Survival Mode

Help Mom

Wake up. Nurse. Get little one and adults fully dressed. Race to daycare. Work all day. Pump at work. Race to pickup little one. Curse traffic. Get home. Run around like wild people to get the little one fed and bathed. Nurse. Collapse into heap in front of the TV for an hour or two…

Oh wait. Watch TV? That doesn’t sound quite right.

Feed adults. Make baby food. Potentially work some more. Tackle laundry. Wonder if dog has been fed. Feed dog just in case. Put away laundry from the night(s) prior. Contemplate working out. Fall asleep while thinking about working out.

Repeat Monday – Friday.

We’re in a dual working household survival mode. A mode that makes me thank my lucky stars every day that Rylan is a great night time sleeper. Please let the teething gods (2nd tooth coming up now) be kind.

But amidst our chaos are many moments of perfection. Yep, that is the best word to describe our ridiculously overwhelming life. Mike and I have never been more in sync. We try hard to pick up where the other left off or anticipate what will make the other a little more relaxed. There is no room for being less than 100% hands-on and we are killing it. We say ‘thank you’ more often and tell each other whenever we remember to breathe that we’re doing a really great job.

Then there is Rylan. He is unreal. I can’t get over his infectious laugh and endless energy. He is mobile and quite independent, yet nothing makes his eyes sparkle more than seeing us walk into a room. Kisses make him squeal. He brightens my whole heart. I would gladly take on more chaos if it meant he would smile this sweetly forever. I often catch myself saying, “that kid. Man I love him. ”

But this post is about surviving. Which leads me to share what’s in our current survival kit with an almost 9 month old…

  • Compassion
  • A lot of forgiveness
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts ~ family
  • Wine. Preferably a Malbec. Club W would be the jackpot
  • Peace & Calming and Valor essential oils from Young Living — in the diffuser, behind ears and on wrists at bedtime and before work
  • ABDL (Always Be Doin’ Laundry)
  • Friends, even if time only allows for a few text exchanges
  • Stitch Fix
  • Butternut squash slow cooker chili
  • Door to Door Organics online local and organic grocery delivery (a client of mine, but we’ve been using them for long before that)
  • Apple TV for catching up on Girls, Jimmy Fallon, Game of Thrones and Parenthood on weekends

I am trying very hard to add working out back to that list–it varies greatly each week. I’d also like the list to include Sunday freezer meal prep, regular evening family walks and a spa day. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

How do you survive? What do you rely on and what have you had to give up on?

Rylan is 8 Months!

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Our incredible boy is eight months old! To say he brightens each and every day is a huge understatement. His gummy grin (no teeth yet!) is infectious. His body-shaking belly laugh is addictive. Rylan’s easy-going personality and happy demeanor has really come through this month. We’re more smitten than ever.

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The past month has not been easy. Mike traveled for work more than usual and my job was extremely busy, including some weekend commitments. The notion of balance fell to the wayside and we went into survival mode. Get Rylan safely to and from daycare. Line up backup care. Make food for Rylan. Heat up a can of soup or frozen dinner for ourselves. Survive.

I am disappointed in myself for being so preoccupied the last few weeks. I really need to learn how to put my phone down and focus. Work, texts, Facebook…it will all be there when Rylan is down for the night. Technology keeps us positively connected in so many ways but at the same time, it makes us miss the present. The now. That’s my goal for Ry’s next month ~ to be more present during our precious and extremely limited with him at night and on the weekends.

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Despite our craziness, Rylan is thriving. He crossed the 15 lbs mark and is actually growing out of 3-6 and 6 month outfits. Yay! He loves sitting in his high chair for meal time, any meal time. Finger foods are quickly replacing his tolerance for purees. Not having to steam and puree food will surely be a time saver, but we take a lot of pride in making 99% of his food from scratch. I am going to miss it a lot. He has given us a few forward crawls but much prefers to worm across the room with a combination of sitting, dropping to his belly, followed by a downward dog on tip toes, back to his stomach and then up to sitting. It’s an amazing feat to witness and he is so proud of himself every time.

Mom’s eight month favorites:

  • Hearing “ma” “ma ma” “ma ma ma ma” for the first time after I was away in LA for the weekend with friends
  • Listening to his daycare teachers tell me about his day, which usually includes notes like, “he was so happy” and “he laughed over and over with his buddy Tolan”
  • Watching him finally connect how to grab food, put it to his mouth and open his hand to release it
  • The fact that he still gets completely milk drunk at night, which allows for totally peaceful snuggle time…just like the early days
  • The sparkle in his eye. His eyes are so happy, and it makes me incredibly happy and proud to be his mama

Dad’s eight month favorites:

  • The smile on his face and excitement in his eyes every time he sees us after a few hours apart
  • Finding him sitting up in his crib, staring at the wall in amazement
  • Watching him do his version of baby yoga, complete with a solid plank to downward dog move
  • Watching him shove food into his mouth by any means possible — hands, wrists, you name it
  • Seeing him rediscover his hands and fingers in awe
  • How he “shows off” his toys and books while playing
  • His mellow demeanor and easy going nature around just about anyone

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Dolphin to Starfish

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Apparently ocean-themed rooms are quite the rage at area daycares. A close friend has a daughter in the “Cuddly Clam” room at her center. But I digress. Oh and yes, these photos have nothing to do with daycare rooms. I just like them a lot because we remembered to get out the regular camera this past weekend.

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This week Rylan is transitioning from being a Dolphin (infant room) to a Starfish (6 – 18 months approximately). If this mini milestone doesn’t prove that his first year is flying by way too fast for comfort, I am not sure what does. Having him move rooms based on development stages was really appealing to me when we toured our daycare. However, now that it’s our son transitioning I am excited and apprehensive. How long will it take them to re-learn his routine? We will mesh with these teachers as well as the last? Will we be back a square one with daycare nap battles?

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Naturally, the worrier in me is braced for the worst but hoping for the best (within a realistic timeframe of a week or two of adjustment for Ry). But in the end, every day I am more and more confident in our choice of daycare over a nanny given our current situation. There have been many challenges but I love how adaptable Rylan has become and appreciate all that he is learning–even if it’s to wait his turn for a toy, meal or diaper change. Those are tiny little moments that I hope will rub off on him in toddler-hood. I value the insight and expertise that is shared with us by the various teachers and their observations of his development, especially because Mike and I often miss new things when we’re at work five days out of the week. Rylan’s daycare has become an extension of our family.

So, off to Starfish we go!

Essential Oils for Rylan

Rylan has been around diffused essential oils for several months but I closely followed the recommendation of waiting until six months to try anything topically. As “luck” would have it, he brought home a nasty cold from daycare about a week and a half ago. We heard there was a confirmed case of RSV in his room so to be extra cautious we got him into the pediatrician ASAP. Thankfully, we were told to hunker down for a good ole’ fashioned cold battle.

Our amazing pediatrician shares a lot of natural and homeopathic advice every visit. My jaw about dropped when he asked if we’d be comfortable trying eucalyptus essential oil or an eucalyptus blend – heavily diluted – on the soles of Ry’s feet and chest to help with the congestion and coughing. A grin spread across my face while Mike likely rolled his eyes. It was time to break out the oils for Rylan.

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Just before he turned six months I bought R.C., a eucalyptus blend, to have on hand for instances like this. We started slow, diffusing it in his room along with two humidifiers and putting one drop with about six or eight drops of olive oil on the soles of his feet. It wasn’t a magic cure, but his cough started to break up the gunk in his chest and he didn’t progress to having anything more worrisome. After a few days we moved to a heavily diluted dose rubbed into his chest two – three times daily and steamed in the bathroom on a washcloth while we let the shower run until all the hot water was drained. That was our cold battle turning point. His cough began to subside and his body continued to push out the crud in his head and chest.

We’re almost two weeks into this cold and I won’t lie, it isn’t gone. But he has improved drastically and I am very grateful it didn’t evolve into anything more serious so far. He continued to sleep through the night all but two nights and I credit that to this natural routine. Even Mike became a bit of a believer and could be found filling the diffuser with more R.C. before a nap.

And my favorite part? Thieves saved me yet again. That’s about five colds avoided even after I felt the dreaded throat tickle and ache.

I can’t wait to keep expanding my growing oils collection and I 100% refuse to ever run out of Thieves or R.C.

We Be Grubbin’

Rylan isn’t the chunkiest kid on the block so back at his four month appointment we were given the go ahead to start solids. Instead of going the traditional infant cereal route we opted for fresh avocado and never looked back.

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Fast forward to six months and he is grubbin’ three times a day! His biggest meal is typically lunch or dinner but we offer solids on a relative breakfast, lunch and dinner timetable.

Rylan’s schedule at six months:

  • 6:45 a.m. ~ wake and nurse (on the weekends we let him sleep a little later if he’s able)
  • 7 a.m.-ish ~ solids (veggie or oatmeal + fruit)
  • 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. ~ Nap
  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. ~ 6 oz fortified breast milk bottle (daycare) or nurse (weekends)
  • Noon ~ solids (fruit + veggie)
  • 12:30 p.m. ~ nap
  • 2 – 2:30 p.m. ~ 6 oz fortified breast milk bottle or nurse
  • 5:45 p.m. (or whenever we make it home) ~ nurse then solids (veggie + fruit + baby probiotics mixed in)
  • 7:30 p.m. ~ nurse and bed

We switched from a strict three hour feeding schedule to this routine about a month ago. It is working really well for this weird phase where he still needs that third nap, but not for long. Right now his rockstar nap is the mid-day one. Most days daycare is getting two hours out of him then. They also moved him to a crib in the back corner of the room which seems to be helping him fall back asleep if he wakes mid-nap. What can I say, the kid is curious!

Aside from the weird lunch time solids session we offer food right after a milk feeding so that his milk intake doesn’t dip. That said, the last ounce to two ounces on his bottles have become a real battle. Any advice on when it is okay to see his milk intake dip a bit because of the increased food is appreciated! And on the topic of food, I am actually really enjoying the entire process of making baby food from scratch, so more on that soon!

Rylan: 6 Months

Our son is six months old. It has been a half of a year since Rylan was born. Rylan is six months old! I keep saying these things out loud but they don’t sound true.

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Somehow the holidays have come and gone and February is staring us in the face…and my sweet little boy hit his six month milestone. He’s happier, funnier and more expressive with each day that passes. His huge gummy smile melts my heart and we continue to receive nothing but praise from everyone at daycare regarding his sunny demeanor and easy-going style.

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But I can also see into our future as he starts to discover his independence and ability to make decisions about what he does and does not want to do. I can no longer trick him into nursing longer. When Rylan is done he arches his back, gets stiff as a board and then there is no fighting this ninja move. The swing and other infant chairs with straps are tolerated for less and less time and I never knew a baby could hold his lips together so tightly when a new food is deemed unsuitable! Rylan is going to have a lot of spirit with his sweetness. This mama is in trouble.

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Mom’s six month favorites:

  • Fulfilling my goal to breastfeed for six months and what I am calling Ry and my “joint decision” to keep going for the foreseeable future
  • How he lights up when I walk into daycare at the end of the day
  • Listening to his coos and happy screams from his crib when he’s content to play around before it is time to get up (it is less amusing at 4 a.m. but since he falls back asleep relatively quickly I can’t complain)
  • They way he passes out on my chest after our last feed of the night. I know he’s exhausted and I hang onto this new, extra-quiet and special moment for longer and longer each evening
  • Watching him devour new foods (so far he has had and likes sweet potato, squash, apples, pears, avocado, peaches, oatmeal, mangoes and prunes. He’s not very excited about peas)

Dad’s six month favorites:

  • Watching him smile through the struggle of learning how to sit up
  • Seeing him roll over and figure out that he can spin around to grab for toys
  • Watching him reach for objects he wants, whether he should have them or not, and the joy on his face when he accomplishes his mission
  • His happy attitude and growing curiosity about the world around him

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The next six months have so many adventures in store and my biggest hope is that I can continue to learn how to be more present so that the moments – big and small, happy and tear-stained – don’t pass us by. Happy six months my little man!

Nursing at 5.5 Months

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I love capturing pictures of my milk drunk son even though he’ll kill me for showing his girlfriend these images one day. It is still amazing to me, five and a half months into our routine, that my body makes and provides Rylan’s primary source of food and nutrition on a daily basis. The whole thing is pretty nuts.

When a nursing session goes well I have a hard time thinking about giving this up. My personal goal has always been to make it to six months. That milestone is around the corner and I am really torn on what to do.

I have been “warned,” sarcastically I assume, not to tell other moms about my supply. That’s such a weird piece of advice in my opinion. Aren’t we all supposed to support each other? I have come to realize that I am blessed and I have a lot of guilt about weaning Rylan if my body will physically let me continue nursing and pumping for what could possibly be many more months. But an ample supply is not without its own problems. Ever heard of quality over quantity? Yep, it applies to breast milk so we had to start adding some formula to Rylan’s bottles at daycare. It seems to be helping with the weight gain but we’ll know more at this six month appointment.

Back to nursing and pumping. While nursing is infinitely easier today than during those first few painful and scary terrifying  weeks with a newborn, Rylan is so distracted when I nurse and our serene and special nursing sessions more often than not turn into “battle boob.”

And pumping. Ah, pumping. I have been unapologetic about finding twice a day at work to sneak into my “office” and am grateful for the support I continue to receive. But I am busier than ever and dread the lost time on certain days, even though I bring my laptop along and work through most pumping sessions. It is a time suck no matter how productive you try to remain.

So, here are my questions for the other nursing or pumping moms before me:

  • At times Rylan will only nurse for seven or eight minutes total. Sometimes on one side or via a combination of both. Is this normal? Should I worry about whether or not he is getting enough ounces or trust his ability to self-regulate?
  • When, if at all, do you  see their milk intake decrease based on the fact that they are eating more solids?
  • If you BF and pumped beyond six months, how did you stay motivated — especially with pumping at work?
  • Six months seems to be a common milestone noted in baby books and articles. What are the benefits beyond that time period? Antibodies? All natural?

Thanks for your advice and support!

2013 Reflections

It is hard to look back on 2013 and not focus 99% on our biggest life change to date – the birth of our son Rylan. I was lucky to enjoy a healthy and easy pregnancy and (feel free to roll your eyes) I loved almost every moment of the nine months. It was really neat to keep the sex a surprise and if/when we have Sprout #2 we plan to do the same. Staying active kept me sane and I feel very lucky that I was able to keep going strong until about 38 weeks. We took a short but incredible babymoon in Crested Butte and I surprised myself by patiently decorating a gender-neutral nursery that we absolutely love.

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Life changed for the better on July 24 at 12:40 p.m. Mike excitedly announced, “it’s a boy,” and just like that, we became parents. The actual birth is a bit of a blur and to be honest, for those first few hours in our hospital room when it was just the three of us, I stared at Rylan and worried that I wasn’t actually ready to be a mom. I stressed that I wouldn’t know what to do when we got home and that I would never learn his cries or love him the way all other new moms gush about loving their infant from the second they are born. But day by day we figured it out. I came to enjoy our quiet, though exhausting, middle of the night feeds because I realized how powerful our bond was becoming. I found confidence with every solo trip out of the house and successful nap battles won. I learned to accept help, stopped holding in tears on the tough days and found the couple of moms that I could be 100% real with, knowing they wouldn’t judge me for anything I shared or asked. I cherish these women!

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Unknown-2Rylan’s arrival changed a lot, but not everything. Mike and I took time for ourselves. He got back to band practice and played two shows. He traveled for work and I held down the fort alone. I got back to the gym, returned to work and found time to work on friendships – something I want to focus on more in 2014. We went on dates and found ways to divide and conquer the pressures of being a household of two, full-time working parents. Mike is the best father. The. Best.

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2013 rounded out with Thanksgiving celebrations with Mike’s family here in Colorado followed by Rylan’s first plane ride and trip to California to be with my family for Christmas (notice the unmistakable LA traffic pictured above, and thanks to grandparents who pushed us to escape for a date night and enjoy some cocktails throughout the week). We plan to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve together in the mountains, surely reflecting on how blessed we have been this year. Health. Family. Fun. Love. None of this is lost on me.

For 2014 I don’t want to make the typical resolutions. Yes of course I want to work out more, eat cleaner, put more money in savings – blah blah. I hope I’ll just do all of those things regardless because they are good for me and my family. If I had to set one personal goal for the year ahead it would be to work on my friendships. Through moves, weddings, babies, work, etc., I have missed out on nourishing certain friendships that mean a great deal to me. I’ve gotten lazy, relying on texts and Facebook to sustain friendships that are worthy of calls, trips, mailed cards for no reason…all the things we used to do before technology made it acceptable to wish a friend since high school a belated happy birthday on a Facebook wall. I’m not proud of what I have let slip, even though many would say I have an excuse with becoming a mom and working full-time. I am happier when my core group of girlfriends is strong and thriving, and in 2014 I want to work on that — along with deepening new, really amazing friendships I have formed through becoming a mom.

In closing, I want to sincerely thank you (my readers) for your support, advice and excitement this year. As I continue to evolve Lex & Learn I hope you’ll still come along for the journey and stories of our family adventures, struggles and celebrations. Please know that I am wishing you a very safe, healthy and blessed 2014.

The First Bug

When I unzipped Rylan from his sleep sack on Friday morning he greeted me with his usual smile. His smile hid the fact that he wasn’t himself and that our very busy work days, and weekend, were about to be steam rolled. I’ll spare you the details but within a few minutes it was clear we had our first real sickness, a stomach virus, on our hands.

So. Much. Laundry.

Fast forward to right now. It is Sunday around 5 p.m. and I am taking a break from catching up on work. The house is silent. Mike is curled up in the fetal position on the couch because the same bug hit him hard this morning. Rylan is taking a much-needed nap. A nap that required I rock him to sleep and gently transfer him to the crib. Something he has needed maybe only once or twice in the early days.

The silver living is that I think we’re finally turning the messy corner. Milk is staying down and he is pushing away the Pedialyte because he wants milk instead. We are seeing big gummy grins and hearing his laughs again. Those energetic squeals have never sounded so amazing.

I’ve learned a lot since about 7:05 a.m. on Friday and while the experience is still raw, I needed to share my thoughts…

  • I’m sorry. I am sorry to all my mom friends and co-workers who I didn’t show true sympathy for when their kiddos were sick. I am sorry for not offering to do more, whether that should have been taking on a client assignment or dropping food (or booze) at your doorstep. I am sorry for not being more understanding. I get it now. Even if and when your little one went down for a nap, there is so much to do in a sick house. Laundry, bottles, more laundry – perhaps a 10 minute nap for yourself. Next time, I promise to be a better friend and coworker to you.
  • Laugh. There have been a few tears this weekend but those were mostly out of worry for Rylan. The “situations” that I thought would have had me in tears made me laugh. I mean, how can you not? Laugh, grab some Clorox, and laugh some more.
  • Call the doctor. Call three times with differing versions of the same question if you want to. Demand to be seen, especially if you are dealing with a new situation on a Friday and want to avoid weekend urgent care. I am so glad we got in Friday afternoon, because not all of our instincts of how to help Rylan were right. As a new parent, you don’t have the answers and the Internet is way too scary to depend on when you Google things like, “4.5 month old can’t stop throwing up.” DO. NOT. GOOGLE.
  • Pedialyte. Have it on hand. Not just one bottle, but two or three.
  • Patience. Harness all you have and then dig deep to find a whole lot more. Plans got canceled. The house is a disaster. Our normally independent little boy had spans of time where he could not be put down. Have to go to the bathroom? Too bad. But when our hard-fought patience got the cries to stop or a bottle to stay down, nothing felt better. We did something right amidst a crap load of uncertainty. Go us!

I won’t consider our house healed until I know for certain that I miraculously escaped the bug — this time. Perhaps my daily routine of probiotics, Emergen-C and Thieves essential oils made a difference? Only time will tell.

This is the first of countless bugs and curveballs Rylan will throw our way. I get it and am so grateful to have Mike, our families and a slew of friends around us to be there through the messy and scary moments. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Wishing everyone HEALTHY holidays!

Essential Oils Q&A

Now that I’ve admitted to this essential oil kick I thought it would be fun to host a Q&A with my sister-in-law Kelly. She has been using Young Living oils for several months now and really believes in the results she has seen with her family. For context she has twin girls who are in pre-K and a little boy who turned two in September. Her husband travels for work so between school, travel germs and general kiddo crud, Kelly was open to trying anything to keep her family healthier and happier.

Q.) What are essential oils?

A.) Essential oils have been used for centuries for health and wellness benefits. Essential oils are extracted from plants through steaming or cold pressing. They are highly potent and require a large volume of plant material to produce small amounts of distilled essential oil. Most essential oils are powerful antimicrobials.  (referenced: Essential Oils Pocket Reference)

Q.) How did you get turned onto Young Living specifically? Were you skeptical at first?

A.) I was first turned onto Young Living oils by my friend Lindsay. I have also believed in alternative options for healthcare and have used grocery store oils for aromatic purposes. I knew that my friend Lindsay was a bit more skeptical about “hippie” options so when she started using the oils and couldn’t stop talking about them I knew that she had done her research. She always has the best interest of her family at the forefront. She turned me onto some reading and research and I was quickly hooked.

Q.) How did you get started using the oils and how have you branched out from your very first order?

A.) At the time we were having major bedtime battles with our girls and I was telling her that I needed help. ANYTHING! My first dabble in the oils was a small kit of about eight oils, one being Peace & Calming. She told me to put the oils on the bottom of the girls feet before bed. Within three days, our bedtime routine was getting better. The girls would calm down quicker and fall asleep faster. It was amazing. We then started using Thieves to help keep the preschool “ick” from jumping ship and infiltrating our house. It worked like a charm. It did not always keep the ick at bay, but significantly reduced the time we had it. Once I noticed the amazing changes the oils were making, I decided to expand and read more to really see how and what the oils could do for me.

I now use Frankincense and coconut oil everyday on my face. Sometimes I add Lavendar or Lemon to help with the sun spots. I use Melaleica Alternifolia (tea tree oil) to help with acne. We diffuse Joy almost daily to set the right tone for the day and if someone is in a particularly bad mood, I put it behind their neck. Every month I expand my Essential Oil medicine cabinet. I love it!

Q.) For people – like me – who are intrigued but not fully convinced about everything people say about the oils, what advice or first-hand experiences do you want to share?

A.) Take it slow. Not every oil will have the same effect on you that it has on me. Sometimes a cleanse can help you clear out your body of toxins to make room for the natural options. Don’t jump in with both feet until you know what you are looking for. Oils can get overwhelming and expensive. If you don’t know what you are needing help with it could be a total waste. Ask lots of questions and do your own research. You know your family. Now that I know better, I would only use Young Living Oils but as a consumer you need to make sure you know what you are buying and using.

Q.) If someone wanted to get started with only one or two oils, which would you suggest and via what applications?

A.) Thieves is a no brainer. Even if you don’t have kids, we are all exposed to sickness. Thieves can be applied to the bottom of your feet, diffused in the air, inhaled by putting in your hands and cupping over your nose. Thieves is a hot oil so you will want to dilute with a carrier oil like coconut or grape seed oil.

I am super excited that Kelly took the time to share her experience and appreciate her honesty. I particularly agree with her advice not to jump in without asking a lot of questions and knowing what you need first from the oils experience. For me it was quality sleep and doing whatever I can to stay healthy through our first cold and flu season with a daycare kid. I started with single bottles of Thieves and Peace & Calming and am glad I did. I would also add, be realistic. Is Peace & Calming going to make your baby magically sleep through the night? Of course not. But if there weren’t some calming benefits to essential extracts like lavender for example, why would they put it in every mass produced baby bath soap and “night time” lotion?

If you have questions please leave me a comment and I’ll get them answered for you. Thanks for indulging me on this oil exploration.

 

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