Good Friday {for the kids}

We decided to make a playdough mountain on Good Friday this year as a way to draw messy-hands-on toddlers into the meaning of this weekend. It was such a success, and not too stressful so it's a tradition we will be keeping. I love it so much that I had to share with y'all!

Ingredients for the playdough

4 c. of flour
1.5 c. salt
1.5 c. water
1 Tbs. oil
mix and knead together
Other supplies you may need

empty can, washed and dried
craft stick (or some other way to symbolize Jesus).  
large baking pan
pipe cleaner (or sticks or something else) to make a cross


Steven did the playdough making this morning while I was out grocery shopping (love him) which made me adore this craft even more. I mean I really do love hands on stuff but with a 3 year old and a 2 year old things can go from good to cray cray in a matter of seconds.


Also, my kids do get dressed. Promise. But they are also on a pajama kick lately so even though they put real clothes on they change into their pajamas exactly 3 minutes later. Especially Harper. I've been trying to wash his Spiderman pajamas for over a week. Each time he acts like his life is over as he knows it. Last night I thought I had succeeded only to wake up to him on my bed....in the Spiderman pajamas...that he pulled out of the dirty clothes basket. Pick your battles right?

Shape the dough around the can leaving enough to make a large stone to cover the tomb. While the dough is soft, form a hole in the dough (for the cross that goes on top). Bake on 350 for about 2 hours. Once the tomb has cooled off, it's fun to paint it. We didn't really have "tomb colored" paint but whatevs. That doesn't take away from the story, ya know? Once the painting is done, place your cross in the hole on top.

Next, make a craft stick Jesus, or use something you already have to symbolize Jesus. Wrap him in fine linen aka Kleenex. Put Jesus in the tomb and cover the opening with your stone. When the kids check the tomb on Easter Sunday Jesus will be gone as he has already ascended into heaven!

We followed up the activity by reading the corresponding chapter in the Jesus Storybook Bible. I highly recommend this Bible for the littles in your life. It is inexpensive and the writing is brilliant. My kiddos are still young to completely comprehend some of it, but they soak in enough and can grow into it. I keep the Bible put away, so they don't destroy it with their toddler hands, and pull it out when we do Bible stories some mornings.

Because the grave is empty, this life feels incredibly full.  Of light.  Hope.  Forgiveness.  Grace.  And love.

Happy Easter!


Adrenal Fatigue {Kick it in the Teeth}

Feeling exhausted, fatigued, anxious, foggy and overall just blah? So was I a month and a half ago.
I knew I was so tired I could lay in bed all day, but maybe it was because I'm a mom of two toddlers?
I knew my body was rejecting healthy food, but maybe I just wasn't trying hard enough to eat better?
I knew I was carrying a heavy load of anxiety, so maybe I just needed to get back on prescription antidepressants and nerve medicine?
I knew my brain was in a fog all day, again maybe I was just depressed?
I finally decided to listen to the alarms my body was sounding, and went to see a doctor. A holistic doctor, because let's face it, every time I went to my family practitioner I was talked to for 10 minutes and then given a prescription for Xanax and Wellbutrin. For me, I knew I didn't want these medications. I knew my body wasn't healing.
I went in and got a full body system look over and the results were astounding. My body was toxic. I knew something was wrong, but for someone who eats pretty good, exercises moderately, uses essential oils and takes some supplements I was shocked at the results.
Diagnosis? Adrenal Fatigue.
"Adrenal fatigue results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or "gray" feelings. People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.
Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price."
For more information click HERE.
Did you know that most doctors don't even recognize Adrenal Fatigue as an illness? As someone who has experienced it full blown, that is just crazy! My diagnosis was about a month and a half ago, and instead of prescription medications, my holistic care provider put me on a wellness program. In just 5 weeks I have felt so much better!
Here are some snippets on what I have been doing to battle Adrenal Fatigue.
1. Eating a good breakfast. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, I am just not a breakfast person. When I wake up in the morning the thought of food makes me queasy. Before I would drink a couple mugs of coffee and wait till lunch time to eat. In doing this, my blood sugar levels would plummet resulting in my fatigue and moodiness. My body would try to play catch up all day, but it just couldn't. I'm still not a breakfast person, but I have came up with a system that works. I wake up, drink a glass of water, a cup of coffee and eat breakfast at 10 o'clock. This month I am trying something else as well. Young Living offers a great meal replacement called Balance Complete. I won't be replacing a meal, but I will be drinking this first thing in the morning to feed my adrenal glands and then follow with my 10 o'clock breakfast. What do my breakfasts look like?
Usually like this, although sometimes I admit, I give in to a bowl of Lucky Charms. My body does not like those days! Along with a good start in the morning I am also limiting gluten, eating more whole foods and doing my best at drinking 160 ounces of water a day.
2. Supplements. Before I was taking supplements I thought I needed, but after consulting with my health care provider, he told me exactly what I needed. Love that!
The entire family is taking probiotics (I sprinkle them on the kid's food or add them to their drinks), liquid vitamin B (everyone but Harper takes this directly in their mouth, for him I add it to his drink) and liquid cod liver oil (everyone takes this by mouth except for Harper too!). These three supplements I purchased from Vitacost. It's a great website that usually offers things at lower prices than specialty stores, gives reviews of the products and offers ingredient lists. The three Standard Process supplements can only be given out by health care providers, and are only taken by me. That is why it is so important to listen to your body! You may need more than what you think! Along with taking these supplements I am also trying to get more sleep. I say trying because I am such a night owl. Especially now that Steven and I have started watching The Walking Dead from season one on Netflix. :)
3. There's an oil for that!
EndoFlex is a blend that has a base of sesame seed oil, spearmint (Mentha spicata), sage (Salvia officinalis), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), myrtle (Myrtus communis), nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), and German chamomile (Matriciaria recutita). It works wonders on the endocrine system of your body which is the collection of glands that secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system. The major endocrine glands include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands. PERFECT! I apply four drops over my mid to lower back area (over the adrenal glands) in the mornings. I should note that my health care provider did not recommend essential oils as part of my treatment plan. I am trying them out on my own.
4. Regular adjustments from my chiropractor. I go in every two to three weeks to go over the progress I am making and get needed adjustments. This has done wonders for my anxiety! Everywhere I was carrying tension and worry feels brand new. I had never seen a chiropractor before this so I didn't know what to expect, but the results speak for themselves. Part of seeing a holistic doctor is also your spiritual wellbeing so I was also given some Bible versus to look over during the day to keep me grounded. The Psalms seem to be a good place for me. :)
Today I am feeling like myself again. My body isn't struggling and my mind is clear. The tough part about Adrenal Fatigue? It's a lifestyle change not a quick fix. There isn't a magic pill. I have to be mindful of taking care of myself everyday all day. But that's okay!
Because I'm kicking Adrenal Fatigue right in the teeth!


Memories Worth Keeping {March Edition}

I'm officially not a blogger anymore. Not sure what happened with all that, but my incessant need to write has taken a vacation for the better part of a year. I keep hoping it will decide to come home, sun-kissed and ready. Until then, I'll recap the month of March thus far. Mostly with photos that never made their way to Instagram, secondly with a few words.
Kinley, like her mama, insists on having flowers on her table in her room. Girl knows how to make a room feel fresh, that's for sure. After caving and giving in to her never ending pleas to allow her to have water in her vase (you know, so the flowers will live longer), we are now resorting to fake flowers. Sister wants to pour water all over her floor and proclaim that the wind did it? Mama puts a stop to all that bidness.
While Steven was out gallivanting around the United States, he sent me a text asking for a picture of my haircut (trim). I was knee deep in thrift store finds while the kids were at Grandma's house. I had to admit that yes, I was wearing a new shirt, and yes, I bought it from the boys department of Target for $10.00. Don't hate.
While driving to my mom's house last week, I snapped this picture at a stop sign. I was thinking about how different my drive is now that we are in Missouri. I used to drive straight through downtown Dallas to get to her house, and now we are both here.  Driving through one stop sign towns, down curvy empty highways. And I love it. Does anyone else snap random pictures just to document your own random thoughts and fuzzy feelings?
My little (big) man fell asleep on the way to his great grandparents house and didn't wake up until he got his full power nap on their couch. Between the roaring and Spiderman pretending that never happens. I stared for a good while.
When the weather is nice and warm, which is never (it snowed two days ago, what the what?!), I like to take the kids to Kellogg Lake. This particular day we found a huge crawdad shell. We took it with us and went by the library on the way home to check out books about crawdads. I felt totally home school-mom-ish. It's now lost in our backyard somewhere.
We went out to dinner for Steven's birthday and Kinley used her chopsticks like a boss.
Harper let Gigi fork feed him shrimp all night. He eats anything really. Unless it's soup. If he asks me what's for dinner and I say tomato soup, taco soup, chicken tortilla soup, chicken noodle soup or any other soup variety he cries and yells, " I no like soooouuup!"
Him and Spiderman are an unstoppable force, never leaving each other's side.
After spending many a afternoons on the potty scowling we finally went to Target and let Harper pick out his own potty. Now potty time looks more like this...
And he's actually used it.....twice. Just because he wanted an M&M. At this point with Kinley she was already fully potty trained and it literally took no effort. This Harper though. He's a character.
Looking forward to April I am anticipating, hopefully rightly so, warmer weather, gardening, river-ing and more blogging.
And no tornados. It's kinda my thing, tornados. Nothing instills in me the fear of Jesus like some sirens, y'all.
Oh, and I say Pop around my friends now. You know, instead of coke.
The end.


We Have a Winner!

Thank you all for entering and being so supportive of Family Essentials! I hope you will continue your interest in essential oils and that your family will be blessed by them as much as mine has.
P.S. Kinley thinks she made a movie and is now famous.

Monday Magic

You guys, it snowed more last night. I didn't know it was coming, and my heart wasn't prepared for our morning activities to be cancelled. I wasn't mentally prepared for another day at home, two more inches of snow or more temperatures in the teens.

I awoke this morning to the words, "Babe, it's pouring snow." My heart said, Ugh. Steven went on to work, being a pro at driving his 45 minutes to work in snowy conditions by now.

The kids ate their breakfast, oatmeal with vitamins and probiotics mixed in, and they plopped down in my bed to watch Mickey Mouse on the laptop. I made myself get in the shower and get dressed because, for the love of God, I AM NOT SPENDING ONE MORE DAY IN MY PAJAMAS!

Afterwards, I laid down between the princess and the prince and realized I had clicked on the wrong show and they had been watching a cartoon in complete Spanish for almost half an hour. You guys. They laid there like sacks of potatoes for 30 minutes glaring at a cartoon not understanding one single word of it. I felt like the worst mom of all the moms knowing my toddlers brains were complete mush and they would never succeed in life. I'm not dramatic at all.

Then the ding of my phone went off. One of my besties had sent me a picture of the weeks' forecast along with a smiley face. On Sunday it is supposed to be 60 degrees. HALLELUJER! My heart jumped a little. I looked across the room and saw a beautiful beam of sunlight, and declared the day won. I shut down the 'el cartoones' and got us all bundled up. I was sweating by the end of it all.

It was glorious outside. Snow covered everything, sunshine and a sled made out of a laundry basket and extension cord. We ran and played. We ate ice cycles. We filled the bird feeder. (we get the most amazing birds here during the winter) I actually giggled a few real giggles and enjoyed it all.

We came in and had an all out dance party in the living room. We played house and Harper declared he was the baby, I was Mary and sister was Joseph. I got a text from the man of the house saying he was feeling optimistic and knew God was working on him.

Be still my heart.

All of these tiny morning happenings make for a grateful mama and a happy spirit. I remember the importance of my role in this house and in this family. I set the mood. I decide the direction of the day. Today, I was able to step back and find gratitude. Praise God for redeemed mornings. For the ability to climb out of our ruts and live in the present. I needed the text and the sunshine to get me there, and He provided those things.

What do you need to get there today? Find encouragement and get moving!


5 Ways to a Better Day

There I was, taking pictures of my kids in the bath. From the hallway, through the door hinges. I wish I could say I was laughing and splashing with the children when all of a sudden I had a light bulb moment to snap the shot. But who am I kidding?
Truth is, it had been an awful no good day for me. I had held my children to unrealistic expectations from the time I rolled out of bed until the time I herded them to the bathtub. I had held the threat of a spanking over their precious little heads like a dictator, and even dished out one or two. Finally, in this moment, I had walked out to the hallway to try to keep from bursting into tears. I was watching the kids through the crack to make sure they were safe, but I just couldn't be 'mom' for one more minute.
Oh, if anyone of you could have heard my voice as I stomped around the house, how embarrassed I would've been. So why it's okay to let my children see it, I don't know. I hated every minute of it, but I was stuck in the rut.
(Bible study girlies, I was COMPLETELY unglued)
The husband got home, so naturally (since it was an awful no good day), I jumped in the car and headed for Sonic like my life depended on me getting there in the shortest amount of time possible. I scarfed down an order of Cheddar Peppers, smothered in Ranch, and washed them away with a Coke. I loved every bite. Even when the fake cheese substance squirted out in mouth and burned five layers of my tongue off, my insides yelled, "Give me more, you greasy Cheddar Peppers!"
The same thing would happen back in the day when I would be super stressed and finally have the opportunity to light up a tasty cigarette. Ah, instant release of crappy emotions.
But I digress.
Those kind of days don't happen too often, which I'm thankful for since I can't stand them. I don't like feeling out of control and ugly on the inside. I don't like dishing it out on my family.
In the past four years of being a stay at home mom I have found 5 simple ways that help me stay on top of my day. The aren't fool proof, cause I'm human, and suck at being perfect, but they help.
1. Get up!
I used to try to wake up before my children and have some alone time, but since they wake up around 5:45 I finally made peace with that not working for me. Then I decided I would just start sleeping till 7, letting the kids do whatever for an hour in the mornings before I got up. Which is fine except for the consistent poke of little fingers on my face, the yelling for cartoons and breakfast, and the crying about not sharing. Basically it turned into an hour of torture for me. Kind of like your alarm going off for an hour straight while you're half asleep and half awake. There is no way to wake up in a good mood after that.
So! My solution was to get up with my kids. As soon as one of them slips into my bed in the morning, I am up. (This still doesn't happen everyday) I resolve to make myself be a morning person, even though that is the furthest thing from the truth. It does allow me, however, to start the day off on the right foot. I'd rather be tired than angry. So if you can't beat'em join'em. Even if that means reading Bible stories and practicing number rhymes at 6:01am.
 2. Make Your Bed

For real. It takes two minutes, and it completely makes me feel better. My room is instantly clean, and it helps me feel organized and prepared. Our bedroom is off the dining room and has the only downstairs bathroom so it is traveled through frequently. Having it nice and tidy speaks happy words to me. Plus the kids are less likely to treat it like a trampoline when the decorative pillows are in their place.


3. Diffuse

Okay you guys this isn't a shameful essential oils plug. I'm serious. Diffusing and wearing my favorite essential oil is uplifting and stress reducing. Let's forget the whole medicinal side of the oils and just talk aromatherapy for a minute. Have you ever been walking around the mall or church or the dang skating rink for all I care, and smelled that smell? You know, the one that takes you back to your favorite childhood memory or that awful ex from college or what have you. That happens because smell is powerful. It triggers parts of our brains. What parts, I'm not sure dang-it. I don't know the science, but I know the evidence. My personal favorite is Joy. I need my new bottle to arrive, like yesterday. (Update: It arrived today! Eep!)


4. Speak Truth Over Your Day and Your Loved Ones
Going to the Lord in prayer and speaking Scripture to my heart is a major game changer. Although it is right and good to seek God when I'm watching my children through the crack in the door, it is more beneficial to seek Him before I start hiding out in the hallway, and before I have fake cheese oozing out of my mouth. Mediating on His promises all throughout the day sets my family up for success. Praying for my family softens my heart towards them. Honestly, some days I just don't take the time to speak to my Heavenly Father...and it shows. My favorite verse pertaining to enduring the race (motherhood, for me) and reaping what I sow (Godly children and a strong marriage) is found in Galatians.


5. Notice The Small Things
When I am drowning in selfishness and self pity the first good things to disappear in me are joy and contentment. Step back, take a deep breath and find gratitude. It's hard to do in the thick of things but we miss out on so much goodness. So much life. I don't want the good things to go unnoticed in a life full of blessings just because I can't get a grip on my negativity. After all, my family and I are on the same team. It's The Stealer of Joy that works against us.

Above all, above yourself, remember there is a much greater purpose. Strive to love your family as you love yourself. Strive to love God with all your heart.

Be the light.

Give yourself grace on the not good very bad days and start again tomorrow.
"...Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust - the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle in her home... Her spirit gives the home it's atmosphere. Her hands fashion it's beauty. Her heart makes it love. And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine - that no wife should consider any price too great to pay - to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of her home!" - JR Miller


Everyday Oils {Panaway}

Hey friends!

I'm back with the next oil in our series on everyday essential oils. If you haven't already, hop over to Facebook and like my new business page, Family Essentials! There I will be sharing about different oils, their uses, personal testimonies and about Young Living in general. I'm having so much fun growing in my knowledge of oils with y'all and am sitting back watching how God is blessing our family and so many others' as well. Please contact me if you have any questions at all!

We've already covered the thieves, peppermint, valor, purification, frankincense, stress away, joy, lavender and Lemon oils that come in the Young Living Premium Starter Kit, and there are two oils to go!  

Today let's talk about Panaway!

So what is Panaway you ask?
Panaway is an excellent blend of essential oils that was specifically designed for inflammation and pain. It brings additional oxygen into the site of the injured or damaged tissue which accelerates the healing process as well.
With 2 rambunctious toddlers in our house, it is a must have for a first aid kit. Wrestling matches are a sure way to get the use out of our panaway!

Here are a few of its everyday uses.
  • Apply to area of pain. It is an ideal choice for muscle and bone pain, sprains, arthritis, ligaments and any kind of injuries. 

    • Apply to jawline to help relieve toothache pain. 
    • A few weeks ago Steven pulled a muscle in his back. We layered panaway and peppermint and applied a heating pad to where the pain was coming from. It ended up feeling like an intense icy hot cream minus the chemicals. Not only did it relieve pain, but it sped up the healing process. 
    •  I seem to get hangnails all the time. Not a huge problem, but they hurt and are quite annoying. When I apply a drop of panaway the pain is numbed very quickly.

    • Apply to temples for headaches.
    • Apply to growing pains for children.



    These are just a few uses of Panaway!
    There are many more and you can find those in the Reference Guide for Essential Oils . In this book, you will find every ailment, alphabetically listed, along with the proper oil to use and how to use it.  It's a great tool to have if you are going to be using oils. 
    11 everyday oils come in the premium starter kit, along with a home diffuser for free.  The kit sells for $150, which is a great deal at about 50% savings!
    When you purchase the starter kit, you become a "distributor" but there is no requirement to sell.  No monthly or quarterly minimums to meet.  As a distributor, you can purchase at wholesale prices (24% off retail).  If you only ever use your distributor title just to get the wholesale prices, this is fine!
    You can e-mail me {egandy8@gmail.com} if you'd like to try a bottle out. I am happy to order it for you!
    Or, if you'd like to purchase a starter kit please follow these simple instructions:
    Go here:  Distributor Sign-up 

    Please make sure you've checked Young Living Independent Distributor (and not retail customer---you will not get wholesale prices as a customer)
    Enter my member #1564695 in the sponsor ID and enroller ID areas
    Fill out your info
    Select your kit (premium starter kit is the best value)
    You can say no to the Essential Rewards--in fact, I recommend this until you've tried the oils and know if you like them or not.
    At this point you can add more to your order if you'd like.
    All finished! 
     {Of course, I'm not a doctor, and these tips are not meant to diagnose or cure anything.  I'm just happily sharing what has been working for our family, in hopes that it will help with yours.  I also only recommend using Young Living oils, as they are the only company that controls their seed to seal process, keeping their oils chemical free.}


    Love and Basketball

    With almost 11 years together under our belt, it's easy for Steven and I to hit cruise control on our marriage. After all, he's working until midnight again, the kitchen needs cleaned, we need time to focus on Jesus, the kids need a bath, 
    the kids want to play puzzles,
    the kids want to read books,
    the kids want to play play-doh,
    the kids want to throw fits,
    the kids attacked the cat again,
    the kids are arguing with each other,
    the kids are arguing with me,
    the kids want to eat something
    right. this. second.
    I want time to focus on my new business, and what about time with our friends and family?
    Oh, and I should probably wash my hair.
    Throw in the craziest winter weather I've ever seen in all my 28 years and I'm ready to hide under the covers, friends. Where it's warm and quiet.
    But I don't. Because I love my marriage. I love my husband and our beautiful children.
    For cruise control to be turned off, we just need time together. Alone. And date nights are beautiful. I wish we had more of them, but we've found something else that works well with Steven's schedule.
    Working out.
    We can do our own thing at the gym for a while which is a blessing straight from God himself, I'm sure. Not only do I get to raise my heart rate, but I get to do so while watching cable TV. Which I LOVE. We haven't had cable in almost three years so HGTV makes running on the treadmill a breeze. I can't get off the machine until I see the reveal of the house flip so, BAM, built in motivation and dedication.
    Then we rally in the middle and play a game or two of HORSE. I giggle while Steven spins and attempts shots from behind his back. He says things to me like "almost had it" and "good job babe" even though I always lose. The fluorescent lights make him totally hot.
    Just being in the gymnasium with the lighting and the smell and the squeaks of tennis shoes makes me feel like a carefree youngin' again.
    And it makes me feel in love all over again.
    It's a place where we, two tired parents and spouses, can just play. A place to act goofy, flirt a little bit here and there and maybe smack each others sweaty buns on the way out.
    Did I mention they provide two hours of childcare each visit? Did I mention my kids love it and we have to drag them out when it's time to go home? Last week when Kinley didn't get to go she whined and said, "But childcare is my favorite"! (another reason she needs to start preschool sooner than later)
    So, we've decided.
    It's our new jam.
    Love and basketball.
    What are some creative ways you keep the connection in your relationship? I'd love more ideas!