You guys, CHRISTMAS IS COMING. I have lists coming out of my ears. Some of them are not even written down, they’re just in my head, because seriously, who has time to even make the lists?!

MY LIFE IS CRAZY. I am loving all of it, but IT IS CRAZY.

This space is so neglected that I’ve almost wondered if it’s worth coming back to at this point. Does anyone care? Do I care? Will I EVER get back into the swing of regular posting? Is it better to post just a handful of times a month, or does that just look like a pathetic effort? These are the questions that circle around in my head lately. But honestly, I haven’t even had that much time to worry about it.

We got back from Florida. Thanksgiving happened. Then Christmas season came rushing in and I feel like I’ve had no time to even breathe.

Work.
Preschool.
CrossFit.
Holiday activities.
Dinners with family and friends.
Parties.
Cleaning.
Tons of online shopping.

Plus, I did two family photo shoots for friends before we went to Disney, so I spent a lot of my free time within the past several weeks editing those photos and getting that all squared away. Now, I feel like I’ve been spending every free moment buttoning up last-minute Christmas shopping because OH MY GOSH IT SNUCK UP ON ME. (And I know “snuck” is supposed to be “sneaked” but I can’t get behind that English. Sorry, grammar gods.)

So let’s catch up quickly on the highlights of the first half of December, shall we?

We went Christmas tree hunting on the day after Thanksgiving, per our tradition.

It was really freaking cold, but still pretty enjoyable. The kids were good and we found a pretty tree… even if it ended up being bigger (wider) than expected when we got it into the house. Oops. By now, it has grown on me and I don’t mind the fact that it’s taking up more space than I anticipated.

I love sitting here in the living room with it all lit up, diffusing my festive essential oils in the evenings. If I’m going to be up until 11:30 every night online shopping and stuff, at least I get to do it in a relaxing environment.

We got the tree into the house and the lights strung on it while the girls both napped. We woke up Nora after a good snooze (we almost always wake her up from any naps she takes, since if she sleeps too long, she’s up way too late), and let her help us with all of the ornaments. Vivienne eventually woke up and we brought her down to take a look. She was fascinated and did a lot of touching at first, but she is actually WAY better with the tree than I expected her to be. The novelty has worn off a bit, I guess, because she rarely fusses with it now. She’s generally into EVERYTHING these days so we were expecting the tree to be a source of great amusement for her, but nope. Thank goodness.

A couple of weekends ago, we had our monthly dinner with a group of our friends. Afterward, we went to a parade of lights in the nearby village. All of the local fire departments decorate the trucks with lights and the kids get a pretty big kick out of it. Nora enjoyed herself immensely, most because of the hot cocoa we brought with us for her to drink (girl LOVES her hot cocoa).

The next day, we sat down with Nora to work on an actual Christmas list for Santa, written by her. It turned out so cute. She’s getting so much better at writing her letters… even though I know most of you probably can’t read half of this (below). Haha! She kept telling me the things she wanted, and instead of spelling them all PAINSTAKINGLY out loud for her to write down, I wrote them down myself and let her copy it onto her own list. She was excited about the list, but not so excited about posing for my pictures.

Then it was off to brave the mall to see Santa. Nora was nervous about it before we even left the house but she was a pretty good trooper. Absolutely refused to even attempt to sit on his lap, and we didn’t push the issue at all. Vivienne handled the characters at Disney pretty well, so we thought maybe she’d be friendly with Santa, but…

…NO. I guess Santa is still too creepy for most toddlers! :) As soon as we got close to him and motioned like we were going to put her down on his lap, she FREAKED OUT and would not stop crying, even with Michael holding her. Oops. Poor kid. Just another year of scaring the crap out of our children for the sake of posterity, I suppose. Fingers crossed for next year.

Nora did enjoy putting her letter into the mailbox for Santa. I was a little sad she noticed the mailbox, as I kind of wanted to keep the letter as a keepsake, all cute with her little handwriting. But at least I did get pictures of it!

Afterward, we ventured over to Build-A-Bear for our first ever experience there. Nora got a gift card for her birthday in September and we almost never go to the mall (HATE!) so this was a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Of course, Nora LOVED it (what kid wouldn’t?) and wanted to spend approximately $1 million on accessories for her new Clarice reindeer (whom she renamed “Jingle” at the birth certificate station).

We managed to get out of there without paying for any extras except for a dress, so I think that was “winning” for us, at least at Build-A-Bear. Whoever came up with that concept is a FREAKING GENIUS. And very rich, I’m sure.

When we got home that day, we realized that Vivienne had a fever, and it turned out to be a pretty relentless one that wasn’t responding to meds. She acted pretty normal despite it on Sunday, but needless to say, when she woke up Monday morning and STILL had that pesky fever, she won herself a day home. By that point, she wasn’t eating anything and was acting a bit clingy and rundown. I enjoyed the extra snuggles immensely. While I was soaking it up, she was sitting quietly with me on the couch. Suddenly, she felt a bit heavier in my arms and I looked down to find she had completely passed out. SO SWEET.

I put her up in her crib and she proceeded to take a FOUR AND A HALF HOUR NAP, y’all. That’s pretty impressive, I think. I can’t remember Nora ever sleeping THAT long, even when sick. I thought there was no way she’d ever sleep at night, but sure enough, come 7:30, she was passed out again and slept all the way through until morning. We ended up sending her back to Mary’s after another morning lingering at home, and she was fine. No other symptoms ever surfaced besides that fever and the major decrease in appetite.

On Wednesday, we had a sizable snow storm. I think we amassed about 18 inches of snow over the course of 48 hours. It snowed non-stop all day Wednesday so I worked from home.

Then, Nora woke up on Thursday morning burning up with a 103-degree fever herself. *sigh* ANOTHER day at home that week, and we kept her home on Friday, too. She, too, never ended up with any other real symptoms, so it must’ve been the same bug. Our friend’s son (whom we were with for the parade of lights the weekend before) was diagnosed with the flu that same week, but I feel like it would’ve lasted more than two days if that’s what they had? I don’t know. But I swear, this (current) week has been amazing just because it has been NORMAL!

Anyway, that’s the last few weeks in a nutshell. We’ve got a lot more to squish in the next six days before Christmas. SIX DAYS. Eeeek! I am not even quite done shopping yet, and have not done a lick of wrapping. Somehow, I usually end up waiting until Christmas Eve and then it’s a huge wrapping marathon instead of the relaxing Christmas Eve by the fire that I always have pictured in my head.

If you celebrate Christmas, where are you at with the whole process? Completely finished (I kind of hate you)? Almost there? Tons left to do?

We are hosting dinner at our house on Christmas Day (as usual), so we have that to plan for, too. This homestretch is always kind of stressful, but I love it so much, too. Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

My 4 year old is afraid of everything right now. EVERYTHING.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this since our trip to Disney World. It was during our trip a few weeks ago when Nora’s fears really seemed to take hold and become more of a challenge… not just for her, but for all of us. That first day in Magic Kingdom, it became glaringly apparent to Michael and me that we overestimated what Nora would be willing to do. We thought she would ride more rides. See more shows. Visit more characters and see more attractions. But she took one look at Splash Mountain and proclaimed it “too scary,” and then the rest of our day kind of went downhill from there.

Amazingly, she rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with me after just qualifying for the height requirement. I told her it was a rollercoaster, and I watched carefully as other smaller children returned from their round, seemingly unscathed. I figured we’d give it a go. Nora HATED it. She started panicking as soon as we went into the dark and the loud CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK of the chains pulling the car up the hill began, and she proceeded to scream and sob throughout the rest of the ride, repeatedly telling me she didn’t like it and wanted to get off. I felt terrible. I promised I wouldn’t take her on anymore rides like that for the rest of the trip.

But the thing is, it didn’t end there. She refused to ride Peter Pan because she was sure she would see Captain Hook. She wouldn’t ride Ariel because she was terrified she’d see Ursula. For a while, I thought maybe it was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad that did her in. I thought that was my mistake, and what had caused this downward spiral. But then I think about how she was right out of the gate… the whole thing with Splash Mountain. She was scared from the get-go. I certainly don’t think Big Thunder Mountain Railroad HELPED matters, but I think we were going to be dealing with fears regardless.

Then there were characters. Nora loved the princesses and had no problems with them. Then, on our second morning in Disney World, we went to Tusker House in Animal Kingdom for breakfast. It’s a character meet-and-greet with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, Goofy. The first to our table was Donald, and Nora got up and interacted with him, posed for a photo by herself, had him sign her book. But then, at the very end, Donald “kissed” her and it was over. After that, she whined incessantly about how she was afraid of all of the other characters, didn’t want to meet them, didn’t want to take photos with them, etc. It was like a switch had been flipped and we were dealing with a different kid. It didn’t just last the rest of the breakfast, or the rest of the day, it lasted the rest of the trip. She acted the same exact way when we went to Chef Mickey’s for breakfast (another character meal) a couple of days later.

Michael and I really had to let go of a lot of expectations we had about Disney World to accommodate her fears. After a day or two of dealing with them, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on when to push her to overcome the fears (walking into Ariel’s Grotto for a meet and greet, for instance) and when to ease up and not push the issue. We forced ourselves to follow her lead more, and let her make the most of the trip for herself. Fighting her every step of the way wasn’t fun for any of us—which we learned with dramatic flair on Day 1—so Michael and I soon realized that we had to let her do Disney World her way. If she wanted to ride the same rides over and over again, fine. If she wanted to spend half an hour playing instruments in Africa at Animal Kingdom or Epcot, fine. It was in her joy that I found my joy, so it was better for all of us this way. (And that, my friends, is my first Disney takeaway, for all of you planning future trips. If you have expectations? LET IT GO, just like Elsa says.)

Anyway, we’ve been back home about 10 days now and things have not changed. Nora is still afraid of everything now that we’re at home. Movies that she’s seen before. The dark that she’s slept in all of her life. Santa Claus and his reindeer. She complains of her tummy hurting every night at bedtime.

All of these things are not entirely new. She’s always been a “cautious” kid. An observer. Shy. We’ve dealt with the movie thing before—sometimes she’ll love something for a while (take Finding Nemo, for instance) but then suddenly label it “too scary.” She has always been wary of Cinderella because of the mean cat, the mean stepmother and stepsisters, etc. She has never really liked Lion King because of Scar and the hyenas. But for a really recent example, let’s talk about The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Not the creepy Jim Carrey version, but the classic cartoon. Nora watched this with me on a whim last Christmas season when it happened to be on one afternoon when I brought her downstairs from her nap. At the time, I was surprised at how much she was into it. Afterward, she talked about it a lot, about how the Grinch is mean and takes everyone’s presents, but how he is nice in the end. And, because she has a memory of an elephant, Nora started talking about the Grinch again several weeks ago. She started talking about the movie, but also the book—which she remembered we had in our collection, when I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WE HAD IT. We read the book a few times in November (not following my rule to respect the turkey!), and she was excited to watch the movie, which we said we’d do in a few weeks. Well, last night at dinner, I mentioned how the Grinch was going to be on TV this week and how we would record it and OH MY GOD, wouldn’t you know it? Now the movie is too scary. She went on and on and ON about how it’s too scary and blah blah blah, even after I was like OKAY NEVERMIND I DON’T EVEN CARE IF YOU DON’T WATCH IT.

The bedtime thing is kind of frustrating, but again, we’ve gone through stages of this. Perhaps not quite to this extreme—she’s REALLY insistent on the hall light being left on right now, and does a lot of whining right before I leave the room—but we’ve dealt with it in one way or another in the past. Several months ago, she suddenly decided she couldn’t sleep with the door closed anymore, so we now leave it open a crack. Now she says she can’t deal with the dark, so we leave the hall light on until she falls asleep. These all seem like fairly reasonable requests for a four year old—I remember wanting the door open and the hall light on, even as an older child—so I don’t argue it much. But when lumped in with everything else… it’s been tougher to deal with than before.

I feel like this has to be developmentally normal. I’ve done a bit of Googling, and it seems that way. I’ve definitely noticed lately a difference in her imagination, and it makes sense to me that a more sophisticated imagination could result in a spike in the number of fears. But my biggest issue right now is that I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure how to handle all of this. Do we ignore it and stick with the “and this too shall pass” parenting philosophy? Or are there specific things we should be doing to help her along and make sure we’re not scarring her for life? And then there is part of me that wonders, of course, if maybe this ISN’T entirely normal. Does she have anxiety?

This is one of those times when I REALLY wish that children came with a handbook.

With this new level of fear has also come a whole new level of attitude. The amount of sass emanating from this child lately has been a little unbelievable at times. So maybe we’re just dealing with “4″ as a whole right now? I’ve heard repeatedly how challenging an age this can be, and maybe she’s starting to show us why.

I’ve been consciously stepping up my game with the positive reinforcement. Overall, I still maintain that she is a really good kid that just has her MOMENTS. I’ve been telling her how proud I am when she’s behaved well, or when she’s brave. I tell her a lot about how much I love her, and how I think she’s such a good big sister, etc. She is still the sweetest, funniest, loveliest little girl I’ve ever known, and I seriously couldn’t love her more. But she’s also making me want to pull out my own hair. (But not really, since it’s all just starting to fill in again after the post-partum hair loss catastrophe of 2013.)

Has anyone else been through this—or currently going through this—with a preschooler? What worked? What didn’t? Are any of you out there early childhood teachers or child development specialists that can shed any light on any of this for us?

I’ve actually been thinking about putting in a call to our pediatrician because she LOVES dealing with the behavior challenges. (Note to self: CALL HER. I’d love to hear what she has to say.)

 

I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to hear me say that it’s important to me to document my children’s lives. I think any parent would say that, really. But with all of the photos I manage to take—way more than I have of myself as a child, given the film vs. digital lifestyle differences—I still often feel like it’s not enough. I especially feel this way about video; I never feel like I take enough video.

I know that I can’t have millions of hours of video stored of my children’s lives. I mean, really, even if I did, what would we DO with it all? And what would we be doing in it? The majority of our lives, we’re living our routine. Doing our thing. It’s impossible to record it all.

But it’s sad to think about all of the little details that will some day be forgotten. I came across a video recently of Nora as a 2 year old. Her little voice was so precious, and in this particular clip, we were in her playroom, playing with her Little People Disney Princess castle. She was rummaging through the princesses and then got up suddenly, bringing me something and setting it down next to me. I panned down with the camera to see the Beast. Until I saw that video, I had forgotten that she used to hate the Beast! She never wanted anything to do with him, didn’t want him in the castle, always wanted him out of the way. She would always bring him to us and we’d put him “away.” She wouldn’t freak out about it or anything—just calmly removed him from the scene, saying she didn’t like him—so whenever we were cleaning up, we used to put him back in the castle, just to mess with her. Because it was so cute how she never failed to notice him, and never failed to make sure he was nowhere near her playing.

Anyway, all this to express how important video is to me. I definitely do not take enough of it, and every once in a while, I take note of this and vow to do better. I’m giving it another shot again! And I found an app that helps in the fight a little, which I want to share with you.

I’ve seen a couple of sponsored posts promoting this app, and I am being 100% honest when I say that this is not one of them. I am not associated in any way, shape, or form with this app or its developers. I just really want to share something that I love with all of you.

It’s called the One Day app. I downloaded it earlier this week to my iPhone and last night, I made this video with Nora:

The app provides you with the questions, and makes it easy for you to record the answers, step by step. Then, once you’re done, it constructs the cute little video with titles and transitions and background music. How cute is that?

I love the “interview style” and simplicity of the whole thing. Through asking her the questions, I get a glimpse into her little mind and the funny little things she says. And it’s all captured in video—along with her adorable little voice and mannerisms—for me to look back on for years to come. Love, love, love. I think we’ll be conducting quite a few of these videos in the coming weeks and months. I hope One Day continues to add new interview prompts along the way!

And with that… Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy your pie. And turkey… cooked in a pan, then flipped over. ;)

 

WE ARE BACK! We did Disney with a 4 year old and 1 year old and lived to tell the tale.

The trip was both everything we imagined it would be, and nothing like we imagined at all. Yeah, I realize that doesn’t make much sense, but more on that to come. I’m definitely planning on putting together a few Disney posts, but I don’t want to do my usual “On Monday, we did X, and on Tuesday, we did Y…” vacation recap. Because honestly, we spent six days at the parks. We rode rides (a few of them). We met characters (some of them). We ate… a lot. There aren’t a lot of specific things to recap without boring the crap out of everyone. So I’m trying to figure out a few different topics on which to focus—things that are both helpful for others planning future trips AND do their part to recap our experiences a bit. And include pictures. There have to be a lot of pictures. If you have any ideas, let me know!

While I’m mulling that over, I did want to post quickly about essential oils. It’s been a little while since I’ve done a full-fledged essential oils post, and that’s OK—I don’t want to flood my blog with essential oils content (and I’m sure a lot of you don’t, either), even though they are definitely playing a pretty significant role in my life currently! But there are some promos and specials going on this week that I wanted to tell you all about, in case there is anyone out there who has been on the fence for a while, or is interested in dabbling a bit.

Before I talk about that, though, I need to share an essential oils success story from last week. As I mentioned before we left for vacation, I was in Denver for work for a few days. When I got home that Friday, that night, I had one of the worst sore throats ever. I could barely swallow, and I was sure I must have had strep throat. I was even texting my brother (who works at an urgent care) asking him about rapid strep tests, thinking I might need to go in and get one on Saturday before we left for vacation early Sunday.

But that night, I mixed up an essential oils “Flu Bomb” in a roller bottle—a blend of OnGuard, Melaleuca, Oregano, Lemon, and Breathe—and began rubbing it on the bottoms of my feet every couple of hours. When I woke up on Saturday morning, the sore throat was better, but it had given way to congestion. I had a stuffy/runny nose all day. I continued with the Flu Bomb application every few hours throughout the day, and I kid you not—by Sunday morning, I was feeling drastically better for getting on that airplane to Disney! Given how awful I was feeling on Friday night, I was pretty amazed. Hooray for essential oils.

In addition, for those who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that Vivienne was feeling under the weather the first few days of our trip. I could tell she was running a fever (despite having no thermometer to confirm), and she was not acting like herself. She was more irritable, and wasn’t eating—VERY unusual for her, since she’s normally a piggy! I did give her infant ibuprofen to help with the fever, since we were on vacation and I wasn’t messing around. I was feeling pretty convinced she had an ear infection as the only time she’s ever really had a relentless fever like this was with an ear infection, plus she seemed to have an increased amount of drainage/waxy build-up going on.

We debated heavily about taking a shuttle from our resort to urgent care, but decided to give it a little bit of time. In the meantime, I applied Lavender and Melaleuca essential oils to her neck and head, right around her ear. She had definitely been feeling lousy on Sunday and Monday—even with ibuprofen to help the fever—but by Monday night she was improving (behavior wise) and by Tuesday morning, she didn’t have a fever anymore, and ate a breakfast of champions. Of course, since we didn’t end up going to the doctor, I don’t know for sure what she had, or what helped most (essential oils or just time), but she definitely seemed to turn a corner quickly, without any other problems the rest of the week.

OK, so enough about my essential oils love affair, right? Let’s talk special deals… :)

First, in celebration of Thanksgiving, doTERRA is offering special one-day deals every day this week. Today (Monday), anyone who buys a bottle of Breathe—the respiratory blend that can help with cough, colds, congestion and asthma—will receive a FREE bag of Breathe Respiratory Throat Drops. This particular offer is valid today only, so if you’re interested, act quickly and email me at heatherdriveblog at yahoo dot com, as I’ll be placing an order tonight! I’d be happy to extend my wholesale discount to you, which brings the cost of Breathe down to $20. The Breathe Respiratory Throat Drops retail for $19.33, and you’d get a bag of those for FREE! So $20 for both, great deal!

A new daily deal will be announced every morning, so stay tuned this week to my Instagram feed (heatherkj) or follow doTERRA International on Facebook to find out what the other deals will be. And email me at any time (again, heatherdriveblog at yahoo dot com) if you’re interested in any of it.

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Secondly, I’m offering a promotion through the end of the month for those who are interested in the doTERRA starter kits. Anyone who purchases a Family Physician Kit from me between now and November 30 will receive a free 15mL bottle of Wild Orange essential oil as a bonus, and anyone who purchases a Home Essentials Kit (also by November 30) will receive a free 15mL bottle of Holiday Joy, which is doTERRA’s delightful seasonal blend, available only in November and December! If you want to learn more about essential oils—specifically the ones that come in these two kits—watch our recent webinar, or of course, email me and I’m happy to provide information and chat with you about it all!

As always, if you’re interested in trying just a single oil or two, I can also help you with that. So don’t hesitate to email me about any of this stuff. Woohoo!

 

That’s the sound of another nine days, gone like a flash. I have the best intentions about making time for blogging but it just seems to happen less and less these days.

It’s been a busy few weeks, though. I just got back from Denver last night, having traveled there this week for work.

Temperatures were negative, zero, or in the single digits the entire time I was there, so couple that with my busy meeting schedule and I saw basically none of the city. Oh well, what can you do? And hey, at least there was a donut wall involved.

Now we’re gearing up for DISNEY! Oh my gosh, I still can’t even really believe we’re going. I’m sure I’ll be Instagramming the crap out of the trip so stay tuned over there (@heatherkj) if you’re interested in what we’re up to. I may not have much time for blogging these days, but I can usually find a few minutes to throw up some photos here and there. :)

By the time we get back, we’ll be crazy close to Thanksgiving. THAT.IS.NUTS. Especially since Christmas will be on its heels. I’ll be back with some kind of recap, though I’m certainly not going to promise when that’ll be. It’s time for me to go cram things into suitcases and figure out how to survive a 2.5-hour flight with a 15-month-old. Wish us luck!

Toodles!