McKays Used Books to the rescue!

My oldest, Anna Claire, had two of her Harry Potter box set stolen out of her cubby at school. She loves reading HP more than anything right now. I was able to find both at McKays and use a credit I had from where I sold books a few months ago. I also grabbed a Barefoot Contessa cookbook for her. She’s my ten-year-old foodie and chef mini.

My youngest baby, Madeline, loves watching nursery rhyme videos on YouTube with her daddy. The Ugly Duckling and The Gingerbread Man. I found both at McKays plus a collection with Humpty Dumpty, another fave. I found a Barbie and Pinkalicious Collection too. And I remembered her saying she was sad that we can’t find Little Einstein’s on tv anymore so I was excited to find a dvd of one of her favorite episodes there too.

It is truly a treasure trove at McKays. My girls were over the moon. I love finding things to surprise and delight them and I’m overjoyed that books bring them so much happiness.

Live Life to the Fullest

My school was greatly impacted this week by the sudden loss of a well-loved teacher, Kenna Robards.

I have read many touching descriptions of Kenna by her students, close friends and co-workers.

Although I didn’t know her as well as some, her spirit continues to inspire me as the words “live life to the fullest” have echoed in my mind all week long – every time her name is mentioned or I come across one of the many pictures of her shared by those who loved her on social media.

Kenna did live life to the fullest. One friend shared that Kenna “did more in a day than most people do all week.” She showed up for her students in a big way, attending their basketball games, plays and more. She was always willing to step up and volunteer.

I know that as she watches over us, she would want us to live life BIG, just like she did. As I read the synonyms for the word “vibrant,” each one fit her to a T: enthusiastic, spirited, lively, full of life, energetic, sparkling, dynamic, passionate, determined.

Kenna was larger than life. To know her, was to love her. She would light up a room, and not just some days. She was a big personality and in the best possible way.

While I am almost old enough to be her mom, she always made me feel special, just like she did everyone. Her last words to me were that I was a great role model and she always told me I was a good mom. She did that for everyone: made them feel loved, supported, included, special.

Kenna helped me keep up with the times. She taught me how to Snapchat and I did my first Snapchat post with Kenna.

She was a treasure at my school and if I am heartbroken over this young person I adored, I can only imagine the impact this must be having on her family, close friends, her current students and teachers on her hall. My love especially extends to you all.

Soundwaves at Gaylord Opryland on a Budget

We had the best experience at Soundwaves. And it wasn’t just the water park. Everything about our stay was satisfying from customer service when we arrived, to our fancy schmancy hotel room to enjoying walking around the beautiful hotel grounds.

She was hoping there was a Starbucks!

When you book your package, you can request early arrival, which we did, and they will hold your bags and let you go ahead to the water park while they are preparing your room. They text you when your room is ready.

You will need to pay $32 for parking and it is only $8 more for valet.

We thought ahead and packed a pool bag with everything we would need and had our swimsuits on under our clothes. You won’t need beach towels; they provide them for you!

Once your room is ready, you can grab your bags, get your bearings and go back to Soundwaves if you want. We took everything to our room and checked out our digs, then spent another hour on the lazy river at Soundwaves.

Cuteness overload!

In addition to the lazy river and a traditional pool, Soundwaves offers something for everyone in the family, from a gentle toddler area, to a more daring kid area with climbing and an obstacle course, to surfing and super fast water slides.

We recommend locking up valuables in your room. Lockers cost $12 in the Soundwaves area.

As far as food, we didn’t go there, but it was nice that they had Decibels restaurant inside Soundwaves. It looked cool if you wanted to grab a bite without worrying about drying off and changing clothes. You could just eat in your swimwear.

They don’t allow you to bring outside food into Soundwaves. We did bring lots of snacks with us on the trip and made frequent visits to our room to consume them and save money.

If you are on a budget like we were, the pizza place located in the Delta was yummy and a good deal. It was $4 for a big slice, which was enough to fill me up. Pizzas are cooked in wood fired ovens and it was great because pizza is a favorite food of my picky eater who is five.

We did splurge on room service. Our girls begged for desserts from room service. My big girl devoured the tiramisu and my little one turned the creme brûlée over to me after trying one bite. It was amazing.

Booking your stay. You will need to book a hotel room or a party room to do Soundwaves. Check out all deals available. My daughter wanted family time instead of a party, and really wanted to stay at the hotel anyway. I didn’t look into the cost of booking a party room, but it is an option to consider.

When I booked there was a Soundwaves package, and when you go to the website for Soundwaves/Gaylord Opryland, you will most likely end up on Marriott Bonvoy website since that is who you will book through. I was able to find a teacher discount just by doing a google search, and if you live in Nashville/Davidson county they offer a special discount. Be sure to follow Gaylord Opryland on social media. They post offers and discounts there.

Another way we were able to get a better rate was by being flexible with the date we chose. Please do this. There can be a $200 or more variance in cost from one day to the next.

We went for my oldest daughter’s birthday and booked the for the end of our spring break. Her birthday is in June and we just went so that tells you we were extremely flexible. Waiting until June would be a) peak season, and b) have costed three times as much. When I pulled up their rates calendar where you can see prices for each day of the year, that date was the lowest, so we jumped at it. An example of the rate calendar is below.

Get approved for the Marriott Bonvoy credit card for $200 credited back. Be sure and read the fine print: we had to use our debit card initially for the deposit, then they transferred our balance to the Bonvoy card upon arrival at the hotel. We should see the $200 credit on our next statement or the following. I will keep you posted on that.

Here are some more pics from our stay!

Water = cold. Soundwaves is a warm 86 degrees!
Bring sunscreen. Both girls got a little sunburned.
They loved exploring the hotel as much as Soundwaves
Human dryer! So cool!

Sheerlume

Sheerlume (aka “Spanx for your face”) is back in stock!

Dark circles? Age spots? Fine lines? Redness? Acne scars?

Just the tiniest amount lightens, tightens and brightens your whole face. I was skeptical when I first bought it but it really has evened out my skin tone and using this along with Frankincense has turned back the clock. My skin is smoother and younger looking for sure. I get nervous when I’m close to running out!

Most skin brighteners have hydroquinone or mercury (warning: heavy metal poisoning)as their active ingredient. Hydroquinone has been referred to as one of the most harmful ingredients used in personal care products.

Sheerlume is free of these. Like all other Young Living products, you can trust it to be plant-based, formulated with a blend of botanicals and pure essential oils including Royal Hawaiian sandalwood, sacred frankincense, vetiver, geranium and jasmine.

I have been rationing the small amount left in my jar and so thankful it is back!

As a Young Living member, you get 24% off this gem and all future YL purchases, and it only costs $45 for a membership. What I love is that with the membership is you will get the YL favorite, Stress Away essential oil. Become a member here, and be sure in the drop down menu to select “Basic Kit.”

Simple Fun in Nashville with Kids

We didn’t really have a clear agenda for today, but thought it would be fun to spend the day in Nashville. I have found that our best family outings are spontaneous and flexible, not locked into a schedule.

I also like packing a picnic lunch for us to save money, and when it’s nice out, it’s fun to eat outside at one of the local parks. Today was perfect for that. Madeline has so much fun helping me pack a bag of goodies for each of us.

We decided to try going to the Frist Museum first. The girls love the children’s art area and we haven’t been in almost a year. When we arrived there were two Metro buses that had just dropped children off for a field trip, and the lot was full.

We decided to go to Cumberland Park by the river and have our lunch first, then go back to the museum after the field trip kiddos had cleared out and the hopefully there would be parking.

This was the best plan and worked out perfectly. I think we all felt recharged after spending time by the water, taking in beautiful views of the Nashville skyline, and soaking up some sun and vitamin D.

When we arrived back at Frist we had our choice of parking spots and there were just a handful of patrons at the museum.

All four of us enjoyed doing art, especially watercolor! The girls enjoyed doing art with colored pencils, doing prints and had fun with lights, fabric and markers. We are so grateful for this program that is free for children under 18 and $15 for an adult. (Money saving tip: when you pay for admission, ask the museum employee for the museum patron parking discount. We only paid $4 and would have paid $20!)

We let both girls pick out a souvenir at the gift shop. Anna Claire picked a set of crystals and Madeline picked out a kaleidoscope that we could barely get her to remove from her eyeball to see where she was going. 😂

We trusted Siri to direct us with the best way to get home which ended up being Rosa Parks Blvd. It took us right by one of our favorite places, the Nashville Farmer’s Market. So of course we had to stop in to browse and get some Jeni’s ice cream.

Such a great day. We love Spring Break – an excellent prelude to summer.

Coming Clean

Coming clean and sharing with the world that you are ready to make a major change for the better, should be a good thing, right? It should feel freeing, and alleviate guilt or shame you were feeling before the confession.

I had some well-meaning and respected others advise me to pull my recent post where I shared a real and raw truth that I was moving past in my own life. I did pull it – not because I wanted to – but out of respect for them. And it felt awful. It made me feel I had done something wrong. Even worse for a writer, it has made me feel censored and watched and under the microscope for any future posts.

Just as I was majorly second-guessing and beating myself up for my perhaps overly-honest piece, I was so inspired by an amazing sermon delivered by one of our pastors yesterday. I felt like it was just for me and so timely coming right off the heels of making a big confession in my own life.

One of the things he said was that we can either “acknowledge” what we’ve done “and find mercy, or we can hide.” Another friend encouraged me with these words, “When we keep the dark things hidden, it’s only then that they have power over us.”

Some said I was “brave” to share, and maybe so, but the intention was to release it so that I could finally be free of it, and hopefully give hope to others in a similar circumstance.

Bringing things to light, is not only ok, or just for certain crazy “brave” people who have “lost their ever-loving minds to share something so personal,” it’s also biblical. Something we should do.

Oils for warming the bodyguard

Oils for warmth. 🔥

Why has this never occurred to me before?

Both of my girls played early morning soccer games this morning with temps here in Northern Tennessee in the 40s and wind that will cut right through you.

I had an impulse this morning to look and see if there was such a thing as oils for warming the body. I checked a couple of my essential oil references.

They both named the same five oils! Black pepper, oregano, rosemary, marjoram and juniper. One reference mentioned cinnamon bark and thyme as well, but I have found them to be too hot when applied topically so I steered clear of them all together. I opted not to use oregano either for the same reason.

The oils listed make so much sense because they all help the get the blood pumping which is what keeps us warm. They are known as rubefacient oils which are defined as “substances for topical application that produces redness of the skin (if not diluted properly) by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation.

I mixed them up, diluting well at 4:1 (four drops carrier oil for each drop of EO.) I’m calling this my “warm roller.” I applied it to my extremities – hands and feet. It smells herb-y and earthy.

Edited to add: I was concerned about experiencing redness to the skin or skin sensitivity sense a few of these are considered hot oils but had no issues. I was not as cold as I expected to be during the games which could be the oils or could be because I was prepared and layered well.

If you are new to oils, beyond curious and ready to dive in, the Premium Starter Kit is where to start. It has the 12 oils you will use the most often (including peppermint, lemon, lavender, Thieves, Digize, Peace & Calming, Valor, Citrus Fresh, Panaway, Stress Away, Raven and frankincense) plus a diffuser. Grab yours here.

What’s in “fragrance”: Are we poisoning our homes?

Beware of cheaper oils, like the ones sold at Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond that lure you in with their low prices and large displays. These are not real essential oils.

Did you know that a company can slap a label on their bottle that says “essential oils” if at least 5% is pure essential oil? My question (and probably your question too) is what in the world is the other 95% of that bottle?

Many times it’s artificial fragrance. This is why sometimes cheaper oils may smell “stronger” than the real pure oil. Please beware.

Artificial fragrance is one of the most toxic and legal chemicals out there, even allowed to scent children’s cuddle toys and added to scented markers marketed to kids.

Did you know there are as many carcinogens in inhaling an artificially scented candle as inhaling sidestream smoke from one cigarette?

But why would the FDA allow such a thing to be legal and added to items marketed to children?

It’s sickening isn’t it?  There is something called “trade secret laws” that actually allows these companies (like those that make plug-ins, air fresheners and scentsys) to not only add harmful fragrance to their products, but also not be required to label what’s in this fragrance on their packaging, and FDA states that it’s in the name of protecting the companies recipes. They are able to simply call it “fragrance” on their label.

Well, what exactly is fragrance? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates ingredients in consumer products on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most harmful. Fragrance is ranked as 8 and defined by EWG as a “known human immune system toxicant and irritant” and a “known human respiratory system toxicant, irritant and allergen.” It also defines fragrance as an undisclosed mixture of scent chemicals associated with dermatitis, allergies, respiratory distress and poses potential risk to the reproductive system. You can read for yourself here.

My own daughters recently got some Squeezamals. They are plush covered squishies and when I ordered them I wasn’t aware that they were scented. But it was love at first site for my girls and these cute toys. So I made my best effort to remove their scent after reading numerous blog posts, by placing them in a plastic bag sealed with a box of baking soda overnight, then washing them with all natural Thieves cleaner and letting them air dry outside. It worked pretty well. Isn’t so disheartening to that companies are allowed to douse children’s toys in chemicals that are known toxins in the first place?

If you’d like to learn more about artificial fragrance and why you should ban it from your home check out Dr. Axe’s post here, or click on the image below for one of the most detailed explanations of fragrance that I’ve ever seen.

If you are new to oils, beyond curious and ready to dive in, the Premium Starter Kit is where to start. It has the 12 oils you will use the most often (including peppermint, lemon, lavender, Thieves, Digize, Peace & Calming, Valor, Citrus Fresh, Panaway, Stress Away, Raven and frankincense) plus a diffuser. Grab yours here.

Top 10 reasons essential oils “didn’t work” for you. We

Did you try essential oils only to find they just didn’t work for you? Check out these top ten reasons to find out if you fell into one of these categories:

1. You didn’t believe they would work in the first place.

Just like anything else in life, only the things you desire AND believe in come to fruition. Give them an honest chance.

2. You tried them, but didn’t use consistently or long enough to benefit from them.

If you just tried them here and there for something like anxiety or concentration or skin care, you really need to use them continuously day after day to see the benefit. Apply morning and night for the very best results.

3. You were one and done.

You tried them this one time, and didn’t see any difference so they must not work.

4. You just didn’t find the right oil yet.

Sleep is a good example to use here. There are so many oils and blends to try for sleep, and if you ask 10 different oilers their favorite for sleep, they may very well give you ten different answers. That’s because they hung in there and stuck with it until they found their magic unicorn oil. Most start with lavender, then cedarwood, then Roman Chamomile, then often some blend of those. The point here, is you may have to use trial and error before you find that perfect oil for you. It’s just like with skin care or a brand of makeup: you didn’t expect to necessarily love the first one you tried. You tried several until you found the one that worked for you. Oils are like that.

5. You bought them, but you never had the time to learn to use them.

They are still sitting on your shelf. Are they even still good anymore?

If you bought Young Living oils, they never expire because 100% pure oils don’t expire! So they are still good! If not, which most other brands aren’t, simply because they have been cut with carrier oil and pre-diluted. This is not bad, but it could mean they won’t last as long. Your bottle should have an expiration date somewhere on it.

6. You try oils as a last resort.

If you wait until you need to see a doctor and meds haven’t worked, a potent oil like Thieves blend or Frankincense would likely help, but you’ve let things get too far gone. Using oils at the earliest most subtle symptoms, or at the very first impulse that you or a loved one is not feeling well is really your best shot at seeing what oils can do. Oils can head off an illness at its onset if you use them in time, and they do this by supporting your body systems.

This would really depend on your scenario, but let’s say you tried peppermint for a headache. Peppermint works amazingly well for headaches if you catch the headache in its early stages. But honestly if you’ve waited until you have a full blown migraine your best bet is to take a nap and sleep it off. But it’s not really fair to write off oils as “they don’t work.”

Instead, you need to try oils as your first course of action. For example, my daughter’s migraines almost always rise out of anxiety. If she can catch herself getting stressed out and use her oils for calming at that point, she can forego a headache. Or when she does feel slight tension in her forehead, she has luck with peppermint if she catches it BEFORE it’s a full-blown migraine.

7. You think oils are/were a fad or a trend. Something extra that some people have.

Essential oils have actually been around for thousands of years and are even biblical. They are the essence of life-blood of a plant. They were used before synthetic drugs were an option to treat and support the body. If that word “synthetic” makes you cringe a little, it does me too. I don’t want to put anything foreign into my body or my children’s if I can help it.

8. You need to become healthy in other aspects of your life.

You can apply all of the tummy support oils, but if you are lactose or gluten intolerant but keep eating all the bread and dairy, you won’t see long term results. Be willing to make dietary changes that are necessary in addition to using oils and you will see massive results.

9. You aren’t using pure therapeutic grade oils.

Quality matters. Just like you wouldn’t want to skimp and buy a cheaper mattress, because you know your spine and back benefit from a higher quality, the same is true with your oils.

10. You think you can’t afford high quality oils.

This is so not the case! We are on a very tight budget in our household. I have a predicable income as a teacher, but my husband works from home and his income is unpredictable. Many months, my paycheck is all that is coming in. But the oils and natural products that I purchase each month have replaced what we once were spending on meds, doctor visits, toxic personal care products and harsh cleaners. It truly has balanced out! Also, by using oils proactively to keep well and stay well, we are getting sick less often, and when we do it is a milder case than what we see those around as experience.

All in all, pure therapeutic grade oils work when used proactively, consistently and with intentionality. They are not something you should consider as an extra or a “nice to have.” They should fall under the category of essential. Because they are.

You can find Young Living pure therapeutic grade oils here. I always like to recommend the premium starter kit which comes with the 12 oils your family with use most plus a high quality diffuser. If you need to know more, please don’t hesitate to send me a personal at averitta74@yahoo.com.

Satin Facial Scrub by Young Living

Let’s talk exfoliation.

It’s important to exfoliate the face because our skin is constantly regenerating new skin cells as the old ones shed. The outer layer is shed about every 30 days. As we age, the process of cell regeneration slows down. This means that the body is slower to shed skin cells and generate new.

When old skin cells start to pile up on the surface of the skin, it can leave skin looking dull, rough, and dry. Furthermore, the build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne.

A gentle exfoliation will help slough off those old skin cells and reveal brighter, younger skin. It’s important to use a gentle exfoliation that is not going to be harmful to your skin! Many products contain ingredients that are too harsh and are actually tearing the skin which you do not want!

Young Living Satin Mint Facial Scrub contains gentle ingredients that will not harm your skin’s pH balance. I love that it is formulated with 100% all-naturally derived and plant-based ingredients. It contains coconut oil, mango butter, apricot seed powder, raspberry fruit extract, and Peppermint essential oil to minimize the appearance of pores and invigorate dull skin.

I have been using it for going on a year now and I love it. I plan to use it once a week in the shower and use a pea size amount for my entire face. A little bit really does go a long way. It is nice and gentle, and feels cool and tingly afterward. My favorite thing about Satin Mint scrub is that it does not dry my skin out like other scrubs, most likely because the ingredients selected are all clean and natural. ※

My oldest who is nine started noticing the pores on her nose were more visible until using this amazing concoction once a week. Now her skin is back to its usual porcelain self. ❤️ I love feeling totally safe using on her because it’s all natural and she is still little.

This tube is $16.75 and mine has lasted over 6 months, and that is sharing it with my daughter.

Who is excited to try an awesome non-toxic facial scrub???

**The price listed in my post is the Young Living members price. Members get 24% off all oils and products. It is super easy to become a member. You can look into it here.