LASTING VACATION MEMORIES

MAKING VACATION MEMORIES LAST                by Barbi Walker~Walsh

Summer is coming to a close and as school ramps up those sweet, fun memories of your hard earned family vacation start to fade. They get lost in the shuffle of Meet the Teacher nights, buying books and new clothes for those always growing kids and just all around RL.

Trying to juggle the real world becomes paramount and your kids are on to the next new thing and you start to wonder if they even remember all the fun times or appreciate every sacrifice you made to make their summer vacation rock!!

Hell, you wonder if you can recall those great memories yourself.

But, preserving those memories and reliving them aren’t as difficult as you think.

Studies show that visual, verbal, smell and taste help recall memories. Ever hear a song, or have the smell of honeysuckle that transports you back to a magical moment in your childhood? You can use these same cues to create everlasting, great memories of your family vacations for your kids (and yourself, bonus!!) for years to come. 

PHOTOS

Sure, photos, we all know that photos are memory builders. But with smart phones and social media we have thousands of images socked away on our phones and Facebook, Instagram etc., but are we using these pictures to the best of their use?

Seriously?

Who really looks at them again? And no, very few of us are going to print them out and put them in photo albums circa 1980? Not me, and I was a verified photo album geek!! However, what you can do is load up some of your faves as screen savers for your wide screen TV, laptops, tablets and smart phones. 

I suggest the TV because then everyone gets to see the revolving photo album which can spark conversation, thus leading to solidifying the memories even more. 

Story is a powerful component of making memories stick, says Carol Peterson, Ph.D, in her article for NPR on kids and memory. When a child creates a good chronological story, these memories will last, she said in the article. Seeing your vacation photos help create the story. 

So when we return from a vacation (okay, when I say we, I mean my techie husband), loads up some of the best shots from the trip to our screen saver for the TV. Now when we turn off our TV, photos scroll through and even on busy days we can see our happy vacationing faces in high-def. 

Of course, I also recommend printing out just a few pics and putting into frames, or blowing up into a canvas for your kids’ room. Maybe even buy a souvenir picture frame to create a more tactile memory. It’s a twofer!!

MUSIC

Make a vacation playlist! We are a very music friendly family. My husband codes to music, I write to music, our son plays his from his iPhone in his cruiser cupholder like a mod version of the 80s ghetto blaster.  Spotify is on much of the day in our house. Plus, I like to make playlists (a throw back to my mixtape days of yore), so this last vacation I got the idea of making one for our trip to Italy. It’s been on loop for both me and my son since we got home. While we were out I used Shazam to capture songs in restaurants, gelato shops, cafes and even some museums, then created a playlist on Spotify from there. You can link Shazam and Spotify making it easy to create a playlist from the songs you hear. Watching my son’s face with his lips curled in a little smile, bobbing his head to the beat of his Italy playlist, I can only hope that when he hears these songs years later they will transport him back in time.

Extra points for making a slideshow of pictures to the playlist or better yet a mini movie with the soundtrack. If you make it a family project, even better!

Plus, scientists have found that the brain “…links music, memories, and emotions” through a “hub” known as the medial prefrontal cortex, according to Dr. Petr Janata and his team. In fact, a multitude of research shows the positive effects of music on the brain, from helping with everything from ADD to Alzheimer’s patients, so let it play I say, get connected and dance around the living room or cruise the neighborhood blasting your iPhone. 🙂

TASTE AND SMELL

Basil, honeysuckle, lavender, dried up pine needles, were on our trip. Tastes and connect with the brain too and maybe recreating these aren’t as easy as the two above, but if you like to cook or garden then add these elements to your repertoire. Try making a dish or dessert you had on vacation together and see what conversations these stir up.

I’ll try something simple like this gem my good friend and photographer, Emily Carroll, taught me; basil leaves wrapped around mozzarella balls, drizzled with olive oil and stabbed with a toothpick, à la Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I’ll buy the live basil plant and until I kill it with my brown thumb, its fragrant leaves will permeate our kitchen, creating one more link to our vacation in Italy.

ENJOY

These tips aren’t just for exotic vacations, they are for all vacations! From summer fun with the family at the lake, to camping trips or road trips to Disneyland, okay, I’m dating myself here, but you get the idea. 

You took the time, energy and money to plan a summer vacation, now it’s time to get your ROI. So take just a little more time when you get home to put together a little family vacation montage for lasting memories and some family bonding.

I’d love to hear and see what you come up with, so share the love!

Love the life you live,

BjW

NON~REV TRAVEL BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

Leg one of Phoenix to Rome (PHX-DFW).

Let’s see, seltzer water, for hydration; orange juice, vitamin C for my immune system; vodka for, you know, “yoga” in a bottle; and a biscoff cookie, just because it’s freakin yummy!
;)~

Non~Rev travel is always an adventure, its like a crap shoot. You go to bed late (after ninety repacks and two last minute runs to Target and a packed mall), and the flights look good. But the next morning, the one rainstorm of the season has wrecked havoc on your yard, your trees AND your flights. 

Canceled flights from the night before and cautious, savvy travelers have decided to get out of Dodge earlier, just in case shit hits the fan again. 
Okay, we’re airline people, we get it, we start researching other options, maybe take the 8:30 to Dallas, maybe divide and conquer ~ two of us on one flight, me riding the jumpseat, Chris taking the less full flight with Henry… options, options, options. Quick thinking and even faster decision making. 

No worries, (after a Zanax full of worries!) there enough seats, well all get on, then WHOA!!! Her comes two more people also traveling on our, limited but awesome, Vacation Passes, which include an automatic upgrade. We’re traveling on same said passes, but, crap where’d the come from and how’d they get ahead of us?

Ooooh… they’re day is harder than ours. They’re going to Narita, Japan by way of Dallas. UGHH!!! Their LAX flight was full because of said canceled flights due to the one rainstorm of the year. One more adventurous, wanderlust airline peep’s gotta think fast and move faster. 
After some swearing, blood, sweat and tears (okay can’t back that all up!) plus a little praying to the NonRevenue gods, things smooth over and our Rock Star gate agents all get us all on without any drama (other than our own internal drama!). We’re separated from our traveling companions, but we’re on!!! Woo hoo!!
So, yeah, this is the breakfast of fly-by-the-seat of your pants, champions travelers. The people who can run the gauntlet of world travel on a “maybe” seat. 

I admire my colleagues like no others!! The tenacity, the bravery, the determination to “Go. See. & Do.” as Gwyneth Paltrow’s moniker goes on her fabulous goop website, is pure inspiration!!

Dale Churchill, my longtime college and AWA pilot, has been saying for as long as I can remember,”Sleep when you’re dead.” I’ve been following this sage advice since my early 20s snd it’s paid off. I’ve seen and done more than most people my age. It’s been worth every exhausted day. Thank you Dale! 
So, yeah, I’ll sleep when I’m dead so I can Go. See. & Do. 😀 but for now, I’ll sleep cause this a.m. was freakin’ exhausting and we’ve got a long day ahead of us, and for now, there’s nothing else to do. 

Ciao ~ 

BjW

The Flawed Writer

Nearly a year ago, with fresh and renewed enthusiasm I started back into the world as a journalist, as a blogger as a writer, the deepest of my passions. I had an entirely new life. From my job, to my partner, my zip code, my life, everything was new, different, exciting and scary all at once and I was feeling fierce. Feeling alive and ready to get back into the most challenging part of my life: writing.

When my life turned completely around (by my own doing) I took a sabbatical from my freelance journalism career. But in the end of summer of ’14 I was ready to dive in again. My new job posting with its four hour commutes to Philly gave me time and space to think, create and write again.

So late one summer day I posted here about my experiences as a “flawed mother” something that had resonated with me in a lovely book I’d read. I posted my angst about being a working mother, a mother who chose life for myself versus a life living through my darling, adored child. I felt selfish, yet my beliefs about living for yourself while giving your loved ones time and attention is the best lived life. I exposed myself, my fears, my flaws. I felt brave in doing so, despite knowing that some would vehemently disagree with me. But a writer knows that being true to oneself and putting it out there and hoping to get at least one person to consider a different point of view IS being a writer, and damn the torpedoes!

That’s me, in a nutshell. Me, The Writer.

Yet what happened to that one vulnerable post took the wind out of my pages. More than anything I’d expected to ever encounter.

The timing of my “Flawed Mother” post came just days before a very personal, difficult death in my “family”‘and unfortunately for me one of the people also affected by this tragic moment is a bully. She did not like the role I played during this most emotional and personal time. She felt “ousted” so she did what bullies always do when they are most insecure; lash out and aim to hurt. She made things personal. She  attacked me and my “Flawed Mother” post on a very, very personal and inappropriate level. She attacked me publicly, but worse she attacked my family and loved ones through this public post.

That was the last time I wrote.

Until now.

As insecure writers, this would be difficult enough to handle, but she made it about my family. I don’t take that lightly and rather than attack back, I circled the wagons and put up the armor to protect them. And yes at the same time I shielded myself.

Nearly a year later I was bullied again, this time at work and as I sat in my jumpseat, tears falling into my lap wondering how to deal with this face to face bully I knew to I couldn’t confront her like I did in junior high school with a knock out punch that earned me the knickname Muhammad. But I HAD to confront it. I thought about what I’d tell my son if he was bullied, if it happened to him. And that’s when it actually occurred to me that I’d been bullied publicly too and that I hadn’t written since the attack on me almost a year ago.

See the one thing I hate the most is fear.

I’ve never lived my life in fear, except now. Now I was afraid to write, to confront my bullies head on. To keep doing what I love, writing and flying, to face my bullies. To live fearlessly in ALL aspects.

Well I thought a lot about what I’d say to my work bully, and you know what? I never got the chance to say what was on my mind. She treated me VERY differently from the moment we got out of our jumpseats, and it’s continued that way ever since. But I was prepared. I was not afraid of her anymore.

And the same goes here. My fearlessness is back. I’ve found my thick journalist’s skin I wore so well not that long ago. And I feel at home in my skin and in the pages once again.

So yes, I am truly a flawed mother, but who isn’t? I deeply love my son and would die for him, but I also have a life and spirit that is all my own. And what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t get back into the fray and fight to be true to myself? What kind of journalist, what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t lay bare my soul for all to see? I wouldn’t be ME that’s who I’d be, and for me that’s no way to live, scary fear and all, cause honestly that’s half the fun. 😉

As the anniversary of this tragic life changing death in our family approaches I am grateful to the one adult person it affected the most as I watch her grab a new life, leading HER family through the fray, more beautiful and strong as ever. I dedicate this post to you Emily Carroll. Thank you for being fearless and spreading love everywhere you go.

So I’ll leave you, my dear readers, with my favorite quote so you can trust I will be true to me the writer for YOU my reader:

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open,” Natalie Goldberg

~Barbi

The Mother of a Guilt Trip I’m Taking

 

Yeah, I made the decision to change bases from Phoenix, AZ where I’ve lived and worked for the former America West Airlines for almost 30 years as a flight attendant, to Philadelphia, PA. But decisions are hard, especially for me – let’s clear here – I really hate to make them, especially the last minute ones. I agonize over them!! The, “well if I do this, A could happen and do I want that?, What if I do and B happens? Or not…”

Strangely tho the best and easiest decisions for me to make are the kind I don’t think too much about, the ones I just dive right into, the “by the seat of your pants” kinds my mom always said I lived by. Sure, that creates its own set of problems but I’m usually in it and can adapt and see the silver lining. A blessing or a curse, I don’t know which. Either way, every good parent in the world will tell you they struggle, feel guilt, experience anxiety, stress and fear over making big and small decisions that affect their kids. It’s called “Parenthood.”

But also in the big scheme of things, a) life goes on, b) don’t sweat the small stuff, and probably the biggest one of all, c) the kids are gonna be alright.

Which was NOT my mantra yesterday when I’d turned down/missed my opportunity to move my Paris trip up a day earlier so I would be home all day for Halloween instead of getting home right at candy collecting time (yes, please play the violins for me here… immmm, what? Crickets? 🙂 Yeah, yeah, I get it, but to finish my point it’s still work and I could’ve finagled things to have my crepe and eat it too. But I didn’t. Why? The aforementioned fear of change, fear of decisions, fear that I’d mess up everyone else’s schedules I’d already committed too. Sorta solid reasons, but in short, thinking too much about it.

So when I looked at the flights for yesterday’s four-hour commute to Philly (should I have done the trip) they were wide opened, stress free! (No I do not get paid to get from my home base to my work base – that’s all me baby!). But today’s flight, ugggh!!! FULL, full, and fuller. Oy, and to top it off my position on the standby list was falling, fast! Hmmmm.three seats, and now instead of being no. 1 on the list I was no. 8. and there were a few other flight attendants commuting so it would be fingers crossed at how many jumpseats were available to get us all there on time.

Crap no 1! Shoullda taken the damn earlier Paris trip!

Flights wide open both ways, getting home on Thursday evening instead of Friday… BONUS!

However, my Friday night commute home flight looks good seat wise, and all good until I learned there is only ONE afternoon flight home from Philly Friday!!! HOLY SHIT!! How’d I miss that nugget?1?

Crap no. 2! Again!! Shoulda taken the damn earlier Paris trip!! (Now to be honest, I had a slim chance of getting it but I should’ve been more proactive in securing it, and yes, this is where parent decision fear of missing Halloween comes in). Followed by the inevitable guilt that I may screw up being with my son on Halloween comes in. Followed by the anxiety and stress of any crazy shit happening with my last chance commute home for Halloween.

Great!! LOVE being a working parent with limited controls over my schedule!!

But then I hear my mom’s soothing voice in my  head, “honey don’t sweat the small stuff.”

So what is the small stuff exactly here??

One small stuff: You can’t control everything so just let it go. When you’re sweating the small stuff you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the great big stuff right in front of you, HELLO?!? Umm, Im going to PARIS!!

Two small stuff: One Halloween missed does not make me a bad parent, just a lonely albeit thinner one. (Bonus on the laterlol!)

Three small stuff: And major blessing at the same time: My SON will not miss the amazing Halloween I and his Modern Family and friends have set up for him. He will still get to Trick-or-Treat with his friends in his own cool costume as Jeff Corwin (the animal biologist on the Discovery Channel). His “people” aka dad, dad’s girlfriend, my boyfriend and his friend’s moms and dads will make sure he gets his costume set, a candy bag, his friends to and from the State Fair  for the ultimate Halloween (thank you Kristi Meyer Walsh for that!!) and then back to our house for the Halloween sleepover. I am at peace knowing he will have the Halloween we planned for him. And grandma is always at the ready should anything fall through the cracks!

I hate when I second guess my decisions, especially when I find out that decision A would’ve, in hindsight, been better than the decision I’ve made (or not, by default) and currently living.

Yes, these are the small stuffs we parents sweat every day. But we also have to make a living, we have to do our jobs and when I think about all the parents I know that are working their butts off providing for, succeeding at and yes even loving their jobs while missing some events throughout our kids’ lives, I realize, in the Big Picture it is just the small stuff.

But the one thing I want to teach and instill in my son more than anything else in the world is that life is full of choices, ups and downs, fun and not so fun stuff, but I want him to learn to LIVE LIFE FULLY. To enjoy the moment he is in, because if he’s not then he’s missing the great stuff that’s happening RIGHT NOW. I want him to live a little like I do, looking for fun, enjoying life at it’s fullest even if the day or moment isn’t exactly what you expected it to be, because life is great if you let it be. And not to put too small a point on it, I will always be his mom, I will always love him and he is always in my heart even when I’m not with him while he’s living his life. And that’s the most important thing I can instill in him, to be confident he is loved, cause this isn’t about me, it’s about him.

May all your frights stay at bay this Halloween and your pumpkin filled to the brim with treats!

The Quiet Observer

There are times in my life as a mother where I get to quietly observe my son and his experience of life. Although these moments are rare they are my most cherished memories. It’s in these moments I am fully engaged, everything exaggerated. I can remember the smells, the temperature of the air, when the breeze blew and ruffled my hair and when it did not.

Recently there have been three that stand out, where I truly allowed myself the luxury of being what I call the Quiet Observer.

The first was when we were in Hong Kong. The second was the day he road his bike all by himself. The third was the day we went for a bike ride, just the two of us, to the park.

I let him lead the way and make all the decisions on where we went and as beautiful as that was, what I remember most, was swinging with him on the swings in the park.

Henry has never learned how to swing properly. It’s been starts and stops and fits of frustrations with lectures and examples of how to “Pump your legs! Do it like this! Watch me, watch your friends! “which usually ended in tears or more often in a silent giving up by both parties culminating with tummy swinging and spinning in circles, feet dragging in the dirt creating whirlwinds of dust clouds.

Today was different.

Today, in my reverie, my Quiet Observer moment, I was asked by my son if I would hold his hand while we swung next to each other. This was the first time he’d asked me this and I said yes, of course, very aware of the moment, the freedom of being without expectations of what I needed or wanted him to do.

I will never forget when he streched his little hand out to mine, smiling up at me, the warmth of his palm, his little fingers clasped tightly around my hand, as we pushed away from the ground together, hand-in-hand, little swirls of dust kicking up under us as we glided over our starting point.

And we swung. HE swung, small legs pumping in rhythm to my much longer strides, but he was doing it! He was swinging for the first time ever, on his own he was doing the movements that every kid, this big one included, takes for granted when you get on a swing. I watched as he’d lean back and pull forward, the wind blowing his hair away from his forehead. His eyes closed and a smile on his face. I couldn’t have been in a more blissful state. I was so at peace watching him float through the air that I too decided to let go and just swing. Leaning back, floating forward, air running along my arms and face, through my hair, his hand in mine. It wasn’t easy this tandem swing but we did it, the two of us. When I opened my eyes I turned to look at him and he was looking at me, his beautiful smile on his face and his blue-green eyes twinkling in the dusk light. His checks, flush and rosy from the cool evening air, forever captured in my memory. In my internal flash drive, I still remember it all.

As often as I try (and wish) to capture these moments on film, I realize that sometimes being IN THE MOMENT, REALLY, being in the moment is better than any picture. The feelings, the tactile experience, the emotions cannot be captured on film and it’s these moments that will be with me a lifetime.

WHY CENPHO ROCKS

Enjoying Joyride Taco House on Central.
Enjoying Joyride Taco House on Central.

I’ve been tasked to explain why I like Phoenix better than Tempe, why to me that it makes me feel more alive than being in Tempe does. I’ve tried many times to verbally explain it, but well, I’m a writer and not so good with the spoken word. So here I will attempt to put into written words the things Phoenix makes me feel.

To that end I was fortunate to find Upwards Projects blog post about Federal Pizza featuring Old Bisbee Brewing Co. beers. It gave me the platform and foundation for what it is that I find invigorating about Phoenix.

First, I am an energetic, passionate, outgoing, social butterfly who loves old brick buildings and busy bustling hot spots. I love texture, wether it’s in the fabric of a wall paper or the people around me. The sounds of their voices and the energy of their collective souls is like my heartbeat. This makes me feel alive and I come by it, well, historically and a bit naturally I presume.

See I’m from the funkiest place in Arizona. I was born and raised in Bisbee, AZ.  A small, quirky, eclectic and friendly little town about 200 miles southeast of Phoenix. My dad and step mom still live in the same 100 year old rock house where I spent many summers. Bisbee has charm. Bisbee is bucolic. Bisbee is where copper miners, hippies, bikers, Daughters Of The American Revolution (DAR), church folk, CEOs and politicos all lived, socialized and played bridge together. People in Bisbee were friendly and neighborly when I was growing up. We knew everyone and visa versa. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes not so much. Anyway, I loved the ‘feel’ of Bisbee. The old buildings, the musty library, the creaky floors of my house. Going to Mrs. Browders’ candy shop and spending the two cents I had just found under my bed on candy, or putting some plastic horse on “layaway.” Going to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream after my sister’s softball team won a game.

I know you’re probably wondering, “What the hell does that have to do with Phoenix? Good lord it’s huge in comparison, and well, most developers have been quick to tear down just about any building over 10 years old just to put something new in it’s place!” And yes, in many ways you are right. But here’s what Phoenix is to me.

It’s the same place I’ve lived for the last 30 years, and for the most recent 17 I’ve lived in the same zip code, despite moving three times. It’s the place where I fought and beat breast cancer at the age of 23. It’s the place where my mom and I made a new start when Phelps Dodge moved the corporate headquarters from Douglas, AZ. It’s where I graduated from high school, met, fell in love with and married my son’s amazing dad. It’s where I had my adorable son, in the same hospital his dad was born in. It’s where I lived when I made it through journalism school while having said child.

But it isn’t just all the “living” that makes me like Phoenix better, although, one could argue, that’s enough. It’s because I’ve watched it grow and change. I’ve watched as Phoenix and local businesses and elected officials and neighbors all worked to create a very unique space in such a large area. Creating special places to eat, meet, drink, have coffee, shop and workout. Places like Windsor, Churn and Postino. Places like St. Frances, Chestnut and SideBar. Places like Hissy Fits, Paris Envy and Smeeks.

For the last 20 plus years I’ve watched as Phoenix somehow became a tight knit community of like-minded, yet very diverse people. People actually walk and ride their bikes now to these places. There isn’t the same cookie-cutter-ness (yes, not really a word, I am aware), that you find in many other parts of the Valley. You can sit in Lux Coffeebar and feel like you are in San Francisco or New York while you listen to light rail wiz along Central Ave. Visit Carmel’s Breakfast House on Camelback and sure enough you can almost hear the ocean as if you were in Newport Beach.

And in this joint venture that many have embarked on in making Phoenix different than the other ‘burbs here, the people have continue to be friendly, outgoing and helpful. At least that’s what I see every time I visit “home.” Somehow Phoenix has managed to create a huge, connected neighborhood out of some 40 or more square blocks.

What I see, and feel for that matter, is people want to be out, they want to be alive, and most importantly they WANT to connect with those around them. I don’t see or feel that in Tempe, at least not yet. But it’s harder to do that here. Like it used to be in Phoenix.

Phoenix is still where you’ll find 90 year old houses sitting next to more ‘modern’ Haver-like homes in little pockets of irrigated lots. Where kids can run and splash and slip in slide in the flooded yards like I did when I was a kid in my grandparents’ lot. (Yes, don’t remind me of the pollutants in the water, not my point here.) My point is that somehow Phoenix has managed to become this huge version of my childhood town. I don’t know if it really has or if I’m just seeing it how I want to see Phoenix, but I don’t think so.

It’s how I want my son to grow up. In this bigger version of my own childhood.  I waited a long time for Phoenix to become what I always dreamed it would be, and now it has, and for that I will always return to my “home” even if it’s just for an evening or a night supporting my home town through local venues like Federal Pizza, and for that I am grateful that Urban Phoenicians “get it.” They understand that it’s local involvement and community that really matters in the long run. Connecting with those around us, regardless of age, size, color, income etc. that makes life grand. Phoenicians want to get off the sofa and out in their front yard and meet their neighbors, and it doesn’t matter the size of city, they want to be neighborly. Urban Phoenicians KNOW it’s the Villiage that feed our collective souls and hearts, mine included.

The new “Modern Family”

Our Family
This is us. My family. My ex, his girlfriend, me, my son, my boyfriend and my mom.
Yep, we’re a crazy sorta love.

You’d think I’m crazy if you didn’t know me. Wait, yes, you would even if you did know me, but you know what, I’m okay with that. I love it. I’m a crazy sorta love with a crazy sorta family that I love. If I told you that I worry a lot about my ex husband and his girlfriend, you’d be surprised at what I worry about. No, not jealousy, no not crazy psycho problems, no not dead-beat dad stuff. Nope. It’s that they are doing great. I want them to be happy because I love them. I care about them, they are great people and two of my dearest friends. Weird, right? Well in today’s world of “It’s Complicated” relationships that have the expectations people have to hate each other if they no longer have an intimate, sexual relationship doesn’t fly with me. Life’s hard, messy, complicated and absolutely magical and beautiful. You choose. You pick which one it’s going to be for you: See the beauty in life and live or squeeze until you choke the life right out of it and you. I picked the former, so yeah, we’re kinda different but I like it that way and I consider myself and my family lucky, happy and a new kind of Modern Family.

~ BjW

Oh Sweet Republic!

Good lord, I am addicted and I blame my son…

Okay that’s not entirely true. But it was for him that I recently bought a pint of Sweet Republic’s real mint chip ice cream while I was doing research for my upcoming article for Green Living AZ Magazines November issue.

The story is about food, and well ice cream is food, right?

Sweet Republic makes their ice cream by hand with unique flavors, including lavender, apple-wood smoked bacon and Arizona medjool dates. So in my never ending quest to expose my family to healthy, fresh, local food and ingredients I reasoned since Sweet Republic uses real mint from Maya’s Farm at South Mountain I was killing a few birds with one stone (excuse the reference).

I also figured the ice cream wouldn’t create an issue with me because I’m not really a mint or ice cream person. Never mind all the four and five star ratings on Yelp for Sweet Republic. Or that one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appétit,  named them as number 1 ice cream shop in America.  Or that Alton Brown voted their toffee banofi sundae as The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. I was safe.

Sadly I was wrong on both accounts.

Although my son loves mint chip ice cream, the fresh mint is a bit much for my 4-year-old’s palate.

Mine, however, LOVES the stuff!

The delicate, aromatic mint is so exquisite that I cannot stop sneaking bites every couple of hours…

Oooh Sweet Republic!

My Food Obsession

I just recently realized I have an obsession with food.

Yes, I know for most of you that know me you may be thinking, “Really, you just now figured that out?”

And I answer, yes. But it’s not the kind of obsession of how many calories in versus how many calories I burn off or can I eat this and not get fat, kind of obsession. Not that I haven’t done that in the past, and quite frankly, I think that kind of obsession created a weight problem for me at one time. But when I decided to quite worrying about food that way and started looking at food differently, like what’s it really made of, I started looking and feeling better.

I read nutrition labels, cookbooks, articles on food and recipes like novels. Many of the stories I write for Green Living Magazine  have some kind of food component in them. In fact I recently did a story about waste generated at football sporting events and I wasn’t too excited about it until I came across this little nugget:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food waste is the number one item being thrown into landfills.

This information got me excited about the story. No, not because of the amount and detriment to the environment this causes (which are huge by the way – food waste produces methane that escapes into the ozone if it isn’t composted), but because of the connection between food and the environment.

I have long been a proponent of whole, healthy REAL food. Food that is close to its natural origins, even if it is meat or chicken. If you look at it you should be able to recognize what it is.

As I have become more “obsessed” with this aspect of food I also become more aware of my son’s eating habits. I do my best not to make food an issue, but I want him to understand choices he makes when it comes to food. For instance he does not like walnuts. But I tell him to try them every now and then. To at least see if he likes them prepared this way or that. I let him know why they are good for him and then let it go. Because as a kid I HATED walnuts, I hated all nuts. In fact I remember my mother, aunts and grandmother always trying to get us to eat them. They would hide them in things or put them in baked things they didn’t want to share with us (hmmmm….smart!).

But you know what? I LOVE them now. I will eat them raw, put them on a salad, eat them in cookies. I really like them. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while. If I hated them then but love them now ( and there are many more foods in my life like that now, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado etc.) how’d I get there?

And if I did, maybe my son will too.

So last night as I popped pistachio after pistachio into my mouth while we waited for our dinner to arrive I asked my mother about her childhood experiences with flavors and food. She said she didn’t like avocados as a kid but loves them now. And she’s even starting to like peas now and she didn’t when I was growing up.

I told her I thought growing to like “good for you foods” had to do with early exposure to “real” food, like what she and I grew up with. My grandparents (her parents) were farmers and didn’t believe in processed or packaged food and what they made came from vegetables, fruits or meats from the butcher. Both our early childhood food experiences were with unprocessed foods.

I continued to mull it over as I devoured (and enjoyed) my delicious Windsor Country Vegetable Chop salad of kale, brussel sprouts, radish, avocado and crispy okra (of which I also hated as a child!).

Turns out I may be right.

In the Scientific American, journalist Brian Mossop writes in his article titled “Can We Be Trained to Like Healthy Foods?”

Now, an increasing number of scientists and physicians wonder if our propensity for unhealthy, obesity-inducing eating might be tied to the food choices made during our first weeks and months of life. Indeed, the latest research indicates that what we learn to like as infants paves the way for what we eat as adults.

I can relax a little about my son’s diet. He loves broccoli, he loves carrots and prefers real apples to apple juice. His first “baby food” was avocado (hates it now by the way). I tried to make sure he ate a variety of “yucky” foods that were barely processed or not at all. But it still doesn’t stop me from freaking out that I may not have done a good enough job ~ happily though, my mom has sound and a sage advice:

Just keep doing what you are doing, and don’t worry so much honey, he’ll be fine.

Then I think, okay, she’s right. And maybe I’ve also finally found a place for my obsession and passion for my job as a journalist, mother and foodie.  Maybe I can help other moms, families and people learn to eat and live healthier and better one post at a time.

Cheers,

~BjW

Deodorant… clean, fresh, eco, EXPENSIVE!

I finally found a deodorant that isn’t full of aluminum and actually makes your sweat (as is inevitable in Phoenix in June) smell so nice. Like a fresh breaze from a forest or some kind of pristine lake.

K – I’m not kidding. They did not pay me to say this – the whopping $75 came out of my own pocket and I think I am onto something. I normally wouldn’t recommend anyone spending that kind of dough on such a thing, but If you are the kind of person who does so on perfume, lotions or such, then consider this your summer perfume – with a bonus.

I’m a first (and only generation) hippie-chick and love the smell of patchouli. But after the birth of my son my nose or chemistry, or both, changed and I couldn’t wear patchouli anymore. So I tried Kiss My Face peaceful patchouli deodorant for a little dose of patchouli without the “whole” wave of it.And for awhile it worked. But then, things changed again and the deodorant stopped working and WOW! What an aroma that was – patchouli plus sweat, in Phoenix, in June – YIKES! Blech.

I had to find something fast. Which is where Sisely’s eud de campagne came in.

At Saks Fifth Avenue one hot and sticky afternoon a non-plused Sisely rep, Yvette, suggested I try their new deodorant.  I was a little embarrassed to try it on, under there, my armpits in Saks. But then again, if you know me, you know I get past that stuff pretty quickly. Besides Yvette was insistent. She rocks.

Aaaahhhh… it was clean, fresh, crisp – made my fresh from the gym body feel clean, fresh and crisp (mostly). I was sold.

I didn’t look at the price until she asked for my money. I swallowed hard and briefly debated what to do. But I was too in love with it (and a little too sheepish) to say “no thanks” at this point. I mean I’d sprayed $75 deodorant on my armpits in Saks and now I’m embarrassed….

So I said the heck with it and handed Yvette my cash.

I tossed it in my Flipped Bird bag – I may have spent a fortune on deodorant but I’m still going green when I can – so no bag, no tissue! I got in my car and sprayed my pits with abandon. The smell was divine! Seriously!

I still had to make a couple of stops on my way home, and although I was in my workout clothes, I knew I smelled okay. Someone even asked me what I perfume I was wearing.

I smelled great!

I was sold. This new deodorant works and I LOVE knowing the ingredients are herbs and botanical oils – all good stuff. But I was also feeling good knowing that Sisley helps women with cancer feel good by helping them look good…

Support for the organisation la Vie de plus belle , that offers skincare and make-up workshops in hospitals for women suffering from cancer.

and seeing women feeling good because they look good, feels good no matter what language or country it’s in.

So when the heat’s gotten to be too much, splurge on yourself. Your psyche and pits will love you for it.

~BjW