Tuesday, May 24, 2016

moving forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Essential Oils: How NOT to buy

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

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

1. Do not buy Essential Oils at discount sites. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to buy pure + potent essential oils: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fighting off Seasonal Threats...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On sleep

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

going, going, gone! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 18, 2016

Essential Oils- full disclosure

Those of you who have been reading here for some time may have noticed that I've become silent on the topic of essential oils after quite a bit of sharing in the past. This was not so much my choice as it was being forced upon me due to regulations and compliance issues. When these changes went into effect I was too enamored with my sweet 3rd baby to take the time to update my previous posts and edit myself in any new work I'd share.

We've been using essential oils for years now and I love them more every day. They are my go-to solution for just about anything from supporting a healthy lifestyle to cleaning my home! I can post in generic terms here, which seems VERY ambiguous at times, so please be patient with me as I navigate these new waters!

For more detailed information I can share with you on Instagram, Facebook, via email, local classes and one-on-one conversations. Please don't hesitate to contact me for more about all of the above!

I've re-opened my essential oils page here with some basic information. As always, contact me to learn more!
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