Clean Hands and Warm Feet: Fox in Socks Soapery!

When you haven’t posted on your blog since Christmas, you feel like a massive failure. But sometimes someone special comes along and shows you some love. This doesn’t always happen, but I sure feel lucky it did this time! Katie, from Fox In Socks Soapery sent me a message asking me to review a sampling of her products: Beautiful soaps made with raw milk and honey along with cute, colorful, crochet slippers!

I couldn’t be more excited about trying her soap, because soap you see, happens to be one product I DO NOT DIY. Oh, and I don’t crochet either, he he.

But I do love me some Dayton-made, all-natural goodies!

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Katie’s package came with much anticipation and it did not disappoint. The slippers were the cutest and were quickly confiscated by my 3 girls even though they were several sizes too big on them. I’ve since stolen them back and had the chance to enjoy them myself.  Even though it’s summer my feet are always cold in the air conditioning and the holes provided by the crocheted yarn make a nice breathable alternative to heavy slippers! Check out Katie’s Etsy shop and see all of her cute slipper designs. I think these would make the most adorable gifts. A handmade gift is ALWAYS a big hit even if you didn’t make it yourself!

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As if a new pair of house socks didn’t make me happy enough, soap in a sock just about made my day! First of all, I had never seen this before. Soap wrapped in felted wool? Who knew?! No more annoying wash clothes or slippery-sliding bars to mess with. This felted soap exfoliates your skin, lasts longer, and wool happens to be naturally antimicrobial! Plus I LOVE that all of Fox in Socks ingredients are organic and fair trade, and their raw milk and honey are Ohio-proud from fantastic local farms. The wool also shrinks along with the soap, and you are left with a nice little wool scrubby that you can use!

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I’m thrilled to start purchasing more of Katie’s handmade items, but I am even more thrilled to introduce her products to our lucky group of delivery members over at City Seed Delivery! More about City Seed coming soon!

Do yourself a favor and ditch the store-bought soaps made with who-knows-what. And if you live in Dayton, do your city a favor and shop local!

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Special thanks to Fox In Socks Soapery for the soap and slippers! In exchange for the kind gift I am sharing my experience. As always, all opinions are my own. 

 

 

 

DIY Essential Oil Christmas Gifts

What is the first thing you think of when you think about Christmas? Gift-giving is a top contender for me, and while giving is good, it ends up becoming the reason for the season! My prayer is that this year I focus on my relationships and share Christ’s love with the ones I love. Saying this is one thing, but when it’s crunch-time I need to remember to slow-down and remember that gift-giving isn’t about myself, or the person receiving the gift, it’s about The Greatest Gift of all.

One way I’ve discovered to slow-down and give with intention is through making homemade gifts. I’m not much of a crafter, sewer, or baker, but you all know my love for essential oils! Handmade gifts give me the opportunity to think through what a person might need or want and customize it to their liking. Handmade gifts also allow me time to pray for the person I’m making it for during the process in hopes that they be blessed!

Another great way to focus on relationships during the Christmas season is by gathering. Don’t just gather to give– gather to make!

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to gather with friends for a Make & Take. Together we made Sugar Scrub, Lip Balm, Christmas Spirit Room Spray, and peppermint-chocolate dipped goodies! It was sort of a whirlwind for me as I was the one coordinating everything, but I pray it was a blessing to those who attended and that they were able to gain some inspiration as well as check a few people off their Christmas list!


DIY Air Freshner

WARNING! Please use a table cloth when working on delicate surfaces. We had a small casualty on this table where something ate away at the finish and I will feel awful about it FOREVER!!

Young Living Essential Oils

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Below are the recipes we used as well as some labels I made. You are welcome to download the labels and use them to your liking. The labels also list the ingredients so they serve as recipe cards as well!

DIY SUGAR SCRUB

Sugar Scrub

Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir thoroughly. Store in a sealed container for up to 2 months. To use, apply scrub to wet skin. Massage the scrub into skin and then rinse with water. For additional moisturization apply foot cream and wear socks overnight. Also check out my Pumpkin Spice sugar scrub recipe

Homemade Sugar Scrub

 Chocolate Dipped Spoons

Peppermint-Chocolate Dipped Pretzels OR Spoons

Warm chocolate in a small crockpot or in microwave. Add one drop of peppermint for each bag of baking chips. Dip pretzels or spoons and add sprinkles. Allow to harden on wax paper. Place in refrigerator or freezer to speed up the process! Make bags of hot chocolate for two and attached the peppermint-chocolate dipped spoons (optional).  

DIY lip balm

Lip Balm

Recipe adapted from www.theseasonedmom.com

Melt coconut oil and beeswax in a pourable glass measuring cup in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Add a few shavings off a natural lipstick to melt in for color. Add essential oil and pour into empty lip balm tubes or pots. Add a printed label or some washi tape!

DIY Lip Balm

So this got crazy messy and it was all because I didn’t use this fancy tool right here! Do yourself a favor and use this bad boy! You will need a few of them because once the mixture starts to harden it needs to be discarded.

DIY Lip Balm

Non Toxic room spray

Room Spray

  • 6-8 oz Spray Bottle
  • 2 tsp. rubbing alcohol or witch hazel  
  • Fill the rest of the way with water
  • 1 pinch of Epsom Salt
  • 20-30 drops essential oil of choice

Fill spray bottle with distilled water leaving room in the bottle for 2 tsp of rubbing alcohol (the alcohol is necessary because it acts as a dispersant for the essential oils; the epsom salt also aids in the mixing of the oils and water). Add essential oils of choice. Shake before use.  

Ta-da! Fun homemade gifts for friends, teachers, neighbors– anyone! Merry Christmas!

Essential Oil Gifts

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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, please see my disclosure page. Thanks!

Fall Bucket List

A few months ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of her “Summer Bucket List.” Her list included things like, “Go to a splash pad. Eat a picnic dinner in the park. Make homemade ice cream.” While I’ve seen bucket lists used for “life goals” before, I’d never seen them used for a shorter span of time. What a fun idea!

One thing that I have been struggling with is how to make each moment count. Social media can make it very easy to compare my life with the lives of others, and when I’m looking through the highlights reel of someone else’s life, my world can feel pretty mundane. However, I have to remind myself that what I see on social media is just a glimpse into someone else’s life – not the big picture. I should be focusing more on making my own life as awesome as it can be without comparing it to others’!

Because of this revelation, I have been trying to do more fun, memory-making activities with my kids. Some of the things we have done have been big family excursions, but they don’t necessarily have to be. Since Harper’s birth, we’ve had to keep things low key. I’m always amazed when the memories my older kids seem to cherish the most are moments that I didn’t think twice about.

With all this in the back of my head, I decided to create a bucket list of my own for fall. Now that we’re nearing Thanksgiving I’ve been able to check off quite a few of these! While some of these are activities that require you to “go and do” (and thereby may have a cost attached) others are inexpensive, simple things that you can do at home (my favorite).

Fall Bucket List

1. Visit an apple orchard. This is one of my favorite fall activities to do. It is a yearly tradition for us to travel up to Michigan near family and visit Yates Cider Mill. I can smell the donuts and cider just thinking about it! Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we’ll be going this year, but I am looking forward to in the years to come!

2. Bake a pie. I am not much of a baker, but my perfect picture of fall includes pie. I think I’m going to give this rustic apple galettes recipe a try! I’ll be sure to share about the recipe if it turns out!

3. Pick your own pumpkins. For several years this has been a traditional fall activity for us (I love looking back on the pictures from our yearly visits and watch how my kids grow and change from year to year!). We love hauling our cart through the pumpkin fields in search of the perfect pumpkin, taking our pumpkins home, and decorating with them.

4. Carve pumpkins. Although Halloween has come and gone, this is still a timeless fall activity that cannot be forgotten. If you feel like jack-o-lanterns are too “October,” look online for ideas that are more Thanksgiving-related. If want your pumpkins to last longer, check out these “no carve” options.

5. Watch a football game. Whether you are enjoy watching a football game on a big screen TV or go out to support your local high school team, fall football games are a time-honored fall tradition. While football isn’t my favorite, who doesn’t love the tail-gating food?

6. Jump in the leaves.  My kids love to jump in the leaves when I’m raking!  Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of rain in my area lately, so the leaves aren’t very fluffy this year.  I’m hoping things will dry out a little before all the raking is done so my kids can enjoy this activity this year!

7. Bake pumpkin bread. I don’t know about you, but I love how the house smells when I’m baking something delicious. One of my favorite fall recipes is this pumpkin bread recipe. The best part about this recipe as that it doesn’t include sugar, yet it still tastes delicious!

8. Bonfire and s’mores. There’s nothing like a warm fire on a cold night. Add in a delicious sticky treat, and I can’t think of a better way to end the day!

fall bucket list

9. Make caramel apples.  My kids love caramel apples! There are multiple ways to make them (either melting premade caramels or making your own caramel from scratch), but no matter what they are delicious. We like to add toppings to the apples; crushed Oreo cookies, M&Ms, nuts, and drizzled chocolate are some of our favorites.

10. Visit a corn maze.  Corn mazes are a great activity especially for older kids. Nothing is more fun that making it into a competition – who can get to the end first!

11. Make pumpkin pie play dough. This would be a perfect recipe to use on a cold, rainy day when the kids are getting stir crazy. Say, Thanksgiving break?! If you prefer, you could also add in a few drops of your favorite essential oils in place of the spices.

12. Go on a hayride. Many pumpkin patches and apple orchards offer hayrides as part of the whole “farm experience.” These are great for little ones who might not be able to do the walking attached to other activities. Last year we went with our church community group and it turned out to be a wonderful time!

fall bucket list

13. Donate to a food bank. As Thanksgiving approaches, many churches and businesses host food drives for local homeless shelters and food banks. This is a great way to give back to the community and is very easy to do. Check online to see what churches or businesses in your area are collecting food this year (keep in mind that typically these food drives collect non-perishable items only).

14. Make a list of things you are thankful for.  In past years, my family has made a verbal list of things we are thankful for during the Thanksgiving season. However, I found this really creative idea to make a “Thanksgiving chain.” The kids can help fill in the things they are thankful for, put the chain together, and we can use it as décor for Thanksgiving. What a great way to reflect on the things that really matter!

15. Drink hot apple cider. Whether fresh made or bought by the gallon at the grocery store, there’s something so perfectly comforting about a warm cup of apple cider on a chilly day.

16. Try a new soup recipe. As I’ve said before, I’m a Pinterest lover! There are a billion soup recipes on Pinterest. Open your pantry, see what you already have and make some soup with it!

17. Read books about autumn. Our local public library has a great selection of books, and is a resource that we frequently utilize. If you feel intimidated about locating seasonal books with all of the options available, just ask one of your friendly librarians for help. Awhile back we had a blast making painted hand turkeys from a book we have in our library at home!

18. Make leaf prints. This is a great activity to do with younger kids! There are two ways to do this – one is a little more messy than the other. You can either put paper over a leaf and, using a crayon on its side, and make a leaf rubbing. Or, you can paint the leaves lightly with paint and press than down on paper. A few years ago we made leaf garland with some paper leaves that we decorated. I still have it, and hang it up every fall!

Fall bucket list

19. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.  As the weather gets cold, those without a home turn inwards, causing homeless outreach programs to become more stretched. By taking the time to volunteer with one of these programs, you not only help those who are running the program, but have the opportunity to provide hope into the life of someone who may desperately need it. Check online for opportunities in your community.

20. Host a chili cook-off.  Some friends of ours host a chili cook-off every year. This provides an opportunity to try out some great new recipes, as well as a chance to try something new ourselves. Not only that, but it allows us to get together with old friends and catch up on life. This is an event my family really looks forward to!

21. Go on a hike.  The trees are absolutely gorgeous this time of year!  Pops are red, orange, and yellow are everywhere you look. With the mild temperatures and great scenery, fall is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking not your thing? Take a walk along a local bike trail or around your neighborhood to enjoy the colors!

fall bucket list

22. Make homemade hot cocoa.  Last winter, I discovered crockpot hot cocoa. Not only is it super easy to make (as is almost everything in the crock pot!), but it is creamy and delicious. Add a few marshmallows on the top, a drop of peppermint essential oil, or a candy cane for a special twist.

23. Visit a farm with animals.  In the fall, many farms host special child-centered events featuring animals. Check online to see what is available in your area. Visiting animals is always a hit with the kids!

Cows on a Farm

24. Take family photosEvery fall, my clan has family pictures taken. Even though I’m pretty sure that I am the only person to enjoy this yearly tradition, all of us love looking back on the pictures we’ve had taken in the past. It’s such a fun way to document how our family has grown over the years, and the kids love seeing how much bigger they are from year to year. Plus it’s great to have a new picture for your Christmas cards every year!

25. Sort through your closet.  That doesn’t sound like very much fun, does it? However, fall in a great time to go through your old clothes and see what doesn’t fit or what you no longer wear.  These clothes can be donated to local ministries or homeless outreach programs. Last year, I discovered a the online consignment store, ThredUP and I actually made money cleaning out my closet!

Looking at all of these ideas, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed – especially since we are already well into November. However, just consider your family’s needs, available time, available resources, and pick out a few things that could still be attainable! Don’t miss an opportunity to make every moment count!

So what about you? What are some fall activities that are on your bucket list? Have you checked off any or all of my fall-inspired activities yet?

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This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, please see my disclosure page. Thanks!

50 Things You Didn’t Know About Prematurity

Yesterday was World Prematurity Day. I had this post almost ready to go, and one thing after another kept me from finishing! Such is life! Even though I missed posting on the 17th, prematurity awareness is still a relevant and important topic close to my heart! As I mentioned a few days ago, we are coming up on the 1-year anniversary of bringing home our 25-week micro-preemie, Harper Joy. While scanning articles to come up with this list, I was continually reminded of God’s grace in the life of our baby. There are so many complications that occur when a baby is born well before their due-date. And while I want this post to be largely informative, and encouraging, I simply cannot ignore the millions of babies who lose their life to premature birth every year.

My heart breaks for mother’s who have to experience the fear of going into labor too soon. My advice is to never live in fear of the worst while you are pregnant, but be vigilant in recognizing the signals your body is giving you. Although I was never put on bedrest, I felt tired. I knew something wasn’t right, and I should have rested. I don’t blame myself for delivering early (because that would be a waste of time). The reason for Harper’s prematurity is suspected to be caused by a placental abruption.

Long ago, I gave my children over to the Lord, to whom they belong and relinquished my control of their health and protection. This came as an important lesson after miscarrying my third baby at 12 weeks gestation. God created all my babies, and every baby there is and ever was, and He decides the span of their life and their purpose. Some babies are miscarried, some aborted, some abandoned, some sick, some healthy. They are all a gift. Choosing to see them as one, honors God and will bring tremendous blessing into your life. The blessing of children is not always joyful, but in fact often times hard and long-suffering, yet they remain blessings because…

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:1-8

This is by no means a comprehensive list on prematurity, but an overarching glance at some facts and figures surrounding premature birth. If you have been blessed with a preemie, no matter what the outcome, may you choose to view your experience as a gift and share your love and support with a NICU family that most certainly needs it now more than ever.

1. A micro-preemie is a baby born before 26 weeks gestation or weighs less than 1 pound.

2. A micro-preemie born at 2 pounds is approximately the same weight as a head of cauliflower.

3. A baby is considered premature if born before 37 weeks gestation.

4. Twins are considered premature if born before 36 weeks gestation.

5. According to the CDC, 1 out of 10 babies born will be premature.

prematurity awareness

6. The average state laws for abortion make it illegal to abort a baby after the age of 22 weeks gestation.

7. From 22 weeks gestation until about 32 weeks, the baby feels pain more intensely than at any other time in development.

8. November is “Prematurity Awareness Month”.

9. November 17th is “World Prematurity Day”.

10. Purple is the color of prematurity awareness.

11. Preemies go by their “adjusted age” which is typically their original due date.

12. Low (under 17) or high (over 35) maternal age, being of black race, and low maternal income/socioeconomic status are factors that contribute to preterm birth.

13. Infection, carrying multiples, and high blood pressure are medical conditions that can contribute to preterm birth.

14. A mother who has had a previous preterm birth is more likely to have a preterm baby on her following pregnancies.

15. Tobacco and alcohol use, substance abuse, late prenatal care, and stress are behavioral issues that can contribute to preterm birth.

16. Women who use assisted reproductive technology of some kind are at a higher risk of preterm birth, mainly because they are more likely to be pregnant with more than one baby at a time.

17. Mothers who are predicated to deliver early are given a steroid shot in order to speed up the development of their baby’s lungs.

18. Signs of preterm labor may include contractions, pelvic pressure (the feeling that the baby is “pushing down”), dull backache, period-like cramps, or abdominal cramps.

19. The part of the hospital designated for premature babies is called the NICU. Pronounced NIC-Q, it’s abbreviation stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

20. Hospitals provide a range of NICU levels, level 4 being the highest level of care.

21. The doctors that care for premature babies are called “Neonatologists.”

22. Premature babies are often expected to go home from the NICU at or around their original due date.

23. Breastmilk is vital in the growth and development of premature babies – so much so that they are given milk from a donor if their birth mother is unable to provide it.

24. Preemie babies are many times unable to coordinate sucking, breathing, and swallowing which causes choking; because of this, they are frequently fed through an IV or feeding tube.

25. Moms and dads of preemies and micro-preemies are often allowed to hold their babies on their chests. This is referred to as skin-to-skin or kangaroo care.

Skin-to-Skin

26. The bed given to a critical preemie is also called an “isolette.”

27. Premature babies lack the body fat necessary to maintain their body temperature, even when swaddled with blankets. So incubators or radiant warmers are used to keep them warm in the NICU.

28. Graduating to a crib is a big step for preemies, as it means they are able to regulate their body temperature. This is an important step in moving from the NICU to home.

29. Short-term complications for preemies can include (but are not limited to) breathing problems, heart problems, brain hemorrhages, temperature control problems, anemia, jaundice, hypoglycemia, and an underdeveloped immune system.

30. Common NICU procedures include X-rays, ultrasounds, blood and urine tests, procedures to measure fluids (i.e. urine output or amount of blood taken for testing), and blood transfusions.

31. Premature babies are at risk of oxygen desaturation or “D-Sat”, a condition where rate of oxygen in the blood drops. Crying, squirming, or apnea/uneven breathing can cause rapid oxygen desaturation.

32. Bradycarida or “Brady” (a slower than normal heartbeat) is common in premature babies.

33. Preemie babies are bathed in what is called a “swaddle bath”.

34. Phototherapy is commonly used with preemies, as it helps the baby deal with jaundice and elevated bilirubin levels (this is why you frequently see pictures of preemies under blue lights).

prematurity awareness35. Preemie babies have a tendency to extend their body into a stiff standing position because of their development in a bed rather than in fetal position in the womb.

36. Premature babies are too immature to feed directly from the breast or bottle until they’re 32 to 34 weeks gestational age. Breastmilk can be pumped by the mother and fed to the premature baby through a tube that goes from the baby’s nose or mouth into the stomach. 

NICU

37.15 million babies are born too soon every year.

38. Premature babies begin to have their eyes checked by a Pediatric Ophthalmologist soon after their birth to check for the development of retinopathy of prematurity (known as ROP), a condition that can lead to retinal detachment.

39. Amillia Taylor is considered the earliest baby born to survive, arriving at 21 weeks, 6 days gestation.

40. Famous preemies include: Stevie Wonder Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Winston Churchill, Mark Twain.

41. Famous mothers who have given birth to preemies include: Julia Roberts, Kim Kardashian, Anna Faris, and Faith Hill.

42. Women who have very closely spaced pregnancies (within 6 months of a previous live birth or pregnancy) are more likely to have preterm or low-birthweight babies.

43. Snoedel dolls are specially designed dolls, made to absorb a mother or father’s scent; these are then placed with the infants to help improve sleep, aid in bonding, and soothe the infant.

44. Long-term complications for preemies can include (but are not limited to) cerebral palsy, impaired cognitive skills/developmental delays, vision issues, hearing loss, dental issues, behavioral or psychological problems (including ADHD), asthma, chronic infections, and feeding problems.

45. Most premature babies catch up with their full-term counterparts within the first year or two.

46. Parents of preemies are forced to become advocates for their child very early on. It is vital that parents prepare themselves to properly care for their child – not only as soon as they are born, but into the future as well. Learning as much as possible about their child’s needs, reading and researching, can help parents better care for their preemie.

47. The March of Dimes is an organization that raises the awareness of premature babies. To learn more about their life-saving mission and work, check out: http://www.marchofdimes.org.

48. Thousands of premature babies lives were saved in the early 20th century by Dr. Martin Couney, a pioneer in the use of incubators who sought acceptance for the technology by showing it off on carnival midways alongside freak shows and fan dancers.

49. 1 in 10 babies is born prematurely.

50. My very own Harper Joy was born a micro-preemie at 25 weeks gestation, weighing just 2 lbs! She is now 16 months old and no longer suffers any of the above mentioned side effects other than being small for her age 🙂

Preemie 25 weeks

Follow me on Instagram to see Harper’s continued progress!

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