motherhood // why i love this stage

stella vivienne (at two months shy of four): because of her strong heart and driven spirit.  because of the things she says out of the blue that always make us pause and smile.  because her memory is a steal trap.  she will bring up things from when she was barely two years old, proving to us that travel is important even when they are itty bitty.  because she calls our dining room the "diamond room".  because she'll eat anything and everything we put in front of her, whether it be escargot or mussels from our saturday lunch at the neighborhood bistro.  because she giggles when she is getting cozy and how she loves her pink blankie more than anything in the world.  because she's the sweetest combination of fearless and shy.  how she carries herself through life at such young age inspires me.  because she never forgets a thank you and because she is always eager to help.  because she'd rather watch a cooking show than dora.  because of the way she marches to the tune of her own gorgeous drum in ballet.  because when she laughs it comes from deep within.  it is contagious her laugh. because she thinks dandelions are sunflowers.  and because she wakes up with sunshine in her smile, always.

theodore louie (at 18 months):  because he climbs on everything, dining room chairs, the coffee table, just everything.  he manages to seat himself at our dining room table like a big boy, loving life sitting tall and proud.  his determination is unshakable and he grunts his way to whatever he wishes to climb.  because he dunks toilet paper rolls in the toilet.  daily.  i do not love the act of him doing this, rather his determination.  such a clever little boy that always makes us laugh.  because he has three crooked front teeth from falling on our hard wood floors last month.  the way they turn melts my heart entirely.  because of that look he gives us just before doing something silly.  or the face he makes when we hears a dog bark.  because he pats our back when we hold him and cuddles in so deeply when we give him a bottle.  he is our cuddle bug and i could not love it more.  because to him, all animals are dogs which he calls, "doh!" out the window.  whether it be a squirrel jumping or bird flying, we hear "doh!" from our little green eyed bub.  because you can take one look at him and just know he's a busy boy.  always on the go, presumably thinking, "what can i get into?"

essential oils // everyday oils for spring wellness

spring has undoubtably arrived and as i look out the wall of paned glass windows in our bedroom, i see trees and bushes dotted with fuchsia, soft ivorybright mustard, light purple, and the freshest shade of green.  the window is cracked open and the cool morning air is making its way into our home, freshening everything up.  like most spring days, the clouds look as though they are on the cusp of rain.  you can just feel that at any moment, it will start to sprinkle a bit, nourishing all those thirsty blades of grass.  i used to say that autumn is my favorite month, but i think that may be changing.  i love the sense of renewal brought upon by the colorful season of spring.  i love the newness of it all.  it's like i am hearing birds chirp for the very first time ever, and that is really speaking to my soul.  

in this season of growth, our family is starting to change up our wellness routine a bit.  because of the pollen and rise and fall of the temperature, seasonal discomfort has started over here at the watters house.  welcome itchy eyes and the ever-present runny nose!  eh, not really.  because of this, our wellness and oil regimen has taken on a new shape.  we are swapping out oils that helped congestion and breathing and other yucky winter ailments with ones that will help balance us this season.  we are also focusing more on cleaning and purifying, so using all-natural (kiddo safe) products are a must right now.  below i am going to share with you how our family specifically uses essential oils throughout this springtime season. 

seasonal discomfort blend (lavender + peppermint + lemon):  for those who deal with the coughing, sneezing, itchy yuckies come springtime.  

- rub one drop of each on the back of your neck or the bottom of your feet each morning and evening.    using a carrier oil while applying is up to you.  
- you can make a roller bottle for this to make this process easier, adding 20 drops of each oil to a 10 ml roller bottle and filling the rest with a carrier oil.  this recipe would be good for adults.  for kiddos, i would use a much more diluted blend and reference your gentle babies book to further apply. 
- know that applying lemon oil and going into the sun for an extended amount of should be avoided.  
- add 2 to 3 drops to your diffuser and diffuse according to your machine's instructions or for as long as needed. 
- take 2-3 drops of each oil in a vegetable capsule each morning or add a couple drops of each oil to a spoon full of local honey.  

joy oil blend: 

- i use this as my perfume.  it is very floral, and i love how refreshing and uplifting it is.  i rub it on my wrists and over my heart each morning.  this oil was made to help balance emotionally, something i could use a bit of every single day.  

- not only is copaiba anti-inflammatory, but it is also a magnifying oil, so it enhances the effects of other essential oils.  it will make you seasonal discomfort blend much more powerful and effective. 
- this is also a great oil to use in conjunction with lavender if your little one falls and gets an owie.  it helps the oil work more effectively. 

- orange oil brings peace and happiness to the mind.  it is rich in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene and aids in maintaining normal cellular regeneration.  because of this, i like adding a few drops to my homemade face cream. 
- one can also use this oil to help you clean.  it really does a number of goo and grease!  
- you can head to my latest oily post about all the amazing things orange oil can do.

- add 5 or so drops to your diffuser and diffusing when spring cleaning to purify and cleanse the air.  you can add some lemon or orange essential oil to this when diffusing to create a more citrusy scent.  i have found this oil blend to with just as well if not better than fabreeze, without all those harsh chemicals!  you can also put some on a cotton ball and place it where you want to get rid of smells.
- as an antibacterial, you can apply top bug bites to stop the itching and to disinfect.  this will also work for a bee sting to help reduce pain and swelling.  
- rub on the outside of your sore throat to relieve. 
- add a drop on blemishes to aid in clearing the skin.
- pop a roller ball on top of your oils bottle and use as a deodorant
- add several drops to your dryer balls in lieu of fabric softener. 
- put a few drops at the base of your door to prevent pest invasion in your home. 

- put a drop in your ice water for a pick me up.
- inhale or diffuse for a boost of energy if feeling blue or are in a funk. 
- this oil can help is weight management, too.  you can put a drop in water to help curb an appetite, while giving you wonderful health benefits as well. 

it's important to note that oils are a great tool to have when it comes to practicing wellness, no matter the season, 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 seasons, just do your homework and play it safe.  educationeducationeducation friends!  also, the information contained on this website is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  the information represents what i, an independent distributer of young living essential oils, have chosen to do to take charge of my own personal health and that of my family.  statements on this website have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition please consult your physical before using these products.  furthermore, information found on this site is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health and dietary decisions based upon your own research and partnership with your healthcare provider. 

and before i forget, for this month's promo and i am gifting a 15ml bottle of young living orange essential oil for those who sign up under me as new wholesale member for this month and purchase a premium starter kit.  you can quick order your kit here.  if you are wanting more information on how and why our family uses oils made by young living farms, head here.  this promotion is valid throughout the entire month of april for those who follow the guidelines stated above.  and nope, you never have to sell anything when you become a wholesale member of young living.  in fact, most people don't!  being on my team just gives you heaps of education and support from other oil users like myself.  make sure you sign up wholesale to get your 24% off.  that is not offered to retail customers.  happy oiling, friends!

*why young living oils you ask?  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.  


essentail oils // april promo + the beauty of orange oil

it's here, it's april!  our calendar is flipped and fruit had found it's way on the table.  i don't know about you, but i am sure thankful this month has arrived.  because all things spring!  and flowers.  and being barefoot in the backyard.  and playdates outdoors.  and windows down while running errands.  and popsicles.  the start of picnics.  all of it!    

one can not be in a good mood with all of this happening.  it is also such a great time to dive into natural cleaning and making your home smell all citrusy fresh.  i am over here diffusing essential oils and getting ready to make a new batch of household cleaner to start.  because it's spring and i love happy scents, i am using orange oil as the basis of most of my homemade cleaning recipes.  it happens to be one of my new favorite oils because there are so many practical uses for it.  it's both an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, an antiseptic and most importantly, you can add it to your cinnamon roll icing.  praise!  i have found throughout the past few months there are so many other wonderful ways to use this oil and i am happy to share them with you.

- diffuse when down or a bit cranky or if you need a little pick me up

- add it to lavender and a carrier oil to sooth kids that are wound up

- add a couple of drops to ice water or a smoothie for a yummy treat

- put a few drops somewhere smelly to freshen it up, say the garbage can or diaper pail

- put on tile stains and wipe away after a few minutes to clean

- add 5-10 drops to a 1/4 cup epsom salts or bath salts for relaxing tub time

- combine 20 drops in soapy water (i use non-scented castile soap) and clean surfaces or walls or cupboards or dishes 

- add 10 drops to 1/4 cup of coarse salt and rub on your cutting boards to purify

- add to your water + vinegar counter spray to disinfect

- message a few drops into your favorite carrier oil (i like jojoba or almond) to help brighten complexion

- add a drop to your toothpaste to whiten teeth and help tooth owies

- use a few drops to cut grease or wipe off glue

april promo: for this month's promo and i am gifting a 15ml bottle of young living orange essential oil for those who sign up under me as new wholesale member for this month and purchase a premium starter kit.  you can quick order your kit here.  if you are wanting more information on how and why our family uses oils made by young living farms, head here.  this promotion is valid throughout the entire month of april for those who follow the guidelines stated above. 

*the information contained on this website is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  the information represents what i, an independent distributer of young living essential oils, have chosen to do to take charge of my own personal health and that of my family.  statements on this website have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition please consult your physical before using these products.  furthermore, information found on this site is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health and dietary decisions based upon your own research and partnership with your healthcare provider. 


homestead // tips on maintaining simplicity and joy at home

you guys, it's spring!  how beautiful to wake up with the chirping of the birds and cool air drifting in through the windows.  it's such a welcomed reprieve from those harsh winter months that kept us locked in and cooped up.  i so cherish this time of year for it lends itself quite well renewal and growth.  in fact, everywhere i look there's a tulip getting ready to sprout or a tree starting to turn the palest shade of green.  i truly love it.

as the weather here in the midwest turns to the early chapters of spring, i am called to reflection in areas in my life that i want to change or improve upon, whether that be regarding our home, how the little ones and myself spend our days, in my faith and relationship with god, in my marriage (we need more date nights!), or even in my friendships and in dealing with expectations.  i do my best to give all of it good looking over and sorting through because this practice of reflecting gives me peace of mind and brings about a calmer, happier me.  it's one of the main reasons i look forward to this season.

when spring rolls around i am always inspired and driven to get back to the basics.  the winter months and past holidays have made for that never-ending accumulation of stuff whereupon we pile up on things and dust and dirt and rubbish here at home.  i think this rings true for everyone, because in the coldest of cold, it is comforting to hunker down near a crackling fire and barricade ourselves with material items.  clutter becomes easier and we fall into a pattern of collecting.  ...presents from christmas, layers upon layers of clothing to keep warm, pots and pans for stews and breads--it is all a part of living in a colder climate and i think we let things in to surround us, to warm us, and keeping our attention away from the harsh winds and inability to really enjoy the chilly outdoors.  but now as the shiny new year is really starting to reveal itself, those things are no longer needed and we must make way for new season.

just as the landscape changes, so too should the inside of our homes.  as march fades into april it is best to throw on some uplifting music, get into your stretchy pants, and redefine your space, making it one that feels as though it reflects you and your family.  i feel it's important to create an environment that helps you breathe better.  one that you look forward to coming home to, so when you walk through your front door with arms full of groceries and babes and diaper bags you are greeted with a sense of balance and calm.

simply put, your home should make you feel joy.  it should recharge you and excite you and speak to you.  believe it or not it is possible to do so, even if your kiddos are prone to rubbing mac'n cheese on your white cabinets during lunch time.  there is a way to pare down to the essentials, making your place of dwelling not only functional, but beautiful and cheery.  it is during these months of spring that our family focuses on simplicity, deep cleaning, and getting back to the basics in this sweet little place we call home.  but before i get into some of the helpful tips we use daily to keep our home minimal and clutter free, let me go into why we do so.  i think this part of the story is oftentimes neglected in home posts for whatever reason.

alas, andrew and i have been together since we were freshmen in high school and since we've known each other we've both struggled with anxiety.  yes yes, high school as in all the way back to braces and awkward hair cuts and friday night football games.  we essentially grew up together which is so beautiful to me, because in doing so we've gotten to know the deepest parts of one another in a relationship that has gone through many stages of life, from being babies ourselves to having ones of our own.  in getting to know what makes for the best versions of ourselves and in how to cope with our different forms of anxiety, we've come to realize that simplicity helps tremendously.

we both struggle with a wild roller coaster of unease labeled as anxiety, and have found that our mood is very much reflective of our environment.  in college we had our ups and downs with this emotional struggle, trying various forms of medicine and therapy, only to find that taking a pill was a small part of the equation for us.  we found when learning how to live together during our last year of college that how we keep our home is vital to our emotional well being.  the space around us and how we tended to it was a central part of our happiness and ability to seek harmony within our sometimes frazzled state of mind.  this was not an overnight fix, nor are we currently in a place that has let us stop working on ourselves and our emotional well being.  learning about what works best for us as a team was/is a gradual process and one that we still practice daily.

together, we work hard, yes it's work, to maintain simplicity as a theme for our lives in a culture that deems excess as the answer to happiness.  over the past decade we've been able to find a rhythm that bodes well for us, although admittedly, the addition of little ones to our family has made practicing simplicity a more of a challenge.  nevertheless, we continue to place a strong importance on this type of minimal of living while sharing our home with our (soon to be three) sweet little humans.  having a space that is clean and simple and bright, yet cozy and homey is more than just aesthetically pleasing for the both of us.  and it certainly does not mean that we do not make messes or get dirty or forgo things that call for clean up.  that is far from the case!  we just have a way of tidying and keeping things in order that works for our family.

this post is about tending to a simpler style at home while raising a family, for how we keep our home is essential in helping ourselves find and maintain a sense of joy.  therefore, we like our windows open without drapery and our walls painted white.  we gravitate towards comfy neutrals with pops of color and baskets for collecting and storing.  we just feel better when our home is like this, because that sense of emotional happiness spills over into everything else we do.  it's what works for us, and perhaps just might be of inspiration to you.

some tips on how we maintain simplicity & joy at home:

- have a donation box for things you find yourself not using any longer.  a laundry basket with handles is a good catch all so you can easily lift it to the car.  we have our donation box in the basement and i take things to drop off once a month or so.  sometimes, it is more frequently depending on if we are de-cluttering closets.  if we are not using it or have grown out of it, in the box it goes and i don't give it a second thought.

- make your bed every single morning.  after i've tucked the sheets into our bed frame, i feel like our day has started.  sure, the kids will find their way onto it at some point during the day to have a  good jump or cuddle, but the act of making it just helps my mind get ready for the day.

- do the dishes before you go to bed.  waking up to a clean kitchen is everything to me.  it sets the tone that morning and really helps me want to keep things tidy.  it is also rather nice to wake up to clean dishes as opposed to ones with dried food.  no one wants to clean that first thing.

- get baskets to help you organize.  put toys and blankets and crayons in them.  not together, but you get the idea.  i get most of mine at the thrift store or home goods.  you can go the route of pottery barn, but a basket is a basket.  any old woven thing will do.  by getting storage that is beautiful, it will also add to the aesthetic of your home.  keep in mind that storage does not have to be ugly to be functional.

- diffuse an oil or light a candle to make your space smell lovely.

- designate one place for mail and go through it immediately upon retrieval.  do not make the mistake of shoving mail in different drawers or on random counter tops after you get it, for it will just sit there and pile up before you know it.  when i get the mail, i look through it right away.  one pile is made for recycling, the other is where important things go, such as bills, invitations, and documents.  we designated one drawer for this and go through that regularly if it starts looking full.  this whole process takes one minute to sort through and it's done.

- have a day every month or so where you, with help from your kids if you can, add to your charity box.  fill it with toys that are no longer being used, old puzzles, and extra art supplies.  take it a local preschool or church with your little ones and practice giving together.  this is a beautiful lesson you can teach your little ones while managing the toy situation in your home.

- pick a one day a week to do your deeper cleaning.  i tend to do this on mondays but any day will do.

- do not get into the habit of collecting more just because you have more space.  when we bought this home it gave us more than double the square footage of our last place.  we vowed to not fill it up with furniture just because we now have the room.

- put a laundry basket in each room.  this has helped me so much by keeping dirty clothing in one place and not strewn about all over the room.  i've taught stella to put her dirty clothes in her basket and each night when we change theo, his dirty clothing go into his.  when i need to do laundry, i bring up my big bag from the basement, collect dirty clothing and towels, and head back down only having had made one trip.  this system works well for me.

- store kitchen appliances out of sight.  unless you use it every single day, it really does not need to be on your counter.  and for that matter, if you have not used it in a year, donate it.  chances are you will not be needing it if an entire year has gone by without needing it.

- keep your flat surfaces clear.  okay, add a tiny succulent or plant and call it good.  just because you have a giant flat surface to work with, say your kitchen butcher block, does not mean you need to display a hundred things on it.  give your things a home and practice restraint in showcasing everything.

- furthermore, use plants as decor.  not only do they liven up a space but they help the air quality.

- designate a clear, stackable box for kiddo art you want to hang onto.  this one is hard for me, given that i want to keep it all.  every now and then after something has been hung on our fridge or wall, i will open the box and collect it.  other times, it will be recycled.  with the amount of art projects we do a week there is simply no way to keep it all.  this process helps us stay organized while having on to our favorite pieces.  you could go the length of creating a digital copy and storing it on your hard drive, but i am just not that technical nor do i want the actual piece of art thrown out.

- go take ten things out of your closet right now and put them in your donation box.  we all have probably twenty things we should get rid of at this very moment in our closets, but ten is a good start. i think i am going to do this after i hit publish.

- have a small bowl near the entry for keys and loose change somewhere by your front door.  this will eliminate you searching everyday for them and give you a place to collect coins should you have them in your pockets when you get back from running errands.  if this bowl is small, it will not tempt you to store other things in it.  large bins become catch-alls for trash, receipts, and random bits that end up overtaking the whole idea of simplifying in the first place.

- likewise, have a small bin for seasonal shoes.  keep the rest in closets or tucked away in a seasonal bin in storage.  by having one place to collect shoes when you come in, it will prevent the clutter at the front door situation, which is never calming or pretty.

- for those who are thrifty, just because something is cheap, does not mean you need it or should buy it.  i love the target dollar section as much as the next gal, but be careful.  those trinkets will clutter up your home in a hurry.

- have kids or husbands pick up toys each night.  yes, husbands too because we all know how much they love playing with legos.  not only does this keep things tidy, but it teaches the little ones responsibility.  i like to have a mid-day clean up with the kids before their afternoon naps so things are in place before i start to make dinner as well.  baskets make this so easy because all of the toys go into one place.  we try to end our evening with toys in their baskets and puzzles put away, making a fresh and calming space to walk into early in the morning.

- don't put coats and purses on the dining room table.  hang them up!  again, everything should have a home.

- keep a drawer for cords (ours is in the kitchen) and make sure to label them.  i cannot tell you how many times andrew has asked my where the phone charger is, because i am the one always moving it around.  but since we've made a drawer for chargers and things it has helped us both out when we need to grab something.

- keep in mind when decorating, less is best.  strive to keep things simple and easy.  there is no need to keep old magazines around or blankets you haven't used in ages.  keep things basic and your home will appear cleaner too, even if you haven't actually cleaned in say, a of couple weeks.

i hope you guys found these tips to be useful, and as always if you have a question i'll do my best to help you out.  happy spring!


homeschooling // friendship necklaces for pen pals

today stella and i spent some time at our dining room table as the morning light made its way through our front windows.  as i started to jot a few things down in my garden journal, like what sorts of things we were going to try this year, she worked away stringing beads together making necklaces and bracelets for her pen pals.  it was a simple and sweet activity to do for someone her age.  the concentration, the option to choose colors, the dexterity it took to get those tiny beads onto string.  but the message in making these gifts was what really shined.  she we worked, we talked about her friends, the importance of community, and how nice this gesture will make them feel.  she kept listing off people to send them to, so i got started stamping envelopes.  we worked together like this for over an hour, just chatting away about color patterns and princesses and when she could play outside.  i love how informal our homeschool routine has become.  sure, we do a fair amount of letter work and puzzles and books, but these sort of organic activities remain my very favorite because of the important messages they instill.  i hope as stella grows, she continues her love for handwritten notes and snail mail.  i believe things like this are of great importance, and something we need not let slip away as technology seems to become the center of our daily lives.