someone is going to out-crunchy you. Before you know it, you’ve entered The Crunch Off. For every cloth diaper you’ve changed, someone else is teaching her kids “elimination communication” (Google it). And for every mama going with elimination communication, some other mama is taking her kid’s poop and adding it to her compost bin outside (Google that, too). And for every mama with a compost bin, there’s another mama using Family Cloth (GOOGLE IT. I DARE YOU. No, don’t…it’s toilet paper you wash. Feeling crunchy?)

Hate your hubby's lumberjack shirt?  PROBLEM SOLVED.

Hate your hubby’s lumberjack shirt? PROBLEM SOLVED.

So, moms of granola and non-granola alike, can we just stop it already with the one-upmanship? It’s so lame and aggravating. Parenting really comes down to one thing: love. Also, feeding them and keeping them clean, but that should be part of the love. As long as you’re loving your kids, and caring for them in the best way for your family, you’re getting an A+ from me. Also, Doritos moms, stop telling the crunchy moms that they’re weird, because it’s not nice. At least we never have to clean orange cheese dust off our furniture.

I think I’ve mentioned before that we are big fans of The Wonder Weeks. At 36 weeks old, Miles is in his sixth phase of mental development, called the “World of Categories.” The book tells you that he’s starting to group things in categories. For example, a picture of a cow, a stuffed cow and a live cow are all in the category of “cows” (yes, I realize that sounds simple, but remember…Miles still eats his toes). Each leap in development has its own challenges. I will brag and say that for the most part, Miles has had very few fussy moments during these leaps. The app gives you a chart with sunshine and rain clouds so you can track where your baby’s mood might be. Miles currently has a picture of a looming black storm cloud with a huge bolt of lightning. Nice thought, huh? Anyway, one of the new things that can begin during this development: NIGHTMARES. So this is what I get for bragging about what a good sleeper my son is…last night, starting at 1:30a and every 90 minutes until 7a, he woke up. Sometimes he would cry, sometimes he would talk, sometimes he would just crawl around his crib and bang on the rails. But there was crying, and he was asleep. Suffice to say, we’re thinking we’ve had our first nightmare. Of course, when Miles woke up this morning you’d think he had 12 hours of beautiful sleep at a Swedish spa, because he was rip-roarin’ and ready to go. I, on the other hand, needed two cups of coffee. Let’s hope tonight is more…peaceful?

EDITED TO ADD:  The “up every 90 minutes” fiasco from last night?  Mystery solved…WE HAVE A TOOTH! HALLELUJAH! I thought this kid would be toothless until being toothless is okay (i.e. when he could wear dentures).

Cheers to the weekend and GLORIOUS NAPS TO BE HAD,