Missionary Biographies

I know that I am always on the lookout for good books that others recommend, so I would love to recommend some for you all.

We have really enjoyed the YWAM published Missionary biographies in their children's book series. There are a few different "sets" of books. There is a "younger reader" set called the Heroes for Young Readers that are very easy to read (in rhyme) but are pretty substantial books in length and substance. I would say 2nd grade + reading level to read alone… but they are very well illustrated and very easy to listen to and are perfect "read-alouds" for little ones. Sometimes, children's Christian books can be really short and shallow, but this series really does a great job in painting these amazing people in easy to understand but very deep ways.

They also publish and "older readers" set called Christian Heroes: Then & Now and would be more appropriate for 3rd grade + reading level to read alone… but they are great "read-alouds" for any age. Reese (4) will sit and listen to these as well.

In addition to missionary biographies, they also publish History biographies as well! We've loved using these in our history studies as well!

We have been so burdened to broaden our children's (and our own!) view of the gospel and its impact on the world. We are deepening relationships with our own neighbors and are excited for gospel progress here, but also praying globally for the Lord's workers to faithfully carry out His commands to preach the gospel to the lost. With all the craziness of the worlds news (which I cannot watch/read at all), it is helpful to look back to history and study people who went through similar world trials and see their unwavering faith and commitment to Christ. 

Hope you enjoy these. They would be great Christmas gifts for your own kids, grand kids, nieces, nephews, or just to add to your own library for when you have kids over!


Home exterior- before and after - for reals

Yay for home progress! We finally have the full progression of the exterior transformation of our home! Whew. I'm very thankful to be on this side of the renovation. It's super fun to pin inspiration and ideas and a whole lotta trouble actually picking a color and planning a yard!!!

This is the condition we bought the house in:

After removing the nasty dying olive tree and 5 palm trees ��

The painting had begun and I picked a gray/green color and this is what it turned out to be:
Dear goodness. The photo makes it look 1000x better than in person. It was nasty green. Gross. Poopy. Ugly to the max. It was the most expensive apology I've had to make to Ian.... But of course he was gracious and we migrated to "stucco beige". Very appropriate:

After the exterior paint and new windows:

And yay! Ian and I designed our front yard with help from a landscape designer from church, our garderer and another friend with a side concrete biz poured the new concrete walkway and voila!
I really had so much fun picking out plants and ground cover for the yard. I purchased all the flowers, bushes, and rose trees at Sheridan gardens in Burbank. Local small business commited to organic gardening and happy foliage! 
We thank the Lord constantly for a home and it's been fun to make it our own along the way.  I will post some of the interior before and after a next week. 


Martin happenings

Already October! I know we always say time goes by so fast but it really is true and sometimes you feel like you are just getting used to writing September and boom the month is over!

What have we been up to?

Drew is 10.5 months old and crawling and pulling up and bonking his face on everything. He has discovered the stairs and would prefer to be on my hip 24/7. I end up sitting in the infant room in the church nursery on Sundays because he just is quite the little fuss bucket without me. So, I'm enjoying the time with the baby and guarding my heart against bitterness or anger. He is such a sweet baby and lights up a room (as long as I'm near :)
He was way too small and gained only 6 oz in a few months so our dr told us to increase feedings and work hard to spoon feed him often. Drew just wasn't getting the hang of spoon feeding and would spit out his food and with taking care of all the other kids and home and school stuff, I was just slacking on teaching him to eat. So, with the admonition from the doctor, I have spent the last two months shoving a spoon in drews face and thankfully, he's mastered the skill of eating from a spoon. We praise God for that. We also have had to supplement with formula. Which I just hated the idea.... I wanted my milk to be enough, but it just wasn't. So, we found the best organic formula we could find and would give him one bottle of that a day. Thankfully I can still pump at night and have extra to top him off during the day. But... I feel crazy but I just made my own infant formula last night for Drew and he took it like a champ and even though I was super nervous, it was good and I felt better giving him the whole food ingredients (raw milk, homemade whey, cod liver oil, butter oil, sunflower oil, evoo, coconut oil,acerola powder, lactose, and gelatin!) kinda a long list of ingredients, but I use the Weston price recipe from "nourishing traditions" and he really took it well! Praise God! 

Reese started the 4 year old preschool program calvary kids at our church and she is loving it. I really treasure this time with her. She is so fun and spunky and she has done so well. She is still very sensitive and slightly dramatic but hey, she is a little girl right?! We talk a lot about self control over our emotions and taking about what is wrong instead of crying uncontrollably. A lesson I suppose will take many many years :) she is just such a treasure, our jewel. :) she is super into transformer rescue bots and my little ponies... Legos and strawberry shortcake. She is so unique and special and really a super crazy little gal. She is very sensitive to sin as well and is quite the confessor! (And tattle tale, which we do need to work on but my goodness can she give an exact run down of a situation! It really is quite helpful to me actually when I don't see exactly what goes on all the time :)

As for Cade, wow he is such a sponge and will remember everything you tell him... Whether it's the number of soldiers fighting in the civil war, or if you promised to play Legos with him ;) ... He remembers it all. With classical conversations and homeschooling at his pace, we have been blown away by his inquisitive mind and the boy he is becoming. We can only praise God for sparing his life in his fragile beginning states and sustaining him (and all our kids!!). We constantly remind ourselves that the mind Cade has is a gift from God alone. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for him!!
He is excelling in math. He is in 2nd grade (7 years old) but is well into 3rd grade math curriculum and is loving it. We switched to "teaching textbooks 3" math cirriculum and it has been a huge blessing to us. It is all on the computer: lectures, practice questions, problems and tests. He logs in by himself and completes his work. Usually he will do 2-4 lessons per day (only 1 is required!)and we literally have to tell him to stop and go to bed :) He's working through all his multiplication tables, beginning geometry, and is quite the sleuth with word problems. I have discovered that homeschooling is a lot like seeing your child walk for the first time, or talk for the first time. I get to witness all the "lightbulb moments" in my kids life on regards to their education and I am thankful for that. The Lord has given me a love for my children and wanting to have them with me more than I ever thought possible. It is a gift from heaven.

So, that's the kids. Ian and i ran the disneyland half marathon last month and whew! I am so glad that is over. The pressure of training and the warm weather made it difficult to enjoy the process. Even though it technically was my 3rd half training program... I felt it was the hardest. In the other two races I was already at my goal weight and was trainig for fun. With this race, I was 40+ pounds from my goal weight at the time of the race: and boy, did my body feel the pain of the extra weight! Ouch!! 
But thankfully, the Lord sustained us and we finished! Ian beat me by like 45 minutes (we don't run together) but he was there cheering me on at the finish line!

We are also adjusting to the new normal of my sister and brother in law living across the world. They moved last month and we've been so handful to FaceTime and iMessage them frequently. We have a family shared photo stream as well that is like our private Instagram feed where we can comment on pictures we all post. So, of course the distance and separation is hard but technology bridges that gap like never before so we rejoice! I obviously can't talk much about the details of their goings but it is exciting!

We also conquered lego land and the lego land hotel last week with my paretns. Boy, that place is super fun. The kids were the perfect age (and height) to enjoy pretty much everything and they totally did. Drew wasn't a fan of sleeping great so we had early mornings chilling in the lego pit in the hotel lobby both mornings but it all was fine. We had a blast with my parents too and it was so helpful to have many hands to help with the many children!

So, that's an update. More than you probably cared to know but hey, this is my journal I suppose ;)

Classical Conversations

This year, our school week begins with our Monday morning "school time" with Classical Conversations. We are over a month into the program and we are really, really loving it. I researched long and hard about what to do with the kids and I suppose that is the eternal struggle of the homeschooling mom: what do you actually TEACH your kids?!? (Since you are responsible for that when you do school at home!). Of course, all Christians are to TEACH their kids the Scriptures and integrate that into ever aspect of their life, but as for what Math curriculum to choose, there is not a verse speaking to that issue. God gives wisdom to those who seek Him and fear Him, so it is a given that we need to beg Him for wisdom and trust Him for the results.

I was looking for "classroom experience" for the kids and if we were going to be gone and give up a day at home, ideally, I would like Reese (4) to participate in some capacity so I am not babysitting two kids while we cart Cade around to another function. 

Classical conversations (CC) is a 4 year old - High School program that is based on the principles of classical education throughout the centuries. Susan Wise Bauer, a leader and pioneer for the modern revival of classical education says "Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium." The whole article on the WHY behind Classical education is HERE and I would highly recommend it to you if you are looking for some info in this subject.

The CC program is ideally followed through High School (I don't know how long we will stick with it, but it works for now!). It is a 3 hour study time that consists of memory work, an art project, a science experiment, weekly presentations by each student, and review.

The memory work is what drew me to the program. The Timeline alone is incredible. We purchased the timeline cards and have been such a treasured addition to our history curriculum!
By the way, both kids (and me!) have this whole song memorized (and we've only been listening to it in the car for 1.5 months)! For each subject area, there is a song to go with it. They are short and catchy. The program runs in a three year cycle repeating the material to solidify it in their minds. (The timeline and math portions are the same every year so they get that engrained in their memory). We are in cycle 3 this year.

Training the kids to memorize and retain information and laying a foundation for their life long education. I feel like I am learning along with them.

Every week, there are 8 subject areas that they memorize:

  • History Sentence: This is just one sentence about something in history… this week was:
    • Tell me about the Declaration of Independence:
      • kids say/sing: In 1776, the Continental Congress, published the declaration of Independence, in Philadelphia announcing the colonist intent to form a new nation.
  • Math Facts:
    • Counting by 7s, or memorizing a formula, etc…
  • Timeline
    • We memorize 8 of the timeline events each week with motions.
  • Geography
    • States and Capitols, locating them and knowing all the capitols as well as major landmarks and geographic terms (major rivers, deserts, plateaus, etc)
  • Science
    • Just like the history sentence, we learn science facts like: Tell me the 4 types of tissue:
      • Kids say: "The four types of tissue are: connective, epithelial, muscle and nerve"
  • English Grammar:
    • We learn the definition of all the english terms, present participle, past participle, verbs, etc.
  • Latin
    • The kids learn latin too! Conjunctions, verbs, pronouns, etc. 
  • Bible
    • This year the kids are memorizing John 1:1-7 with full sign language motions and will also be able to say it in Latin!
Of course, CC isn't perfect and it is run by moms so there are lots of little kiddos around and kids are kids… but we are really enjoying it and it has sparked in Cade a desire to learn about the things we are memorizing. It has been so great for our homeschool!

On a funny note, My mom was drinking iced tea the other day and Reese said "colonist dressed as Mowhawks dumped that tea into the Boston Harbor at the Boston Tea Party" (our history sentence a few weeks ago about the Boston Tea Party!) She is my little fly on the wall who appears to not pay attention at times, but is super aware and smart and can retain information incredibly!

So, if you are looking for a little classroom experience and a program that will definitely challenge your kids (and YOU!), CC is a great option!!


Essential Oils Part deux

Here we are again, back to essential oils… Thank you to all who have encouraged me to keep writing. I appreciate the encouragement. Sometimes a good kick in the backside is what you need ;)

All that to say, I realized I never posted a follow up post to my Essential oils post and I'm sure you are all sitting at the edge of your seat, eagerly waiting for the next installment. HA! I jest. But, in all seriousness, I do find myself using essential oils, not like a crazy person, but we do use them. Cautiously. They are potent and strong and powerful, yes… but also potentially very dangerous… Like… swallowing Eucalyptus oil can poison an adult.. hello!? 

A book I have found to be extremely helpful is "Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child"  as well as the Essential Oils Handbook. Both books are NOT published by an essential oil company, which I appreciate. They are published and written by aromatherapist and licensed medical practitioners. (Not someone who will make money off a specific brand.)

What I find troubling in the Essential Oils world is the attitude of complete trust in one brand, and taking what their researchers say as gold. I am sure they have done research, but like in any field of study, taking multiple perspectives and forming your own conclusion is necessary. For instance, if you look in ANY aromatherapy book, or read anything by a certified aromatherapist, you will see this warning… DO NOT TAKE ESSENTIAL OILS INTERNALLY EXCEPT UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A CERTIFIED AROMATHERAPIST. 
This is a major warning. However, many companies tell their salespeople that taking essential oils internally is great, heck, its the preferred way to go! Take them in your water, give them to your kids, put a drop of this and that under your tongue daily, etc…..

That doesn't sit well with me, does it sit well with you? If major, qualified bodies of certified medical aromatherapist are saying one thing, and a few companies (who make bukoo bucks) are saying something contrary, who would you trust? I'm sure you will say, these companies have done research, are supported by doctors, and know what they are talking about… and you know what, you are right, they have done research, and maybe you can get a few doctors to sign on to the theory (who I am sure are very handsomely compensated) and you can run with it, but in thinking responsibly and doing your due diligence in research, what would you do?
But the rub comes when it contradicts almost ALL the research I have done OUTSIDE of the published material from the companies that sell the oils they tell you to orally consume. 

My second beef with the essential oil big companies is the cavalier nature they take in regards to children. The book I mentioned above is an excellent resource for parents. It is a holistic natural take on health care and essential oils and the number one priority is safety. 

The big companies say that using an oil NEAT (undiluted) on a childs' skin is okay. This again, is contrary to EVERY SINGLE THING I have read on the subject from certified aromatherapists and doctors who have published material (Apart from an oil company!).

A child's skin is so sensitive, and, again, oils are very potent and strong!!! So, using it undiluted on a child skin (even if the child doesn't seem to have a reaction at the time) to me, is going against conventional wisdom of aromatherapists over the centuries. Also, many oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus can cause major anaphylactic reactions in children even if diffused in the air. Children especially under 5-6 need to be carefully treated with oils and treated as if they are medication.

That's the thing… The "Make over your medicine cabinet" is meant to help moms use safe products on family health care needs instead of drugs. Of course this is a great idea! However, I think we tend to swing to the opposite side of the spectrum and say ALL DRUGS: BAD AND DANGEROUS!! --- ALL OILS: PERFECTLY GOOD AND SAFE!! 
I think this is an interesting place to be because in theory, who wants their family to take a boat load of medications constantly? No one. What mom is super excited to give her kids medications? Not any that I  know of. 
Essential oil companies paint mothers who use medications out to be the bad guys. How dare you use tylenol on a fever???? Why didn't you use peppermint oil!?!? How dare you use vicks vapor rub?!? Our "breathing" blend of oil would have cleared it up instantly?!?

Of course, I do support making your own home remedies… We had a no-cough rub we have made (she updated the post to include "thieves" oil… the original recipe posted a while ago didn't include that blend) for the last 4 years and it has worked amazingly well (and the essential oil I used was from the shelf of Whole foods ;).

They are handy in first aid. I used helichrysum oil from Mountain Rose Herbs on a infected bite I had and it cleared up faster than I've ever seen in the past with neosporin. I've used lavender (diluted!) on the kids for various scrapes, bruises and bites and they have gone away quickly.
We also diffuse various oils in the our bedroom along with Cade and Reese's (not Drew's). I diffuse them in our living area as well. I like the smells. :)

I also use oils preventatively as we see fit, but with two children who have suffered from febrile seizures, please don't tell me that peppermint oil will help… we use tylenol… I've had 3-4 (I can't even remember) ambulance rides due to Cade's febrile seizures and I know that if I can do something about his fever, as his mother, I feel I need to. I thank the Lord for His kindness in allowing me to live in a time where I can manage his fever with tylenol. Please don't email me the articles about how horrible tylenol is… I've read them, studied the subject and you know what… it has come down to submitting to my husband who says - "give them Tylenol now". And I do… and honor God in my submission.

I do use the homemade blends found in this book: "Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child" 
as my guide. We made the UTI blend and I really think that helped Reese avoid what looked like a UTI coming on. Of course, we increased her water intake substantially and gave extra probiotics but I think the proper use of essential oils can be another tool in your arsenal to help your family.

But get this… Your worthiness as a mom is not judged on if you used peppermint oil on your feverish kid or if you gave them tylenol. God wants you to wholly give yourself to Him and to the service and love of those He has put in your care. So, of course, do your homework, read up, but know that there are more things in life than essential oils. :)

All that to say, I do use essential oils and here are some companies I purchase from…

I signed up as a rep for Doterra before I really knew anything about anything… So, I do have quite a bit of oils from them. I do think they are good quality, as seen by the positive results people have with them. But, they aren't organic and that super bugs me… and their sales people are spewing misinformation about the subject. I stood at a Homeschool convention which had a Doterra booth and asked the lady (what felt like a million times) can essential oils be certified organic? And she kept saying "but Doterras oils are beyond organic" … I kept asking what does that even mean, and kept getting the run around, and just gave up and walked away and bought some puzzles or something from the toy vendor, just to get my mind off of the subject. Essential oils CAN be certified organic, Doterra just doesn't buy from certified organic sellers. They say standards very from country to country. That is true, but we buy organic bananas from Peru, and organic blueberries from Chile. It is possible to be certified organic. It is just false information and an excuse that is given and what is sad is that people believe that.
So, I like Doterra's oils (I like the design the best ;) but they aren't the only oil company.

I also have bought quite a bit from Native American Nutritionals. This article series from WHOLE NEW MOM was really helpful to me in my searching. Read the whole series of articles because you need to see the whole picture. I have been very happy with the oils from this company! Their "Flu time" blend is great and I like all the single oils I have purchased as well. Most if not all of their oils are certified organic.

Mountain Rose Herbs is another oil company that sells certified organic oils and 1/4 of the price of Doterra. The quality has seemed to me to be the same as all the other oils and have worked well. I like that you can purchase them in varying quantities as well! 

Plant Therapy is another company selling organic oils that I am actually purchasing from now! Dr. Robert Tisserand who has been around forever and is widely accepted by all to be the leading expert on Aromatherapy and Essential Oils… he started consulting for Plant Therapy and that is a big deal. I am excited for my oil shipment from them to test out their oils.

Again, this is just my own thoughts, I am not a medical doctor nor do I claim that I have all the health answers for you. This is just the fruit of my research and what I do for my family. And… get this… if you don't agree with me, that's ok! :)

Remember, "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?… Matthew 10:25-27


just push send

It is almost humorous. I start this post with very little faith that I will actually finish it. You see, I've started almost 10 blog posts on different topics on my mind (faith, food, kids, etc), but they pine away in my drafts file and never see the light of day. I'm cruel to them, I know. I don't know what it is… I have thoughts mulling away in my head and sit down at the end of the day to write and I just fizzle. So, that is why I am writing as I am semi-laughing to myself thinking this post will go to die in the drafts file.

Our life lately in bullet points, because who doesn't just love bullet points?!

  • Drew is almost 9 months. That is pure craziness. What a joy he is! He really is the sweetest thing in the world. He is super smiley and loves to laugh and woo all who will give him a passing glance. He is doing better sleeping at night which is a huge praise. He eats around 8-9pm and sleeps until 5-6am, eats, then sleeps until 7-9am. We have had to let him cry a little in his crib because waking up a million times a night just isn't a good thing for anyone. But, after one night of crying, he has learned that he needs to sleep and he has put himself back to bed. He is nursing great and almost too well… he really hasn't been super into solid food! I think his tongue thrust reflex stuck around a little longer and just this week, he has started to swallow food! Yay!!! He has tried soft-boiled runny egg yolk, sweet potato, carrots, apples, blueberries and cream, chicken, beef (all pureed). We skipped the rice cereal for a whole host of reasons and he is finally doing well on opening his mouth and not spitting everything out!
  • Cade is starting 2nd grade in a few weeks. He did swim lessons and tae kwon do and I feel like we were busier in the summer than we were in the school year, so ironically, I am excited for school to start so we can get back to our home routine. I miss being home all the time (wow, I never thought I would say that!) He is growing leaps and bounds and it is so encouraging to se the fruit of training in his life. God has been so gracious and kind to allow us moments of encouragement and blessing from his sweet soul. He asks really great questions and his mind is so sharp and incredibly eager. What a blessing he is. Homeschool second grade: let's go!
  • Reese is 4 and will do Calvary Kids at our church (a preschool, mommy and me program). She is over the moon and we are already practicing the routine of things with her. She loves to write and color and craft, so I am really thrilled to do the program with a kid who is interested in crafts!! (Cade just wanted to run up and down the halls the whole time during craft time! :/) She is spunky. She usually is wearing mismatched clothing, lego or sparkly crocs, with her wild curly hair, sometimes in a messy ponytail. But, her spunk and thrill for life is refreshing and she really is the most unique little girl.
  • Ian and I celebrated 10 years of marriage last month. whew! What a joy is has been and it really feels like 10 minutes ago that we got married. When we tell people 10 years, (waiters, Ian's company reps at work, etc…) they are SHOCKED we made it this long. One in particular said, "oh all my friends have never made it past 7!" How sad! We are so thankful for the Lord's work in our life to make us who we are. He gets all the credit and our relationship is so much deeper and vast than I could have ever imagined: a testimony to God's faithfulness to come through on His promises.
  • We finished our backyard renovation. It would be cool to see before and after pics, huh? Well, maybe next time, my pictures are on the other computer :) We ripped up everything, literally, trees, grass, plants, junk, and more junk… everything, and it is so nice to finally see some GREEN outside! 
Ok, I am tempted to just push send to feel the satisfaction of a completed post… so maybe one day I will get around to some things on my mind (like, why I deleted my Facebook page and love not having it… why 'dying to self' has been my hard pill to swallow with this 3rd baby and needing to serve, serve, serve, and serve some more, but why it has been the absolute best thing for me, some recipes we are loving, and just other random thoughts that fly through my crazy brain. 


Thoughts of late

Things that have been on my mind - Ideally, I would expand upon each topic for its own blog post, but lets be realistic…

  • We just finished our first year of homeschooling. It was a good year. Considering we moved, I was bedridden for months, we had our third baby, spent a month in the NICU, all before Christmas break… I think our school year went well. We did take a chunk of time off in November when Drew was born but that is what I have come to love about homeschooling. It works with our life, our schedule and fits our needs. The instruction will happen, just not on a rigid schedule. 
  • I'm already full on prepping for next year. We are going to continue homeschooling Cade in the fall. He will be in 2nd Grade. That is pure craziness. How is he that old?! We are also going to participate in Calvary Kids in the fall with sweet Reese. Drew, well, he gets toted around and just has to be chill about it. He really is a rad baby.
  • We are jointing our local Classical Conversations community. It is a "classroom program" one morning a week. 9am-12pm. 3 hours of tutoring with other Christian families. I'm really excited about this, especially since Reese gets to participate as well! Science experiments, speech assignments, and lots of memorization of Scripture, multiplication tables, geography, and historical events (and this year we will be memorizing all the parts of the body, bones included!)
  • I went to the CHEA Homeschool convention at Disneyland last week. Since we have a little nursing bebe, we didn't want to make a vacation out of it, so I just went to the Exhibit hall to purchase textbooks and schooling materials for next year. I was a kid in a candy store. 200 booths of books, supplies, software, crafts, homeschool programs, organizational products, it was super fun. Ian says I am crazy, but it was so fun.
  • Reese is 2 weeks away from her 4th birthday. Boy has she blossomed into the most spunky little thing. Seriously, she is the most unique little kid in the world. She dresses up as Elsa from Frozen while acting out Lego Ninjago scenes. She literally cracks us up all the time. She is still quite the enigma to me. I'm praying for wisdom for how to understand her. She is super strong willed and then super emotional and sensitive all rolled up into a little fiery French-morrocan tanned body. 
  • Cade is almost 7. He is adding, subtracting, and multiplying. He is super into drawing, legos, memorizing anything, and he begs to take his fermented cod liver oil and tells me to get a bigger spoon so he can take more (!?). He is such a loving sweetie, especially to Drew. He is my helper. His carseat is next to Drew's and keeps him happy in the car (which is quite the feat). He is finishing his first season of Baseball and 
  • Ian and I are a month or so away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. TEN!? Yikes. How did that happen? Its funny, I still feel like I learn more things about him all the time. In some ways it feels like our wedding was last week and yet it feels like we have come so far from that hot day in the middle of July, 2004. Either way, our love runs deeper and wider than I could have ever imagined. 
  • My sister and her husband are preparing for full time ministry in the middle east and they are moving in september. It is a really strange feeling. We are so excited for them. So excited for their plans, their amazing boldness and commitment to Christ and His Kingdom, and the desperate need for the gospel in that area of the world. However, with the sweetness of their plans and ministry, comes the bitterness of distance. So, for now, I try to be thankful for every day and not let my mind wander to the future. God gives me the strength for today. He will supply the strength on the day they fly there with no ticket home, but that day is not today. I can rest in his sufficient grace today.
  • Swim lessons start Tuesday. Cade and Reese are pumped. 
  • Ian and I have been involved with the college ministry at our church for the last 5 years and at the end of June, we will start up a Friday night Bible Study at our house. We are so excited. We wanted this house to be used for ministry and God has provided such a neat opportunity to serve along side our best friends and minister to the young adults at our church. We bought this house specifically because it had a separate upstairs for kids to be put to bed, while we hosted events downstairs. So, I will put the kiddies to bed while Ian leads the music for the study and our dear friend teaches. We are really excited to see who the Lord brings and all that comes from it. College ministry was such a treasure in our lives and we can't wait to facilitate that. We will probably be getting a ping pong table (how Ian and I spent most of our "dates" while we were in college).
  • Lets see.. what else is on my mind and going on in our lives. 
  • I'm working on a follow up post to my first Essential Oils post. So much information to sift through! Why can't it all be easy to navigate! But, I'm putting together a list of helpful oils we use, brands we trust and have seen positive results from, and what oils have been tested and proved safe for children and infants.
  • I started weight watchers again. Peace out baby weight! We are running the 1/2 marathon at Disneyland again this year and training begins in a week! AHHH! I'm ready but still, having the extra baby weight on my body has really affected my joints and I'm way more sore than I have ever been. I'm cutting out all sugar (grain included) and limiting my dairy intake to one glass of raw milk a day (plus ghee and butter for seasoning veggies and cooking eggs). I realized the other day I drank 1/2 a gallon of milk in a day. Oh my goodness. I have a problem. No wonder the baby weight is hanging around. I keep feeding it deliciously tasty grassed raw milk! Eek. 
  • Drew (Drew bee, Doodle, Drewdle, Drool) He is such a cool baby. He is the happiest little thing ever. He hates the car (every baby has to have some screaming) but he loves so many other things that is makes up for the car (and, I don't really go anywhere ;). He's drooling a ton and I expect a tooth soon. He wakes up once in the night to eat and goes right back to bed. I'm sure I should let him crypt out, but having the other two kids sleep all night is too important to me… so, I feed him :) I'd rather give him more milk anyways!
  • He's nursing exclusively still. I am going to try a totally different approach to baby feeding. I'm waiting until he is 6 months and then will start with egg yolks, avocado, and banana. No baby cereal and no pureeing. Following the "baby led weaning" of traditional societies guided by "the nourishing traditions book of baby and child care" I am going for it! My two older kids hated veggies until we could make it an obedience issue. So, I'm determined to figure out what went wrong! They never made the transition from puree to actual food. Like, they could eat broccoli puree all day long, but never ever ever ate a bite of broccoli. So, I plan on just mashing up (with butter) what we have for dinner and not worrying and stressing about making a separate meal for the baby. Here goes nothing! (Well, my sister is doing the same thing for her baby so we are in it together!) Drew has already had cod liver oil so he's well on his way to a real food start!
  • Wow this is a lot of information, most of which doesn't matter to anyone. It helps me to work through what is on my mind and write down the thoughts in the moment because I know I will easily forget what is going on in my life and I don't want to forget. I like going back and reading my thoughts years later and laugh at how silly I was, so, future me… laugh away!


Essential Oils

This post has been floating around in my brain for a while, so please forgive me if it is not clear or if it is jumbled. That is how I roll these days :) And, I want to start this post saying that essential oils are NOT a thing to argue over. People matter more than essential oils, so love one another, despite the oil company they buy from :)

Moving on...

Just saying that phrase invokes various reactions…

1) Some might roll their eyes… Oh brother… Another wacky "granola" thing.

2) You might start talking about YOUR oil company and how yours is the only one in the entire world who can claim "true pure 100% amazingness."

3) You might be confused about oils and have no idea what the hype is all about.

4) You could also be learning and researching on your own and be in the thick of making decisions for your family.

5) You might just love essential oils and want other people to know about them because you have seen them work for your family firsthand.

I'm sure there are a lot of other responses to the subject of essential oils, of course, I just named a few. This subject has become fairly more popular in the last few years since a certain large company has been aggressively marketing to moms in particular.

Now, I have no financial motivation and I am not being compensated in any way for this post. This is my own opinion. That's all. Take it, or probably just leave it since I'm just a random mom trying to research for her family… I'm not a doctor, nor a nurse, nor a scientist. I do like to read and I like to research… (not just searching Dr. Google for answers… I have looked into medical journals and actual real paper books (!!) ha!) I have contacted the various companies on my own with all questions I have and that is why I wanted to write about it. If I name drop and offend you, I'm sorry! That is not my intention! 

Do they work?
Essential oils have been used for centuries. There are many references to essential oils in the Bible. Myrrh, hyssop, frankinsence, etc. They are time tested and a great alternative to the drugs that we as a culture so quickly resort to. After all, many of the healing properties in plants are what many drugs are based on. They isolate elements in plants and reproduce them in labs and then massively produce the medicine on a huge scale. 

There is also enough "personal testimony" out there to know that they do work. In our home, I was so skeptical, but we have had success with them! (That is for another post)…

BUT what is more important???
This is my biggest pet peeve with the Essential Oil trend… what you eat and drink is a huge determiner of your overall health. So, if you are eating cruddy foods yet slapping expensive essential oils on your body, do you really think you are doing what is best for your health? 
Like, there are tons of essential oil "recipes" for how to cure eczema… Cut out pasteurized dairy and wheat first and see how you feel. 
Stop eating junk food, pasteurized dairy, white flour, sugar, etc etc etc  and I'm sure you will feel a ton better! No essential oil can replace a healthy, whole, clean, diet. Bottom line.
And, you will be wasting a lot of money (oils ain't cheap) if you are feeding your body yucky stuff and yet putting nice stuff on your skin.
that is my rant … moving on ;)

Does quality matter?
This is an obvious yes. Just like, I would not drink raw milk from sick cows living in a confined factory farm… so too, where you buy your oils really does matter. More on this later...

The Organic Factor?
This is a big sticking point for me. Essential Oils can be certified organic. There are specific oils that are better harvested from a "wild grown" field. (No human farming in order to grow, just found naturally in the wild).
The plant that the essential oil is distilled from matters. Was it sprayed with a boat load of pesticide or treated with nasty chemical fertilizer? Of course, only if it is truly certified organic, can we know with certainty if those things are true. Look up wikipedia and even there you can find a simple run down of what qualifications a farm needs to maintain in order to be certified organic.

Now, a small farmer, unable to pay for the extra certification of third party organic testing, might follow organic farming principles but not have the actual label… of course, you would only know that if you spoke directly to the farmer, visited the actual farm, etc. (I know a farmer at the farmers market where that is the case!)

However, two of the largest Essential Oil companies: Young Living and Doterra, do not sell organic oils. They sure do claim "beyond organic" standards in all of their literature… but they are large companies, I would expect an organic certification for all of their oils. 

When I hosted a DoTerra Oil class in my home, I asked the EO guru lady plenty of questions about organic certification and she could give me no real answer. She even said "there are no standards for essential oil organic certification (which is absolutely not true) but DoTerra's oils are "beyond organic." Well, "beyond organic standards" means very little to me in this day and especially when a large company could totally certify them. And… they CAN be certified organic! If the plant is certified organic, the oil that is distilled from it, is organic!

What company is best?
This is the question of the hour, I suppose. Who can you trust? Who is really the best? Again, I don't want to start a debate. I encourage you to do your own research. Dig deep into literature and study. Don't just take phrases from a company and run with them. They are making lots of money and of course would never say negative things about their product. I'm a business owner who sells a product and of course I know there are flaws in my product, but I would never post those on any ads or marketing campaigns! I would highlight all the good. I want it to sell after all!

This blog series from Whole New Mom was very informative. She has done a ton of research, way beyond mine but it was a good launching point to question the things that I have been told from the EO rep in my home.

Multi-level Marketing Companies
(DoTerra and Young Living)
First of all, in general, these are the most expensive oils. DoTerra being the most expensive. 

We as a culture are really good at assuming that just because something costs the most, it is the best. These companies have a pricing structure that requires 6 people making money off of your purchase. Since you sign up as a distributor, the person who signed you up, the person that signed them up, and on and on… all make a little $$$ on your $32.00 bottle of OnGuard. This can add up to be quite a bit of money. Granted, if you wanted to support your friends and help them make money, go for it. That is why I initially signed up with DoTerra.

I will speak to DoTerra specifically because that is specifically what I have experience with. 
What I really like:
1) The oils smell great - there is no denying it.

2) The oils work - I've used many single oils as well as blends like OnGuard, Breathe, Deep Blue for massages, Purify for diffusing and laundry. We've had great success with their oils and I will continue to use them.

3) Honestly, I love the look of the Doterra Oil bottles. Its the graphic designer in me that is a major sucker for a good label and logo design. (this is a silly issue, but it is still worth mentioning :)

4) It also is a way to make money. Every business has the right to set up its profit structure however they want! Sure, it isn't the way I run my personal business, but Doterras Multi-Level Marketing structure has proven to be a successful business model for many companies. Once you have asked all of your friends and family though, it becomes hard to branch out unless you are super pumped and committed to making money. Which, some have and that is great for them! 

What I don't like:
1) They don't offer many oils.
There are a lot of oils out there and so many varieties of different plants. Doterra has 41 single oils. That is really not very many considering how many plant variations are out there.

2) They are expensive.
Since it is a Multi-level marketing company, quite a few people need to profit off of your purchase, so naturally, they will cost a lot. The consultants are trained to tell you that the high cost is because of high quality.

3) The consultants are not medically trained yet readily give out medical counsel.
You need a social security number to sign up as a"wellness advocate." No medical training and no certifications. Which, is fine if you are okay with that, but I personally, just have a hard time convincing someone to stop taking a certain medication when I am by no means a doctor. (Even though I have my own opinions on why they should stop certain medications, I would never tell someone "quit your meds and start some oils" :: too much responsibility and potential guilt there, no thank you).

The first part of the class I hosted in my home included the instructor having everyone put some peppermint oil in their hands. I had my 3 month old in my lap and we had just talking about how I was nursing him and yet, she put it in my hands and told me to sniff away. At the time, I did it and didn't think anything of it. However, a quick little search online will reveal that peppermint oil will dry up a mothers milk supply and is not a safe oil for newborns. (!!!!) Hello!? Of course, I know the instructor wasn't scheming against me to get me to stop nursing, but lack of information and even basic knowledge of the effects of certain oils really does not sit well with me.

Especially in regards to using these oils on children, do your homework from certified aromatherapist and find out how to properly dilute oils to appropriately treat children (especially infants!!!!!).

4) They readily endorse the internal use of oils.
This is a huge topic for debate but the more I read on Aromatheraphy from certified Aromatherapists, all oils should only be ingested under the care of a certified aromatherapist. Essential oils are potent. They are powerful, no doubt. Taking them internally should be done with extreme caution, if done at all.
Also, many oils taken internally are not meant to be absorbed in the stomach and most likely will get processed by the liver. Oils applied to the largest organ: the skin, has proven to be the most effective method of application as well as diffusing into the air aromatically.
One study showed that putting oils on the feet took 20 minutes to start working in the body. It took 20 minutes for the gel cap to dissolve in a person who took oils internally in a gel cap.

5) The CPTG issue
Doterra's oils are "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" which means absolutely nothing. It is a trademarked phrase. It would be like me, trademarking the phrase "world's most amazing mom chef" and saying that it proves that I am a good cook. You can trade mark any phrase you want and claim that it means something. CPTG is just that… a marketing phrase used to get people to think it means something. There is no FDA or USDA phrase that certifies anything in regards to essential oils. Yes, they test their oils, but making their own "grade" of oils and claiming that they are superior to all others is questionable.

6) Questionable ingredients in Other Doterra products
There is carrageenan in most of their products: all gel caps and supplements, toothpaste, beadlets and throat drops. This ingredient, though in many organic foods, is one to avoid. It is also considered a carcinogen!!!! A company boasting about health preservation might want to consider removing this ingredient from their products, just my opinion.

Overall, Doterra is a good oil company. If they didn't work, people wouldn't use them and buy them, so obviously it is a company that has a good product… but is it the ONLY company that sells "pure" oils… no, it is not.

The Companies that we use

1) Native American Nutritionals

All oils are certified organic and have documents to prove it. All oils are sourced from small farms grown locally to the plants indigenous region. Therefore, producing the most pure and valuable oil. Some of the oils are similar in price to Doterra, but in general, they are more inexpensive.
And, you don't have to meet monthly minimums to keep your discount!

2) Mountain Rose Herbs

All oils are certified organic as well and have document and MS/DS sheets to back the claims up. The prices at Mountain Rose are incredibly inexpensive and you can order in all different amounts, 1/4oz (7.5mL), 1/2oz (15mL), 1 oz (30mL). Again, no monthly requirements and no signup fees. The money you save MORE than makes up for the "rewards" of "free" Doterra oils you earn on your purchases.

3) Aura Cacia

I purchased this brand years ago from Whole Food to include in recipes for homemade remedies and cleaning products. They have worked great and I have no complaints.

4) Doterra
Even with all the beefs I have with the company, I have purchased their oils and will use them. But, I think many people need to understand that there are other brands out there that are on par, or even superior to DoTerra. And, that is ok! Essential oils are not an issue worth fighting over!

Again, I do not write with the purpose to bash a certain company, I just know that sometimes, we need to be understanding and really question the things that companies tell us.
I hope this is blog post is a relief: you can still get the amazing benefits of essential oils without high costs and signing up for a business in a company. :)

Helpful websites that have helped shape my view of oils:

Whole New Mom - Series on the Best Essential Oil Company - This site has extensive information on research for many popular oil companies. I highly recommend reading the whole 7 part series.

Granola Living - Choice of Oil Company

Crunchy Betty  - 21 Things you need to know about essential oils

Books to read:
Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child

The Complete Book of Aromatherapy

Essential Oils Desk Reference

Modern Essentials - this book is helpful but it is published by Doterra, so much of the information on dosing, taking internally and using without dilution is questionable. But, the info on what each oil actually is and what it can treat is really helpful.


Real life

This one is for you Vanessa ;)
Sometimes life is just messy. Literally, stuff, children and crazy hair everywhere :)


Our New Curriculum

So, since we ditched most of the Sonlight curriculum, I figured we probably should do something for the last 4 months of school ;)

After talking extensively with other moms in our church, reading up on the subjects and surveying their opinions on different curriculum benefits and possible negatives, we decided on some pretty cool stuff.

Now, again, Sonlight might work GREAT for some kids and some families. At this stage in our life, I just couldn't devote the hours upon hours to reading every day to my kids (we still read a ton together… but we integrate other methods of learning too!). I needed something that my kids could do on their own. Cade is fully reading and able to read a year or two above his grade level, but I still wanted something more than just reading. Sonlight has no tests and no real gauge to know how you are doing or how much your child is really absorbing. I wanted some sort of cohesive curriculum that also had a form of testing + activities built in. Again, we also wanted actual Christian curriculum. Not just a lesson plan (like Sonlight) that tells you how to explain the topics in the secular books.

So, we've taken quite a bit form Susan Wise Bauer and the Charlotte Mason way of learning. I know very little about education or how to educate, so I feel like sticking with the way kids have learned throughout history is probably a safe bet. :) Classically learning, focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic with lots of memorization, copy work, dictation and playtime! :)

Bible: I'm trying to get into the habit of reading more actual Scripture with the kids than extra books. So, every morning we start with actual Scripture. I so easily forget that I need to actually get my Bible, and physically open it up to them! No iPad Bible for our morning time! :)

Leading Little Ones to God (A sonlight reccomened book we are almost finished with and i love). +

Egermeier's Bible Story Book - I love this one because it includes a lot of detail on each story and has full pictures.

History: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child - Volume 1: Ancient Times - Textbook - Test/Answer Guide - Activity Book

Language Arts: Explode the Code 2 1/2 (Its actually very easy and simple for Cade but at least it gets him practicing his handwriting!)

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind

Vocabulary for the Gifted Child - Grade 1 - A super fun activity book Cade can complete on his own.

Writing: The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease - Copywork and Narration guidelines to use with your own choice of subject matter.

Continuing to use: A Reason for Handwriting - Grade 2

Science: Apologia - Astronomy + Astronomy Junior Notebooking Journal
(love this, I can't say enough good things. Looking forward to Zoology in the fall!)

French: Personal Lessons with my mother in law :)
and we also got these fun flashcards to help them study

Math: Still using Saxon, but jumped a grade to Grade 2 to meet his level and challenge him.

Art: Draw Write Now! + Discovering Great Artists

Readers: I found a book list on Pinterest that Looked promising and went from there! Currently we are reading : Stuart Little
I am planning on reading the Whole Chronicles of Narnia series with the kids starting this summer.

We will also, Lord willing, be joining our local community of Classical Conversations. It is a super rad program that focuses on, no duh, Classical learning :) Memorization, repetition, rhetoric, all packed into one "on campus day" at a local church. And, the big perk, is that the program starts at 4 years old, so Reese can have something to do! Yay!

Of course, this is what is working for us right now. I don't think the overall method will change a whole lot, since I can see the value in the classical way of learning. However, textbooks and scheduling might change a few things next year. We'll see. Its exciting. I never, ever, ever x 1000 thought I would want to homeschool but I love it!

Again, if you are reading this blog with no intention of ever homeschooling, never say never! ;)