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

Are you OIL ready for Back-To-School?

In celebration of school starting today, I am offering a TWO DAY incentive of FREE gifts! Offer ends tomorrow August 8th at midnight!

You know what’s cool? Every oil listed on this Back-To-School flier comes in the Premium Starter kit. (also included in the starter kit are the oils JOY and STRESS AWAY). So 11 oils total, all with easy and practical uses for Back To School time!

Back To School Oil Sistas Flier

Sooo….for anyone who signs up with Young Living with the Premium Starter kit, I am gifting two awesome back to school gifts! Both of these FREE gifts are perfect to put in your child’s backpack for everyday use in the classroom. Or to give to the teacher to use in the classroom.

WHAT ARE THE FREE GIFTS?

1. Thieves® Spray is ideal for use on door handles, toilet seats, desks, and any surface that needs cleansing to protect from dust, mold, and undesirable microorganisms. Also great to clean toys, pencils, and other items that are touched by many hands. This small bottle is perfect for traveling and keeping in a child’s backpack. ($12)
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2. Thieves® Waterless Hand Purifier is an all-natural hand purifier designed to cleanse and refresh the hands. Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier can be used by adults and children to keep hands clean and promote good hygiene, without the use of water. Dermatologist tested. I love this hand sanitizer, because unlike most other hand sanitizers, this does not kill the good bacteria, which the body needs to fight germs! ($7)
3407196951_646e60d4bf_z*Both of these gifts are a $25 Value!

Back to School Promo
How to receive these two FREE gifts: 
1. Click on “Member Sign-up” I’ve linked it (HERE)
2. Click on “Young Living Wholesale member” (Becoming a member allows you to place orders and save 24% off retails pricing)
4. You will need to enter a SPONSOR ID and an ENROLLER ID. Make sure my MEMBER ID is entered FOR BOTH: #1403853
5. When you sign up as a member, you will then order your 1st STARTER KIT (that is under STEP 1). You will choose the Premium Starter Kit (there are 2 different diffuser options. Pick whichever one you want, they are both great).  STEP 2 will ask you to order an ESSENTIAL REWARDS KIT, but you can click the button on bottom to order that kit later (or never).
6. You are asked for your social only if you ever choose to pursue the business side. If you don’t pursue the business side, no worries! Your social will never be used.
7. After I receive confirmation that your membership is complete, I will send you an official welcome email, add you to all our awesome facebook groups, and will mail your free gifts within 2 weeks.

YAY FOR BACK TO SCHOOL!

 

Oh How I Love Back To School….

Oh How I Love Back To School. Let me count thy ways…

First let me say this: Holla to the homeschool moms! You guys are my heros! All of my closest bestest friends, including one of my sisters homeschool their kids. Home school moms rock! And so do home school kids!

However, ain’t none of them got dysfunctional quintuplets (a term we made up one day when we realized we had 5 children under the age of 8, all 5 years apart, with age gaps spanning from 10 months  to a whopping 14 months).

So this post is for anyone who has an (almost 4), 5, 6, 7, & 8 year old who are entering Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd grade. And is thankful for School-Away-From-Home! Summers are fun for a season. But I sure do love when the summer season changes :)

IMG_2891This was the one and only day when I had my act together this summer. We made homemade organic strawberry/banana/blueberry popsicles. Well actually my 8 year old did. 

I was thinking about all the reasons I LOVE BACK TO SCHOOL. And realized I have too many reasons, so for the sake of this public post I’m going to limit it to my TOP 5.

1. My Best Friend Returns. She is yellow and cute and is a school bus. She arrives in my driveway every morning and returns every afternoon. When she arrives, I get to kiss and hug and wave goodbye to my sweet children, while wearing my pajamas and holding a steaming cup of hot coffee that I will ACTUALLY ENJOY. In the afternoons, she will return with my greatest treasures who I will have actually missed and be happy to see. Who knew I would love a school bus so much?

2. I will no longer do 737 loads of laundry a week, because the quints won’t be going through 37 outfits a day. They will instead live in uniforms 5 days a week from sun up to sun down. One outfit a day. And hopefully this will limit me to only 7 loads of laundry per week. I will still have my (almost) 4 year old home with me, who currently lives in Cinderella and Brave costumes. And those only need to be washed every couple of months. Right?!?

3. I will no longer cook 53 meals a day. 50 of which are “I’m-bored-feed-me” requests. By the end of this summer I started thinking of ways in which I could make my children actually feel real hunger. Like how could I start skipping meals, so that they truly knew what “I’m hungry” really feels like. Instead of “I’m bored therefor the only other thing I can think to do is ask you for more food”. Why does breakfast run into snack which runs into another snack which runs into lunch which runs into another snack which runs into another snack which runs into dinner? Why do I feel like I’m being held hostage in my own kitchen? Why do they think it is my job to feed them every 15 minutes?

IMG_2897Here the boys are double fisting frozen fruit snacks. Why? Because I was hoping that a double snack would give me 30 extra minutes of freedom before the next food request. 

The fact that I travel to Uganda each summer does not help my children’s “I’m hungry” requests either. We are all sick of hearing (from me) about how the children in Africa eat. But seriously. One day the quints will be old enough to travel with me. And I’m sure that’s when my Aha! moments will begin as a parent. Please God, tell me that’s when they will finally understand that they are NOT always hungry.

4. I will think my own thoughts. I forget what it is like to wakeup and go throughout the day having uninterrupted thoughts that don’t involve what some little person is demanding me to do for them. Sometimes when I’m thinking an important decision-making-adult-thought in my head, I suddenly lose it through the shrills of a fight I need to break up…or a butt that needs to be wiped…or another request for food. I like to finish a thought process.

I not only like to think straight, but and I also like for other people to be able to think straight while talking to me. Sometimes when I’m on the phone with someone, they hear unexpected screams and outright chaos. It’s always met with “Is everything ok?” It’s like “yeah” (but really NO, I have 5 YOUNG KIDS, so no. NO nothing is ever just OK. I lost control 5 seconds into our conversation and now we’ve been on the phone for 13 minutes so my entire home is falling apart.) The other day I had an important phone interview. I tried to hide in backyard. They kept finding me, so I locked them inside. When I came back inside 45 minutes later, well I paid the price. I cleaned my house for the next 3 hours. Why didn’t I kick them outside during the phone call?

IMG_2910 Here are the quints running towards me. I have my very own herd of wild animals. 

I am also not a professional 5-kids-under-8 entertainer. I don’t have to think little kid thoughts all day and perform little kid acts all day. We live in a ridiculously hot climate during the summer, I get that. The kids get hot. They come inside. They are hot and thirsty and of course “hungry”. I asked our beloved Nanny Ally “what is the best thing about the kids going back to school?” She replied: “I don’t have to keep them entertained anymore all day everyday”.  Yep. That was the exact answer my husband gave me last night and my thoughts exactly. Entertaining young children with activities to keep them from getting bored is a full time job. We don’t watch a lot of tv in our family and we don’t own video games or smart phone games. Our kids do a lot of outside play.  When they come in hot and have exhausted all of their go-to-activities (art, reading, board games, legos, barbies, etc…), they look to us for the answers. They need projects. New material. New assignments. They need SCHOOL! Not taught by me.

So much of my life revolves around what the quints need and want. All. Day. Long. And looking for things. Where is my water bottle? Where is my shoe? Where is my microscopical lego guys hat? With 5 kids under 8, I am LONGING for a helper. Just recently the big girls have started helping with a lot more chores and tasks, but for the most part they are still awesome at mess making & work creating. While I’m typing this my 7 year old just walked up to me and said “Where are my American girls clothes?” So of course I lost my train of thought and was probably going to finish this sentence differently.

5. The days become shorter. The sun goes down sooner. Young children become tricked by mother nature. Because dark means bedtime. And bedtime means sleep. And more sleep in a day means more quiet in a day. And more quiet means more peace. And more peace means “Hey babe, I think we should adopt another child from Africa”. And then….well that’s a whole different blog post.

All in all, it’s been a great summer. My time in Africa was productive. We moved into a new home. We are 90% unpacked. The children are all settled into their bedrooms, in which they have already broken rule #1 which is NO FOOD ALLOWED UPSTAIRS. I’ve already found crumbs of blue corn tortilla chips all over their  bedroom floors, well because of course I’m sure they were bored and hungry. And they probably tried to sweep it up with one of their 17 outfits from they day that were also thrown all over the floor.

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Holla for the first day of school tomorrow! 

The Launch of OIL SISTAS Website! Woo-hoo!

Last week we launched our new OIL SISTAS website. Woo-hoo! Before we launched, each of us 8 SISTAS (that worked together to create the website), wrote a blog post. As I read through each post before the launch date, I realized how much I love working with these people. Each of the 8 writers brings such unique perspective, passion, and wisdom. I loved reading each of my SISTAS blog posts so much, that I thought you would too!

One of the biggest assets of our new website will be our bi-weekly blog posts written by many different OIL SISTAS from around the world.

In an effort to highlight the SISTAS that helped make the website happen, I want to briefly share about each of their posts. While the website includes bios on each of us, you can also learn so much about a person through the way they write and the topics they write about.

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First, who are the OIL SISTAS?

Oil Sistas was created by me and my 3 sisters, all of us who share a God-given passion for natural health and healing. As Young Living essential oils began to transform our lives and homes, we had a strong desire to share with others! As we started sharing about the oils with our friends and family, we watched our family of “sistas” grow and eventually “Oil Sistas” was born. Our goal is to unite “sistas” (and brothas) from around the globe to discover health and healing in your own homes. Our motto is:

Taking Health Into Our Own Hands.
One. Drop. At. A. Time.

We created our new website for ALL Oil Sistas to unite in order to share, learn, & grow together. It is our hope that the website will inspire, encourage, & educate others to natural health and healing in their home, through the use of therapeutic grade essential oils.

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Blog Post highlights from the new OIL SISTAS website:

(click on name to read bios, click on titles to read posts)

Jessica Gianelloni: My first blog post on the new website was on “My First Two Oil Loves”. It was fun to go back in time and write about the first two oils that had me hooked on Young Living!

Harmony Patterson: My sister Harmony, a rock star stay at home mom of 4 and researcher extraordinaire wrote a “Best Medicine” piece, co-written with her husband Luke (a scientist), and the two of them both started ALL of us off on this journey when they read the book The Chemistry of Essential Oils, and knew without a doubt that Young Living essential oils were the purest, best medicine on the planet.

Hailey Miranda: My sister Hailey, a doula and midwife, wrote her first blog post on Oils and Childbirth. Hailey has been using YL oils at her prenatal visits, births, and postpartum visits for a few years now. The testimonies are endless. Hailey is amazing at what she does and offers such unique wisdom on using the oils for childbirth and on young babies.

Hannah Miranda: My sister Hannah wrote a really cool blog called “A Personal Trainers Perspective on Young Living”, where she shares what she likes to use as a personal trainer. Hannah is the baby sister of the family, a Division-1 rock star volleyball athlete ( the 4th of all of us sisters to play volleyball in college and also the best of all of us) and now uses the oils on her clients and while coaching.

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We also have our Soul Sistas!

These are our close friends that fell in love with the oils and believed in our vision and have walked with us during this very exciting time of launching a new business.

Danielle Keen:  Danielle is a mother to 5 and wrote a really cool piece from the perspective of her 12 years in the ER, called “See One. Do One. Teach One.” I love having Danielle’s perspective in our group, as she worked in the mainstream medical community for many years. I always describe Danielle as the mature to my madness. We are a good duo :)

Karen Lodato: Karen has many roles in OIL SISTAS. Some days she is our photographer, some days she is our editor, some days she is our website tech (well her husband Frank really), but she is also my dear friend an awesome OIL SISTA with 5 kids who is able to share about oils on a very real and practical level. This is her piece called  “I’m not in the mood”, where she shares how a single oil cured her of no longer not being in the mood. Yes us Sistas are very real and tell it like it is!

Jordan Phipps: I call Jordan my sister-in-love. My sister Hailey is married to her brother Jeremy, so technically Jordan & I are not sister-in-laws. But she is just like a sister and more. Jordan wrote her piece titled “My Antibiotic Aha Moment”. This is what I love about Jordan, she will research until she finds the answer that works for her. Independent thinkers in young people is so refreshing!

Robin Maiocca: Robin is a mom of 4 who loves the oils and loves teaching about the oils. She has been traveling this month and her first blog post will publish soon. Robin makes my life fun, because she is my BFF in all the world. We just returned from our second trip to Africa together, where we used the oils on orphans. You can learn more about our OILS for ORPHANS campaign here!

I am so proud and honored to be an OIL SISTA with these lovely ladies! I pray that our posts bless you as you learn more about the wonderful world of essential oils. And if you are not yet an OIL SISTA, what are you waiting for? :)

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P.S. Between the 8 of us OIL SISTAS, there are 3 young (newly married) without kids yet. The rest of us have 23 kids between the 5 of us. Haha! That piece of information has nothing to do with anything, other than to say Yes, Young Living oils are awesome for kids! And we also have 8 amazing husbands (OIL BROTHAS) who love and use the oils as much as we do. Stay tuned for the launch of OIL BROTHAS :)