How To: Easy & Delicious Elderberry Syrup

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Have you heard of elderberry syrup?

Elderberries have been used since ancient Egyptian times for their many health benefits. Hippocrates, the "father of medicine", called elderberries his "medicine cabinet.”

Here's why:
- Elderberries are an excellent general immune system booster. The berries contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which are known to have immunostimulant effects. Fights colds and flu!! Source

-Sinus Infection Aid
With elderberry’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it makes sense that it can help sinus issues.

-Balances Blood Sugar 

Taking a dose every day is a great way to be proactive with your health in the fall & winter!! Let's start taking care of our immune systems NOW so that they are strong and ready to work when we need them to LATER. No one wants to spend the holidays in Urgent Care! (Been there, done that, never ever want to do it again.)

The truth is our bodies were designed to heal themselves (immune system) but with environmental factors and just not always taking care of ourselves the way we should sometimes we need to "jump-start" our systems so that we have the best chance of staying well through the next few months. What's that saying...the best defense is a good offense? This most definitely applies to our health.

You can do a quick google search to read more about why these things are important, or check out more info here:

You can buy elderberry syrup pre-made, but it’s super easy and much cheaper to make your own! Here’s a yummy recipe that adds the power punch of Young Living essential oils:

Elderberry Syrup recipe card watermarked.JPG


You want to get this in your body DAILY, so make it a habit! Take it straight up (dosage on the recipe card), or add it to sugar free juice or Ningxia Red (Young Living antioxidant drink). My kids and husband get theirs in the morning before school when they take their multivitamins and Ningxia Red. I take mine in the afternoon as a fun little mocktail that I look forward to: Ningxia Red, Ningxia Nitro, elderberry syrup, and Grapefruit Izze.

It’s fun to make a big batch, so call some friends, grab some jars, and get to cookin’!

5 Ideas for Celebrating May Day

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May 1st is known as May Day -  a celebration of the changing of seasons and the arrival of Spring after a long winter.  Traditionally this is celebrated by leaving fresh flowers on the doors & porches of friends and neighbors, and I LOVE participating in this tradition! I want this to become something that everyone looks forward to each year. #flowersformay2019

You can go as big or as simple as you want, but if you want to participate this year, you need to do a bit of planning now so everything goes smoothly on delivery day - May 1! Set a reminder for April 30 so you don’t forget.

There are so many different ways that you can choose to gift flowers - use your imagination and get creative!

  • Get your kids involved and let them deliver in the neighborhood. Can’t you just picture a wagon full of little vases overflowing with flowers being pulled behind a wobbly toddler?! I’m here for that ALL DAY!

  • For the containers you can use anything! Last year I bought little vases at Dollar Tree and tied baker’s twine around them to hang on doors (see the photo above). They turned out wonderfully! You can gather little baskets (all the Easter baskets are on clearance now!), strawberry baskets, or make your own out of cute paper.

  • For paper cones like these from Skip To My Lou, you’ll need a few additional supplies that aren’t listed so that the flowers stay fresh: rubber bands, snack size zip-lock bags, and water. Simply put the bag over the stems of flowers, fill with just enough water to reach the stems, then tightly rubberband the zip-lock to the stems and place in the cone. There is a printable for the cute little tags too!

  • For baskets, wet floral foam is helpful for both keeping the flowers arranged how you like them and keeping them alive. You can find floral foam at Hobby Lobby.

  • Save money by gathering wildflowers or purchase bouquets from Trader Joe’s or your local grocery/Farmer’s Market and split them into smaller bunches. You’d be surprised how many flowers are actually in those pre-made bouquets! You’ll need gardening sheers (or plain ol’ scissors) to trim the stems, and floral tape (Dollar Tree/Hobby Lobby) to tie them together. Trust me on the tape - it comes in handy!

  • Another idea is to skip the fresh-cut flowers and go for a live plant. Everything miniature is cute (right?!) so you could give a small planter with your favorite blooming flower (or succulent) in it. A gift that keeps on giving! Or plant it in a mason jar like Yesterday On Tuesday did:

  • If you have a neighborhood full of kids, it would be so fun to plan to make Floral Crowns with them on May Day afternoon after school! They could wear them while making deliveries and you could even do a little photoshoot. Make crowns out of wild clover flowers, or buy fresh and go big! How gorgeous are these?! They’re a little more involved, and probably better for older kids or your girlfriends, but totally worth it. Full tutorial by Monika Hibbs!

  • I created a couple printable tags - print on pretty paper or let your kids color them!

Click photo to download!

Click photo to download!

Click photo to download!

Click photo to download!

I hope your May Day celebrations fill you and those you love with JOY!

Use hashtag #flowersformay2019 if you share on social so I can see your great ideas!


A Relaxing Bath with Lavender + Pine Essential Oils

Lavender Pine Essential Oils bathtub closeup

Baths are one of my favorite ways to unwind and relax, and since we've moved to the new house I have spent a lot of time my tub reading.  It makes me happy!

I love to add a cup or so of epsom salts with essential oils to the water.  A favorite combo is Lavender + Pine.  I enjoy the mix of floral and woodsy aromas and regularly diffuse it and add it to our wool dryer balls, but there's more to it than just smelling good! There's a reason I often choose these two for bathtime.

Lavender is well-known as a calming oil. Linalool, one of it's natural chemical constituents, is responsible for this reputation.  It has shown to reduce stress levels and create a calming atmosphere. It can totally be used alone, but I like to mix it with a less floral oil to tone it down a bit.

Pine was historically added to baths to revitalize people struggling with mental or emotional fatigue and/or nervous exhaustion. It helps soothe mental stress and relieve occasional anxiety. And BONUS: Pine may also stimulate the adrenal glands and circulatory system.* 

Other favorite calming/relaxing blends:

Lavender + Orange

Lavender + Pine + Rosemary

Pine + Frankincense

The next time you find yourself stressed or anxious, grab these Lavender + Pine and get to sniffin'!

Learn more about how we use Lavender HERE and HERE.


*Reference Guide for Essential Oils, Higley

Photosensitive Essential Oils + FREE DOWNLOAD

photosensitive essential oils young living flyer

Let's talk oils + photosensitivity. You may have seen some articles floating around facebook with pictures of people with pretty severe burns from using essential oils and then going in the sun all day. Some of the articles are a bit sensational and misleading, and I always want to educate you guys with the TRUTH so that you are equipped to use your oils safely, effectively, and confidently!

It is important to know that some essential oils ARE photosensitive (mainly citrus oils, and blends that contain them).  This means that when they are applied topically, they increase our skin's REACTIVITY to the sun's UV rays.  If we put Lemon oil neat (undiluted) on our wrists and then go spend time in the sun, there's a good chance that we'll walk away with a severe sunburn.  This is not a burn from the oil itself, it is a SUNBURN because the oil made our skin much more reactive to sunlight. The same thing happens if you handle lemon or lime juice and don't wash your hands before going in the sun.  Google "margarita burn."  This is called phytophotodermatitis.

The good news is that we don't have to stop using our beloved citrus oils in the summer!  We can simply apply them at night or somewhere that will be covered by clothing.  Even the bottom of our feet! I like to wear them on a diffuser necklace so that I can still smell them without having to apply them to my neck or wrists. You can also dilute them well and apply them where you usually would - just be sure to pay attention to how much sun exposure that spot is getting. If you do apply a photosensitive oil, be sure to avoid direct sunlight for up to 12 hours.

I made this handy dandy flyer for you to download and print to keep with your oils so that you know which oils to use with caution this summer!

*This list is not comprehensive.  Be sure to read your labels (especially blends!) to see if any oils on the list are in them before exposing to sunlight.*


Drink More Water!

water with essential oils orange

Let’s talk about  W A T E R!  We hear “Drink more water!” all the time, but WHY is it so important? Well, every cell in our bodies (all 100ish trillion of them!) requires water to function properly.  Even very mild dehydration can result in:

  • impaired mood
  • an increase in the frequency of headaches
  • muscle fatigue (which makes exercise difficult)
  • chronic fatigue/exhaustion
  • constipation
  • lack of concentration

Besides preventing all of the above, water is also incredibly important for you kidneys to be able to flush toxins out of your system. We don't want toxins hanging around! Many of the symptoms we experience daily can be avoided by simply drinking more water.

We should drink around EIGHT 8oz glasses of WATER a day.  Sports drinks do not count.  Coconut water doesn’t count (though it is good for you).  Juicing doesn’t count. Water that has been turned into tea or lemonade or coffee does NOT count. It needs to be filtered, pure water. If you’re like I was 2 years ago, that sounds daunting!  I didn’t even LIKE water, so how was I supposed to drink that much every single day?! 

If you don’t yet enjoy drinking water and are accustomed to drinking sodas or other flavored beverages all day, one thing you can do is add a drop or 2 of essential oil in your glass of water for flavor.  When you use oils to flavor your water, you reap the health benefits of the water AND the oils.  It’s a win, win!  Some of my favorite oils to add are Young Living’s:

  • Lemon Vitality
  • Peppermint Vitality
  • Orange Vitality
  • Tangerine Vitality
  • Grapefruit Vitality

We use a Berkey Water Filtration system in our home, and I keep a glass water bottle with me at all times and a mason jar beside the system so that I can easily drink water throughout the day.  When you decide to become intentional about upping your water intake, I suggest keeping track of your consumption either in a journal or in an app like iDrated or Waterlogged. Before long, you’ll find yourself craving water! It’s amazing what happens when we give our body what it NEEDS instead of just what we think we WANT. 

**When I speak of consumption of essential oils, I am only referring to the Young Living Vitality line of EOs. Please do not ingest oils off the shelf at your local health food store (or Whole Foods/Wal-Mart/Bed Bath & Beyond). Do your research!**


Cooking with Essential Oils

cooking with lemon essential oil

Everyone knows that oregano, basil, and cinnamon are great seasonings for flavorful dishes, but did you know that those same herbs, and many others, in their essential oil form, are even MORE potent? It’s true - not only is the flavor stronger, but essential oils offer health benefits when you cook with them that the dried herbs do not.

You can ingest (and cook) with any of Young Living’s Vitality oils, which is the Dietary line of oils.

Benefits of cooking with Young Living Vitality essential oils:

With just a drop of oil (or less!), essential oils give food incredible flavor. Fresh herbs and dried herbs eventually go bad, but essential oils last MUCH longer and can be more cost effective in the long run. Each individual essential oil has a multitude of health benefits unique to it, and you can reap those benefits by cooking with them (as well as through inhalation, applying them topically, and ingesting via capsule).

How much oil do I substitute for herbs?

Well, that differs depending on the oil. Generally, you will want to start with less and then add more to taste as needed. 

Herbaceous Vitality oils, like basil, oregano, thyme, dill, etc are very potent. Start by running a toothpick in the rim of the oil bottle then dipping it into your dish. Repeat as necessary to get the flavor you want.  I like to add these oils early in the cooking process and then add more before serving if necessary.

For citrus oils - Lemon, Lime, Orange Vitality, etc - I typically use 1-2 drops per tsp of juice/zest

For Peppermint and Spearmint Vitality, try using 1 drop per tsp of dried mint. 

Cinnamon Vitality essential oil is also strong in flavor, so I use 1 drop per 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon. 

Remember, you can always add more later, but you can’t take it back after you’ve already added it! A little bit goes a long way. When in doubt, start with a toothpick dip and just addmore a little at a time.

A couple of my favorite ways to cook with essential oils:

Peppermint Brownies

Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Pie

**Only cook with and ingest Young Living Vitality essential oils.**


Simple Tips and Essential Oils for a Better Night's Sleep



It is vital to survival, and our nervous system depends on it to function optimally. Studies show that when we fail to get enough sleep, our concentration, coordination, memory, and mood suffer. The more well rested we are, the more productive we are, and yet when it comes time to close our eyes and actually fall asleep, often times the hamster wheel in our brains starts running and won’t shut off.  Suddenly we remember everything we need to do tomorrow, or start obsessing and overanalyzing every interaction with humans that we had that day.  Everyone knows that rest is incredibly important, so why can it be so elusive? What can we change to help us fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed and with our brains fully loaded and ready to take on the day?

First, we need an idea of how many hours of sleep our bodies requires to be at their best.  This is different for everyone, and may take a bit of trial and error.  Generally, adults need between 7 - 9 hours of sleep. Once you decide how many hours you need to sleep each night, figure out what time you need to go to sleep (not get in bed) and set an alarm to remind you 30 minutes before this.  The latest iOS update offers the Bedtime feature in the Clock folder.  It allows you to set what time you need to wake up and then automatically tells you what time to go to sleep based on how many hours of sleep you want. It wakes you up with a peaceful alarm that starts very quietly and gradually gets louder which makes for a pleasant wake up call.

Second, we need to create a healthy bedtime routine. This gives our bodies and brains signals that it is time to start winding down, and makes it easier to fall asleep when we actually get in bed.  This should start around 30 - 45 minutes before you need to be asleep. 

Here’s my bedtime routine:

  • oil cleanse (wash) my face and moisturize which includes Frankincense essential oil.  I take a few moments to deeply inhale the Frankincense from the palms of my hands after applying it to my face.
  • brush my teeth
  • do a few light yoga stretches and cleansing breaths (this sounds pompous, but I just do it standing in the bathroom - this is not a full on yoga session!)
  • make sure everything is laid out for the morning
  • start our diffuser with Lavender and Cedarwood essential oils
  • rub Vetiver essential oil under my nose
  • spray the bottoms of my feet with Magnesium Oil with Lavender and Cedarwood essential oils added to it (Read more about Magnesium Oil)
  • get in bed and Brain Dump - this is where I grab my notebook and write down everything that I need to do the next day or anything that is on my mind that I don’t want to forget.  I do not organize this list - just get it out of my brain and onto paper. This helps to keep the hamster wheel from going once I’m ready to sleep.
  • ideally I go to sleep now, but sometimes I play on my phone for a few minutes
  • Put on my eye mask (light disrupts your sleep whether you are aware of it or not) and go to SLEEP

Essential oils are a great addition to a bedtime routine.  Our entire family has seen a drastic improvement of our sleep patterns since we started incorporating them into our bedtime routines.

Five great oils to try: 

Lavender - high in the natural chemical constituent, linalool, which studies show has a sedative effect

Vetiver - has sedative & tranquilizing properties making it calming and grounding

Cedarwood - stimulates the pineal gland, which releases melatonin

Bergamot - also contains linalool, which has a sedative effect

Valerian - calming, relaxing, grounding, and balancing

Here’s our essential oil recipe for better sleep, and what’s working for us:


DIFFUSER: 3-4 drops each of Lavender and Cedarwood

TOPICALLY: Vetiver on forehead and under nose, Lavender and Cedarwood on bottoms of feet


DIFFUSER:  3 drops Cedarwood 

TOPICALLY: Vetiver on forehead and under nose, Cedarwood on chest

Read more about Lavender essential oil here.


Gift Ideas using Essential Oils

essential oil gift ideas

It's the season for GIVING! What better gift can you give than the gift of wellness? Here's a few ideas for cute and creative ways to give essential oils to those you love:

* Premium Starter Kit  - set your loved one up with everything they need!

* Owie Oil and a package of fun bandaids (so cute for kiddos!)

* Lavender Hand & Body Lotion and some fuzzy socks 

* Lavender Hand & Body Lotion and a nail file set

* ART Skin Care System and a cute washcloth/hair tie

* Lime Oil and a Margarita glass/Margarita Salt/Margarita Mix

* Lime Oil and a Guacamole Bowl (Molcajete)

* Thieves Laundry Soap and some wool dryer balls

* Thieves Laundry Soap and a cute Laundry sign to hang 

* Thieves Hand Purifier and/or Lavender Hand & Body Lotion and mittens/gloves

* Basil Oil and Einkorn Spaghetti and cute Spaghetti Serving Spoon

* Lemon Oil/Grapefruit/Lime/Tangerine and a Glass Water Bottle - Target Dollar Spot has glass water bottles for $5!

* PanAway and a hand held wooden massager 

* Joy Oil and a Christmas Ornament (Joyful Christmas)

* Joy Oil and a Diffuser bracelet/necklace

* Lavender Oil and a stuffed animal or baby blanket

* Lavender Oil and an Eye Mask 

* Copaiba and a Teething Necklace

* Copaiba and a hot/cold pack (cute one for when kids get owies)

* Peppermint Vitality and a package of cocoa mix and a cute mug

* Peppermint Vitality and a package of brownie mix

* Peppermint and a Christmas Ornament

* Stress Away and a good book

* Stress Away and a cute package of epsom salts

* Stress Away and a Stress Ball (and maybe some booze LOL)

* Home Diffuser and bottle of oil

* Aria Diffuser and an Engagement Ring (LOL) 

* Frankincense and/or Myrrh and a nativity set

* Shutran Shave Cream and Shutran Aftershave Lotion

These are just a few ideas. The possibilities are endless! How are YOU gifting wellness this year? Leave a comment and tell me your plans!


Peppermint Mocha with Essential Oils

peppermint mocha recipe drink essential oils

It's a dreary, albeit not that cold, day here and dreary days call for Peppermint Mochas! Of course I make mine with Peppermint Vitality essential oil.

Peppermint Mocha

Make coffee as you normally would, maybe a bit stronger (including half and half or cream if you take it)

Add 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (add more if you like it really chocolatey)

Sweeten to taste

Add 1 drop of Peppermint Vitality essential oil

Top with marshmallows if you're feeling fancy

Curl up with a good book or Sherlock on Netflix and enjoy!



Oil Cleansing with Essential Oils


Oil Cleansing.

It's a thing.

Every time I tell people that I wash my face with oil they look at me like I've lost my ever-loving mind. And I get it - it sounds gross and counterproductive, but it actually works.

When you strip your body's natural oils with traditional face cleansers, it works overtime to restore them which can leave your skin oilier and breakout prone. Cleansing with oil is gentle and leaves the natural oils (while cleansing impurities and makeup) so your body doesn't need to over compensate. I add essential oils that are great for skin to my oil cleanser to help combat the signs of aging.

My Oil Cleansing recipe:

4oz bottle of Leven Rose Jojoba oil

40 drops Elemi essential oil

15 drops Geranium essential oil

10 drops Lavender essential oil

For moisturizing after cleansing:

Add one drop of Frankincense essential oil to a few drops of the Oil Cleansing recipe and gently massage onto face and neck.


His Kingdom Has No End


{originally shared November 17, 2015}

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I have never been one to fear national disasters.

That's not to say that I wouldn't be afraid if it happened, I have just never really been the type to worry or dwell on the possibility of something bad happening on a big scale.

Recently though, like the past few months, I have had this little nagging thought about what it would be like if something truly terrible happened and we found ourselves living in a world much different than the safe little America that we happened to be born in that has provided comfort after comfort.

War hasn't reached America's shores in a very long time, and growing up in the 80s and 90s it never crossed my mind that it even could.  I don't mean to say that I was naive, I just didn't think about it.  I don't know what made me start thinking about it recently, but I have found myself lost in thought about what it must be like to live through a war in your land.  I'm guessing it probably has something to do with the fact that I read two novels set in Occupied France and Germany back to back. Ha.

My recent thoughts aren't deeply rooted in fear, but I can sense a bit of it creeping in the more I think about it, and that bothers me.  I don't like to be afraid of things that are out of my control.  I don't want to worry about the future or my family's safety.  So I did what I do when my brain gets a little janky and my heart starts getting unsettled.  I looked to scripture and started praying - seeking to combat the worrisome thoughts with the truth of the Gospel. I started thinking about kingdoms and nations and how for as long as there have been humans, there has been war. One kingdom invades another.  Someone wins, someone loses, and lots of people die.  Over and over and over. Kingdoms fall, one after the other.  Once mighty empires have ceased to be, and in this fallen world that will only continue.

But there is a Kingdom that is different.

There is a King that reigns over a Kingdom that will have no end.

For those that believe and have faith in Christ, that Kingdom is our home.  We are citizens of this eternal Kingdom, even now, as we temporarily live in the sometimes harrowing chaos of this earth. While there are many scary things that can and sometimes do happen, we don't live in fear because our hope doesn't rest in the stability of our nation or it's leadership.  It doesn't rest in our ability to care for our families or keep them entirely from harms way.  Our hope rests in our King Jesus who has secured our place at his everlasting banqueting table.  Our hope is anchored behind the veil by a God who promises that not only is He on His throne now, but He is coming back to get us, His bride.  And His promises are true. His Kingdom is one of peace, and it cannot be destroyed. Darkness will not defeat it. IT WILL NOT END. EVER.

As this season of Advent approaches I find it such a sweet reminder that "the whole Bible is telling one big story - that God loves His people and comes to rescue them." (Jesus Storybook Bible)
As we look forward to Christmas and the celebration of His birth amidst the seeming uncertainty of our immediate futures, I pray that we will push back the fears that our flesh reaches for and cling to His promises.


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And He will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom,

establishing it and upholding it with

justice and righteousness from that time on and forever."

Isaiah 9:6-7 (emphasis mine)


Gabriel, the angel, to Mary:

"Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.

You will be with child and give birth to a son,

and you are to give him the name Jesus. 

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,

and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever;

his kingdom will never end."

Luke 1:31-33 (emphasis mine)


We are children of the Most High King, and our kingdom will have no end. Let's celebrate and walk in the freedom from fear that truth brings, whatever we find ourselves faced with or called to do.


Peppermint Essential Oil Brownies (Gluten Free/Dairy Free)


Kick your brownies up a notch and knock the socks off everyone at your holiday gatherings with this gut-friendly recipe! Peppermint Vitality essential oil is the secret ingredient.  This is one of my favorite uses for Peppermint.  I hope you enjoy it too!

gluten free dairy free peppermint brownies recipe.jpg

Gut-friendly Peppermint Brownies


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. melted

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup refined coconut oil

3 TBSP water

1 cup Coconut Sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup Gluten Free flour

1/4 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt

3 - 5 drops of Young Living Peppermint Vitality Essential Oil

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8x8 baking dish and line with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides of the pan on 2 sides (for easy removal).

In a bowl, whisk together the melted chocolate chips, cocoa powder, oil, and water until smooth.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and salt until just combined (do not over work this). Transfer to baking dish and spread to all corners.  Bake until set and the brownie edges start to peel away for the dish. Usually 25 - 28 minutes.  Brownies will be moist and slightly gooey.  Fully amazing.

Sprinkle *lightly* with powdered sugar as a garnish if you're feeling froggy.


A Birth Story : Isla Joy


In honor of Isla's 2nd birthday today, I'm sharing the story of her birth.


She came on a Thursday.

The day before she came we saw our midwife for what I hoped would be the last weekly check with her in my tummy.  I got my wish.

All day Wednesday I had contractions that were annoying - mostly because I had a ton to do to get the house ready for baby and house guests. You see, we decided to do ALL THE THINGS in the 2 months before she was born.  Those things included planning a vow renewal ceremony (read: mini wedding) for our 10th wedding anniversary and completely renovating our kitchen. We had been living in complete chaos and disarray and our new flooring had finally been installed which was the last major part of the renovation and this momma was in full nesting mode.  My sister and brother in law were there keeping Evie while we went to our doctor's appointment and they stayed and helped me get the nursery and guest rooms cleaned and prepped just in case baby girl decided to come a week early - unlike her older siblings (Silas came right on time and Evie was a week late).

I timed a few contractions while I was cooking dinner, but by the time dinner was over they had tapered off a bit so I decided to go on to Bible Study at a friend's house. The contractions kept me uncomfortable, but they weren't steady enough to time. I asked everyone to pray specifically that real labor would start that night and said that I would be pissed if I was able to meet with them the next week (which was my due date).  I was ready to have her in my arms.

On the way home I had the first contraction that made me cuss.  It's a 20 minute drive, and I had 4 contractions. Apparently those ladies did some praying. :)

I got home and the big kids were asleep and I told Justin that we should probably pack for the hospital just in case they didn't taper off this time.  I took a shower and fixed my hair (between contractions) while he got our bags ready and there was a palpable energy in the house.  We were both excited and hopeful that this was IT. They stayed steady at 5 minutes apart for a couple of hours, and I got in bed to try to get a little rest. Justin was trying to sleep but I couldn't so I just looked at Pinterest and mentally willed my body to keep going. All of a sudden, with one contraction they went from 5 minutes apart to 2 1/2 minutes apart and grew in intensity with each one.  I called the on-call midwife with my practice and she confirmed that it was time to go to the hospital.  As soon as my mother in law arrived to keep the big kids, we took off.  We were so excited and happy.  We listened to Rend Collective Experiment and sang along all the way there (except for when I was breathing through contractions). It was midnight, so there wasn't any traffic, and it was a strangely peaceful drive (unlike Evie's labor drive, where I thought I was going to die before we got there).

We parked where we usually did at the hospital only to discover after we had walked all the way to the door that it was inoperational and we had to get back in the car and drive to the other side of the building and go up in the elevator to The Birth Center. They put me in triage (thankfully we were the only ones there) and got me hooked up to everything and did a check.  I was at 3 1/2.  Leslie and Magda had arrived (they were to be present for the delivery) and Justin went to make sure they were comfortable (as much as possible) in the waiting room until they could come into a private room with us.  While he was gone I had a very scary contraction that was incrediblyintense and that caught me so of guard that I wasn't handling it at all. I was alone, and couldn't get on top of it.  Usually I could just focus my mind and breathe/pant/sway/hit something enough to maintain some management of the pain, but this one was different and I could barely breathe.  Suddenly the door flew open and 3 nurses came running in to me.  It was obvious that something scary was happening and they rolled me onto my left side and moved me all around and I was being so mean and ugly because it was incredibly uncomfortable and I was scared and out of breath.  The head nurse said that the baby didn't like that contraction and wasn't handling it well so I had to do what they told me so they could try to get her heart rate back to normal. They gave me oxygen and made me stay on my side.  Justin got back in the room and that was the first time I cried. I suddenly felt not ok, and was still scared that they were going to send me home since they hadn't put me in a room yet.  Irrational fear, but it happens to me at some point with every labor. I was being super snappy and mouthy to the nurse, but in my defense her bedside manner left much to be desired.  Justin kept gently reminding me to show grace and he prayed over me several times.  That calmed me down.

After that scary contraction, they stayed intense and I started having a weird pain in my hips.  With Silas' labor all of my pain was in my tummy and with Evie I had insane back labor.  This was different from those, and I remember being frustrated that I was going to have to figure the pain management out as I went yet again

Her heart rate stabilized, and after a couple hours in triage they checked me again and when I was at 4cm they moved me to my room and ordered the epidural. Praise sweet baby Jesus for epidurals. It was a couple hours before I got it though, so I asked for something to help me cope while I waited for it.  They gave me a little drug cocktail (Staydol and Phenergan, I think) and it made me feel drunk.  I couldn't open my eyes because they were too heavy, but I was aware of what was going on around me so I kept trying to talk to Magda and Leslie but my speech was super slurred.  I'm sure that was entertaining for them.  They let Justin nap for a while and held each of my hands and let me squeeze during contractions.  The drugs didn't work nearly as well this time as they had with Evie's labor.  

Finally the anesthesiologist arrived, and he was all business. I like when people will joke and laugh with me - especially when there is pain involved, but he was having none of it.  He did his job, and the epidural gave me some relief for about an hour.  We all tried to sleep in the FREEZING room.  I never slept.  I tried to manage the contractions on my on for a couple hours so everyone could rest because both Leslie and Magda had to go to work the next day and it was 5am at this point. 

At some point the contractions got too painful for me to manage on my own, and the midwife on call came to check me.  I was getting close.  She broke my water, and I braced for the intensity that would follow that.  My hips felt like they were breaking in two.  Not too long after that they checked me again and it was go time.  The door flew open and all of the lights came on and in came DeeDee - the midwife on call (there had been a shift change at 7am)  and she was like a bright ray of sunshine and the energizer bunny rolled into one. She said, "Who's ready to have a baby?!!" and all of us screamed and the energy level in the room jumped up several notches with that one question. We were all so exhausted, but DeeDee ushered in a rush of adrenaline for everyone with her upbeat personality.

It was time to push.  

By that time the epidural had mostly worn off, and it was too late to give another dose, so I knew that this might really suck. But I was ready.  DeeDee said that she would let me deliver her myself if I wanted to try.

I wanted to try.

We forgot to ask for the mirror so I could see what was going on, so Magda held my phone up for me and it served as my mirror. Thank you Apple. :)

I pushed with the next contraction, and knew immediately that this was going to be much much different than my other two deliveries.

I felt like she was stuck.

I was pushing harder than ever before, and was actually legitimately concerned that something very bad was happening to my hips.  They felt like they were splitting, and it didn't seem like she was coming.  

Everyone was cheering me on, and I just kept pushing.

Leslie was standing on a chair at the foot of the bed so she could take pictures and at one point she was actually jumping up and down and cheering. I don't think that I laughed, but had I been able to I would have.

After the 4th or 5th push I remember yelling (as much as I could in my out of breath state) that I just wanted her OUT. 

There was no relief between contractions at this point.

I was so confused - I pushed 3 times with Silas and Evie and they were out and that was that.  I didn't understand why this was so hard or what I was doing differently that was messing things up.

Finally her head was born and it became clear what the problem was: she was sunny-side up.

Babies are meant to be born head first, face down - that's how they naturally fit through the birth canal.

She was face up.

DeeDee told me that I was delivering a baby in the most difficult way possible, and just knowing that it wasn't something I was doing that was making this harder was enough to help me rally and get ready for the next hard part. 

All of that was happening very quickly.

The cord was around her neck so I had to wait until they slipped it over her head to push.

I was certain that my hips were broken.  That pain was from her facing the wrong way.

When it was finally time, DeeDee told me I could deliver her so I reached and pushed and she finally came and I put her on my tummy.  

She was crying before she was all the way out.

Amazingly enough, my hips stopped hurting the moment she was out.  

I have never felt such relief.

I wanted to look at her, and I did, but I had to lay my head back and just breathe for a few seconds and recover from the hardest work of my entire life.

She laid on my tummy until the cord stopped pulsing, and then Justin cut it and I moved her up to my chest.  She was loud. :)

Eventually they weighed and measured her.  I thought for sure that she was going to be the biggest of my 3, but she was the smallest at 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 18 inches.

It was 7:39am on Thursday, September 25th when she finally arrived.

Leslie and Magda left for work, and eventually we were moved over to the Mother/Baby side of The Birth Center.  We rested for a few hours (after we ate!) and then the big kids came to meet their new sister.  It was adorable.  They were both smitten right away.

We had a party in our room with our dearest friends - at one point there were 12 of us in there!  We loved it and were happy to have people there to celebrate her first day with us.

We went home the next day and began life as a family of five.

She is our beautiful surprise baby.

She is a physical reminder that God redeems.

Beauty from ashes.

Isla Joy Moon

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3


Coconut Energy Bites


I quit coffee and pretty much all processed sugar on the same day.

Apparently I like to torture myself.

J/k. I actually feel so much better once I detox from the caffeine and sugar.

Thankfully, the withdrawal has been minimal, and I'm giving all the credit to 2 things:

1. Young Living's Ningxia Red high antioxidant drink

2. Coconut Energy Bites

I looked at several recipes that I found online for inspiration, and then in the end I just threw some things in the food processor and hoped for the best.  Man. I was not disappointed. They are super yummy (I'm a hard sell), and are really good for you. Omega 3s and the good sugar. And they help me get through the afternoon slump, which means they've endeared themselves to me forever. ha

Make some and try them out! It's easy peasy.


1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup walnuts

10-12 pitted dates

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Throw everything into a food processor until it starts to stick together and ball up. Line a 9x9 baking pan with wax paper, leaving the width of the pan in wax paper hanging out. Pour the mixture onto it. Press it down making sure that it's an even thickness throughout.  Cover with the excess paper and press down.  The oil from the nuts will make it stick. Place in freezer for an hour or until it firms up.  Cut into bite size bars and transfer to a sealed dish. Store in refrigerator.  

They'll stay good in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, and in the freezer for 3 months.

I've also made Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites (on the right in the picture) and Pumpkin Spice Bites.  I'll share those recipes soon!



daily sufficient grace


His grace is sufficient, friends. Whatever you find yourself facing today, tomorrow, next week, or a year from now - His grace is perfect for it. Moment by moment grace - because sometimes we can't even think about five minutes from now without feeling overwhelmed, am I right? One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Jason Gray, has a new album out that is amazing, and one of my favorite lines from it is "if He can hold the world, He can hold this moment." I'm clinging to that truth today and always. No matter how big or long your "moment" is,  He can handle it.  

One of my favorite things about God is that time doesn't really exist for Him.  He can see all of our past days and all of our tomorrows at the same time, and He knows that everything works out just fine (for our good, even!) in the end.  We don't have that luxury, so we fret about day to day, forgetting that THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE WORLD is also holding us, and that not a single thing that happens to us has caught Him by surprise. Remember, friends, and don't fret.

The album is Where the Light Gets In, and that line is from Sparrows. Go ahead and do yourself a favor and get the album. Thank me later. It is rich.❤️


Essential Oils First Aid Kit + printables

First Aid Kit photo.JPG

Have you ever had a kid wake up sick in the middle of the night only to discover that you don't have what you need to help them and thus find yourself speeding to the corner CVS at 3am? I know that happened to us before we started using our oils. Now, we always have what we need ready to go, and there's no more groggy trips to the pharmacy - just groggy trips downstairs. Ha!

We have a First Aid Kit for the kids that has the oil blends that we use most often with them. I included instruction cards on where/how to apply them so that when we hand the kit to sitters and grandparents they know exactly what to do. No more stressing about correct dosages of OTC meds!  The kids can roll the oils on themselves, and caretakers can rest easy knowing they can't screw it up. We're empowering our kids to take their health into their own hands, and that is amazing.

I've made this whole kit into printables so that you can create one of your own for your family! Winter is coming with all of its yuckiness, so go ahead and get a head start and put your kit together. You'll be so glad you have it!

The download includes Usage Cards, Recipes, and bottle labels.

DOWNLOAD the PRINTABLES by clicking the links below:

*Usage Cards*


*Bottle Labels*


Fruity Greek Yogurt


At the start of every new school year, I always find myself looking for ways to simplify our lives. For me, the hardest part of the day is getting everyone up, fed, and out the door for school. I want to streamline this time as much as possible, but I also want to make sure my kids are being fueled with a healthy breakfast before I send them off.
One my kids’ favorite breakfasts is full fat Greek yogurt with their choice of Vitality citrus oil and fresh fruit. We stay stocked up on all the berries because it is easy for the kids to grab them and add to the yogurt without needing to peel or cut anything, AND because they are all high in antioxidants and vitamins. If you really want to save time in the morning, let them choose their fruit the night before and pre-load them into bowls in the fridge so all you have to do in the morning is add the yogurt + oils they choose. Because Greek Yogurt isn’t sweet, I do let my kids add a little honey or sprinkle some coconut sugar over the top. You can also add the new Einkorn granola that is delicious!

Quick and Easy Fruity Greek Yogurt
-1 cup full fat Greek Yogurt
-Handful of fresh berries or fruit
-1 drop of your favorite Vitality citrus oil
-Sprinkle of coconut sugar or drizzle of honey
-Einkorn Granola

Here are some combos we love:
-Raspberry Lemonade (raspberries + Lemon or Lime Vitality) 
-Orange Creamsicle (bananas + Orange or Tangerine Vitality) 
-Berry Blast (blackberries, blueberries, + Lemon or Lime Vitality) 
-Strawberry Banana (strawberries, bananas + Lemon Vitality)


August Essential Rewards Wellness Box


I recruited Silas to help explain our monthly wellness box that we receive from Young Living. He is so good at this!  We get to customize our order every month so we only get products that we want. And we can even choose when we receive it!  

This month we ordered several essential oils to stock up for our winter wellness toolbox so that we are ready when all the crud starts going around, because it will, and we want to be ready. We support our Immune Systems year-round with oils, supplements, and a healthy diet so that we have a good head start for winter.

If you could have oils arrive on your doorstep every month, which ones would you choose? 


Lavender Essential Oil Uses


Lavender Essential Oil is the WINDEX of oils. 

The Swiss Army Knife, if you will.

-2 points to anyone who caught that movie reference-

Back to Lavender.

It promotes calm and relaxation. Roll it on your wrists, head, and neck or diffuse to relieve occasional stress or anxious feelings. You can also add it to a warm bath with some epsom salts. It gets diffused every night for sleep, and also in the car while we are running errands if the little people start losing their minds.

Lavender is also great for your skin!  Add it to your skin care routine to slow the signs of aging and promote cell regeneration. Look that up.

We use it daily (it seems!) to support our kids' skin when they have come in contact with our cement driveway while running/skipping/riding bikes. ;-) And in the summer we use it with aloe for after sun skin care. It is very soothing to the skin.

It can also be used to support you sinuses. We apply across the bridge of our noses or dilute with a carrier and apply to the inside of our nostrils with a q-tip.