Sunday, February 1, 2015

January in review

1/ God bless the libarary 2/ messes and smiles 3/ beauty in the kitchen 4/ "Look mama I made a winter sun. It's blue because it's cold." 5/ Becoming the Green Goblin 6/ My guy who hasn't been napping for months, now takes naps 7/ He's got this "quiet time" thing down

It was a good month. Coming back to Waco after our Christmas travels felt good. We had gotten the first semester of Cody's program under our belts, had made friends, and felt generally at home in this new city. January felt like a fresh start to really do things well in Waco and be more intentional. I started my business with doTERRA at the beginning of December, but really launched things in January when I taught my first class. February will bring more classes, more learning, more growing, and I'm excited about it. I feel like I'm working toward something, and it's helping me be more content with where I am right now in my life. Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for this to change or that to change, and then things will be good, but the truth is, we're all waiting. We're aliens here and the feeling of longing for something better is the reality of our lives. I'm grateful that our student, far-from-home lifestyle reminds me of this daily. Praise God for new beginnings, old beginnings, and all the in-betweens.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Walking became such a central part of my life while in Germany, and since moving back to the states, I've been a little lost without the ability to get around on foot. Like really in a fog. I can "go for a walk," but there's something about walking out of necessity, or as a means of running errands. It's useful, but also affords an opportunity to look around, and really be a part of your surroundings. I relish the opportunity to notice the details around me, and let's not forget the endorphins. We walked the 2 miles to the library this morning, and the only thing that could have made it better would have been the ability to stop at the grocery on the way home. Nevertheless, it was life-giving to be able to walk, and use my own two feet again. 

One sweet moment was when Seb looked over and said, "Hey, Mommy! Look it's like in Germany!" He was pointing through a wrought iron fence at an open courtyard. It looked just like a Bier Garten courtyard, flanked with two buildings. On the way home we saw the sign for the now-closed restaurant and... Beer Garden. Good eye kid. 

Thanks, January sunshine, for warming us and illuminating the hidden beauty of this little city, and making us feel a wee bit more at home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Old snow, beautiful snow

As it turns out, I was terrible at taking pictures during Christmas break, with the exception of these above: wearing my papa's boots out into the snow to catch this magical sky and magical house. I'm also becoming more okay with this falling in and out of things (it helps having talented photographers on both sides of the family. My brother-in-law took the most captivating photos of the boys on Christmas morning. Thanks, Kurt!). Life ebbs and flows, and right now, taking pictures, blogging, and a whole host of other things are waning in importance. I blame moving. I overheard a new friend say to someone, "Moving is traumatic." It's true, and I know it. So I'm okay with living months of my life in a weird sort of normal-not-normal cloud, and taking each day as it comes. We are slowly but surely making this little corner of Texas home, and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. It's bizarre wearing a tank top in the sunshine while many of our friends are hunkered down after a blizzard. I don't think the Texas weather will ever lessen in it's strangeness to me, but I've at least made my peace with it this winter because we enjoyed a couple lovely days surrounded by snow while in Ohio. I even scooped some up in a cup and ate it as we drove away, 17 hours of road in front of us, from my childhood home.

Thanks, Jo, for taking these beautiful pictures (below).

Friday, December 12, 2014

#meetingoftheminds + new feature

This is becoming a regular scene around here. They frequently put their heads together and whisper and giggle. About what, I don't know, but I'm sure it's important. Library day is refreshing because we come home with a fresh batch of books and they spend all afternoon rolling around on the floor pretending to read and exploring the pages. And since we're being real here (just check out that living room floor!) we also like all the new movies we get every week. I love seeing these two grow up together.

Below is a feature I'll be adding to posts occasionally. It will always be at the end of a post, so if hearing about oils is something that doesn't interest you, you can skip it! I want to include this as a way to share how we're using oils and what they're doing for our family. I hope you enjoy it!

T H E   S T R E C K E R S   U S E   O I L S

Growing pains: One drop of Deep Blue, diluted with 1 tsp. coconut oil, rubbed on Bruno's legs. It instantly soothed those pesky middle-of-the-night growing pains. We heard him snoring within seconds.

Hormonal headaches: This discovery almost made me cry (but I didn't probably because I only cry when I'm hormonal, and this stuff is awesome). I apply Clary Calm, which conveniently comes in a roller bottle, under my ears and on the back of my neck. I apply this a few times a day and it has made me feel incredible. I have more energy, and I don't get my normal headaches and nausea that hit me multiple times a day.

Anxious stomach: I had an upsetting conversation the other day and it gave me a stomach ache. I applied a couple drops of Balance to the bottom of my feet and directly on my stomach and the pain was gone within about 3 minutes. The best part was that this enabled me to think more clear-headed about the situation, calm down, and realize that it wasn't something I needed to dwell on.

Couldn't keep my eyes open, but needed to stay awake a little longer: I applied a drop of peppermint to my temples and a little on the back of my neck and it perked me right up.

Bedtime ritual with kids: We've added lavender to our bedtime prep with the boys. They enjoy rubbing a drop of lavender on the bottoms of their feet before bed. Seb always takes a deep whiff, closes his eyes, and says, "Mmmmm, that smells so good!"

Skincare routine: I have very dry, sensitive skin. I only wash my face with facewash when I have makeup on, but otherwise I simply splash my face with water. I normally moisturize with Argan oil, but lately I've added a drop each of lavender and lemon to it at night, and a drop each of frankincense and melaleuca to it in the morning. I have noticed a big difference in the texture of my skin, and the amount of pesky breakouts and skin blotchiness is noticeably less. I especially enjoy the lavender + lemon combo at night. It's wonderfully refreshing and relaxing after a long day.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coming clean + Aromatherapy Playdough

Hi! My name is Mary. I wear hipster glasses, think skinny jeans are the only jeans, rarely wash my hair, frequently forget that I'm not in college anymore, and feel an unexplainable need to keep up with pop music (but I'm terrible at it). I must have a cold heart because I don't like pets (although I will love you for loving yours, and I will even love yours, just please forgive me for not cuddling with it), and excess and clutter make me feel claustrophobic and cause my brain to stop working. I think cleaning the bathroom is the absolute worst, so I clean it more frequently so it's less disgusting when I have to do the job. I believe in houseplants. I am a textile artist in my heart; I think Maryanne Moodie is magical. Hey Natalie Jean is my favorite blog because somehow she can be so lighthearted and silly and say all the things we're thinking (that we maybe would keep to ourselves), and yet be so intensely earnest and say so many important things. Her references to all Nora Ephron movies are spot on, btw. I absolutely can't handle any violence or intrigue in movies (Quick! Someone come watch Die Hard with my husband!), but will watch one movie over and over again for a week. I've done this with the old Parent Trap with Maureen O'Hara, and I don't regret it. I have two sons that are the most beautiful creatures I could ever imagine, and a husband who loves/tolerates all of the above. My heart is scattered all over the world, and so are my friends. I don't love Texas, but I do love Cacti and Native American art, so maybe we'll make our peace some day.

I use and sell essential oils.

I'm waiting for you to recover your balance and/or breath.

Recently, I made the decision to become a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA, one of the top essential oils company, for those who haven't heard of it. It all happened in about the span of two weeks, and is something I never thought I would do, but on many levels, it's the perfect thing for our family, is meeting needs, and I am confident it is exactly where God wants me. I know this kind of multi-level marketing brings out a guttural reaction in many, and that many people who work for companies like this are pushy, and make their friendships all about their product, instead of the relationship. I am thankful to have several examples around me of people who are successful in their business, but maintain genuine relationships, and share their products with thoughtfulness and a true concern for the well-being of people around them. This is my primary goal when sharing doTERRA on social media or in conversation. These products have helped my family tremendously in a very short amount of time, and I want to see those closest to me also benefiting from the oils. Period. Yes, I am also building a business, but I am confident that my business will grow with or without sales from friends and family.  But naturally, I want to share with you! And I am so so so thankful to those of you who are cheering me on. That's what I cherish most from the people I love. I plan to keep doTERRA talk to a minimum on social media, only sharing when it's a natural part of my life, or when there's a class or something extra special going on.

Now that we're on the same page, I want to tell you about something awesome that you can do with or without essential oils: make playdough! I've been sitting on this for a week, but it was time to share. A good playdough is magical, after all, no one can deny that (especially when it's a fraction of the cost of store-bought playdough and is easier to make than it is to go down the playdough aisle to find it). For those who spend a lot of time with small children, whether you're an aunt or a mother or a grandmother or a sister, I wanted to share this amazing recipe I found, and the way I used essential oils to add an aromatherapy benefit and outsmart my playdough-mixing-munchkins. You know what I'm talking about. The very second you put a couple different colors of playdough on the table, the kids want to mix it! I recently witnessed the quick demise of a very vibrant, irridescent-looking orange playdough.

The recipe is a cooked recipe, and nearly the exact thing my mom made for us when we were little. It lasts a very long time in an airtight container, and is quick and easy to make. The texture is fantastic, and if you don't have essential oils, you could put vanilla extract or some other cooking scent. Or just keep it plain!

We made ours with a little purple and yellow food coloring, and lavender and lemon essential oils. I don't know that the colors will look terribly inviting once they're completely blended, but since lavender and lemon smell lovely together and compliment each other with their calming and clarifying properties, I'm okay with that!

Aromatherapy Playdough by The Prairie Homestead

P.S. The boys helped measure out the ingredients, and I did the cooking part while they watched. They loved being a part of the process even though it wasn't the whole process. So don't be afraid to include your children!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent then and now

Goodness it's been a long time since I've posted any updates in this wee little space (but that photo up there probably makes up for it, right?). Since then, summer is really gone, fall is here, and winter might never come (I hear that's kind of how it goes in Texas). Seb, Bruno, and I enjoyed a two week visit in Ohio with our family, brought back a beastly cold to remember them by, and got our health back just in time to savor the magical time of Advent. When we lived in Durham, we went to an Anglican church. Our first time going to a church that follows the liturgical year closely. During those two years, I began to like Advent. When we spent last year in Germany, that like turned to love. And for the astute of you, yes I'm loosely quoting The Wedding Planner, you're welcome. Advent is such a rich time in Germany, and it was so refreshing to live in a culture, not just in a church, where Advent was celebrated by all. If there was any push for consumerism in Germany, it was to buy all the advent calendars. I've never seen so many advent calendars in my life. But the advent wreaths... a large one hung in Sebastian's Kindergarten, where St. Nicholas came to fill stockings on December 6th. The Christmas markets spread the joy of Advent and the coming of Christmas with hot mugs of Gl├╝hwein, lights, fresh greenery, and delightful crafts and ornaments. And oh the cookies. So many cookies were made! I don't know if you can be German and not make oodles of cookies, you guys. Here are the boys from last year:

Let me tell you, I needed a moment after seeing Bruno's baby chub and curls from last year. And then here is of course documentation of this year on instagram, and more below when I realized he's just as cute and chubby as ever hashtag cheeks:

Our decorations last year:

And this year:

Before I sign off, we really need to have a chat about Christmas lights. We are neither a firmly white or colored lights family (yet). We've done both. Normally I like the tidiness that comes with white lights, but whenever we use them on our tree, I just feel disappointed by the tidiness. Maybe colored lights just remind me of my Grandma's intensely fake tinsel covered tree that we would pull out of her upstairs every year, and decorate with glittery, vintage, and homemade ornaments? Or our family tree that always had a mix of both colored and white (which now that I think about it might have to do with my moms crafty, deep down folk-art-loving soul). I keep so many parts of my life tidy and simple, but a Christmas tree, to me, needs to be the opposite. When it comes to Christmas trees, one shouldn't hold back. So I'm curious... if you are firmly in the white lights camp, why? And if you're firmly in the colored (or at least sympathetic) I'd love to hear from you because I keep looking for your colored lights on Instagram and I'm not seeing them! Cheers to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for the colored lights solidarity.

Happy Advent, friends!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sensory play: the hidden secret of happy parents?

It is one of the quickest and simplest ways of finding that sweet spot in your day with little ones. The prospect of playing with a new goo or slime or dough is pretty irresistible to those sweet, smart little people in our lives, and will trump just about any other activity—yes, even tv time. Sensory play, to put it in lingo we can all understand, is the bomb dot com. Many are inexpensive and easy to make, non-toxic and often they're reusable. Win win win winnnnnnnn.

Last week I was looking up craft ideas and found Fun at Home with Kids, and this recipe for Pretend Frozen/Melting Ice Cream. I was intrigued, and decided to make some that evening since I actually had all the ingredients on hand.

Today we took our "ice cream" out to our back porch and I let the boys experiment with it and get creative. They had a lot of fun, and I recommend making this stuff if for no other reason than it provides an excellent introduction to imaginative play time. My boys did very little ice cream play, but it soon became mud for their monster trucks and body paint. When they started winding down, I brought out a couple of buckets of water and rags and encouraged them to clean up and wash all their utensils. They worked on that for a while, and then it turned into a naked party, which of course was the best fun of all. We ended it all with an early afternoon bath before snack time and some Reading Rainbow while I fixed supper. (Side note: this was their first Reading Rainbow experience and Seb kept yelling from the living room, "Mom! Did you hear that?!" Oh RR, you're so good.)

Do you have any trusty sensory play recipes or activities? I'm eager to try a version of slime and this playdough next. Here is a huge list of sensory activities and recipes for children—even some for babies! Be sure to let me know what you try, and enjoy watching your little ones explore and have fun!