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Concert Review: Coldplay Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay Mylo Xyloto Chicago, Il 2012.  Property of Kristen DeLange

Coldplay Mylo Xyloto Chicago, Il 2012. Property of KDL

August 8, 2012                  

United Center                 

Chicago, IL

Opening Acts:

Marina and the Diamonds

Charli XCX

The Band:

Chris Martin-lead vocals, piano, guitar

Jonny Buckland-lead guitar

Guy Berryman-bass

Will Champion-drums

As you probably know, Coldplay is a British alternative rock band with a sound that is simultaneously pensive and high energy with a bit of pop and passion.  They have earned numerous awards, including seven Grammys.  Mylo Xyloto is their fifth studio album since their inception in 1997.

Beginning with Hurts Like Heaven, the band performed with an electricity that was contagious to the crowd.  They played a great mix of new songs and old favorites: Paradise, Princess of China, Yellow, In My Place, Amsterdam (played in full for the first time since 2005).  They even snuck in a Louis Armstrong cover of What a Wonderful World, a sweet rendition featuring only Martin and his piano (for a complete playlist see below).

The main stage was huge with a long walkway, plus a small mini-stage within the crowd for a more intimate set.  The sound was incredible live, which certainly cannot be said of every band.  Vocals were spot on, music was perfect, sound and speakers well balanced.  How awful it is to attend a concert with distorted sound!  The laser lights timed to the music added to the visual intensity, as did the numerous confetti eruptions and graffiti symbols that covered the album.  They even provided bracelets, or xylobands, for the crowd that also lit up to the music.

Overall this was an excellent concert experience that I highly recommended.  While I must admit Coldplay is one of my all-time favorite bands, that was also the consensus of those we met at the concert.  They ended with Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, somehow still with tons of energy.  The only diappointment was that it had to end.

Songs Performed:

Mylo Xyloto

Hurts Like Heaven

In My Place

Major Minus

Lovers in Japan

The Scientist

Yellow

Violet Hill

God Put a Smile Upon Your Face

Princess of China

Up in Flames

Amsterdam (played in full for the first time since 2005)

Don’t Let It Break Your Heart

Viva La Vida

Charlie Brown

Paradise

Us Against the World

Speed of Sound

Clocks

What a Wonderful World

Fix You

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

Thanks for reading.  Have you seen Coldplay in concert?  Leave a comment below!

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Pros and Cons to Making a Snowman with Your Kids

Snowman

Snowman (Photo credit: stevegarfield)

My husband and I love to engage in the winter tradition of building a snowman with our children.  The snowperson is carefully constructed and decorated with love.  Afterward we head inside for some hot cocoa by the fireplace.  Lots of laughter and love, right?  This year, however, has shown me that there actually can be unforeseen consequences to this family fun pastime.

Pro: Quality family time engaging in a fun-filled activity with your kids.

Con: Accidentally building the colossal snow person in front of your picture window.  At night it gives the illusion that a creepy weirdo is standing outside your window ever so still and watching you.  Causes mini-myocardial infarctions each time you pass the window at night.

Pro: The look of sheer joy on the children’s faces at the process and finished product of something they created with you.

Con: As Mr. Frosty melts and refreezes, he starts to look like the person in the Edvard Munch painting The Scream.  The snowman stays in this state exponentially longer than he did Frosty.

Edvard Munch - Geschrei - The Scream - 1895 - ...

Edvard Munch – Geschrei – The Scream – 1895 – dithered color, close-up (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

Pro: The pictures and memories that will last long after your children have grown.

Con: You unintentionally build the snowman where the mail carrier likes to take a shortcut through your yard to get to the next house.  The mail carrier proceeds to kick or shoulder check Frosty each time he walks past.

Pro: The strengthening of the family bond by continuing the season’s tradition.

Con: The children’s stunned faces when they see the neighbor’s dog urinating on Mr. Frosty.

Pro: Allowing your children the creative space to decorate the snowman on their own.

Con: They decided to decorate it with his face parallel to the road.  What you have failed to consider is that from across the street/roadside view, the snowman’s arm looks like a penis.  Seriously, the neighbors have made comments…

The moral of the story?  Well of course we will continue to build snowmen with our children in the years to come-although the majority of these cons could have been prevented by building him in the back yard.  Totally worth it.  Happy building!  Please commiserate with us and share your snowman fails in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

 

Cute Valentine’s Day Nails

Cute Valentine's Day Nails

Cute Valentine’s Day Nails

In the spirit of the day of St. Valentine and the holiday of love, I thought I would post a nail tutorial that is simple and adorable for the 14th.

cute valentines day nails

Cute Valentine’s Day Nails

What you will need

  • Base coat to protect your nails
  • Pale pink polish of your choice
  • Hot pink polish of your choice
  • Top coat
  • Dotting tool, toothpick, or tip of a bobby pin
  • The suggested colors are just that, a suggestion, so if you would rather use a different color combination, go crazy

Directions

To watch the video of the application, see below.  I first applied the base coat to my nails.  Next I applied the pale pink shade on all of my fingers except the accent nails (1-2 coats, enough to give it a smooth look).  Next with the hot pink shade I lined the tip of the nails (again except for the accent nails).  If you like the look of lighter tips, invert the colors.  For sharper lines at the tip, you can place tape over your nails as a guide (just be sure the bottom coats are dry).  If your nails are short you can skip the lining of the tip and leave the nails pale pink or add a different accent such as a stripe down the center.  For the accent nails, I applied 2 coats of the hot pink polish.  After allowing them to dry a bit, I dipped my dotting tool (or instrument of your choice) into the pale pink shade and made 3 dots in a V shape at the top of the nail.  Then continuing with a dotting motion, I filled in the V to make the heart.  Allow to dry for a few minutes and apply your top coat.  If you like the look of more hearts you can reverse my pattern.

Play around with the design and have fun with this cute, flirty look.  If you try it let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Cute Valentine's Day Nails

Cute Valentine’s Day Nails

Check out my YouTube video tutorial:

DIY Exfoliating Scrub

Brown sugar examples: Muscovado (top), dark br...

Brown sugar examples: Muscovado (top), dark brown (left), golden brown (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a recipe for my all-time favorite exfoliator.  Seriously, I love this better than any drug store or high end scrub that I have purchased.  It is super easy, affordable, and leaves the skin feeling amazing.  You only need two ingredients.

Ingredients

-Brown Sugar

-Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

You will need 2 parts brown sugar for every 1 part olive oil, depending on how much you wish to make.  For example, for a smaller batch you would use ¼ cup of brown sugar and 1/8 cup olive oil.  If you wish to make a larger batch, double this.  Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until well blended.  Rub this all over your face and body (avoiding the eye area) and rinse with warm water for an excellent moisturizing exfoliator.  I use this once a week at night so as not to expose the new layers of skin to free radicals, as well as to give time for the olive oil to penetrate and moisturize my skin.  If you have very dry skin you may want to exfoliate less frequently as your skin layers are already thin.  This does not need to be refrigerated and it keeps for ages, just remember to stir it up before each use.

Why These Ingredients?

The fine brown sugar particles gently scrub away dead skin cells and unclog pores without damaging the skin as some scrubs with nut shells may.  The olive oil nourishes and hydrates the freshly revealed skin.  Remember to use cold pressed olive oil as this type of olive oil has the maximum amount of nutrients and antioxidants.

What If I Have Oily, Acne-Prone Skin?

No worries, so do I!  I have used this exfoliator many times and it has never caused me to break out.  This exfoliator is great for most skin types.  I always recommend those with highly sensitive skin to ask their dermatologist before trying a new skin care regimen.  After rinsing this scrub you will notice some oil stays on your skin, though it shouldn’t be enough to make your clothes stick to you.  I would not wipe this off.  Overnight your skin will absorb it and be left feeling very soft-not oily.  This also shrinks up my pores (which are very large)-bonus!

Thanks for reading.  Leave a comment below if you try this or have other facial scrubs you love.

Check out my youtube video on this:


 

Am I Seriously Considering Cloth Diapering?

My Cloth and Biodegradable Diapering System

My Cloth and Biodegradable Diapering System (Photo credit: po1yester)

Amazingly I find myself sitting here, very pregnant and contemplating cloth diapers for my soon-to-be newborn.  This is something I have given only the briefest consideration in the past.  Sure I was aware of some pros to going cloth.  But there was one factor I just could not get over: dealing with the poop.  So here is my story of how I came to consider this seriously.

First of all I should let you know that my dad worked in environmental safety as his professional career.   Why is this important?  Let’s just say I was raised with a heavy awareness on how we as people affect the environment and the importance to taking care of the planet (to put it mildly).  My father is very passionate about this, and I was fortunate enough to have this passed on to me.  Obviously, using disposable diapers and wipes takes a nasty toll on the ecosystem.  It is estimated that a child will contribute 8,000-10,000 disposable diapers into the landfill before becoming potty trained.  This does not include the use of swim diapers or disposable potty training pants (which, let’s face it, are basically just diapers that go on like underwear).  And then it takes hundreds and hundreds of years for these diapers to decompose.  But this is something I have known for years, and while it gave me an occasional twinge of guilt, did not sway me to use cloth diapers.  Next is the issue of cost.

It costs roughly $2000 to diaper one child for 2 years with disposable diapers.  This is not including disposable wipes.  It costs approximately $300-400 to diaper a child for 2 years with cloth diapers (of course this number can be much higher or lower depending on the type and material of cloth diapers you wish to use).  Again, this is something I was aware of, no surprise there.  This still wasn’t enough to sway me.  But here are some things I did not know previously.

Have you ever read the directions on a package of disposable diapers?  If you are shaking your head thinking that is the dumbest question you have ever been asked, I understand completely.  I never had either until recently.  But if you check it out, the disposable diapers give the direction to dump fecal matter into the toilet before disposing of the diaper.  What?!  I thought I was using these to avoid dealing with the poop as much as possible?  It turns out I was supposed to be dealing with it all along.  There goes my main reason for avoiding cloth diapering.  But that is not the factor that tilted the scale for me.

Now maybe you are much smarter and up on things than I am and this will be no surprise to you.  I was completely shocked to learn what chemicals are in disposable diapers.  Some such chemicals are dioxin, sodium polyacrylate, Tributyl-tin or TBT, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and fragrance which contain phthalates.  While the threat of each chemical differs, some are carcinogenic known cancer causers, known to disturb hormones, known to disrupt the endocrine system, known respiratory irritants, and known for potentially causing skin irritation.  These are products that are sitting on our children’s most private body parts for hours at a time.  Once I learned this, it was a done deal.  My aversion to inconvenience could in no way trump the health of my child.  Then I began the long process of researching different kinds of cloth diapers and alternatives to disposable wipes.

While I was tempted to beat myself up for not going cloth sooner, at least I am doing it now.  And I am not alone.  More people seem to be considering cloth than have in decades.  I must admit, when the initial box of cloth diapers came and I actually took them out and looked them over, the reality of choosing cloth sank in deeper.  This is no longer a great idea on principle.  I am actually going to have to deal with the poop and the washing of the diapers.  But when it comes to my child’s best interest, it’s a no brainer.

Are you a terrible parent if you choose to use disposable diapers?  Of course not; it takes much more time and up-front cost to use cloth.  I hope you will at least consider it.  Do some research, using the references listed below and others (there are many) before you come to a conclusion.  Thanks for reading.  Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on this topic.

References:

Lehrburger, C. (1988). Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The disposable diaper myth. In Library of Awareness. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://libaware.economads.com/ddiapermyth.php

Sharratt, A. (2010). Disposable Diapers: Are they dangerous?. In CBC News. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2010/05/28/f-disposable-diapers.html

Why Choose Cloth Diapers?. (2012). In Real Diaper Association. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php

Organix Hair Mask Review

Organix Hair Mask Review

I had been in the market for a new hair mask last fall, and was planning on trying the Macadamia Deep Repair Masque on my next trip to Ulta.  While I was at Walgreens one day picking up a few random things, the Organix Macadamia Oil Intensive Moisture Mask caught my eye.

The Brand

Organix is a brand that boasts of sulfate free, paraben free, glutten free products for your hair and body.  These products are not tested on animals, but do contain some animal by-products such as egg white proteins and naturally extracted silk.  These features were incredibly attractive to me, as was the price.  I picked up an 8oz container for only $7.99, compared to an 8.5oz container of the Macadamia brand mask for $33.00.

The Results

I have long, oily, fine hair and I have a lot of it.  My hair is not color treated or heavily heat treated.  The hair mask smells great and it left my hair feeling incredibly soft and silky without weighing it down.  My hair was not left oily or greasy after use.  Those are the main issues for me when it comes to hair products due to my hair type: does it weigh my hair down leaving it limp and lifeless, and does it leave my hair looking greasy?

organix argan maskI was so please with this mask that I eventually purchased the Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Intense Moisturizing Treatment mask (also $7.99 for 8oz).  I love this product as well.  I have been using these for months now and they work great and are so much cheaper than high end masks.   And above all that they are free of some nasty chemicals and do not test on animals.  Additionally they are safe to use on color treated hair.  I highly recommend this brand and am eager to use more of their products in the future.  I cannot say if it works as well or better than the Macadamia brand masks as I have not used them; however, at this point I am pleased with the results of the Organix products and currently have no plan to purchase the Macadamia brand mask.  Bonus: last I checked Walgreens was offering Organix products buy one get one half off!

Have you tried Organix or Macadamia products?  Let me know how they worked for you and your hair type in the comments below.  Please note I am not affiliated in any way with the brands or stores mentioned.  I purchased these products with my own money.  I just want to pass on my experience with great, natural products at an affordable price.  The information on Organix was obtained from their website http://www.organixhair.com/

Thanks for reading!
Check out my YouTube video on this:

Can Your Calling Change?

A year ago, I was content in my phase of life.  I spent most of my time raising our young children.  I worked part-time as a counselor in a very

Two Paths Diverged in a wood

Two Paths Diverged in a wood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fulfilling job.  Life was good; I was living out my calling.  Little did I expect the rug was about to get pulled out from under me.

It began very subtly.  I had a small but nagging sense that it was time to leave my job.  Whenever this would occur to me, I quickly shrugged it off for many reasons.  The hours were flexible, I saw a diverse client base which kept work interesting, I was making decent money, I loved what I did, and it felt very meaningful.  Yet I still sensed that I needed to move on.  Shoving that notion to the back of my mind soon got costly.

The environment at work quickly and unexpectedly began to change.  My caseload was growing exponentially to nearly that of a full-time therapist.  Pressure was building to work more hours.  While my sessions with clients were still challenging and fulfilling, the office culture was rapidly becoming a toxic breeding ground for burnout.  I finally accepted that I needed to leave.  Then I had to figure out what I would do next.

This decision consumed me.  There were myriad options; however, none of them felt right.  I had offers to interview for other positions, but they were full-time.  I was committed to only working part-time while raising my kids so this was not a route I was willing to take.  Other part-time positions that were available were very limited, unchallenging, farther away, or worked with a population I was not as passionate about.  I considered going into private practice.  This seemed like the “right” answer.  I had plenty of referral sources and contact with other therapists in private practice who explained in depth the process of starting and maintaining a practice.  But all I could think about was the stress of owning my own business: getting paneled for insurances, finding an affordable place to practice, paying rent, buying accounting software to manage expenses and taxes, and so on ad infinitum.  Plus there was the guilt I felt over leaving my current clients.  At the end of every day, I felt fried with anxiety over making the right decision.  But none of the options before me brought me any sense of peace.  I started praying about the situation, hoping to gain some guidance.   God answered in a way I never expected.

I felt exceptionally impressed that I needed to stay home with my kids.  This possibility had not once occurred to me.  Never did I see myself as a fully stay at home mom.  I had felt called to become a counselor since I was a teenager; a calling that was undeniable for many years which God confirmed time and time again.  I had obtained three different licenses that needed to be maintained.  I loved counseling and had not entertained another future for myself in years.  I was (hopefully) helping people.  How could leaving this be the right answer?

I continued praying about this, convinced that I had misheard God.  I kept coming back to the notion that I needed to spend more time raising my children.  Plus my husband and I had begun the process of becoming foster parents, hoping it would result in adoption.  I struggled with and fought this choice for months.  Over time the path before me became clear: even though I did not want to hear it, this was the only option that gave me peace.

While I did not fully understand it, I decided to trust God in His leading.  I left my job and now hold a small pro bono caseload.  This transition was not easy, but over time I began to see God’s plan unfolding before me (including a surprise pregnancy, but that’s a story for another day).  Initially I was like Samuel mourning over Saul in 1 Samuel 16; God was calling me to something new, but first I had to let go of the old.  Letting go of a calling can be painful and difficult.  I did not realize how much of my identity had gotten wrapped up in my career.  And I was learning that just because something is “good” and right for one season does not mean it’s suited for me forever.  As I walked in obedience and adjusted my attitude, I was opening myself up to the blessings God had in store for me that I never could have conceived.  If we trust Him we can trust that He is leading us to something just as meaningful and fulfilling.  God is calling you.  He is a God of new things and wants you to join in the adventure.

Have you had a similar experience?  Leave a comment below!  Looking for resources on the subject of calling?  Below are a couple of books I highly recommend.  Thanks for reading.

The Call by Os Guiness

The Missional Mom by Helen Lee