Monday, November 14, 2016

excuses, rest, + routines

I was talking with my good friend Liz (of Bramblefield) the other day about what we'd like to get done and what holds us back. Motivational speakers, many entreprenuers and pretty much most of the internet will tell you to hustle, make no excuses, make sacrifices and a few other more punchy phrases when it comes to letting things go and not finishing. I will not tell you any of those things. Recently I've read/listened to "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker and "Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist. One take-away from both of these awesome books for me was to slow down, say no to things more and find more time to relax and rest. I've been learning that rest is taking a break from good things too because most of my busyness is in things that are really good, but rest is better. 

I can't recall where I heard it first but Ben and I have been clinging to the motto of, "say no to good so you can say yes to best".

Rest is not laziness. This doesn't mean that I'm hanging out in my PJ's all day ignoring the dishes and the children. It means that I'm finding ways to make more time for my children and be more efficient so that the dishes don't pile up and take away from the feeling of rest. 

Implementing new routines have been a game-changer in terms of finding time for rest recently. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (what are your favorites?) called The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenrider (linked below). They were chatting a while back about routines and one was running the dishwasher every night, even if it's not full. Then emptying it in the morning so there is room for the day's dishes. Has everyone been doing this? Have we been doing it wrong all these years? Previously we would wait to run a load of dishes until the dishwasher was as full as possible, which meant that the sink was also pretty full. Full sink isn't my happy place, it's such a bummer to wake up to a full sink and a messy kitchen. Isn't it so depressing to have to dig out and wash the french press on a Monday morning? Either that or one of us (usually Ben) would be standing at the sink for 45 minutes washing the "big dishes" that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher, also a bummer. Our new routine saves us time and energy just by doing small things every day instead of letting them pile up and become big things...every day. Before this new routine I was starting to resent cooking and hadn't baked anything in ages, blaming it on our tiny kitchen (it really is tiny). Now that there is always room in the dishwasher for the extra dirty bowls and spoons from baking something, I don't see it as such a chore and enjoy cooking and baking again. This new little routine has made us so happy! We get to hang out together after dinner because rinsing plates and loading the dishwasher takes all of 5 minutes! It's so funny to me how this small change (that I am guessing most people already do) has revolutionized our household. 

Back to my conversation with Liz. One of the things we were both making excuses to each other about was infrequent blogging. Some of it for me has just been time and not feeling like spending what little down time I had on updating the blog. The longer it had been since I had posted, the more daunting it felt to write again. I always have half a dozen posts bouncing around in my head, but haven't sat down to write them. There's also a few more posts I did write but never posted because I haven't taken corresponding photos or I don't feel like digging around on my computer for the ones I have taken. Liz's problem is the opposite, she will have these lovely photos sitting in a draft but no time to sit and write the words to go with them. We joked about collaborating more, she does the photos and I do the words. Maybe someday. So, that's why there aren't any interesting pictures sprinkled throughout the post as usual. Maybe these lengthy paragraphs will scare away some readers, but that's ok. Excuses are okay too. If I don't feel like writing, then I shouldn't. If I want to write and not add photos, then I should. (PS if you want photos, head over to my instagram, I post plenty there. ). If my kids need time with us at home more than we all need to go to a certain event, then it's okay to say no. We can't do it all and it's okay to not try. I am so over the world telling us to hustle when what we really need is rest. 

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

Scripture doesn't say "come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will show you how to hustle". Who better to speak to our needs than the one who made us and knows them better than we do. 

Just to make sure it's clear as to what I'm not saying; I am not saying working hard is bad. I am not saying I don't work hard or value drive. Finding balance and giving more thought to what really brings us rest is what no one really talks about so here I am, giving you some ideas and some inspriation to find what gives you rest.  

Besides new routines/a less cluttered home,  here are some things I am finding rest in: 

>>> making Bible study time a priority when the house is quiet, versus getting laundry folded and floors swept first. A group I study with is currently working through "What Love Is" by Kelly Minter

>>> finding time for bi-weekly or even weekly unstructured adult-only conversation. Unstructured means my Bible study mornings don't count. For me this looks like coffee with a friend on mornings when Aurelia is having some grandma time, or taking a bottle of wine over to Liz's after the kids are in bed. - Ben welcomes the xbox time without me rolling my eyes at the noisy buttons :) 

>>> sitting down with a crochet hook and some yarn and accomplishing a small project. (What doesn't bring me rest? Tackling a big project and never finishing it, I have never completed a blanket, it's so I mostly do small things now.) I've been doing this in other crafts as well, dying napkins, weaving wall hangings, creating word art. 

>>> listening to podcasts. I am new to this world and so I don't have a big list of favorites to share but here are a few that I've been enjoying: 
  •  The Popcast. This is the only way I even have a slight clue about what is happening in          most realms of pop culture. I have become so out of touch, they keep me current in a very entertaining way. 
  • The Simple Show. Tsh Oxenrider and her co-hosts discuss travel, home life, education, etc. and I find it so imformative. 
  • Disney Story Central. Ben just found this one and sent it to me today. It is a story telling version of Disney movies. This is amazing to me because we haven't found a good podcast for the kids yet and I find myself using the library to check out the same audiobooks over and over again. 
>>> Library books/audiobooks. This goes along with podcasts a bit. I mostly use the library to check out books for the kids but have been finding more for myself lately too. There is an app that our library partners with that allows us to check out audiobooks, it's called Overdrive. The kids love listening to stories in the car, and it really helps curb their arguing. I also just started a free trial of Scribd (click that link and get a 60 day trial of your own!) and have listened to several books for free (including Present Over Perfect). 

>>> mindless pinning. Sometimes I just want to zone out and scroll through the internet and be entertained, I know, super deep stuff. Right now facebook and even instagram have been a little too volatile for me, enter pinterest. When I just want to sit and be super unproductive I will pin crafty ideas and recipes to my hearts content. Some of these projects I will get to, many I won't. 

>>> baking more. I recently made this homemade pizza recipe and it was pretty easy and so delicious. I think I will make pizza instead of buy it more often. I've also made some delicious scones, breadsticks and french bread recently. 

>>> prayer. Ben is having a hernia surgery tomorrow. I was feeling anxious about it before it was scheduled because we felt like everything else was just up in the air waiting to land until we got this on the calendar. It is now on the set, but insurance isn't covering it. All of these things are stressful and could create a lot of anxiety but instead I've been praying and it has made all the difference. I know the Lord has a handle on this stuff and He has a plan, it's evident in so many details. 

>>> gratitude. Much of this comes out in prayer, giving thanks to the Lord for all that we have been blessed with and even giving thanks for struggles as they shape us and grow us in maturity. I also have a journal that my mother-in-law gave me, inspired by Anne Voscamp's 1000 gifts and I will jot down things I am thankful for every so often when I remember. 

>>> observing Sabbath. We don't do this in a legalistic way and we don't really even talk about it but on Sunday (choose any day, just find one that works for you!) we rest. As often as we are able on Sundays we just hang out. We don't take on any big projects, we even take a break from laundry and sometimes dishes. If we are really lucky and Aurelia naps we let the kids cash in some screen time and we lay down and take a snooze as well. We are also super blessed to have a standing invitation for dinner at Ben's parents so we get a break from cooking as well. It is so good for us to rest together in this way. 

I've been able to recognize the seasons that come and go in our lives. Instead of getting stressed when we are going through a lot, I just recognize the season we are in and remember that it will eventually pass. Some seasons are longer than others and some have more joy while others have more pain. The Lord is our strength in all of them and that is how I find rest. 

Now tell me, what ways are you making sure to find rest? 

Friday, September 23, 2016

dōTERRA Essential Oils

As part of updating this space more regularly and providing readers with valuable content I wanted to point out some changes I have made to the essential oils page. This page can be found by clicking on the tab in the upper right under the Breaking New Ground title. If you are reading on mobile this may look different to you; try clicking on the arrow next to the word Home and scrolling down to the essential oils option or just click here. There you will find featured posts about essential oils and you can now click straight through to my dōTERRA page to find out more about signing up for a wholesale account of your own (earn points toward free product!!) or to purchase oils through me. dōTERRA just introduced a whole new line of spa products as well as some new essential oils and other products, all available for purchase starting October 3rd, 2016. I can't wait to try them!

As always if you have questions about essential oils that aren't answered here please feel free to contact me directly. Follow my tips on the myriad uses for these amazing oils on Instagram @breakingnewground! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Summer 2016: slow + simple

Oh this life, I love it and I want it to slow down just a teeny bit more so I have time to just bask in each moment before we are on to the next one. I really do feel fulfilled though, even in the ups and downs, the rushing from one thing to the next. I have learned a lot recently just by reflecting on what God is doing in our lives and discerning what He wants me to do with what He has given me. I've been looking at screens less, reading the Bible and just being with my people more. Doing my best to slow down and simplify life. On "paper" it doesn't look very slow or simple but it can be just by way of shifting our mindset, letting the Lord lead the way and really just saying "no" more often.  

The last two months have been very busy but it was followed by Ben going on vacation a couple weeks ago and it was 9 days of intentional laziness. We just enjoyed each others' company and only allowed a handful of social interactions outside of our household to keep it slow and simple. It was the perfect way to wrap up a very full summer. We are also intentionally kept the rest of this month as quiet as possible as well as we head into a new school year. Malakai just started 2nd grade and Desmond is now in full day Kindergarten. 

Desmond doesn't turn 5 until the beginning of October, just missing the September 1st deadline by 5 weeks. We decided to go through the process of petitioning for him to start school "early" and see how it went. We didn't put any pressure on him or even tell him about it. When it came time for the mandatory IQ test in early July we just said that we told the school how smart he is and they wanted him to show them what he knew. He had a blast doing the activities and answering the questions. I really enjoyed listening to his answers from the back of the room. He had to score in the 90th percentile to qualify for early admission. We didn't get results until a month later. While we waited to hear back we continued to be prayerful over the situation, that if he got in it would be what should happen and if he didn't that we were meant to keep him home for another year of Pre-K.  We were excited for him when he was accepted for early entrance but also a little sad to not have him at home with me all day. I will miss the easy hours of play with Desmond while Aurelia napped, and watching him run across the street to help our neighbor with yard work. I know he has been craving a structure that has been increasingly difficult to provide with baby sister in tow. Des is so ready for school, he has shown it with his eagerness to go and his excitement about it when he comes home.

Aurelia and I have 6 hours to ourselves 5 days a week. I keep saying I won't know what to do with myself. I mean it because it will be a lot of free time opened up during her naps, but also because I have so many things I'd like to accomplish I'm not sure where I should start! Most of all I am just excited for some quality one on one time with my girl. The boys however, I will have to be more intentional about quality time with now. We plan to really slow down weekends when October hits. September is full of family birthdays, or what I like to affectionately call #SeptemberBirthdayFrenzy -Between Ben nearly half of the immediate family birthdays fall in September. When you start counting our extended family that number just gets bigger, which makes for quite the busy time! 

The next 6 weeks are also going to be quite full now that both boys are in fall soccer. We have back to back practices twice a week and I don't even know the game schedule yet but there will be 14 games over that time. I was unloading our minivan at our first double practice earlier this week, filling up the wagon with chairs, waterbottles, toys and a picnic dinner while the boys changed into their cleats and I thought to myself...I have reached official soccer mom status. It cracks me up because it's not really my thing, but it's it gets to be mine now too. I love watching these kids discover what they like and what they're good at. 

So I bid a fond farewell to the long days and late nights of summer and hello to the bustle of fall!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer 2016: Malakai's Tonsillectomy

If you know us personally or follow us on social media then you know our sweet first born had surgery a little over a month ago. He had his tonsils + adenoids removed. The surgeon also removed his ear tubes that had been placed in June 2015 but had not come out on their own like they were supposed to.

Malakai has a tendency to get worked up about things, making them a bigger problem than they are. This is usually the case if he is afraid of something whether it be an imaginary thing or the fear of punishment for something he did or was perceived to have done. It is a difficult road some days but with Ben by my side (and our fantastic counselor) we are helping him to get a better handle on it. He has made a lot of progress over the last few months. 

So when his pediatrician and then his ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat specialist) both mentioned the idea of surgery back in the winter/spring when he had reoccuring strep throat, my first thought was how it would impact him emotionally. Would he be afraid? Would he worry about it constantly? How would we move forward to help him through these intense emotions? Imagine our surprise when he was able to focus on the positives (ice cream for a week) and not even really mention the potentially worrisome aspects. It helped that he could remember his ear tube surgery well enough to know what to expect out of anesthesia and recovery, but it had been long enough that he didn't remember the painful part. We were simultaniously proud of him and thankful to God for providing this peace. 

We scheduled his surgery for after his birthday at a time when our calendars were clear enough that we could both focus on taking care of him and he wouldn't be missing any of the big events he'd been looking forward to over the summer (see previous post for a list of all the fun we've been having!). Then when we had his pre-op about 3 weeks prior to his scheduled surgery date we started to question whether the procedure was necessary. He was healthy and we had the option to "wait and see" which basically means he could outgrow getting sick all the time but we'd have to go through a cold and flu season to find out. Were we willing to risk him still needing surgery in the fall/winter when he'd miss school? Would we be able to actually find a time to schedule it if he was constantly sick? Would our health insurance still cover it if we waited? I literally wrote out a list of the pros and cons of either option and they were totally equal, both in number of things I came up with and the weight they carried. 

We prayed a lot and talked a lot about what we should do. We asked others for prayer and advice. At one point we had said we would be cancelling his surgery, but then I took a glance at his throat and it was red. He had an episode of ear pain during our 4th of July camping trip but not since then, still I thought we should have him looked at just in case. We saw a doctor at his pediatrician's office who confirmed he did have an ear infection and prescribed him antibiotics. One challenge with him is that he has allergy/sensitivity to 2 very common antibiotics, making him hard to treat. This is part of the reason he was put on the road to a tonsillectomy in the first place as his strep throat was very difficult to get rid of. Thankfully this time he didn't have strep. The doctor told us that she could see good reason to do the surgery but would also support a decision to "wait and see". She then referred us back to the ENT to check out his ear and also determine if he could have the surgery if he was getting sick. His ENT was out of the office so by the time he had seen Kai his ear infection was gone. He said because of his history he was still a candidate for surgery, he would never recommend surgery for a child if it was unnecessary, but that we could wait and see if we wanted. However he did say if he's getting an ear infection and cold symptoms in the summer that the likely-hood he'd struggle in the fall/winter again was high. I told him I just needed someone to tell me whether or not we should do the surgery, and he told us he thought we should do it. 

So Ben and I took everything into consideration and decided that it would benefit Malakai's future health to go ahead an have the procedure done. It was a simultaneous sense of relief to have a decision made, but also panic as his surgery was just a week away at that point and I felt totally unprepared. I woke at 3am that night worrying about all the things we had left to take care of. We didn't have anyone ready to watch Desmond and Aurelia so we could both be with Malakai at the surgery center, we didn't have the right groceries to support his limited diet during recovery, we didn't have the pain medicine prescribed by his doctor yet... I did my best to give these concerns to the Lord and he really did show up, everything fell into place and then some. We had friends and family offering to bring meals and balloons and you would not imagine the number of popsicles we stuffed into our freezers.

We made sure to do a lot of fun things that week since he would have to be very stationary for the two weeks after. He got to jump on the trampoline at his grandparents', we took him and Desmond to their very first theather movie (Finding Dory) and we focused on his 7th birthday. We let him ride his new scooter late that night to make sure he got a chance to try it out. 

The day before his procedure we received a call with his surgery time. He wouldn't be checking in until 8:45 and his surgery wouldn't be until 9:45. I was dreading a long morning of having to keep him from eating and drinking. We kept him up late so he could have a snack prior to the midnight cut off and we kept spirits high by making a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream together. 

The next morning Malakai only showed one small moment of worry when he got into the car and said "I'm not so sure I want to go to magic sleepy town today" (this is our way of explaining going under general anesthesia that we had made up the previous summer when he was having ear tubes placed). We talked it over and then he was totally fine, dreaming of ice cream for dinner. During our wait he played some games and read a book. Everything was very prompt, he got back to be admitted quickly and fairly easily. He wasn't a fan of the hair covering but he complied after a few chats about why it was necessary and seeing the nurses wearing them as well. He went under anesthesia easily but for some reason I teared up, which I have every time I've seen him go under. Something about it is just the slightest bit unsettling.

I went back to Ben in the admission area and we walked out to the waiting room together where my dad was. I text family and friends that he was in surgery and we chatted casually. He was done in about 20 minutes, his surgeon said everything went perfectly but "now you have the hard part" in reference to navigating his recovery. We waited another 15 minutes or so before the recovery nurse called us back. Malakai was still asleep and she encouraged us to let him wake naturally. She started to chat with us about his recovery when he coughed and began to wake up. His dry and barky cough was startling. The nurse said it was likely a symptom of his being intubated and that getting him to drink, putting an ice pack on his throat and giving him anti-inflammatory meds would help that get better faster. I can't imagine how uncomfortable it had to be to cough after a throat surgery. He was a bit disoriented and didn't really say anything at first but he came out of anesthesia very calmly. He did say he had some pain so the before removing his IV she gave him a dose of pain medicine in it and made sure his IV fluids finished up so he was well hyrdated from the start. He requested a popsicle, and another before we left. They also gave him a dose of liquid ibuprofen.

She talked us through his discharge and recovery instructions, writing down most of it. She made sure to tell Malakai that he could not run or ride his bike for two weeks, he needed to avoid anything that would cause him to breath heavily. He turned to Ben and I and said "I don't think I should go to swimming lessons" with such sweet concern in his temporarily higher pitched voice. We assured him that he would miss a few sessions until he was all healed up. My responsible little kiddo.

We carried him out to the car and I sat with him in the back of the van to make sure I was within reach if he needed anything during the trip home. We said goodbye to G'Pa and made our way back. The entire process was only about 4 hours. When we came home we settled him into bed and he wanted to eat more popsicles right away. We made sure he had plenty of cold water at all times and I set up several little stations to make aiding him easier. He would be staying in our bedroom so I could sleep next to him for a few nights, Ben would be in the bottom bunk in the boys' room and Des would be in the top bunk. Kai had a tv tray next to the bed with a plastic tray of medicines and droppers, a bell to ring if he needed something (although he had someone by his side constantly for the first day and a half), his water, some books and the tv remote. We set up a humidifier on the night stand next to him as well to help with that barky cough.

I set up an app on my phone called "dosecast" that helped me keep track of when to give him medicine but I also kept a paper record. The app alerted me of when he was due a dose of something but the hard copy helped for having a longer history of what we had given him and when. He was on a hydrocodone and we were alternating doses of ibuprofen based on the discharge instructions which meant waking up that night every 3 hours then 1 hour on a rotating basis. It wasn't until the next day we consulted a nurse at his pediatrician's office about his pain medicines and found out that we could give him both at the same time which meant I only had to get up every 4 hours. Having him in our room made that part easier but it was still tiring. None of the exhaustion mattered as long as he was doing well.

Ben had taken the day of surgery off but needed to work from home the rest of the week. It was a nice compromise between him being able to get work done but also be here to help as needed. Malakai was really needy those first couple of days so I spent a lot of time at his side which meant Ben was on duty to care for Desmond and Aurelia much of the day.

On day two of his recovery my aunt brought us dinner and there was macaroni and cheese as a side. Malakai wanted to eat some so we let him try it (his surgeon had said it would be fine to let him eat softer solid foods as soon as he wanted) and he ate a small bowl of it. We were shocked and very excited that he was willing to eat. He was doing great at eating and staying hydrated, which were our main concerns about his recovery. Our secondary concern was managing his pain which we felt like was going well...until it wasn't.

We went by the discharge paperwork and started to give him less of the narcotic pain medicine on day 4 which ended up being a disaster as that was his most painful day. We tried again a couple days later with mixed results. He did great during the day, he was able to tell us his pain level and it wasn't so bad with less and less medicine but one night he was inconsolable and we couldn't get him to take his medicine. By that time he was back in his room but on the bottom bunk. When we tried to give him his dose of medicine before we went to bed he sort of freaked out and refused to take it, he was acting so strangely it was really quite scary. Ben spoke to a nurse and she said it sounded like night terrors. She was totally right, we have experienced night terrors before but being so caught up in recovery and pain management we were thinking it was something related to those things, especially since it was happening when he was due a dose of medicine. She did say it could be his narcotic pain meds causing him to sleep so deeply he wasn't waking fully but it was unlikely since he was having less of them. He had another night terror the following night but it went by much faster because we knew how to handle it, thankfully he hasn't had any since.

We weren't able to really start letting him sleep through the night without pain meds until closer to 7 days this was around when we were able to start giving him less medicine during the day. About 10 days later we were just giving him medicine when he asked for it, which was usually by the end of the day just before bed. By the full two weeks he was off medicines completely and able to play normally again. During those two weeks he watched a lot of tv, played on the ipad, read books, played some minecraft on the xbox with Ben and Desmond and had a lot of caring visitors who brought him things to do and eat and even brought meals for the rest of us. We felt very well taken care of which was so valuable in allowing us to focus on taking care of him.

Near the end of the 2 weeks we eased him back into being out of the house and expending more energy. He would usually self regulate his activity level. Even when he was outdoors he did a lot of stationary activities. 

Unfortunately Desmond and Aurelia both struggled a bit with the shift in routine. Desmond really had a hard time with Malakai getting to eat jello and popsicles all day even though he usually had a popsicle once a day as well. It was hard for him to not keep score but it was a good lesson for him. The hardest part was being torn in my giving attention to all the kids. Aurelia really wanted to be with mama a lot. We let them come snuggle up with us as much as possible but a lot of the time it just didn't work out. Aurelia was very clingy to me as things started to go back to normal, it has only just recently gotten better.

Malakai was so brave and relatively easy to care for through out the whole thing. Even with the few rough moments I am just so thankful for how smoothly things went compared to how it could have gone. I was told several stories of other very difficult recoveries with complicaitons so I was prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. We are happy we made the decision to have Malakai's tonsils removed, at this point he isn't snoring at night and seems better rested during the day because of it. I think it is safe to say he no longer has sleep apnea, now we will just be praying it helps him stay healthier during cold season!

I would be happy to pass along any tips and tricks if you find yourself with a kiddo facing this procedure. Everyone recovers differently of course but it was helpful for me to be aware of possible outcomes. I gathered information and experiences from other parents before and during recovery. We are just so blessed by our little community both locally and through the internet. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer 2016: Mid-Summer

Two months ago I declared to my husband that I wanted this summer to be as slow and leisurely as possible. He laughed a bit because we were already deep into wedding preparation. It was such a joy and privilege to be part of my sister's big day as she married her high school sweetheart at our good friends' house; but having such a large event behind us definitely felt freeing. It was a bit fleeting though because we just moved on to the next thing and the next thing both mentally and then physically. After Amanda + Kyle got married we started planning for our yearly 4th of July camping trip with my family. We were also mulling over whether or not Malakai's upcoming tonsillectomy was necessary or if we should wait and see (more on that later), and preparing for Malakai's birthday celebrations. Remember the part where I said we were going to have a slow and leisurely summer? Well, that hasn't happened yet and we are more than halfway through! I had the best of intentions but life with littles never seems to slow down. We have made efforts to not overschedule ourselves and despite all the big stuff happening we have had a lot more little moments and relaxing evenings to ourselves than in summers past.

I've written several blog posts over the last couple of months (that I had alluded to in my last post) but none of them are quite done. I keep thinking of photos I need to take (and upload and watermark and position perfectly) to finish off each post and thus they sit unpublished. Again, I had the best of intentions. I do think those posts will be shared some day, but who knows when. It all really depends on what happens next. I'll back track a bit to recap our summer...

Starting with May, even though it's technically spring. I have to say that May is one of THE busiest months we've had over the last couple years. It's so full of end of the year activities at Malakai's Elementary school, at our church for the kids' programs and we started swim lessons at the end of the month. There was Mother's Day, Ben went to a Hillsong concert in Portland with the worship band and a guy's night out with our church life group, Desmond had a gymnastics party, Malakai had a limo ride and choir performance (back to back), a jog-a-thon, a skateworld party and we had 3 kids' birthday parties to attend. Plus the weather here was very warm and dry so we started packing in house projects and I got my garden going. I threw my sister her Bridal shower and then got to planning her bachelorette.

In June we started swim lessons and wrapped up church events with a volunteer BBQ, we went to Kid's Garden Club, I woke up at midnight to get my kids registered for VBS (yes, that's a real thing), took Malakai to the dentist for what we thought was a broken tooth (oh no problem, just part of his jaw bone as his 7 year molars came in...), continued swim lessons twice a week, Malakai went on a very long field trip to Wildlife Safari that Ben was able to attend with him, I threw my sister a Bachelorette party that consisted of laser tag, painting and hot tubbing, We attended more back to back events for graduations, camp opening and Father's day, I took a treat to celebrate Malakai's birthday in his classroom, we gathered together with our huge life group, we had a fairly quiet Father's Day that Ben thoroughly enjoyed, then we went through the whirlwind that was my little sister's beautiful wedding day, Malakai had his first friend sleepover at our house, his pre-op that got us wondering if he still needed surgery, I cut my hair off after having grown it out over the last year for the wedding.

At the beginning of this month we took off camping and we started it with Ben having a day off at home to help prepare and that worked out so nicely that I may insist we do that for every trip we ever go on because preparing on my own is pretty much hectic and no fun, we played at camp and the let the kids get dirty and eat too much junk, we watched fireworks from our culdesac with the neighbors, the next night Malakai had an impromptu first overnight at his friend's house, he also came down with an ear infection so we had to go back to his ENT doctor and ultimately decided to have his surgery, I kept attending a Bible study that had started in February and is wrapping up at the end of the month, Ben and I celebrated 9 years of marriage, we went to a garden party that night which was basically a double date with my parents, the next day I got the stomach flu and the rest of the family went to my nephew's 2nd birthday party, we had birthday party 1 of 2 for Malakai with just his school friends which was the rainiest day in July I can remember, then Desmond and Malakai attended a week of VBS, I prepared our house for Malakai's upcoming surgery and planned out the details of his 2nd party, we celebrated Malakai turning 7, took the boys to their first theater movie (Finding Dory), had 2 doctors appointments, a play date and swim lessons and then Malakai's surgery. The one thing his surgery did for us (besides the health benefits for him of course) was force us to slow down. I have had tunnel vision on my sweet first-born for the past 5 days. All my energy was focused on making sure he was healthy and comfortable, and that brings us to today...whew!

Wow, look how slow our summer has been... 

Summer always goes by entirely too fast. For August we have a camping trip with Ben's family, then Malakai goes to day camp, we go to Portland for a weekend trip and then Ben has a week of vacation where we have ZERO planned and I am convinced it will be the best week of the summer. No house projects, no long drives, nothing. Just being together and laying low. Then just two weeks of summer before my baby turns 2 and my big kids are starting school again. If I'm not careful to intentionally keep slowing down I'll blink and it'll be mid autumn! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

moving forward

I have been on a bit of a blog hiatus lately. It wasn't intentional at first, but afer some personal reflection as part of a Bible study I'm doing and some recent sermons I decided to take some time to pray about the future of this space. I wanted to make sure I'm updating here for the right reasons, I wanted to give it to the Lord and make sure that He is receiving the glory through what I share here just as much as I want him to in all other areas of my life. If I felt God was leading me to abandon blogging, I would have and with a peace about it. For a while I wasn't sure how I would get an answer or how long it would take but I wanted to remain obedient to the call. It has been a productive time of prayer and decision making and I'm happy to be back. I don't know how frequent my posting will be because something I've always stuck to is that I will not let my blog become a distraction from my family and my household responsibilities as other things have in the past.

Earlier this week I sat down and made a list of "why I blog" and as I went through I felt like my reasons were solid and as long as I am mindful of my time, they can all be ways to give God the glory in my life and share His work in us with the Breaking New Ground community. So here I am, back at it! 

I've also made a list of what I'd like to share with you all in the coming weeks, as time allows. I have some crafts I've been working on that some friends have been curious about so I figured I could easily share them here. I also have some recipes to share, essential oil tips, cloth diapering information, homeschooling, a fun giveaway and a sprinkling of family updates as we have been and continue to be VERY busy! I know for sure I will be taking an extended break in August as we will be doing our best to schedule nothing and just enjoy each others' company as summer winds down and the school year approaches. It seems crazy to plan out that far but I've noticed that our schedule fills ups so effortlessly that we need to protect our down time with some strict "black out" dates! 

While I've been on a break, my best friend Liz over at Bramblefield has been busy with updates to her blog and her shop. She just posted some awesome free calender and phone case printables! 

I've also still been fairly active on Instagram so if you aren't following there come join me @breakingnewground 

I'm so thankful for this creative outlet, the people I've connected with because of blogging and the memories I'm able to look back on over the years of sharing a little bit of our lives online. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Essential Oils: How NOT to buy

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how to get started with purchasing and using essential oils. I love oils so much and really believe in their many uses and benefits as we've seen them first hand in our family, so I'm sharing about them all the time. If you are a local friend or family member of mine I've probably offered you an essential oil to try.

There are plenty of ways to purchase essential oils; unfortunately not all of them are beneficial. For this reason, I'm going to cover the best ways to purchase essential oils (at the end of the post) as well as  
Where and how NOT to buy essential oils  

1. Do not buy Essential Oils at discount sites. 

I'm a very frugal gal. I will search for deals all over the place, my favorite being certain websites with "prime" benefits. Great deals shipped to me in 2 days! Who can resist! There are a lot of great things to buy on websites like this, but essential oils are not one of them, and here's why: 

  • These oils do not come from the source. Reputable essential oil companies do not condone the selling of their product on 3rd party websites, which means that these oils aren't coming from the company, even if it says their name under "seller". (Talk about an ethics issue!)
  • These oils are not guaranteed pure and potent. If they don't come from the source, there is no way to be sure what you are actually getting. Even though the bottle is "sealed" it doesn't mean it hasn't been tampered with. Re-capping supplies can also easily be purchased online! 
Bottom line: if the price seems "too good to be true" it definitely is. 

2.  Do not buy essential oils from the grocery store or other storefronts.  

Oils you buy at the grocery store may seem convenient and even a great value, but that's not always the case. 

  • These oils are often not pure and potent. I would never recommend using these oils topically or internally as they are most often only meant for aromatic use. In my opinion, if I can't safely use an oil topically, I don't want it floating around in the air I breathe either. 
  • If you read the label, many of these oils are diluted with a carrier oil. So when you thought you were saving money based on the sticker price, you actually aren't based on potency. 

3. Do not buy essential oils without a wellness advocate. 

I know multi-level marketing type sales are a big turn off for many but they are actually providing stable income for many people in a respectable and ethical format. Trusted companies choose this method to benefit the consumer!

 Here's how:
  • If you buy oils at the grocery store, online, etc. you don't always know what you're getting- as mentioned above. When you buy from the source you have access to all their ingredients and where the plants came from!
  • When you buy without a wellness advocate you may not be getting the oils you actually need and end up wasting money. 
  • When you buy from a company that is offering deep discounts it may be at the cost of their farmers or other employees. What I love about my favorite essential oil company is not only do they pay farmers and distillers fair wages year round, they partner with them to educate them on the best methods to ensure pure and potent oils. Just Google co-impact sourcing!
  • With a wellness advocate you get a teacher, a mentor , a friend who can guide you through the purchasing process and beyond. We are here to help you figure out what oils are best for you and your family as well as to teach you how to safely and effectively use them! Plus 9 times out of 10 you can get a sample of an oil to try before you buy- what online retailer or grocery store offers that?!

How to buy pure + potent essential oils: 

1. Retail- you can conveniently purchase essential oils and other wellness products with my guidance online. In doing so you can be sure I will help you along the way with uses and benefits!

2. Wholesale- If you'd like to join just for the wholesale discount then that's great! There will be no pressure from me to ever sell anything. If you'd like to pursue the business side of things, we will happily walk you through that too! Again, just contact me by email and I'll get you going!

Once you sign up to become a Wellness Advocate  and purchase your welcome kit, you will be invited into our private Facebook group where we can ask questions, share oil tips, business tips and success stories.

If you sign up with me as a wholesale distributor, you will receive:
Wholesale pricing (25% discount)
No monthly order required
Option to receive 10-30% of your total purchase back in FREE product points
Eligibility to receive a FREE Product of the Month
Ability to earn compensation and bonuses

This is the lowest overall product cost + smartest way to buy

If you're ready to learn more about how to purchase + use my favorite pure essential oils, please contact me via email and I will help you get started!  

Disclaimer- This information is my opinion based on my experiences and resources. Please use common sense and the advice of your qualified health professional when making your health decisions. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fighting off Seasonal Threats...

Spring is here and I am FEELING it! Are you? Goodness, it's so annoying to have itchy, watery eyes, and respiratory discomfort when the weather is finally sunny + enjoyable. Right now tree pollen is making it's way around to bother those of us that suffer from this type of seasonal threat and by the time it lets up, grass will be in full force! 

In the past I've tried several options that claim to make all these issues go away. One worked for a little while but not even a whole season, and I still had 3/4 of the bottle left! Money wasted!

What works for me now? I'm sure many of you have already guessed, essential oils! There are several kinds that can help support healthy respiratory function and different ways to use them to best help with what your specific needs are. Try one or two solutions or implement them all! Read on to find out my favorite ways to use essential oils to alleviate seasonal discomforts... 

The best oils for this job are lemon, lavender, and peppermint: a trifecta of oils affectionately referred to as LLP. Together they are a refreshing and invigorating way to support healthy respiratory function. 

If you're new to oils, the 3 main ways to use them are topically (on the skin), aromatically (breathing them in), and internally (by way of capsules or in food/drinks).

Essential Oil uses to fight off seasonal threats: 
>>When using essential oils topically I always advise the use of a "carrier" oil to avoid any skin sensitivies and to make a small amount of oils go futher! If using lemon or other citrus essential oils, please avoid direct sun exposure to the area for 12 hours due to increased photo-sensitivity. 
>>Apply your diluted oils to your temples (closer to your hairline than your eyes!), the back of your neck and bottoms of the feet. If you experience seasonal eye discomfort, you can apply a small amount of your blend to your wrists and lightly dab your wrists around the eye socket. 
>>A great way to simplify application are these handy glass rollerball bottles. I have these for all my favorite topical solutions. I just add oils, top off with a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oils is my favorite) and they're ready to go!

>>Diffusing these oils can be very effective, as often the respiratory system is affected greatly this time of year.  Purchase a quality essential oil diffuser and add your oils for a breath of fresh air!
>>Diffusing is also great because the extra moisture helps to soothe those dried out sinuses!
>>For those without a diffuser, or when you're out and about you can simply add a drop or two to your palm, rub hands together and cup over your face to inhale.

>>I always recommend internal use be reserved for adults only. This is my personal preference. Additionally, a good rule of thumb is to not exceed 10-12 drops of oil taken internally per day. 
>>Put a few drops of each essential oil in a gel/veggie capsule and swallow.  This can be repeated several times a day as desired.
>>No capsules? A mouthful of water in a spoon or shot glass with your oils added can do the trick as well. In fact, one of my preferred methods for supporting seasonal discomforts is to add one drop each lemon, lavender, and peppermint oils to a tablespoon of water and simply swish, gargle and swallow. So refereshing!
>>And with any essential oils you'd like to take internally, you can simply add to your drinking water! Just make sure you are using only glass or stainless steel as the oils can degrade plastic. A drop or 2 to ice water is so nice, or add oils to some hot water with honey for a comforting tea!

Want to learn more about my favorite essential oils? 
Send me an email so we chat about it! 

Disclaimer- This information is my opinion based on my experiences and resources. Please use common sense and the advice of your qualified health professional when making your health decisions. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On sleep

We have truly been in just about every situation imaginable when it comes to sleep with our 3 little ones. This post is about our journey and what has worked for us with each child (to the best of my ever-fleeting memory) and hopefully a little help for you in your current struggles to get yourself and/or your littles to sleep peacefully.

going, going, gone! 

Our oldest, Malakai, was born during a heatwave in the summer of 2009. At the time we didn't have air conditioning except a small portable unit in the main living space. We had not planned to co-sleep because we honestly had no idea what that was or what it meant. Malakai had his own set of plans. We had an antique bassinet by my side of the bed for him to be in our room, but he slept best in my arms, and so that's what we did. He napped fairly well, it was mostly night time that was the struggle. Him being our only child and my staying home full time meant that we could be flexible with sleep for the most part. We thought it was bad, but my current experiences scoff at how easy those days were.

I thought Malakai would be swaddled until he left for college ;)

By 15 months old though, Kai was still not sleeping through the night. He didn't take a pacifier and was weaned but still needed soothed to sleep. This meant myself or mostly Ben walking him around until he fell into a deep enough sleep that he didn't notice when we'd set him down. Letting him cry to sleep was not an option for our situation. He would get hysterical (to the point of vomiting, rather quickly) and we just couldn't stand it.

We read Elizabeth Pantley's "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" and implemented the routines that worked best for us and he was soon sleeping through the night. It only took a couple weeks and it was so wonderful. I still recommend this book as it's suggestions and habits have come in handy with all of our children. Sure, there was sleep regression when we hit a tough bout of teething or a cold, but ultimately we could always retrain using the tactics we learned and going back to our routines.

In the fall of 2011, Desmond joined us. We received a co-sleeper that attached to our bed and were wondering where this magic had been the last couple years! Then we had our first experience with "colick", I was reduced to tears on several occassions and frequently felt like a failure. After a few weeks of it went by, it settled as it often does (cling to that if you find yourself in the throes of colick, it ALWAYS gets better!). From then Des was pretty content to sleep just about anywhere. He napped fairly frequently in a bouncy type seat with his special "lovey" in the middle of the living room while I made lunch and Malakai (then just over 2) played rather noisely as usual.

Malakai, Desmond + Aurelia...swings + bouncy seats to the rescue!

Desmond regressed into needing constant soothing to sleep and at about 15 months had learned to swing one leg over and hoist himself out of bed. We were NOT ready to transition to a toddler bed (and of course, neither was he) so we found our solution in the form of a few sleep sacks. First it worked but the bottom was so wide that he could still climb out, just with more effort. So, I sewed up the sides to make them narrower and ta-dah! no more crib-climing baby. When he learned to work the zipper (because he was baby houdini) we turned them backwards, but eventually he was in a toddler bed and ready to roll. In order to get him to sleep and not play we got into a bad habit of soothing him to sleep and laying him down every night, every nap. This continued even when we put the boys in the same room and turned the other into a "play room" to keep the toys from being a distraction. Someone always had to lay with him to get him to bed, which meant Malakai wanted that too.

Malakai stopped napping, so he would play in the other room while I lay down with Desmond for a nap, which often took a LONG time. At night Ben and I would both find ourselves laying in their little beds, waiting for them to fall asleep. We remembered our previous routines and began to implement them again. It took a while but things got better. One of the best tactics was agreeing to snuggle with each of them, but just for a few minutes. We had worked it all the way down to 1 minute and eventually stopped laying with them after stories and devotions altogether. They've had moments of bothering each other over the years, but for the most part they have always done really well sharing a room.

More recently, Malakai has had a run in with some anxiety and nightmares so I have started to lay down with each of them for "one minute" after lights out. I don't mind this at all, in fact, I look forward to it. I get a small amount of snuggle time with each of them. I pray over them, run my fingers through their hair and kiss their heads before tip-toeing out and whispering "see you when the sun comes up" which was something that we started to tell Malakai years ago and it just stuck. I will continue to do this for as long as they want me to.

Another way we have battled night time worries, bad dreams, and other sleep disturbances is implementing the use of essential oils. We have been using oils regularly for nearly 3 years and the more I use them, the more I am pleased with the outcome. I'd love to share details about this portion of our journey with you. Please feel free to email me to find out which oils we use and how to get some to try!

The boys were 5 and 3 when Aurelia was born. Raeli has been all over the map in terms of sleep. As a newborn she slept wonderfully, and it lasted until we had to stop swaddling her around 6 months because she would roll over in her sleep. We tried all methods of soothing her to sleep, including the multiple different ideas in our go-to resource, "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" but the only thing that worked was to ease her into bed time as much as we could, get her drowsy and lay her down, letting her cry a bit and put herself to sleep. Even still, this really only consistently worked for naps.

Once she got close to a year old she was struggling to get to sleep and stay asleep every single night. I went away for a weekend and we used the opportunity to start to wean her from nursing. I figured we would keep the bed time feeding and wean that one slowly as that's what worked best for her brothers. It did NOT work for her. She would nurse to sleep and then wake screaming as soon as I tried to put her down, no matter how long I held her or if I tried to get her to stay awake. Nothing that included nursing her before bed was working. Then she weaned herself completely. We put her to bed drowsy, but awake and she cried but not for long. Then she slept ALL NIGHT.

It was very foreign to us to let a baby cry to sleep as that would not have come close to working for our sons (or us) just years prior. It's what she wanted and it worked for her. I still have to retreat to the shower if she has a hard time getting to sleep. We also still go in to soothe her if she's having a rough go or cries for "too long"(for us that is over 15 minutes without calming down). At 18 months she still has bouts of waking and being difficult to get to sleep again. Just recently she struggled to sleep at night due to illness and teething, but we went back to our routines once we knew she was healthy and able and she cried a bit, but for less time and she went back to sleeping all night. The more nights go by, the less she protests. Now, she often just whimpers or makes no noise at all and lays there quietly before drifting off to sleep. I consider it a miracle each and every time.

When we've been out late or have had guests over, causing the kiddos to be a bit rowdy instead of sleepy, we usually turn to our favorite essential oils to encourage them to get to sleep calmly and quickly. We've had so much success with using them in this and many other ways that I can't help but sing their praises! They've also done wonders for Ben + I. With how often we were waking to soothe little ones, Ben + I had been used to waking frequently and struggled to sleep all night once they were all staying asleep. We turned to oils and they immediately worked to help us get to sleep quickly and stay asleep all night. All these benefits without the side effects of feeling too drowsy to get up in the morning or if the kids needed us in the night.

All that to say two things 1. never say never! 2. each kiddo is so totally different, let them "tell" you what works for them. As long as it also works for you and is safe, do it! I would never have thought that we would let a kiddo cry to sleep, it's just not something that was comfortable for Ben or I, but it's what works for our little girl and she sleeps well and wakes happy, so we do too!

edit: I wrote the bulk of this a week or so ago and of course Aurelia is in another sleep regression due to her 2 year molars taking FOR-EV-ER to come in all the way. We even went to her doctor to make sure she doesn't have an ear infection. Thankfully she is healthy, just having some referred pain from her teeth coming in. Since she is uncomfortable we do our best to soothe her to sleep in her own room if she wakes unahppy, but when she's just too miserable we pull into our bed to get some sleep. Seasons come and seasons go and if I've learned anything new over the last 6+ years of parenting it's to remain flexible and don't get too used to something because it's bound to change in the blink of an eye!
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