Friday, September 26, 2014

A Walk To the Mailbox

You can feel it in the air. The touch of fall despite the 80 degree weather. I am certainly not complaining about an indian summer, or fall (as it might be my favorite season), but it's that time when summer is officially over, the school year activities are in full swing, and the lazy pool days are just a memory. 

Almost every day after nap time, I load the boys up in the stroller, and we make the ridiculous 10 minute hike to our mailbox. This time I grabbed the camera and attempted to capture a few of the changes in the surroundings, all while never stopping because stroller stopped=loud wails from the youngest one. I tell ya that Ollie boy is such a peach, just not while in the stroller, especially a parked stroller.
The crackers, the sprinkles, the ipad, and blankies all get brought along for this trek. However clothes, not allowed according to Harry. In his opinion, we should all live in a nudist colony...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arboretum

Somedays (very few and between) I am super mom. I cook, I clean, no tv is watched, we do a craft, only 2 cups of coffee are consumed, there is no yelling, and the children are happy. Other days, most days, we survive. This was one of the survival days.

My friend Kels and I took the kids to the arboretum, and once again I was reminded of why Minnesota is so great. I've been to the arboretum probably too many times to count, but somehow I seem to forget just how beautiful it is every time. And this day, we also had the most beautiful, perfect fall weather.

We loaded up our double bobs (aka traveling zoo), and made our way along the 3 mile loop. Ollie started screaming so we made a pit stop at the "kid maze" and let the kids run wild while I fed Ollie. And while I thought I was feeding Ollie in a discreet place without a nursing cover, about 2 minutes in a tram ride full of people on a tour pulled up. Perfect.

"And there you will notice the azalea flowers, the rare shrubs, and a mom who clearly had no idea this was not a private area."

 Please disregard Harrison's way too small of clothes and bed head.
About 5 minutes into the maze, Kels and I realized that they kiddos were no where to be seen, so we started in on the maze ourselves. Turns out this was no kids maze at all, rather a full blown maze with some serious twists and turns and dead ends. Thankfully we had a popcorn trail to follow to locate them. And Kels standing on a tower directing me where to go. And two joyfully screaming and running kids doesn't it make it too difficult to find them...
 These two are bound be boyfriend girlfriend, that is if Sam's ok with dating a younger man...
 It's always a little bit of madness with these 3 (4 with Ollie).
After about 1 mile into the loop, my easy baby Ollie who never screams, was still screaming. Apparently he is not much for the stroller. And since I forgot the infant attachment bar, and the Ergo, to the shortcut it was, and back to the main building we went.
 Somehow no kids ended up in the fountain which is a small miracle.
 And this was the attempt at getting a pic of all 3 of them standing.... just chaos.
 But we did manage to get one of the 2 boys.... sort of.
At this point children were hungry, moms were hungry, so in for lunch we went. Although within about 2 seconds of sitting down a drink was spilled, and incessant crying followed. Gotta love eating out with toddlers. But thank you to the wonderful stranger who went and got me a new drink, and a massive stack of napkins. Bless your heart, I must have looked weary that day. So there ya have it. A trip to the arboretum. And would you believe I actually loved it? The choas, and crying, and too small of outfits. Loved it all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Essential Oils

In the past couple months, my life has been changed. Seriously! You may think that I say that about a lot of things (eMeals, a brazilian wax, a cup of coffee....) but once again, it's been turned upside down for the better. And this time, essential oils are to thank.

A few months ago, my friend Kelsey and I got on the subject that we both would like to learn more about essential oils as we both separately had heard of people who swore by them, however neither of us knew where to start..... so we didn't do anything.

Well fast forward to about a month later, and one of the women in our bible study tells us that she is going to start selling essential oils because she has fallen in love with them. How perfect is that timing?!

So fast forward to a few weeks ago and Kels and I showed up to our friend Kate's house and she filled us in on everything essential oils. We left with our brains on overload with all of our new found information, but excited to get the Family Physican's Starter Kit that we had just purchased delivered to our houses the following week.

Well the kit came this past week, and I am in love. So far I have used the oils for cleaning, clearing up rashes, cuts, help with sleeping, aromatherapy and I'm just getting started! I love that the oils have so many uses, and in the grand scheme are pretty cost effect. And most importantly, I love the idea that I am not using medications that have potentially harmful side effects. As a nurse I am all for medicine when it is needed, and am so grateful for the medical advances that we have, but I also like to use more natural options when I can. Especially when it comes to Harry and Ollie. Anytime I can avoid giving them a medication but still meet their needs, I am one happy momma.

So in these past few months, here are a few ways we have used our essential oils:
-Helping Harry sleep!!! This has probably been the best thing about essential oils so far. Prior to using the oils, Harry had been napping maybe 1 out of every 3 days, and that was just not ok. Both he, and I, need that nap time. And I kid you not, he has napped every single day since we started using the serenity blend! AMAZING!

-And to pony off of that, I have been using it to help me sleep. When I work nights, I usually get really crappy sleep during the day. I have always relied on melatonin, but a lot of times I take it, it can be a hit or miss. The first day that I tried serenity blend after working an overnight, I slept for 8 hours straight! Not waking up once! For my fellow night shift mommas, you know that is next to unheard of. Usually I'll sleep for a few hours, wake up, fall back asleep, wake up, fall half back asleep, then finally give up and call it good that I got 5 really broken hours of sleep. It was so nice to go back to work that next night feeling rested!

-One night Brian came home from work with a stomach ache. While eating he had to take a break because he said his stomach just hurt too bad to eat anymore. I whipped out my Digestzen oil, and made him my guinea pig. I rubbed a couple drops directly onto his stomach, and within about 10 minutes he was no longer complaining of a stomach ache, and back to eating nachos he went!

-Brian also manged to get a sore on his lip, which he ended up biting and peeling away some skin leaving a painful sore on his upper lip. After chapstick wasn't doing the trick, I applied some lavender, and within a few minutes he said it wasn't nearly as sore, and he hardly noticed any pain. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

-Ollie has been a drool monster resulting in him soaking through his onesies, leaving him with a nasty rash on his upper chest/neck because it is always moist. Again, lavendar came to the rescue. I mixed a drop of lavender with coconut oil and rubbed it on his chest a few times throughout the day. The next morning he woke up nearly rash free!

-I would love to get my house to the point where we don't use any harsh chemicals for cleaning, and while we aren't fully there, I was able to mix up a general all purpose cleaner, and a window cleaner. All it took was some distilled white vinegar, water, 15 drops of lemon and 15 drops of lavender. I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it has worked! It has left our granite countertops a little streaky, but I've learned if I take a really hot wet rag to the counters, it clears the streak right up!
-I will be the first to admit I don't take the greatest care of my skin. If I am able to wipe my makeup off at the end of the day with a baby wipe, I call that good. As a result of my poor skin care, I feel like my face looks 26 going on 36. So this past week I have been using coconut oil as a moisturizer with frankincense mixed in, and call me crazy, but I feel like my skin looks better! I wouldn't go so far to say that it's glowing, but I would say it doesn't look nearly as lifeless! And a bonus, I haven't had any breakouts.

-Working nights I feel like my immune system is often a little run down due to lack of sleep, and I'm more susceptible to illness caring for sick patients. Doterras OnGaurd blend is used for immune support, so I gargled a drop of the oil with water and swallowed. Hard to say if this really worked or not, but I do know that I'm not sick!

-After Brian hiked a 14er in Colorado, he was seriously hurting. I put some deep blue in a roller ball, and had him roll it all over his sore muscles. I don't think he would go so far to say it took the pain completely away, but said it definitely took the edge off and made his aches and pains much more manageable.

So I think it is safe to say I am now sold on essential oils! So much to say that I have bought a few more oils to add to my now growing collection, 2 diffusers (one for the car, one for home), roller bottles to mix up some blends and for easily application on the kiddos, and fractionated coconut oil to use as a carrier oil. I am seriously so excited about this! I'm already thinking about upcoming trips we have in the next month and how I am going to bring along the oils and use them on the plane to prevent illness, for motion sickness, for help sleeping in not optimal conditions, for healing the never ending cuts and scrapes that come along with a  2 year old boy.....

Anyone else an essential oil user who has some oils they swear by?? Have I convinced any of you that you should also use oils?? If so, let me know and I'd be happy to get you going!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Real. Life.

1 Day before we left for our trip to Colorado, we received an exciting package in the mail. A new camera. It shouldn't be that exciting since I purchased it and had it overnighted and knew that it was going to be arriving, but as soon as it arrived on our doorstep I ripped it open. For the past 3 months we have been living without a DSLR camera because ours bit the dust. We still aren't exactly sure what happened to it, but we do know that we are well past the 100,000 pictures it is rated for. That camera has been well loved. So after I realized that our summer had hardly been documented, I bit the bullet and shelled out the money for a new camera. Of course I would wait till right before a vacation, and have to pay an additional $40 to have it overnighted.... but if you saw our Colorado pictures then I would say it was worth it.

But back to the day I tore the camera out of the package... As soon as I had it in my hands I knew I wanted to try it out. I snapped on the macro lens (which I haven't used in about 2 years) and started snapping away. Both kids were sound asleep, so I figured I would take some pictures of our home.
It wasn't until then that fog cleared my eyes and I realized our house was a disaster. It was 3pm, and our house was a total wreck. Funny I didn't even realize I was living in a pig pen till I wanted some pictures....

So instead of tidying the house I figured I would take pictures of the disaster in it's full glory. Because more often then not, this is what our house looks like on a daily basis. My mother would be appalled... sorry mom! 

So here it. Our beautiful mess. 

The tv on showing Twin Cities Live.
 Remnants of clothes and food on the coffee table.
 Dishes from the night before including pizza dishes and wine glasses. Gourmet people. Gourmet.
 Pantry doors left open from Harrison helping himself.
 The one somewhat tidy area of the house, my nightstand.
 My phone charging because it never seems to have any battery.
 The tub which somehow still has water in the bottom from the night before.
 Oh hey! It's 3pm and I am still in sweats.
 The loft with toys strewn everywhere.
 Hot wheels on the stairs just waiting to trip someone resulting in a neck brace. I can see it happening now...
 A stool underneath a stool. Don't ask why because I don't know the answer.
 Our mess of a bedroom as I attempt to pack for 4.
 And again the living room with boots on the table where we also eat a lot of snacks....
 Now how is that for a tidy house?! It doesn't get much more real than that.

And as I was snapping the final pictures, the two littles both started stirring. As I pulled Harrison out of his crib I realized he still had chocolate on his face from lunch. Whoops. And of course "grandma jan's" blankie had to be photographed too.
 And this little guy, melt my heart.
So there ya have it. Our not so glamorous life full of messy faces, unkept homes, sweat pants till 3, and so many other things I usually like to keep hidden. And a picture of deer out of back door... because why not?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Buena Vista, Colorado

Catch up on part 1 HERE

Back when we lived in Colorado nearly 3 years ago (pinch me I can't believe it has almost been 3 years...) Josh, Ellie, Brian and I hiked Mt. Yale and had a blast doing it. Now with 4 kids in tow, we knew all of us hiking a 14er wasn't an option, so Josh and Brian took off at 5:30 in morning to hike Mt. Princeton. Not so conveniently, Harry and Ollie also woke up at 5:30 so it was a looooong day. Since I was not along for the hike, I'll let Brian's amazing pictures speak for themselves. 
 
While the men were hiking, Ellie and I figured we would have an adventure of our own, and we took the kids back down to the river. We made the toddlers walk for much of it, but this mama can only take so much whining, so it wasn't long before I had Harry on my back and Ollie on my front. A workout it was.
The guys got back around 3:00pm and nearly wanted to pass out from exhaustion. For those who know Brian, you know he is not much for working out. Ironic considering he works for Lifetime Fitness.... So when Brian got back I think he was hoping for some rest time on the couch, however us wives had plans brewing. It's not too often that we are in such beauty, with hands available to take a family photo, so we both swapped back and forth and hopefully (fingers crossed) got a photo that is christmas card worthy.
 And it wouldn't be family photos without some shenanigans.
 A sneak peak at our little sesh.
 Just beautiful.
 This guy had had enough after all the pictures. Poor guy was really run down from his cold.
 I do have to say this might be the most memorable family photo session. It's not too often you throw both kids on your back and hike down about a mile all for a picture. #worthit
Come 9pm Brian was falling asleep sitting up, so again, we made our way to bed rather early, only to wake up early. The boys did not switch over to mountain time whatsoever, so everyday by 6am we were wide awake. After a quick breakfast of pancakes, biscuits, eggs, bacon, and lots of coffee, we packed up and made the drive to Cottonwood Pass.
Cottonwood pass was about a 45 minute drive west from Buena Vista with some amazing views of the surrounding mountains.
 The only photo of all 8 of us from the entire weekend, but probably my favorite picture of the entire trip.
 We took a quite little 15 minute hike to the top of the continental divide, and Harry was quite the stinker for this hike. The whole way up he whined he wanted to go down and sit in the car... quite the little adventurer. So I carried him for the first half, and Brian carried him and Ollie the second half. If you look hard in the picture below you can just barely spot the 3 of them.
 Part of the road we drive up to get to the pass.
 After much coercing and carrying, Harry made it to the top.
 It was a little windy and chilly, so after about 10 minutes Harry got his wish and we made it back down.
 The rest of the drive home was pretty unevnetful. The men and the toddlers were in one car, and the women and babies were in the other. And get this, we didn't have to stop once!!! The babies cooperated and slept the entire 2.5 hours home!! Amazing.
Shortly after we got back Ellie had to run out the door to catch a night class she is currently taking, however my dear friend Abby drove up from the Springs and we got to spend a few hours catching up over dinner and ice cream.
Being back in Denver is so bittersweet. We so loved the time that we lived in Colorado, so it is always hard to say goodbye to wonderful friends and such a beautiful state. Hopefully it won't be long before there is another deal on airfare for only $125/ticket and we will back soon!
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