Category: Everyday (page 1 of 5)

Rhythmic Gymnastics

The girls finished their last class of Rhythmic Gymnastics this week.  It’s the beginning of a series of lasts for this adventure.

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Back in November we decided we should sign them up for something.   An active activity to keep them occupied, out of the house and moving.  They said no to soccer.   I don’t blame them; they haven’t years of experience kicking around a ball and October doesn’t like the whole ball flying at your face part.

There was martial arts; which I though was actually an art class.  Glad I found out before I signed them up.

There was basketball.  They said no.

There was dance.  I said no once I heard the price per month.

There was alternative sports.  I don’t know what this one involved, I just imagined this was the activity that parents of little Spanish boys who didn’t play soccer did.

So, Rhythmic Gymnastics it was.  It was $15 per month per kid and met twice a week for an hour each.

I envisioned graceful turns, hoops and ribbons waving through the air.  I pictured October’s gymnastics class back home; the structure.  I pictures the Olympics (what was I thinking?)  I remembered my own rhythmic gymnastics ribbons as a child that I spent hours working with to make them ripple prettily.

After staying to watch the first few classes, I learned it was better to just go back home and not watch.

The chaos, the yelling (not the children) and goofing off (yes the children).  It was better to just let it be.  Let the kids get in some exercise, some extra Spanish language time and have fun.

Months went by and when I learned there would be a gymnastics exhibition, I wondered how in the world would they have a routine together for it?  I mostly remember the chaos of the earlier months and the after-class reporting by the girls on who misbehaved this class.

A routine was going to be performed?  I assumed only for the parents of our village.

NO, it was a big exhibition in another town with the rhythmic gymnasts from 8 other villages and lasted for 3 hours.

And you know what?  They did have a routine they could perform.  Without the instructor leading them what to do in the peripherals.  Which when you consider the age range was 4 years to 8 years old.  It was a good accomplishment.

The day of the exhibition the girls were nervous and excited to be wearing their new costumes.

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I had strict instructions that their hair should be in a bun.  With no FLY AWAYS.  You can see by the picture, this was not the case.  I just didn’t see the big deal and I haven’t used hair spray in years so it never occurred to me to slick their hair down.

They got to ride a “team” bus to the exhibition.

They got their hair glittered and sparkled and plastered to their head when they arrived.

They got to wear eye shadow and lipstick.

They were excited!

Lavender and I sat drove down to the exhibition in a rental car.  Luckily, I decided to follow one of the team buses otherwise I may not have made it to the exhibition hall.  I was given the wrong address and I made the decision on a whim to follow the bus rather than listen to the GPS.

October & Scarlett did a great job with the rest of their team.  It was fun to see it be an organized, big deal after I had been anticipating a hot, tiny gym with kids, parents and gymnasts running amok.

Nice job ladies!

(As a side note, I have spell checked the word rhythmic every single time I have used it in this blog post.  I didn’t spell it write once.  Grammar pun intended)

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Mud pies and hoping my kids stay young awhile longer

I will be sad when my kids no longer play for hours in the mud, trees and rocks.  I so enjoy sitting near as the use their imaginations to create out of nature.

Today, they worked to weave mats while we sat in the shadow of ruins and watched by cows.

The forest around where we live here in Spain may be the best part of living here.  Now, I know I there are lots of parks and green spaces in Washington.  And we take advantage of those as well.  But, here there’s not also the YMCA or the pool or the beach or the playgrounds or play dates to also occupy our time.

Over the last few weekends we have gone exploring, settled in and had a picnic in the woods.  And almost always, we see very few other people.

We visited a National Park one weekend for an amazing hike.  Sierra de Guadarrama Parque Nacional.  We went 5 miles round trip at an elevation of 6,600 ft.

We’ve been to forest on both sides of the river – although we’re always sharing the space with a cow or two.

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Active! Involved! Connected!

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Since writing one of my favorite blog posts, Five Months and New Year back in January, I have spent a lot of time trying to work toward making being active, being involved and being connected my focus.

So how I am I doing?

1. Be Active

It took me until April to really get active.  The winter was cold, we were under prepared and we lived in cold stone house.  But when I finally did get active in an intentional way, I made it the number 1 priority for the month.

I exercised a total of 21 hours for the month of April.  I ran, I resumed tennis lessons and I started Jillian Michaels 30 day shred program.  I am not a fan of working out at home or even to a video but I was determined.

I decided I would work out twice a day.  And I succeeded many days of the week!

I complete one 20 minute video of the 30 day shred program then go running or wait until later in the day and do a different workout video.

For the month of May, I am continuing to workout with twice a day workouts but I am also going to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut out alcohol while I’m at home.  No more wine with lunch….and dinner…and before bed.

Since I have no full-length mirror or even a mirror that I can see below my shoulders.  AND no scale, I am relying on photo’s.  I’ll post before and after photo’s in the future.

2. Be Involved

I have not been involved in my community here or even the kid’s school community here.  I’m more of a Spanish hermit than a social butterfly.

What I have been working on is completing various Girl Scout training’s so that when I return I can be more involved with the Girl Scouts.  I’ve taken the base classes to become a troop leader and am continuing to take online training’s to be able to take a more active role.

I would like all of my  girls and myself to have a richer experience with the Girl Scouts.   I would like to find a community of people to be involved with.

I will be volunteering for the week-long Girl Scout day camp this summer.  Which will be an entirely new experience for me.  It will also jump start me connecting to a new community and being involved.

3. Be Connected

Since I first made this a priority it never occurred to me that this could be construed as being electronically connected.  While it certainly doesn’t exclude using electronic means to be connected, I had more personal connections in mind.

I have tried to reach out over the Atlantic by sending postcards and personal emails.  I need to get a few more postcards out in the coming weeks.

I sent several dozen “Thinking of You” cards and was overjoyed when responses came back to me.

I want to reconnect with friends that I’ve fallen out of contact with since motherhood took center stage then homeschooling and working an opposite schedule to what it felt like nearly every other person.

I want to strengthen connections with some friends that have only been acquaintances or coworkers for much too long.

I want to create new connections through volunteering.  (See above)

I want to create new connections for both myself and my husband through a mutually fun family activity, preferably an active pursuit.  I’ve seen the connections built by my good friend through roller derby and I want those types of connections.  Connections not based solely on our children being the same age.  I’m not going to be joining roller derby anytime soon though!  Actually, never.  Softball? Running? Amateur Adventure races?  Kickball?

Be Active. Be Involved. Be Connected.

It is my hope that by focusing on these three priorities I will have a happier and more fulfilled year.  It is my hope that by having a focus, upcoming decisions will be less complicated and more satisfying.

It’s been a long time since I’ve verbalized a focus for the year.  Do you create a word or a focus for your year?

 

 

On Appreciating what we have

I understand the desire to WANT things.  I “window shop” online for clothes and bathing suits when I’m bored or when I’m longing for something new.

I rarely make a purchase.

And I am excited to get back and buy everyone (including myself) new socks and underwear.  I picture myself sitting poolside in a new bathing suit.  I have several on my “wish list.”

I am looking forward to thrift shopping for new clothes for myself.  For everyone, really.  We are stepping back and moving away from new; second-hand is better in so many ways.

I don’t feel like my anticipation or my “window shopping” has or is consuming me.  And I recognize the folly in wanting versus needing.  This past year has been about fulfilling needs each person has in regards to clothes or shoes.  Not wants.

The kids clothes have holes I have attempted to sew.  Shoes have holes in them (a few new ones have been purchased).   I can’t tell you about the state of our “unmentionables”.

I basically packed each person to have two weeks worth of clothes.  Plus, some warm weather and cool weather clothes.  Wearing the same two weeks worth of clothes for the entire school year has taken its toll on the clothes we brought with us.

Few items will make the return trip.

We brought Lego’s for the kids and they each brought one quart-sized ziplock bag of miscellaneous toys. This has been a stark contrast to the overwhelming number of toys they had in Washington.

And I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

They’ve made a doll house from a cardboard box.  Spent days playing with window clings.  Created with recycling materials.  Drawn magical landscapes on paper for their trading-card magnets.

It’s has been wonderful.

Holidays have also been sparse in terms of gifts and in fulfilling wants.  The Easter Bunny and Santa brought the few toys they have gotten while here in Spain.  We have fulfilled the needs and provided experiences.  Santa brought the playdough.

But as we near the end of living abroad experience, we each are suffering from homesickness.  I have great empathy for the kids.  I understand.  I’m homesick as well.  I would love to go to Costco or Target and get everything I need (want??) in one place.

Last week, the kids were feeling down.  They were tired of the toys they had.  And I empathized.

I suggested “window shopping” at toysrus.es for Lego’s.  I suggested them making a wish list.  I thought it would fill the homesickness/longing void as it had for me.

Except they are children.  Everything to them is a need, not a want.  They weren’t able to be satisfied with “window shopping” as I had been.

Needless to say one thing led to another and pennies were being counted and new Lego’s were on their way.  I had hoped a few new sets of Lego’s would fill the gap between now and when we leave in less than 60 days.

It hasn’t.  It’s been the exact opposite.

Fulfilling a few wants has fueled more wants.

And while I so enjoy watching their happy faces at getting a new package and how I love watching them spend hours focused at putting Lego’s together (which I firmly believe is a life skill for when they have to put together their IKEA furniture), I am sorry I ever let them “window shop.”

Everyday now is counting money, asking which stores in town are open and sell toys (few) and negotiating with me on purchasing more Lego’s online.

We’ve worked so hard to emphasize living with what we have.  Living with what we need.  Living to have experiences.

And we’ve lived with holes in our underwear, holes in our shoes and holes in our pants.  I’ve lived with 5 plates, 5 bowls, 3 pans and no microwave.  I’ve lived with no phoning it in to “Papa Johns” when I couldn’t think or contemplate yet another meal to make.

We’ve survived the winter, wearing nearly every piece of clothing each of us owned.  We survived (and thrived) cuddling together watching Netflix and learning to crochet over cold winter months.

Yet, in those few minutes of weakness (and empathy) that I suggested my children “window shop” I seem to have unraveled the entire fabric we’ve created over this last year.

The two hours of window shopping, countless hours anticipating their package and the four hours of assembling their new Lego’s wasn’t worth the erosion of the experience/needs based values we had worked so hard to build upon this last year.

Somehow, I thought there would be a happier ending.  Appreciating new toys.  Appreciating the anticipation and savoring the new toys.

After so many months with living with what we had, I expected less want and more appreciation on receiving new toys.

Lesson learned.

These shoes are made for walking…

And that’s, just what we’ll do.  But instead of walking all over you, we are walking on rough roads.  And walking a lot.  Since we’ve been here the kids have worn out or grown out of several pair of shoes that were new in September.

And I have to admit, I’m pretty excited myself to have a new pair shoes on the way.

The back-to-school budget for shoes will be larger than normal this year!

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Living Abroad – My Review

The experience of living abroad has been a positive experience.  One that I would and hopefully will seek out again.

One that I believe has been great for my children.

When I speak with people here I am often asked if we had been placed in a big city like Madrid rather than a small, rural community if I thought my exchange program experience would have been better.

Some facets of daily life certainly would have been an improvement for me but those same facets would have been a detriment to my kids Spanish experience.

October Fresh Baked Bread

It was a big change for all us coming here.  For me, I went from homeschooling three kids all day and then leaving for work in the evenings.  I had play dates, field trips, Girl Scouts, school classes, exercise classes and a community of friends that filled my day.

I also had tasty take-out, a fully stocked big chain store, and a car we had fondly named “Sally”.  I do miss Sally.

Being here in a small town without a job or homeschooling, field trips, classes and kids to fill my day was a BIG transition.

A very lonely experience.  An experience that would have most likely been vastly different if I was in a big city.

Sshhh……I think maybe I like being in a small community!!

I’ve experienced life here.  And I can imagine life here….with a car and language acquisition.

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Last summer when we could only imagine our life abroad, I looked forward to walking more and eating more fresh foods.  And these two experiences alone have been so positive it will influence where I will choose to live in the future.

I have never eaten as healthy as I have here.  There are lots of fresh food options that are inexpensive in comparison to the U.S.  Fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, seafood and bread are all readily available.

There is also not food coloring additives nor nearly the number of junk food items in the store.

When I want a chocolate fix; a GOOD chocolate fix; I am forced to make my own chocolate chip cookies.

The inexpensive wine and booze are another story!

Back home the girls couldn’t go into a store on their own; let alone walk there on their own.  Here the girls have had the opportunity to go into stores on their own to make purchases.  We have sent them to get cilantro, bread, orange juice, etc.

They absolutely LOVE the opportunity and freedom to go to the store themselves.  (I remember going around the block to buy cigarette’s for my Grandma when I was a kid!  She’s send me with a note and cash and back I’d come with her goods!)

This would NEVER happen if we were in a big city.

I feel safe letting them go on their own.  Plus, from our apartment I can spy on them most of the time they are gone and I know that the store owners know who they are.

Ali's Fruit market

Scarlett's Cilantro

Another freedom that will be revoked when we return to the states is their ability to stay home alone.  Yes, I said it.  Sometimes we leave the kids at home watching a movie or playing Lego’s while we go grocery shopping or **GASP** out for a drink!

Grocery shopping, having a drink with friends or by ourselves while our kids are at home is a very new experience for us.  It’s a little bit of wonderful!

I will disclose that when we do have a drink out, the kids know where we are and even will run between our home and the bar to come check in with us.  There are two bars very close.  Neither require a street crossing.

You, yes you, in the states….CAN YOU IMAGINE!!??!!??

Jeff Jo at bar

In the states, the girls attended a homeschool program that was outside of our local district.  Still close, but not so much that we would often run into families we knew while walking around town, at the library or out on a hike.

We had begun to build a community with the Coal Creek YMCA.  We would run into other families from the Y in all sorts of places while we were out and about.  But, we also had begun to recognize those from my work or the Issaquah library or Parks & Rec classes.

But because the girls did not attend their neighborhood school we weren’t recognized as we walked around the neighborhood.  And to be honest, we lived in a large area.  There are 3 “neighborhood” schools within two miles of our house.

Here, we are well known in town.  The girls often have friends run over to them to say “hi” while we are walking to the grocery store or out for a stroll.  I think the sense of community they are experiencing here is a welcome change for them.

Admittedly, it can be odd as well.

Participating in celebrations on a smaller scale has been nice as well.  The girls Carnival celebration went through the streets and the Three Kings Festival was a manageable crowd.

The outdoors is the piece I appreciate the most being here in a small, rural town.  When the weather has been nice, I often go for a run after dropping the kids off at school.  There is beautiful scenery and a seemingly unending forest.

It feels so relaxing.

For the kids, the forest has been a great place to play and explore.  We have carved our own little spot in the forest and call it the fort.  The girls have tried to make a fort here and I’ve gathered rocks to weight lift with.

It’s really a nice quiet place in the forest.  The walk there is 20 minutes and we rarely see other people out there either.

Natural Area Buitrago Collage

 

Outside of our town, I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel.  To see new places and historic places.  We have all learned and appreciated our travels.  I hope our kids forever remember these experiences.

Through living abroad together we have learned to:

  • Explore together as a family.
  • Have more patience.
  • Have more flexibility.
  • Try new foods.
  • Be more independent.
  • Live with what we have.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Be courageous and brave.
  • Be more understanding.
  • Communicate despite language barriers.
  • Speak some Spanish (some of us more so than others).
  • Cuddle more.
  • Live together as a family better.

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Four(ish) Months – Reflections and Updates

Since writing my reflections and thoughts on the upcoming year in my blog post Five Months and New Year, I have tried everyday to work on some piece of those goals.  I’ve written more postcards and emails to connect with people, I’m started my volunteer modules for Girl Scouts to be more involved and this month I have been able to get out and get active!

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We’ve created a space for ourselves in the forest. The girls have a partial fort built and are pounding rocks into powder. I got creative and am using the rocks as weights/kettle balls to exercise with, a tree for kickboxing and an unstable rock for balance exercises.

 

We have our plane tickets home; we’ll arrive in Seattle on June 30th.  We don’t have a trip to Ireland planned but we are spending 2.5 days on a layover in Iceland.  In searching for the cheapest flights I ran across this option and jumped on it (hopefully, I won’t regret our hasty decision).  At the end of June, Iceland will have 20 hours of daylight.  It’s been on my “list” to experience this so I am beyond excited about it.

While we don’t yet have housing worked out we have decided that we will rent short-term, return to our condo in December when the tenants lease is up and prepare to sell it in the Spring 2016.  We’ll find out next week if Lavender made it into the Spanish-Immersion school kindergarten.  Although, even if she gets in it won’t be until the end of summer that the other two can try to test-in into the school.  So schooling is still up in the air – I am not having them in different public schools.  As always, I would like to keep homeschooling – as would the girls.  I have my eye on some rental apartments in the different school boundaries so we can keep the most possibilities open and I have my eye on new homeschooling opportunities.

We’re going to apply for summer jobs.  Jeff will apply to teach summer school.  I will apply to some different places for a summer job, including working in the office at summer school.  I am also going to try my hand at shopping thrift stores and garage sales for books to sell on Amazon.  It’s likely I’ll reach out to my previous employer(s) to check for any part-time work for the summer as well.  I would also like to volunteer for the Girl Scout day camp in our area.  Not only will it be getting me more involved, it will allow me to have a reduced rate for the girls.

Last month, I started feeling more upbeat and motivated and found myself with lots of ideas and projects (Onto Something to Do) to keep my busy.  Outside my June Cleaver duties that is!   I had wanted to come up with a new name and layout for my blog but in doing so I came up with an entire new blog (business??) venture that I am pursuing.  I feel really motivated and I have pages and pages of ideas handwritten in a notebook.  Everyday, I have worked on learning more about blogging including cross-marking, branding, affiliates, disclosure policies, copyrights, and best practices.  This is the reason you have not heard from me in a week.  My idea, it’s potential and the hopes I have, have been consuming me.

The potential of volunteering at Jeff’s school has fallen through but our neighbors want to meet with us regularly now to speak English and Spanish.  I was concerned that without a job here, I would have nothing to put on paper (i.e. Resume) for my time here.  But the experience itself is resume worthy and I’ve been working to put into bullet points what exactly that experience includes.  I haven’t made it far.  What I have decided is that in addition to creating a new blogging venture (and selling used books online and a seasonal job), I am going to pursue being a High School Student Exchange coordinator.  I’ve spent hours and hours researching different groups that bring students from around the world to the U.S. trying to determine which would be a good fit.   At the beginning of this exchange, I thought the language acquisition would provide the greatest employment opportunities when I returned but it would take more than a year exchange to be able to claim I am fluent in Spanish.   What I’ve realized is the experience of my exchange, in particular my day-to-day needs that I struggled through and the inherent ups-and-downs are my most valuable asset that I will be able to transfer to a workplace.  Becoming a student exchange coordinator seems like a good fit and use of my new found empathy and knowledge from this past year.  It will also tie into my new blogging venture; unlike selling used books.

So tell me….what’s new with you?

 

 

 

Learning!

For years I watched my Grandma crochet.  She would sit for hours with yarn and projects on her lap while we played around her or watched tv together.  Several times over the years she had tried to teach me how to crochet and thinking back it wasn’t hard.  I think I just had other things to do.  I didn’t have the patience or stamina to complete a project or to even practice so I could feel proud of what I did accomplish.  She was, in fact, a very crafty person and I have many fond memories of working on new crafts with her.  My dining room table still has the stains from some of her last projects.  It’s the reason I put up with the uneven table legs, mismatched leaf and the need to replace the random screw that falls out periodically.

I completed hook and loop rug projects.  Ok, I think I completed at least one but now that I really think about it I can’t actually picture a finished project.  We painted ceramics together.  I tried cross-stitch.  I made a pink, punch & loop pig craft that I was proud of.  I excitedly wore it to school, sewn on a pink sweatshirt with matching pink pants and was devastated when black ink was spilled on it in art class.  We made pine cone crafts, clothes pin crafts, baby bottle crafts, good-luck bingo crafts (you know, so that one has an advantage at bingo).  She would visit craft shows and would buy an item so that she would have the pattern to make it herself. I fondly remembering going to one craft show with her and getting Cabbage Patch Kid stickers to stick on my pencil box.  Her basement rivaled the likes of Michael’s craft stores.

Over the last month, I have been learning how to crochet.  And in fact I have not only been learning but completing projects.  It’s relaxing.  It’s a great activity while sitting with the kids as they do their homework.  It’s a nice activity when I’m feeling restless with nothing much else to do.  It’s been a great winter activity. October and Scarlett learned right along with me.  I was really quite impressed with their ability to handle the crocheting needle and follow along with their pattern.   The entire family would gather in bed under blankets, away from the cold, watching Netflix and myself, October & Scarlett crocheting together.  It may be my fondest memory of this winter yet.  Yet, the speed at which their projects were coming along discouraged them and their projects slowed to a crawl and then a stand-still.  I offered to help pick up the pace for them while they were at school.  They of course agreed and they also maintained their ownership of the completion of their project when sharing with others.  And that’s just a-o.k.

I smile to myself every time I see the girls wearing their scarfs.  I did something I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time.  And not only did I try it, I succeeded in making what I set out to make – Infinity scarfs.  I love feeling cozily wrapped in the afghan blankets my grandma crocheted and I picture my children wrapped in the same love and coziness as they wear the scarfs we created together.

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Poo Free

Since I’ve heard about the shampoo-free hair method more than a year ago, I’ve thought about trying it.   But I never wanted to go through the “icky” period of greasy hair.  It occurred to me last month that since I was wearing a hat nearly 24/7 and already not showering regularly due to the cold, NOW would be the perfect time to give it a try.

What is the shampoo-free hair method?  It’s based on the idea that when you use traditional shampoos and conditioners, your scalp is stripped of its naturally occurring oils and to compensate for this even more oil is produced resulting in oilier hair that needs to be washed frequently to keep it looking good.  In my reading, people had many different reasons for going “poo-free” including the desire to use less chemicals on their bodies, be more frugal by buying fewer hair care products, it’s better for the environment, and have generally healthier looking hair with less maintenance.  I fall in the last category.  I wanted healthier looking hair that didn’t need to be washed every or every-other day to look good.  The shampoo-free method involves using baking soda to “wash” your scalp and apple-cider vinegar to “condition” your hair.  It’s not, not washing your hair.  My husband was more than a little concerned he was going to have a wife with dreadlocks when I told him of my experiment.

I started my experiment by not washing my hair for 9 days.  It was cold, I wore a hat 24/7.  Actually, I had two hats.  One for the day and one for sleeping.  I had planned to go for 2 weeks without washing it.  My thoughts were that I’d let my scalp go crazy producing oil that hopefully, I’d get the “icky” stage of going poo-free over with more quickly.  At 9 days though, I couldn’t take it any longer and decided day 9 was going to be the day I tried the poo-free method.  I wet my hair, shook some baking soda into my hand and scrubbed my scalp.  Focusing on the crown and near the part of my bangs.  The baking soda exfoliates, lifts dirt and eliminate odor from my scalp. I didn’t wash or scrub the rest of my hair.  I didn’t try to finger comb the baking soda through my hair or try to detangle my hair as I showered. Only the scalp.  I rinsed the baking soda out with water and then used apple cider vinegar to condition my hair.  I dribbled a little vinegar on my head and let it absorb for a minute before rinsing well.  A salad was not the scent I was going for.  I didn’t try to finger comb while in the shower and I was dreading the knots that I believed I would inevitably be combing out for the next hour.  How could I possibly not have a tangled mess?  I was quite surprised. It was amazing!  No tangles.  My hair combed out as easily as if I had used a traditional conditioner.

I need to have a better system for distributing the baking soda and vinegar rinse; such as a premixed water bottle for the baking soda and a spray bottle for the rinse.  My current method doesn’t really allow for any fine tuning as the amount I use varies greatly from one shower to another.  I am certainly using more than I’ve read others recommend.  Overall though, I am pleased with how my poo-free experiment is going.  I’ve washed my hair 4 times using this method and between each shower my hair is looking less and less greasy.  The sudsy lather of the traditional shampoo I do miss.  It seems so luxurious to have those suds!  But for now, I am going to keep up the poo-free method in the hopes of even shiner, healthier hair without the extra grease!

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Prior to poo-free. 9 days without washing.

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Prior to poo free – 9 days without washing.

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After first poo-free wash and air dry.

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After first poo-free wash and air dry.

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Washed poo-free 5 days ago.

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Washed poo-free 5 days ago.

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After second poo-free wash.

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After second poo-free wash. Air dried and brushed. No products.

 

 

 

Onto Something to do…

While I still have plenty of domestic chores to do, I am finding for myself more projects that I am excited about.  I’ve finished my first ever crocheting project.  An infinity scarf.  It’s better than I pictured my first project coming out but not as good as I would like it to look.  I’ve moved on to helping Scarlett finish her scarf.  I’ve started reading aloud our history book to the kids during lunch break.  They’ve been getting into it and so have I.  We’ve read about the Spanish kings and Queen Elizabeth beheading her cousin and we’re now stuck on Jamestown.  It’s actually really interesting so we have stopped to learn more before we move on.  I am really quite ignorant about history and I have loved reading and homeschooling on history over the last two years as I have learned so much.  Last night during dinner we watched a Youtube video on the Jamestown colony.  (It’s not completely accurate as it’s presented from the English point of view)  I have plans for today to watch more.  I’d also like to get to more documentaries on Spanish history, Queen Isabel and Ferdinand.  I am also trying to make my website better.  I’d like a new name, one that doesn’t include our last name in it.  I have hopes for a greater reach for my blog and writing.  I’m working on an interactive map of where we’ve been together as a family – both here in Spain and in the U.S.  I’m trying to research possible work from home opportunities/businesses.  I’d like to get some Girl Scout training done so I can be more involved when I get back.  I have lots of ideas for more blog posts.  I’m working with the girls on making Valentines Day cards to share with their classmates.  I’m making hearty meals from scratch.  Really, yummy hearty meals without a recipe.  Last night was potato soup.  I’ve never eaten it or made it before and it was yummy!  I need to send more postcards.  I need to plan our spring break trip.  I am supposedly going to start volunteering at Jeff’s school but as with everything here the process here is slow.  Plus, there is always learning more Spanish and I’ve started Parenthood from Season 1 as well.  Whew!

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