Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sweet Dreams Essential Oil Recipe

Some nights I have a hard time getting to sleep and then other nights my head hits the pillow and my eyes close from sheer exhaustion (my kids usually have that effect on me). We also have a little one who will sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and come crawl into our the wee hours. For the sake of everyone getting a good night sleep we try to make the whole sleeping in your own bed a thing...unless we are too exhausted to carry the said little one back to his bed.

When I learned about the calming affects of lavender and vetiver I began using a "sweet dreams" recipe to have on hand for when I was having a hard time sleeping. We also put it on the bottom of our four year old's feet and have noticed that he sleeps soundly through the night. Now if only we could remember to apply it to the bottom of his feet every night. 

sweet dreams doterra essential oil recipe

Since the bottoms of your feet have some of the largest pores in your body it is a great place to roll the mixture on to absorb in quickly and it doesn't take a lot for it to help. It is also a great area to apply for little kids too...just beware of how much it tickles. My kids will start giggling now before the roller ball even touches their feet. :-)

DisclaimerEssential oils are not meant to treat, cure or prevent disease. This information represents how I, a doTERRA wellness advocate, use essential oils in our home to benefit our family's health. If you are interested in purchasing some for your family you can find out more information by going here

Monday, December 15, 2014

What The World Needs

The conversation usually goes like this...

A new person that I meet asks how we adopted our three oldest children. I mention that we adopted them through foster care. "I want to adopt some day," they say. "But, I don't think I could do foster care. I can't imagine getting attached to a child and loving them so much only to have them leave."

I respond with a nod. That would be really hard. 

Then recently a friend who does foster care told me about a call that she received for a placement. The social worker told her about some kids who needed a temporary home. The social worker said, "we have other foster homes that we could put these kids in, but these kids aren't hardened yet. We know that your home would be safe and caring."

It's true, these friends, they have one of the most caring homes I've ever been in.

To which I just cried as my friend told me over the phone. "How do we say no to that?"

foster care adoption

The truth is foster-to-adopt or foster care are never an "easy" option. I fully believe that you have to go into situations with eyes wide open. Ask questions, find a support group, get on your knees and pray. My husband has said many times, "God doesn't call us to what's comfortable or convenient but often to what's challenging and costly. If it feels like it's more than we can handle, maybe it's the right thing." 

In the Bible, in the book of Matthew, a Pharisee asked Jesus a question. He said, "Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 

Even the simple command to love our neighbors as ourselves is more than we can handle. We need God's help to do that, so maybe as followers of Jesus who have been called to love Him with everything we are and to love others as ourselves, maybe we should start with what the world needs...even if it feels like more than we can handle...maybe it's the right thing. I believe that the world needs more safe and caring homes for kids who are simply caught in the middle of a desperate situation. Kids who need someone to love them and care for them and show them the love of God for whatever time they have them, whether foster care or adoption.

Today I want to challenge you. Maybe you haven't been able to take that first step towards finding out more about foster care or foster-to-adopt because you have thought that it's more than you can handle or that it would be too difficult, even though your heart burns to love and care for children who desperately need a safe place to call home or a family to welcome them. But, what if instead of starting with ourselves, our situation, our needs, our wants, or our abilities, we started out by asking what others desperately need? What if we started by asking, what the world needs and connect that with what we have to offer that makes us come alive in giving it? To quote Frederick Buechner, maybe we're called to the places where "our deepest passion meets the world's deepest need."

Why NOT spend your life for others? Why NOT pour ourselves out for the things that break our hearts? If it breaks our heart it may be that that's where our deepest passion and the world's greatest need are meeting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Managing Christmas With Four Goals In Mind

Many times my role as a mom feels like being a manager of a major company. I'm always trying to improve my skills (my goal is two new skills a year), keep things flowing, train those I am responsible for (aka: five little people) and keep up on all of my tasks to make sure everyone is fed, clean, and cared for. 

I'm also trying to do it all in a way that is realistic & reproducible. I have two daughters that are going to grow up someday and already they talk about being a mom. They are watching. I don't want them to discover that they had this amazing childhood and mom was hanging on by a thread because the stress was so great and the expectations were too high.

Can we all just be real about our limits, the fact that we aren't super mom and that even the best managers in the world all can only do so much?

That is why we are intentional about a lot of things in our home...or at least we try to be. Christmas is no different. Many times I ask myself lots of questions. How do I make this time of year special for our family? How do we remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place? How do we give gifts and keep it all manageable so that my kids don't grow up thinking Christmas is this special time of year only to find out being the mom or dad behind the scenes is the most stressful job of it all? I basically ask questions about why we do the things that we do and how we can do them in a manageable way...a peaceful way. 

Managing Christmas for a family of seven

In doing that my expectations and the burden of it all seemed to lift as I narrowed down my four goals during this special time of year.

Goal 1: Celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

Last year I made a chalkboard countdown to the big day and on Christmas day we will enjoy a special birthday cake for Jesus. Given the ages of our kids right now and how much they talk about their own birthdays this is definitely a tangible way to remind them what Christmas is really all about. 

We have a kid friendly nativity set that can be played with through out the month and we use it to reenact the Christmas story on Christmas morning.

This year we also decided to try reading through the book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift and also have the kids take turns coloring a page that goes along with each day. Ten days in we have read the story once (no condemnation here...I'm moving right along and going to be excited at any parts of the story that we read.) The kids have colored the picture every day and there is no doubt in my mind that they get the true meaning of Christmas.

Goal 2: Giving to others.

This is really important to us as a family. We try to keep our eyes open all year round to the needs around us and incorporate our kids into giving and thinking of others. Last week we delivered some groceries to a friend with the kids and in a few days we will get together with friends and make treats to pass out to our neighbors. We also have our kids draw names so that each sibling has another sibling to give a Christmas present to. 

Goal 3: Time with family & friends.

With most of our family living so far away we don't always get to be with family around the holidays. However, when family does travel in we clear out our schedules and enjoy every minute spent together. We'll figure out something easy to eat, break out the games, watch some movies and just be...together. We also enjoy meeting up with friends through out the month for festive activities and parties.

Goal 4: Making Memories 

This is where our gift giving to the kids come in. Honestly, it feels overwhelming to find gifts for five kiddos. Maybe it is because it feels like they don't "need" anything. Maybe I am afraid to get them something they are going to be disappointed about. Maybe I just wish there was a magic button that I could input an amount into and it instantly puts a gift my child will absolutely love at my door step.

A mom can dream, right

There are lots of great ways out there that people do gifts. Years ago we decided to give the kids three gifts since Jesus received three gifts (two of which were frankincense and myrrh...even baby Jesus loved essential oils!) ;-) We have a budget, aim to spend within those parameters, and find the kids each three presents to open on Christmas day. We also fill their stockings with a few goodies which they get to open on Christmas Eve. 

This year I have about 1/3rd of the presents bought and just 15 days to go. I brought home a couple of things and Sam looked at them with a strange face. That is when I decided that we should just make Christmas shopping together for the kids an annual thing. We can plan a date to spend time together and pick out gifts for the kids...together. Hopefully that means less returns and we can make some fun memories in the process. The kids can also have some fun memories opening up presents on Christmas morning.

Beyond that I am hoping to still snap a family photo to mail out to friends. Make that 5 goals? We shall see.

I guess I'm just thankful for the reminder that I can't do it all. What I can do is make manageable goals and make sure that the things that are most important to us happen this Christmas...or at least that is my goal anyway. :-)

What are your goals for this Christmas season? What is most important to you to see happen and what can you let go of that doesn't "need" to happen?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Last year for Christmas I received a map of the world to put on our mantel. It is one of my favorite things. However when we pulled out the Christmas decorations this past Saturday the map wasn't exactly flowing with the rest of our holiday decorations. I needed a temporary replacement for the month. I thought about building something with planks of wood...and painting a festive message. 

Then I laughed...I have my limits these days.

Then a few days ago on Facebook, I spotted Traci from Beneath My Heart sharing her Christmas Home Tour from last year (aren't the red dishes she added to her kitchen darling!) 

christmas kitchen beneath my heart

Included in her tour was a beautiful print that she had gotten from dear lillie

I found the same one on their site and purchased the downloadable print for $9.95

First I emailed it to Office Max to have it printed as an inexpensive engineering print. However, they said that it would cost $27 because there was more than 20% black on the print. Then I contacted dear lillie for ideas and they sent me to this helpful post with a step by step on how to print it. I followed the instructions and the next day picked up the print at Staples for $4.17 (excellent!)

Have yourself a merry little christmas

The print did have a small line through it and some other blemishes because of being printed as an engineering print along with being a chalkboard drawing. However the cheaper price was worth it to me and once I got the print home and in the frame you couldn't even notice unless you were looking closely. 

After putting the 24x36 print into my 24x36 frame you could still see the white trim around the print. I easily fixed that by taking a black sharpie and filling the white trim in. 

christmas decor

If you are looking for an easy and beautiful Christmas decoration...this might be just what you were looking for. :-) 

Do you have a favorite Christmas saying or print in your home?

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Living Well Spending Less

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Monthly Budget Breakdown ~ November 2014

In an effort to challenge my contentment meter and stay within a budget,
I have $50 per month to spend on Decor & DIY projects for around the house. 
On the first Tuesday of every month I'll show you how I spent it 

Here is the monthly breakdown for November...

Starting Balance = $119.47 (you can check out here to see what was spent in October.)
Income: November $50 + Starting Balance = $169.47 left to spend

I almost snuck by November with no new decor/organization projects. Normally this would be tragic (my creative side finds it hard to not makeover something, somewhere) but I mentioned last month that I am saving my pennies to do a special project for the girls. 

However, I'm not an incredibly patient person and my ideas for their room haven't completely come together so I find myself thinking up little ideas and tweaks for other rooms in our house. I'm going to guess that their room makeover will be delayed a little longer than I originally thought. With a set decor/diy budget I've learned that I really need to love something before I commit to it. Once I've decided that it's a go...the rest is history.

This month I did do one project that cost me $20 and was a giant fail. It was the washi tape bunk bed project. Live and learn, I guess. I'm still a fan of washi tape just not a fan of washi tape on my girl's bunk beds.

Final Breakdown...
Beginning Balance $169.47 - $20.00 (November purchases) = $149.47

I did spend a little something this week to add a small addition to our Christmas decor but that counts for December. ;-) I'll be back tomorrow to show you what I did. 

Did you complete any projects or room makeovers in November? 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Our Christmas Decorating Tradition

This week I'm joining some other bloggers as we each share one of our favorite Christmas traditions. If you are coming over from Rain on a Tin Roof, welcome! Each day throughout the week more bloggers will share some of their Christmas traditions. You can find a full list with links at the bottom of this post so be sure to check back in each day and feel free to join in and leave one of your favorite Christmas traditions in the comment section.

Christmas Traditions Blog Tour

I am a traditions girl through and through. I love looking back at those special things that we did together each year as a family when I was younger. I still remember that first Christmas that Sam and I spent decorating our own home. It was fun and full of wonder. Then I had flashbacks of my siblings and I as teens where none of us wanted to help mom pull the boxes down from the attic and "decorate" the house for Christmas. 

How can we make Christmas decorating a special time...even once we have kids, I wondered? 

I mean really, I don't want to do all of the should be fun and a special time to be together. Thus began my idea of a new Christmas tradition. (It figures that my tradition would center around decorating.) :-)

We usually pull out the Christmas tubs and bring out the tree on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. We pull out ornaments, set up the train, and hang the stockings. 

The stockings just about make me cry each year. For years there were only they remind me how special and loved each person in our family is

We drink hot chocolate while listening to Christmas music all while decorating. Then, since no one likes to cook...I mean, since we've all worked REALLY hard decorating...we order pizza. From somewhere other than Little Caesars (it is a SPLURGE I tell ya!)

Once dinner and decorations are done we snuggle up on the couch downstairs and watch a Christmas movie together. I'll take Elf, White Christmas or....oh, SO many good ones to choose from. 

The funny thing is that I can totally see my kids growing up as teens and still complaining about decorating. And that is when I will remind them that they don't get pizza unless they help with a happy heart...or something like that. ;-)

What are one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Thankful Heart Always Wins

A Thankful Heart Always Wins

Every week I head to the grocery store with my list in tow on my phone.

I think, "I hope that I haven't forgotten anything and that I remembered to add everything to my list."

I glance at the shelves seeking the things that I need and trying to get some extra ideas for something new to try. 

One by one things start to go in the cart. Then I get to the check out line. 

One by one things come out and are placed onto the conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is full and I glance up to see the woman in front of me who walks out with ease with a bag in each hand. 

One by one the items are placed in bags and loaded back into the cart. I push the cart through the snowy mush barely able to get it from point A to point B. Pushing grocery carts outdoors in Minnesota can feel like an Olympic sport. 

One by one the bags are placed into the back of the van. I have a moment to catch my breath. I think of how my husband probably thinks I'm enjoying the alone time. Just as the van is warming up I pull into the driveway.

One by one I carry the grocery bags from the driveway into the house. The wind blows, the cold is undeniable and I step carefully so that I don't end up on the ground with the many gallons of milk in tow.

Thankful for grocery shopping

This past week I was bringing bags into the house after my normal grocery run and I thought to myself, I despise grocery shopping. 

Despise it.

food for our family

And then like a flash of lightening it hit me. I'm complaining about grocery shopping. About having a vehicle to drive to the store, the ability to get everything I need at one place, money to pay for it all, two functioning arms to carry it all into the house and a working refrigerator to hold it.

Ugh, this heart. The words that come out of my mouth. The complaining that so easily flows out of my mouth. It came crashing to the surface.

I began thinking of the mommas who don't have enough food to feed their family. 

The orphans starving to death in Africa. (The other day my three year old said, "mom, I am STAAARVING!" I said, "no you aren't." He said, "Oh, what does that mean?")

The woman who walks miles and miles to shop at various markets to pick and choose the few items that she carries back home.

And just like that, I whispered, "God, thank you for food."

And one by one I started thanking Him for the milk and the bread and the bananas. (The bananas that I can't seem to buy enough of before my crew devours them.)

God, thank you.

It is so evident how ungrateful my heart can be. Yet I am slowly learning, a thankful heart always wins.

What do you find yourself saying thank you for during this season?

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