Friday, October 5, 2012


I'm not perfect.  I don't always make the right choice that coincides with what my heart really believes to be the best thing for my family.  But, I try.  Sometimes I fail, but today-for a few moments-I succeeded!  And my heart is overflowing with love.

Today I chose to put my "smart" phone down and focus on my tired, nursing 12-month-old.

I focused on her full, warm cheeks; her slowing sucks and occasionally tremulous jaw; her fingers feeling around her favorite ribbon loops on her well-loved blankie; her firm, yet squishy thigh that fits just perfectly in my hand;  her hair on the back of her neck getting the slightest bit damp as her neck rested against my forearm; her droopy eyelids that opened every so often as if to check that I was still there.

TODAY, I noticed.  And my heart swelled with emotion.

Today, I chose to check on my quiet three-year-old as he lay still, yet awake, in his bed.  Instead of smiling and waving as I turned to go have some "me" time-

I chose to get in bed with him and cuddle.

I smiled and brushed his long blond hair out of his eyes.  I pulled up his favorite (though, now too short) blanket.  I rubbed his back.  I softly held his warm, pink cheek in my hand; and I watched his eyelids get so heavy they could no longer open.  I felt his breath in my face.  I listened to his off and on suck bursts on his pacifier until they stopped.

TODAY, I stayed.  And my heart filled with emotion.

Today I chose to awaken my five-year-old girl from a very rare nap before the others awoke just so we could have some cuddle time.

Today, I chose to lift her body out of bed and carry her downstairs so I could hold her on my lap as I did when she was much younger.  I stared into her big, brown eyes as they opened, and then closed and opened and closed again.  I held her close and whispered, "Please don't ever get too big to cuddle with me!"  I brushed her hair away from her face and traced the line on her face that marked her sleep.  I squeezed a little harder.  I waited for her thumb to come out of her mouth, and I saw her smile.  We laughed, and giggled, and laughed some more.

TODAY, I was present and focused on her.  And my heart overflowed with emotion.

What precious moments I was given.  What precious hearts I was given to fill-for a few years anyway.

I am in awe of the intricacies of how we were created.

And I am humbled by how much more He loves us.

...Even when I don't make good choices.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First (annual?) Family Vacation

As I type we are in the van on our way to spend a week under the same roof with my parents, my three siblings and their spouses, and the seven children we have between us! My daugter is the oldest of the cousins at a fresh 5-years-old; there are two 2 and 1/2-year-olds (actually born only four days apart - we couldn't have planned that if we tried); a fresh one-year-old; and three babes: eight months, four months and two and a half months. Are you picturing the amount of stuff we are bringing to this six bedroom house? Seriously. Five vehicles (all Toyotas, so the driveway will look like a commercial). Four pack and plays. Three baby gates. Two high chairs. One baby swing. One play mat. Countless coolers of food. Suitcase upon suitcase. Toys, water bottles, sippy cups, baby bottles. Sunscreen, sun tent to pitch on the beach in order to provide shade for the babies. Do you think all four baby monitors are going to work? Games and movies for the adults since we won't be leaving the house too often with naps and bedtimes. I could go on and on. I don't really care how many excursions we go on; we are here to make memories. And good or bad, I'm sure we will do just that. My family is AMAZING. PHENOMENAL. So amazing, that it was actually my brother-in-law who pushed for this family vacation. We get along so well, always have things to talk about, and laugh a lot together. I feel so blessed. And my siblings and I want our children to have fond memories with their cousins. My parents joke that they have a room reserved at the local hotel, but they will be in their element. Here's how we have survived the car ride with our three little ones: 1. snacks - gluten free of course (apple bars, veggie chips, fruit, nuts, larabars etc) 2. busy bags (from a recent swap - more on that later!) 3. music (my kids love Seeds Family Worship songs, and I love not having to worry about whether the lyrics are appropriate) Well, 20 minutes to go and my babe is screaming. Here we go!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Introduction to Essential Oils

I burnt my fingers tonight while I was (poorly) managing many kitchen projects during the crazy dinner and bedtime rush.  An apt reminder for me to put the finishing touches on the handouts for the essential oil talk I'll be giving on Wednesday.  (Head on over to Grayslake Curves if you are in the area and you want to learn more about essential oils!)

I ran my fingers under cold water to cool the burn, and said aloud, "I need my oils."  Charlotte (almost five) responded, "Don't worry, Mom!  I know just what to do.  I'll be right back."  A minute later she reappeared in the kitchen with my Young Living Essential Oil case and said, "Here you go.  You can put the lavender on now."

Young Living Essential Oils are used daily in our house for everything: easing tummy discomfort, uplifting spirits, purifying the air, fighting off coughs and runny noses, cooking and so much more!  Oh yes, and healing burns! 

There is a lot to learn about essential oils - way too much to put into one blog post.  Today I'll answer a few questions I get asked frequently.  (There will be many more essential oil posts to come.)

1.  Why do you use essential oils?
          For me, the answer is easy!  There are toxins in just about everything (personal care products, food, municipal water etc), and I want to limit the exposure my family has to known toxic chemicals - and help cleanse our bodies from the toxins that have penetrated our systems.  Petrochemicals, ammonium, hydrocarbon-based chemicals, sodium lauryl sulfate, propyplene glycol (extremely common in everything from toothpaste to shampoo), aluminum salts (in many deoderants), preservatives and synthetic fragrances present real health concerns.  {Head on over to Environmental Work Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for research on toxins in personal care products, and how to find less toxic alternatives.}  Additionally, relying on over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can wreak havoc on one's liver, not to mention cover up the real problem.  The list goes on.  
          Essential oils Young Living Essential Oils are 100% natural, unadulterated, pure therapeutic goodness with use dating back to 4500BC!  They are naturally: {Get ready.  In fact, sit down because this list is long!  But this list only applies to essential oils that meet AFNOR (French regulatory agency) standards}
  • anti-microbial
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-viral
  • anti-fungal
  • anti-parasitic
  • anti-spasmodic
  • pain relieving       
AND they:
  • repel insects (and treat symptoms of insect bites)
  • settle stomach discomforts 
  • increase circulation and oxygen to tissues
  • stimulate the immune system
  • have hormone-like properties that support the endocrine system
  • initiate regeneration for nerves
  • assist in balancing all physiological systems
  • lessen anxiety (and improve mood)
  • increase alertness
  • help dissolve and remove petrochemicals and other toxins
  • help stimulate secretion of antibodies, neruotransmitters, endorphins, hormones and enzymes
  • can increase atmospheric oxygen and provide negative ions, which in turn inhibits bacterial growth  

2.  Why do you only use Young Living Essential Oils?
          Young Living's oils are 100% pure, making them therapeutic grade.  The United States does not have any laws to protect the consumer from inferior/extended/adulterated oils.  In the US for an essential oil to be called "100%" pure" and have "100% pure" written on the label, it only has to have (drumroll please....) 15% essential oil! The other 85% is typically propylene glycol or synthetic alenolol acetate, which can be toxic to the liver and other organs.  Young Living is the only company that uses the most stringent testing available (even though testing is not required) and every batch is tested by an independent laboratory.  They have farms all over the world.  They put the proper plants in the exact right soil conditions, harvest them at the right time, and distill them properly.  

3.  How do Young Living Essential Oils work?
             Essential Oils and human blood share several common properties: they fight infection, contain hormone-like compounds, and initiate regeneration.  Humans need blood to live; plants need essential oil - it's like their immune system/chemical defense mechanism.  The chemical structure of essential oils is very similar to human cells and tissues.  Essential oils are compatible with human protein and are readily identified and accepted by the body.  The oils penetrate cell membranes and diffuse throughout the blood and tissues and can travel to all parts of the body in a matter of minutes.  Their capacity to provide negative ions helps them dissolve and remove toxins. 

          When a fragrance is inhaled, odor molecules travel up the nose to the olfactory epithelium.  This triggers impulses to be sent to the olfactory bulb in the brain.  The olfactory bulb transmits signals to the gustatory (taste) center, the amygdala (emotional memory storehouse) and other parts of the limbic system (directly connected to parts of the brain the control heart rate, breathing, memory, blood pressure, stress levels and hormone balance).

Phew!  That's a lot of information.  I hope that answered some of your questions.  If you have more, leave me a comment!

To your wellness!

*This information was taken from The Essential Oil Desk Reference, 4th Edition and

**This information is not meant to diagnose or treat anyone and should not be substituted for proper medical advice from the health practitioner of your choice.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Motherhood: A Competition?

This week I've been listening to a really humbling and thought provoking series on Family Life Today about the pressure mothers are under to stay home, to work outside the home, to make sure their children are successful and occupied all of the time with stimulating activities...and the list goes on. 

{I often listen to these free broadcasts while I do dishes, as they address real issues I struggle with as a wife and mother.  The guests on the show question cultural norms and focus on intentional living.  I find that I come away with great thoughts and ideas for parenting and marriage from these maybe 30 minute segments.  They make me think, and they feed my soul.)

Go and listen;  Dr. Meg Meeker (a pediatrician and mother of four) shines light on what our job as mothers entails, and what it does not.  She talks about all the things that "good mothers" don't need to do. 

We don't need to solve our children's problems, or make sure they are always happy, or prevent them from being bored.  In fact, she recommends allowing them to BE BORED (!!) and figure out how to fill their time on their own - a really important life skill.

What resonated with me was the importance of spending time together as a family, and the need to protect that time together.  Make rules about it and place it of higher importance than filling schedules with extra curriculars - no matter how wonderful they are.  She spoke about not defining ourselves by our children's successes and failures, or our friends' children's successes. 

Motherhood is competitive.  Am I being the most patient, the most loving mom?  Am I providing my kids with enough opportunities - or at least as many as these other moms I know?  Am I cooking the most healthy meals from scratch?  Am I doing enough?  I definitely fall into this trap.  And I can be prideful of my mothering sometimes.  

Stop doing and just be with them.  I can't do everything, especially with (three) small children at home.  Something that many others have tried to tell me, yet I continue to struggle with.  "Stop doing so many things, and spend more time at home playing with your children," is the message I heard. 

I really am trying to do that.  I know they need me.  I know that the time when they actually want to be with me is not going to last forever.  Though, some days it feels like they are going to need so much of me forever.  But when I'm thinking clearly, and I'm not at the end of a vary long day and night (often alone) with three children under five years old, I realize I have this small window of time where I get to be a huge influence in their lives.  And we can form a really special relationship if I choose to put other things aside and just be with them. 

As all mothers know this is much easier to say than to put into practice when meal time is looming, and dishes are screaming to be cleaned, and hampers are overflowing with dirty laundry, and the entry way is a minefield of coats and shoes and Sunday school projects and preschool crafts and....

It's scary, and often lonely, to just be with your kids when you don't see other moms doing this.  Will I screw my kids up by not giving them more lessons, opportunities, experiences?  I have wondered this.  Is staying home and scrimping by the right thing?  Should I go back to work full time so we can afford a bigger house, private school tuition and more activities for the kids?  {NO!  I've prayed for the opportunity to be home full-time for years.  What a blessing it is!  I do not want to spend this time hurrying from activity to activity.}  But it's my nature to compare them to their peers.  How will they measure up? 

She said that kids don't care whether you make brownies from a box or brownies from scratch; what they care about is sitting down and enjoying the brownie with you!  Okay.  But I care (A LOT) that the brownie is from scratch and doesn't have wheat or dairy....

What I heard, and I continually need to be reminded of, is that I need to really assess what I want for our family, and what God has called us to.  I need to look at our schedule and decide what commitments are really important for our family and what are not.  It is not easy to prioritize.  It's not easy to be the only mom who doesn't have their child signed up for gymnastics (or swimming or VBS or whatever it is).  It may mean pulling my children out of their Bible study class (gasp!).But the time we have with our children is precious.  And we are teaching them values, intentionally or not, by how we choose to spend our time.  I want my children to know that that they are loved, that they are special, that they are important - not because of what they do or how well they do it, but because of who they are.

So I'm going to jump off that train and do my best not to compare what my children are doing to what everyone else's children are doing.  I am going to spend more time at home with them.  And when I'm at home I'm going to really be with them.  Play with them.  Laugh with them.  Wrestle with them.  Tickle and kiss them.  I am going to make sure that not a day goes by that we don't share one of those moments where we smile and look at each other with that glimmer in the eye that says, "I love you.  And I love this time of being with you."

Do you need to jump off the train?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A blog.  Finally.  So many friends and family have asked where to find my blog or when I will finally start blogging.  Following myriad attempts to find a title that suits me and was still available I'm here.  Of course, that came after months of asking myself what the purpose of my blog would be and whether I really had anything important or novel to share. 

I'm not foolish enough to think that what I have to say is novel.  What I do know is that I feel passionately about many things, and often times others ask me about these passions of mine.  I do not claim to be an expert; rather, I aim to share what I've learned, connect with others who have similar interests, and learn from you.

And now that I've finally begun, I'm super excited about this journey.  I am honored by anyone who wishes to spend time (such a limited resource for many of us) journeying with me.