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Friday, April 21, 2017

a week in the warmth // beach + lego vacay

Recently we got a much-needed dose of vitamin D and relaxation down in Florida.
We road-tripped down to my in-laws' condo in Treasure Island 
and it was so, so, so nice to get out of the drear that was our weather and into the warmth + rays.
I tried to post a few things on Instagram each day for those who follow along, but here are some more photos chronicling our seven day trip...
My pale children are not used to bright sunshine.  Don't worry - we got them sunglasses.
reading this for book club - and excited for an upcoming Savannah trip!

These kids in the Burley bike trailer.  A little too close for comfort most of the time.

This is Cormac's comfort zone at the beach.  

Paul out in the warm Gulf waves with Fin.

She loves being immersed, literally in nature.


we exfoliated a lot.

The belly even was treated to various spa treatments.
relaxing on the beach...sort of.
start of day two! apple eating!
After day one's sunburn, hubby invested in a shirt.
The waves freak him out, but being buried in sand is totally okay.
Another reapplication of sunscreen under our new beach umbrella.
Sometimes they play so nicely together.  It's like 60/40.
Sunset from the condo's lanai. 
my burnt feet.  ow. 
The only day I put on full makeup deserved a selfie!  We went into St. Pete's and had a family movie date to avoid the mid-day sun.  We are really into movie dates, even on vacation.  
Then later we ended the day hanging on the beach at sunset and getting ice cream.
Had to dress uber-comfy for my biggest craving all vacay - Waffle House!  Which is weird as I never crave waffles. 
everyone wore their pjs or comfies!  
Cormac humored me and wore his WH hat the whole meal.
Last day at the beach!  This girl was born for it.  Peace out, ya'll.
Daddy/Son walk up the beach.  #guytime

After four lovely days at the beach we departed for the second part of our adventure: Legoland. Cormac had suggested this months ago after he had seen an ad for it before a movie.   "We can 'Stay and Play!' Mom!!!!" he had told me excitedly.  (Advertising money well-spent.)  It was so sweet to see him pumped about it, since just this year he started getting really into Lego sets and being able to put them together completely by himself. (Praise Jesus!)

I'll be totally honest : I am sort of dreading ever having to go to Disney World (and Hubby is pretty much against spending the money and fighting the crazy crowds.)  I figured this would be a nice alternative that would hopefully be more laid-back and non-stressful.  It was!  Hardly a line, so the kids got to ride a bunch of rides both the days we were there.  We stayed at the Legoland Hotel, which was super-kid friendly (obviously) and the kids had a blast.   I loved that there were zero lines or crowds or chaos.  It's just not my bag, baby.  I wish I was a chill laid-back mama who just goes with the flow and thrived on chaos...but I'm not.  
the real beds were more comfy.
Fin's fave ride, besides the 3D Ninjago ride.
Cormac now wants bunkbeds, of course.
Blondies and Nya from Ninjago.
The road trip home from Atlanta, just me and the kids after dropping Paul off at ATL to fly to London for work, was ROUGH, ya'll.  Only seven hours, but I think we were all super ready to be home and out of the vehicle.

I love road trips, but this age with the kids is difficult to keep them entertained and not fighting with each other in such close quarters!

Seriously considering a mini-van.  Not gonna lie.  :D

All in all - it was a sweet spring break week.

Friday, April 14, 2017

essential oils : my 'why' story

A couple months ago I'd say I knew very little about essential oils.  

A few friends had mentioned them casually here and there, in passing.  But I had no one in my life that I would call "oil-obsessed."  How in the world did I have no "oily" friends????   Or at least none that were talking about it.

Since no one specifically shared with me, I kinda just had to get there on my own.  Or God led me to it at just the right time.  Very slowly...

My oil experience before being introduced to Young Living...
  • 2013 : Pregnant with Finola, I desired a natural, drug-free childbirth, so I hired a doula.  My amazing doula said she'd "bring oils to warm" for my delivery.  I was like, "Okay lady, whatever you say!" and kind of just trusted her on it.  I knew nothing about essential oils or how they would benefit me during childbirth.  Sure enough, my doula brought those oils, warmed them, and my midwife used them to massage the opening (sorry to get graphic) as I pushed baby's head out.  I had no tearing or need for episiotomy.   This, my friends, is a Godsend for post-partum recovery!!!
  • 2015 : Bought a bottle of lavender from Whole Foods in the hope of making a DIY yoga mat spray.  Never made the spray and the bottle sat on a shelf.  Doh.
  • 2016 : Went through a really rough year mentally.  Struggled with my depression.   Tried medication for several months and decided that it just wasn't for me.  Kept seeking God and praying for direction.  Developed some better habits and mindsets (read about that journey here.) 
  • 2017 : Found out I was pregnant with Baby #3!  Again started thinking about natural, med-free childbirth + hiring a doula, which reminded me about that oil experience.  Randomly saw a post on my Instagram feed about an online "Introduction to Essential Oils Class."  It was posted by a blogger I liked and had been following since I started blogging six years ago.  Cost was $10 which seemed reasonable to me.  I knew nothing after all.  So I jumped in and gave it a shot!  I was also told I would be sent three oil rollers.  I had no idea even what that meant but I was interested and wanted to go into it all with an open mind.  I received my rollers and started using them immediately.  One was lavender and several other oils -- for sleep.  One was a thieves roller -- to promote overall wellness.  The third was called "Happy" with various up-lifting oils that I could roll on during the day for a mood boost.
From what I learned in that online intro class I was beyond intrigued.  Excited even!   I was rolling those oils on my spine, wrists, heart, feet with wild abandon!  I was using them with my kiddos.  I wanted to know more about how to replace all our current household + beauty products with safer, natural, oil alternatives.

I immediately signed up for the premium starter kit, joined the community, and clicked "yes" to every class my FB community leaders were offering.  (I want to learn as much as I can -- so I am still doing that!)  

The oils are in my life now because they seem to fit there. Because of my interest in holistic health care (versus traditional medicine.)  Because of my desire to do something really good for our family.  Because of my need to naturally cope with depression/anxiety.  

So that is why I am posting about this.  I'm sure many of you reading already have oils in your life. If so - yay!  But if not, I want to encourage you to start your own "Oil Journey!"

Your "why" may look completely different than mine. Maybe you want to figure out how to use oils with your babies/kiddos for a variety of reasons (sleep! calm!) Maybe you want to learn how oils can affect hormonal imbalance and fertility.  Or soothe a skin issue.  Maybe you want to supplement your income while doing something healthy/positive for your fam.  Or perhaps switching to all non-toxic products in your home appeals most to you.
my current three favorites from the starter kit!
Whatever your "why" is - at the risk of sounding like a crazy woman - oils are amazing and I would be remiss if I didn't share my excitement and my experience so far!  As I said, I am just learning it all but am loving how positive + nourishing the whole endeavor has been.  I adore that Finola wants me to put "happy oils" on her each morning.  I love how excited Cormac gets about the "smoke machine" (uh, diffuser) and that he calls the oil bottles "special oils."  

Additionally, I've been slowly weeding out products in our home that contain tons of chemicals, and replacing with natural products infused with the oils - many that I am making myself!  (And saving money!!!!)  A couple examples: I've made lavender room sprays for our bathrooms (took about 2 minutes to make) a HUGE vat of laundry detergent, and a headache roller that has largely alleviated the frequent headaches I've been having during this pregnancy, eliminating my need to pop Tylenol on the daily. 

I was buying most of this stuff at Target anyway...why not earn points and freebies AND be using chemical-free products that I can feel good about?

If you want to join Young Living, have access to a pretty amazing community of oil lovers, and, of course, start using products that you will literally FEEL GOOD about...please call/text/email me or simply sign up using the link below.  I can walk you through the process of getting started and hooked up with everything you need to feel competent and prepared to live an "oily life."

I don't want you to say, like I did, that no one ever really told you about oils.  I am unabashedly encouraging you to seek the natural benefits of oils and clean products infused with them.  I wish I had done this years ago, ya'll.  All that said - 

I would L O V E for you to join my Young Living team and go on this journey with me!   

Right now I am offering $20 back on your Premium Starter Kit.  Investing this kit is all you need to do to join Young Living and get started with oils!  (Best purchase I've made all year!)
 Regular cost is $160, but if you purchase the kit through me this month I will personally refund you $20!
(Because I believe in you + this!)

So for $140 - you get 11 amazing oils (including: lavender, thieves, peppermint, Stress Away) a diffuser, 10 roller bottles, 2 packets of Ninxja Red (basically a delicious essential oil-infused 'juice pouch'), and various oil samples to share, as well as the product guide and starter lit.

To take advantage of this discount you need to use this link to sign up :   

Be sure to sign up as a "member" to get the wholesale discounts on all products and start earning points that can be used to get free products!  (There is no pressure/requirement to ever 'direct market/sell' to anyone - you still get the discount and perks!)

Email me if you have any questions at greta.r.ford@hotmail.com - or call/text/FB message.
Once you are signed up I can get you your $20 refund ASAP, and get you linked into our amazing private Facebook group where you will honestly have such fabulous support + be inspired by all the tips/recipes/advice!   There are regular online classes that will teach you about the oils and specific uses.  I will hold your hand through this!

The best part about Young Living - besides the oils, of course - is the support + encouragement you get from your community!

If you are still on the fence about oils I'd love to send you some samples and talk oils with you.
Let me know!

Happy Easter, friends!
He is risen!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

mini-getaway : bardstown, ky

I remember sitting across from my husband the first night I met him.
We were barely twenty-years-old.  Babies. 
We were both living in St. Paul, Minnesota (my home state.)
He was well-spoken and seemed pretty intelligent, but for some reason when he kept mentioning his hometown it sounded garbled.  Something like "I'm from the city of Blou-bloul."
I was so confused.  He said it various times and I thought I was going crazy.

Turns out he was saying Louisville (Looey-ville, to us northerners.) 

That summer night I never would have dreamt that one day Blou-bloul would be a place I would go on a regular basis.  That Kentucky would become my state.  

That I, too, would pronounce the city in such a way.

While I still feel Minnesotan at heart, I have grown to love things about Kentucky and the South.  I still call soda "pop" and casseroles "hot dishes" -- but I'll now drink sweet tea and bourbon and wear giant hats to certain events throughout the year.  Occasionally I'll throw in a "ya'll" despite still retaining a slight Minnesotan accent.

Anyhow, I've enjoyed getting to know parts of Kentucky, and got to know it a bit more this past weekend.

Since my first trimester had been riddled with constant nausea, I was very excited when Hubby suggested we have a little weekend getaway, now that I was past all that,  just the two of us!  

The kids got to spend a couple days with the grandparents in Louisville, while we drove a little ways farther to the little town of Bardstown - famous for its bourbon festival and many nearby distilleries.  Kentucky, of course, has The Bourbon Trail and this is a popular stop on that.  

No bourbon was to be consumed by us,  considering babe and all, but we strolled the cute town and grabbed a bite to eat at a bustling diner before driving out to our bed and breakfast.
After an hour or so in Bardstown downtown area, we headed out to our B+B, which Hubby had chosen.  I was so excited it was out in the country!  There was something so peaceful about it, and getting out in the fresh farm air made me think of my childhood.   I made us stop on the long driveway so I could take pics of the llamas grazing (or alpaca??? the farm had both.)
You can see our B+B - The Maple Hill Manor - in the distance.  
hubby is not that tall...but these giant doors make everyone look pretty short!
we stayed in what I called "the blue room" - which was calming and lovely. 
we basically kept the fireplace on our entire stay.  sorry, not sorry.
Just enjoying my cozy robe and the fire.  Gotta soak up the little luxuries (like silence) when you can as a mama!
hubby brought me my morning coffee.  so thankful I can stomach black coffee again!
peaceful view from our room.
after all the other guests checked out we got to see all the other rooms - all gorgeous, but this pink one with an extra canopy bed was so bright and girly and sweet.

The breakfast was lovely.  Pretty sure I ate every bit of goodness I was offered.  We were the last to eat...I wanted it to be less "people-y" in the breakfast room and to get to chat with the innkeeper one-on-one to get the history of the place.  Finally, we peeked in all the other rooms and marveled at how beautiful and old the place was.


After we checked out, we went back to Bardstown and toured "My Old Kentucky Home" which is a famous mansion there.  So gorgeous!
Then, back to reality!  It was a quick, mini-getaway, but just what we needed to refresh and reconnect.

If you only had about thirty-six hours for a getaway, where would you go?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

baby three.

Another baby grows in my belly. Our third. Likely our last. One final tie-breaker blondie.
Since having Finola nearly four years ago I really struggled with whether or not we should have another.  I went through periods of depression.  Anxiety with two tiny babies, whose lives I fear for and pray over ever single day.  Insecurity about my ability to raise our kids well.  Frustration about the messiness and lack of control that comes with motherhood.

So for several years I prayed to God for clarity.  None came.  I thought maybe I would come across a "calling" in the meantime that would move my focus from pregnancy to something else fulfilling.  A career outside the home?  Fostering?  A side business?  A specific direction to take this blog?

No "calling" presented itself.  Well, except the call to change a lot about myself.  I wrote in this post about the spiritual and mental changes that happened in 2016.  I think God really needed me to change some things about how I deal with my emotions before I could even begin to think about another baby.  I needed to deal with (eliminate) some sources of stress, and let go of certain things I could not change.  He wanted me closer to Him, and more focused upon what really matters.

Hubby and I discussed the probability of another baby at least once a week for three years. Sometimes I was adamant it was a "no."  Sometimes I would feel our family simply wasn't complete. Other times I jealously didn't want to give my attention to another child.  Hubby, for his part, also waffled a bit but always said he would be happy either way.  (Smart man.)

For me it was a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions and jumbled prayers.

Finally, around the holidays we made a "decision."  I put that in quotes because I think it was more that we just got tired of talking about it.  We decided to stop "preventing" but also to not try to obsessively pinpoint my specific ovulation days.  To just give it up to God and say whatever will be will be.  Lord, if you want this for us, your will be done.  If not, we will be okay with that, too.  

There was a lot of relief and freedom in just giving it over to Him.

In my heart I thought, Clearly God will say I'm not able to handle another!

However, lo and behold, not long after we returned from our post-Christmas trip to Minnesota I was a day late with my period.  With trepidation I quickly took a pregnancy test that night right before dinner.

Positive - immediately.  Of course I was excited -- but a nervous excitement!  There was no ceremony when I told Paul the news.  The kids were running around wild + screaming after we finished eating, and Hubby was still sitting there - so I just slid the test across the island to him and said, "Guess what!"

That was at four weeks.  Now I'm fourteen weeks and while I won't go into all the minute details of my first trimester as I've done on this blog in the past, I will say that this pregnancy has been almost identical to the previous two - SUPER nauseous all day every day from week six through week twelve.   Had to eat constantly, or I felt like I had to vomit.  Nothing sounded appetizing, so basically I ate whatever sounded tolerable.  Almost like clockwork at twelve weeks I started feeling better - at least able to enjoy eating again and prepare food without feeling like I was going to yack.

What is different this time I have two kiddos experiencing it right alongside me...and man, are they excited!  We shared the news with them on Valentine's Day -- tying in the 'day of love' with what we love...our little family, including their new sib!

Before we shared the news I kinda thought they already knew...I wasn't really making great effort to hide my discomfort and growing belly - which started popping MUCH earlier this time.  I felt like I was constantly saying to them, "Be careful of Mama's belly - please don't jump on it!" without really explaining why all of a sudden bouncing on my tummy was discouraged.

Despite all that, the kids seemed surprised and REALLY happy!  Phew!  I was nervous a bit about Finola feeling displaced as the baby (like I did when my younger bro came along) but she seems over-the-moon!  She randomly exclaims, "I can't wait to meet our baby!"  Cormac, not surprisingly, is constantly talking to the baby (my belly) and telling him/her EVERYTHING.  Already he wants this child to be influenced by his strong opinions.  Mainly, it must like "villains" and the color green.

Finola, rather than chattering loudly to my belly, whispers to it almost inaudibly.  Perhaps they are sisters already telling secrets?

Of course, I know anything can happen.  I'm trying to just remind myself every day of what we have, that God has plans greater than mine, and to pray for this baby just like I do for the others.

It is a delicate balance of worry and joy.

Here are the few 'bump shots' I have.  I meant to take cute "announcement pics" with my DSLR - but, as with probably everything else with the third child my best intentions went out the window!  From one third child to another -- sorry baby, but you may need to get used to it!
six weeks.  baby or post-chipotle?

Eight weeks. 
Getting bigger!  Twelve weeks - visiting my sis in MT. 
Our family is excited for this next chapter in our lives -- and appreciate any prayers (and advice) for being a family of five!