A Full Circle Moment in Bloggy World!

I can definitely say that this past weekend was a full circle moment for my blog. When I first started writing this blog, I hoped that my closest and friends and family would read it. That was as far as my expectations went. I thought…well if I can just get my closest friends to read my vaccine research, then hopefully I can help them with their decision. I honestly had no idea this blog would one day be read by millions of people, that I would form relationships and friendships with many of my readers all over the world, and that would day I would travel to meet them. Wow!

First let me say….YOU GUYS ROCK!!! I absolutely adore my bloggy friends that read this blog and the community of friendships that have been formed. You guys are the reason why I will never quit writing (even when I want to, which is often). You confirm, validate, and encourage me to keep going.

This past weekend I was able to travel with my friend Danielle to teach oil classes. We traveled to and through 7 different states. I knew I was going to be teaching classes for members in my downline that signed up for YL through my blog, but I wanted I didn’t realize was the amazing testimonies and stories and friendships that would come from it. And that the people who I often refer to as “blog readers” are real life, awesome, amazing people that I get to hug and cry with and talk to and get to know as friends! How cool is that?

Meeting my blog readers face to face and hearing their stories of how this blog has changed their way of thinking, their vaccine decisions, their health choices, and hearing their stories testimonies was simply amazing. It was a full circle moment for sure. This blog talks about many things: family life, adoption, health, vaccines, and oils to name a few. Never did I think that oils would allow me to meet the people who this blog has touched face to face. Many of whom have been touched by my vaccine posts. Wow!!!

Many of the mothers I meet are mothers of vaccine injured children who just want to thank me for being a voice to them. To you guys, I say YOU ARE MY HEROS! When I started my Lioness Arising Series, it was my way to try to give a voice to the autism community. I quickly fell in love with this community and formed many friendships with mommas of vaccine-injured children from all over the world. Your stories literally break my heart and are one of the main reasons why I will never stop fighting for truth. And then there’s The Thinking Moms Revolution. A community of amazing thinkers who many of them have become dear friends to me. I always say I can’t imagine anything worse than knowing that I know that I know that I know what happened to my child, and the rest of the world denies it. I love that The Thinking Moms Revolution is changing the mindsets of many people.

Full Circle Moment: 2 years ago I shared Thinking Moms co-founder, Kim Spencer, sons story of vaccine injury and recovery in my Lioness Arising Series. Never would I have imagined that we would become dear friends, and two years later I’d be traveling 10 hours to spend the weekend at her house, meeting her son, and being cooked for and waited on by her. Haha! Just kidding! Thanks Kim for all the meals and opening your home to us. I love you and your precious family! What a special weekend it was to meet Patrick. Wow! Recovery is real and beautiful. Patrick, age 14, now makes handmade American flags out of wood, steel rods, nuts, and bolts. These flags are amazing. I bought one from him. This American flag will forever hang in my yard as a special reminder that what started out as a simple blog for family and friends has turned into a one of the most special avenues that I have, where I get to travel and meet these amazing heros face to face!

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Many of the other mothers I meet are mothers who were searching for truth. Either they had vaccine safety & efficacy questions or they were noticing something in their child after a round of shots and their instinct was speaking to them, one way or another they found this blog. Their stories are amazing. I wish I could share them all!

The past 5 years of writing this blog has been something that is hard to put into words. The loss of friendships when I decided to fist start writing about vaccines was heartbreaking for me. The death threats and hate mail, also not fun. And then the recent FDA adventure. I’m not going to go into details, but for those of you that read this blog regularly, you will see that every blog post I’ve ever written on essential oils is no longer on this blog. You can thank our friends at the FDA for that. Working with a legal team is not something I ever though would happen as a blog writer.  Last week I was ready to be done with this blog forever. And then I took this recent trip and met dozens of blog readers who shared their personal stories of what this blog has meant to them and how it’s changed their families radically, and it was confirmed once again that this is a God-given passion and I will continue to write, even when I don’t want to. The Lord is so sweet and gracious in that He showed me a glimpse into the impact that this blog has made and it was exactly what I needed to keep going. I’m so thankful to serve a faithful God that redeems, refreshes, and restores us. “For He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” -1 Thessalonians 5:24

I often think of this God-given passion that was given to me. Write about vaccines. Yikes! I know many, many, many friends that do not vaccinate, but they also don’t share or talk or write about it. Sometimes I’m envious of that. I wish I could hide in my own little bubble with my 5 kids, knowing that the decisions that we have made for our families health work for us, and that’s all that matters. But that’s not the case for me. I write about one of the most controversial topics and it’s not always what I want to do. I opened up recently in a post called “Blog Bullies and Hate Mail”, where I share the ugly truth of what bloggers like me deal with when speaking out about vaccines. But the Lord is faithful and constantly refreshing me and this past weekend tangibly showing me that my efforts are not in vain, but are truly helping others.

For those of you that I met this past weekend, thank-you! Thank-you for sharing your story with me. I pray that I can continue to educate, inspire, and encourage you all to follow your instincts and continue to make the health choices that feel right and work best for you and your family!

Really though, this blog is NOT AT ALL ABOUT ME. This is a God thing. And to HIM, ALL THE GLORY!

“Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. To HIM be the glory” -Ephesians 3:20

Yay for truth!
xoxo, Jessica

Flu Fighters…

Guess what? It’s “flu season”. Although I’m not sure flu season ever ends. I’m pretty sure I see those Walgreens Flu Shot signs up all 12 months out of the year.

But for fun, let’s just say it’s officially flu season. Now what?

In an excellent article written by Dr. Levatin called What’s in Your Medicine Chest this Flu Season?, she shares of all the viruses that cause colds and influenza-like illnesses, only about 10% are actual influenza viruses. That means when people say they have the flu, nearly 90% of the time the symptoms they are experiencing are not caused by an influenza virus. That means you can get the flu shot and still get an illness you would call The Flu!”

Dr. Levatin goes through a list of Medicines to avoid: Flu shots, Tamiflu and OTC drugs. She then provides a very thorough list of What’s Best for Flu Season, where she discusses Vitamin D3, Herbs, Homeopathy, Probiotics, Colloidal Silver, and more. So let’s talk about all the goodies we have to build our immune systems and protect us from the flu!

1. OILS! Holla for oils! 

Thieves oil is our families immune builder. We start rubbing this oil on the bottom of our children’s feet every morning starting on the first day of school. At any signs of sickness or illness, it is also taken internally and diffused around our home.

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Our new OIL SISTAS website has a really cool feature, in that we have a team of writers who take turns writing very educational blog posts. Over the last few weeks fellow OIL SISTA Danielle Keen, has written two great posts on using oils to build immune systems during cold/flu season. Post #1: A Shot To Your Health and Post #2: Winter Wellness. In both of these posts Danielle shares how to replace fear of contracting sickness with confidence by preparing our bodies for even the biggest of “mystery” illnesses out there. I especially love the Winter Wellness post, as the 6 oils in the Golden Touch kit are explained in detail. I highly recommend this kit during the winter months.

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2. HOME REMEDIES & HERBS! 

I also love this resource from Wellness Mama: Natural Illness Prevention & Treatment – Beat the Cold, Flu and Fever Faster. In this link, you will find detailed information on Cold & Flu PreventionNatural Treatments for Cold, Flu and Illness, AND Home Remedies From Things Already In Your House: Garlic, Hydrogen Peroxide, Hot Liquids, Cinnamon, Face Steam, Removing White Foods (Grains, Sugar, & Starch), and how to get proper nutrition, hydration, & rest. All excellent information!

This resource also provides detailed information on the benefits and uses of Herbs For Natural Cold and Flu Treatment: Nettle Leaf, Elderberry, Ginger, Yarrow, Chamomile, Peppermint, Catnip, Red Clover, & Coltsfoot. It details what they do and how to use them.

Here I wrote a post on recipes we use in our family for Herbal Teas and Healing Soups. I love that we can constantly build our immune systems throughout the year. There is no need for panic during “flu season”.

At the first sign of sickness in our home, we eliminate ALL wheat, dairy, & sugar. Simple dietary changes can drastically change the severity and length of a sickness. Simple steps like colloidal silver in water, drinking kombucha, and taking probiotics can play such a safe and effective role during winter months.

3. ELDERBERRY SYRUP:

One of our family favorites is making Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry is well known for supporting the body, especially during flu season. You can find conventionally made elderberry syrups at many stores now, or you can make your own. We make our own and keep on hand all winter. It’s very easy & inexpensive to make. Here is the brief version of how to make your own Elderberry syrup, but I’m linking in depth directions (with pictures) to help (HERE).

To make: Boil 3 cups of water with 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried elderberries. We buy elderberry seeds in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. Once it has boiled, reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes. When cool, mash berries and strain to get liquid. Add 2 TBS of honey to the liquid and mix well. You can also add clove sticks, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, etc.. There are tons of variations. You can store in the fridge for up to 3 months and take 1-2 tablespoons a day (adults) or 1-2 teaspoons a day (kids) for illness prevention. Take three times that dose if suffering from illness.

“Elderberry has been shown to be very effective against at least eight strains of flu virus. It contains Sambucus nigra agglutins (SNAs) which help prevent some types of flu from infecting healthy cells. A clinical trial of elderberry found that it cured 90 percent of flu infections in three days, which was half the time needed for recovery in participants taking a placebo.”

WHAT ABOUT THE FLU SHOT?

The flu shot is now being pushed on everyone from pregnant women to newborns to my 85 year old Granny. The flu shot is also being forced on every profession from nurses to taxi cab drivers.

Does the Flu Shot Work?

-Not in babies: In a review of more than 51 studies involving more than 294,000 children it was found there was “no evidence that injecting children 6-24 months of age with a flu shot was any more effective than placebo. In children over 2 yrs, it was only effective 33% of the time in preventing the flu.
Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2 (2008).

-Not in children with asthma: In a study of 800 children with asthma, one half were vaccinated and the other half did not receive the influenza vaccine. The two groups were compared with respect to clinic visits, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations for asthma. CONCLUSION: This study failed to provide evidence that the influenza vaccine prevents pediatric asthma exacerbations.
Reference: “Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for the prevention of asthma exacerbations.” Christly, C. et al. Arch Dis Child. 2004 Aug;89(8):734-5.

-Not in children with asthma (2): “The inactivated flu vaccine, Flumist, does not prevent influenza-related hospitalizations in children, especially the ones with asthma…In fact, children who get the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than children who do not get the vaccine.”
Reference: The American Thoracic Society’s 105th International Conference, May 15-20, 2009, San Diego.

-Not in adults: In a review of 48 reports including more than 66,000 adults, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to hospital or take time off work.”
Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1 (2006).

-Not in the Elderly: In a review of 64 studies in 98 flu seasons, For elderly living in nursing homes, flu shots were non-significant for preventing the flu. For elderly living in the community, vaccines were not (significantly) effective against influenza, ILI or pneumonia.
Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.3 (2006).


When it comes to Flu Season, & Flu Shots, & Flu Information, all I really want is the honest to goodness truth on how to properly protect and fight this illness. When I open up a parenting magazine, I expect to read truthful articles.

I recently saw the most misinformed article promoting the flu shot. This article is titled:
THE FLU SHOTS SUPERPOWERS

The statistics given were truly disturbing. “Pregnant women who were vaccinated during the H1N1 pandemic a couple of years ago were 34 percent less likely to have a stillbirth and 28 percent less likely to deliver before 32 weeks”. Wow, I guess the flu vaccine does have superpowers. It helps women carry their baby longer? No. Of course not.

The truth is actually quite the opposite and very devastating. The truth is the H1N1 vaccine was linked to 700 percent increase in miscarriages.  A lot of people tried to say these reports of miscarriages were only “anecdotal evidence” (the stories written and shared by the mothers who suffered miscarriages within hours and days after their flu shots were heartbreaking, I read them), however a study published by the Journal of Human and Experimental Toxicology, examined three flu seasons, and found that the flu vaccine did indeed cause an increase in fetal death. You can read the full story & study (HERE). 

The truth is, the flu shot is very dangerous for pregnant women and does not have superpowers. 

Along a laundry list of many adverse reactions caused by the flu vaccine, the flu vaccine causes narcolepsy in children, but I wouldn’t consider that a superpower. You can read more about those studies (HERE) and (HERE)

WHAT DO THE VACCINE PACKAGE INSERTS SAY?

Here’s a picture that properly displays the truth about the effectiveness of the flu shot (this picture comes directly from the FLULAVAL Vaccine package insert)

It reads: “There have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL”

The package insert also states: “It is also not known whether influenza virus vaccine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman”.

No testing has ever been done on the effects of these vaccines on the unborn children of pregnant women who receive them, I’m not sure about you, but if the vaccine package insert tells me the flu shot doesn’t work, I’m going to believe that a lot more that a parenting magazine that runs an article telling me that the flu shot has Super Powers.

The product package inserts are always a good place to start in your research on vaccines. These are the “regulated” documents that vaccine makers must produce for the FDA after clinical trials. Is the Flu Vaccine for You? Educate Yourself – Read the Product Inserts First.

INGREDIENTS

Knowing the ingredients in the flu shot is also important. Formaldehyde ( a know carcinogenic).  Polysorbate 80 (Tween80™) can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Also associated with inferility in female mice. Thimerosal (mercury) just to name a few.

According to Hugh Fudenberg, MD, the world’s leading immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times (nearly 850 papers in peer review journals): If an individual has had 5 consecutive flu shots, his/her chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease is 10 times higher than if he/she had one, 2 or no shots. Dr. Fudenberg said it was due to mercury and aluminum that is in every flu shot. The gradual mercury and aluminum buildup in the brain causes cognitive dysfunction.

Flu shots contain 25 micrograms of mercury.
One microgram is considered toxic.

More great research (HERE) and (HERE) and (HERE)

I’m thankful that there are ways to fight the flu naturally, but building our immune system. I don’t think it is ever God’s plan for us to fight things with ingredients that are toxic to our bodies.

How will your family fight the flu this year? I’d love to hear from you!

Thieves Jessica

A Lioness Arising Mom in Need!

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that my Lioness Arising Mommas are near and dear to my heart. As I share their stories for all the world to hear, I get to personally know these mommas. They capture my heart and become forever friends. One of the mothers whose stories has been told in my Lioness Arising Mothers Series desperately needs our help! I am asking my bloggy friends to please read this post and pray about how you can help! My sweet friend Melanie means the world to me. The news of her diagnosis has brought me to my knees in tears and prayers. This is the first time I’ve ever done this on my blog, but I know that by sharing her story, we can ALL help her!

Melanie just found out she has spine and liver cancer after having beaten breast cancer and bone cancer.

Melanie is one of the most Godly, loving, amazing women I have had the privilege of getting to know. I first shared the story of her sons vaccine injury 2 years ago. It was a profound post, written in the words of Melanie. You can read it HERE.

Through the years, Melanies posts have made me laugh, brought me tears, made me think, and have brought me closer to the Lord. I have watched the selfless care that Melanie gives to her son Luke. I have been moved by Melanie’s  heart that serves and honors the Lord in everything she does, while also being a world changer through sharing the harsh truth and reality of what is happening to this generation of children, while also helping her son survive from day to day.

When The Thinking Moms Revolution came to my home town for a book signing tour, Melanie was one of the mommas I hoped could make it. However, she was not able to, as she is raising a severly affected son who still requires 24/7 care and attention. Luke suffers from autism and is very ill and self-injurious. Melanie cares for Luke every single day. They have a sweet bond. I cannot imagine Melanie leaving Luke behind right now.

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Melanie is also one of the authors of the Thinking Moms Revolution book. A group of women who is near and dear to my heart.  In TMRS own words: “Melanie is an amazing woman who has changed the face of the autism and cancer cultures by telling her story to thousands as “Booty Kicker” in the Thinking Moms’ Revolution’s book Autism Beyond the Spectrum.  For anyone who knows Melanie through Facebook, two words come to mind. “Faithful” and “Godly.” For those of us at TMR who know her on a more intimate level we may use use the words hilarious, witty, kind, loving, patient, and steadfast.  She is the voice of reason, and sometimes opposition, but always with a clear focus in mind.  She makes us all better people”. 

Please consider donating generously to help her family care for Luke as Melanie regains her health and overcomes her current situation with this new diagnosis. Please help their family establish financial security that will help them thrive during her absence.

Please pray how you can give to help Melanie. Please visit the GiveForward site set up for the Baldwin family HERE. 

If you have not, you must read the blogs written by Melanie. Her Autism and the Church series found here, here and here is truly exceptional.  She is touching so many lives. Read.  You won’t be disappointed.

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And to you Melanie, blessings to you my sweet friend. May the peace that surpasses ALL understanding cover both you, your husband, & Luke as you walk through this extremely difficult time. I pray peace, wisdom, & healing over your. I pray that this blog post blesses you with the finances that you need to receive the treatments that you need. I love you. Jessica

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Blog Bullies & Hate Messages

Warning: This post contains language that is inappropriate and not easy to read. However, for the sake of getting my message across, I will include the language as it was originally sent to me.

First let me say that I absolutely know what comes with the territory of writing a blog, especially when I write on a controversial topic such as vaccines. I’ve been receiving hate mail for 4 years. My kids have received death threats. And I know that this blog is passionately hated. Or passionately loved. Unfortunately it is rare to find a middle ground in the vaccine “debate”. Vaccines are a philosophy and the debate is about a belief system. Not science.

What I don’t understand is the HATE that comes from the opposing view.

I read an article today and it really resonated with me. The article was written by someone who wanted to find out “Just who are these ANTI-VAXXERS anyways?” The author of this article shares how she first set out thinking “ANTI-VAXXERS!  Crazy People!  Dangerous therapies!  Autism Haters! Pseudo Science! QUACKS!” And then she got to know “anti-vaxxers”. (Read the entire article, it’s really great).

Part of the article read:

“The hatred in this country that is aimed at the ‘ANTI VAXXERS’  has put me over the edge this week.

So WHO does everyone think these Anti-Vaxxers are, anyways?  Do they really deserve this hatred, this mockery, this ridicule, this BULLYING?  Because that is what is sounds like, it sounds like bullying. And most of them have retreated, afraid to admit that yes, it happened to their child too.  They are afraid of the bullying, and they have no voice. No matter what your stand is on vaccines … and whether you believe them or not … the question is about bullying”.

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Yes, it absolutely is bullying. I wrote a post a few months back called “Dear Blog Bullies, I Don’t See Your Comments”. Whenever my vaccine posts go viral, the hate mail comes flooding in. I really don’t read the comments anymore. I now have a blog comment moderator who throws bullying comments in the trash before I ever seen them.

Last week my post “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles” spread around the internet. Even though I wrote it about 4 months ago, blog posts seem to make there rounds. This simple children’s book review sure brought out some HATE.

I typically would never read or share the absolute HATE messages that I receive, but I don’t think people really understand the hate and the bullying that is given to parents like me who have made an educated, informed decision to not vaccinate. When I read the article today where the author sheds light on the fact that it is bullying, I thought I would share just a few of the comments I’ve received within this last week. So into the trash pile of my blog comments I went. Oh the gems of comments that I found.

WARNING: content below is NOT appropriate for children. Well not appropriate for anyone really.

-“You people are a special kind of stupid, aren’t you? Why in the name of all things holy would you want to expose your children to measles? I hope some of you realize this before you have to bury a child”

-“Hitting head against a brick wall. Just where do these nutcases come from? The utterly uneducated, uniformed, unscientific delusional thought patterns behind this nonsense are absolutely UNBELIEVABLE! Your children should be removed from your care”

-“You are a moron who will kill your children”

-“Wow, you’re a fucking idiot”

-“I can’t believe someone like you has children and promoting this abuse”

-“You should have your children taken away”

-“Your promoting child abuse”

-“This has got to be the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard”

-“This has got to be the most ass backwards book I have ever seen”

-“Seems like most of you are completely uneducated”

-“Your stupidity is harming your kids”

-“Holy shit. You are actually insane, aren’t you? Or just incredibly stupid”

-“Please jump off a building, all of you. Help eradicate stupidity one leap at a time”

-“Grow up. It is people like you all that make me embarrassed to be part of the human race”

-“Unfortunately there is no vaccine for stupid. Good luck”

-“Well, woe to you, arrogant, ignorant stupid lady. Your ilk would bring back measles and kill children all in “His Name”.

“A great big fuck you from me to you. You have blood on your hands and I hope you rot in hell”

-“YOU ARE A FUCKING MENACE.

YOU ARE LITERALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF CHILDREN.

YOU FUCKING MONSTER”

-“You are a disgrace to Christianity and America”

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So this my friends is a glimpse into what we refer to as internet trolls and blog bullies. And what educated mothers who have chosen to not vaccinate are met with.

How in the world does a children’s book teaching that measles is not a disease to fear, bring this much hate out in people? And do these commenters really think that their hate is going to change my educated decision?

Or as LA Times recently described us: “Rich, Educated, and Stupid”.

Educated AND Stupid? Now that takes skill. Haha! Maybe LA Times should also add to our description: “Rich, Educated, Stupid, Hated, and Bullied”.

So while the internet trolls & blog bullies waste their time and energy using HATE. I will continue doing what I’ve done for the last 4 years. Seek truth. And speak truth.

Truth always wins.

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P.S I’m not an “Anti-vaxxer” and I honestly don’t even know what that means. It’s a derogatory term that shows the ignorance behind the hate and bullying. I personally am Pro-Truth. Pro-Safety. Pro-Effectiveness. Pro-Immune System. Pro-Education. Pro-Informed Consent. Vaccines offer none of those.

The best is when I hear mothers & fathers with vaccine-injured children being called “Anti-vaxxers”. Um….no. Pretty much the opposite actually. How do you think their child was injured in the first place?

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Adventures in Cooking…

Last week I posted on facebook asking for friends to share “easy, healthy, & delicious” recipes. I’m not the cook in our home and I was truly looking for some new recipes to help jump start me back into cooking.

My husband cooks 99.9% of the time. He is an amazing cook. I am not.

Why am I not a good cook? Many reasons. No passion or desire is probably the first reason. Then 5 kids in 5 years, an international adoption, and working like crazy for a family business and other self-employed business, I just became “too busy”. Or too lazy. Whatever you want to call it. My husband would come home from work and it was his way to unwind. He loves cooking and he is great at it. So he became the “cook”.

1533210_10152179031450883_1400099579_n (1)I mean come on, this is a before dinner  “appetizer”. Why would I want to compete with this?

Now I am in a new season. I’m no longer working for multiple businesses. 4 of our 5 kids are now in school. And I have 75% more free time than I’ve ever had since having kids. We also have a new house with a new kitchen that I love. I feel like it’s a fresh start. So I’m ready to start cooking again. First I had to learn how. Haha!

I looked back through my old recipes and could not believe how different we used to eat. All of my old recipes are no longer relevant to the way our family now eats. My husband can whip up a 99.9% organic gourmet meal for a family of 7, and everyone loves it.  I have about a dozen friends who faithfully make Rit’s famous soups now, because they are that good. I want to be like that too. I think.

The first week I started cooking again, I just wasn’t in a groove. I needed some new inspiration. Inspiration that would inspire my 5 kids and husband to also want to eat it. I love to make delicious salads with everything in them from sprouts to goat cheese. And I can whip up some pretty cool dishes. But they aren’t exactly family-of-7, kids-will-love recipes. Now I can rock Annie’s Mac & Cheese and make all my kids happy (just kidding). But what I was looking for was some new recipes for super duper healthy meals that I will love to cook because my kids and husband will rave over it. I’ve mastered the world’s best lasagna because that is my husbands favorite meal. And I love making this dish for him. It’s a homemade sauce that slow cooks for about 4 hours before you build the lasagna dish. I rock that dish about twice a year. Haha!. But I need more recipes. So facebook I went.

Many of the recommendations I received were sending me links to websites or telling me to search pinterest. That’s not the help I was looking for. I know every healthy cooking food website there is. I was looking for tried and true recipes that my friends make and their kids love. I wanted real life testimonies. I also didn’t want 3,000 step recipes and I was looking for ingredients that fit the way we eat.

And then my friend Brandi showed up to the thread. All of the recipes she started sharing were speaking my language (raw cheese, organic meats, only 3 – 5 ingredients, no gluten, fresh veggies). I was so excited. And so my new adventure in cooking began.

I wrote down about a dozen or so recipes that were shared of the 96 comments I received (5 of which came from Brandi, haha). I went to the grocery store and bought all my ingredients for my first 3 meals.

Meal #1: Brandi’s Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Meal #2: Brandi’s Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein

Meal #3: Brandi’s Sweet Potato Sheppards Pie

OK, so the first night, Spaghetti Squash Lasagna. 4 main ingredients (Spaghetti squash, organic beef, organic sauce, organic raw cheese). I can totally do this. In a pan, I was to layer the spaghetti squash (once it was cooked and scooped out), then add the already cooked ground beef and sauce (that I cooked while my squash was baking), then sprinkle with cheese and put back in oven to melt. Who could mess this up? I put my squash in the oven and cooked my meat and sauce. When the timer for the squash was about to go off, I decided to take a look at it. I texted my friend Brandi with this photo. And that’s where the fun began.

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Needless to say, my first night of cooking ended up with what I describe as “smooshed squash baby food with a red meat sauce on top”. I ended up cooking some organic gluten free pasta and the butternut squash was a side dish, with some sliced avocados (all my kids LOVE avocados). Avocados is a dish right?!?

cooking1First night of “Spaghetti Squash Lasagna” = FAIL

The next meal was lunch the next day. Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein. First I had to go find spaghetti squash, because I had originally bought 2 butternut squash. Yes, loser. And my friend Brandi even had to walk me through finding them. I think I texted her about 337 times for the next 2 days of cooking her recipes. This dish involved baking the butternut squash and while that cooked, steaming cabbage, bok choy, mung bean sprouts, shredded carrots, and then adding the spaghetti squash and sautéing it all together with garlic, onions, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. This dish came out ok, but I did not make cook enough garlic, onion, ginger, etc… and used too much coconut oil, so it didn’t taste great. It was bland and I think I overcooked the veggies. I actually made this dish for lunch and when it didn’t taste great, I put it off to the side. I forgot about it and left it out overnight. When my sister came over the next day I asked her to try it and see if she could doctor it up, and by the time she took a bite, it had gone rancid and tasted rotten and was just another bite into my nasty cooking that everyone has grown to know. There is hope for this dish when I try it again.
IMG_8227Second try of “Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein” = FAIL

Meal #3. Sweet Potato Sheppard’s Pie. Only 4 ingredients again (sweet potato, ground beef, veggies, cheese) I was destined to master this one. I already had an entire pan of butternut squash (left over from my spaghetti squash lasagna fail the night before). I baked a few more sweet potatos and then peeled and smashed those and added to the already peeled and smashed butternut squash. Put that in baking dish with butter and salt and pepper on top. Then I layered steamed veggies on top (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, & edamame). Then cooked my organic ground beef, sautéed with a whole onion and 4 cloves of garlic, and then layered the meat on top of the veggies. Then sprinkled with organic raw cheese. Put that bad boy in the oven to melt the cheese. It came out amazing. Holla! All the kids loved it. And so did my husband. Success!
IMG_7337Third Try: “Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash Sheppards Pie” = SUCCESS

I told my 20 something sister, “All I want is to master like 4 new recipes”. To which she replied “Um…how cute are you. You are a mother of 5 and all you want to master is 4 new recipes”. Yes. Because after my adventurous 3 meals of cooking, I woke up the next morning and saw these steaks already thawing on our kitchen counter (holla for going in with friends on the purchase of a cow which gives us amazing grass fed organic beef). And I can’t tell you how much I loved to see that Rit had already planned and was already thinking of dinner that night. Because of course that night we enjoyed the most delicious steaks, with roasted organic potatoes seasoned to perfection, and a homemade salad with all fresh ingredients, including delicious sweet peppers.

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And if I master anymore than 4 dishes….I’ll start missing out on the real dinners ;)

And I think Rit’s ready to resume as the main cook again anyways.

Adoption #2, Here We Go!!!

Why another adoption?

I’m glad you asked.

Two years ago, we were in the process of adopting “Brothers Brother”. 6 months into the process we found out he was declared “ineligible for international adoption“. We were heart broken. The tears did not stop for the first 24 hours, but our joy quickly came (literally the next morning) when we found out about Solomon. Solomon was from a different home in Uganda and as we went through the adoption process with Solomon, we had no idea we were still being considered at the first orphanage.

2 months after Solomon arrived home, (and 9 months after losing Brother’s Brother and not hearing a word from this orphanage) we received a surprise email. It was from the first orphanage letting us know that we were still being considered for a child and were officially on the waiting list. Say what?!?

Only 2 months after being home with an internationally adopted child, when you are literally in survival mode trying to piece together 5 missing years of your child’s life, yeah that’s not exactly the time when you want to hear that you are on the waiting list for another child. To say we were shocked is an understatement. Our first reaction was to say “Please take us off your waiting list”. But we didn’t. Why?

Through the years I’ve learned that I’m more scared to say NO to God than I am of saying YES. In fact, our first adoption made less sense than this second adoption. Two years ago during our first adoption we had 4 small kids, a small home, and small income. Three things that don’t make sense in the flesh to say YES to adoption. But the Lord spoke loud and clear to me during my first trip to Uganda and spoke loud and clear to my husband back home in the States. And we moved forward with our first adoption knowing that “He who calls you is faithful and He will do it”. And that’s exactly how it happened. The Lord opened every door, $30,000 literally showed up on our front door within our fast and furious 5 months of adoption fundraising, and within 6 months Solomon was home. Since then, favor and blessings have poured over our family and we have walked in the absolute peace that follows obedience. God has called our family to adoption and we say yes. It’s really that simple.

Has it been easy? NO. Adoption is not easy. Adoption comes from loss and pain. But we weren’t called to easy. Adoption has shown me a purpose I never knew existed. Taking part in the miracle of adoption, witnessed by the life of a child being rescued, redeemed, restored, and made new. And to have front row seats to the beautiful story of redemption through your own child. Wow!

A lot can happen in two years. Our kids aren’t so small anymore (all 5 will be in school next year), we have a bigger home, and our finances are drastically different. Not that any of that really matters, but this adoption actually makes much more sense than the first one.

Solomon has now been home almost 1 1/2 years. We have known about adoption #2 for over a year. We choose to not publicly announce it until now, as we are NOW #3 on the waiting list. Eeeeekkkkk!!!! It’s really happening. Over the past year, we have watched our wait list number get lower and lower and felt like #3 was a good time to announce.

So here we are. Adopting our 2nd child from Uganda, East Africa. A country and people I have fallen in love with. And we feel blessed and honored (with a little denial and trembling) that the Lord has chosen our family to care of another one of HIS children.

Back when were in “Are-we-seriously-on-the-waiting-list-for-another-kid-shocked-mode”, I remember the Lord saying to me “Do you think I’m surprised by this?” And it was then that I realized, God had orchestrated this exactly as He knew it was going to happen. All along we were meant to adopt 2 kids from Uganda. God wasn’t surprised and we no longer are either.

Last night my oldest child said “Mom, why did you wait a whole year to tell us?”.

I’m not sure why we waited so long to announce it. But it’s no longer a secret….so here we go!!!!!!!!

IMG_3140 Reactions from the kids were very fun yesterday!

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With love, The Gianelloni 7 and growing!

You can learn about our entire Adoption #1 journey here, including all 27 updates and two adoption videos.

Wait, are we seriously doing this again? ;)

Erased by a Birth Certificate

In light of the recent events surrounding the CDC whistleblower.
Guest post by Bobby Dee
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Have you seen the headlines screaming about the CDC vaccine researcher leaking documents that show the CDC knew in 2002 that the MMR vaccine was causing autism 3.36 times more often in African American toddlers who received it prior to the age of 3?

Yeah, me neither.  Welcome to the media black-out.

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In the event you need to be brought up to speed on the fraud perpetrated by the CDC on the American people for the past decade, start here, here, here and here.  Here’s the speedy version:

Dr. Bill Thomspon co-authored the CDC study of school children in Atlanta that investigated whether the age at which children were vaccinated with the MMR correlated with an autism diagnosis.  The answer, for black children at least, was a resounding yes.  Thompson didn’t want to have to present that information to hostile autism parents and asked for guidance in what to do.  The answer– from another author on the paper–  was to make it go away.

How do you make black children in Atlanta disappear from a study?  Require their mothers to produce a Georgia birth certificate.  41% could not, were kicked out, and the impact of the MMR went right along with them.  Dr. Coleen Boyle then sang the praises of the MMR in front of a congressional committee in April of 2002 and the Atlanta study has been used countless times to prove that autism is not related to the MMR vaccine.

Earlier in 2014 Dr. Brian Hooker analyzed the raw data obtained through a Freedom of Information request and published about the 3.36 factor of autism (236%) increase, although the CDC has already forced the journal to take it down in the name of causing harm to the public.  Click that first link fast before PubMed takes it down too.

The CDC responded to the commotion caused by the iReport on Monday, claiming that the Georgia birth certificate allowed researchers to view important autism risk factors such as the mother’ age, mother’s education level (because we all know college educated mothers don’t have autistic children, right?), child’s gestational age at birth (always an exact science), and weight when born.

Well, OK.  That’s understandable, right?  Underweight babies, premature babies, they’re more prone to become autistic (and that’s giving the CDC the benefit of the doubt that “autism risk factors” not only existed in 1996 but had been narrowed down to include the theory of mother’s education level which was floated 13 years later as a novel idea). Except, wait a minute.  The objective of the study was to compare ages of vaccination with the MMR to autism diagnosis, not prematurity, birth weight, or mom’s academic ambitions.  The rest of that information is not even relevant to the objective, so why were they asking for it?  Who were they going to eliminate?  The college educated mothers or the high school drop-outs?

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that knowing if mom only went to undergrad or continued on to get a master’s degree was crucial information.  Therefore it was imperative that the mothers produce those birth certificates because God forbid the researchers just asked mothers what their education level was or how old they were when their child was born.

Fine.  I can buy that.  So, this was all going on when?  1996?  And the children in the study were at least 3 years old?  So a birth certificate that would have been produced might have been for a child born in 1990?  Perfect.  Let’s a have look here at a 1990 valid Georgia birth certificate and scan for the mother’s education level, baby’s birth weight, and gestational age when born.

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Did you find it?

Me neither.  You know why?  Birth certificates are federally regulated and none of that stuff is printed on them.

OK, fine!  Maybe the CDC misspoke and what they meant to say was, “We needed the long form birth certificate application that contains the autism risk factor information we were looking for.”

Yes.  Except parents don’t get to keep those applications.

Try again?  Maybe they were saying, “We needed the birth certificates in order to access the database where the information contained on the long form application for a birth certificate is stored.”

Oh, I get it now.  So, not the actual birth certificate because everyone knows those don’t contain that information, and not the birth certificate application because those are sent directly to a state’s vital records office, but it’s the database that we’re talking about.  I understand.

Wait, is it this database?  The National Vital Statistics System?  That’s where the critical autism factor information is that the CDC needed to access?  Because– call me crazy–  but the CDC owns that system and I’m pretty sure they don’t need no stinking birth certificate to access it.

Why would a parent in Atlanta not have a birth certificate on hand?  Because they are not free and receiving one is not automatic.  Today a Georgia birth certificate is $20.  Can you imagine impoverished people spending $20 on a birth certificate if they didn’t have to?

Does this all boil down to the CDC deciding, after generating extremely negative results about the MMR with regard to the African American community, that they needed the birth certificates to positively ID the children who were already included in their study so that they could then access a database that they already own?  Because that just sounds crazy.

Almost as crazy as introducing a birth certificate requirement to a study after it’s already finished and knocking out 41% of the participants, but not quite.

What can you do about it?

Contact your US Representative and Senator and tell them you want an investigation into the CDC.

The Changing of Seasons! No more babies…

Just about 4 years ago, we had a 4 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old, & a newborn. I remember feeling like my entire life consisted of diapers, wipes, burp cloths, swaddle blankets, highchairs, pack & plays, carseats, strollers, and an always packed diaper bag. Along with sippy cups, baby food, spoons, bibs, pull ups, and booster seats. When we packed for trips, it looked like we were moving out. 4 carseats, double strollers and pack & plays alone take up like the entire car. And then you still have to fit all the kids and supplies.

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This was the season of constant busy work and feeling like our hands were always full. They literally were. The baby/toddler stage.

IMG_1994 I loved the baby stage. I truly did. As exhausting as those sleepless nights were and feeling like I was pregnant for 4 straight years (I was), I loved the sweet moments of raising babies and toddlers.

It’s almost hard to believe that in 4 quick years, we added another child through adoption and we now have four in school and only one at home and our “baby” is going to turn 4 years old next month. It hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday.

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Saying goodbye to Brother as he left for Kindergarten yesterday was an interesting day for me. Our house is now a very quiet house, with just me and the Tot. I spent the day thinking over these last 4 years and how quickly the season has changed. It was the first time I truly realized that the baby stage is over. Now we enter what I call the “Kid Stage”. They are still very young and little, but everyday are becoming more and more like “kids”.
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Gone are the days of the checklist I used to keep hanging of everything my two diaper bags needed to have in them at all times. All that’s left from the baby stage checklist is 4 still in boosters and one in a carseat. That’s it.

During our recent move we gave away 7 strollers (singles and doubles), 4 kitchen table booster seats & highchairs, 3 carseats, a few swings and pack and plays, a bassinet, floor play mats, baby carriers, and boxes upon boxes of clothes and toys and monitors and pumps and baby food makers and the list goes on and on.

I look back on the baby/toddler stage with no regrets and the fondest of memories. Those were fun, hard, long days with sleepless nights. Babies are sweet and easy and don’t have a voice to talk to back yet. They mostly just sleep and eat and poop and sleep and eat and poop. And then every other month or so, you get to celebrate a new milestone. I loved watching each of them learn to roll over, sit up, stand up, & walk. I loved celebrating when they tried their first food, potty trained, and learned to write their name. So many new and exciting things happen during the baby/toddler stage. The toddler stage is filled with inquisitive questions, imaginary play, and a world where they truly think they are the only person that exists. Babies need us to meet their needs. Toddlers need us to met their needs and wants. This is a stage full of never ending needs and wants, which is both exhausting and rewarding.
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I’m not gonna lie though. I am LOVING this new stage. I love watching my children’s personalities develop. Like really evolving into thinking, contributing members of society. I love seeing their ideas and passions unfold. I love watching their different temperaments and character traits blossom. I love having conversations with them. And I love having helpers. My 8 year old would rather spend her days next to me, helping me, and “hanging” out with me. She feels like my friend right now and I really like that. I love my diaper bag check-lists have now been replaced with chore charts. I love that at the ages of 8, 7, 6, 5, & almost 4, they all understand that large families involve everyone working and helping together. I love seeing the pride in their accomplishment of completing a chore. I love working WITH my children. This is just the beginning of this new stage, but I already know I’m going to LOVE it! I think this past summer we were experiencing the transition of moving out of the baby stage and into the kid stage. And yes I’m signing a much different tune than my Back-To-School post last week, because my peace and quiet has returned and I can think straight again.

So as I reflect back on the stage (that I think I just suddenly realized ended yesterday)…I’d like to finish this post with some words for the moms reading who are still in the baby/toddler stage. My advice to you: Enjoy it!!!! Enjoy the heck out of it. It’s hard and messy and very hands on. There are days where I’m sure you long for adult conversation, or even just a shower. Or 10 minutes of free hands. Your day will come. The kid stage is filled with free hands, emerging helpers, and really fun and cool conversations with the little people who have grow up right before your eyes. Right now, hug your babies tight. Cherish and celebrate each and every milestone. Take in that that intoxicating baby smell and never forget it. In the blink of an eye, it’s over. And they all smell like dirty puppy dogs. Adorable awesome dirty little puppy dogs!

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Full Circle Moment

On my first trip to Uganda 2 years ago, my friend Robin & I found ourselves being given a unique task. At the time, we thought it was the most hideous job you could ask two girls wearing a skirt to do in the blazing heat in Uganda, East Africa. It was a long, hard, tedious task of pounding the red dirt down in a room to make an even floor, in which concrete would be poured to make the floor of a bedroom. We were not prepared for this task and on that particular day we went through many different emotions. From laughing at the task given to us, to pure exhaustion from the task. I remember my hands blistering and my arms feeling so weak. At one point a few local boys showed up and we quickly gave them our pounding tools as they offered to help. They were probably thinking “You lazy Mizungos”. We really were. We complained about that task just about as hard as we worked that day.

2 years ago….

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IMG_2255 We had no idea what the house was that we were working on. I remember it was about a 5 minute walk from one of the African Hearts boys home, but I didn’t know at the time that it was going to be one of the new African Hearts boys homes. I think at the time we thought it was just a random home we were helping to build. Other team members that day were making bricks, planting gardens, etc…

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197805_10151048633655883_1121223552_n Fast forward two years and we were back at the African Hearts boys home this past summer. We were at the boys home to watch a 4th of July performance that the African Hearts band was playing for us that night. This is where the full circle moment happens.

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FIRST LET ME BACK UP A BIT…

Earlier in the day, we spent in the slum feeding program where the amazing African Hearts ministry goes into the slums every other day and feeds the least of these. The slum feeding days are always my hardest days in Uganda, because my mind truly cannot comprehend how young children live this way. The slums are hard to describe. For me and my American ways, the slums seem like a living hell. The boys that come to eat are alone, scared, angry, timid, dirty, hungry, tired, and live in survival mode. Every day and every night is survival. They sleep and eat and live on the streets. They have no home and no family. Most of them sniff gasoline to numb their hearts and minds and stomachs. They are high and lost. No purpose. No passion. They just simply survive. The slums is truly a heartbreaking place.

The only thing that comforts my soul is knowing that we serve a God who is the Father to the fatherless. Who rescues, redeems, and restores. Our days spent with the African Hearts ministry is like spending your days witnessing (in the most visual and tangible way) what it looks like to see a life rescued. See some of the slum boys, they are taken into the African Hearts boys home. The African Hearts ministry raises these boys in a Godly home. These boys grow up to become amazing Godly men with purpose and passions. They give them a home, an education, safety, & security. They are taught about family and love and Jesus. These boys are taken off the streets and given a hope and a future. Purpose and passion is alive in the eyes of these boys. It is truly a remarkable thing to witness.

It is almost surreal to leave the slums, filled with sadness and despair and then visit the African Hearts boys home filled with joy and hope. To know that the African Hearts boys were once former street children is almost hard to believe. These boys are kind, smart, loving, and a delight to spend the day with.

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By this time in our visit with the African Hearts boys, I had already made a connection with one of the boys. He found me right when we arrived and held my hand and pretty much never let go for the next few hours. I learned about his story and his past and he is an amazing boy with a miraculous story.

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As we were visiting with the boys, we were asked if we wanted to take a walk to see the new boys home. As we started the walk, it hit me. We were walking to the same house we had stomped the red dirt floors in 2 years prior. When we arrived at the house, it was a full circle moment for me. Wow! Look at this house we helped build.

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This new house is called the “family home” for African Hearts boys. The family home is for children rescued off the streets who have no family to ever return home to. This is their forever home. When we arrived at the family home, wouldn’t you know that the very room I pounded the floor in 2 years ago is now the bedroom for the sweet boy whose hand I was holding. Wow! My heart was overwhelmed. He was so proud to show me his bed.

IMG_2156 Robin & I were so proud to look at the floors in his room and see that they were level. Haha!
IMG_2164Standing in the exact spot 2 years later.

That day was such a neat day for me. We serve such a sovereign God who knows every detail of every moment. The Lord knew I’d return to that home again and see that the floors I complained about pounding were now the floors to the bedroom of a sweet boy that I had fallen in love with.

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As I left the African Hearts boys home that night, my heart was excited in anticipation for what comes next. And that part I can’t tell just yet :)

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Full circle moments. I love witnessing God in action :)

Back To School Morning Routine!

Yesterday was the first day of school.

It was a beautiful morning!
IMG_3015We diffused JOY and Lemon and had a very peaceful, joyful, morning with lots of excitement for the new year ahead!
joy lemonI rubbed Thieves on every set of feet. We have a saying in our home: “A drop of Thieves a day keeps the sickness away”
thievesWe went outside to wait for the bus and had fun taking all of our 1st Day of School pictures!
IMG_2977This year we have: Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, & 3rd grade!

IMG_2985The 3 big kids started this week. Kindergarten starts next week. 
IMG_2964The big girls are now at different schools. They gave each other many many hugs and listed ALL the reasons why they are going to miss each other. These sweet girls are only 15 months a part and have a unique bond.
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Daddy was home to enjoy the excitement of the First Day of School! First he enjoyed his coffee on the porch.
IMG_2982 And then he played “gate keeper” as they waited for the bus. (The sheriff is directing school time traffic)
IMG_2999We rubbed Valor and Lavender for any first day of school jitters! And so they smell yummy :)

IMG_2995Lots of hugs and kisses and a special prayer of safety and favor and grace over this new school year!
IMG_3005 It was an awesome morning of new beginnings. And I was so excited to offer my 2 DAY promotion of FREE back to school gifts. Why? Because I absolutely love having essential oils for our family. With 5 young children, I love how easy, effective, and practical these oils are. I love that there is an oil for everything. I love how fast and well they work. I love how my children ask for the oils because they too see how well they work. I love that these oils offer safe alternatives. And I truly believe that every home with children needs these oils. I honestly can’t imagine our school morning routines without our oils. They are that amazing :)
Don’t miss out, offer ends today!
Back to School Promo