Dietary Changes

So many of you have been asking me about our food journey!

I shared a handful of weeks ago that our family was adopting a more plant-based diet. After watching a few documentaries, Forks over Knives, What the Health, and In Defense of Food and also researching the different ways to eat more holistically, we decided to change things up. Even before this we have been slowly transitioning our family to a more holistic, natural way of living (essential oils, cloth diapers, organic gardening, raising our own chickens for eggs and meat). It’s slow and ever-changing balance of keeping things manageable, yet also leaning on our convictions to make welcome changes for all of us.

To back up a bit, there was nothing uncommon or horribly wrong with our diet before this. We ate a variety of meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit with a few more processed items for ease/convenience #momlife. Although looking back,  we consumed a LOT more dairy than I realized.

Knowing that it would be easy to slip back if we inched into this new lifestyle, we plunged in and removed most meat and a lot of the dairy from our everyday lives. Although, when fellowshipping with other families, I had always stated that we would always put our relationships over our food choices. Now, if your family has a legitimate food allergy or intolerance, this would be a different story, but for use it was our choice. SO, if we had dinner with family or friends we would happily eat what was served and not even mention our new way of eating.

As time went on there were things we loved (almond milk over regular milk) and things we hated (veggie burgers DID NOT even compare to the real deal…). There were also things that our kids were not even close to fond of and others that they surprisingly loved. We sort of knew this would be the reality of it going into to this. Kuddos for those willing to go all out, but for us, doing so would be more stressful than it was worth. Also, I feel that food choice has become a bit of an idol for some. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to fuel your body well, when we decide to put our faith in out dietary habits (something that WE do) it ignores the sovereignty of God. He is bigger than our food choices.

So, what stuck and what got thrown out?

About 6 weeks of eating very differently left us with these “loose” guidelines

  • Cheese is sticking around – although in smaller quantities (NOTHING vegan tastes like cheese, even if it looks like it! If I wanted to keep from having a mutiny the cheese had to stay)
  • Processed meats, other than special occasions (others cooking, eating out and very occasional favorite meals of my children) were all gone. I did make another exception of lunch meat for my children who attend a nut-free co-op.
  • Milk as a beverage is gone – almond milk has replaced it. I actually bought cow’s milk last week so that I could do one of those “occasional kids’ favorite meals – biscuits and gravy) and NO ONE (sans one kid) would even drink it. They called it cow puss, thanks to learning that there is actually puss in cow’s milk… #gross.
  • We have added a meal or two that have optional of meat in them. For instance when we make tacos I purchase ground beef but also make quinoa “taco meat” for a few of us who like it better (recipe to come). I also make veggie wraps and my children have the option of cooked chicken or roasted chickpeas that have been seasoned the same.
  • Also, we are doing our best to use grassfed, organic and naturally raised meat when possible.

All in all these changes have our family: eating less meat, consuming less dairy products, eating more fresh produce (both fruit and vegetables), eating even less processed foods, and in general simplifying our diet.

I am very happy with the balance. I know that I would drive myself and my family bat-crap-crazy if I were to adhere too strongly to a restricted food regime, so this our doable diet change!

How about you?

How does your family enjoy to eat?


Cell Phones and Teens | Rules and Hacks for Moms

I have been asked so many times what about our rules with cell phones for our children. I will be the first to tell you that we have in no way figured it out, and I have made many mistakes along the way. That said, I would also be happy to share what we are doing with our family to make this part of our lives a bit more manageable.

First of all, we don’t allow our kids to have phones or personal devices at a young age. We made the mistake of handing personal devices out at too young of an age and we regretted it. Now our go-to age for an iPod or phone without service is about 12-13 (although my 11-year-old does have one, yet he isn’t all that interested in it). I know there are 6-year-olds out there carrying their own cell phone (with service), and still the age just seems to be getting younger and younger for parents to be footing a cell phone bill for a child that is barely out of diapers, but for our family it just doesn’t make sense.

Our kids usually start off with an old iPhone with the service shut off. This is a great “starter” phone because in an emergency they actually could call 911 (even with no service), AND I have apple products myself and am very familiar with the way they work. Apple products are also a breeze to restrict and I can control a lot of variables to keep     my kids safe. Another awesome thing about being a universally Apple family is that we can text and even call (using Facetime and Facetime audio) without any additional apps. We do, however, have some guidelines for their use. I go into more detail in my video below.

Restrictions that are made with the iPhone:
Under the restriction tabs (that is guarded with a parent only passcode) I make these modifications:

  • Safari is restricted to only sites I approve
  • The App Store is removed so they have to come to me to add apps (which I must approve)
  • No multiplayer games where they can connect strangers
    Anywhere I have the option to restrict explicit material I choose to do so

Restrictions that are made with our Disney Circle

  • The internet for certain devices has a “bedtime” thanks to Disney’s Circle and internet is disabled during certain hours. I can also pause the entire internet, for certain people or for certain devices at anytime. #SWEET (yes, the word “sweet” is totally 90’s, but I am okay with that)
  • This device also allows us to set time limits for certain sites like Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube. We had a problem of a certain child getting sucked into an app or two so we set time limits. When she hits those limits it cuts all of her devices off from that particular site/app.

  • It also allows us to restrict any guest phone/laptop that enters our wi-fi network. So if your kids’ friends bring over a devise that is not restricted I can filter them with preset filters for PreK/Kid/Teen/Adult.
  • You can also add “off times” if you would like their devices unconnected during the school day, dinner, family night, etc.
  • I highly recommend the Circle- completely easy to use and I can change the settings from anywhere and get notifications if/when my children hit their time limits.
  • PS this post is NOT sponsored – I purchased the Circle in January of 2017 and have been overall very happy with it!

Other trust-based guidelines

  • I only allow YouTube on Laptops and they are to be used in public areas
  • No social media (with some exceptions- I talk more about that in the video below)
  • No YouTube (allowed on the laptops that can be used in public areas
  • No texting the opposite sex (unless approved)
  • I have to approve the people you want to text, skype, chat or communicate online with (just to ensure that they are only talking/interacting with children they KNOW)
  • Parents must know all passcodes/passwords
  • Device must be turned in at night until that privilege is earned by respecting rules regularly
  • The internet in our home on those devices also has a “bedtime” thanks to (mentioned above).

When my oldest was a bit older (14-15) we turned on service to his device and he was allowed to text people of the opposite sex. He did still turn his devise into us at the end of every night, but as time went along we allowed him to keep it in his room with the expectation that if he chose to break any rules the phone would be taken away. All of our kids are reminded (ALL. THE. TIME.) that cell phones/personal devices are privileges, and if they do not handle the responsibility of them well we, as parents, have the right to revoke their use.

I’d love to hear what age you allow personal devices and/or cell phones and what your rules are in the comments!

The Right-Now

Today your curly head lay against my chest as you fell into your afternoon nap. As a mom of 8 I know how fleeting these days are. I know how bittersweet the quickness of it all is, but the years have also whispered wisdom into my heart. Wisdom that screams at me to be soak in this short season. Because to mourn for the moment before or to reach for the moment to come robs me of right now. If I keep that repertoire, stolen moments become all there ever is, and I have hoodwinked myself out of the beauty of my life. I have willfully traded it for the mirage of memories and plans not yet materialized. Listen moms, don’t fall prey to the lies that the yesterdays and tomorrows trump the right-now. The right-now is what your entire life is made of!

Our Daily Homeschool Routine!

So many have asked what our homeschool routine looks like this year with 8 kids! Let me give you a bit of background about what each child is involved in!

Andrew and Maddie (9th and 7th) are using Classical Conversations curriculum with Teaching Textbooks for math. Both attend an all day co-op on day a week and meet with a tutor in a class setting while there.

Our other children (5th, 4th, 2nd, K) follow an eclectic curriculum that I have put together for them. You can see our curriculum choices for the year HERE.

Here is a rough outline of our plan for the day. I talk about it more in detail in the video below!

PD schedule

November Specials!

First off, I want to say THANK YOU for everybody that has been so supportive of my new business throughout this year. So many of you have reached out and shared words of encouragement and support! That means so much to me. Countless others have chosen to me as their source for essential oils and other products and some of you have even joined me in this awesome adventure. I have become so close to many of you through this business and feel blessed beyond measure to connect on a deeper level!

Know that when you support a momma on her journey in a small, home based business you help her and her family on such a personal level!  I have fallen in love with the networking business plan. This business has blessed our family in such a HUGE way this year. I plan on devoting a whole post to this as it is such an awesome and God-led journey! I can’t wait to share that with you when I have a time to sit down and pour out my heart, my triumphs and my struggles with you. #foranothertime

BUT what I do want to share is the November specials!

They are AMAZING! I have been a customer for almost a year now and a Wellness Advocate 9 months and have NEVER seen them do a sale on starter kits!  BUT THEY ARE NOW!

The most popular starter kits are 20% off AND they have changed the packaging to make for less landfill waste (shipping box and packaging box are on in the same) and they made from recycled material! #LOVEthiscompany!

Our Holiday Gift Guide is here as well and it choked full of amazing gifts including the seasonal blends! Mmmmmm…

Product of the month this month is clove which means if you’re already a wholesale customer of mine you can get it FREE with a 125 PV LRP order if it ships before the 15th of the month. Clove is an amazing fall oil that has a beautifully rich scent and has many therapeutically uses as well!

  • Add one drop to toothpaste to clean teeth and gums.
  • Place one drop in two ounces of water and gargle for a soothing effect.
  • Take in veggie capsules to support cardiovascular health.*

Siberian Fir is also 10% off all month! Siberian Fir is a new product that was just released and it is SOOO good! It has a refreshing, woody scent that is known for its calming and relaxing properties. After strenuous activity, massage into skin for soothing comfort.

  • When working through difficult circumstances at home, work, or school, diffuse Siberian Fir to help reduce stress.
  • Apply topically to skin to help soothe minor skin irritations.
  • Inhale deeply and experience the refreshing aroma.

Copaiba (one of our newest oils) is back in stock! (Yes, it sold out. Sold out faster than pizza at a teenage mutant ninja turtle reunion!) If you haven’t heard about this awesome oil, then PLEASE do some research and look into the amazing benefits it carries with it! It’s a cannabinoid with NO trace THC because it isn’t derived from the cannabis plant unlike CBD oil. AND it actually has a HIGHER concentration of cannabinoids than CBD- almost 60% concentration! To top it off this cannabinoid react DIRECTLY (CBD reacts only INdirectly) with the CB2 receptor! The possibilities and uses of this oil are amazing! SO many families will benefit from it. I have a plan to dedicated post on this oil and the science behind it!

New to oils and want to get started: GO HERE!


How I Teach: Handwriting

Who out there over complicates something that just SCREAMS simple? (Raising my hand in the air while simultaneously hanging my head in shame.) Why do I do that? I mean, I fight for simplicity every day and try to streamline everything to make it more efficient.

Handwriting is one of those subjects that is just TOO easy to teach, yet I always seemed to make it more complicated than it needed to be. This summer as I was looking at printing out and binding all the worksheets (x4) we had done last year I started brainstorming a simpler approach.

“Why not have everyone do handwriting at the same time and even, possibly, be practicing the same letter!” LIGHT BULB! Wasn’t that how the one room school houses did it when they were teaching multiple aged children anyhow?

I started to implement this idea for the first quarter of this school year and not only is it WAY EASIER, but my children who have struggled with messy handwriting have improved more in the last 6-8 weeks than they did the entire last year! And it only takes about 15 minutes! Here’s how we do it!

In the morning after we do our memory work (so we are already sitting at the table together), I dismiss the younger crowd. Cypress (1 year old) plays in the living room or in his pack and play and Cora (3 years old) usually goes with him. Occasionally Cora stays at the at the table with us and colors in her little workbooks (dollar store finds that I have collected over the years).

While I am getting the littlest ones situated with toys my Prek/K, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grader get their paper and pencils and write their full (first, middle and last) name on the top line of their paper.

The paper they use is determined by the grade they’re in. I use primary paper for the younger grades and when they hit 3rd grade or so I switch them to wide ruled.

My 15 minutes of handwriting instruction looks like this:

Note: My very first session is an evaluation so that I can compare it to when they have finished. I have them all write (in their best handwriting) the alphabet both upper and lower case and if they have already learned it, the cursive alphabet as well.

  • White board instruction (2-3 minutes): I will draw a the top, bottom and dotted middle line that is included on primary paper. I then will very slowly (while explaining) write the  uppercase letter “A” making sure I mark the spot where I started with an “x” or a large dot. This way, when they are practicing and they forget where to start the letter they can look to the board and see. Then I move on to the lower case version of the letter “a”. Then the cursive versions of each.
  • Letter practice (5-8 minutes): The kids are then asked to write a line of their BEST upper case letters (I require 6 letters of each), skip a line, a line of their BEST lower case letters, skip a line, a line of their BEST upper case cursive letters, skip a line, and a line of their BEST lower case cursive letters. For kids that are JUST learning their letters , are new to cursive, or need a bit more help I offer then a sheet that has a traceable letters to guide them if needed. For those who haven’t learned cursive yet I only require the print letters.
  • Word practice (remaining time): When they finish their letters I allow them to write any word they want as long as it has the letter “a” in it somewhere. This is where they shine! I usually write a couple of words they suggest on the white board so they can see them spelled out. Many times they take as many random words on the board as they can and try to come up with a sentence with them all. I allow my kids to be silly and have a good time with this. The word “poop” and “toilet”(and various other colorful words) come up as often as the letters in the allow! If it gets them to enjoy handwriting I am all for it!

After we have cycled through all the letters we do another evaluation. We forgo the normal instruction and spend the 15 minutes carefully writing out their BEST alphabet (uppercase and lower case). I then compare it to the one they did at the beginning to see how much improvement has been made.

Then we start the cycle over again. Usually this time around I will require the word practice to be done in cursive (and then next time I will switch back to print). You’ll end up cycling through the alphabet 4-6 times depending on how many times a week you do handwriting and how many weeks per year you school.

For those who aren’t quite ready to print letters yet: While most of my kids have been ready to learning handwriting by this age, ,Ezra (just turned 5) is a lefty and both he and my other lefty tended to need a little extra time. During this time he traces pictures from coloring books or tracing sheets that I have printed off for him.

October is finally here!

Is anyone else (besides me and Cypress over there) geeking out over that fact that its FALL?! Cause I am! Fall is by far my favorite time of year! And I am SO over the 90 degree weather. Here in Illinois we had a couple of record setting days in the mid 90’s at the end of SEPTEMBER! Talk about summer going out with a bang!

During that little heat wave Mike and I took the family to Peoria to see replicas of the Nina and the Pinta.  

Anyone else need lots of patience and oils when traveling with children? We have been in the habit of “Passing the Peace” when we get into the car for road trips! Peace oil is a favorite around here!

And with it being 9,000 degrees we stopped for ice cream along the riverfront too!

We are also 6 weeks into our homeschooling year and we are FINALLY into a grove of a good schedule and routine. I will share that as well as our curriculum choices for this year very soon!

With a new month comes new promotion for my little side business! Can I tell you now just how AMAZING it is to be able to contribute financially to our family! It was a complete God thing and the timing for committing to build with doTERRA was so divine. I will talk to you guys later about just how God fleshed out a mere miracle at the perfect timing for our family! #GodisGOOD (If you would like to know more about this company can bless your family’s wellness and finances, PLEASE reach out! I am so passionate about #momshelpingmoms! Email:


There are some awesome promos going on in the month of October!

If you are already a wholesale customer doTERRA is giving away THREE free oils (3 of my family’s favorite oils) with ANY 200 pv order! WHAT? You better bet the farm I am getting those oils for FREE this month! We have such a generous and giving company! What are the oils? BALANCE, SERENITY and CITRUS BLISS! Click here for a small Monday-night-class about these three oils. (I hold classes every Monday night in my oil group here – check them out!)

And you can stack them with the Product of the Month! Which means if you place your 200 PV order on your LRP (Loyalty Rewards Program) and have it shipped before the 15th you will get all three oils for free PLUS a 5ml bottle of OnGuard! Onguard is amazing this time of year as it is our immune/protective blend!

Anyone who has been on the fence about getting  starter kit and a wholesale account NOW IS THE TIME! Most starter kits qualify you for this amazing promo too! Choose the Home Essentials or Natural Solutions and you’ll be getting those three oils for free too!

Email me if you would like to talk over your options and discuss which kit would best suit your family and your checkbook! #respectthecheckbook!

On top of all that, anyone who enrolls with 200PV or higher and sets up a LRP order in November will be receiving a FREE gift from me! The Essential Life book! An AMAZING and beautiful resource and guide book on how to use each and every oil and supplement doTERRA carries! (US only because international shipping cost more than a black market kidney!)

How are you all enjoying this fall? What fun things are you up to?