Our Favorite Books for Toddlers

littlemouseThe Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

redbarnBig Red Barn

goodnightmoonGoodnight Moon

goodnightmoon123Goodnight Moon 1 2 3

fivelittlemonkeysFive Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

ladybugsTen Little Ladybugs

mothergooseThe Real Mother Goose Board Book

babyanimalsTouch & Feel Baby Animals

firstsignsFirst Signs (Early Sign Language)

mightymoversfarmMighty Movers: Farm

first100wordsFirst 100 Words

curious georgeCurious George Board Books

Christy’s Essential Oils Guide


Since being introduced to essential oils by a dear friend then attending a couple of classes by a Young Living essential oils distributor, I have been soaking up all the information on essential oils I can find.  Truly amazing what these oils can do for a person’s body.  The link below ~ Christy’s Essential Oil Guide ~ is a record of my research so far.  It’s organized in a way that I am able to find information quickly when I need it and share printouts of individual oils when I give oils to other people.  Obviously, it’s a work in progress but I’ll update it and share as I add information.

Christy’s Essential Oil Guide (pdf)

If you’d like to explore essential oils beyond what I have gathered, there is a plethora of information available on the Internet.  Here are some additional links to get you started:

Young Living Essential Oils
This is the brand of essential oils I use ~ it is therapeutic and food-grade.  I’ll quickly share with you what I did to save money on ordering Young Living essential oils:  I signed up as a distributor to get 26% off my orders.  The only “strings” attached are to spend a minimum of $50/year and to order a starter kit.  You can choose from several starter kits, including:

  • Basic Start Living kit for $40 that includes 5 ml each bottles of peppermint and lavender essential oil and some samples of Ninxia Red.
  • Start Living with Everyday Oils kit, which at $150 includes 1 – 5 ml bottle each of Frankincense, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, Purification, Panaway, Peace & Calming®, Thieves®, Valor®  plus an extra 5 ml bottle each of Lavender and Peppermint
  • Start Living with Thieves kit, which at $150 gives you a great list of Thieves essential oil products.

With a starter kit, you also receive a $40 off coupon to apply toward buying a diffuser.  If you don’t spend the $50 minimum in a year, you simply lose membership status with no consequences.

So I couldn’t see a reason not to sign up!  I don’t have to hawk the oils and make sure I sell a certain amount per month (although I’m thrilled with the benefits of the oils and recommend them often).  I signed up to save on my own orders and to order gifts at a discount for friends and family.

If you order any essential oils or accessories through the Young Living website and don’t have another Young Living representative already, you can enter my Member #1382043 as your referral.  If you want to sign up with a starter kit like I did to enjoy the discounts, this is the signup page.

I’m happy to help with any questions you may have with essential oils, whether it’s Young Living oils or another brand.  If I don’t know the answer, I will find out.  :-)

Over the last several months, we have used and benefited from essential oils in many ways (this is what I can remember off the top of my head):

  • Thieves EO blend rubbed on our feet, backs, chest when the beginnings of illness was coming on or we had been exposed to someone else who was sick.
  • A drop of Thieves EO blend in a Tbsp of honey to boost immune system.
  • Diffusing Thieves EO blend during the day and in the bedroom at night to help kills germs and boost our immune system.
  • Rub a drop or two of Thieves EO blend in our hands to kill any germs when we’ve been out and about.
  • Thieves EO blend in a homemade household cleaner/disinfectant (we used in our kitchen and bathrooms).
  • Thieves EO blend in a homemade toothpaste.
  • A drop or two of Thieves EO blend to sanitize toothbrushes.
  • Peppermint EO diluted in some coconut oil and rubbed on stomach for tummyaches and nausea.
  • Peppermint EO dabbed on temples and base of skull for a headache.
  • Peppermint EO for a pleasant, cooling, uplifting massage.
  • Used Peppermint EO mixed with real vanilla beans to make a body scrub. (It’s wonderful!)
  • Rosemary EO diluted with coconut oil and massaged into back and feet for an anxiety attack.
  • R.C. EO blend and Raven E.O. blend for flu and respiratory issues.
  • Lavender EO and coconut oil blended and applied to eczema or irritated skin.
  • Lavender EO on bridge of nose for congestion or runny nose.
  • Several drops of Lemon EO in drinking water for a fresh flavor and to help cleanse the body.
  • Diffuse or inhale Lemon EO or Peppermint EO for alertnesss or a pick-me-up.
  • Lemon EO in homemade household cleaners/disinfectants.
  • Panaway EO blend on stomach and lower back with a heating pad or warm compress for cramps.
  • Panaway EO blend and Lavender EO on bumps and bruises, twisted ankles, etc.
  • Valor EO for lower back pain.
  • Inhale Valor EO or Peace & Calming EO or use for a relaxing massage when child is having trouble with anxiety or bad dreams.
  • Inhale or put Valor EO on bottoms of feet when feeling anxiety about life circumstances.
  • Purification EO for pleasant massages or diffuse to clear the air of odors.
  • Frankincense EO … for everything!  Love this oil.  Bumps & bruises, inhale for relaxation and uplifting feelings, skin issues, and more.
  • Inhale, diffuse, or massage Lemongrass EO for a pick-me-up when feeling down or depressed.  Very uplifting.  We’ve used it in a homemade facial cleanser and a homemade magnesium foot scrub.

If you’ve made it down this far and still want to read the guide I’ve put together, here’s the link again:

Christy’s Essential Oil Guide (pdf)


Oh, magnify the Lord with me!

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” ~Psalm 34:3

Today, I’m thankful that as I abide IN Him and feast on thanksgiving, my heart and eyes see His glory everywhere …
in baby’s wide eyes and mysteriously voiced “wows,”
in contagious yawns, in cooking and serving,
in random pieces of life that suddenly link together,
in the whispers of soul names who come to mind for prayer,
in perfect timing,
in chance stops at antique stores,
in body fatigue that forces 2-hour naps,
in sudden revelations,
in slow smiles,
even in the swoosh of a dishwasher loaded with dishes that tell a story of happy bellies and a tired but thankful mommy and wife.

Chime in! How about you? “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” ~Psalm 34:3

His praise shall continually be in my mouth!

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth!” ~ Psalm 34:1.

Praises for today:

#1. a heavenly Father who delights in me, who loves me with an inexplicable love, He who is not only approachable but already near; He is here!

#2. the same Father who is holy and wise and generous

#3. the gift of a husband who is faithful, steady, dependable for his family

#4. the gift of precious children home with me all day (it feels good and right)

#5. spills and messes but no broken dishes

#6. the aroma of wholesome, simmering broth filling the house and seeping out of every crack to tempt the kitty on the porch

#7. piles and piles of laundry folding, hung, and put away

#8. an active baby up way too late giggling and trying to reach those just-folded clean clothes to ruffle them up again

#9. a surprise phone call from my long-distance mother and delightful plans for meeting up again

#10. anticipation of the Romans Project … memorizing Scripture that tells the story of life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit

#11. bubbling excitement of children looking forward to their first homeschool co-op day next week, including delights like crochet club for the girl and football for the boy

#12. darkness gathering outside like a soft blanket

#13. peace and joy reigning inside

He daily loads us with benefits {oh, yes!}

What’s on your plate for today? “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits…” ~ Psalm 68:19.

He loaded me today with:

#1. morning snuggles in bed with three children and their giggles and kisses

#2. silvery, frosty, misty morning pierced with rays of sunshine

#3. a ridiculously good smoothie for breakfast

#4. a baby who in just a few short weeks runs for his little red Bible {used to be mine} after breakfast and hops up on the couch

#5. God’s word spread open on four laps as a girl practices her reading by sounding out “Jerusalem” and “power” and “heal” and “forgiveness”

#6. silly laughter and gasps as we later read another adventure of an outrageous pig

#7. wagon rides and walks on the farm with a little tyke who is wowed by a donkey, a kitty, goats, chickens, and a fluffy white horse of a dog

#8. a great relationship with my inlaws and growing better every day

#9. forgiveness and tears from a boy

#10. kitchen inspiration out of the blue

#11. mostly clean & organized laundry room

#12. my haven, our home

#13. peace

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined-Sugar-Free Breakfast Recipes


Grain-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free … that’s a mouthful!  I’m finding many friends who want or need to follow that diet regimen for health issues, though, and as we have found it doable, I am sharing my list of go-to and want-to-try breakfast recipes.  Most of the recipes are imported into Plan to Eat, where I organize and print my recipes.  Once you open the pdf (at the link below), you can click through to each recipe. Original sources with links are listed on each recipe (unless, of course, it’s my own recipe).

Grain-Free Breakfast Recipes

One of my goals was not to replace gluten breads with other high starch breads, so most of the breads (muffins, pancakes, etc.) are simply made with almond flour and/or coconut flour.  I also strive to include vegetables in our breakfast menu and fewer fruits, although we do make green smoothies that include fruit and juice fruit with our vegetables, too.

This list is years in the making, friends.  Lots of research and trial and error (bless my husband’s and childrens’ hearts) has gone into what ended up on our breakfast menu, but thanks to the good old Internet, like-minded friends, and Pinterest we have found some winner recipes for our family.  I hope you find some here for your family, too.

New Year’s challenge

I love the New Year’s challenge from Jennifer Stoll Barnard:

In evaluating our goals for 2013, one thing we want to do is pray together more as a couple. Every time we’ve ever done it, it’s been the sweetest experience of drawing our hearts close to each other. every tIme I’ve recommended It to another couple havIng problems, one or both refused to take the tIme or chance to try It. The question is this: has anyone been in a marriage where both partners got on their knees and poured their heart’s out to God on a daily basis? Have any of those marriages failed? I’m looking for honest answers. My feeling is that so few couples are brave enough to say more than a superficial prayer out loud in front of each other that the answer to this will be no. My challenge to all my Christian married friends is to sit with your spouse tonight and pray over your marriage and children if you have any. Pray for God’s protection and to bind your hearts to each other, stronger than ever in the new year, no matter what hurdles you may have to overcome in the coming months. It’s what keeps us in tune with God and each other.

I love Jennifer’s reminder.  When Allen and I started praying together in our marriage (in a crisis time) it felt very awkward at first. When I suggested it, to be honest, I didn’t think he’d take me up on it. He did! We pushed through the weird feelings and it became an incredible experience as we relaxed, forced aside our fears, and became vulnerable. We began to share things in prayer that opened our eyes to what was really in each other’s hearts. We softened toward each other, I came to respect and honor Allen in a new way, and his prayers for me were powerful and produced an immediate effect. I would NEVER have guessed that praying together would do what it did during that time.

Yet knowing that, we have let the busyness of life distract us from being faithful in that area. Thank you for the reminder and challenge, Jennifer.

I have to add this: IF a spouse turns you down when you ask him or her to pray with you, don’t be discouraged. I have also been greatly encouraged by a book called The Power of a Praying Wife/Husband, by Stormie O’Martian. It can start with just ONE spouse praying.