3 Ways I Use Essential Oils Everyday.

I used to think essential oils were just hocus pocus. My mom has been using them to treat all kinds of ailments since before they were "in" so I never really understood why they were so important. Whenever I felt sick as a teenager, she would rub some on my feet, whenever it was flu season she would diffuse and whenever I had a headache she would anoint my head with something to ease the tension. I used to think it was kind of silly but I also kind of liked it, because, you know, it showed she cared about me. I honestly figured any relief that I experienced was just due to placebo effect.

Now that I'm a mom, I totally empathize with her. Trying to do the right thing by my family, especially using oils to prevent and help treat aches, pains and tension is something that I picked up from her. My mom always tries to do things the most natural way first, and as I am getting older I can see why. There are so many toxins and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our medicines, cleaning supplies and daily-used products - it's nice to be able to swap out some of the harmful ones with something more natural and botanically-based. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you gotta use bleach to get a clean bathroom! But sometimes a little peppermint oil on the temples can be just as effective as taking Tylenol in order to overcome a headache.

I don't think essential oils are a cure-all for everything. But I do think they are an awesome tool that can be used alongside traditional approaches. I especially love how applicable they are in zillions of ways - especially in preventing sickness and treating pain. I am not an oil salesperson (although I admit I've fallen in love with Doterra so much that the thought has crossed my mind!), but I wanted to share some of the ways I've been incorporating oils into my daily routine over the past year.

1. Diffusing:
I love diffusing essential oils and I usually diffuse in several rooms of the house everyday. I have this kind of diffuser in all the bedrooms of our house (including Stevie's office!) and this one in our kitchen/living room. During the day I like to diffuse citrus-y oils, because they give me energy and clarity of mind. With two boys to take care of and this blog to keep up with, I am often switching gears throughout the day, and I love diffusing "Wild Orange" and "Balance" together to keep myself focused. At night I love diffusing "Serenity" to promote restful sleep, especially in the boys' rooms.

My newest favorite diffuser recipe:
Intention: (don't laugh - I named it!)
- 2 drops Lavender
- 2 drops Ylang Ylang
- 2 drops Bergamot
- 2 drops Rosemary
- 2 drops Peppermint
- 2 drops Wild Orange

2. Spray:
Since having a c-section and some wicked stretch marks, I've been using a spray concoction to (hopefully) lighten up my marked bod. These oils are especially helpful in healing and restoring skin - I followed this recipe from my friend Savannah (you should follow her @MamaTribe account if you're into oil DIYs!) and I modified it a bit to my liking. To make, fill up a 2 oz. glass spray bottle (I got mine here on Amazon), add the oils listed below, then top off the rest of the bottle with fractionated coconut oil (basically this is just coconut oil that stays in a liquid state). I spray this on my belly and c-section incision every time I get out of the shower, then rub it in.

Smooth Skin Spray:
- 20 drops Helyscrism
- 25 drops Frankinscense
- 25 drops Lavender
- 15 drops Wild Orange
- 15 drops Grapefruit
- 15 drops Cedarwood
- 7 drops Geranium

3. Rollerballs:
Another way I use oils everyday is by making my own little rollerballs. I name them all different things and I make sure that each one is diluted enough to use on Everett, too. (I need to make another one for his toddler self called "Chill, child".) He loves when I roll a mix of Lavender + Frankinscense on his feet before he goes to bed at night to promote restful sleep (just make sure to put on socks, so you don't have oily sheets!) Here is an easy guide for safely diluting oils to use on children.

I have lots of these rollerballs that I use on a daily basis, but my favorite one is for anxiety*. If I need to calm down, I roll this one on the back of my neck, behind my ears, and on my wrists. I do it a few times a day, and make sure to take a few deep breaths and breathe the oil in, as well. When I am regularly doing this, I am much more balanced and at peace. Which I'll admit, has been very, very necessary this past year :)

Stay Calm:
- 25 drops Bergamot
- 10 Clary Sage
- 15 Ylang Ylang
- 15 Lavender
- 10 Frankinscense
- 10 Cedarwood
*I never use this rollerball on my children, since it is not diluted enough for them.

I have loved using my oils over the past year (and believe me, I've had many moments with my mom where I admit she was doing the "cool" thing with oils before it was cool ;) If you're interested in more oil uses and recipes, I have tons of them and am happy to share! Please let me know in the comments if this type of post is interesting to you and if you'd like to hear more! I would be glad to put together a little series focusing on the way our family uses essential oils.

P.S. - Here is a great post about using EO's in the home, courtesy of my friend Savannah!

Milk Friendly - the Kimono.

Outfit Details:
PinkBlush Purple Lace Mesh Kimono c/o, Target Mossimo Supply Racerback Tank, Free People Bralette (similar here and here), Free People Roll Crop Jeans, Blowfish Wedges (similar here and here)

We continue the conversation about nursing-friendly clothes! I have boiled down my wardrobe to a set of staple breastfeeding-friendly essentials that I rotate through and mix with my non-nursing clothing. Last week I chatted about my love for the basic tunic tee. Which brings me this week to kimonos - I love them! My sisters gifted me a few last year for my birthday which was the BEST gift, because you can easily transition these from maternity wear into nursing wear and regular everyday wear! You don't have to change sizes from maternity to non, so it really is such a versatile accessory that can make any outfit all the better. I love this particular kimono from PinkBlush because it's a twist on the traditional cardigan and made with a thinner, gauzy, lightweight fabric- which really helps when you're dealing with hormonal hot flashes and a sweaty baby nestled up against your body.

I like to pair a kimono like this one over practically everything in my wardrobe - it adds an extra layer that gives your nursing tees, nursing tanks or simple dresses that extra pop of fun. Plus, it provides extra coverage, especially over those dorky clip-down straps on nursing tanks. This one really caught my attention on the website because of all the fancy lacy detail, and also, it's purple, so it's like duh. So so pretty. Almost makes you forget about milk stains and baby spit up. Almost. I also really like this one, this one, this one and this one for the coming fall months. These would look so good with practically anything!

A quick note about PinkBlush - I have featured them here and here before and it's because they have trendy pieces that work for any stage of a woman's life. PinkBlush is known for maternity wear, but they also have great women's clothing, plus-sized clothing and nursing clothing. And so many of the pieces are transitional through different stages, which is obviously what we are all trying to do - making our clothes work for us!

Featured Piece:

Talk to me mamas! What is your biggest struggle with making your clothes work for nursing? I'd love to hear from you!

Many thanks to my friends at PinkBlush for sponsoring this post and sending me the product. All opinions expressed are, as always, completely my own.

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Chicken-Herb Meatballs (Whole30 Compliant!)

This is my second time around doing Whole30, and I'm starting to get into the rhythm of cooking in this style of food AKA super insanely healthy. This spaghetti squash spaghetti is a great recipe because it's reeeeeeal yummy, ridiculously healthy and easy to prep. The key is to double (or triple!) the recipe to have leftovers for lunches or another dinner. Or make a ton of the meatballs and freeze a batch of them to have for another meal. This is a great family dinner!

Spaghetti Squash Ingredients:
- 1-2 Spaghetti Squash
- Olive Oil

1.) The easiest way to cook a spaghetti squash is to place the squash on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Then rotate the squash, and bake for another 30 minutes. Once it's finished, slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
2.) After scooping those out, use a fork to "fluff" the noodles out from the squash. Place these in a bowl and set aside.

Chicken-Herb Meatball Ingredients:
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. minced herbs (I used a mix of rosemary, thyme and oregano)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.) Combine the chicken, egg, onion, garlic, herbs and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Roll 15-20 meatballs, each one approximately the size of a golf ball.
3.) Heat a large skillet over medium-high and drizzle with olive oil. Once pan is hot, add a batch of meatballs (you might have to do this in several batches, depending on the size of your skillet). Turn each one every 30 seconds, until it is evenly browned all over. This should take about 5 minutes total. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 8 minutes. Let meatballs rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Top noodles with your favorite spaghetti sauce (after doing the homemade work for the noodles and meatballs, I don't dare prepare my own spaghetti sauce, too. I like to use the Costco or Whole Foods brands because they are Whole30-compliant and delicious.) Top with meatballs and fresh oregano or parsley. Bon Appetit!

P.S. - More about my Whole30 journey here.

7 months after.

It's been 7 months since I had my c-section with Daxton. It's hard to believe it's been that long. I have lived with pain at my incision site every single day since then. Every day. In the past month I can honestly say that the pain has subsided significantly and now it's only a twinge here and there. But it's been present with me, every day, reminding me of that ludicrous day and night of trying so badly to give birth to my boy.

We tried everything. Ultimately, my natural birth plan was rudely interrupted by an emergency c-section. I've come to terms with it. I am grateful, so very grateful. A hundred years ago my outcome might have looked very different. Thank goodness for modern medicine, truly. But I still can't believe it happened.

I can't believe that women, so very many of them, live with this kind of wound striping them forever. Having gone through this experience has given such an awakening, such an understanding and for what others have endured.

I have a new respect for the medical community and for how well cared for I was by my doctors and nurses. For real.

I'm more aware than ever of how very strong women are.

I'm astounded by how beautiful and terrifying and gracious childbirth is.

The thing about having babies and becoming a mother is that it changes you. Forever. All the things you once thought about parenthood and "what you will do" means nothing. All the moments of judgement you once had toward other parents - you will find yourself in their shoes. You will find yourself remembering how you once judged someone for shoving an iPhone in their child's hand when they were screaming in public. You realize it at the exact moment that you are doing the same thing. I'm not saying its right, I'm saying you will find yourself doing it though.

This journey has humbled me. I used to think people who had c-sections were weak. They couldn't give birth or didn't really have the will to finish the job. Of course, I didn't mean to have these judgements. Forgive me, all of you. These thoughts were based on ignorance (as most judgements are). But after my experience, I see now how wrong I was. I worked so hard for both of my baby boys. It's the hardest work I have ever done. I was so strong and so fierce and yet my outcomes with both of my babies were so different. Everett was born naturally without any pain medications after 36 long hours. Daxton was delivered via c-section after 24 hours of labor, and an escalation from no pain meds to an introduction of pitocin, an epidural and finally, the emergency surgery. In fact, I think I even worked even harder for Daxton and still had a c-section. Life is strange, friends. Babies are worth it, though.

The day you give birth, there is awe and wonder at the new life you just created. But there is very little celebrated about your new life - when you become a mom, you are getting a new identity. You are forever changed. And to be honest, giving birth is kind of like the hazing before you get into the mom club. I'm kidding (sort of). But it's hard to find time or energy to really celebrate your own new identity. It's all so different - the new feelings (aka crazy hormones that are running the show), the new body (that you're trying to get on board with and not have self-loathing toward), the instincts of protection and ferocious love and adoration for your squishy (in my case, hefty), little love.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. You're never ready. But I can say with certainty that any pre-concieved judgements I once had towards other mothers is totally gone. Whenever I see a mom barking at her child at the grocery store, I say a silent prayer for her. Who knows what kind of day she's had and what kind of pressure she's been under, the lack of sleep she's probably be living with, the overwhelm she must be feeling. Grace grace grace. Grace for all the mamas!

I saw a cool-looking mom the other day at Target. We were both checking out at different registers, and she was holding her infant while her toddler was pulling on her shirt, and she was swiping her credit card and loading bags into her buggy and she was just momming so hard. I hollered over to her, "You're doing it! You got this mama!" and without even a pause she put up her one free hand and hollered back, "You're doing it, too, mama! You're amazing!" and then we both went our separate ways. It was such an empowering, fun, warming moment with a complete stranger - I love the camaraderie of motherhood and the dissipation of competition. We are all in this together and I am so grateful for my baby boys who have introduced me to my best life - full of love and wonder and the fight for this good gift of life.

So to all of you mamas out there - you're doing it! You're amazing! You got this.