October 23, 2010

Dear Mom,                                                                                                             

It’s Halie’s birthday. She turns six today. Today is also the day we have to lay you to rest. I can’t imagine what this day is going to feel like for her for the rest of her life. It’s such an awfully bittersweet day.

I love you,



October 22, 2010


Dear Mom,                                                                                                     

Tonight, we celebrated your life. You would have been so touched by everyone who came to share their love for you and say goodbye. You really were loved. As I sit and write I have so many things that are sticking out to me and it makes it all so surreal. All the stories and memories we shared about you. The new memories that were made that night. Your friends. Your family. Dad’s friends and co-workers. Jon and Jeff’s friends and co-workers. My friends and co-workers, man. I cannot put into words the emotions that took over me when I would see a new friend or co-worker coming in to support me in my loss of you. It’s overwhelming and I don’t know how to express to them what it has meant to me. I’ve never been good with expressing myself in the moment like that and then I let time pass and feel like it’s too late to go back. I don’t know.

Oddly enough it was a beautiful night.



September 10, 2019

Dear Mom,                                                                                         

            I had this idea a few weeks ago to write to you. I’ve never been good at writing in journals or diaries, but I like writing. It’s like a release of what I keep locked up in my thoughts.

            I was driving and something big was happening in our lives. We were getting ready to take Aidan up to college for his freshman year and I needed to talk to you, like so many times before. I needed to talk to you and like a punch in the crotch, I remembered I couldn’t. It’s amazing how after almost ten years I still have that instinct ‘to tell mom’.  It’s startling when I have this thought because it comes so naturally, like you’re still here and have been this whole time. Of course, it makes me sad but this idea, the idea to write you letters, seems comforting. I feel that you will receive them. And I know, like always, you will help me. Then I thought what if I had been writing to you this whole time? I would probably have had some much-needed emotional release, huh??

            There are so many things I’ve wanted or needed to share with you; to get your advice on. Big life changes, sad depressing times, uncertainties. I’ve decided to go back in time and start my letters from when I can remember first needing to talk to you. Which, to be perfectly honest, was right away. I’ve decided to do this because so many things have happened and changed and for me sorting those things out chronologically seems to be the most logical and might help with some deep healing from when I really needed it the most, when you left us.

            I hope you’re out there somewhere dancing your beautiful heart away and enjoying looking out for all of us.

I love you,



Day Zero.                                                                                

October 18th, 2010

It was a normal Monday morning. The kids and I got up and ready for school and work like any other day. I was thankful because you and dad stopped by yesterday afternoon with a few groceries for us. It saved me a trip to the store and helped me out financially. You had recently had a hip replacement and recovery was hard for you due to your autoimmune diseases, but you were finally up and moving and seemed to be enjoying yourself again. You had started doing things for yourself and going out with dad again. It was great to see, and I remember feeling a sense of relief in thinking that you would have your life back. In fact, we took our girls trips the weekend before to Galena with our long-time friends and celebrated your birthday. I will never forget it. You spoiled me that weekend and we just had the best time together. So many laughs and memories. The next day we did our annual apple picking with our family and again, it was the best time.

When you and dad stopped by that Sunday afternoon you asked to use my bathroom and mentioned you hadn’t been feeling well. Your stomach had been very upset the weekend before as well but this time you looked really pale. You guys only stayed a couple of minutes then went home and the kids and I carried on as normal.

As I was on my way to work Monday morning dad called me to tell me he had taken you to the emergency room. This wasn’t a first. In fact, there was a point in time where this was a regular occurrance due to your pain and anxiety, and frequently thinking you were having a heart attack. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I certainly didn’t just write it off this time. There was a different tone in dad’s voice that kept me on alert all day. Throughout the day dad had called me a couple of times to let me know how you were doing and he definitely sounded worried. It was during one of these calls he let me know that you went in because you were passing blood in your stools and had vomited blood as well and that he would like me to come to the hospital. I only had a little bit of time left in my workday and I told him that I would come but needed to get the kids off the school bus first. He called again, minutes before I was to leave work and this call sent me in a panic. He told me to hurry up. In all of the years of you being taken to the hospital dad has never asked me to come to the hospital, let alone told me to hurry up. As I was rushing out of the office a co-worker was coming in and he said “Jeez, what’s the hurry. Someone dying?”. As I brushed past him all I could mutter was “my mom is in the hospital”.

I got home just minutes before the kids did and was able to make plans with my friend to come get them so I can get to the hospital. As soon as she got there I took off and dad called again, “Where are you??? I need you to hurry up.” I started crying hysterically and the feeling that you wouldn’t be leaving the hospital came upon me. I frantically called both of my brothers and told the youngest he needed to leave work and meet us there. I called one of my closest friends and she offered to meet me at the hospital. I finally arrived and made the long walk to the front entrance with tears streaming down my face. There are no words to describe the feelings I had, I just knew you were gone.

I was met by my Uncle and Aunt who had been there with dad for a little while, I think. My memory is foggy and the timeline is lost on me from the time I entered the hospital until I left. It could have been minutes or hours between me arriving and the rest of the events unfolding. I do know that within minutes of me being there my youngest brother arrived and we were being asked to join dad and someone from the hospital in a small room. It was there that we were officially told you had passed away. I honestly can’t recall if I said anything or what my reaction was, or my brothers for that matter. But I will never forget dad and what he said. “No. No. No. Who am I going to have? What am I going to do now?” He wasn’t actually saying these words, he was crying so painfully it was unbearable. You guys had a crazy loud relationship but one thing that I never doubted was that you really did love each-other and you really did need each other.

We were taken back to see you before we left the hospital and I actually wish we hadn’t done that. One of the last images I have of you consists of you laying on a hospital bed with a big tube coming out of your mouth and dried blood on your face and clothes. Dad was furious and started yelling “Come on! Why is she like this? Clean her up! Awe man, come on clean her up!”.

You had Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Fibromyalgia. You were in pain. Most of your life you were in pain and on a lot of medication to help control that pain and inflammation. The medication took its toll on your stomach and you developed an ulcer. Eventually that ulcer started bleeding and by the time you made it to the hospital you had so much internal bleeding that it was too late.             

Essential Oils In The Workplace


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One of the questions I get asked most about essential oils is “What do I do with them?”. Well, one thing you can do with essential oils is to bring them to work. Incorporating essential oils into your work life is easier than you think! Below I give you examples of how to use essential oils in different work and professional settings.

1. Daycares

I ran my own home daycare for 6 years for children 6 weeks to usually 4 years old. I changed many, many diapers and let me tell you, by mid-day we had a smell hovering that closely resembled a barn yard. I was always very conscious about candles as they are a safety hazard for little ones. Not only could someone get burned, but the chemicals that get burned off are not good to breathe in. I also steered clear of sprayable room fresheners for the same reason. I didn’t want little ones to breathe in all of those chemicals and I didn’t want to get a headache from them. Enter in the diffuser! I ran the diffuser daily for multiple reasons. One, it helped purify the air of the stinky diaper odor. Two, the oils helped keep the kids peaceful and happy especially on those mornings when drop off wasn’t always the smoothest. During nap time the diffuser was used to help lull the little ones into a restful slumber! 3. I didn’t forget about myself, a little Stress Away on the wrists can go a long way on those not so easy daycare days!

Diffuser suggestions – Purification, Lavender, Peace & Calming, Thieves and Citrus Fresh, Lemon, Stress Away.

2. House Cleaning Businesses

Are you a professional house cleaner? Ever consider going toxin free? With the Thieves Household Cleaning line, you can tackle even the toughest jobs with one safe cleaner and a few essential oils. With the plant-based movement on the rise and consumers becoming more conscious of what they are using in their homes, this is the perfect time to start offering a safer way to clean and sanitize your customers homes!

Suggestions – Thieves Household Cleaner with drops of Citrus Fresh, Purification, Lemon, and/or Thieves.

3. Teachers/Schools

Being a teacher is stressful. Being a student is also stressful. Need to help kids focus during a test or calm some of that test anxiety? Need to help curb some of that cabin fever during winter? Help control the setting and mood of your classroom by running a diffuser. It’s so simple, so safe, and so effective in creating a wonderful inviting learning environment for everyone. You can also help with immunity by diffusing Thieves and keeping the Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier on your desk at all times!

Diffuser suggestions – Lavender, Stress Away, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, Peppermint, Lemon, Valor, Thieves.

4. Social workers/Psychologists

It’s not easy walking into an office to talk about your life. There are feelings of fear, anxiety, loss, grief, anger and many more. Using essential oils in the office can help create a comforting environment for patients who have a hard time opening up and could use some extra emotional support.

Diffuser suggestions – Lavender, Stress Away, Peace & Calming, Valor.

5. Real Estate

This might be one of my favorite ways to incorporate essential oils into your professional life! I picture a gift basket full of the Thieves Household Cleaning line on a counter for your new home buyer as a gift. I think this would be a great way to say thank you and provide a toxin free cleaning option for a new home! I also picture diffusers running during open houses and viewings to help set the tone, purify the air, and get that house sold!

Diffuser suggestions – Purification, Thieves, Citrus Fresh, Lemon, Lavender, Valor.

6. Office/Desk Job

Whatever the profession, sitting at a desk all day can be taxing. Not only that, but meetings and deadlines are stressful! You can run a diffuser in your office to help ease the stress, keep you focusing, and keep your motivation going all day long. A diffuser in a meeting can keep everyone alert, and on their toes, to make that time productive.

Diffuser suggestions – Stress Away, Peace & Calming, Valor, Peppermint, Lemon, Rosemary, Citrus Fresh.

7. Creative Jobs/Arts

Need some motivation and inspiration. Yep, you guessed it. Essential oils and diffusers are the answer yet again! I’ve definitely reached for the oils in times of needing to be creative but not quite feeling it.

Diffuser suggestions – Peppermint, Valor, Rosemary, Frankincense.

8. Hair Salons

Not only can running a diffuser help control the fumes that come along with owning a hair salon, but essential oils can be used to help with a variety of hair ailments. We’re talking everything from thinning to dandruff! Your customers will love having an all-natural, personalized option for their hair treatment. Think masks, rinses, treatments!

Suggestions – Lavender, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Cedarwood, Rosemary.

While this is a short list of occupations where essential oils would be a great addition, it is a good starting to point to get an idea of how and why to incorporate them. If you are interested in essential oils for your workplace, a Premium Starter Kit from Young Living is a great place to start. It offers 12 amazing oils, a diffuser, and a variety of samples and literature. This starter kit is a great way to start your collection of oils but for a fraction of the cost! For more information visit me at https://www.myyl.com/domesticatedoils. My Young Living ID# is 15022244.

Please note that while most of the suggested oils are in the Premium Starter Kit, there are a few that are not. However, these oils are available through Young Living.

It excites me to think of the many beautiful ways essential oils can be incorporated into our daily lives, including in the workplace where we probably need them the most!


My Vegan Diet


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About a year and a half ago I decided to cut out animal products fully for the first time. I had gone without dairy for a short time before this, gave it up and then went for it again. I decided to go vegan to help improve my digestive health. It didn’t take long for me to notice changes like weight loss, reduced pain and inflammation, better sleep, and more energy. Shortly after that I also went gluten free. This was a lot harder for me to do, and still is, but again I saw many changes that push me to keep going with it. My digestion/GERD is controlled a lot more when I stay away from gluten. I have zero bloat and even less pain and inflammation. For as much as I see and feel the benefits in maintaining a gluten free diet, I am focusing this post on my reasons and choices to go vegan.

I will be honest, I am not 100% vegan/plant-based all of the time. I’m human and have weaknesses. One of them is food. I happen to love food. I like cooking for my family and trying new recipes but I get bored easily making the same things over and over again. And I’m lazy, sometimes. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to put in the effort it takes to plan and prep my food so I will do what’s easiest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard to to cook a vegan meal. But sometimes I don’t feel like doing it. I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way! It has taken me a while to realize that I don’t have to be perfect all the time so I don’t beat myself up over it, too much anyway. I do know there are people who are 100% vegan always. That is amazing and great, and maybe one day I will be there. But for now I am happy that I am about 90% vegan. Sometimes I will have real cheese or eggs. Sometimes I will have some meat, usually fish/seafood or, *GASP* a hot dog or gyro. I haven’t had lunch meat in so long because the last time I did it tasted awful. The same goes for chicken, beef or pork. It honestly grosses me out and if I do attempt to eat it, I end up spitting it out. It just doesn’t taste good to me. Unfortunately, I have always leaned towards the super bad for you meats like the hot dogs, salami, and processed stuff.

Like I said before, I chose to start eating a vegan diet for health reasons. However, this quickly changed. As I started watching documentaries and reading up on the vegan lifestyle, I came to learn about the dairy and meat industries. I was appalled at not only what was being done to animals, but what was being done to the food that we are supposed to be putting in our bodies. Listen, I get it. I get that humans have been eating meat for hundreds and thousands of years. I believe in the Hunter/Gatherer system. It makes sense. But there is a HUGE difference in the way our ancestors consumed animal products and the way we Americans do now. We weren’t made to consume as much meat as we do, first of all. We weren’t made to consume such processed meat as we do. Here’s something that really strikes a chord with me. What do the animals that you consume eat? Grass. They eat plants. WHAT? The animals are getting their nutrients solely from plants?! These days, the “best for you beef” is GRASS fed beef. If plants are good enough for the animals to eat, then why don’t I just eat the plants? Guess what, if they can do it, I can do it. I am cutting out the middle man, or middle animal if you will, and going straight to the source. One more tidbit: did you know that hot dogs, lunch meats, and red meat are categorized as carcinogens? That means cancer causing. The same category as smoking, asbestos and plutonium*. Why would I want to do that to my body?

I started reducing the amount of dairy my kids consumed years ago, when the older two were still in elementary school. I started reading and hearing about hormones in cow’s milk and it didn’t sit well with me to have my kids drink it all the time. Was I super strict about it? No, I wasn’t. However, I was conscious of it. The more and more I thought about it, the less consuming cow’s milk made sense. I’m not a cow, why do I need to drink a cow’s milk? Humans are the ONLY species that drinks another species milk. Why? Because we are told to? That’s not enough reason for me. Take a look into the dairy industry and I guarantee you’ll second guess that ice cream you’re eating. Not only that but really sit back and think about how and why milk is produced. There are tons of diary brands that proudly label their products as “No Hormones Added” but guess what? Milk is produced because of hormones. So even if that momma cow, who just had her baby calf ripped from her, wasn’t given extra hormones, her milk is still full of hormones because that’s how her body made the milk to begin with. So either way, added or not, you’re drinking/eating/consuming cow hormones. Those hormones are then in turn affecting your body. I don’t know about you but I have a hard enough time managing my own hormones, I don’t need another species hormones in the mix. One more thought on cow’s milk. Puss. Yes, puss. Because of continuous pregnancies and excessive milking, cows can develop mastitis. Mastitis is an infection in the milk ducts of the udders. This causes blood and puss to enter the milk. Grossed out yet? If not, here you go…in the US, the FDA allows 750 million puss cells in every liter of milk*. You are drinking puss from a cow. How does that puss affect us? Think mucus, inflammation, sinus problems and a variety of other problems. Why do you think doctors will recommend a decrease in dairy consumption when you have cold? Because the milk creates mucus and phlegm and that makes it harder to breathe. Just another reason for me to stay away from it.

Now, whether or not you believe in climate change, it is a proven fact that animal agriculture has a negative effect on our planet. In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation*. Not only that but take into consideration the amount of land, water and energy used to produce meat and animal products. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat*. That’s one pound. Think about how many pounds of meat are consumed DAILY across the US. If health reasons or the treatment of animals doesn’t effect you enough to change you, maybe the destruction of our planet will. It might not seem like you, just one person, would make a difference by changing your diet. But I’m here to tell you, even just small changes make a big difference. Unfortunately there is a lot we need to change to help the status of our planet from reducing waste, reducing the use of single use plastics, and reducing animal agriculture. But I do think that with education and small changes over a period of time, we can make a difference!

My choice to consume a mostly vegan diet evolved from needing to improve my health to becoming very conscious about the effects of consuming animal products not only for myself, but for the animals and the planet. I like to think of it as a trifecta. Health, animal cruelty, and bio responsibility. I am happy to say that over time my family has also become very aware of my efforts and reasons to maintain this lifestyle. I had a lot to do with it by encouraging them to watch documentaries with me and become educated as well. We talk about food openly and because of this my husband has changed the way he thinks about food and what he is consuming, my teenage daughter doesn’t complain about not having all the food she really wants and appreciates my efforts to help keep her healthy, and the toddler has become a great eater (for as much as a toddler can be) and enjoys his veggies. We don’t buy meat anymore, or milk. In fact, is very rare that we have any dairy or meat products in the house. I know not everyone fully understands and that is okay. But if I have helped educate at least one person with this post, then my job is done!

For me, I really do find the beauty and satisfaction in eating plants for myself, the animals, and the planet. Here is a small list of where to start if you are inclined to educate yourself! The following are documentaries that I highly recommend: What The Health, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and The Game Changers. I will work to put more of a list of resources together for you!







Fast and Easy Veggie Soup


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Here it is friends. The fastest, easiest, tastiest veggie soup there is. Not only is it all of those things, it is vegan and can be made to be gluten free as well (mine is!). Sometimes you want soup but don’t want the unhealthy, super processed can version. Sometimes you want a fast and healthy dinner. This is all that and more! Did I mention it is super inexpensive to make?? I promise you will like it, even my three year old gobbled it up!

I’m going to spare you all and jump right to the recipe because that’s really what you’re hear for, right?!?


Carton of vegetable broth
Medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 small potatoes, diced
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bag of frozen mixed veggies
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
About 6 oz tomato sauce
1 box of pasta of choice (we use gluten free pasta)
Pepper to taste
Cilantro for garnish (optional, but it is awesome!)


  1. Add onion to heated oiled pan. Saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add potatoes and continue cooking and stirring for about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for pasta and cilantro. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta while the soup is simmering. I don’t like to cook pasta in the soup because I find it gets too soggy for my liking.
  4. Once pasta and soup are done simply add to a bowl and garnish with cilantro. It is so refreshing!

Hopefully this helps with finding the beauty in making dinner, enjoy!


Magnolia House: From 1975 to 2019


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I’ve been putting off this post for a while because I want to show the whole house before and after us moving in, but it’s not all done. While we are all moved in and construction is done, and we are growing comfy and more settled into our home by the day, there are still a lot of things we want to do. But from what I hear, no house is ever fully done so no time like the present?!

As soon as we bought the house and moved in, we started a kitchen remodel. The kitchen was original to 1975, except some of the appliances. It had to go. Be forewarned, I am terrible at taking before and after pictures. It’s just not something I think of until after the project is done, but I’m trying to get better!

From the front door through the kitchen and into the laundry room there were four different types of flooring. Black tile, linoleum, new vinyl flooring, and more (but a different color) linoleum. We replaced it all with wood look ceramic tile and I absolutely love it. We completely gutted the kitchen but maintained the general layout. It went from a closed off closet of a kitchen to an open eat in kitchen with plenty of room to maneuver. There was a door going into the laundry room that we removed and replaced with a pocket door. The laundry room also had a door leading to an outside deck that we closed off. It was such an awkward door! The solution was to remove the back window in the kitchen, install a slider door, and extend the deck to make getting in and out of the house and onto the deck much more efficient. It wasn’t always the easiest process, and it felt like it took forever, but we have already hosted many gatherings and spend so much time in the kitchen making memories and delicious food. It was definitely worth it!


Here is the kitchen before we purchased the house and the laundry room after we moved in. Check out that flooring!!!


After we moved in, we ripped out the flooring pretty quick haha. It’s dark but you get an idea of how small it was in there. That’s my husband for size reference LOL, and the other picture is from the opposite corner of the eat in area. Don’t you love the cabinets?? In the third picture you can see the door to laundry room, the door in the laundry room leading to the deck, and the back window that we turned into a slider door. Looking at these pictures brings me right back to living out of kitchen boxes for months and feeling like we were camping in our own house!


During construction. Just taking out the upper peninsula cabinets made such a huge difference. But we weren’t stopping there! Look at that vintage wall paper. Now that I’m thinking of it, I should have tried to keep some of it and make some art with it. Maybe next time?!?


While there are many things I love about the kitchen, one of my most favorite things is this hutch. It’s a 1940’s bakers hutch that I bought for $100 off of Facebook Marketplace and turned into my kitchen island. It was my first time redesigning a piece of furniture and I loved it from beginning to end. It went from this one piece into three different things. The bottom is my kitchen island. The top went into the laundry room above the washer and dryer for some cabinet storage (painted blue like the island), and the slide out counter top went downstairs into my office/craft room for me to use as a magnetic board. How about that for redesigning and repurposing!?


I painted the hutch this blue color, added some wood detail (which is actually contact paper!!!), and it got raised up off its castors with these wood risers, and then a skirt was put around it. I didn’t want anything to be able to get under there making sweeping and cleaning difficult.


Here’s the finished product. Kind of finished. Still have some decorating to do and as I’m writing this and inserting pictures, I’m realizing that there isn’t a good picture of the slider door and that there is stuff laying around on the counters and table. Stager of pictures I am not! I’m sure I’m leaving out all the details you actually want to know, feel free to leave questions and comments to get the deets. I’d love your feedback and decorating suggestions, we still have spots to fill!!! Oh, I should add that while I love DIY projects, this was not one of them. I designed the kitchen and we had a contractor come in and do the work.

I think my kitchen has turned out beautifully, especially when I see my whole family gathered around.



Resolutions or Goals?


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Happy New Year!! I love this part of the holiday season for a couple of reasons. It just seems so fresh and alive (I know, that’s usually what people feel about Spring…but I feel it about the New Year). I see this time of year as a positive time to reflect on the past year as well as recharge myself and look forward to the opportunities of the new year coming. I’ve never been big on making resolutions mostly because I’ve always seen them as a setup for failure. However, in recent years I have started looking at the end of the year/beginning of the new year as more of a closing of one door and opening of another. A chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. I still try not to make resolutions, instead I make goals. To me goals are more attainable because you need baby steps to make goals happen. Starting with small steps towards a big goal is the way to go for me! Every single time I’ve been all gung-ho with a new year resolution and making all sorts of lifestyle changes, I’ve failed. I’ve failed and I’ve gone back to all the bad habits that leave me unproductive and not feeling the best about myself. So, small steps towards goals it is.

For over a year I’ve been writing in a journal that includes five things I am grateful for each day and ten dreams. I started this before the new year last year. In this time frame I’ve been able to cross off two of my big dream items and I’m actively working at crossing off a few more. This journal is the Start Today Journal by the Hollis Co. The Hollis Co. is run by Rachel Hollis (Girl, Wash Your Face) and Dave Hollis. If you haven’t heard of them, their company, or the Start Today Journal…LOOK THEM UP. I love them and their message. Especially if you are a woman, a small business owner, or want to start incorporating healthy lifestyle habits. (FYI, I am not being paid to mention this brand, I just truly enjoy what they have to offer!) I became familiar with Rachel Hollis after a friend suggested Girl, Wash Your Face, as a book recommendation. I LOVED IT. It spoke to me and I was pleasantly surprised that a few of the things she talked about doing to improve yourself and life, I had started doing not too long before reading the book in an attempt to better myself and really figure out what I want to do with myself. This book just gave me so much more inspiration and fire to go after all of those goals. I’m still working on Girl, Stop Apologizing, the follow up to Girl, Wash Your Face, but I can’t wait to finish! If you’re looking for a few tools on how to get your butt up and motivated to change and accomplish things, check them out.

With 2019 being filled with ups and downs, enough change for ten families over 5 years, and some serious self reevaluation, I am definitely looking for some positivity to start flowing again. Luke and I, (Luke is my husband for those of you who do not know us personally), exchanged a list of personal goals each one of us has for the upcoming year. Luke and I are good talkers. We can talk all day long about what we would like to accomplish, what we want for our kids, our home, our finances. But we SUCK at taking action. Even though I’ve been trying to change that habit for myself for over a year, and I have fallen off the band wagon a few times and gotten back up, we have never done it TOGETHER. The “together” part is the piece that has been missing. Of course, Luke knows my love of essential oils, nutrition, and most things earthy and natural. Of course, I know he wants to go back to school and get his masters degree. But there are other things that I dream about that I’ve never told Luke. Why? I don’t know…fear, embarrassment, lack of finances, lack of time? Whatever the excuse is, that’s why. But deep down I’ve known that in order to help make all of these dreams I have come true, I need to let him know they even exist. So. Yesterday we had a lunch date and I brought my list of goals. The list of goals that we talked about meeting about and discussing every Sunday to keep each other on track…WEEKS AGO. There’s that talk and no action thing we’ve got down so well. It was just supposed to be a little lunch to use up some gift cards and get out of the house together. But I decided to take the opportunity and get these weekly meetings in motion. My list included everything from business to education to wife goals. After we finished eating I nervously brought out my notebook and shared it with him. I have to say, it felt good to let him in on what I want for myself, us and our kids. It was like a weight off my shoulders. I’m still nervous about the thought of attacking these goals, but I do know that I can do it! I think that the most important thing for me, which I’m terrible at, is communicating those goals/dreams with people. It’s an insecurity. The crazy part about it is, once I do I always feel recharged and motivated…why do I do this to myself!?!

Moving on into the new year, what are your thoughts on resolutions or goals? What things are you planning on starting or finishing? What are some of the things that hold you back from reaching those accomplishments? Lastly, what would be something that could help you reach those goals that you’ve been dreaming about for so long??

I hope you have a beautiful start, middle and end to the New Year whether you are keeping resolutions or reaching goals!


Animals and Essential Oils


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I often get asked about whether or not essential oils can be used around pets. The simple answer is, yes. However, just like us, animals react differently to them based on species, size and what their bodies will tolerate. I am not a veterinarian, or a certified aromatherapist (yet), but I do have some tips to help you introduce essential oils into your pets surroundings safely.

The first thing to keep in mind is to go small and slow. What I mean is, use small amounts at a slow introduction pace. Essential oils are very powerful and animals are very keen to smell. In fact, the best way to introduce an oil is to put it on yourself and hang out around your pet to see if they mind the aroma. After your pet is acclimated then you can start applying oils topically to him/her. Make sure you pay attention to your pets’ body language and behavior after introducing an oil. Most times, an aversion to essential oils will happen pretty quick. Don’t be nervous about using oils with your pets, once they have been introduced properly and are used to them, animals can respond quite well to them!

Always have a carrier oil on hand when applying topically to your pet. Dilution will be key as animals are more sensitive to oils than we are. Please be cautious around the eyes as to not get any oils in them, just as you would for your self.

Size does matter…when it comes to using essential oils and the size of your pet. If you have a large dog you may not need to dilute the oils very much, if at all, like you would for a smaller dog. You want to dilute topical applications at least 80-90% for smaller animals.  For example, for every 1 drop of essential oil, use 4-5 drops of a carrier oil.

Areas of essential oil application include the paws for cats and dogs specifically, and the spine and flanks for hoofed animals. To apply, simple rub oils onto your hands and stroke the animals fur. For larger areas, combine oils with a carrier oil for easy application.

Here is a short list of essential oils to not use on your pet!

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Ylang ylang
  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Yarrow
  • Garlic
  • Wintergreen
  • Pennyroyal
  • Eucalyptus
  • Oregano
  • If diffusing, always allow cats access to areas where they can avoid the diffused oil.
  • With all animals, avoid using high-phenol oils—such as OreganoWintergreenCloveMountain Savory, and Thyme. This is especially important with cats.
  • Use special caution with cats and essential oils. Avoid applying citrus oils topically, diffusing the scent around cats, and having your cat ingest them.

Young Living has a wonderful line of products called AnimalScents, and some of the best oils to use on your pet are included in the Young Living Premium Starter Kit.

Animal-Scents-with-4-blendsforpetspsk 2019

Follow the link to see how you can start incorporating essential oils into your pets lives.  https://www.myyl.com/domesticatedoils

Hope you find the beauty in using essential oils with your pets!




To the boy who made me a MOM.


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Dear Aidan,

It’s your 18th birthday and I have so much I want to say to you. I’m not sure where to begin so I guess I’ll go back to the very beginning.

It was mid July, I was 22 years old and about 8 weeks post neck surgery. I had recently gone home for a visit and Uncle Jon’s high school graduation party. While I was there Nana and cousin Angie both made comments similar to “Dang Lis, your butt is getting big…you pregnant??” (Leave it to family to hold NOTHING back!) My instant reaction was “HELL NO!”.

After returning home I got to thinking and wondering if maybe I were pregnant and decided to take a home test. IT WAS POSITIVE. I couldn’t believe it, I immediately started crying. First, because I had to tell my parents. I was a 22-year-old woman who was living on her own and I was terrified to tell my parents that I was pregnant. I wasn’t ready to be a parent. I wasn’t married and I hadn’t finished college. Shoot, I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up! Second, I didn’t want children. EVER. I knew from an early age that children were not a part of my future.

I couldn’t just sit around and worry and wonder what the hell I was going to do so I went for a drive. During that drive I did what was second nature to me. I grabbed my pack of cigarettes and started to light one up. It took one puff for me to realize what I was doing so I threw that pack of cigarettes out the window.  It was that moment of “wait, this isn’t good for the baby” that knew I already loved you. A lot happened that day. I found out about you. I quit smoking and drinking. I told your dad, our best friends and my parents. And we named you. From day one you were Aidan Bradley.

Being pregnant with you was the best experience any new mother could have ever hoped for. I loved every minute of it and I didn’t need anyone to tell me, I knew I glowed.  It wasn’t the easiest time for me, my whole family lived four hours away. I had friends but there had been separation from that lifestyle for a while so it wasn’t the same and I had started feeling isolated and alone. I put all of my focus into being pregnant with you. I read book after book after book. I talked to Nana on the phone all the time for advice. I made sure I ate healthy and exercised. Feeling you grow and kick assured me that you were healthy and growing a new life made me feel so proud. Knowing you were there with me gave me the solace I needed. You were my peace of mind.

I worked up until the night I went into labor. It was three weeks before my due date and earlier that day I had noticed some changes but had a doctor appointment that morning and was told that we still had a while before you made your appearance, so I didn’t worry. I will never forget waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get comfortable and feeling what was like a small muscle pull in my side. I got up to use the bathroom and low and behold my water broke. I was in labor and you were going to be here sooner than I thought! I remembered during my childbirth classes that it could be a while before I could shower and eat once we got to the hospital so naturally my first priority was to shower and my second was to get some food on the way to the hospital!

I believe we got to the hospital around 3 a.m. All was going well and things were progressing…until they weren’t. Nothing catastrophic happened but we did stall out and I was exhausted! During those childbirth classes we learned about C-sections and epidurals. Both of those scared me and I wrote in my birth plan that I wanted a natural birth. I was actually really terrified of having an epidural, plus I knew that it could affect your APGAR score and I wanted you to score as high as you could and be as healthy as you could so, no drugs. I remember around 4 p.m. hearing the doctor say to the nurses,”If she doesn’t go by 5 p.m. we will take him”. That meant if I didn’t give birth to you by 5 p.m., they would do a C-section. I like to think that hearing those words gave me what I needed to get the show on the road and kick you out. But really, did I even have that much control over the situation?? You were born naturally, healthy and drug free, at 5:07 p.m. You were a beautiful, easy baby. No other mother was as lucky as I was to have you be my first baby.

Nana used to give me advice all of the time. Most of the time I didn’t ask for it and didn’t want to hear it, but man she was a smart lady! I find myself living by her words every single day. I know you don’t want to hear me “nag” at you but I honestly think that one day you will remember these words of mine and you will find comfort in them, just like I do with what Nana used to say all the time. Here are some things I want you to remember and hopefully you will live by, from me and Nana.

Ask for help. No one is perfect but everyone needs help sometimes and it’s OKAY. It takes a village. I needed a lot of help raising you and I didn’t ask for a long time but once I did things got easier.

If someone asks you for help, help them in any way you can.

Think of others before thinking of yourself and treat others better than they treat you. You never know what someone else is going through so be kind, it might be the happiest moment of their day.

Work hard…Nothing will work unless you do. If you want it, work for it and make it happen. Nothing is given out for free and no one is going to do the work for you so if you want it, it’s up to you.

Play hard…Enjoy your life. Life gets hard and stressful so please, PLEASE remember that while you need to be serious to take care of business, you also need to have fun and laugh. You need to enjoy the simple things. What’s the point of working your ass off if you’re not going to enjoy yourself?

Do what you HAVE to do when you have to do, so that you can do what you WANT to do when you want to do it…I’ve been saying this for years. If you don’t handle your business when you need to then you won’t have time for fun.

Think outside of the box. What I mean is, I want you to think for yourself and figure stuff out. Don’t be afraid to find answers for yourself and don’t rely on others to give you the answers.

While I mean to think outside of the figurative box, I also mean to think outside of the literal box…the phone. Look up and see the actual world through your eyes and not through the screen of a device. There is so much more to be said about your own actual experiences and not just reading or watching someone else’s.

You only get one chance to make a great first impression and you never know when you’ll be in the position to make that impression. With that said, shower. Wash your face. Wash your hair. Brush your teeth. Wear clean clothes. Basically, take care of yourself everyday. Some people will tell you not to care what other people think, I believe otherwise. It’s okay to be yourself and stay true to that, I don’t ever want you to conform to something you do not believe in. However, there are certain people who you are going to want to think highly of you. There are certain people that you should care about what they think of you.

I hope that for as much as you have given to me and taught me, that I have been able to do the same for you. As you turn 18 there are so many things I want to tell you but I’m never sure if what I say conveys what I really mean. I want you to have the world. I want you to love yourself and be confident. I want you to know that you are amazing, you really are. I want you to know that no matter how many times I tell you you’re being a jerk that deep down I’m hoping you know that I still love you so much. And that even though we fight, you are still my first baby…and we are probably fighting because I am so completely torn up inside that you will be leaving home soon and I don’t know how to handle it. I want you to know that you will always have a home where ever I am. I hope you know that no matter how hard college gets or how terrible life seems in the moment, it’s just that, a moment. It will pass and it will make you stronger, smarter, and more prepared for the next moment.

Watching you grow into the person you are has made me so very proud. You are such a sweet old soul with more knowledge than most adults I know. You love your family, it is obvious when you are interacting with your baby brother and hanging out with your little sister. You are a kid who has always known who he is and what he wants and you have never wavered. That is something I truly admire about you because sometimes I still don’t know those things about myself. You don’t ask for much and are happy with what has been provided for you. You’re sense of humor is uncommon for a kid your age, but very much appreciated. I love the empathy you have for others when they are down, the way you want to do something to help and make it better. You are a great person and we are very lucky to have you!

I was a selfish twenty-something before you came along and it is because of you I am who I am today. I grew up because of you, and thankfully we’ve grown up together. You’ve taught me how to care about someone other than myself. You’ve taught me to be a fighter and how to be courageous and strong. You’ve taught me what it means to work hard for what I need and want. You’ve taught me what true, deep unconditional love really is. Honestly, you have taught me things I never knew I needed to know. Finally, you have taught me that not only did I need you, I really wanted you. All along my heart belonged to a child but I couldn’t see that because you just hadn’t arrived yet.

Aidan, you are the first best thing that has ever happened to me.

I love you more than I could ever express in words alone and I can only hope that you feel that love always.

Happy 18th Birthday, Kid! Love, Mom.