I have so many posts lined up in my brain that I actually had a little difficulty deciding which one to post tonight. I can’t remember the last time I had this problem, so woohoo! ::::dances a little blogging jig::::  I guess this is what happens when you go more than a month without writing anything at all.

It’s June, and summer is officially upon us. I know I’ve posted about essential oils several times here, and some of you find it interesting and others couldn’t care less. For those of you in the latter group, many apologies. But I think that for summer in particular, there are a few essential essential oils (see what I did there?) that everyone—and I really mean every household—should have on hand.

LAVENDER: My poor daughter got EATEN by mosquitoes on Friday afternoon. She came home from daycare with no fewer than 10 bites on her left arm, shoulder, neck, and face. Typically, mosquitoes are only a real nuisance in the evening hours so I don’t even bother to send bug spray to daycare, but this year they are terrible. It was the middle of the day! Nora seems to attract mosquitoes anyway (I tell her it’s because she is so sweet) and she has pretty significant reactions to the bites, too. The poor thing gets big red welts at the spot of every bite, and they itch her so bad that she can scratch them until they bleed. Thankfully, we discovered the power of Lavender essential oil last summer. When bug bites do occur, Lavender helps soothe the skin and relieve the itch.

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen at all times, but unfortunately, sunburns still happen on occasion. Lavender is good at helping to soothe all skin irritations, including sunburn (as well as any other burns you may get—campfire, sparklers, grill, etc.). Mix a few drops of Lavender with some aloe vera gel and apply to burned areas.

Bonus points for the fact that it smells good and is really calming to the mind and body!

TERRASHIELD: To prevent those pesky bug bites in the first place, this is our second summer using TerraShield, doTERRA’s Repellent/Outdoor Blend. You guessed it—it’s an insect repellent. This all-natural formula of citronella, cedarwood, and 11 other essential oils can be used on all members of the family. DEET (the active ingredient in many commercial repellents) is a pretty dangerous chemical, and cannot be used on young children. Last summer, I felt completely comfortable spraying my homemade spray (using TerraShield) all over both of my kids, including their heads and faces. I routinely used it on myself as well and it seemed effective every time. It’s also super affordable—at wholesale pricing (which I am happy to extend to you if you contact me), TerraShield is only $9.50 per bottle. You can make several bottles of the homemade bug spray (about 5-10 bottles depending on the ratio that’s effective for you) with just one bottle of the oil blend. Great deal, if you ask me.

PEPPERMINT: Whether sitting at the beach, mowing the lawn, watching a soccer game, or sweating your way through a family barbecue, have you ever wished for a quick and refreshing way to cool down? Peppermint essential oil can be used to make a cooling face and body spray to do just that. Peppermint oil naturally contains menthol, which provides a cooling sensation. Simply add a few drops of Peppermint to a spray bottle of distilled water. Store in the refrigerator when not in use. When needed, shake well and then mist the solution on your skin (make sure to close and/or completely avoid your eyes!).

LEMON: If you follow this blog regularly or follow me on Instagram, you likely know that I am a HUGE fan of Lemon essential oil. It can be used countless times in life. For summer, one useful tip is to use Lemon essential oil as a fruit and veggie wash. It’s best for fruits and veggies with skin (like grapes, apples, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, etc.). You can do the washing a few different ways—by soaking, or with a spray. There are also numerous recipes out there for it, utilizing distilled water, white or apple cider vinegar, salt, baking soda, etc. All “normal,” natural ingredients that are cheap and can be purchased in any grocery store.

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These are just a few of my favorites for summertime. If you happen to be interested in trying any of them for yourself, I’m placing my monthly order within the next few days. As a wholesale account member, I get 25% off of retail prices, and I am happy to extend that discount to you to try the essential oils I’ve come to love so much. Contact me at heatherdriveblog at yahoo dot com ASAP to get in on the order. HAPPY SUMMER!

 

Life is hectic.

Michael and I both work full time. We both CrossFit. Our kids are in daycare. Nora has speech therapy twice a week at home. I’ve been in physical therapy for my hamstring injury. We’ve had pre-kindergarten stuff going on, early intervention evaluations for Vivienne. We are gearing up for Nora’s dance recital so we’ve had photos, extra rehearsals, and more. I’ve traveled twice for work in the past two weeks—one was a quick overnight to Toronto, but the other was a Tuesday-Friday haul to San Francisco. And I’m turning right back around and heading to Seattle for another trip in a couple of weeks. Add in plans with family, friends, birthdays, graduations, and the regular hustle and bustle of this time of year to everyday responsibilities and life can be downright overwhelming.

But also really fun.

My state of mind is so much healthier and happier in these warm weather months that I can’t even complain about any of the above, except for maybe a teensy bit about the work travel. I don’t even really mind except for the fact that it’s just a lot of time away from home in a short period. Thankfully, it’s not the norm so I am looking forward to July when things should calm the heck down for a bit.

Anyway, menu planning has been hard for me lately. Ever since Nora was born, we’ve done a week’s worth of meal planning at a time so that we can (usually) limit the trips to the grocery store to just once a week. We make a big trip on Saturdays and then Michael might run to grab a couple of things on his lunch break on maybe Tuesday or Wednesday—perishable stuff that we’ve already gone through (like bananas, or berries these days!), or a random thing we may have forgotten. It’s a system that has worked really well for us the past ~5 years. But lately, the combination of a lot of stuff on my mind and our busy schedule (therefore necessitating a lot of quick, easy meals) has been rough. I HATE the meal planning task right now.

For a while, I’ve been meaning to formalize the system somehow. Currently, I sit down with a piece of paper on Friday night or early Saturday morning and start jotting down a list of running items we need. Then I turn it over and write down the days of the week, and start slotting meals into those days. I turn the paper over, front and back, figuring out meals on the back and then adding all of the ingredients for those meals onto the front. I use the recipe index on this blog to help me come up with ideas, and of course, we have favorites. We don’t try as many new recipes these days, but I’d like to get more into that habit again. And I want a more organized system.

I’ve taken to Pinterest to solve my problems. And I have gathered inspiration.

Most simply, I’m at the very least going to do something like this:

(Source: Coupon Closet)

It’s obviously just a menu board to help keep things clear for the week. I like these and have been meaning to make one for a while. However, this doesn’t really help with the menu planning aspect. It doesn’t help us come up with the different meals we want to make.

So, I’ve also come across systems like this:

(Source: Our Home Sweet Home)
(Source: Sarah Potter Photography)

So in these versions, you’ve got pre-printed or written cards with recipe names on them and then you just sift through them each week to pick your meals. That would definitely help matters when we’re drawing a blank about what to have, right?

And then I came across this one, which is like the mac daddy of menu planning boards:

(Source: RobbyGurl’s Creations)

This person menu plans FOR THE MONTH, y’all. First of all—I can’t even. Sometimes, I just have a hankering for Mexican. Or I eat like crap on a weekend and feel horrendous and need to eat relatively cleanly through the week to make myself feel better. How am I supposed to know weeks in advance if those things are going to hit? I guess this system would still be highly adaptable—no one is saying that you need to stick to it in stone. Which is maybe why I kind of love it, despite its flaws.

And it would be kind of interesting to see “a month at a glance,” although I would definitely need multiple magnets for some recipes because there are things that are in our rotation once every 2-3 weeks and I actually like it that way. I can’t imagine going a whole month and not eating the same thing twice!

Anyway, the Type-A organizational geek that lives inside of me is THRILLED by this last concept, or at least a version of it. Those cards hanging off of the bottom are THE RECIPES, you guys! No more checking my phone a zillion times to look at each ingredient and the instructions as I cook. But how practical is this, really? And how much time would it actually take to pull this all together? And how likely would I be to actually make new cards/magnets for new recipes we find? Hmm. I suppose my fear is that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with this.

So, in all my spare time, I’m trying to come up with a plan.

Does anyone have a system resembling any of these that you use successfully? Or that you’ve tried and has failed? Any other suggestions? Menu/meal ideas or recommendations for me to add to our rotation?

 

A couple of weeks ago, we made a special road trip to visit old friends and someone very special to me. The trip took us back to our college town—again! After just being there this past fall for the first time in YEARS.

You see, my favorite, most influential and awesome professor, mentor and friend, Ann—that’s a lot of words to describe her, huh? It’s still insufficient—has cancer. She was diagnosed in late 2013/early 2014, had chemo and radiation, and was in remission. We actually met up with her for drinks when we were back in town overnight in the fall, and she was great. She was in amazing spirits, as she always has been, and she looked fantastic. Life was good!

But a month or so ago, my good friend from college, Rich, got in touch with me to let me in on some really bad news. When we all grew up and graduated, Rich got a job on campus at our alma mater so he never left. He is my connection back to the good ol’ days, keeping me updated on the latest with the school and professors. Anyway, as you might guess—Ann’s cancer is back. And unfortunately, what started as a tumor in her thigh (she has soft tissue sarcoma, a very rare type of cancer) had spread to her lungs. Her condition is unfortunately considered terminal. She has been given approximately 20 months to live.

The news was and continues to be devastating. Truthfully, I am still processing it. Because she’s not someone that I see or talk to every day, or even every week, it’s kind of surreal. I don’t know that it has quite sunk in.

A few weeks back, one of our other college friends, Corrie, got wind that Ann had been asked to speak as part of the opening ceremonies at the college’s Relay for Life. Very quickly, Rich, Corrie and I pulled together and decided that we would show up there to surprise and support her. We made plans to stay overnight at Rich’s house, we had T-shirts made, we packed up our families (we have SIX GIRLS between us!) and off we went on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The drive takes us about two hours, and as we were getting close, Nora started to complain about her stomach hurting. It is unusual for her, but still, we didn’t think too much of it. We managed to get to Rich’s house without issue, and after a few whiny minutes once we got there, she perked right up and played with Rich’s girls. We never heard another peep out of her the rest of the afternoon and evening regarding her stomach, and in fact, we marveled at how quickly she warmed up and how well she hit it off with each of Rich’s and Corrie’s eldest daughters.

We attended the beginning of the Relay for Life and managed to adequately surprise Ann. It was a wonderful afternoon, which gave way to a great evening. Ann and one of our other former professors came back to Rich’s house afterward and we ordered pizza and had beer and reminisced like crazy. It was a GREAT day. Just really, really fun and happy… despite the circumstances which brought us together. It was good for the soul.

Things did take a pretty significant turn, however. Extremely minor relative to cancer, of course, but still… not the way we wanted to end our day together.

The evening got quieter once Corrie and her husband and their two girls left, then even quieter as we tucked in children and let them drift off to sleep. We relaxed with a couple beers and conversation, and things wound down even further. But around 10:30, I heard Nora suddenly calling me, panicked, over the monitor. I opened the door to the room in which we were staying and before I even turned on the light, Nora said, “I throwed up.”

Those aren’t words any parent ever wants to hear, right?

It was ALL.OVER.HER. Michael picked her up and whisked her to the bathroom to shower her, and I dragged her air mattress out of the room (Vivienne was still sleeping in there!) to strip it and clean it off.

Poor Nora. AND OH MY GOD, OUR POOR FRIENDS. It’s bad enough when your own kid is puking, but it’s even worse when someone else’s kid is puking… in YOUR house. God bless Rich and Katie, though, because they were amazing about it. We threw laundry in their washer, we borrowed a pair of extra pajamas for Nora, etc. Nora vomited several more times 20-30 minutes later, but thankfully in the toilet. We briefly considered packing up everything and heading home right then and there (it was around 11-11:30 p.m.) but because Vivienne was still sleeping peacefully, we decided to stick it out. Michael went into the room we were all supposed to stay in to sleep, and I stayed out in the living room with Nora on the air mattress, me on the couch. We wanted to be closer to the bathroom in case she needed to get sick again.

We all went to bed.

Even though we weren’t in the same room, we were close, and I could’ve sworn that at some point in the darkness of the middle of the night, I heard a distinct cough/choke—you parents know the sound—come from Vivienne and Michael’s room, but I was still mostly sleeping. I waited for the cry but it didn’t come, so I think I drifted back off.

Next thing I know, Michael is standing in the doorway with Vivienne, saying “Heather. Vivi threw up.”

BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE DID. I checked my phone. It was 3:30 a.m.

We stripped her down and threw her in the shower as Nora continued to sleep. She hated it, she cried. We worked as quickly as possible to avoid waking up the whole house. After she was out of the shower and clothed again, she was actually in pretty good spirits. Except she was very clearly not going to go back to sleep. Michael and I looked at each other and just said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

It took us some time to not only pack up our stuff, but CLEAN EVERYTHING. Of course, the ONE TIME we didn’t bring our own pack-n-play somewhere was the ONE TIME that our kid threw up all over it. We scrubbed everything, we threw more laundry in the washing machine, Michael loaded the car. We woke Nora and got her dressed so we weren’t stealing the borrowed pajamas.

Somehow, through all of this, Rich and Katie nor their children ever woke up. We left them a note. And $80. We owed Rich $30 for the T-shirts anyway and then we wanted to pitch in for the pizza. But as Michael was taking money out of his wallet, I looked at him and with half a laugh, I said, “Leave them everything we have.” Because seriously, there was not enough money to repay them for what we had just done to their house. And for the germs we had brought with us.

We were on the road at 4:30 a.m. for the two-hour drive back home.

WORST.SLEEPOVER.EVER. I would say that I’m sure we’ll never be invited back except that we have been already. Rich and Katie, they’re saints, I’m telling you.

We’ve been assured that no one from Rich’s nor Corrie’s families ever got the bug. And actually, Michael and I never got it, either. By some miracle. Despite the fact that Vivienne threw up ALL OVER ME on Sunday afternoon. That’s right—we somehow made it the whole drive without any puke (THANK GOODNESS) but Nora threw up again as soon as we walked in the door (she headed straight to the bathroom). We all went back to bed for a few hours, and Vivienne literally slept for like 6-7 hours even after we got home. When we finally got her up in the afternoon, she was asking to eat so we gave her a plain frozen waffle and some water. An hour or so later, I was wearing it when she uncontrollably vomited all over me as I snuggled her.

MY POOR KIDS. All in all, it took us a good 4-5 days to kick the bug, even though the vomiting portion only lasted about 36 hours.

During this whole debacle, it was horribly embarrassing and we felt super awful for having this all happen at our friends’ house. Obviously, it would’ve been way better for everyone involved if we had been at home. But I’ll tell you what—it’s a story that we’ll all be telling for years to come! We all laughed that we had all experienced our fair share of puke at college, but not like this! :)

Any other good child puke stories out there? Where’s the worst place your kid has thrown up? Commiserate with me, eh?

Editor’s Note: After publishing this, my mom pointed out that this is similar to—yet still very different from—another memorable parenting moment involving children and their bodily substances. If you haven’t yet read THIS STORY, you should. You’re welcome.

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG, PEOPLE! The weather has been gorgeous here the last two days and it looks like it will stay that way, at least through the weekend. I AM SO EXCITED. I JUST WANT TO KEEP WRITING IN ALL CAPITALS.

But I won’t because that’s annoying.

Anyway, we have been spending time outdoors in the evenings and I love it. Hard.

I still have plans to get another real post or two up this week, but tonight it’s already late and I’m tired. But I couldn’t go to bed without posting something quickly about essential oils since time is running out.

If anyone is interested in potentially buying an essential oils starter kit from doTERRA, I have a couple of rebate offers available, but only through tomorrow (April 30th). The graphic is from yesterday, that’s why it says 3 days. But really there is only 1 day left!

If you purchase a Family Physician Kit ($150) through me, you’ll get a $30 instant rebate. If you purchase a Home Essentials Kit, you’ll get a $50 instant rebate. Each of these kits comes with the 10 oils pictured above. They are some of the most popular and versatile essential oils that can be used to makeover your medicine cabinet, clean your house without chemicals, and replace many other everyday products with natural alternatives. The Family Physician Kit comes with 5mL bottles plus a bonus 15mL Slim & Sassy; the Home Essentials Kit comes with 15mL bottles plus a diffuser! The sizes of the bottles plus the diffuser is what accounts for the price difference, but truthfully, both are great kits.

If you want to read up on some of the ways I use the oils in the kits, check out this post: Beginner Essential Oils. I wrote it last year when I was first dipping my toe into the water of essential oils. Since then, I’ve written many other posts, which you can check out by perusing posts in the “Essential Oils” category.

And I am happy to answer questions or help in any way I can. Ping me quickly if you want more details or would like to order something—heatherdriveblog@yahoo.com. I hope to be talking to you!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has sunshine in their skies. YAY SPRING!

 

Well, huh. I was doing so well at the beginning of the month with getting regular blog posts up, but then shit kind of hit the fan for a little while there. A few busy days led into a busy weekend which led into sickness, medical procedures, and then a trip to Virginia to see my dad. So here are some tidbits from the last two weeks:

* My kids both had the stomach flu. It hit them on the same day, which was both a blessing and a curse. I think this actually deserves its own blog post, so I’ll have to sit down and write that sometime this week. It was crazy, you guys. The circumstances surrounding it… oh my gosh. It’s something that I don’t think we will ever forget. But we are so very over sickness in our house for this year. We have been hit hard and often and I’m ready to be done with it, please.

* I had to have a D&C last Monday to remove an endometrial polyp (sometimes also called a uterine polyp). It was discovered back in early March by my gynecologist. I went for my regular exam and as part of that, she asked a lot of questions about my period. After I told her how heavy they have been, and that I have had a lot of breakthrough bleeding/spotting in between, she sent me for an ultrasound to check on things. I got a phone call a day later that they had found a 2 cm polyp, which is kind of big. They are benign growths 99% of the time, so I didn’t have much to worry about. The procedure to remove it was scheduled for April 20th so it was like a 6-week wait to get it taken care of. But I went in last week and it was an uneventful outpatient procedure, so I’m thankful for that. And then I got a call on Friday saying that the polyp was indeed benign. That’s a relief.

* We are working on a mini garage makeover. Replacing the fire door that leads into the house, patching big holes in the wall, painting the walls (seems crazy to really care what the garage walls look like, but ours are very dirty and beat up!), getting some new storage. It’s slow-going since the garage is not exactly a high priority item, plus the weather has been bipolar so it’s hard to get the motivation to go spend a few hours in the garage when temps are only in the 40s. Add in the sickness, D&C, and travel and there hasn’t been much time, either!

* I have been SHOPPING. Clothes shopping. I don’t like shopping for clothes (for me, anyway, I could shop for the girls all day long), really, so it’s quite a chore for me. But my wardrobe needs a major makeover so I have been working on it. I’ve been to the mall twice in the last two weeks which is CRAZY TALK for me. Haha! I usually avoid the mall at all costs. I’ve found some good stuff, though. Now I just need the weather to warm up enough to wear it! And I probably need to make another trip or two. *sigh* I wish I had a stylist! Shopping is hard.

* Thanks for all of your comments on my summer vacation planning post. We looked into several areas but I think we have it narrowed down to Michigan. And then we have narrowed it down to a couple of areas/rentals we found in Michigan, and we just need to make a decision and go with it. Hopefully we’ll be booking something this week.

* Essential oils. I’m still using them and loving them. My friends and I did a webinar/Facebook event last month about cleaning with essential oils. I never had the chance to post about it here in advance of the webinar, but if you’re interested — let me know and I can get you a link to the recorded broadcast. ‘Tis the season for spring cleaning, after all! I need to do another post about how I’ve been using them because I’ve discovered new favorite uses as well. And so many wonderful diffuser combinations, too.

* Vivienne is a beast right now. So much whining, crying, many temper tantrums. I think we have officially entered “the age of many challenges,” a.k.a. the terrible twos. I remember with Nora that 18 months to 2.5 years was definitely the hardest. They have a greater desire to assert their own independence, yet they aren’t actually big enough/skilled enough to do much on their own, AND they don’t communicate well. Recipe for disaster stress, if you ask me. She’s also SUPER cute and funny, which are God-given traits to toddlers so that us parents will keep them around for the long haul.

* Huge amounts of sadness and anger over last week’s Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, I still watch. I’ve watched from the very first episode 10+ years ago, and I just can’t quit. I won’t say anything more in the body of this post as I don’t want people to get pissed off at me for spoilers or anything, but I’m not guaranteeing the comments so if you don’t wanna know, BE CAREFUL IN THE COMMENTS. That’s all. But *sob* and booooooooooooo. OK, now I’m really done.

* In matters of REAL LIFE (versus Shondaland), the coverage of the earthquake in Nepal has been sobering. Many thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. The Mount Everest piece has been especially of interest to me only because one of my former bosses was a mountain climber. He has actually been atop the seven summits—the highest peaks on all seven continents. When I was still working for him, he did a lunchtime presentation one day about his climbing adventures and Everest was a huge part of that story. He also wrote a book, which I’ve read, so I know at least a little bit more than a lot of people do about climbing Everest. So when they talk about people being stuck at Camp 4, or the increased treachery of the ice fall, I can remember all of that and understand what it means. The dangers are numerous. Such a sad situation for everyone and I hope the people who survived—both on Everest and elsewhere—are able to get the help they need.

* Nora brought home an invitation she made for a Mother’s Day luncheon at her preschool. It’s so cute and thoughtful (of the teachers) that I almost cried. Plus, seeing my little girl’s handiwork and handwriting is always heartbreakingly adorable. I can’t wait to go and spend that special time with her.

Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough for tonight. More to come. I’m not giving up on the ol’ blog just yet. :)