10.24.2014

essential oils // stress relief in motherhood



yesterday was hard.  i pulled back the tangle of unmade covers around eight forty and fell into bed feeling worn out and past the verge of tears.  i think i was too tired to cry, thursday had taken its toll.  it was one of those days where everything culminated to a feeling of utter fogginess, the inability to pinpoint anything that had contributed to the difficulty of the day.   just everything, everything felt so heavy.  i suppose all i need to say to explain is that staying home with a stair-crawling one year old, a no napping three year old, and a diaper eating dog (sorry for the tmi) can wear a person out if they don't take a time out now and then.

as said by loving mothers around the world since he beginning of time: motherhood is the hardest thing one will ever do, yet the culminating point of joy in one's life.  i love it so much it hurts and can say with absolute certainty that it is the most beautiful aspect of my life, apart from my marriage.  as a little girl i knew i was destined to be a mama.  it has always been my calling and i would rather have a handful of exhausted moments and take the chance of getting worn down and be a mother than not have these amazing babies at the center of my world.  they are my everything.  but it is also really hard, too.  seriously, ridiculously, inexplicably hard.  as in no one could ever really prepare you for how difficult being a parent is if they tried their with all their might.  but, at the same time, what a blessing it is to be a mother.  to take care of these precious little humans.  there's nothing like it nor nothing better.

that night after the kids had been fed and bathed and read to and tucked in, and after i posted a little lament on instagram, i remembered i had something that could possibly give me respite and help.  after all, what i was really needing in that moment of gloom and anxiety was a bit of relaxation.  i was in need of being uplifted, the knots of my self-directed doubt and the stress of my worry unraveled.  my emotional state was in needed of nurturing, a little hug, perhaps.

so i grabbed my oil diffuser, plugged it in next to my bed, grabbed a glass of pinot, and diffused four drops of stress relief and four drops of lavender.  i put joy on my wrists and on the back of my neck.  i smelled orange and put a drop of it in some ice water.  i sat there, eyes closed, and felt like i was in a spa somewhere far away, tucked in the mountains.  despite the blatant fact that there were stale cheerios and several bottles (probably spoiled) of half drank milk on the floor of my bedroom and i felt like i was at a fancy resort.  pretty magical, i'd say.  if i had had more energy, i'd put a few drops of lavender in the bath.  bliss, my friends.

sometimes in life we just need a little push in the right direction to gather momentum.  we need the opportunity to nurture our emotional needs, giving our soul well deserved attention that most times goes neglected.  that being said, i think it's pretty neat that i have these uplifting oils at my disposal to help me out if i need it.  i went to bed that night feeling hopeful.  relaxed.  happy.  and in the morning, rejuvenated and ready to spend the day mothering the best i can to my little ones.  now i am not saying that you just rub oils everywhere and feel completely better, but boy do they help.  i am thankful for them.

for those of you who are wanting more information, here is a link to help you learn a little more about them and how they work and inspire you to have a more positive emotional state.  i found it to be really fascinating as i love learning about how these oils and how they can help our family.  if you are interested in purchasing these same oils i use (which is the premium starter kit plus a few other gems) you can get a 24% discount on your order if you choose to use sign up as a wholesale member (nope, you don't have to sell anything if you do).  all the steps to do so are located at the bottom of this link:  click here.   happy oiling, friends!

10.23.2014

homestead // our ritual of following light


throughout the humdrum of our day we find ourselves moving to the rooms in our home that are most filled with light.  to the places where warmth seeps in through our old latticed window panes, making things feel wholesome and joy-filled.  where yellows and whites and oranges dance on the walls like old friends, welcoming us to take part in their song.

in the morning, between the hours of eight and ten, light shines forth in the front of our home, beaming proudly, announcing the arrival of a new dawn.  the chandelier in our dining room, sparkly and shiny, radiates like a fountain of new pennies or a river of diamonds cascading on a steep mountaintop.  it gives us that extra nudge to "wake up! wake up!" as we slowly eat our oatmeal and sip our coffee gathered round the table beneath it.

in the afternoon, the light shifts upward to the second floor of our home, illuminating the bedrooms, giving them life.  our bedroom with its considerable amount of windows, is most consistently the sunniest spot in our home.  i suppose that's why andrew and i chose it over the darker, yet more charming loft, to call our very own.  without its presence of long, flawy drapes (as one would find on the lower level of our home) it speaks of renewal and happiness, allowing light to creep in no matter the circumstance.  we love it this way, for it is during this midday slice of sunshine that we trek up the wooden staircase to the mater bed where we read and play before retiring to naps.  stella particularly likes laying on the floor in front of the wall of windows where the sunlight has been present for hours warming the wooden floorboards.  she'll lay there on her back as theodore and i throw balls back and forth, "getting cozy" without the need of her blanket because without fail, it is always warm there.

and then as the hours fade into the early evening, our kitchen, the true hearth of our home, is flooded with the most spectacular golden light.  it pours in, igniting the room rather deliberately, making it a delight to chop and stir around the butcher block island grounding the center of the room.  that light stays put for a few hours before drifting off into what becomes moonlight.  it is then that we light candles or a start a fire in the living room, allowing makeshift sunshine to warm our toes within the walls of our home.

after snuggling in, we end our day with the dim light of a lamp overhead, our eyes scanning the pages of a crisp, new book, only to wake in a few short hours to chase the light once more.

10.18.2014

snippets // autumn in the midwest part one


1. walking amidst golden leaves in our favorite neighborhood park.
2. a rainbow of heirloom pumpkins.
3. wet leaves and an attempt to craft.
4. butternut squash soup simmering on the stove.
5. a festive entryway and a little boy that wants to play outside.
6. an autumn trip to the zoo.
7. brown, crunchy leaves and a little boy in footie jams.
8. watching the autumn rain fall outside.
9. apple spice cake, a sweet white pumpkin, and a sandalwood candle on our dining room table.
10. a cozy fire on a saturday night.
11. my boy and i, both in warm sweaters after church.
12. selecting the best wood for an indoor fire.
13. a playdate with friends at the farmstead in kansas.
14. our leaf-filled yard.
15. supper prep for a comforting meal: coq au chicken with garden chilies.
16. reading his new pumpkin book in bed with mama.
17. taking playtime outside.
18. picking mums, waiting on dad to get home from work.

10.14.2014

essential oils // cleaning our home


let's talk about oils!  our family has been a part of the young living essential oils community for awhile now and we are loving the positive impact they are having on our lives. after receiving much inquiry in regard to some of my instagram posts i have decided that it's time i give you a more detailed glimpse into exactly how and why we love essential oils here in my personal blogging space, as well as information on how you can incorporate them into your life if you so desire!

essential oils have brought so much good to our family.  what first attracted us to them was that they wholeheartedly reflect our philosophy of living simply and naturally.  after months of use, essential oils are second nature to us.  we have incorporated them into the rhythms of our day to day living and have found that the more we use them the better we feel.  this first post is dedicated to cleaning our home and how the oils have been beneficial in that area of our lives.

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one of my favorite feelings promptly arises after i've had a cleaning spell in our home, rooms still smelling of essential oils, hardwood floors all shiny and goo free, tub scum ring-free, our feather pillows fluffed on the sofa smelling of lavender and off the floors from the previous day's hot lava game or tea party.  that feeling of accomplishment and calm spills over into the rest of my week.

tending to our home early on in the week is an automatic recharge for my batteries as a stay at home mom.  it also gives me the go ahead to mess everything all up again with my babes, flour all over our kitchen from pie making and mud in our entryway from the inevitable rushing inside and outside of my three year old.  it's a process, you know.  clean, play, tidy, play harder, rest.

if you've ever shoveled snow in the middle of a snowstorm you've experienced cleaning a home with little ones.  it can be wild you guys, and sometimes even counterproductive and laughable.  on those days i make an extra strong coffee and say, "to heck with it. there's always tomorrow."  i remember hearing a bit of motherly advice awhile back that said something to the tune of "good mothers have sticky floors and smudged windows and toys everywhere."  and part of me agrees!  it is ridiculous to expect to have a clean house all the time.  a mess means fun has been had.  but once a week, usually mondays, i go about my routine semi-deep cleaning bathrooms and floors and windows and surface areas so i can maintain a somewhat clean home the rest of the week.  doing so helps my mood tremendously and gives me more time to home school stella and have play dates, having started the week off with a fresh, clean home.

admittedly, and rather oddly to some i'm sure, i am a person who finds enjoyment in cleaning.  when given the opportunity to browse the aisles at target i will literally spend most of my time either smelling new seasonal candles or the flowery fabric softener scents.  the autumn season always has me tightly in its' grip because i live for anything smelling of nutmeg or pumpkin.  more times than not, i'll pass by the hand soap bottles and ogle over their apothecaric labels, debating a potential splurge.  being the aesthetic person i am, i'm a total sucker for a beautiful cleaning tools, too.  throughout the past couple of years i have replaced my old, rather inefficient tools for more beautiful, old school ones made of wood and metal.  take this one for example.  i use it daily in our kitchen to clean up crushed goldfish and the like.  it's true, classic basics are really best.

given that my day as a mama means there's always a little one pulling on my leg or a toddler begging to be held or tickled, i have had to make some changes in my cleaning regimen.  life is messy and crazy whilst raising babies so i tried to simplified where i can by buying less and being more mindful about what i am spraying all over our home.  i now use just a handful of tools and products, most all of them handmade and safe to use with a baby crawling around.  interestingly enough, while making things easier and simpler for myself in regard to cleaning i feel that everything seems genuinely cleaner.  one by one i have gotten rid of my old cleaning products, throwing many away because of their toxicity and harmful nature.  i have replaced them with essential oils and natural products such as vinegar, baking soda, and water.  i can say with confidence that my home has never felt cleaner and safer and more clutter free than it does now with two small children.

despite not using an array of cleaning products i have not sacrificed on quality.  i have some go-to essential oils that i use on a weekly basis to clean our hardwoods, bathrooms, crayon marks on the walls, counter surfaces and more.  because we are keeping simplicity a theme in our home we have not been spending frivolously on different products that my oils can do on their own or paired with something completely natural.  i feel as though we are saving a lot of money in the process which for us is an added bonus.  and friends, these oils, well they are not just for cleaning.  oh no.  that is one small component of their goodness.

i am writing this series for you because as a mother i am learning on a daily basis that we all need each other.  i wholeheartedly believe this.  whether you are a tired parent with little ones or a young woman in need of a little inspiration, one thing we all have in common is that we need each other no matter our path.  it is how we better our lives.  it is how we come to be the best version of ourselves.  i have been blessed by others who have opened their hearts and homes and have showed me different, and sometimes better, ways of doing things, safer ways to clean being one of them.  because others have been generous with their time and have shared the value of essential oils with me, my family has been healthier on many levels.  thus, every couple of weeks i am going to share with you ways that we incorporate essential oils in our everyday lives, whether it be in the way we keep our home to the way we keep sickness at bay.  yes, essential oils do that, too!  below you can find three of my favorite cleaning products made with essential oils.

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hardwood floor cleaner: 

- 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar 
- 1 gallon of warm water
- 3-5 drops of lemon or thieves essential oil

after sweeping or vacuuming, i use a microfiber cloth on tough spots where dirt and grime has built up and a basic string mop and press mop bucket for all other areas.  i know there are many great steam mops out there but nothing truly cleans a floor like an old fashioned mop.  however if you do have a floor cleaner you can use this recipe:

- 2 teaspoons of distilled white vinegar
- 16 ounces of warm water
- 1 or 2 drops of lemon or thieves essential oil


all-purpose spray: 

- 1 part distilled white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 part water
- 10 drops of your favorite essential oil.  last week i made one using five drops of lavender and five drops of rosemary.  it smells lovely.  note: use approximately five drops of oil per cup.
- a glass spray bottle.  it is suggested that mixtures that include essential oils be stored in glass containers to prevent the oils from corroding the plastic.  i have two spray bottles that i purchased on amazon, one for the kitchen and one for the upstairs rooms.

i use this all natural spray on all surfaces in our home to disinfect from theodore's high chair to the bathroom sink.  i like to change up the ratio of oils i include depending on my mood or what i prefer to smell that season.  another great combination i have used in the past is orange and tea tree.  the options are really up to what you prefer.  being that thieves is amazing at killing bacteria that is a great option, too.


soft scrub tub cleaner: 

- 3/4 cup of baking soda
- 1/4 cup of castile soap
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 10 drops of lemon essential oil

i mix all of these ingredients into a large glass food storage container and use a brush similar to this one with it when cleaning our tub.  after scrubbing i let it sit for a bit before rinsing with warm water. that's it!  the lemon oil gets the stains off of the porcelain in our tub and makes it whiter than ever.

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if you would like to purchase essential oils or the premium starter kit (the best deal by far) and become part of the young living family follow my step by step directions below.  this is something that i wish i had known about years ago because the benefits for our family have been substantial.  i'm eager to continue this learning process and share it with you all!

1. go to: distributor sign-up page
2. please make sure you have checked young living wholesale member and not retail customer.  you will not be able to get wholesale prices as a customer which will give you 24% off of the products and you do not have to sell anything!  such a good deal.
3. fill out your personal information. 
4. select your kit.  i got the premium starter kit which is by far the best value.  you get ten oils, a diffuser, lots of samples, and helpful oil information. 
5. you can choose to sign up for essential rewards at this time if you'd like.  if you are someone who is going to be incorporating essential oils into your family's lifestyle this is something you might want to consider after receiving your products.  i do recommend getting your starter kit and playing around with it before signing up for essential rewards. 
6. at this point, add more product to your order if you would like. 
7. that is it friends, welcome to the young living essential oil family! 

if you have any questions or comments about using essential oils please feel free to leave a comment below or email me privately.  i am more than happy to pass on what i know or help you find an answer to a lingering question. 

9.28.2014

a first birthday party for theodore louie!


we had a sweet little party for theodore louie this weekend.  the warm sun warranted bare feet and shoulders and urged everyone to see things through squinted eyes.  our backyard, flooded with golden rays and melodies of the avett brothers, put us all in a cheery mood.  it was lovely.

our darling theo boy turns one early on this upcoming week but we chose to celebrate a few days early so some our our closest family members could take part.  they traveled from iowa to make his party extra special and i know it meant the world to him.

i kept things simple for this birthday: a nap-time crafted garland made from eucalyptus and found feathers, a gold crown, homemade pumpkin spiced apple pies (a mini smash pie for theo and one larger pie for us hungry adults), a few of his favorite wooden blocks, sugar cookies, a new tee pee birthday present from his nanas and papas, flowers picked from our neighbor's garden, and one giant white balloon for the birthday boy to play with.  the focus was set on spending wuality time together and less on elaborate party games and expensive decor.  in learning from the past, simpler is always better despite being the obvious, it being more manageable.  i am sure glad i went this route because it gave us more time to focus on family and just plain ol' hanging out together.

we set our little brown haired chap in his new fort and gave him his tiny homemade pie that i had baked earlier on in the week from apples we had picked ourselves.  he knew right what to do with it.  he dove in face first, as all pie lovers wish they had the tenacity to do, and showed that pie who was boss.  with an ever so sly grin and very present twinkle in his eyes, he licked his bowl clean and got pumpkin apple filling all over the place.  it even found its way in-between his darling baby rolls.  watching him in his new tee pee you could tell this was his best moment ever.  he was so happy.  glowing, even.  we looked on with grins ourselves, snickering as he fearlessly kept going back for more, lifting the wee tin to get as big of a bite as he could.

afterward, when there was no more mess to be made, i took him inside and hosed him off in the kitchen sink.  i washed the pie away and out came a clean and rather slippery baby boy.  a boy that wanted to cling to his mama in the warmth of his towel.  as i felt the weight of his chest fall onto mine i held him there, my almost one year old, whispering "i love yous" into his still wet ears.

happy, happy birthday sweet boy.  i love you, i love you, i love you.