23 December 2016

an advent redeemed

If I'm being really honest, I've failed at my goal. To keep a quiet heart, to be reflective and intentional this advent. It's been a whirlwind this season - always feeling one step behind where I think I should be. Grand plans have fallen victim to unending to do lists. We are two days away from Christmas and I long for quiet. 

The great thing though, about living a life swallowed up by God's grace, is that it's never too late. He knows my heart and my circumstance and my longing for Him. I think back to that first Christmas. I imagine things weren't quiet and serene for Mary either. That she didn't have time to ponder and reflect as she rode nine months pregnant on the back of a donkey along dusty roads into Bethlehem. The quiet came after. That night in the manger, taking in her new baby, knowing but not knowing how great and wonderful and full of love the world just became. 

That's what I'm trusting God for right now, tonight. That in the midst of the whirlwind of the days leading up to Christmas, there will be moments of quiet. To sit and reflect on this baby that came into the world and saved it. God in the flesh, right in our midst. 

I went to my son's Christmas performance this week, families filling the church to the brim, eager to hear their little ones sing loudly for all to hear. Away in a Manger and We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to Jesus. Between classes taking the stage, there was a bit of a lull - siblings grew restless in the pews, parents shuffling and starting conversations, and our pastor stood up and directed everyone to their hymnals and asked all to join in singing Silent Night. No background music, just voices filling our little sanctuary with words that've been sung thousands of times. Tears filled my eyes as the beauty of that simple moment filled my heart. The hope of what's coming, of all the magic and grace and joy and peace and goodness that comes on Christmas morning, when the Light of the world came to live among us.

So maybe my advent hasn't looked the way I'd intended it. Jesus is still coming. He's still who my heart is celebrating. He still fills our great big world and my little tiny one with hope. Unending hope. And my heart could not be more grateful.

*this is a post I wrote a few years back that showed up on my facebook memories feed today and rang true, yet again. I thought I'd share it in case someone else can relate.

16 December 2016

choosing a different way: my decision to go oily

In the latest edition of "Carina Eats Her Words":

I started using essential oils about three years ago when they started to pop up around social media. But I vowed I would never use oils from an MLM (multilevel marketing) because that was so not me. I researched every oil I used and all its benefits, bought a couple of diffusers, and went to town. I loved that I was doing something more natural, my kids were sleeping better, I was more relaxed. Don't get me wrong, I still loved tylenol and antibiotics for our ailments. But if I could do something to boost our immunity naturally, I was all in.

More and more friends started sharing about how they were using their oils - if you're anywhere on Facebook or Instagram, I'm pretty sure you've seen them. I would roll my eyes and then secretly note the different oils they were trying and why and buy them from another company. 

But then I started thinking about other things around my house. Our detergent. My kids toothpaste. Hand sanitizer. Body wash. All of these everyday necessities that aren't really that great for my kids to be absorbing every single day, 50 times over. I'm not the crunchiest of girls, but I knew there had to be a better option, and while I'm crafty, making my own laundry detergent is just not in my wheelhouse.

So I talked to my best friend, a former skeptic (like oh my goodness SKEPTIC), who is now an all in oily goddess, and it took about three minutes for me to make the switch to Young Living. There are a million reasons, but a lot of it is that it's not just oils, it's education. It's a community of support, it's an opportunity to share how oils are helping my family in so many ways. If all they did was help my kids sleep more peacefully, I'd be all in (because, HELLO), but it's endlessly more.

So, here I am, no shame in my game. I need oils, you need oils, everybody needs oils. And that's another reason I wanted to be a part of YL: I really believe that you need to use them carefully and knowledgeably. They are potent little bottles that can make such a difference in so many ways, but in the right way. So, feel free to follow along with me if you want to know more - I'll be sharing on instagram, I'll host a few online classes, and if you're local - I have some fun girls nights in the works. 

If you've thought about hopping on board, I'd love to chat more... You can also get all the details here. I got my starter kit last week and it's AMAZE. Eleven oils, a big diffuser, product guide, samples of other products, plus you get wholesale price on all your future purchases (that's 24% off retail!). And if you do decide to sign up for a kit and choose me as your sponsor, I'll send you $10 back via PayPal through December! (The link should autofill my info, but just in case, my member ID is 10804651.)

Already love the oils? Tell me your favorites and how you use them!

31 August 2016

motherhood, back to school, and my paradox of emotions

The last two weeks of summer vacation felt crazy. My kids were in desperate need of structure and routine and I was too tired to give it to them. They were tired of playing the same games, it was too hot, they were too loud, there was too much laundry. We had school supplies and uniforms to buy and one last birthday party to throw. I longed for the first day of school, for the promise of quiet. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great summer. We even mostly enjoyed each other’s company. We had some super fun adventures, lots of good conversations, but we were all over all the togetherness.

My fourth grader was wearing his backpack around the house for a week.

farmers market adventuring with our pals

So you’d think all we’d feel was elation and joy as we drove to school that morning, I’d planned on doing a happy dance when I got back home. I asked my kids if they wanted me to drop them off in the carpool line or walk them to the door like so many other parents were doing.

“Just drop us off, Mom! We’re fine.”
I felt kind of grateful for that response. Proud of them, even, for being so independent.
But then we circled into the school lot and from the back of the van, Eddie quietly said, “Mom, can you walk me up?” 

“Oh buddy, we’re already in line. I’ll give you a big kiss as you get out.” 
But then, obviously, you’re in the rush of the carpool line and teachers are looking at you for efficient departures. He looked a little forlorn, but gave me a quick smile and they all hopped out. My heart sank as I watched them scurry off to the first and the fourth grade lines and the van door shut.

I swiftly pulled into a spot in the parking lot and made my way to their lines. Eddie’s face immediately brightened when he saw I’d come back. Big squeezes, a few kisses, and letting them know I would genuinely miss them and they were off. I shocked myself when tears suddenly appeared in my eyes and I realized summer was really over. And that even though it can be mass chaos with six kids all day, every day, and that I didn’t have one quiet moment to myself for twelve straight weeks, I was actually going to miss these little men who all of a sudden didn’t seem very little.

But now, here we are. Two days in and to God be the glory, my girls are all napping at the same time. It is so quiet I can formulate actual thoughts. During the day, when the sun is up. Miracles do happen, and sometimes they are tiny, but they are awesome.

My to do list, my catch-up-from-summer-madness list, currently has twenty two items to check off. But it still seems manageable because I have the hope of time and space to do it. Not only that, if I want to, I can even sit down IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY and relax with a cup of coffee, and maybe even my Netflix list. It’s been known to happen. So feel free to hit my up with suggestions on what to watch next. I’m currently obsessing over Marcella (if you liked the Killing, watch this. You will thank me.) and catching up on the second season of Madam Secretary, which I told you about before. If you haven’t seen it, start today, trust me.

And now I am off to do whatever I want for thirty more minutes. I mean, I don’t even know where to begin. And I know life is about to get crazy and the warm fuzzies from summer will soon wear off, but I’m even kind of excited to go pick up the rascals.

15 August 2016

meet our new bestie for the restie

don't you garden in sandals? really letting you guys glimpse real life here. 


It’s summer and I’m pretty sure my floors have never been messier. We discovered that the popcorn ceilings in our living and dining room had asbestos, so for the last three weeks, they’ve been scraped and refinished and painted. I was actually thrilled to find out because we could get them removed without my husband telling me “they’re fine” in all their yellowy dinginess. While all the dangerous stuff is gone, there is still dust from the repairs. I also decided (brilliantly) that we should simultaneously bulldoze the front yard. So, as we slowly give the yard a makeover, I track dirt into the house about seventeen times a day. 

Oh, and Eloise just started crawling. 

When my oldest was my only, I swept at least twice a day. Not a stray crumb in sight. The irony is that there wasn’t even anyone around to make a mess. As we’ve added to our family, and are now six kids deep, I don’t have as much time for sweeping. And even if I did, I would probably have to clean my floors eleven times a day to keep up with seven sets of feet and snack crumbs being trailed all over. I am not kidding, I’ve considered getting a dog just to clean under my table three times a day. 

But then, as timing aligned perfectly with the repairs and the yard makeover and the crawling baby, we got a bObsweep PetHair vacuum cleaner. It’s my kids new best friend - they are seriously obsessed. Can we talk about how this is the perfect invention for our family? It cleans the floors (we don't actually have a pet, but this model vacuums AND mops and sanitizes, you guys), it can be automatic or you can control it by remote. So, I can set up a timer for it to clean while we’re gone, or I can “let” one of my kids control it and my floors are so clean, ready for the baby, and I did NOTHING. And my boys have just occupied themselves for 20 minutes. Another bonus: it’s not very loud, so my two year old doesn’t flee the room and hide with her ears covered, she actually thinks Bob is kinda cute. I am pretty sure this little gift was sent to me straight from Heaven. 

The boys keep correcting me. 
“You can’t call it ‘the vacuum’, Mom.” 
“Don’t say ‘it’! His name is Bob.”
He really is becoming part of the family. In fact, at this rate, he might be my favorite. 

There are a few different versions of bob available on Amazon - check him out here and here. And of course, you can get all the details from the bObsweep store!

09 August 2016

when the summer gets crazy, girls night in

The last couple of weeks have been kind of crazy around here. We're having some work done on our house and a five day project is now on day fifteen. We're all hanging out in two little rooms with most of the furniture we own most of the day and it's starting to wear my patience a little thin. Add in my kids' desire to reenact all the Olympic gymnastics they've been watching, and... help me.

So, my friend and I decided we needed a girls night in last week. After all the kids were in bed (we have ten between us), she came over and we went out on the back patio and had a couple of drinks and some snacks and sat under the twinkly lights and had a normal conversation without being interrupted 98 times. Complete thoughts with other adults is a treat these days.

I was excited to mix things up (literally) with some delicious cocktail mixers from Stolen Fruit. I have to say, I wish I'd had these when I was pregnant. They are seriously delicious, and have no alcohol in them, so they would be the perfect way to drink something a little more exciting than sparkling water when you're hanging with your girls. But, neither of us our pregnant, so ours were... enhanced. The possibilities are endless with these, and they are all natural, and made from grapes right in California wine country. You don't need to add much to create something amazing, so you'll immediately impress with your mixologist ways. I am already dreaming up what to use them in next! I'm thinking Blood Orange Sangria.

Here's what we had for girls night:

Blackberry Hibiscus Margaritas
serves 2
3 ounces silver tequila
2 ounces Stolen Fruit Hibiscus Grenache
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
sparkling water
fresh mint (optional)

Divide ingredients between two glasses. Swirl, serve, enjoy!

Grab a couple of girlfriends, a bottle of Stolen Fruit, and your favorite enhancements, and take a break. You deserve it!