Thursday, September 13, 2018

The best part of camping - Marshmallows

Did you know that you can make marshmallows?!?  You can!  We have been doing it for years.  When our daughter was diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities to food dyes, I was pretty unphased until I flipped over the package of marshmallows.  NOOOOOOO.... WHY?!?  Why must something so white and fluffy and pretty and yummy contain food dyes?!?  Since then our view on food has changed quite a bit and I realize marshmallows are not the healthiest thing on the market to begin with, but marshmallows are an essential part of family camping trips.  So, determined to maintain family camping traditions, I started researching how to make marshmallows.  We learned it's actually quite easy and FUN to make your own creations.

1 cup of water (divided)
3 TBSP gelatin
1 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
optional - Young Living Vitality essential oils (ex: Peppermint Vitality, Orange Vitality)
optional - toppings of your choice (coconut chips, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, etc.)

1.  In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup of water and 3 TBSP of gelatin.
2.  On the stove bring 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of honey, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1/2 tsp of salt to a rolling boil.
3.  Boil, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes.
4.  Add slowly to the gelatin water (which by now the water should have absorbed the gelatin and be a thick gel) and mix on low (being careful not to splatter any because it is HOT!).
5.  Increase speed to high and mix for about 10 minutes (it will become like marshmallow fluff).  If you would like to flavor your marshmallows, you can add a few drops of Vitality essential oils at this time.  Peppermint Vitality or Orange Vitality are two of our favorite flavors.

6.  Pour into an 8x8 pan coated with parchment paper.

7.  Let sit and dry for about 8 hours.  Slice with a plastic knife.  You can roll it in cocoa powder, coconut flakes, or a topping of your choice.

You can also get creative with this recipe.  We like to make marshmallow pies by layering ingredients, like crushed coconut chips, the marshmallow fluff, and chocolate chips.

Top Essential Oils for Gymnasts

A few years ago we signed our girls up for a homeschool gymnastics class.  We thought it would be a fun way to work in some PT, meet other girls their age, and learn to listen to the instruction of someone other than me.  As it turns out, they actually have some talent for the sport and were itching to compete.  It does not help that both their mother and father are super competitive.  So they tried out for the competitive team and we were blown away when they were recommended for Level 3&4.  Suddenly they went from 2 hours in the gym a week to 12 hours.  They went into that first practice so excited (and nervous), but when I picked them up they had a whole new appreciation for the words "sore" and "tired".  When I asked them how they were feeling, our oldest said, "I need Cool Azul Pain Cream and all the oils."

After four years of using Young Living products for just about all of our family needs, she knows way more than I ever did.  Growing up, after a hard swim practice I would lather up in Bengay or IcyHot and take a few naproxen, because that was all I knew.  But after some health scares and realizing that my body was so overburdened with toxins, I learned a better way.  We ditched the toxins from our home and have not looked back. They were quite fragrant those first few weeks as their bodies adjusted to the harder, longer workouts, but we learned a lot about supporting some of the specific needs of gymnasts with essential oils.  Essential oils harness the power and energy of the plant.  They are 50 to 70 times stronger than herbs - WOW!  They are so versatile that you can use one oil for many different things.  Here is what they say are their favorite oils:

1.  Peppermint

Well, first of all, we live in Arkansas where it is a billion degrees in the summer and even though the gym is air conditioned it is not exactly the coolest place to spend your summer.  A dab of peppermint on the back of the neck is invigorating, cooling, and refreshing.  It also helps you work out stronger and longer by increasing blood flow to the muscles.  Inhaling peppermint improves mental alertness and concentration, which is critical for gymnasts since a lapse in concentration can lead to a nasty fall or injury.  Peppermint Vitality added to their water bottle helps relieve nausea and indigestion, which sometimes all that flipping can cause.  It also improves respiratory function and helps an athlete to breathe more easily.

2.  Lemon

Citrus oils in general are uplifting and invigorating, and lemon is one of their favorite scents.  Lemon Vitality also supports the lymphatic system, digestive system, and overall well being.  Lemon is also great at removing sticky residue (like that left from kinesiology tape on the skin). 

3.  PanAway

This special blend of Wintergreen, Clove, Peppermint, and Helichrysum is great to keep at hand during and after a workout.  Massage into tired muscles for a soothing and stimulating experience.  PanAway helps recover from a workout so they can get right back out there and practice hard again the next day. 

4.  Lavender

Lavender is comforting and calming.  Athletes sometimes find it hard to unwind and rest after a hard workout (or before a big competition).The girls love adding a few drops of lavender to Epsom Salts and relaxing tired muscles before bed.  You can also rub a few drops of lavender behind the ears or diffuse it at bedtime to promote restfulness.  Lavender is also soothing to the skin - a great choice for cuts and bruises.  The girls found that combining Lavender with either the Rose Ointment or Seedlings Diaper Cream works very well on their hands when they are determined to get a new bars skills. 

5.  Stress Away

The girls were so nervous about walking into the gym for their first practice on the competitive team.  To go from recreation to Level 3+ was not an easy transition for them.  Some of these girls had been competing for years and most of the girls new each other.  Stress Away helped combat that stress and nervousness, and I am sure it will be much loved as we enter competition season.

6.  Thieves

Athletes cannot perform at their best if they are catching every bug that goes around.  Thieves Vitality helps strengthen and support a healthy immune system, which is important because training can wear you down.  It is truly an amazing oil, and one that we use every day.  As soon as they get home from the gym, they roll Thieves on their feet and on their spine (diluted appropriately).  We also love the Thieves Hand Purifier and Thieves Spray.

Get these oils, plus more of our favorites, by purchasing the Young Living Premium Starter Kit.  It's the only thing on the Young Living website that is half off, and by purchasing it you become a wholesale member which saves you 24% off all additional purchases.  Let us help you take your fitness and wellness journey to the next level.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

It's Back to School with our 2018-2019 Schedule

The dog days of summer are coming to an end.  The nice thing about homeschooling is there will still be plenty of time for swimming and running through the sprinkler, but we will be putting some more organization into our days and hitting the books.  This year we will have a 4th grader, a 3rd grader, a Kindergartener, two preschoolers, and a one year old that will likely be into everything!  We still have and love our felt board, but I'm always open to hear how you keep your little ones busy!  Extracurriculars this year include piano and gymnastics for the girls and soccer for the boys.  Two days a week, two of our boys receive outpatient Speech and Occupational Therapy.  We usually bring along some books to read in the car or the waiting room, or occasionally will run errands during this time.  

HISTORY: If you have been following us since 2015-2016, you know that we are Heart of Dakota fans, and we will be continuing with this Charlotte Mason Curriculum as the core of our homeschool.  We made several modifications, as you will see, but I absolutely love how it weaves history, bible, devotion, reading, and art together.  We allow for plenty of tangents and extra books according to our children's interests, which means that we only get through about half a guide each year.  This year we will be finishing up Bigger Hearts for His Glory.  We usually start this portion at the breakfast table, and I excuse the little ones as their attention starts to wane.  

MATH: Last year we tried Math For a Living Education by Master Books and found that it worked much better for our family.  It is a Charlotte Mason Curriculum that includes a story each week which shows a practical application for the lesson, as well as several pages of worksheets.  We will also be focusing much more this year on memorization and flash cards, as I feel we did not put enough emphasis on this in the past.  

ENGLISH: English has been such a struggle for us.  We have done Rod and Staff in the past, but our girls dislike the amount of copy work and fail to see the application of learning the structure of the English language.  They requested a workbook for English, and since I love the approach of Math for a Living Education, we have decided to try out English for a Living Education this year.

SPANISH: A sweet family friend has been coming over a couple of times a week this past month to teach us some Spanish before she moves to Mexico.  The girls have loved learning Spanish and we will probably continue with some sort of Spanish lessons after she moves.  For now, we will be working on our Spanish vocabulary during the Lunch hour.  

SCIENCE: The past two years we have used Apologia Science, studying first Astronomy and then Swimming Creatures.  We collected quite an aquarium (fish, aquatic frog, crawfish..) last year with our study of Swimming Creatures, so I am slightly apprehensive but excited about studying Flying Creatures this year. The girls are already planning on a butterfly farm and inquiring about pet birds.  A big thank you to Apologia Science for selecting us as winners on their facebook contest, so we will be receiving this curriculum for free!  Such a blessing!

APOLOGETICS: We use the Bible Curriculum in Heart of Dakota, but have decided this year to add Elementary Apologetics by Master Books for our 4th Grader.

JOURNALING: We do quite a bit of road schooling and love exploring creation.  We already have a six week trip planned to Arizona in the fall.  I truly believe that Nature is our best classroom, so when we are traveling we will often put aside many of our book lessons to allow plenty of time to explore.  When we are home, we will often school outside if the weather is fair.  I think this year we are also going to try to have our quiet & reading hour on a mat outside.  The kids will once again be required to keep a Geography and Nature Journal to document their discoveries. 

We are wishing you all a wonderful school year!  Be sure to follow us on Instagram, and we will follow back!  You may also want to check out the Back to School Survival Guide and T'was the night before school, and all through the house...  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hike to Utah's Iconic Delicate Arch

I love exploring off the beaten path, but the owner of the RV park we were staying at said Delicate Arch is where it's at and a must see before leaving Moab.  We had another trail already picked out, but since you never know when these beauties will fall we decided to check it out.

You'll need to travel approximately 15 miles into the park to reach the trailhead, but you'll pass many beautiful sites, including Balanced Rock and The Great Wall, along the way.  There was ample parking, including a separate lot across the street for RVs and busses.  They say the best time to photograph the Arch is in the late afternoon, but due to time restraints we had to visit midday.  Thankfully, the temperature were a perfect 50 degrees.  

Even with the cooler temperatures, much of the hike you are exposed and shade is pretty much non-existent.  Be sure to bring plenty of water.

The first half mile of the hike follows a well defined path.  At this point it even feels like you are walking more along a tourist attraction than a hike in nature.  Don't worry, the hike only gets better and breathtaking views await!

The next part of the trail you will follow the cairns along the slickrock.  The trail goes up, up, up the slickrock before leveling off.

Just before reaching the arch, the trail follows a rock ledge.

Along the ledge you'll see a "window".  If you can make the climb up to it, it’s worth the view and provides an awesome photo opportunity. I went up with our oldest three children without any problems.

There are several steep drop offs that made this momma's heart pound a little with so many kiddos to watch and keep safe.  It is certainly not the most dangerous or difficult hike that we have done, but be smart and be safe. We allowed our children to run wild and free along the slickrock, but kept a much closer rein on them along the ledge and at the arch. 

Most importantly, spend some time to take in all of God's majestic creation.  It offers some of the best views of Arches National Park!

We were in awe of the monumental size of the arch!

Where are you heading next?  Be sure to check out my travel page for other fun hikes and adventures. 

Need a snack?  NingXia Wolfberries are great fuel for the trail!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Day at Newport Aquarium

We were camping in Kentucky and the blistering summer heat was getting to us!  Desperate for some activity to do inside that all 6 children would enjoy, we made a day trip to Newport Aquarium.

The tickets were reasonably priced, but we were able to score an even bigger discount by booking as a group 48 hours in advance (you need a minimum of 12 people to qualify for the group rate).  If you are arriving in an RV or bus like we were, be sure to call ahead to get directions to the bus lot for parking.

There are lots of opportunities for children to touch sea creatures, so you may want to consider wearing short sleeve shirts and perhaps even packing an extra shirt to change in to at the conclusion of your adventure.  This was the first aquarium that we have been to where we could actually touch a shark - a very exciting experience for children and adults!

The Sting Ray Hideaway was another favorite.  Not only could you touch the stingrays, but you could also crawl through a 30 foot tunnel and watch them swim around you and pop up right in the middle of their home!

Research ahead of time to find out what time the shark feeding is.  It is a show you don’t want to miss and it only happens once a day.  

There are a few other times during the day when the divers get in the shark tank for a presentation.  

Seahorses: Unbridled Fun was certainly an exhibit that lived up to its name.  There is something magical about watching these creatures swim about, and I am always amazed at the diversity and creativity of God’s creation.

The children can let their creative juices flow and design a sea horse or sea dragon of their own.  Their creation will swim across the screen above, but you can also choose to have their creations emailed to you.  

The entire aquarium is set up as one big one way loop that you walk through, so to reach the entrance/exit you will either need to back track or rush ahead.  Our kids certainly did not mind making several passes through Gator Alley, home of Mighty Mike.  At 14 feet and 800 pounds he was certainly an impressive sight!

Halfway through the aquarium you will come to the Frog Bog - a playground for little ones to run off some energy and our girls to satisfy their insatiable need to always be doing gymnastics.  

Don’t rest too long because some of the most exciting parts of the aquarium await you.  

We loved Amazon Tunnel, a 32.5 foot long tunnel holding some of the world’s largest freshwater fish.  Ring of Fire: World of the Octopus is home to not only the octopus, but starfish and jellyfish.  We were mesmerized!

We also spent a lot of time watching the Penguins.  Presentations are given here throughout the day, so you may want to research those times as well.  

Even exiting the aquarium is exciting as you walk across a 6 inch bridge over the shark tank!  Enjoy your day!!!

Where are you heading next?  Be sure to check out my travel page for links to some of our favorite adventures.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Six Kids Later and I Got Slique!

Life with six kids is BUSY... so busy I completely forgot to update y'all on my Slique in 60 Challenge Results🤦‍♀️😬.  I think I've kept you all waiting long enough, so I'll get right to the results...

Ok, so it may not be the 35 pound weight loss that my husband experienced, but I sure am happy with my results and I loved the journey👏🤗🙌.   Growing up, I was ultra competitive and athletic.  I maintained some level of fitness up until about our third child.  In fact, right before his pregnancy I combined my love for swimming and running and completed my first (and only, so far) triathlon.  But that third pregnancy was HARD.  My husband was deployed for most of the first 16 weeks.  Taking care of a two year old and nearly one year old while feeling awfully nauseous meant there was not much exercise or self care going on.  Then hubby returned and we were busy enjoying life together again, and let's just say I got big very quickly.  And he was a BIG baby!  He was practically born with muscles, but I had lost all of mine.  The next six years are a blur of pregnancies, babies, nursing, sleepless nights, diapers, laundry, dishes, cuddles, bedtime stories, and homeschooling.  Do not get me wrong, I have loved every minute of it and would not trade it for anything, but it was definitely time to put some effort into regaining my health and physique.

The best part of the Slique in 60 Challenge was our children rallying around me.  When your husband and kids are cheering you on, it's hard to give up or get discouraged.  I also had our amazing Young Living tribe checking in, encouraging, and inspiring.  

So, what did I do?  I took the Slique CitraSlim capsules as directed everyday.  I love the natural energy and metabolism boost of these capsules!  I also drank the Slique Tea just about every day and replaced about one meal every other day with a Slique Shake.  I continued taking my daily dose of NingXia Red and added the Slique Essence or another citrus Vitality Oil to my water.  I aimed to work out 30 minutes a day.  I ate nutritious foods and avoided processed sugar and fast foods.  At the start, a 30 minute workout was difficult and I kept the workouts super easy (walking, hiking, dance videos), but as the challenge progressed I started adding some Fitness Blender HIIT workouts.  

The girls joined me on just about every workout, which also made them stronger.  I've also noticed that my competive spirit has rubbed off a little bit on them.  Both girls recently tried out for the Gymnastics Team and will be competing this year as Level 3 and Level 4.  I love seeing them excited about fitness!  They are even using the Slique Shakes as added protein during their 5 hour gym workouts this summer.  You can follow their journey on Instragram @fit_sisters4life. 

It has been six months since the start of the Slique in 60 Challenge and I am pleased that the habits that were formed during the challenge have stuck.  

What do you want most?  I'd love for you to experience Slique!

Check out updates from Week 1, Week 2, and Week 4.