Uncategorized

2-0-1-9

Each year, I pray about a word to focus on for the new year.

Last year, I really don’t remember what I set as my word– or if I had one. I’m sure I did, but I don’t want to look. We didn’t even stay up to celebrate the new year. 2017 was HARD. We lost someone so very dear to us. Our lives basically fell apart all around us, and we came out of the ashes feeling very damaged.

We went into 2018 with no expectations. We just hoped to survive. Life has happened around us, but I’m not sure that we have really lived.

When I started thinking about what I want the focus to be for 2019, I started thinking about steadiness. Our lives have been anything but steady for the past several years. I’d say the last several years have been some of the most painful and difficult. We’ve moved from state to state with nowhere feeling like home. I’ve set myself on autopilot and just went through each day in survival mode.

That is no way to LIVE.

We are already going into this new year with some really exciting possibilities. We have been dreaming and hoping and praying. I thought hard about what my focal word was going to be; my prayer.

PULSE

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When I think of pulse, I think of health.

I think of a rhythm.

I think of steadiness.

I want to have our days more scheduled and structured instead of feeling chaotic; we all function better that way. I want my kids to know that our home, wherever that is, is a safe haven. Our home is the heartbeat; a place where peace should reside. I want our pulse to have Jesus flowing through.

No matter what life throws at us this year, my prayer is that our pulse will remain steady; our faith won’t waver.

I really want to encourage you to set a focus for 2019. Set some attainable goals with a real plan to reach them. Tomorrow is a blank slate in a whole new chapter of your life story. Anything can happen!

family life, holiday, home, kids, Uncategorized

Merry {day after} Christmas

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I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas yesterday!

We spent the morning unwrapping presents, building toys, eating our traditional cinnamon rolls, and laying around in pajamas.

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We were blessed to have my younger sister in town with her family, so we all planned to get together at my mom and dad’s house for lunch. Unfortunately, my older sister was very sick and her family was unable to come. We missed them a lot, but still had a lot of fun being together.

Scott’s mom and brother came over for dinner, and we had a relaxing evening. The girls were so excited to show their new presents to everyone.

We had a wonderful day, and today the Christmas hangover is real. One of our girls could not stay asleep last night. We are all tired and honestly, grumpy. The coffee mug my mom got me is very fitting today.

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In true Ashley fashion, I’m ready to take down all of the decorations and have a clean slate to ring in the new year.

When do you take down your decorations? I’m so curious to know if I’m the only one who enjoys taking them down soon after Christmas.

Uncategorized

Christmas Break

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Friends!!! We made it! We survived until Christmas break.

I am so excited to wake up and take it easy for the next couple of weeks. I am extra excited that we have some long weekends with Scott off of work for the holidays. I’m going to soak it all up.

Today is being treated like our Christmas party. We have had cookies and made candy cane ornaments. The girls and their bed head crack me up. Messy hair always around here.IMG_0712IMG_0713IMG_0715IMG_0716

I should also really take the time off of school to clean the house top to bottom, but I don’t want to think about that.

Some things we have planned for our break:
– visiting my grandparents
-spending time with my younger sister and her family while they are in town
-feeling sad that my older sister and her family are officially moved an hour away
– opening our KiwiCo boxes (I’ll be doing an unsponsored review of those when we are done!)
– READING! I have a stack of books that I hope to read over break
-Finalize details for trip to Chicago in Jan.
– P-L-A-Y

I hope that you have a peaceful weekend before Christmas and enjoy celebrating with the ones that you love. Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

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AIP, allergies, health, natural living, recommendations, Uncategorized

Thrive Market- an Unsponsored Review

Thrive Market Review

I’m sure most of you have heard of Thrive Market before. If you haven’t, Thrive Market is an online store with organic and healthy foods that are below the price you pay in stores. Your groceries are delivered right to your door with lightning speed.ย  It’s super rad. They pack everything very carefully, and even pack ice packs in the summer if you order chocolate!

Thrive Market does have a membership fee of $59.95 per year, which I feel is completely worth it. They also have an incredible program called Thrive Gives. Thrive Gives allows educators, military families, students, and low-income families to have a free membership. Be sure to apply for it if you fit the bill!

Where we live, there are not a lot of options for groceries. It is difficult to find HEALTHY gluten free options. I have to drive 45 minutes or more to get to a grocery store that has good, clean options. With our busy lifestyle, it is rarely possible to travel so far for groceries. I looked into Thrive Market and started comparing their prices to the grocery store I travel to. The prices on Thrive Market are actually significantly lower. I thought it would just be some gimmick where they show the “regular price” marked up. It’s truly not. The regular price is the true price that you pay in a grocery store; sometimes even lower. The savings are REAL!

What I love about Thrive Market is that they always have sales or free items with your purchase. At the top of your screen, it says “free item with every order” and you can choose which freebie. They send e-mails each day with the best deal that day. For example, this is what I got for free with my most recent order.

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They have tons of family vitamins and homeopathic medicines available from brands that I love and trust. They have amazing paleo options for snacks and baking. If you have to follow a special diet, you can sort by products that fit within those realms. I always sort by Paleo, because I try to stick as close to that as possible. They also have vegan, keto, AIP, raw, organic, and gluten free. It makes shopping so much easier.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend signing up for Thrive Market. Shipping is always free with a purchase of $49 or more. I usually place one order a month to get the things that I want or need. There is NOTHING that I have been unsatisfied with.

Their customer service is incredible also. I had a bag of arrowroot powder in one of my boxes that got a hole in it. The arrowroot powder got everywhere. They refunded my money for the arrowroot powder right away. I was still able to use it; I just put it in a different bag. But, the mess was a pain to clean up.

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Some of my favorite things to buy from Thrive Market:

-Siete tortilla chips
-Simple Mills crackers
-Wild Planet canned tuna (the chicken is good also)
-Thrive Market coconut milk
-Thrive Market olive oil
-Good Day Chocolate calm
-Thrive Market cassava flour
-Thrive Market almond flour
-Thrive Market coconut aminos
-Wedderspoon honey drops
-Great Lakes Gelatin collagen hydrolysate
-Bare Bones Broth beef bone broth
-Amazing Grass green superfood effervescent tablet (I like the berry flavor)
-Clif Kids Z bars
-Thrive Market ghee
-Primal Kitchen Mayo
-Thrive Market coconut oil

There are so many great options, and I’m sure I’m leaving things out.

If you are interested in giving Thrive Market a try, you can use this link and get 25% off of your first purchase. You get a 30 day free membership with your first order, and you can cancel at any time. You do not have to buy a certain amount or anything like that. It’s just like any other grocery store. Shop whenever you want and don’t shop when you don’t want to.

If you have any questions about Thrive Market or my experience that I didn’t answer here, please let me know!

story telling, Uncategorized, Weekending

Weekending

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Happy Monday, friends!

This weekend was so busy. Friday night, I had rehearsal for our Christmas cantata at church. I ran into Target to get a few things before practice, and was Thankful that I got in line before the big crowd. I think I’ll hibernate until after Christmas. This time of year is bonkers.

Saturday, I worked a good portion of the day, which was really nice. A steady stream of patrons at the library helps time pass quickly. Plus, my co-workers are great. When I got off, I called my mom and asked if she would watch the girls for us. I wanted to take Scott to the cemetery to “see” his dad. These visits are hard. We’d give anything to just be able to talk to him again. My mom-in-law has it decorated beautifully. The sun was almost down completely and it was freezing, so we didn’t spend much time there. We were getting dinner after we left, and Scott decided to go to his dad’s favorite pizza place. Somewhere along the way, this happened..

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Honestly, it wouldn’t be December without some sort of car troubles. This is the THIRD time we’ve had a nail/screw in our tire in December. Thankfully, that washer sealed the air in and it didn’t deflate. We were 45 minutes away from home, and the only place with tires would not repair it with the location of the screw, and didn’t have the size of tire we needed. So, we drove home and prayed that the tire wouldn’t explode. Ok, I did.. irrational fears… or maybe rational. The Walmart in our town also didn’t have our size of tire. UGH. It was still nice to have a date alone with my husband, even if it was a little stressful. haha!

Sunday, we drove the van another 30 minutes to church. Scott taught Sunday School and I had rehearsal. After Scott was done teaching, he left to get the tire looked at. Thankfully, someone let us know that Sam’s club will plug a tire for free if you are a member. They fixed the tire for us and it didn’t cost us a penny. We were feeling so frustrated that we were going to have such a big expense right before Christmas, and God provided.

The Christmas cantata was beautiful. I woke up on Sunday morning with my throat feeling dry and scratchy; not ideal when you are about to sing. I made some hot lemon ginger tea and drank as much as I could before singing. I am so thankful that my voice held out. It started to go as soon as church was over, and I felt really drained. I had been taking an antibiotic, and it took everything out of me. It didn’t do a thing for the sinus junk– and it made me completely miserable. I finished the 10 days, and am still trying to get back to normal. I crawled into bed after church and stayed there until dinner. I got our homeschool week all planned and set up, and then got back in bed.

You can tell Christmas is near. The kids are in a flurry of excitement. We have a Christmas countdown going, and they squeal with delight when they talk about it. The book Finding Christmas is such a beautiful book, and a great reminder for young and old alike to remember the spirit of the season is giving and not receiving. This is one that I want to add to our collection!

Uncategorized

Christmas Cookies

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Happy FRIDAY!

It is getting SO close to Christmas. I’m so excited. I’m even more excited that one week from today we will be having our school Christmas party and then its two weeks of a break. When you are a homeschool parent, you are probably more excited about breaks than your kids. HA!

I made the paleo sugar cookie dough over the weekend. The girls cut out all of the cookies with Scott while I made dinner that evening. I didn’t get any pictures of them cutting the cookies, but I know they had so much fun. After we ate, I made some homemade frosting and let the kiddos dye it whatever colors they chose. (I use these dye free colors.)

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We frosted the cookies and listened to Christmas music. It was so much fun.

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I love days like this where you can just soak up every moment of their childhood.

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I was worried that the kids may not look sugar cookies made with almond flour, but they have loved them. So have I. HA!

Next Friday, we are doing our Christmas party. We will make some ornaments, do a LOT of Christmas cookie baking, and watch all the Christmas movies. I can’t wait for next week. This week has been a busy rush of GO GO GO, and the weekend won’t be any better. I’m ready to slow down.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and find a few moments to SLOW down.

Uncategorized

An Unsponsored Review of Kopari Deodorant

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I’m sure you have seen Kopari deodorant floating around the interweb. It was a popular sponsored post for many bloggers towards the end of summer.

I have been on a quest for a good aluminum free clean deodorant that WORKS. I’ve tried Native, Schmidt’s, Holly’s Keeping it Real, Young Living, and probably others. None of them worked. Not a single one.

My hormones are really out of whack– I’m in the early stages of menopause at the age of 30. I’m gonna just be real.. I have had the worst smelling underarms since this shift. I never used to stink. I don’t really sweat much, which I found out is a trait of Fabry disease, but I somehow still end up smelly. Cool.

Needless to say, I was a skeptic. I had so much deodorant in my cabinet that didn’t work for me. But, I was desperate. I ordered some (with my own money) to try.

Kopari is aluminum free, non-GMO, paraben free, silicone free, phthalate free, and baking soda free! SO good.

In short, I’m converted.

The first week or two, I was still stinky– maybe even stinkier than before. Your body will go through a detox period where you STINK. I’ve even heard of people getting black/grey spots on their shirts from all of the garbage detoxing out of your skin from conventional deodorant. YIKES! You can apply more throughout the day, and you will want to during the detox phase.

It has such a light and pleasant scent of coconut. I love it. They also have a fragrance free option. It glides on smoothly, which is also a nice change from other clean deodorants. This is more of a gel than a solid, so there aren’t any chunks that you have to rub in. It also doesn’t contain any baking soda, which is great for sensitive skin like mine! You’ll see a lot of clean deodorant websites with reviews talking about uncomfortable rashes developing from the baking soda. It’s no fun. Kopari doesn’t have any of that.

One of my concerns was that my clothes would get stained since it is made with coconut oil. I haven’t had any oil stains on my shirts, which is another huge relief.

I have been using this deodorant for several months now, and I am so pleased with it. I no longer smell like a man and don’t have gross clumps of baking-soda-deodorant collecting in the crevices of my underarms.

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can use this link to get $10 off your first order with Kopari. They have many personal care products if you are on the market, but I can’t speak for those. I did get a free mini sample of the coconut crush scrub, and it was great.

Whether you buy Kopari or not, PLEASE take care of your body and get an aluminum free deodorant.

kopari

adult books, recommendations, Uncategorized

Fish in a Tree- book review

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One of the perks of working in a library is that I see a LOT of books that I would otherwise miss. When Fish in a Tree was turned in, the title caught my eye. I read the back cover and immediately placed a hold for it– since the copy that was turned in was going elsewhere.

Fish in a Tree is a YA (young adult) novel about a girl named Ally Nickerson. She doesn’t know how to read, and knows that she is different from other kids her age. She has always acted out and been able to hide her struggles from everyone- her teachers, mom, brother, etc.

Ally is a lonely kid without friends. She feels like she is dumb and will never be able to do anything like anyone else and really hates being different. She loves drawing and has a book called “The sketchbook of Impossible Things” that she draws in daily.

When Ally’s teacher goes on maternity leave, she ends up with a substitute teacher. Mr. Daniels changes her life. He observes all of the students in her class in a completely different way. He catches on to Ally and her struggles. He instructs everyone to write in a notebook daily. He says that he won’t grade it at all or correct their spelling errors. He will just write back.

Through his observations, he notices something important about Ally. He invites her to play chess after school. After a few after school meetings with Ally, he tells her that he thinks he knows why she can’t read. He tells her that he thinks she has dyslexia. He helps her learn to read by using many tricks that are helpful for those who have dyslexia.

Ally realizes how much SHE has changed. She has made friends with other kids who are different. She is happy. The whole class sees her through different eyes, and so does Ally. She realizes how smart and talented she is. She also realizes that all kids have their struggles and that she was never alone in them.Labels no longer matter, and for the first time ever Ally is truly happy. She also realizes that she can no longer draw many things in her sketchbook, because nothing is IMpossible.

This is such a great read. I wanted to read it so that I could see what life may be like through my daughter’s eyes. I was brought to tears on many occasions because I realized how hard things must be for her. It was eye opening and also incredibly inspiring. Just knowing how much harder my daughter has to work than most kids to read– and that she is willing to FIGHT to learn it– is incredible.

I can’t recommend this book enough; especially if you have a child with dyslexia or that is differently abled.

 

(Reading guides show in photo.)

Uncategorized

5 Things I am Loving Right Now

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Eat What You Love cookbook- This just released yesterday, and I have been anxiously awaiting it. I pre-ordered it back in August. It is full of clean versions of my favorite comfort foods. There is a clean version of Chicken Divan! Yessss!!! (It is only $16.92 at the time I am writing this, which means it’s almost $20 off!)

She Reads Truth Bible– I really love this Bible. The pages are thin, so when there is big artwork, you can see it through the page. It is still readable on those pages though. I love the devotions sprinkled throughout. I love the additional study guides and information about every book of the Bible. I love the reading plans. I love it all. It’s so good. They are also releasing a He Reads Truth version next year!

These boots– Pricey, yes. Worth it? YES! They are so comfortable and roomy enough to wear thick wool socks with them. I never bought myself warm boots in all my years in Michigan. I was missing out!! I love them.

My four slice toaster.ย  This is a luxury. My kids love toast and frozen waffles. I know. The health benefits, right?ย  I had been eyeing this one on Amazon. Hoping for a really good sale.. or to win a giveaway. Something. Anyway, I was walking through Kroger and saw the clearance table. This toaster was sitting on it. I kind of laughed to myself thinking it would stillย  be way expensive. It was only $24!!!! That’s the price of a cheap regular toaster. I was giddy and so excited when I told Scott about it. You’d think I was bringing home a gold nugget. I am able to make enough waffles and toast for all of my kids at once. It’s wonderful. (Also, did you know toaster tongs were a thing?) I would have continued surviving without it, but I am so grateful that I found one. (Our original toaster is over 10 years old and was going to poop out soon anyway.)

Days With Grey– Bridget from Tales of Me and the Husband shared this instagram feed last week. I started following and found her blog. I’m obsessed. These breakfast invitations? I am going to start using some of these. Mornings are rough around here. We never get started on a good foot, and I am praying that this will be a game changer. I used to be so good at things like this, and then fell off the wagon once we moved to Oklahoma and everything fell apart. I’m reclaiming our lives this month!

I hope you are having a fantastic December so far! We are growing more and more excited for Christmas by the day!