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Essential Living Class Starting!

imageI’m starting a new online essential living class on Wednesday, August 17th. Learn the basics of using essential oils, how to make safe cleaners for your home, and how your whole family can enjoy the benefits of these natural oils!

This will be an all online FB class with videos and helpful info that you can do at your own pace! The cost for the class is $5 and you will receive two rollerball bottles of essential oil blends to try and enjoy. Message me to sign up and I will drop your bottles in the mail this weekend!

Tutorial: Creating Cocktails with Essential Oils

I love using essential oils for all the great health benefits but I also love to use them in cooking and entertaining. I did a little tutorial over in my FB group for oils and thought I would share it here. Thomas’ big idea was that every time I said the words “essential oils” I had to take a shot. I’ll let you see for yourself how that turned out!

 

Want oils? Buy some here!

Storms.

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When I was a child I was terrified of storms. I was an anxious kid anyways, but the threat (real or perceived) of a storm was enough to throw me into a panic. I knew the phone number for Civil Defense by the time I was 9 and would call them anytime I heard thunder to see if there was threat of a storm coming our way. It’s probably a very good thing that I wasn’t a child in the age of internet.

Now though? Oh, I love a good thunderstorm. Give me a stormy night at home any time and I am a happy girl. I will snuggle up under one of my million thrifted crochet blankets and turn on a good movie and rest peacefully in my house while listening to the raging storm outside.

Because somewhere along the way to this point I learned that the house I am in is stronger than most storms we are likely to face. Are there some that can shake the foundation of this house? Sure. Are they likely to hit me here where we live? Not so much.

Now my kids aren’t quite as frightened by storms as I was as a child, but they do get nervous at the sound of an approaching storm. The look at me to make sure we are safe and I always reassure them that we are safe as houses under the cozy blankets in our living room. And whether they are completely reassured or not they seem to believe my confident assurances and try and ignore the storm that rages outside their windows.

And I find myself thankful that I’ve grown up so much that I’m not scared of storms anymore.

At least not those of the meteorological variety.

But I would be lying if it didn’t occur to me recently that the little girl with Civil Defense on speed dial is still inside trembling at other storms that come her way. I’ve been thinking lately about what storms have replaced those thunderstorms of my childhood.

Losing my husband?

The health of my children?

Seeing people I love suffer?

Juggling the bills that never seem to end?

The older you get and more you have to hold on to the more terrifying it seems to see the possibilities for things that can take the people you love away.

I’m trying to remember more lately how strong the foundation of my house is. I’m trying to remember that just as I am caring for my children there is Someone who is caring for me. That I know Him. And that He loves me.

I don’t want Viola to be the only thing I ever write about on here because I don’t want to give the impression that her disability dominates our life. It doesn’t. But God is using it to teach me so much. Like who she belongs to. And who I belong to.

Viola’s diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech has meant lots of intense speech therapy. And that therapy is not covered by insurance. So, we’ve got an unexpected expense of nearly $700 a month that we are dealing with to give her the help she needs. Outside of all of the other medical expenses for her and the other kids. For a  one-income family of 7 (with two kids in braces) it is not an insignificant expense.

And I remember the day I booked her appointment for an evaluation and was told the cost was $450 for the initial visit and $160 per hour thereafter that I had no idea where that money would come from. But Thomas and I decided to step out in faith and book the appointment and take it on a week by week basis.

So, every week I ask God to supply the money for her therapy outside of our usual budget. And, so far, every single week He has.

Mostly, the money comes from selling things that have stacked up in our home unused. But, I also make things. And go to antique shows. And sell essential oils. And somehow in between it all it has covered every session.

Last week I was pulling out all the stops to avoid dipping into savings for her session. By Thursday I was taking loose change to Publix to add to the fund for Friday’s session. (How on Earth did we accumulate $30 in change?!) The night before her session, I was $35 short.  And my faith wasn’t shaken. I knew I would  be able to dip into our reserve to pay for her session this time. And then the next morning about 15 minutes before I got to her session I got an email from someone who wanted to buy a couple of the dream catchers I made and it filled in that gap. I was so very thankful for that provision.

I wasn’t thankful because I didn’t have the $35 we needed to cover the remainder of the payment. I was thankful that God provided for His child in that way. And I was thankful for the eyes to see that it was His provision.

Now, does that mean we won’t ever struggle to cover this expense? Of course not. Does it mean I will never worry? Don’t I wish.

However, it does mean that I am praying for the eyes to see those moments of provision and to see them as God’s love for me and for Thomas and for our children.

A friend posted a picture the other day of refugee children playing in a bathtub filled with water in a pile of rubble. Their father had provided a small bit of happiness and relief for them in a very dark and difficult situation. At the time it made me realize that my struggles in the north Atlanta suburbs (while not unimportant to me) are often in much need of perspective in the grand scheme of things. But, as I have digested that image it also made me realize that sometimes God provides us moments of peace and joy and relief in what feels like the rubble of a difficult situation. Just as that father gave his children a moment of joy in the midst of a great struggle, so has my Father given me joy. If only I have the eyes to see it.

And that is what I really want to remember. That seeing those moments, those gifts, are completely up to me. God, my Heavenly Father, has provided untold gifts in the midst of turmoil that I have likely been too closed minded to see. If only I could have seen this sooner. But, if I fail to look around now and to be aware I may miss some of the most beautiful moments of my life.

The smiles on the faces of those children were such a wake-up call to me. Joy comes from inside. Joy in the midst of rubble, of destruction, of sadness and even death is a possibility. Lord, please do not let me be too short sighted to see this here on this Earth. Let me see Your beauty in everything. Let me see every small and big thing as a gift. Let me cherish these breaths, these struggles. Because You are here with me. And in every moment let me realize I am not alone.

I don’t call the Civil Defense anymore when I am scared. But I do still find myself scared and trembling in the midst of the storms of life. However much we change and grow in our lives there is still that small child inside who longs for reassurance that we are safe. Perhaps without that fear we would never reach for the hand of the One who can give us peace.

Lord, give me that peace and the wisdom to see where it comes from.

 

A Day in My Life: Orthodontist Edition

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I have five kids in the orthodontist’s office drinking the” free to parents only” cappuccino.

The two-year-old has “I’m a little butt.” written on her arm by a bigger kid.
The five-year-old is wearing the toddler’s shortie shorts and fur boots.
And the 7-year-old announces to the waiting room “I sure do wish our house was as clean as this office.”

Let’s just all take a moment to say the Serenity Prayer. And, Lord, please bless these folks who have to put up with us.

Amen.

Songs of Innocence

When voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still

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Then come home my children the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Come come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies

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No no let us play, for it is yet day
And we cannot go to sleep
Besides in the sky, the little birds fly
And the hills are all covered with sheep

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Well well go & play till the light fades away
And then go home to bed
The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh’d
And all the hills echoed

-William Blake, “Nurse’s Song (Innocence)”

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The Ordinary Life.

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I always have big plans for summer. Somewhere around March or April I start dreaming of what our days will be like. Long lazy trips to the pool with PB&J picnics on towels in the sun. Book after book after book marked off our summer reading list. Day trips and field trips and endless adventures. Maybe a weekend or two sneaking away to some seaside location.

The truth of summer always disappoints me a little. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it. It’s just that it never quite lives up to my hype and I spend most of August feeling guilty for not providing a more magical Pinterest-worthy, Instagram beautiful summer.

I’ve become so much more aware of how quickly time is moving. Kai is 12 and there are fewer summers home with us ahead of her than there are behind her and I feel an urgency to make them all count. Life moves so quickly and I find it so hard to cherish the moment I am in and seem to spend so much time wishing I had savoring the moments that have passed.

I’m working on being mindful of my present moment. I’m working to put my phone down, stop worrying so much about things being perfect, and start appreciating those seemingly mundane experiences together as a family. Because those are the memories my kids seem to love the most.

We moved a few years ago from the house we had spent most of the kids’ lives in. It was a cute quaint retro ranch when we bought it and it turned into a bit of a money pit that, in the last couple years we lived there, had no heat and no air and a basement full of mold. It took our kids nearly a year to stop crying about not living there at least once a week. And to this day they all have the fondest memories of that place. When I remind them that the house didn’t have heat they say, “But it was so fun to cuddle by the fire together.” When I remind them that it didn’t have air conditioning they say, “But that meant we got to eat popsicles on the couch all summer.” They don’t remember a single bad thing about that house. It occurred to me this summer that if they could cherish those memories of a too small house with so many discomforts that they will probably remember the mediocre summers we have with great fondness as well. It doesn’t take a whole lot to make a wonderful memory. It takes time spent together, a willingness to be present in the moment, and a whole lot of love.

When my kids look back on Summer 2016 they won’t have fantastic and exotic adventures to relive. But they will remember:

*Nights spent catching fireflies and listening to live music under the stars at Matilda’s.

*Eating blackberries and blueberries straight from the bushes until our stomachs were full and our faces were stained with juice.

*Days spent snuggled on the couch under quilts watching our favorite Netflix shows together.

*A Fourth of July weekend spent in the country with their grandparents splashing in a cheapo plastic kiddie pool.

*A weekend visit with a special Hawaiian cousin and a night spent camping out on the living room floor with her.

*Days spent playing throughout the neighborhood with their best friends.

*Countless kisses on sweaty heads and skinned knees.

It doesn’t really matter if these moments were glamorous. Because they will likely grow up to view these things through their own magical sepia toned filter. As adults, its the ordinary childhood moments that always feel more fantastic in hindsight. I know that is certainly true for me. As a kid I did get the chance to travel a lot and spent a lot of my childhood adventuring across most of the country on road trips. We took fun trips and made great memories. But one summer memory always stands out in my mind. My sister and I spent our days playing all over our family’s 8+ acres of land most days and getting into as much outdoor trouble as we could. One particular day we found what had to be the biggest mud pit we had ever seen in our lives. We spent what felt like hours playing in the mud. We jumped in it and rolled in it and threw it at each other.  I know for a fact that neither of us even once worried what our parents would say. We finally showed up on the doorstep for dinner fully clothed and covered from head to toe in the worst smelling mud you can imagine. I will never forget my mom’s face when she saw us and realized we had been playing in the septic tank drain field all day. Turns out our greatest adventure was actually a big field of sewage. Seriously.

And that, my friends, is one of my favorite childhood memories. Swimming in a pool of crap for an afternoon. And I guess I only share that to remind myself (and all of us parents) that if I can grow up and cherish a memory of playing in the grey water of a septic drain field then surely my kids will be able to grow up and cherish these less than picture perfect summers.

So, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack on my stress over memory making. Because ordinary and special don’t have to be opposites. We make memories every day. And some of them will be extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime adventures. And some of them will be moments spent discovering a new favorite movie on Netflix. And all of them will be special.

Even the ones spent covered in crap.

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This post has been shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy.

The Seed and Soul Collective

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Let’s talk about essential oils!

I’m admittedly a dirty hippie type so it wasn’t too hard for me to be convinced of the benefits of essential oils. Still it took me a while to fully integrate them into our family’s life because I lacked the knowledge and support of other people using them to get me really using them to their full potential.

When my son was 6 he was plagued with a chest full of yucky warts. The hurt him and bothered him and we made three trips to the dermatologist for treatment with no success. We had an appointment for a fourth round of treatment but before our visit our pediatrician recommended we try a combo of Lemon and Frankincense essential oils on his warts. I was desperate enough to try most anything so we gave it a shot. I made him his own roller bottle of these oils in a carrier oil of coconut oil and gave it to him to use three times a day. I didn’t give it much thought until he walked into my bedroom two weeks later excited because all of his warts were gone! I was hooked from that day forward!

At the time I was using lots of different brands of essential oils but when I got more serious about it I started researching Young Living essential oils and loved their company values and commitment to quality. I started using them exclusively and have been thrilled with the amount of support and education they provide access to on all of their products.

I guess you can say I really embraced the whole “crazy oil lady” mentality and began to represent their product and introduce other moms and families to the benefits. It’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made for my family.

I love to share about essential oils and their benefits over in my private FB group, The Seed and Soul Collective. It’s a closed group for the oil enthusiast and oil curious, alike. Head over and join if you’d like to know more about how oils can be integrated into your family.

You can also visit my public FB page The Seed and Soul for a taste of the videos and info I provide if you’d like to check it out without joining the group. My favorite part of the group is the fantastic dialog that happens amongst the members, though, so I highly encourage joining.

If you’d like more info on buying oils (click here to shop!) or on why I chose to pursue the business side of things please feel free to message me! I love to talk about what led us to these decisions!

 

Talking about talking. Or, more specifically, talking about not talking.

When we got the diagnosis that Viola was a Little Person I remember feeling really hopeful for her future. I knew things wouldn’t be easy for her but this girl’s spirit is something to be admired. When we got the diagnosis of mild/moderate hearing loss I was worried but optimistic. We would be able to get her a hearing aid if she needed one (she didn’t) or tubes to help improve her hearing (she did). Then a few weeks ago our speech therapist suggested an additional diagnosis.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

And I still feel hopeful and optimistic and all of those things. But I feel a little weary for her. Because I just feel like maybe she deserves a smaller mountain to climb.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech.

How this looks in our daily life is that she struggles to say any words on command. And she struggles to imitate sounds. She wants to. She looks at me and tries and tries and tries to tell me something but it comes out completely different than any word she’s trying to say.

For example, yesterday we were doing our speech homework. The goal was to get her to say the long A sound. “Aaaaa” I said. She set her eyes on my mouth to study it and forced out “Mmmm.”

At 26 months she isn’t saying much more than 5-6 words. Most all of those words are exclamations. Words she says spontaneously. Nothing much on command. “Uh-Oh!” “Oh Dear!” and now that we have kittens to chase around, “Meeeooow.” But not much else consistently. She knows lots of signs. She follows directions. And she can communicate non-verbally in a really effective matter.

We’ve seen lots of experts and therapists. And a Naturopathic doctor or two as well. And we are working to make progress. We’re doing some really intensive speech therapy right now. And taking probiotics and vitamin B-12 and cod liver oil supplements. And using essential oils. And pretty much any other thing I can think of to help her.

Maybe the thing I’m learning most in all of this is that Viola’s journey is just that – her journey. I can try and help her. I can be there for her but the truth is she is going to be climbing this mountain and there isn’t much I can do to fix things for her. That is true for all of my kids. It just took Viola to make me see it.

Lately I worry a lot about everyone. The more struggle I see my kids having the more I realize how limited my ability is to make life easier for them. I’ve been praying for wisdom and for patience and for healing. And I think I’m getting it. Just not always in the way I want to.

I want God to give me the wisdom to know how to “fix” Viola’s challenges. He’s giving me the wisdom to see that He created her (and all my kids) for a special purpose. And they don’t need to be fixed.

I want God to give me the patience to help her through this. He’s giving me the patience to wait on Him and to recognize that life may look differently for her than I had planned but that it is okay.

I want God to heal her of her motor speech disorder. He’s healing my mama’s heart of the fear I have for my children’s future.

This world is a scary place. Whether you’re average height or small. Whether you speak or whether you communicate by other means. And I’m being reminded daily that I am not the one driving this train. I have to trust more than I think I am able to sometimes. But trust feels like a rubber band. Just when I feel like I am going to break from the waiting and the trusting my rubber band stretches and I find myself capable of trusting more. God is here for me as much now as He ever has been. I’m just learning to rely on Him more. I’m seeing His provision more. I’m thanking Him more for the little things.

One of the things we talked about in my therapy recently was the idea of emotions being bad. If you had asked me 6 months ago which emotions were “bad” emotions I would say: sadness, worry, anger, fear, envy…and a whole host of other not so fun feelings. What I am learning is that these feelings are uncomfortable. And I mean, really, really uncomfortable. But so is growing. And that doesn’t mean its a bad thing.

It sounds pretty basic. After discussing this with my kids it seems like they already knew feelings weren’t bad. So I guess I’m a little late to the party. When I realized it was okay to feel sad or disappointed or angry at things it freed me up to see what these feelings were teaching me. I’m focusing on riding the waves of these emotions without letting them drown me. It’s been healing to have this change of perspective.

Tomorrow I am going to get up and get ready to surf the waves of emotions that come from being a mom to five kids (one with needs that are a little different from the rest). I’m going to exercise patience and trust. And I’m going to love and love and love and love.

Because, in the end, love is everything I have to give to my kids. And I’m trusting in that to be enough.

 

 

 

On the importance of self-care.

One of my biggest pet peeves is selfishness. I hate it in myself. I worry often that my decisions are selfish. As a mom, I hate to see it in my kids. It’s my biggest irritation at the self-love/self-esteem culture that I feel gets way out of control.

However, what I am learning this year is that selfishness and self-care are NOT the same thing.

For years I have neglected certain things in the fear that taking care of them is selfish. And I’m not talking about mani/pedi type stuff. If you’ve seen my feet you know that aspect of self-care is still one I struggle to embrace spending money on. I’m mostly talking about mental health and taking care of my mind/soul/heart.

Way, way back in the blog archives is a few posts somewhere about depression. Or anxiety. But, because I’ve been pregnant for, oh, 13 YEARS I just always called it Post-Partum Depression/Anxiety and felt like it would resolve itself. (Side note: PPD/PPA is a real thing and I shouldn’t have been “writing it off” and not dealing with it. If you’ve got it, seek some help. You absolutely deserve it.) The truth is I have been anxious for as much of my life as I can remember. I’m an anxious person. I worry. I fret. I stress most hours of the day.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And Depression. And so there I said it.

About 5 months ago I made an appointment with a local therapist to start DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) in an attempt to get a handle on all of this. My midwife was not comfortable prescribing anti-depressants any longer without me seeing someone who was an expert in mental health.

Can I just tell you how pissed off that made me? Was she implying I wasn’t mentally healthy? No, it turns out she wasn’t implying it. SHE WAS SAYING IT. And that’s okay. I didn’t need to get any more angry with her than I would with someone telling me I had Strep Throat. Because mentally I was (okay, AM) unhealthy. But seeing the right person was going to help me get better.

So, self-care. I’m learning how important it is. I’m learning that loving my kids means taking care of their mother. I’m taking medicine and being mindful and using words like “opposite action” and “radical acceptance” and feeling better and better. Weekly therapy feels like a workout at the gym. Hard but worth it. Exhausting but so gratifying.

And I wish I had done all of this sooner.

Honestly, I don’t know where to go with this. Except that I wanted to say it out loud. To say that I am a work in progress. To say that the reason I have avoided blogging for a while (um…a couple of years?!) now is because I was so afraid of not doing it perfectly and amazingly that I just kept myself from doing it at all. But these are things I am working on. Letting go of my fear of being imperfect and my expectations.

I’m hoping this will be an exercise that helps me get back into this space. Back into writing and expressing myself here. I’ve lost too much time to anxiety and the fear of not having it all together.

I am who I am. And you either like me or you don’t. So there.

I still really hope you like me. I guess my therapist and I probably need to work on that a little more. 🙂

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Summer.

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It’s firefly catching time again. The southern Summer heat has wrapped around our city like a hot wet blanket and the sun has come out to play for longer hours each evening. And as dusk descends the landscape is peppered with the blinking lights of mating fireflies.

My kids, bug haters on any other day of the year, squeal with glee and run to get jars to trap these flying twinkles of light. They place them gently and lovingly into their clear glass jars. They watch them. And marvel at them. And treasure them. And as they do I watch these children of mine and cherish their unadulterated happiness at such treasures.

Tonight my bed is filled with children. Grass-stained elbows and feet poke me in the ribs. A sweaty head rests against their daddy’s shoulder. Our queen size bed is filled with three little ones and two adults while the older girls slumber on the floor. It’s summer concert season and they have fallen asleep the minute their head hit their pillows. Saturday nights we head down the road to Alpharetta’s best kept secret, an outdoor concert venue with folk art and picnics and local bands and hippies all around. The kids play in the field with glow-sticks and hula hoops forming friendships for the night while the adults sit on colorful quilts drinking wine and enjoying the art of doing nothing.

It is nights like this that I hope my children remember when they have families of their own. It is nights like this that I will carry into my old age like a tender package. Despite my sometimes grouchy complaints to the contrary, when kids fall asleep in our room with their hands and faces stained with watermelon and their bare feet dark with the dirt of a well-worn field I am filled with so much beauty that I nearly suffocate from the weight of it.

On these nights, I run to capture the perfection of these moments and imprison them in jars in my memory where I will cherish them forever. These are my summer fireflies. And they fill me with such joy and and wonder. On the days when my living room is a mess and my four-year-old loses her gum only to find it minutes later in her hair it is these moments I call upon to remind me how thankful I am for this crazy life.

 

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