H.A.L.T essential oil blend

Everyone and their Mama seems to be jumping on the essential oil thing lately.  Including myself and recently my mother! It is something I was glad to be able to do to help her with a problem we share.  
My mother and I both battle depression.  I am blessed to have her as an advocate.  She doesn't hide the fact that she has depression and champions against the stigma.  Depression is "mearly" a biological chemical imbalance, no different than diabetes.  
 She is the one who taught me about "spirals" and H.A.L.T.   A spiral is when the serotonin begins to drop, just like insulin for a diabetic.  It is overwhelming, but it can creep up so slowly that you don't even realize it has started until you are in the middle of it.   This is why my mother taught me to halt.  

H.A.L.T stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.   When I notice I am mid-spiral I am to stop and figure which one(s) I am at the moment.  I have been all 4 at once.  Once I figure it out I do something to fix whichever one is triggering the spiral. 
 Some depressives require pharmaceutical assistance, which is what I used after my first 3 pregnancies.  Personally I hate using them and prefer to get off of them as soon as possible, which is a trick and process unto itself (squishy eyeballs, anyone?)  
I was hoping after Baby C's complicated delivery that I  wouldn't battle or have as severe PPD as the previous pregnancies since I actually got to labor that time.  I did have my OB write me a prescription and fill the first bottle just in case.  I knew if it started that I wanted to have something on hand.  
Everything started out fine but with some of the post-birth complications I felt the start of some small spirals. 
 I have been researching and building up a collection of oils and books the past few years.  I figured I would try and see if I could use some to help stave off needing the prescription.  The blend that I came up with has been effective and the version I made for my mother has helped support her pharmaceuticals. 
In honor of my mother I call it the HALT blend. 

A 2oz brown or blue glass bottle.
(For Example)
A diluting oil (olive, coconut, etc) 
I prefer red opaque ones, since it is carried around.
Essential Oils
(if you need a person)

30 drops Lemon
10 drops Rosemary
5 drops Lavender 
5 drops Frankincense 
5 drops Cederwood 

Fill the rest of the bottle with dilution oil of choice, cap and shake.   We use this blend to then fill our roller balls for emercancy use mid-spiral.  It seems to help us, I hope it helps others.

*obligitory disclaimer* I am NOT a medical professional or aromatherapist.  I'm only sharing what has seemed to help us.  Don't take things that you are allergic to and ALWAYS check essential oils for interactions with conditions or medications.  Seriously some oils can spark sezures in epileptics.  Please don't use any oil in excess as it may trigger health conditions in those around you. 
Also links maybe affiliates, but don't change what you pay.. but might help me a little.


 I am within that lovely "Xteneal" generation but the cusp of the "tech native" generation. When I was growing up it was odd for someone to have a computer in their home, but I grew up in the home of a computer programmer.  Most of my friends and the people I graduated with are not tech natives.
  It is interesting to me how frequently people talk about rules on technology but for me they are natural.  No screens in bedrooms, computers in public spaces, hiding passwords, etc.  
 So for me to include technology within my homeschooling was just as natural a breathing.  Lil C used to watch YouTube videos in the NICU, much to the horror of some of the nurses. 
As he grew we found new tools to teach and connect.  Technology has been his favorite of tools but there were less electronic tools as well.  

As he has grown we have regularly had to reasses our tools and methods, some more effectively than others.  
The past few years we have been using an iPad but this Christmas we changed to Amazon Fires.  
We are still learning what works best for us with the new tablets.  

The one thing that has remained rather consistent is the use of YouTube to teach new concepts. Daddy C figured out how to set us up with YouTube on our TV making sibling rivalry less of an issue when they are not fighting to watch a tiny screen.
Each week I set  a playlist for each day an the topics we will be covering that week.  For a sneak peak at our  week: 

If you checked those links often you would notice certain reaccuring channels such as 
Homeschool PopArt Hub for Kids,Have Fun Teaching, Jack Hartman, SciShow Kids and others.  

With Lil'C requiring EXTREME repetition, this allows for that without driving me insane, due to his TBI he tends to need to memorize before he can understand.  
This also means that should we need to school can be accomplished anywhere.  Including during a EKG.. and has.  Many. Many. Times. 

Some of our favorite apps:
ALL of the
Originator Apps and were the first apps added to the new tablets, I didn't even buy them before checking for combabtibility. Doodle Buddy

To name a few.  We have also been working on Google Docs and a few Dupelo apps as well.  

We are constantly updating and trying out new apps,  even more so with the new tablets.  Some transitioned and unfortunately some are not compatible with the new tablets.  

What apps do you with your kids?  Do they have their own devices, use yours or are not allowed devices at all? 

Montessori... ish

When we decided to homeschool our children I spent some time looking into various methods.  Considering I have a degree in education, you would think I already would have known this, but I didn't.  I stumbled across a blog post about different styles and thought that Montessori sounded the closest to my natural philosophy and basically what we were already doing. 

The core parts we picked up were "Only do for me what I can't do for myself" and "Help me do it myself".  So what does that mean and what does that look like?  
-"Only do for me what I can't do for myself" means if your 2yo can put on her own shirt, stop "helping". Sometimes it can mean getting dressed takes longer... but in a short while it will be faster since you know have one less person to put a shirt on!  Plus, the 2yo is excited and proud of herself for putting on her own shirt!   
You would be suprised the things that a small child can do.  I remember being fairly shocked at other moms who were wondering if their pre-teen COULD do chores (not should, that is a family decision).  I was shocked because of how much Lil'K can do, I didn't realize how far off the norm we are.  When it comes to her I basically try and stay out of her way.  She was reading by 2.5, and at 5 she can wash dishes, sort laundry, start laundry, do basic addition and subtraction (partially self-taught), and fold her laundry.  She really confused us by how much she just DID.  
Once Lil'C started to learn things (although Lil'K usually does them first) we do the same.  He can now dress himself, excluding his shoes and right sock.  He can sort laundry, put away his clean clothes and is AMAZING at math and spelling (seriously spells better than me)

-"Help me do it myself"
This was really HUGE for Lil'C since he has the deck stacked against him with Cerebral Palsy/Right Hemiplega.  For Lil'K this was basically stools around the house, so she could reach things and low shelves for kid dishes. 
For Lil'C I basically have to break any skill down and teach him how to do it one handed.  I usually put my dominant hand inside my back waist band and learn the skill, then teach him that skill.  I also teach each sub-skill one at a time until he can do them all Independantly.  
Putting on his shirt for example.  First we worked on putting an arm through the sleeve.  Once he could do that part independently we figured out he could pull the shirt over his head if he had the right arm over his elbow.  Once that part was down, I found he could get his left arm in his shirt once the right arm was in, followed by putting the shirt on his right arm.  Finally I got him to put his shirt on if it is laying flat face-up on a surface (table/couch).  He spins it mid-dressings so if it is face down it will end up backwards. The step we are currently working on is getting it onto that surface himself and how to turn it right-side-out if it is inside out.   This process has taken MONTHS and has required help from occupational therapy.   

Because we have done this with almost every skill, I can now dress myself, tie my shoes, put on my socks, open a jar, cut food and fold clothes.. all one-handed.
The other part is tools.  We have a one-button battery-operated can opener, but we will likely get another. 
We also have a button-puller but haven't used it much yet.  We searched for a power wheel that could be driven one-handed, which Lil'C loved until Lil'K and Baby K filled it with mud...  electronics are not fond of mud. 

Montessori is also big on emotional regulation, which means to respond calmly (Positive Parenting works well with this but I'm still learning..) which when I manage to do certainly helps.  With Daddy C and I both having ADHD (meaning all the kids will/do as well) then this can be important, yet difficult, to do.
Lil'C has become much better at calming, although his frustration (usually at Lil'K) can get the best of him.  

Montessori also pushes for lessons/trays/items to be self-corrective.  A puzzle would be a familiar example.  A puzzle can only go together one way, so if you put a piece wrong either the piece will not fit or you will he unable to finish.  

What philosophy do you use?  And why? 

Don't always cook alone.

Did you know that you don't have to cook EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL.  At your home? 

 Even though my husband has spent the past 7 years working in a professional kitchen, I have still been doing nearly all of the cooking.  If someone else was cooking it was to give me a "break".  Does this mean my husband has started taking over some of the meals?  No, he drives me crazy in my kitchen and my kitchen drives him crazy!  Nope I got some new help!  Over a year ago we won a contest that gave us a cooking course. We completed the beginner course and accepted the challenge to do a regular meal for each student.  Most seem to do a dinner but being homeschoolers we did a lunch.  Each kid now has one lunch that they are in charge of each week.  We have developed into a pattern.  Lil'C makes spaghetti on Monday, Lil'K makes Sandwiches, and Baby K makes Tuna!  

Lil'C uses pre-cooked hamburger and canned spaghetti sauce using ramen noodles,
  Lil'K needs coraling so she doesn't get TOO creative, and Baby K requires a MUCH larger mixing bowl to compensate for her 3 year old motor skills.  

They have all been very proud of their cooking days and take them very seriously.  If for some reason we have to miss their day, we have to make it up another meal.  

We have had to add a few tools to our arsenal of kitchen tools (affiliates):
We also added 2 Y-peelers, a one-handed chopper and a handful of kid sized kitchen tools. 

We enjoyed the course and results so much that we are now redoing it with some homeschool friends.  Baby K is taking it seriously for the first time and I expect after we finish the beginner, the big kids will go on to intermediate.  The class works for multiple ages.  I suggest checking out all the details here:

Kid's Cook Real Food

In full disclosure I am an affiliate (because I love it!) so I can let you in on a little secret...  don't buy it today!   Seriously!   Wait for Cyber Monday!  You will thank me.  
It would be a great gift FOR a grandparent or FROM a grandparent.  If you get the forever version then you can re-do the class as kiddos get older, like we are doing.  It is also more fun in a group, but messy.  That is part of the fun though isn't it?  
I would love to know if you get it, and don't let disabilities get in the way, check out #kidscookrealfood and #kidscookrealfoodmodified on Instagram!

See ya in the Kitchen!  

New Hurtles on our Journey

The past few months Baby C and I have been battling a new hurdle for me... Tongue Tie... 
Seriously! What's next?   Thankfully I have a very supportive partner and that has made all the difference with all of the hurdles that have come my way.
A few months ago I was getting a little worried about Baby C's weight gain.  I kept looking for the fat rolls that weren't coming.  I looked at pictures of his siblings at his age and noticed Baby K didn't have any rolls then either, which should have been more of a warning since she has a lip tie.  Around this time I also noticed a groin hernia and he seemed to be a bit fussy. We went into the Ped to discover that at 2 months he had only gained 1 lb since birth.  

This sent us both into a panic, so much so that her first suggestion was to put him on formula.  She knows me, and knows how I feel about formula.  I also knew that my milk was not the issue.  I called the IBCLC that day and set up an appointment.  Until we could meet I "Triple Fed", this meant feeding one side while pumping the other, swapping sides and then bottle feeding whatever was pumped.   This was a long exhausting process.  Especially with the older 3 running around and attempting to get school work done.  At one point I actually broke my hand pump, and once I had my old electric double pump.. I was attached to the wall for at 15-30minutes every 3-4 hours.  
I met the IBCLC at the Pediatric Dentist's office where both confirmed the tie. Baby C was diagnosed with a Stage 3 Posterior Tounge Tie.  He wasn't getting much milk transfer from latching and would spit up much of what he did get.  
The Dentist suggested we go see a Speech Therapist for evaluation and therapies for the tie, which was made easier since Lil C already has weekly therapies.  Baby C was also getting weekly weight checks and his weight had been slowly increasing thanks to the triple feeds, but the stress and exhaustion of the feeds did make me consider formula a few times. 

Meanwhile we had the appointment about his hernia.  The Surgon didn't really see a tie but assured me that he could do that too when he did the repair.  Good news right? Instead of being awake he could be asleep and we could deal with all the painful stuff at once.
After he came out of the hernia repair the surgon informed me that he had had 2 hernia (both now repaired) and that he couldn't get a Pediatric ENT to come look, but the plastic surgeon looked at it and he didn't think it looked like a tie either, so he didn't clip it.  I almost broke down in tears.  I informed him that his problem wasn't length but that it was to thick.  "Besides he doesn't have any weight gain issue."  I managed not to smack him. But I all but yelled at him that he was only gaining weight due to the triple feeds.   He suggested we see a pediatric ENT or a Speech Therapist.  When I told him we had seen a Pediatric dentist and a Speech Therapist he asked what she said.. and when I curtly replied that she confirmed it... well the look on his face can only be described as "Cat got your tounge" 
After Baby C healed from the repair I was hoping he had gotten big enough and strong enough (like Baby K did) that he didn't need all the triple feeds, I started slacking.. and at his weight check, his weight had slowed way down.   So I scheduled the clip with the Pediatric Dentist.  
He didn't fuss to much and for the first time he fully drained me and barely spit up.  Plus the spit up was mostly clear.  Since the repair a week ago he has gained 1 lb and gotten back on the growth curve.  His spit-ups aren't every feeding and most of the feeding anymore.  And best of all, he finally has fat rolls.  

Happy World Breastfeeding Week Ya'll!