hi. hello… ya, back here!

November.

The last time I graced you with my rambling thoughts. I wish I could say it’s because we’ve been occupied with something more exciting than just… life. We traveled over the winter holidays and saw friends and family- vowed to not do that again for a while- and then just let day to day tasks take over a bit.

Hayden finished second grade this spring. It was the first year that didn’t end in a complete meltdown. Perhaps it is the anticipation and excitement of third grade, or maybe it was the promise of sleepovers with her friends. Either way, summer is half way over and she’s already asked 700 times when back to school shopping commences. So far boys are still gross, she finally decided she’ll move out with friends when she’s old enough, she loves Judy Blume books and her iPad,  and cheese quesadillas are LIFE.

Reid is being enrolled as a kindergartener and about a month shy of his fifth birthday. He is still four, all the way four as he calls it. Not just a little four. 🙂 For some reason, I’m struggling more with him beginning school than I did with Hayden. Believe me, I’m counting down the days until he doesn’t ask me 48 times a day if he can play with some friends. He’s always been my little love bug though, a real sensitive soul. Our right hand man, he’s quick to go with the flow. A social butterfly, and a bit of a prankster. Yet, I’m so nervous for him and will miss his spirit when he’s gone all day. Just another woe of motherhood I suppose.

Waylon, oh Waylon. He turns two this month and I can confidently say he’s our wildest. The kid has no fear and has some muscle to back up that determination. His scream will pierce your ear drums and without a second thought, he will squash his siblings with little to no effort. We’ve reached the age of him wanting some serious independence and for some reason, I forget this stage every time. Maybe because I mentally blocked it out once the other kids outgrew it. There are two levels with him most days. I want to sit on your lap and have all 6 of my softest blankets, or BEAST MODE. I had to seriously evaluate my fitness level and caffeine intake in order to keep up with this kid. We celebrated his second birthday this past Sunday, and both Andy and I are pleasantly happy to be past the baby stage. Potty training is on the horizon and there is no going back.

As for Andy and I, we are both constantly daydreaming of our next vacation and what project we should finish on the house. It has been the hottest summer in Alaska I have ever experienced, so for now, it’s just a matter of how many days can we spend on the lake?!  And we both continue to dabble in the oil industry. Hahaha. While Andy’s job consists of physical labor, a solid skillset in leading a crew, some serious number crunching and 12 hour days, mine is a little more lax.

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But it has kept my plate full, and allowed me another creative outlet all while being able to stay at home with the kids. While it’s fulfilling to be at home raising little humans, my personality craves something more. For years, I’ve kicked around the idea of a side gig. Something that kept me busy outside of changing diapers, folding socks and underwear and constantly looking for someone’s missing shoes. Years ago, I started using more natural approaches in our day to day, so it was an easy transition to open that part of our life up to others and help others try similar avenues. Plus, I made a whole slew of friends along the way. Which who knew as an adult would be so hard to do!

That about wraps it up. I’ve missed this part. This part where I dish random life stories to whoever is reading this thing still.  So for those still around, thanks and I’ll see you back here again. Sooner than later.

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almost there

Nearly three years ago, I shared the next photos. It showed my first attempts at capturing the northern lights and the small success I had with practice.

I took up photography as a hobby. I have no intention of pursuing anything outside of shooting for my own enjoyment and way to document our growing family. Mostly self taught, which consists of much trial and error, and steered on the right course by my mentor MachoTurbo who charges next to nothing. Sundays evolved into camera chats. I voiced my questions and ambitions with my shooting each week, and he kept me on the straight and narrow, leaving me with “assignments” in order to help hone my craft. Eventually, life would get in the way and neither one of us would have anything to bring to the table with pictures that week. Soon it just became a weekly catch up on the happenings and every once in a while, we had something photography related to talk about.

A couple weeks ago, Daylight Savings to be exact, the kids and I were dragging ourselves to 9 pm. The early sunset had seemed to suck out all of our energy, but when my sister in law texted to say that the northern lights were out and bright, we all needed to see for ourselves.

A giant glowing green rainbow stretched across the sky and we unanimously let out an “ooooooooooo, aaaaaaaaaa”. It only took a matter of minutes, and the light show was beginning to dissipate. I rushed inside to get my gear. With camera and tripod in hand, I turned off all the inside lights on my way back outside. We turned off the garage and porch lights and I felt an adrenaline rush to get my camera set up in time. In my madness, I managed to pinch the tender skin between my thumb and pointer finger while unsnapping the leg extensions on my tripod, and the next line of words I used was described by Reid as, ” a whooooooole lot of bad words.”

Suddenly, I was desperately trying to remember what settings I needed to use and took a few pictures to get it dialed in. I’ll leave out all the boring details, but all you really need to know is that in order to get a clear picture at night you set your camera up to have the shutter open for an extended period of time and it must stay perfectly still. Reason for the tripod. Also why the dog and both kids got hip checked a time or two to keep them away from my setup. Hayden was the only one who humored me after that. Sharky and Reid both decided they had better things to do.

My efforts paid off and I was pleased to have a couple more photos to add to my catalog of “attempts at the northern lights”. Hayden is old enough now to grasp the concept of what’s taking place, and even if my photos didn’t turn out, the experience with her was worth the time we spent outside. I have fond memories of star gazing as a kid, and it’s nothing short of magical that our children get to experience the northern lights in their lifetime. Something not everyone gets to do.

Far from perfect, but progress I’ll gladly accept. The thrill of the chase was enough to light a fire under me, and I’m hopeful to keep up the momentum with shooting. I’ll leave you with a somewhat unfocused photo of the Big Dipper and wish you all a happy Sunday.

scrapbook sunday: forty four

June!

The last time I blogged was the beginning of the summer, which just goes to show how busy of a season it became. I can’t guarantee that going forward, I’ll be any faster between posts, but I do have photos to share today.

I recently developed three rolls of film. I don’t shoot my film cameras often, and when I do, its months before I develop the pictures. A part that I have really come to love. Each roll is like an Easter egg. Who knows what it will contain. I’ve been letting the kids take over part of the rolls, I love to see what they come up with to shoot, and it’s been a learning curve for me to get back to basics. I’ll share what the kids have been shooting in a different post but today I’ll leave you my favorite shots. Enjoy.

diy: car air fresheners

It’s summer time and it seems like every time we plan a road trip with the kids, life gets in the way and we have a project or another matter to tend to. We have one we have been making some plans for and Andy and I are determined to make it happen before the end of the month. Any amount of time with all three of the munchkins doesn’t go without a few hiccups. Our little ones are actually great road warriors, but I was already mentally checking off in my head what oils I would be bringing for needed stress relief.

Lightbulb!

Diffusing is a major go to for mood in our house. While I don’t have a car diffuser (YET!) I had seen a few really cute ideas about making your own vent diffusers. Plus, who doesn’t love getting into a car that smells good?! It definitely distracts me from what is possibly living in my backseat that was left behind from my children. All you need is a few small craft supplies and you’re on your way to a better smelling car.

– felt

– small clothespins

– leather cord

– small poms

-hot glue gun

– scissors

– essential oils

I decided to go classic and used a basic tree cookie cutter to trace my shape on the felt, while it was folded in half, in order to give me two identical pieces. Cut a small piece of leather cord, and glue it inside the top before glueing the two pieces together.

So easy! These would make adorable gifts for people! Cut any shape you like and use 5-10  drops of essential oils on the felt before placing in the car. I love that it’s reusable and just a cute way to add personality to my car. I found that placing it on my dash vent while my car warmed up made for a smelly treat when we were ready to take off! (This will obviously yield better results when it’s cold, and your warm defrost is on.)

Next up was the vent diffusers. I glued a single pom on a clothespin (making sure it was one that fit well on my vents) and made enough to have a few up front and then a few to place on the vents above the kids’ seats. While they work great while we have the air on, I realize in the summer with the windows open or driving without air going, they won’t be as effective. A USB diffuser would definitely be better suited for that.

But this a simple idea for our upcoming road trip. Place a few drops of your favorite essential oils on the poms and clip them onto your vents, and away you go! I’m definitely thinking of using the blend Peace and Calming for the vents by the kids. 🙂

lemon blueberry granola bars

Snacks in our house are LIFE. They keep my kids from having to ask me for something to eat approximately 64 times a day. If we have a solid snack ration, they only ask me 27 times 😉

Snacks brought trouble for the middle child. Being home all day meant he would burn through snacks, like a box of granola bars, in no time at all. The bigger issue though was the wrappers. ALL OVER THE HOUSE. I can’t tell you how many times he had his “snack privileges” revoked. I do realize I could remedy this by not buying them anymore, but I ate those delicious little suckers too, you know?!

Thanks to a few trial and errors, we found a great granola bar base recipe! Even better, they were a huge hit with the kids, and we’ve yet to go back to store bought!

Completely customizable. A short list of ingredients I can pronounce and feel good about. Less waste. SO DELICIOUS.

Reid’s favorite of course involves mini chocolate chips and peanut butter. But I always go for the zesty flavors! Using essential oils in recipes like this is perfect. You might even turn a nay sayer of lemon into a lover. Since essential oils are made from the rind of the fruit and not the juice, they aren’t acidic. It helps give it, in my opinion, a much mellower flavor. The usual complaint in our house is that lemon is overpowering. I won’t name the person who feels this way. (hint: it’s not myself or the kids) This also remedies any issue of consistency since you aren’t adding any extra liquid.

BASE RECIPE

1/3 cup sugar (I prefer coconut, simply for the taste)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 tsp vanilla extract

The rest is up to you! Swap out the vanilla extract for another flavor, use any combo of dried fruit and nuts, or maybe you’re strictly a chocolate and granola lover!

For my version, I used around 20 drops of Lemon essential oil and 1/2 cup dried blueberries.

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Add your rolled oats to an 8×8 square baking pan. Toast in oven for approx 8-10. I like to pull out and mix up every few minutes.

2. While your oats are toasting, make your topping. To a small saucepan, add sugar, honey and butter. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. When mixture is ready, remove from heat and add salt and vanilla (if using).

3. Once your oats are done, pour them into a bowl to cool, along with your pan. I use this same pan to put the finished product in. One less pan to wash! When the pan is cool enough to handle, line with parchment paper or foil.

4. To your slightly cool oats, add your sugar mixture. Make sure to evenly coat everything in your bowl. If you aren’t using mix-ins like chocolate, add these in at this point.

*For chocolate, wait 10-15 minutes before adding to oats.

5. Scoop into your prepared pan and press down evenly. I like to use the 8×8 since it makes for a thicker bar.

Chill for two hours. If you can wait! It’s common for us to only make it 45 minutes before we dig in. Slice your bars into whatever shape/sizing of your choosing. You can get 8 bars if sliced long, and for the kids I cut them shorter, making 12 in a batch.

They keep best if chilled. I slice up my parchment paper from the pan and use it to separate each bar in a container.

Now, we just open the fridge and pull out a bar. Easy peasy, LEMON squeezy. Let’s see what fun combinations you come up with!

oh, there she is.

It’s been fairly silent around here. Spring swept in and brought sunshine, and yard work and days spent soaking in every last bit of the gorgeous weather because it is short lived in these parts. A baby on the verge of walking, and who STILL does not favor sleep. School’s out and summer vacation is officially in gear. Also, the blonde haired middle one is back to exploring the neighborhood in his free time, with his naughty little yellow dog alongside of him. All of this and it seems my updates with you have taken a back burner.

This summer is shaping up to be one I want to document and share with you so I’m getting back in the swing of things to post more.

I also went out on a limb and opened another window into our lives and decided to share how I use essential oils with my family, and our journey to having a chemical free home. It’s work. Literally. I’m working from home, from this very screen, and sharing my love of all things oily with family and friends, and a whole lot of new people too. But it was also work trying to juggle the mix of personal accounts and “business” accounts. I had the thought that I could start a different blog and showcase exclusively on it how we are using products and essential oils to steer towards a greener home. It’s not as easy as throwing out all your current household products and purchasing toxic free ones. It takes time, and a budget and finding what works best for your family. Documenting all this on a site created just for that began. A separate Instagram account and hopes of perhaps being able to navigate it all on top of my own personal feeds and blog.

I’m here to say that it was a bust. Just a couple of weeks was all it took for me to realize that I was already overwhelmed and not able to pour time and quality into each endeavor. In order to achieve what I’m after, I need to scale back. When I sat down and looked at each project, my end game is simply showing people our lives. How we use essential oils for sleep support, hormonal support, sores muscles, boo boos, and skin irritations. Why diffusing is a much safer and cleaner way to make your home smell great. And slowly, we are ditching household products that are filled with harsh chemicals to natural products that are non toxic.

With that being said, you will see the occasional post here about such things. I’m not here to shamelessly plug products constantly, I’m just opening up that window for you to peek in. There are already a few projects posted on that site, so before it gets closed up, I’m going to share them here. I avoided A LOT of housework and holed up away from children in order to finish them, so I’m not letting them go to waste!

Thanks for sticking around friends and cheers to the start of summer!

imperfections

This last week was just not in my favor. I had a baby with a serious sleep strike going on. I woke up each day irritable and short tempered. That attitude overflowed onto everything I did. It seemed as if the kids were intentionally being terrors and trying to get under my skin, when the reality is that I was just acting like an asshole and being a bad mood Betty was the cause of all my strife. After a day where all hell broke loose, instead of pouring myself a stiff drink that night, I filled up a large glass with water and raised my white flag. I went to bed early and defeated and tried to be very intentional with my thoughts when I fell asleep; that tomorrow would be a better day.

I woke up, still cranky, but determined to get this monkey off my back. While still chilly, we have had some incredible weather lately, and I had an itch to get out and shoot. I figured fresh air and a heavy dose of vitamin D could cure my blues. Sharky hopped in the back of the car and we left the house early afternoon, just as both boys were ready for a nap. The setup seemed perfect. They both fell asleep quickly. The warm sunshine beaming through the windows, and the open road ahead of me, it was bound to be a success.

The boys slept the entire time and while I didn’t get off the beaten path to much, there were plenty of places for me to stop and let the dog roam free and stretch, and for me to crawl on top of the car and shoot.

I felt refreshed. I felt renewed. No one will contest that spring in Alaska isn’t beautiful. I came home pleased with the shots I had and happy to have something to edit that night. Noticing though that I needed to clean my screen. I did my very best to hold off letting the kids use my IPad, but I eventually broke down and they are allowed to watch on it at times. Consequently, their grubby little fingerprints covered my screen.

We got ready for bed that evening, all of us cheerful from the days activities. I tucked Hayden in and whispered that if she got up early the next morning, that I would let her skip the school bus and take her to school. Stopping to get breakfast on the way. Who wouldn’t have sweet dreams thinking of McDonalds breakfast!?

I grabbed my camera on our way out of the door, knowing that I could probably get a couple chances at some great morning light, while we burned off some time before that 9 am drop off.

Man. I felt so productive and proud that I had turned my bad week around. Until I noticed when I went to post the photo above on social media. I had cleaned my IPad screen, yet that pesky spot I had noticed on my photos from last night was still there. With a sinking feeling, I grabbed my camera and quickly scrolled back through all my latest photos. That spot was on all my shots. That smudge was not on my IPad but on my FREAKING LENS!

I spent the next few minutes cleaning my lens and wallowing in self pity. I was heartbroken that my photos now had a flaw that was completely preventable and my own fault. I scrapped the Instagram post I had started and removed the other photos from the Scrapbook Sunday post they were set to be in. Ugh.

That smudge nagged me all day. The smudge had teamed up with the monkey and made their way to my back.

It took me a while to realize that my own perspective was the cause of my frustration. There is a solid chance that most of you won’t even notice the spot. Or if you do, it’s not as distracting to you as it is to me. Perhaps this was the universe trying to tell me to get over myself. There isn’t a single person out there who doesn’t have struggles. Our imperfections and flaws are what make us original. Unlike anyone else. My baby who can’t sleep through the night will grow into a toddler who wants to sneak into my bed. Soon, school age and arguing about bedtimes. My three year old that gets into all sorts of mischief will eventually be to busy with his own life to need me to clean up his messes. That little spot that “ruined” a few photos is insignificant. I didn’t leave the house that day with the intent of getting award winning photos. I needed a fresh start, and I got it. Maybe that’s what our imperfections are there for. Reasons to make us step back and realize when we need a fresh start. And if that’s the case, things are going to stay fresh around here for a long time. 🙂