For a Beard, that is. The trend is beards, don't you know. My siblings are all bearded. Well, except my sister, who happens to be delightfully smooth-faced. (I love you sister.) My brother Ben sports a serious mountain-man beard in this other-worldly shade of Auburn. It's quite the magical beard. 

Anyway, he happened to mention the other day about wanting to make some mustache wax because, honestly, buying a tiny 1 oz tin of wax for $12 is pretty...expensive. I'll agree with him in that making your own, in the long run, will be more economical. And the perk is that you can make it to the consistency that you like, and the aroma that you prefer.
I happened to have on hand some Essential Oils, and other ingredients that I had previously used to make some other lotion type concoctions. I love a good experiment. Alas, I had no recipe, but I did look up some tutorials. About 20 different tutorials to be exact. In the end, I used a little bit of this and a little bit of that and guesstimated for the rest.

In the picture, I have Melaluca, but I didn't end up using it. I was thinking to myself, "What would I want to be smelling all day?" It wasn't Melaluca oil. I switched it out for some Lavender. Also a few of the recipes, called for only 2 tsp of beeswax. My brother mentioned wanting his wax to be more thick to hold his mustache in place better throughout the day. When all is said and done, I think I had close to 1/4 cup of grated wax.

 After I grated the wax, I put it and some Sweet Almond Oil, about 2 tsp of Shea Butter, and 1/2 tsp of Lanolin in a jar. (I skipped the coconut oil!) I melted it in the microwave on 30 second intervals until it was completely melted. In between I stirred the mixture with a plastic spoon. When it was completely clear and not one little bit of wax pieces were left, I added my Essential Oils. This part is hard to guess on. I only added three drops of oil. My brother tells me that he smelled the actual wax and other ingredients more than he smelled the oils. So I would play with that a little bit. Definitely er on the side of caution. You can't undo the amount you add, so use it sparingly until you know what your man-friend will like under his nose all day. You can always remelt it down and add more.
 Gently stir in your essential oils. You have to do this fairly quickly as the wax and oils will start to cool quickly. I should mention, have some paper towels and an oven mitt nearby. For one, the jar gets hot in the microwave, and two, messes happen.
 You can see in the picture below that the mixture was starting to cool pretty quickly as I was pouring it. I filled a cleaned Altoids tin about halfway. This should last....forever. Or close to it! My brother tells me that you don't need much to keep your 'stache under control.
 The other day I picked up some Cedar Atlas EO and I'm going to add a few drops of that, along with some more Frankincense to his tin of balm to make it more manly smelling for him. We'll see how he likes the scent after that! Wish me luck ;)


He Who Strengthens Me.

 Last Sunday at Church my priest came over to say hello. As I struggled to keep my youngest contained he joked, "How are you going to take care of these kids all by yourself?" What he didn't know was that on the inside, he made me cry. My quick and not thought-out response was, "With God's help!" Because honestly, how do any of us do it alone?! We're either mad as the hatter, and/or we depend on God to get us through. As of late, God has been carrying me through!

While I carry my young ones through their days (often times literally), God's been providing strength and encouragement along the way. He's very merciful. Oftentimes, all I can do is offer up that "Yes" that we're all called to, and hope and believe that he's going to guide my way.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

I like to think of that passage as God's promise to me. He's not going to leave me when I am afraid or unsure of myself. He's bigger than anything that could come my way, and he's going before me so I don't need to be afraid. I'm human though, and I do get afraid. (I'm a work in progress!) But I move forward anyway! More often than not, in my head I'm literally throwing my fears into the wind and doing the next logical thing that is set before me. God keeps catching me and placing my feet firmly in front of me on solid ground.  The unknown is often the scariest thing, wouldn't you agree? If we just do the next logical and morally correct thing...really...things fall into place.
 There have been several friends that have stepped up and offered to be of service when I truly needed help. That in and of itself is a great gift that God has poured out into my life. Life circumstances can bring out the best and worst in people, and it's always bittersweet to recognize who your true friends are. Sometimes they come in the most unexpected packages, or end up being the last person you would have thought of. What is truly precious is realizing that a good and true friend will encourage you on your journey, ask you the hard questions, help you see things clearly and not judge you if your choice differs from what they personally may have chosen had they been in your circumstances. They will call you and with all sincerity ask, "What do you need? How can I help you?" I've been blessed abundantly with friends that I can put my needs or questions before and count on getting honest and true advice or help.

That strength that God gives through friendship is tremendously helpful when I have these little eyes looking to me for guidance and leadership. That I don't always have the answers to things has me running to seek out more answers all the time! Thankfully, these sweet eyes of my children seem to love unconditionally. I find that honesty helps. "I don't know, but let's figure it out together." 
The thing is...I don't think that we're meant to have all the answers. And I think that, as Scripture says, His power is made even more present through my weaknesses. Miracles abound when I depend on Him, and I'm surprised quite often by the generosity and beauty that is poured out on me in my life.

Do I know how I'm going to get through A,B or C? No, but I know who I can trust for Strength. 


A beautiful Breakfast.

 Quite a few times a week I post food pictures. Some of my favorite meals are breakfast. Actually, breakfast is just my favorite meal of the day, but some of my most favorite recipes are the ones that end up as my breakfast. Being a busy mom doesn't give me a whole lot of time for self care these days. In an effort to do more of that, I try to get up early enough to be ahead of the kids to get some things done just for me. I make myself a cup of coffee. I go outside for a few minutes and breath in some fresh air, check on what may be in bloom, bird watch, or read my bible. And I make myself a nice breakfast. Sometimes it's the only meal of the day that I really spend much time on for me. There is the fact that I am gluten and dairy free and 3 out of four of my kids are not. There is just the busy-ness of meal times, as well. Are you one of those parents that stands at the counter and eats in between fetching more food for the kids, or drinks, or cleaning up spills? Yup. We must be friends.

I like to incorporate new things into my meals, too. Lately I've been on this Essential Oil high, trying to incorporate my oils into my foods. Some of them have such amazing healing properties. (I don't think that is an FDA approved statement, however, my personal experience has been amazing with my EO's.) Lemon is my favorite. It's good for digestion, but I also love lemon. Lemon bars. Lemon meringue pie. Lemon Ice. Lemonade. Lemon pudding. Lemon in my tea. Lemon makes the house smell clean. Lemon everything!

This morning, I literally had no idea what I was doing for my breakfast, but I wanted to treat myself. I've been working hard on some personal stuff lately and I wanted to treat myself well this morning. I also knew I needed to us up some Sheep Milk Yogurt that I had in the fridge. Not knowing whether it would be a good idea or not, I whipped up some gluten free pancakes and used my yogurt as a dressing for them. In a bowl, I mixed into a cup of yogurt a tablespoon of sugar and two drops of Lemon EO. I poured this over my pancakes and topped them with Blueberries. Oh my goodness, I should have done this before! It was so yummy! The hint of lemon really popped in the yogurt. And the tartness of the yogurt lent itself well with the lemon. It was almost like I had stirred in lemon juice, but without having to cut up a lemon. Score!

My next experiment with Lemon EO, I've decided, is to make the same Lemony Yogurt, but make Yogurt Pops! And maybe sprinkle the blueberries into the bottom of the Popsicle containers. I'm going to give it a try anyway.

If you're up for it, definitely try to EO in your yogurt!


Loving our now.

Over the last few years I've had some interesting experiences with my children. From dealing with ASD tantrums in public, to advocating for my kids needs, to being starred at, to being told (by a teenager of all people!) how well behaved they are. Being a special needs mommy is so adventurous. I shared about an experience I had in a grocery store a little over a year ago in this post. But today, this experience was entirely different from the experience that I wrote about previously. Everyday since that day over a year ago, has been an entirely different experience, in fact.
Today's experience went something like this. 
Put Lisette in Ergo carrier. Grab wallet and head into store from car. Get stopped twice on the way into the store by an old man, and then a younger woman, who both stopped me to ogle over my sweety pie. She flashed them her cheesy smile, which includes two top toofies that are slowly making their way in on her top gums. So cute. They wanted to keep talking, but I had groceries to get and had been out and was generally tired of being in the car, so I smiled and wished them a happy day. On with shopping! 
I headed into the store and grabbed a shopping cart and pulled out my list, just in time to have another person stop and start chatting up a storm with my sweety pie. Seriously. I'm not making this up. 
Never, in all my 12 years of parenting, have I been stopped so often as I am with my little Lisette. She is like the Sun: everywhere we go, she draws people in like a magnet. Honestly, I love that she makes so many people happy and that so many people see her as a blessing and tell me how lucky I am.
I wouldn't have it any other way, in fact. It was a little strange at first when people talk about wanting to take her home with them. It happens at least once a day, though, and I totally get what they are saying. She's got joy, and she's innocent, and everything is just the way you see it-- no ulterior motives. 

I continued on with my shopping, and wandered a little bit to avoid standing in a long line. Thankfully, Lisette is super mellow and lets me do that. My other kids, not so much! But I'm sure Lisette will get to a point where she wants to run around pulling everything she wants off the shelves, too. Oh, I can't wait. She's doing a great job of wanting to keep up with siblings and friends. I see it happening in the not to far off future. 

We made our way to the register, and of course the lovely lady wanted to talk with us as she scanned our items as well. As I finished paying she, like so many others before her, reminded me of how blessed I am to have such a precious little one as my own.

 I agree. She's pretty great!
I'd like to put something out there, though. But before I say that, I want to point out that I LOVE OUR NOW. I love her, just like I love my other kids. Everything that she brings to my day-to-day is perfect, even with it's imperfections.

I'd also like to say....she can drive me bonkers just like my other kids. She pulls everything out of drawers and cupboards. She screams at the top of her lungs to get my attention because she doesn't have words yet. She can have some pretty good little tantrums. Yes, we're at the toddler-tantrum stage! She's a person, just like you and I, and she has her off days just like anyone else. Life isn't always rainbows and butterflies. That's not to say it still isn't great, but it does mean that she is human just like you and I. No, she's not an angel like some people like to call her.
Let me follow that up with...even when she is throwing a tantrum, she's pretty darn cute. Darn it. It's those darn toofies--she keeps flashing them at me.
I surrender. I love it.  She's got me wrapped around her pinky.

Part of me has started to think that maybe God's plan for me is to just be present and advocate for her while she sets the world on fire. I'm fascinated to see what the future holds. Whatever it is, I'm on board.


Birthday Celebrating & Pavlova

This past weekend I quietly celebrated my birthday with family. That's the best. I don't need anything fancy. My sister spoiled me with a fabulous lunch out by the river, and clothes and toys for my little ones. My kids and my brother gave me BBQ's. Yes, two. We've designated one for meat, and BBQ #2 is going to be the "Pizza Oven". I can't wait to try BBQ'ing some pizza. (Gluten free? I'm going to have to research this!) 
The craziest thing from my day was attempting to make myself a Pavlova-cake. My favorite desserts are light and easy on the tummy, with lots of fruit.  I was super stoked to find berries on sale in abundance, and since I happened to be wandering through Trader Joe's I figured I might as well try out making the Pavlova with egg whites from a carton. You know, save myself 5 minutes. Let me just say....Don't try it. As smart as it seems to just be able to pour egg whites into a bowl from a carton and beat them into heavenly fluffy goodness, the end result is not worth the time. I wasted an hour of my time, and gave my KitchenAide the work out of a lifetime, trying to get those egg whites to whip. In the end, I never did get them to where they needed to be. I resigned myself to lining my skillet with Parchment and pouring them in to bake.

When the Pavolova was finished, it was pretty, but not nearly as fluffy as I would have liked. It was more like a souffle. A sad souffle. A souffle that didn't rise to the occasion. (But still a tasty one.)

On the other hand, the one that I made with separated eggwhites turned out lovely. Typically you want to leave it in the oven when the baking time is up, so that it can cool slowly and dry out completely. I was anxious to eat my birthday cake and share it with my sister before she had to head out, so I pulled it from the oven early. If I had left it, it wouldn't have cracked and crumbled, but turned out like a large lovely, bigger than life meringue cookie. 
 Coconut cream was piled on top, and beautiful tart berries. Plunked a pretty candle in the middle, (because 36 of them would just be way too many).
 Wishes were made. Dreams are expected to come true! They always do, right?

We enjoyed, and then the kids and I relaxed the rest of the day and played with our new toys. I think we're in need of some more little friends to add to our collection now! Maybe I'll make some felt friends...

All in all, it was a lovely celebration. I wouldn't have chosen it any other way. 


Wool you look at that!

Wool, I finally got around to it. Cleaning some of my wool, that is. My Uncle had given me a whole fleece and I have been excited to get around to cleaning it. It's not as difficult, it's just time consuming and requires patience, which sometimes I am not good at. 

I read through several tutorials and watched multiple YouTube videos about the process before I went ahead. I had cleaned a small portion a few months ago, all by hand. I washed it in a bucket of hot water in the sink, wrung it out and laid it to dry in the sun.  It turned out quite lovely. It was only a very small portion, though, and not enough to do much of anything with.

I decided to do it a little bit differently this time. I started by picking out most of the yucky stuff, (you know, poo and grass bits). And then soaked it gently in a rubbermaid of cool water a few times to remove as much dirt and grime as I could. It was amazing. And gross. But a cool process, none the less. The thought crossed my mind the whole time, "What if I felt it by accident?!" The thing is, though, that sheep live outside. They get rained on. They get caught up in fog. Their coats don't felt then. As long as I treated it gently it would be fine. And it was! 

After I had rinsed it a few times, I filled my washer with hot water and a generous amount of Free and Clear detergent. I turned the washer off, gently put my wool in, and let it sit for an hour. Play with your baby.
Maybe sew a few things.
 Do NOT agitate. Can you believe, this was after I had previously rinsed it several times? Let it sit for just a smidge longer.

 Play with your baby some more. Sew some more. Entertain your Preschooler a bit.

Once the wool has sat in the hot water and turned it a muddy color, turn the washer to the Spin cycle and let it drain. No rinsing, just spin/drain. The result will be some fluff flattened to the sides of your washer, but cleaned and ready to be dried. I lay mine out on my picnic table and let it dry in the sun. Not only did the sun dry it, but also had a similar effect on the wool as it does on cloth diapers. It bleached some of the yellow out of it. It was magical.

 I carded a little bit. Now I have to practice with a Drop Spindle. This could take me a while to get the hang of...

 Are there any tips or tricks to using a drop spindle, or is it just a matter of practicing? So far, my yarn looks....lumpy.

P.S. Come check out the recipe I'm sharing over on Catholic Sistas!


Little Wise Ones

 This morning my 9 year old daughter and I were discussing something that I was struggling with. She paused over her cereal and told me, "Well, Mom, who cares about all the little details, anyway, when you have this big beautiful picture to look at?" Well then. There's something to it.
 Most often I'm looking at the big picture. It can be overwhelming. Everyone will naturally tell you to focus on one thing at a time, to tackle one small step at a time. But there's wisdom in what she said too. In the end, the whole big picture might not be "perfect", per say, but if the end result is this beautiful magical thing then what's there to complain about right? The little things do matter. I just spoke about that they other day. But the big picture is important, too.
 I keep being surprised by the little bits of wisdom that come out of my children's mouths. They surprise me with their insights. Sometimes I think I underestimate how much they see and hear until they sit down with me and start talking and asking questions. Note to self to take time and just sit with them each separately, and listen to what they have to say. What insights can they give me today? What little bits of wisdom?
 Always rushing. Always something that my hands need to tend to. My mind is always making lists, checking things off, pushing hard to go Go GO. What do they see that I'm missing? I'm curious to know.
 I've made a point of taking them with me, individually, so that I can hear what they have to say and share about myself with them as well. The two middle kids love those mommy and me dates. My big guy, he's coming around. Those teenage years are fast approaching for him and he's fighting being "a kid", but I can see the internal struggle in his eyes and that he wants to be heard. Doing my best.

All the little things, all the listening makes the bigger picture come together. The little things, when I just look at each one individually, look like one of a one thousand piece puzzle. It's not coherent. But all together, they do make something beautiful, just like my big girl pointed out.

Each piece of our puzzle brings something more to the big picture. Doing the small things as best I can so that we can focus on seeing the big beautiful master piece. 


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