08 June 2019

starting your day with intention

It took about ten years of parenting to come to grips with the reality that my day is off to a much smoother start if I am intentional about waking up before my kids. This is harder to do when you are still in the throes of babyhood, but as my kids have developed a regular sleep routine, planning my morning has made all the difference in the world!

With a few simple steps, creating an intentional morning routine can transform your entire outlook on the day. Mine looks a little like this: I set my alarm to go off about 90 minutes before we need to head out the door. I have my Progessence Plus sitting on my bedside table so that before I even get up, I can put a few drops on. (This oil is a hormonal game changer, happy to chat if you want more info.) I head into my bathroom to wash my face, and I moisturize with jojoba oil and Frankincense... really, any chance to incorporate Frank into my daily routine, I'll take! I think I use it at least four times a day to stay grounded and keep my skin well cared for. I brush my teeth, put on my (non-toxic) makeup, run a comb through my hair, and feel instantly brighter. If I need a little extra pep, I'll take a few deep breaths of Wintergreen before I leave the bathroom.

I head into the kitchen, set up my diffuser, and make my coffee. I am all about filling up my diffusers before I go to bed so that they are ready to go first thing in the morning. My favorite to diffuse lately is Common Sense, which has oils like Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, and Lime, and helps promote rational thoughts and has been known to provide a big mood boost - and who doesn't need that in the morning? Tangerine and Peppermint is another favorite to promote happy thoughts and put a little pep in our step (see what I did there?).

I turn on some music to set a happy, peaceful tone for the morning as my little ones start to wander out of bed. I try to take a few minutes to give the day over to God, reflect on my hopes for the day, and approach it with gratitude. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but I really am amazed at what a difference it makes in my whole demeanor when I take those 15-20 minutes before everyone wakes up to set the tone for my day. It means the whole family is less harried and frenzied as we get ready to head out the door in the morning. Not every morning is perfect, or goes as planned, but what a difference it makes when this is our intention!

Like I said, it took years for me to come to this realization. Anyone that knows me in real life probably knows that I LOVE sleeping. So I leave room in my life for that, too. (Hello, Saturdays!)

What is your favorite way to be intentional with your morning routine? I'd love to hear!

14 May 2019

answers to some of your adoption questions

As promised, I've started to compile my answers to some of the questions I get most frequently about our adoption story. Because this is one of the most significant parts of our lives, this will come at you in multiple posts!

How did you make the decision to adopt?
There were a few different life experiences that really opened my heart to adoption: working with children in Mexico in high school and college, and moving to DC when I graduated to work with inner city kids. I don’t know exactly what it was from those experiences that planted the seed, but it was just a part of me - I knew that I wanted to have a family that included adoption. When I met my husband, and conversations turned toward the future, I told him that I wanted to adopt, and he didn’t hesitate in his openness to it. It was the way the Lord was leading both us, without a doubt, so for us it wasn’t a matter of “if”, it was a matter of “when”.

How did you know when the timing was right?
We had dinner with some close friends that had adopted and asked them this same question. Their answer was that if it’s in your heart, the timing is now. Start walking through the doors to get there. It could take months or years - that’s never for sure - but don’t sit on it. There has been nothing in life that is an act of utter faith like this - the money, the timing, the right match - this is when you do what you can do and the rest is just open hands and a heart that you have to constantly give over to trusting HIS timing and provision. He hasn’t failed us yet.

Our nudge came after our first son was born. We had visions of a giant family and we were ready to do it all at once (ignorance is bliss, am I right? we were slightly naive.). When our second pregnancy didn’t come as quickly as we’d imagined, we felt like that was the first little push to get things started. We requested info from various agencies, but ended up going through the same one our friends did for a domestic adoption, because we loved the heart and mission of the agency. They were (and are!) committed to doing life with the birthmother before and after baby’s arrival, and that was huge to us. 

Once we decided on an agency, we just followed all the steps they lined up for us. We had to fill out questionnaires, get references from various people, do a background check, get physicals done, and have a couple of visits from a social worker. This is when you’re doing a lot of legwork to get yourself set up and ready before a long period of waiting. Our agency also required a “Lifebook”, which is basically the story of our lives and our family through photos, and a heartfelt letter written to the birthmoms. We made several and sent them off to the agency, and then they distributed them to their caseworkers, and those caseworkers shared them with birthmothers. The mothers chose their adoptive families based on the Lifebook, so it’s a crucial part of the process, and maybe the most fun part to put the effort into. All in all, getting everything in order and sent to the agency took us about six weeks. Once they approved it, we were officially a waiting family.

With our first adoption, we were on the waitlist for ten weeks before we got the call. And here’s the clincher: I found out I was pregnant 48 hours after we were officially on the waitlist. So, after we let them know that, they told us we could stay on through my second trimester. The policy on this is different for every agency. I told Nick I would be comfortable staying on the waitlist until the halfway point, and we’d set a date for when we’d call to be removed, which was a Monday. They called us the Friday before our self-appointed date. In case you’re ever wondering if God’s timing is on point, there you go.

Our son was born four weeks later. We got a call that our birthmother was in labor, and we flew out that day. Her labor stopped mid flight, and she ended up having him ten minutes after we arrived at the hospital. Again, TIMING. He completely blew us away. We stayed in town for the next ten days, until both states approved us seeking adoption and allowed us to fly home. 

Four months later I gave birth to another boy, and life completely changed. Mama to three boys under the age of three is no joke, guys. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Life got real crazy, but in all the best ways.

More FAQ’s coming soon... Stay tuned!

20 April 2019

easier isn't always better (and a free printable)

"Easier isn't always better."

This phrase has been rolling through my mind pretty consistently the last couple of months. It's become a mantra, a reminder to myself. 

I think I have spent most of my life wishing for easier moments. Whether those moments are in parenting, walking through hard things with a kid that has extra needs, watching loved ones endure illnesses we have no control over, losing people I adore, moments of feeling lost. I think it's a normal human reaction to feel a sense of self pity, sadness, even anger. We look left and right and wonder why our circumstance doesn't seem as easy as the people around us. Especially in the era of social media and comparison, we can feel so discontent with what we've been given.

And then one day, driving home from somewhere all alone, in a rare moment of quiet, it occurred to me: "easier" and "better" are not interchangeable. I'm not talking about conveniences (you all know I love my Instacart) - if we can make our lives easier by asking for help and support, then let's jump on that. Grocery delivery and childcare top my list right there. But hardships, the things that stretch us to our limits, those moments that feel heavy - those are moments of opportunity. Opportunity to grow, to be refined, to gain strength, and to draw ourselves in even closer to God's peace.

I remember at one point in my early twenties, I was going through something hard and uncomfortable and emotional. I was talking to someone I admired so deeply, someone with wisdom and life experience and faith that I hoped to emulate someday. "Carina," she said, "it's painful now. But the more deeply we experience suffering and heartache, the more deeply we can experience joy."

I think of that conversation all the time. This opportunity to feel deeply - the heartaches and the sadness, but then the joy and real peace.

It's something I want to teach my children, hopefully in love and with grace: that we have no reason to expect our lives to be easy. Things will be wonderful and amazing, and then they will suck for a little bit. But there is always an opportunity for greater joy on the other side, if we choose to push through, to seek the beauty from the ashes, and to allow ourselves room to grow.

If you need this reminder as much as I do, you can snag the printable free here!

15 February 2019

getting our kids to sleep (well)

Whether our kids are babies or tweens, sometimes they could use a little sleep support, ya know what I mean? Nobody loves a bedtime battle, and thank goodness for oils and the way they have saved my sanity. We've been incorporating essential oils into our daily routine for more than two years, and they have made such a difference, in so many ways.
No matter the age, there's an oil that can help your little (or not so little) one drift off to dreamland.
FOR THE BABIES: I cannot say enough good things about Gently Baby. You guys, I love this oil, even for myself. If your baby is under six months, they are still finding their way in the sleep department, so give yourself some time and some grace. But roll a little Gentle Baby on your chest before a snuggle sesh, or diffuse a drop or two in a big open room, and you just might marvel at the difference it makes. Once they reach six months, I'd diffuse a drop or two at bedtime, and that's true all the way up to 2 years old. It's a miracle.
FOR THE TODDLERS AND YOUNGER BIG KIDS: SleepIze is where it's at. I'll be honest, I've even diffused this in my room at night and it is pretty awesome. It's pre-diluted for kids, so we usually do 3-4 drops in the diffuser about 30 minutes before bedtime, and then I let the diffuser run all night in their rooms on the intermittent setting. A drop in the bath after dinner never hurt anyone either 😉
FOR BIG KIDS AND ADULTS: Peace and Calming, which is now part of the premium starter kit, is one of my ride or die oils. I usually have a few bottles on hand because my love runs deep. I diffuse this in my big kids room same as I do with SleepIze for the little ones. I also roll it on them before bed or whenever circumstance calls for it, if you know what I mean. I apply this along my neckline before bed, and will also use it in the diffuser in our room! I switch up my sleepy time blends, but I almost always wear this one topically before my head hits the pillow.
Have you tried these yet? Do you love them? What are your favorite sleep oils? I can't wait to hear!

12 February 2019

old fashioned doughnuts with Nutella glaze

We are in the midst of crazy snow here in Seattle, and that means we aren't quite as mobile as we're used to. So this last Sunday when we couldn't venture out for doughnuts after church, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. The results worked out pretty well, considering the entire batch was gone within minutes.

Homemade doughnuts are actually way easier than you'd probably expect, and chances are pretty good you've got all the ingredients on hand! The Nutella glaze is optional, but I don't think you're going to want to miss out on that if you don't have to. It was pretty amazing.

Here's what you need to get started:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
canola oil for frying

Heat oil to about 375 in a saucepan. It needs to be deep enough for the doughnuts to float without touching the bottom.

Next, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour in melted butter. Lightly beat the egg and combine with the milk, and pour into the dough. Combine with a spatula until everything is well incorporated. Lightly flour your hands and knead gently. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out to about 1/4" thickness.

Grab two different sized biscuit cutters, or use different sized glasses, and cut to size. Gently drop doughnuts into the oil, about two at a time. Fry for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula, and drain on a rack over paper towels. Continue until you've fried all the doughnuts and doughnut holes!

Now you're ready to glaze!

Here's what you need:
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup of milk
sprinkles, optional

Whisk together the Nutella, powdered sugar, and milk. If it's too thick, add another splash of milk. If it's too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. When it's just the right consistency, gently dip the top of each donut in the glaze, and return to the baking rack.

If you're using sprinkles (always recommended), add them now. It's extra fun to include your little ones in this step, and helps them feel like they're part of the excitement.

Want a little bonus treat? Combine a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice in a big zipper bag, and shake your doughnut holes to coat. These are DELISH!

Have you made your own doughnuts yet? Tell me your favorite variety! I think this might just become a regular thing around here.