1.29.2015

motherhood // curing cabin fever


although there's no snow on the ground we have been getting a bit of cabin fever over here.  anyone else?  i mean, there are only so many frozen elsa puzzles one can do in a day.  sometimes when it is frigid outside it can be hard to come up with ideas to do with little babes.  one night in bed i started jotting down a list of things to get us out of our funk.  just a simple list of ideas when my mind gets foggy with the winter blues.  it's good to have lists like that on hand, an easy way to get motivated when your body suggests otherwise.  this list contains things to do both in and out of the home.  sometimes we need slow days where we don't get out of our jammies, and there are a few things on this list for that.  and they there are days that getting out of the house is a priority.  it is sometimes difficult for me to get all packed up before leaving the house with little ones, but after i do i am so thankful for it.  the fresh air combined with human interaction, it's kind of essential.  here are some ways we are curing our cabin fever this winter season.

1. go to your supermarket and get a big bundle of flowers.  those cheap carnations will do just the trick.  let one of your kids pick out the color, stella loved doing this.  toss them about your home in a frenzy, placing them in unexpected places like the bathroom or on a window sill.  do not go shy when it comes to flowering up your mantle.  go crazy.  your heart will thank you.

2. meet a playdate at a local nursery and pick out a few new plant babies to take home.  spend as much time as you can there, smelling the greenery and soaking up that fresh oxygen.  go ahead and pretend it's summer for a half and hour.  pick out an inexpensive plant to take care of with your toddler.

3. bundle up and get your buns to the park!  it might be freezing out but if you fill your thermous with hot coffee and put five layers on your babies you'd be surprised at how long you can survive on the playground.  we have a little park within walking distance and sometimes just walking there, swinging for ten minutes, and walking back does the job.

4. make a new music playlist or go thrift some new albums from the second hand store.  put them on first thing when you wake up, even before you make coffee.  music has such a special way of uplifting us and it's such a fun way to start the day.  lately we've been listening to the misterwives and stevie wonder.

5. diffuse your oils!  i am so serious, you guys.  diffusing oils such as grapefruit and orange and lemon and joy have been major sources of happiness for me.  you cannot go wrong when diffusing something citrus.  and whenever we need to freshen things up, we diffuse purification.  i have been diffusing oils everyday and it really has made a difference.

6. get together with other mamas you love spending time with and eat goat cheese together.  or whatever you feel like eating, but goat cheese is always a good place to start.  your babies can come along and mess up the house while you eat and chat.  so good for the soul, mama play dates are.

7. put your babes in a bubble bath.  turn up the music and let them play and play until they want out.  we do this day time bathing about once a week as fun activity.  sometimes, i'll take in a big stack of books and read to them while they play.  it is a great way to get them relaxed before nap time, too.

8.  have an indoor picnic.  this is a fun one to do with stella while theo is napping.  we will set out a blanket and sip juice out of little saucers and eat toast and jam.  albeit, it's no outdoor picnic, but still fun nonetheless and changes up our routine a bit.

9. go to the library.  this is another outing we make at least once a week.  we stock up on new books to read and spend time discovering new authors.  now that we've been going to awhile the kids know our routine, which is nice.  we also make it for story time here and there which theodore enjoys immensely.  your local library should have an hour for little ones, check out their web page for some fun ideas!

10. spend the day crafting.  this one takes heaps of patience because we all know doing crafts with little ones is not the easiest endeavor, but the gigantic mess is always SO worth it.  some of our favorite carats include watercolor painting, making play dough, making cards for friends, and tracing objects found around the house.

i would really love to hear some of your ideas on how to cure cabin fever!  thanks, friends. :)

1.26.2015

recipe // blood orange & jalapeño roast chicken salad


i am starting to get back in my cooking groove and i must say, it feels so good.  i had a dry cooking spell that lasted about three months where we relied on lots of take out and freezer meals.  thank goodness that is over!  although once and awhile it is completely necessary and delicious to go that route, i much prefer cooking for my family so we can fill our bodies with healthy foods.

this past week i had one of those days where i was in and out of the car pretty much all afternoon and evening.  we had many errands to run, a playdate, and lots of little stops in between.  before i knew it the sun was down and i had nothing prepared for supper.  it was looking as though chips and salsa would be our only option.  so on the way home i popped into our neighborhood market to get a rotisserie chicken.  wouldn't you know it, we headed home and were so exhausted from running all over town that day we barely ate any food!  the next day i realized we had quite a bit of chicken leftover so i whipped up chicken salad for lunch.  i used some blood oranges that are currently in season and it made all the difference.  in fact, it was so tasty that we ate it again for supper spread on top of toasted farm bread!  here's the recipe.

*when preparing salads i do not measure, so if you need to adjust any of the measurements to your liking, go for it.

ingredients:

1/2 rotisserie chicken meat shredded or chopped the way you prefer, no skin
3/4 cup of mini heirloom tomatoes cut into fourths (any variety will do.  you could also sub grapes)
1 handful of chopped parsley
1 big tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
1 pinch of cumin
3/4 cup of mayonnaise
the juice of 2 blood oranges
1/2 to 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and chopped very fine, depending on how spicy you like your food
salt and pepper to taste

to prepare, mix all of the above ingredients together in a big bowl.  allow the favors to get to know one another by covering your salad and letting it sit in the fridge.  or, if you are super hungry, just dig in with crackers or a spoon.  that's what i did.  :)

1.19.2015

motherhood // pregnancy reflections in my second trimester


it's rather hard for me to believe i am almost half way through my third pregnancy.  yes, almost half way!  it was not until i sat down a few afternoons ago, i mean really hunkered down, feeling the weight of my pregnant body sink into the middle of our couch, that i reflected on the gravity of where my life right now.  i am about to be a mother of three.  

sometimes i'll be going about my day and i'll unknowingly take a backseat view to my life, seeing things with a rather wide scope.  it is in those moments that i wish i had magical powers to "push pause" and let everything settle.  you know, just make things stand still for a bit so i can soak in every scent, catch every moment, and feel every ounce of all that is going on with this little family of mine.  my babies are growing up too fast (just like everyone else babies) and i miss the stages that are long gone, like nursing to sleep and stella saying "shockadile" instead of crocodile.  that is the bittersweet part of parenthood: just when your babes outgrow something adorable they surprise you all over again with a new sweet something that becomes the new favorite.

and just in case you haven't seen theodore on instagram lately, he's basically a teenager now.  i swear he just woke up one day and decided not to be a baby anymore.  how rude!

then there are other times on the opposite side of the spectrum where our life seems to be keeping the perfect pace.  where the rhythms of our chapters are on course, flowing just as they should.  i feel this way when i think about the little one that will join our family this summer.  god's timing is pretty great.

reflecting on pregnancy wells up a range of emotions for me.  i am sure i've said it before, but what an awesome and beautiful responsibility being pregnant is.  to think i have (almost) made three humans.  my goodness!  i feel blessed and grateful for having the opportunity to have grow and carry these little people.  i have found each pregnancy to be a humbling experience, each very different from the others, full of their own nuances and distinctions, giving me different feelings, different surprises, different joys, shaping me into the mother and wife i am today.

caring our third baby has been the most difficult physically speaking, but right alongside the tumultuousness has come the most surprising cadence of calming waves crashing my shoreline whenever i seem to need a solid reminder that although difficult, this process is so good and so beautiful.  here is an example of one of those calming waves: stella came up to me in bed the other morning and gave me a hug.  my contacts were not yet in, my eyes were barely open, but open enough to see her standing there in nothing but reindeer pajama pants.  my belly, now starting to round and fill out, grazed hers as she leaned in, gently reminding her that she is going to be a sister again.  without hesitation, she bent down and kissed my bare stomach.  twice.  and then she went about twirling on the floorboards of our bedroom, requesting cereal and daniel tiger.  it was short and sweet, yet still, i was left speechless and in tears.

i suppose what makes this pregnancy so much different from the previous two is that we get to share it with our other babies, namely three and a half year old stella.  this time around, stell is a big part of it all, loving and understanding that she will be getting a brother or sister this summer.  our oldest will be four right around when the baby is born and i am quite sure she will assume the role of "little mama" right away.  our sweet girl knows her world is changing and that as a big sister to a new baby, her role will take on new a meaning here in a few months.  i can't want to see that unfold.

not only does stella freely offer up smooches for my growing belly but she has become quite helper, too.  she accompanies me to the doctor's office whereupon she is given the very important task of holding the heartbeat monitor.  most of the time the sound coming out is made up of fuzzy frequencies as we search for baby's beating heart, but stella's sparkling brown eyes tell a different story.  "i am a big, big girl," they say.  "i am a helper.  i am important."  our doctor makes sure she feels included the whole time and you can tell how much she appreciates it by the way she carries herself afterward.  as we drive back home she'll tell me about that fast-paced beat she heard.  "bum bum, bum bum, bum bum," smiling all the while.  these moments shared with stella have impacted me so much as a mother.  they happen when i least expect it and carry me through the difficulty moments of nausea and exhaustion.  there's nothing sweeter nor more satisfying than seeing my babies engage with their fellow siblings, even if one of them isn't born yet.

despite having hyperemesis, i feel surprisingly more at peace being pregnant than i ever have before.  i am sure one big reason it is because my body is mostly familiar with all the changes taking place: restless legs at nighttime, a burgeoning tummy, shortness of breath, a general sleepiness throughout the day.  typical pregnancy stuff.  i knew these things were coming, and now that they're here, i have been able to transition much easier having felt this way before.  but i think the main reason for my calmer state is that my perspective on delivering our baby (and really the whole process of pregnancy in general) has taken on a much more accepting tone, contrasting my previous anxiousness surrounding my experiences delivering both stella and theodore.  i now know what to expect come june when our little baby will make his or her arrival in this world.

and by saying i know what to expect i mean that i know not to expect anything at all!  

both stella and theodore were born early and had to spend time in the nicu after i gave birth.  with stella i delivered early with no reasoning behind why.  my water broke in public while having dinner (at blanc burgers if you are local!  that was fuuuun.) and a few hours later she was whisked away to another part of the hospital, and not in my arms where i thought she'd be.  the whole experience was very difficult for me, for i had all these built up expectations: to hold my baby right away, to do skin to skin, breastfeed like they do on national geo, you know, all of the romanticized things they tell you about in baby classes.  none of that happened.  she was taken almost immediately by a team of doctors and nurses to the intensive care unit as i lay there in shock trying to make sense of a confusing and fast-paced situation, all the while wondering, "why wasn't my baby still inside my body?"  the first time we saw tiny stella was hours later, her little body covered in tubes and wires.  i will never forget that fragile moment, really seeing her for the first time.  it changed me.

when pregnant with theodore i went the route of taking weekly progesterone injections to prevent early labor.  it didn't work.  again, i delivered early and our little baby was taken away the nicu to recover where he would get help to strengthen his lungs before we could bring him home.  his journey into this world mirrored his big sister's exactly.  experiencing the same thing two times in a row was difficult, but it taught me a lot.

the overall helplessness i felt in both situations helped shape the way i view my current pregnancy, and i suppose many aspects of life general.  they have shown me a glimpse of the important life lesson: expectations can be pretty silly and you should probably get rid of them.  like right now, throw them away!  i've learned that if you set yourself up for perfection no matter the situation, disappointment will creep in, someway, somehow.  as perfectionist myself, this harsh reality has taken me longer to learn and is something deal with on a daily basis.  i have come to feel as though we can utterly exhaust ourselves with worry when making expectations for things that are completely out of our control.  i have done this so many times.  i did this throughout my first two pregnancies and was left feeling hurt and confused.  of course my heart swelled with joy at the birth of our children, but i think i let my devastation surrounding their delivery and recovery overshadow a lot of the early days and weeks after they were born.  through both experiences with stella and theodore, i've learned that i need to trust in god and know that what he is doing is best.  this is not something i leaned on then, but i am now and am grateful for having god in my life again.  trust, trust, trust.  may those words be a constant hum always in my heart, because doing so has brought about immeasurable calmness and peace as a mother, wife, friend, and daughter.

1.12.2015

essential oils // everyday oils for winter wellness


it's no longer autumn.  the trees, once freckled with yellows, oranges and reds, are now shriveled up in shades of tan and leather, some standing stark alongside winding roads.  and the days, once long and bright, are now short and dark.  despite the gorgeous peachy flowers you see above, winter is here, and in the midwest we are in the thick of it.  our new normal consists of pulling on hats and mittens and boots before leaving our cozy homes, wearing layers to our flannel covered beds, and carrying tissues in our pockets for sniffly noses.  sickness is floating around and the seasonal blahs are more frequent, but this doesn't mean we have to suffer through this season; there are ways to help tackle these maladies: oils, fresh flowers, and lots of hot coca, only if overflowing with marshmallows, of course!

combating the inevitable winter blues and ailments is the main reason we bought the young living premium starter kit months ago.  it was important to our family to build up our holistic medical kit so we wouldn't have to suffer through colds and sore throats that tend to put a damper on the winter season.  now that we have two little ones and one on the way, we are more thorough than ever when it comes to preventing sickness in our home.  

over time i have noticed, as i am sure others have too, that the use of their oils change depending on the season.  for example, i tend to gravitate towards oils to help with allergies and renewal in the springtime, oils that help with keeping bugs away and sunburns in the heat of summer, and ones that reflect coziness and warmth for the months of autumn.  and then there's winter, utterly a gigantic category in and of itself.  almost every oil i have can be used in some way to help a family out come wintertime.  below i am going to share with you how our family specifically uses essential oils throughout this blustery season.  (you can expect a similar everyday oil guide later on for spring, summer, and fall!) 

*our family chose to use young living essential oils because they are a seed to seal company, meaning they plant, cultivate, distill, test, and seal the product resulting in a product that is genuine, free of synthetic chemicals, and unmatched in purity.  it is important to note: not all oils are safe to consume or to use even on small humans; furthermore, many oils you find in the supermarket are either diluted or are comprised of a variety of ingredients that will not give you the same health benefits as a product like young living.  i have learned you must check the labels on the oils and do your own research before ingesting any oils, no matter the brand.  likewise, is important to practice caution with any oil or natural remedy you are using at home to ensure the safety of you and your family.  

thieves oil blend:


to kill airborne viruses and bacteria i diffuse this essential oil into the air around the clock.  many oils can effectively eliminate different kinds of pathogens because they are highly antimicrobial, and this one is a rockstar at it.  we use the blend thieves which contains strong anti-infectious essential oils when we feeling like we getting run down.  i diffuse in the bedrooms while we sleep and in the kitchen when we wake and make breakfast

- to support our immune system, i rub 2-3 drops neat on the bottoms of our feet a few times throughout the day.  i dilute with the kids but do not with andrew and myself
- make a tea if you're feeling under the weather.  add honey, 1 drop of thieves oil, and 1 drop of lemon essential oil to hot water. 
- add several drops to a water/vinegar blend to kill any germs on handrails, doorknobs, countertops etc.  i have a giant bottle of this that i spray on everything with without worry that it will hurt theodore if he puts it in his mouth, which he will.  obviously

R.C. oil blend: 


- to relieve chest congestion, mix a few drops with coconut oil and it will act like a vapor rub.  do this multiple times to get relief. you can also add a drop of peppermint to this homemade vapor rub to help relieve tightness.

- you can also diffuse this oil to help alleviate cold symptoms.
- i do not use this on theodore, it's far too strong. 

peppermint oil: 


- for fevers, apply several drops of peppermint oil on the soles of feet. mix one part peppermint and two parts lavender and use on the back of the neck and soles of the feet every ten minutes until fever subsides.  

- for headaches or to relieve pressure, apply to the temples, sinus area or the back of the neck, either neat or with a carrier oil.  avoid your eyes, people! 
- add several drops to warm water and gargle throughout the day to help a sore throat feel better.  
- use to make a soothing tea. 

lavender oil: 


- add several drops along with epsom salts to your bath before bedtime to sleep better.  

- rub on the bottom of feet to promote relaxation and to help get a good night's rest when feeling yucky or run down.
- diffuse if feeling stressed.  i love diffusing this one at night to help me get a sold night's sleep.  it is also a staple for theodore's bedtime routine. 

peace and calming oil: 


- this one i uses all the time for both theodore and stella. i rub a few drops of each together on their back and on the soles of their feet to help calm them when distressed from congestion and coughing.

- add several drops to bath water for little ones at the end of a long day playing inside. 

any of the citrus oils, such as lemon, orange, or grapefruit


- put a drop in your ice water for a pick me up.

- inhale or diffuse for a boost of energy if feeling blue. 
- you can cook with these!  add to icing to make amazing cinnamon rolls


- rub on chest or under the nose sooth respiratory function.  this comes in a roll on and i always carry it with me when i leave the house. 

...and i'd love to hear your favorite ways to use oils in the wintertime. 

//

i have been researching and reading about the safest ways to use oils on my children.  theodore in particular has very sensitive skin so before trying anything on him topically i wanted to make sure i was being as safe as possible.  in addition to consulting the young living website i purchased this book which has been very informative.  i now mix all oils that i am using on him with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil.  for three year old stella, i only dilute the oil if it it a hot oil.  not all oils should be used on children and i think that everyone should do their own research before application to their little ones.  

oils are a great tool to have when it comes to practicing wellness, especially in the winter, but if used without knowledge they can be harmful, just like medicine that is used irresponsibly.  this by no means should deter you from using them because they are a great way to keep your family healthy naturally throughout the cold and flu season, just do your homework and play it safe.

for those of you who are wanting more information, here is a link to help you learn a little more about young living oils and how they can help you and your loves have a more positive physical and 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 sign up as wholesale, you just get the awesome discount).  all the steps to do so are located at the bottom of this page.  happy oiling, friends!

1. go to this link: 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 the kit of your choice.  the premium starter kit 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. for those of you who have sent in a question, i am working hard to get back to you as soon as possible! 

1.10.2015

...a little update


hello!  it sure has been awhile, hasn't it.  so much has transpired throughout the past few months with our little family and i am finally ready and able to share it all with you in detail here in this space.  i do wish, however, i would have been able to connect here sooner.  alas, here i am.

first and foremost, we are going to have a baby!  (that first photo up there is me and our five week old sweet pea)  it is slowly setting in that in late june, mere months from now, there will be five of us watters.  pretty wonderful.  currently i am almost fifteen weeks along and our little one is a healthy little peach, growing fervently and as the interests say, the size of a lemon.  andrew and i found out we were pregnant on his work trip to the caymans awhile back, believe it or not.  a few days into the trip, i started feeling a bit off.  sore back, crampy, that sort of thing.  we took a test because we had a suspicion and, tada...baby number three was on its way!

that is the big news around here and we are so excited about it.  we've decided not to find out if we are having a boy or girl.  being the planner i am, this is going to be difficult!  stella has been the sweetest big sis every step of the way, talking to the baby in my tummy and asking whether or not she can hold and play with the baby he/she when "it gets outta there".  she has insisted that her sister, so she thinks, will be called elsa.  dear god, i hope and pray a new movie phenomenon takes over sometime from now and june for the sake of my sanity and the naming of our baby.  aside from baby names, we are starting to bring up infant things and figure out where this little guy or gal will go when it makes its grand arrival late spring.  i love getting out the little newborn whites and cozy swaddles.  all of the nesting stuff is just too much fun.

on a sour note, and the reason for my absence here, i have been dealing with horrible morning sickness for weeks.  for whatever reason with this pregnancy i became sick right off the bat.  we literally stepped off the plane i started having bouts of sickness throughout the day.  that shortly graduated to all-day sickness and severe dehydration that landed me in the hospital multiple times, and eventually with home health coming to our home to administer IV's for several weeks.  looking back it is all one big missed blur.  it was really difficult being sick, however it was utterly heartbreaking not being able to do everyday things with my family, like make supper or do bath time.  for over two months i was too weak and nauseated to give bottles and read before bedtime.  that was pretty crushing because i look forward to those quiet moments snuggled in with my babies each and every day.  for those who have had hypermesis before, you know how debilitating it can be.  i am so thankful to have found the right concoction of medication to help ease my nausea and dizziness at this stage in the game.

now in my second trimester, i am doing much better.  i am able to go in public again!  i can change diapers!  (not overly excited about that one but you get the point.)  mornings and evenings are still pretty difficult for me, but overall i feel pretty great and have regained most of my energy back.  i am able to do mom things and i am beyond grateful for it.  i missed it.  i truly missed all the "normal" tasks us parents do throughout our day without really thinking about.  it's funny how quickly we can get lonesome for things we complain about on a daily basis.  for example, i was so tired of laying in bed willing myself not to throw up, i missed doing laundry and sweeping up the kitchen after theo had thrown his supper.  as i type that i know it sounds crazy but it couldn't be more true.  those layers, though sometimes unsavory, made up my days and not being physically able to do anything but get up to pee every now and then started taking an emotional toll on me.

despite all that craziness we had thanksgiving and christmas, which, to my delight were both really lovely.  i do wish i had been feeling well enough to document these holidays more specifically, but that's okay.  i am learning to give myself more grace as a parent and not take things to heart when i cannot do them.  "we can do anything, not everything," right?  anyways, we kept things low key and slept a lot and all was good.  looking back, it was nice to take the holidays slowly.  we might just keep that a watters family tradition.

speaking of holidays, as a christmas gift to each other, andrew and i planned a trip to new york city well before getting pregnant.  we had grand plans to travel in early november so we could walk amidst the crunchy leaves in central park and do all of those gushy autumn in the city types of things, but with me at my sickest in november, we had to postpone.  thankfully, the hotel and airline we chose let us choose another time (in their time frame, of course) so we chose the last possible weekend they offered us.  we ended up ringing in the new years together tucked away in an irish pub as the ball dropped less than a mile away.   it was magic.  and honestly, this trip was one of the best we've ever had.  nothing was overly planned or rushed and all fell into place rather gracefully.  a complete 180 from how things had been going up until that trip.  in fact, i am putting together a post about our adventure to the big apple soon, a little travel guide if you will.  it will mainly be about food, which is the "meat" of any good trip if you ask me.  i am pretty sure i made up for all the meals i had missed out on weeks prior on this getaway.  my belly misses you, new york city.

what are we up to now?  well, we are home finally settling into a routine or sorts.  admittedly, i kind of had to relearn how to be a stay at home mom after all that time spent focusing on getting better.  in those weeks i fell out of sync with mothering and taking care of a household.  things are finally getting back on track and i am taking each day as it comes, both the good and the bad.  our days are spent finding and clinging to a rhythm that feels right: doing new puzzles, resting, watering plants, playing games, doing chores, making meals together, taking baths, giving bottles, reading about princesses, keeping a now walking theodore out of harms way, taking trips to the library, ballet, and supermarket, and the like.  typical mom stuff.  and i love it. i feel as though i have so much to share, so much welled up inside that i want to write about and describe here  in this journal of mine.  creative things, motherhood things, things that have been on my heart these past weeks.  but in good time.  i am just glad to have given you an update!

*i also want to say that i am deeply behind in my correspondences.  i mean, deeply, deeply behind.  i am so sorry if you have written me and i have not gotten back to you yet.  i promise i will, and that i do feel awful for not having done so already.  thank you for your patience and your support, friends.