Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adoption, Summer Vacation, A Hair Product Review, A Birthday, Some Interior Design, EVERYTHING!

"The days are long, but the years are short."

Ah that quote. That quote that resonated with me from the first moment that I heard it. The quote that is oh so personally relatable and explains the experience of my past nine years to a T.  Hard work, constant work, but worth it a million times over. The years are very short, they fly by, and being acutely aware of this especially in the past several, I have been vowing to embrace and appreciate all of the moments that I can. 

One day too soon, Noah will be off at college and they will be no Legos to pick up off the floor, no school to drive to everyday at precisely 3:05,  and I will be cooking for just two. (Or ordering out. I hope!) I wonder how quiet and lonely it will all be? I worry, will I feel my life is without its' regular purpose? Should I re-consider the path that we have considered on and off  for many years - adopting a baby, and thus extend these longs days and short years longer?

I think the answer for now is what I've been doing all along, just enjoying the ride as it goes, and trying not to feel too sadly about how quickly children grow and life moves along.

(And, as a quiet, little side-note:  For a varied mixture of several reasons, Jon and I never decided to have a second child. Noah took a bit of extra attention and care when he was younger and time flew by. Also, I had a difficult labor and a c-section delivery with anasthesia complications. Having another biological child is a scary prospect and just not the best path for me, so we never did. Although I consider myself quite rational and logical, for whatever reason, I've always had faith that we would end up with the right number of children for us. (I THOUGHT that was 2 or 3 kids, but life has had other plans.) Having an only has been nice for all three of us in many ways, but we've casually discussed adoption for a long time. When we finally got to a place where we felt settled and ready for the possibility of starting the process of adoption (Noah's doing great, a new, bigger house, Jon has a happy career), Noah was already quite a bit older, about seven years old, and it was a big decision to start all over again with a baby.

Anyway, I put it out there in a wish and a prayer, that if we were meant to have another child through adoption, we would eventually find ourselves working toward that.  There were two occasions in the past where two acquaintances became unexpectedly  pregnant and discussed the possibility of our family openly adopting with them, but in the end, both decided to raise their children.  The funny thing is, I was ok and at peace. I truly believe that life has a plan. 

I'm so happy to be back and blogging! Noah has just started his little day camp, so that means more time for me to get things done around home, and to hopefully blog a bit more often!

Last week was spent trying to make the beginning of Noah's summer fun, and holding down the fort. Jon was away on business in sunny California for nearly the whole week, so it was all up to me.
Which was fine, we had a nice time together. Here are a few things that we've done since school let out on June 11th! 

One the first day of summer vacation, the phone uncharacteristically rang at 8:25am: "Can I please speak with Noah!?" The little, full of excitement voice said on the other end of the line.  "I have important information about a thickening agent!"

 Just the day before, on the final day of school, I was standing there when a friend ran up and said: "Noah, would you like to collaborate with us this summer on creating an external headache remedy?" (Those were his exact words). That's why this early morning phone call made sense.

After a several minute phone call, I was informed by Noah that he had to get to work experimenting with thickening agents. So I set him up with all of the natural "thickening agents" that I could find in the pantry....honey, corn starch, baking powder and soda and even tapioca pearls! 

I think this was the most fantastic way to start summer. An opportunity to play AND make a mess!

Later that day, we were scheduled to go on a tour of Shinola's watch factory and design studio with my parents and Jon. Have your heard of Shinola? The current owners bought the Shinola name from a very old American shoe polish company. Modern day Shinola produces the only Swiss-movement made watches in the entire country, in over forty years! They're all about American made craftsmanship, fine materials and helping to build up community, and..... Detroit is their home!

The Shinola tour was awesome. It's free, but they're booking nearly six months out now, so call and reserve your spot! They're housed in a big, old building, a former automotive research lab, that is now attached to CCS - the College for Creative Studies. So cool! It was an adventure.

Before we left for the tour, my Mom gave Noah this bolo tie that used to belong to my grandfather. It looked good on him!

These pictures are a little out of order, but after the tour, we went over to the neighborhood where Shinola's retail store is located. I was taken by these gorgeous flowers. Summer is here!

Ok......back to Shinola.... here is view inside the watch factory. This was not quite a 100% dust-free clean room, but almost. The employees who make the watches need to constantly use pressurized air to move away any dust that they might see. Even a tiny spec of dust can interrupt the minute swiss movement parts. I took more photos in the strap making room, and we saw leather design and leather working areas as well. Shinola produces bicycles too and now accessories for your dogs! Such a neat place. Also, on a side note, for more homegrown Detroit love, check out three other stores from the West Canfield shopping area in the Cass Corridor, that the Shinola store is located in. Shinola's sister store Willys Detroit that features a curated selection of fine, American made goods, and two of my favorites...love, love, love the housewares of Nest and the collection of goodies and gifts from City Bird. Swoon!

A big ole' Shinola clock in front of the Alfred A. Taubman building where they are housed.

And what Detroit visit is complete without a visit to Avalon Bakery? Half eaten baguette anyone?

Other things that we've been up to..... vintage car shows..... This is my pick from the Motor Muster show at Greenfield Village.  A 1957-ish Thunderbird in a beautiful mint green. I could totally see myself all glamorously cruising town with with a headscarf on. :)

Oh! Also that weekend, we tried making grill s'mores. It sort of worked. Not as great as s'mores over a campfire, but still the flavor was there!

Something else that I tried recently (gosh, what a smooth transition) was a new shampoo and conditioner! (I know this sounds like another tangent, which it might be, but I've been adding pictures to the draft of this blog post as I've taken them. So, while they might not be grouped by SUBJECT MATTER, they're in chronological order. Which counts for something.......right? Right!?) 

I present to you, the amazing.......RenPure's Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner!
Here's the low-down. AFFORDABLE, NATURAL, ACCESSIBLE, SQUEAKY CLEAN! Basically, I was out running errands and was at Target. I needed some natural shampoo and didn't have the time to go to another store for hair products. Usually, to find paraben-free shampoos I would have to run to Whole Foods or look online. Also, while do often use Target's Shea Moisture line, they're $10+ a bottle and on this day, I was just hoping for something more affordable. 

Enter the big blue bottles of RenPure! I'm not sure how long Target has carried RenPure, but I feel, for a non-gray-specific shampoo, they're wonderful! Each bottle is only $4.99 and contains no parabens, sodium chloride, dyes or sulfates. The RenPure cleans my hair of any styling products and leaves it feeling super super soft and hydrated from the argan oil. A bonus, this formula also helps to protect your hair from heat styling and UV rays, two things that can cause our white hair to yellow.

And here is the crazy thing, so because this product does not contain sulfates, at first, it doesn't lather as much as a more traditional shampoo. But I found the follow..... If you lather once, give your hair a gentle but good scrub, rinse and apply more shampoo one last time., magically, the shampoo foams up into an amazing, moisturizing lather. It's a crazy amount of silky bubbles the second time around. 

I've heard some bloggers talk about finding truly amazing, good-for-you shampoos that do such a good job of cleaning their hair, that they do not have to wash their hair but a couple times a week. Hence, less washes = less stripping of hair's natural oils = healthier hair. I have always washed my hair daily or every other day, but I decided to try something with this shampoo, just on a whim.  I have now not washed my hair in three days. (I take a shower everyday, but haven't washed my hair.) I don't think this is for me, and will wash my hair regardless when I take another shower tonight, but what this has proven to me, is that this shampoo is awesome! It really cleans away any of the styling products that can really build up and cause a yellow cast.  It's soft and shiny and bouncy and smells nicely. I have no idea how this works, but I thought I'd just share with you. I haven't been asked by RenPure to review, nor have I been paid or compensated in any way. I just love the product and wanted to share!

Here is a way-overly-airbrushed photo of me post RenPure wash. I'm sorry, this photo was taken a week ago, and I realized after the fact that the soft "blur" is too much. The photo was taken in low light and came out grainy, so I added a soften filter. Anyway, I just wanted you to know I actually DO have pores and wrinkles and blemishes and sun damage and frizzy hair san filter. Yikes....

Our cats are indoor cats. Part of me feels so incredibly guilty keeping them indoors, but the other half knows that I am keeping them safe and out of harm's way. Did you know that an indoor cats' life expectancy is roughly 12-20 years, while outdoor cats generally live 2-3 years less than this or even some say they live much less than this. Things like cars, other animals, bacteria and diseases can harm outdoor cats. Furthermore, especially for Hector and Willow, who are long-hair breeds, they're just not built for the hot and humid summers in Michigan. So, I try not to feel too guilty, too much of the time.

This said, I do try to take them out in the backyard every once in a while. They sometimes meow at the back screen door to go out and it pulls at my heart-strings. I own a nice, little soft pet harness with a leash, but they get so upset when I put it on them. Eventually, very very slowly, I began to slightly trust them in my fenced in backyard only, when I realized that they wouldn't run away from me. Willow just wants to stay with me and eat grass and Hector just wants to lay on the warm patio bricks. I've never left them alone, even for a second, and I never will, so I think it's ok. This is Willow chewing the grass. (Don't worry, we do not put chemicals or fertilizer on this lawn.)

Some people have grazing sheep or a lawn mower. I have Willow.

Speaking of backyard, the mini-pool is OPEN! Actually, this is not particularly exciting at all, as nobody A.) wants to go in it or B.) knows what to do once in it. Buuut....Noah decided that in order to celebrate, he had to take the inaugural "swim."

He even got to choose a new pool toy for the summer, a neat wind-up torpedo!

I think this was my favorite thing from last week. Noah wanted to go to the beautiful, amazing children's playground and park that is just down the hill and across the ravine from us. So, one afternoon we decided to pack-up and walk over.  It was absolutely ridiculous, we must have had 25lbs. of stuff in our cart. A picnic blanket, two full water bottles (it was 85 degrees out!) extra sun screen, bug spray, books, yarn and other things. All for an hour or so at the park! Luckily, it's down hill at least one way.....

And here is just part of our park and playground. Isn't it neat!? What you can't see here is the tunnel through the hill to the right, and how that hill is covered in artificial grass that all of the kids "sled" down on cardboard boxes. It's so much fun! There's also a water mister for days like this, giant rocks to rock climb, a natural maze and a "tot lot" for the little ones. I was sitting on the grass above the playground, in a little patch of shade. This park has a huge lawn, and they host screenings of family movies throughout the summer at dusk. There's also a beautiful bubbling stream and wooded trails. Perfection! :)

My spot. I could watch Noah from my perch. He kept coming back for water, it was so hot out!

Noah was such a good kid while Jon was traveling. He helped me grocery shop at Trader Joe's and insisted on pushing the cart, now that he can see over the handrail......

This picture is a little silly but.... Jon came back from California in the early hours of Saturday morning. I always wonder about how little sleep he seems to need, at least compared to me. If I don't get my 7 or 8 hours a night in, I'm tired. On this day, Saturday, I made a new hair style using THIS TUTORIAL for making a retro side pony tail. I couldn't get the pictures to come out and we kept laughing, so this is all I have. Anyway, I loved the style. It looked a lot better in person, I promise. It includes some bobby pins at the back and a kind of roll at the bottom, so check out the tutorial! Especially when you're growing out your gray hair, that's the time to have fun and experiment! There's nothing to lose!

The second week of summer vacation was very rainy. It drizzled or rained four out of the five weekdays. Sometimes it's nice just to watch the storm........

One of the evenings though, it was warm and clear. Perfect. I took Noah to run at the park and get his energy out before bedtime.

Hey, you probably didn't know this, but it was my birthday this weekend! I'm not completely enthralled with the thought of becoming another year older, so it was ok that this was a low-key birthday. Noah was actually up north at my parent's lake cottage for the weekend, so it was just Jon and I. A day before my birthday we went to my favorite coffee shop for a coffee and an early salted caramel macaroon birthday celebration. It was delicious!

Here is a snap of birthday cupcakes which we had instead of a cake. Sadly, only a couple ended up being eaten because Noah didn't feel like cupcakes when he got home on Sunday, and we forgot to eat them last night after dinner. They are pretty, aren't they? Salted Caramel, Snow Cap, Bumpy Cake, German Chocolate, Peanut butter and chocolate and chocolate chip cookie dough!

On Sunday we went through the car wash. I took a few pictures and was surprised to see how beautiful and interesting car washes can be! This one reminded me of a photograph of space.

I bought myself a birthday present! This might sound slightly nerdy, but I'm SO excited about my new copy of Country Sampler's Prairie Style Magazine! Don't laugh some of you. It's cooler than it sounds. It's lovely. Basically, the magazine just spoke to me. There were so many pictures of interiors that embodies design elements that I dream of for our home. As editor Fifi O'Neill puts it in the editor's letter: "...These enduring qualities translate into a unique aesthetic in homes with character and grace, refined rusticity, primitive charm......"  Also : "...prairie style embraces humble materials, handcrafted objects and homespun accessories."  
I know that these statements are pretty broad, but basically, when we moved into our house, several of the rooms were just thrown together with the old furniture from our 1950's ranch. Now I'm ready to slowly re-do a couple rooms to better reflect the age and true character of this home, a very simple, 1860's house!

To me this means simple, rustic furniture and a feel that says comfortable and homey. I would also like to incorporate period-appropriate antiques! For example, currently I am shopping for a work surface or desk for my little front room. (See my room HERE!)  This space will stay the same, but I'm ready for a larger table top to work on, and as Noah receives more and more homework, he'll need that too. I've become obsessed with ebay and their antique "rail road", "Postmaster" and "schoolmaster" desks. Tall, old wooden tables, this is what I'd love to use in my room!
Then I would add a stool like this! 

But the living room is what really needs the work-over. I can't wait! Actually, if I'm being totally honest with you, for whatever reason, I am magnetically drawn to historical colonial and "primitive" interiors like these. If I could have the inside of my house look any way, it would be some version of this:

With one of these in the corner:

That's what I really really wanted. The old, original wide-plank floors of our house (which were covered in 150 years of lead paint) and everything and everything olden days rustic. But, my Mom said: "You don't want to live in Greenfield Village." (That's a "living history village"), but I DO want to live in Greenfield Village! My aunt, who was our builder, also mentioned resale, and that "primitive" might not be most desirable. Now though, I really want to follow my heart, we're here to stay. I'll feel more comfortable in rooms, especially in the front, original portion of the house, that are true to the roots of this home! :)

Speaking of home.... a beautiful person mysteriously left a copy of the new Detroit Home Magazine, hanging upon my front fence yesterday! WHO are you!? That was so so kind. Wow! Detroit Home is an interior design magazine featuring homes from around Detroit and I love it! You might remember that Willow and I were in it last year..... *blush*  OMG. 

Anyway, this kind and thoughtful person just made my day. I left a thank-you note tied to my fence for them, I hope they saw it!

Dear cats, I promise to make a new living room as comfortable or more comfortable for you to lounge in. xo

And finally! Speaking of history, today I was cleaning and began to think about the original family who built this house around 1860. Like me, did the mother ever have an almost dry quilt and decided to hang it from the banister because it began to rain so she couldn't hang it outside? And also, how did they clean these steep steep stairs? Broom and mop? It must have been so dusty from all of those dirt roads. So much life and stories around here. I'm sure the people who lived in our house, (I know their names from 1866 onward!) could teach me a thing or two about caring for it.

And that my friends is the scoop! More again soon!

Until next time.....
Lauren :)


Lori said...

I LOVE the rustic primitive look!! I just like everything super simple, even decor :-)
I'm at the point that I'd usually dye my hair and I feel SO BOLD that the gray is coming in and I don't mind too much. LOL! My hairdresser said I'm 75% gray on the top. Woot!
I had two indoor cats, Twister and Mocha. I didn't feel guilty because they were MY BABIES before I had real babies. The cats in my neighborhood are pretty beat up from the fights they get into..that would be worse in my opinion.

Pam said...

Hi Lauren....I have a few comments...first of all, my children are 10 years apart. You know me, so you know that Jim is 10 years older than our daughter (adopted). We never regreted this decision & Jim actually wanted a baby sister. Now Nicole works for...wait for it-Shinola!!!
She loves working there..such an interesting and creative company. I must take the tour! And my last comment is that I love your blogs. We must talk sometime. :)

Lauren said...

Hi Lori!

Thanks for writing! :)
Woo Hoo, go Lori! What a brave first step. You know..... the fact that you're 75% gray is actually a very helpful, great thing. At least in my experience, having quite a bit of gray hair to work with, seemed easier than when I just had several random gray areas. I hope you like your new color, and that your transition is easy and goes great!

I know, isn't rustic primitive great!? I don't know what it is, but it just feels right for me. It feels like home, and like you said, the simplicity is nice.

You are completely right about indoor cats, and I need to stop feeling so guilty. I love your cats' names, so cute! They're my babies too, and as pet owners, we do what we can to keep them safe!

Thank you again for stopping by. If you feel like it, keep me posted on how your grow-out is going! So much luck to you Lori.

Lauren said...

Pam! Pam! HI PAM!!!! :)

It's so nice to hear from you. Thank you Pam!!! <3
I hope you're doing well and that you've had some exciting travels or adventures lately. You always do!

Thank you so much for your supportive comment and for reading. It means a lot to me! I hadn't realized that Jim was a whole ten years older than Nicole. Your comment made me think even more, and I even emailed Jon! I'd love so much to have a daughter (or a son), but that age difference has been worrying me. Your comment helped me to feel a little more confident.

Noah is funny, he is the only, only child that I have ever known to NOT ask for a sibling. He likes being an only, so I never felt pressure to have a brother or sister. I think that is partly why we haven't moved forward on adoption.
Anyway though, it's fun to think about life with a new little one, and all of the things I'd do differently! Ha! Just kidding, but I would love to go back to the days of "Mom and Tot" class and things like that again. It was so much fun.

Pam! Did I know that NIckie works at Shinola!? How could I not have known!? That is SO AMAZINGLY COOL!!!!! WOW!!! Ok, talk abut dream company. Wow. Yes, I'd love to talk and catch up anytime! I'd like to hear more. And yes, I think you and Bob would love the tour! It is all so interesting.

Thank you again Pam. You've helped me and gave me a smile. Miss you. Thank you for reading along!

Unknown said...

I'm in love with your kitties...especially Hector's little lips!!! Also, a belated happy birthday to you, dear Lauren!!!! Glad you and your honey got to spend some quality alone time together. =)

Lauren said...

Thank you sweet Ashlie!!!! <3 <3 <3

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren, just thought I'd say hi as I've been reading your blog for a while and felt like it was about time! Can I just say I LOVE argan oil shampoo, we have a similar one here in Scotland and it's fab, nothing gets it softer. I found your blog when I was thinking of letting my grey out (4 months growth and counting....). I needed inspiration, which you gave, so thank you! I always look forward to seeing your new posts pop up!

Lauren said...

Hi there Amie!!!

I'm so glad that you've stopped by to say "hello!"
A big "hello" to you from me!
Ah, so you love the argan shampoo as well. I wish that I had found it soon, it's so great!

Congrats on your new gray hair journey, although four months in is a big deal. Bravo! That's not easy! I hope that it's going well and that you are linking your new color. I happy that this blog could help a little. You guys help me too! :)

Thanks again for taking the time to write. So nice to meet you Amie!
xoxoxoxoxo, Lauren

Lauren said...

P.S. Amie, you have such a sweet, lovely blog! It sounds like you and your family have been up to lots of fun! <3

Valerie said...

Dear Lauren,
Your summer is off to a wonderful start! The watch factory sounds really cool. =) You are such a fantastic and fun Mom. Sometimes, I secretly wish it was much quieter around here than it is. ;) Your kitties are adorable as always. My last two children are seven years apart. They are fantastic friends. Although, I do think, that when it comes time for child number 4 to leave the nest, that our little Sophie will feel a little like the last man standing. ;) Hopefully she won't be too lonely...only because she is used to such chaos and noise around here. Happy fourth of July! Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

Lauren said...

Thank you so much sweet Valerie!
A very happy 4th to you too! :)
Perhaps when your little one becomes the last child in the house, you will want more pets! I have a feeling that we will at some point adopt a dog. What great company they are and part of the family!


Anonymous said...

Wow, you are so beautiful Lauren! When did you start going grey? I'm in my 20s now and have already started to get grey hair. Do you have any advice? :-)

Lauren said...

Hi there new anonymous friend! :)
Thank you for your comment, and thank you so much for coming by!
Going gray in your 20's can be hard! I'm sorry. It hope it's going ok for you though.
I started going gray in my 20's also! I can't remember when, but it was aound 22, 23 or so.
Hang in there! They make you, you....and unique!

Yes! I have lots of advice actually! At the top of the home page is a gray tab that says: "Going Gray? HOORAY!" Click on that, or http://howbourgeois.blogspot.com/p/its-gray-hair-party.html

This page has most of my gray hair related posts. My story, about growing out your hair and life with gray hair. I hope this can help a bit!

Thank you so much for your nice words and for taking time to leave a comment.

Remember that gray can be awesome! You take care!
Lauren :)