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Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Day in December

You know how they tell you time goes by faster when your older?
It's totally true. I turned 33 last week. Days melt into weeks, weeks into months, and suddenly I have a 9 year old, I'm in the PTA, and I found a shiny thing on my head the other day that I'm told is called a gray hair.
Days into weeks, weeks into months, and suddenly I'm 30freaking3.

I know you guys read this looking for just a quick glimpse into what's going on with us, but it's so hard to condense everything into a snapshot. I need to write more often.

I need to do a recap of my sister Julie's wedding weekend, but jumping back into my blog after MONTHS of being away, I feel ill-equiped. Tonight I just have so much on my brain-- I think I'll start small. I'll start with just a recap of today.

5am: Levi (19months) wakes up (crib still in our bedroom) and I bring him into bed to nurse and perhaps buy myself some more time in bed. *he only nurses morning and before bed...
I am a zombie and dont really know what time it is except after Levi's done nursing he proceeds to kick me in the throat, apparently not tired any more, at which point I claw at Ryan and ask him to tell me the time.
Somehow Levi and I fall back asleep.

7am: Ryan comes to kiss me goodbye, looking and smelling divine for work, I wake groggily to hear him whisper, " Hey baby, I'm going. all the other kids are awake, everyone has eaten, Levi is still asleep.." and he sneaks out.
I curl back into my pillow, excited to catch another 1-15 minutes before a kid busts in or Levi realizes it's legitimately morning.

7:15: naked twin B(Lincoln) busts in. "HI MOMMY!" with a huge smile and jumps into bed, narrowly avoiding Levi.  (NOTE: my twins have a limited set of verbal skills, both boys being on the autism spectrum, so to hear either greet me at all is a fantastic, beautiful, amazing feeling I don't take for granted)

7:16: Levi and I roll out of bed, and I pass out seconds of cereal to everyone who asks, which is everyone.  (Juliette and Jackson are watching some ABC songs on Youtube, Luke is on the computer playing some throwback Kirby or Dr. Mario games, Lincoln is dashing back and forth between living room and my room, Levi is eating someone's abandoned cereal bowl, dumping milk onto the floor and himself with every spoonful) We officially need to invest in a cow. We need a fresh GALLON of milk every 36 hours. I serve myself a bowl of cereal and groan at the world with my half shut eyes. I am not a morning person and regardless of how many cute babies or preschoolers are smiling at me, I am not thrilled.

7:30am: I feel more human. I kick Luke off of the computer to start getting ready for school. I ask Juliette and Luke to start getting dressed. 1 minute later they come to tell me they dont have any school uniforms washed in their drawers.
I head back to the laundry/storage room where mountains of clean laundry live in purgatory until I decide I will fold them. (NEVER)
I move clothes left and right from basket to basket, looking for 4 pairs of shorts, 4 uniform shirts, 4 pairs of socks, and 2 pairs of underwear (naked twins).
I only come up with 4 pairs of shorts, 2 uniform shirts, and 2 pairs of underwear.  no matching socks. Luke and Juliette have no clean shirts. I tell them they will need to recycle a shirt on the floor of their room that they failed to put in the dirty clothes basket to be washed. They understand of course, because this happens at least 3 times each week to somebody. Recycled shirts are actually a very earth-friendly approach to preserving our water resources, imo.

7:45am, pack twin lunches (ryan has already packed older two), tell Luke and Juliette to brush teeth.

7:55am, look for missing shoes and belts. tell Juliette and Luke to brush their teeth, this time in my angry voice, because they didnt do it the first time.

8am: yell at everyone while on my hands and knees searching under beds, for having misplaced their belts and shoes in less than 24 hours.

8:15am: get twins dressed, check clock.
8:15am: yell at everyone because we're going to be late and no one seems to care.

8:25am: do Juliette's hair, sign Luke's planner, sign twins' daily report, still need to put bra on and brush teeth. check clock.  decide to put bra on and skip teeth. Put shoes and socks back on twins because they took them off. Throw a tshirt on Levi and change diaper.

8:30am: yell at everyone to get in the car. Convince twins to get in car.

8:35am: give lecture on why I do not like to yell, and apologize for yelling, and then finish up with a highlight of all the things we (#byweImeanyou) could do better tomorrow.

8:45am: older two get dropped off, continue on to 2nd school for twins.

9am: park and get Jackson out first, Lincoln 2nd, and Levi last, hoping twins dont run out into parking lot while I get Levi.

9:03am: Just about to pull Levi out of the car when I smell something horrendous.
9:03am: check Lincoln's pants. BINGO. STINK has been located. (Jackson is totally potty trained, Lincoln never has pee pee accidents, and never has accidents at school at all. But he DOES have #2 accidents, which he holds until he's at home, or in the car. You'd think I'd be better prepared)
9:03am: no spare clothes, no wipes. just me and sir stinkytown. I find a few Wendy's napkins, a half-empty bottle of water, and Bath and Body sparkly hand sanitizer, strip Lincoln in the car in the school parking lot and wipe this peanut butter poop that smells like Thanksgiving leftovers 4 months old, wipe it from his cheeks and legs. undress him, toss gloppy underwear into old publix shopping bag, slather sparkly pink hand sanitizer on his bottom, and pull his pants back up commando.

9:05am: proudly march into class, feeling victorious that we made it, tell the teacher Lincoln is commando, wish them success, and kiss them goodbye.

9:06am: realize today is a half day and they're all only in school until 1:20. Drive home not thrilled by this revelation.

10:20am just Levi and I, we read books, play with Christmas ornaments, and watch tv and eat snacks. Too many snacks. Remind myself to stop eating so much and decide tomorrow I will eat better. I drink iced coffee and feel my strength returning.

10:40am put levi down for his nap, start working on my Jamberry business, putting holiday customer appreciation cards together and answering the 42 notifications that have popped up in less than 8 hours while I slept.  It's kinda weird to say I "work" on facebook, but I totally do, and am absolutely in love with it. My team of over 170 people has been killin it and I'm always so excited to jump on facebook and see how they're doing or what they need from me. This is a part of the day I find invigorating and refreshing. It's my me time.
Speaking of selfish, I really need to get back into my bible study routine. I need that daily and not being grounded in God's word is probably why I have been flying off the handle so quickly lately.

11:59am: Ryan comes home for lunch, but today he changes clothes and goes for a run in the park.
I keep jammin. When he comes back he only has time for a drink and some snacks to go, we briefly talk about this week's agenda, I will be gone some nights this week as I volunteered to sing in our church's huge historical fiction production of Christmas 1914 in World War 1, so we discuss logistics of the week, and then he's gone again.

12:15pm: Levi wakes up. G-R-umpy. I offer him foods and drinks, and he settles in. He's just like me in that way. He eventually entertains himself in my sight while I keep working.

12:55pm: start cleaning up all my stamps and envelopes, and grab some to-go snacks. We pick up twins first, then Luke and Juliette. We're home by 1:45 but I need to pick up some Jamstuff from a consultant in the next town so we head 30 min south to grab this stuff. Twins are cranky and tired.  Lincoln falls asleep on the drive. I start singing Christmas carols to practice for my church play which opens tomorrow night and runs for about 2 weeks.....
But Jackson does not want me to sing, he wants an Ipad, and he wants to be home.  I can't give him anything he wants, so while he screams, I apologize to the older kids for having to subject them to Jackson's fit, and I keep singing.
After yelling for about 29 minutes, asking for his Ipad and just throwing himself all about his carseat as best he can, he finally falls asleep. We make it back home.

3:35pm:We get back in the car to take Luke to his Speed Academy and Juliette to gymnastics.

4:00pm: Twins, Levi and myself get home, read a book with each twin, (they have to read to get their ipads from me) and pass out ipads.

4:20pm: We now get back into the car to pick up kids from their classes and head back home. I tell Luke and Juliette to put their belts, shoes, and backpacks in the correct place so we wont have any yelling the next morning. (it doesnt matter, they'll still somehow lose their belts before morning)

4:42pm: home again, and within minutes both twins are naked, and I smell something horrible. I follow the smell and it appears Lincoln made attempts to sit on the potty, but they were pretty poor attempts and it wouldnt be the first time this day I would wish I was born without a nose.   I find Lincoln walking strangely like a cowboy too many days in the saddle, text a picture to Ryan about the horrendous tasks I undertake at my day job, to which he replies, "gnarly" :) , clean Lincoln up, clean potty chair smear disaster, take soiled clothes to utility sink to rinse out, meanwhile Juliette speaks a mile a minute about her day and her gymnastics, and Luke is asking what he can do around the house to go spend some time with the neighborhood kids down the road, and all I want to do is get the caca out from under my fingernails.
5pm EVERYONE WANTS A SNACK. I pass out popcorn in bowls, pour drinks, and start seasoning some porkchops for dinner. I make mac and cheese as a side, and refill popcorn bowls for the small one who keeps clamoring at me while I cook.

5:55pm: Ryan walks in the door with dominoes...apparently I forgot during the frenzy of the evening that I texted him asking if he could pick up dinner.

5:56pm I feel crazy that I can't even remember asking him to get pizza, and yet there in my phone is the proof that I did. Now we have porkchops, mac and cheese, greenbeans, and pizza for dinner.

6:10pm, I throw on a sweater and run out of the door to church choir practice, thankful for the peace in the car ride, and for a husband who lets me escape from time to time, and a music ministry at church  that humbles me in their talents and abilities and provides me with this weekly refuge.

730pm: head home, help with bedtime routines (teeth, get twins dressed, twins get undressed, get twins dressed again, baths, take away ipads, screams, can't find pajamas, pull a prayer off of our December prayer chain (family Christmas tradition, write people's names, or groups of people, or issues we want to pray for on strips of construction paper and create a Christmas garland. Each night one link is pulled off and becomes the focus of our bedtime prayer).
Nurse Levi, put him in his crib (of all 5 kids he's the best at going to bed when he's supposed to). Twins continue jumping and flopping around in their room for another hour,  sing lullabies to older two, and flop on the couch around 9:15, listen to the twins thump around and giggle. Ryan goes to work to grab some stuff to work on for the night, and then to Publix...because we're out of milk.

9:20pm: This is when I do not clean the kitchen, fold clothes, or any other selfless task.

9:20pm-10:45pm: Continuously re-enter the twins' room to demand they lay back down, stop taking their clothes off, and stop jumping. At some point in this time frame, Lincoln falls asleep.

10:45pm: Jackson is still not asleep, tossing, jumping, or standing at the door yelling" I want mommy please!"

11:00pm Jackson falls asleep.

11:01pm Ryan has been home for awhile, but now falls asleep on the couch. I work some more with my Jamberry team who's across the world and just now entering their afternoon, briefly look at the PTA newsletter I need to edit next week, and continue some research concerning the truth about sex trafficking for a fundraiser I'm running, to benefit an amazing nonprofit in Jacksonville Fl called Rethreaded. They exist to help women who've escaped the sex trade through healing therapies and job trainings. If you'd like to learn more or donate directly check out their site, and to shop my Jamberry site so that you can grab your fave nail products and I can donate my commission back to them, shop here: . (Christmas shipping deadline is Dec 18 FYI) You can also follow along and just learn more in our fundraiser on facebook: Rethreaded Fundraiser with Jamberry
1:30am: I'm still here, relishing this silence and not wanting it to end, to wake up and start again.
But it will, so I must sleep. I live to fight another day.

As we part I'm going to give you and myself some very good advice, that I can never seem to remember in the midst of the chaos.
To all you mamas and papas struggling in this season of parenthood, where little humans want all of your attention, and they make disgusting poopy messes at 4 years old and  it seems there's no end in sight...when you're in this season, please be reminded, you're not alone, and though the days seem long and you want to pull the hairs from your head and theirs, remember you are not alone. I know there are behind the scenes moments that lead up to you losing your temper and your mind, and I know it's hard. You're not alone. I also love to remind myself and you,  that God chose me to fill this role, out of the whole world, He picked me--just as He has chosen you in the role you're in.

At the end of the day, I am grateful he chose me, regardless of the challenges that arise. The bags under my eyes may tell a different story, but that's the truth.
 The blessing  is actually that he chose me at all.

That's all folks. I'm off to bed. I'll be back SOON to recap my sweet sister's wedding weekend! So many great stories, it'll be hard to focus on just one, and it'll be even harder not to poke fun at all the people who said or did dumb things that weekend.  :) I'll do my best.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summing up the Summer '15

Summer is here! Five children home and accounted for!
Did I mention having twins is challenging?

Did I mention having twins on the autism spectrum is even more challenging?

Did I tell you we finally got brave and removed their crib rails? So they can roam about the room freely? Dumping drawers of toys and jumping on each other and removing mattresses and slamming doors? :)

Did I mention potty training ASD twins is really super fun? AND REALLY GROSS??

Well just in case I is. IT IS!
I will try to sum up our summer so far but I will tell you right now, this post will not read smoothly. My mind is as jumbled up as our calendar.

We finished up a great school year, Luke is changing from adorable to handsome before my eyes. He's smart and funny, albeit easily distracted and many times unfocused.   We really wanted to get the kids involved in some activities this summer, and because my Jamberry biz has been such a blessing, it's given us enough money each month to commit to some specialties for the kids. So Luke is taking this awesome sports class called Weston Speed Academy. The Speed Academy teaches general sports readiness and physical endurance, character building and innovative physical training. Sounds fancy right?! He loves it. We're thinking with this class all summer he'll be more than ready to try flag football in the fall. And swimming is going well too, and Juliette is happy to attend her swimming lessons with Luke, and also take gymnastics classes. I am also looking into piano lessons for both of them because Jamberry is giving us that cushion in our budget to do things we couldnt do before!
The twins had an awesome year with their early intervention teacher, Miss G, who really was sent from God. They were with her and her awesome aids M-F, from 9-3pm. They learned so much, as did I. I suppose I'll never stop learning with these two.
But all good things must come to an end. Miss G was pleased and proud to tell me she was recommending them to move out of her classroom in the fall, and into a different PReK teacher's class (one who still has a special education degree but her students are a little less dependent than those in their original class). Remember, they were born Sept 13, so they aren't VPK eligible until Fall 2016. So I was kinda hoping they'd stay with Miss G for another year because she was so great with them!
When she told me, on the last day of school, that next year they'd be moving onward and upward, I smiled...but inside I wasn't jumping up and down. This teacher REALLY took care of the boys, and clearly loved them. She paid special attention to their personalities and made their school year very fun and simple, and encouraged Ryan and I IMMENSELY for doing a great job with them at home. She moved me to tears with a thank you card she delivered on that last day.
I just want her to teach them forever, is that so much to ask?
But apparently they dont need her intense intervention techniques anymore, and it's time for them to be challenged in new ways. We'll be meeting a new teacher in the fall, hoping she will fall just as hard for the boys and love them with the same devotion.

We took a couple weeks break after school let out,  and then started a cool Extended School Year option that allows them and their classmates to continue attending school for 4 weeks over the summer to keep them from regressing over these months at home.  (at a new school though-- with new teachers)
There are some transitional tears but they like it for the most part. But that first day drop off was hard.
On the first day I was running 10 minutes late(surprised?), so I had to bring them into the cafeteria instead of into the classroom.
*NOTE: they have never had to eat in a cafeteria. In the school environment we just left, the 3year olds with ASD got to eat IN their classroom, in the safety of the known and predictable.
So this was entirely new to them.It was loud, LOTS of people, and I should have known better. Jackson immediately stuck his fingers in his ears and started crying, and did NOT want to come in. I brought them over to their table and tried to console jackson, who just melted into the floor, fingers in ears, crying as loud as could be.
Lincoln looked at his brother, his bottom lip quivered and stuck out, and he started to wail with the same decibel commitment. I watched the heads in the cafeteria swivel in our direction, and several older children drop their breakfast and put their hands over the ears.
Some of them even dropped their head to their knees in anguish. I felt awful, for the twins, for the teachers, for the other students...everyone was a victim.
I tried to console Jackson but he couldnt collect himself. The aids (thankfully some of them having already worked with the twins from their class all year long) came over and helped J get to the table and sit, but I left quickly knowing my presence wasn't helping. I walked out as fast as I could without running, my head drooped a little so those passing me couldnt see my tears collecting, and jumped back in the car.
The teacher and I decided for now it's best for the boys if I just bring them AFTER breakfast, and have them come straight to the class.

Some of the days Jackson cries when I leave. Some he doesn't. Overall I know the boys like going, they are happy when I pick them up and they aren't always sad when I drop them off.
We've also added 3 hours of speech therapy into their week, so 3 days a week we go pick up the twins, bring 1 to speech therapy, go home with 4, then 45 minutes later we get back in the car and switch out the twins, go home for 45, then go back to pick up the twin at therapy.
FUN! :) But the therapist is very nice and great with them and they seem to enjoy being with her.

Since the boys had such success in Miss G's class, I tried to replicate at home a visual schedule that they used in class. I printed and laminated over 75 little visual cue pics to help schedule our day. But it was a lot to keep up with. Just from wakeup to lunch time there were over 12 cards on their schedules. All day I spent moving things up and adding more schedule until it was bath and bed. There's one for potty time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, trampoline, tv, ipad, brush teeth, get dressed, bath time, playdough, pool, puzzles, etc. I included Luke and Juliette, so their pics had chores, learning, playstation, computer, make bed, etc. After 2 days of it I was beat.
I couldnt keep up with it. It was Levi walking over and tearing down the pics, the twins grabbing the parts of the schedule they liked and trying to do them out of order, Juliette reminding me that I forgot to put swimming on the schedule since it was a swimming day...
Just too much.
The speech therapist suggests I only keep 4 activities on the schedule at a time--anything else and it's overwhelming. I may try to downgrade.  But currently the long pieces of velcro sit vacant on the wall--a reminder of the system that I implemented, that failed.
Miss G's Schedule

We just finished Vacation Bible School at our church, I taught the PreK music classes. It was fun! Tiring, but fun. I'm grateful for the chance to serve and be part of my kids' church activities, but I'm also grateful VBS only ran until noon each day though. :) PreK energy is no joke.

I'm teaching a Mommy and Me class on Saturday mornings for the summer, ages 0-1 and 1ish to 5. Ryan watches our 5 kids so I can go and facilitate this learning group with moms in the community. The awesome Buggy Bunch, (nonprofit in Treasure Coast focused on faith, family, fitness, and fellowship) pays me to teach the class and provides us with great educational instruments and learning toys. We talk a little about educational and developmental milestones during the formative years of 0-5, but mostly we just have a good time playing with bubbles and parachutes, and singing songs together. :)
I'm NOT made to teach PREK children but I can fake it til I make it.

In Danielle's personal bubble, I'm working Jamberry with serious aspirations to provide a steady part time and someday a full time income for us. Sounds like crazy-talk but I know it can happen if I work on it. If you know me, you know I say this with all modesty, but I am made to lead and teach. I find great joy in it, and since I joined Jamberry in September 2014, my team has grown from just me, to currently 87 women.
87!!! The company has an incredible compensation plan and it's simple, which attracts women who want to add to their income, but it's also a network of beautiful people, and it provides a social outlet for many of us who thirst for that. Others join my team just because they love the product and want a discount for themselves.
But to put it simply, the reason my team has grown is because the cute little nail designs are just easy to share, fun to wear, and girls just want to have fun.
Ryan supports my Jamberry goals because I showed him where I am, where I started, and where I hope to go, and he believes I am capable of the highest levels of leadership. He supports me so much so that he'll fold an extra load of laundry or do an extra load of dishes, so I can get online and work my jambiz when he comes home from work.
Yep. He's awesome. I also told him I'd buy him a boat someday if he keeps it up.
He continues to hold me up when I'm down and he keeps all of us in check. He gets to work early and most nights he stays late, because his work ethic is like no other. He takes on tons of jobs at work, and kills himself to make deadlines, to keep clients happy and to respect his employers. He comes home smiling, so I dont get too upset that he also leaves us smiling, because I realize he isn't happy to distance himself from us, he's just happy in general. He greets the kids with hugs like he just got back from deployment, he throws a tshirt on and takes them all out back to jump on the trampoline. In his spare time he is at home depot picking up materials to fix windows, buying shelving to create an office space for my jamberry biz, or presently getting wood to build twin beds for Jack and Linc.  Sometimes you can find him mowing the yard or working on his dad's car. He also tries desperately to squeeze a new experience in every weekend for Luke and Jbelle, (twins can sometimes be included depending on the activity) whether it be exploring a new park or beach, or taking a new route on bikes. I'm just left to sit here and wonder how I got so lucky.

Levi is Levi. He is walking and super smiley and loves loves loves when he's read to. He holds up his finger to show his age, he points to his head and hair when prompted in certain songs, and he sticks out his tongue on cue. He waves bye bye, and he calls Ryan "dada". His head is still enormous but it's pretty symmetrical. :) He continues to have follow ups to monitor skull growth until he's 4 or 5.

Last thing before I go...
Next weekend we start a new Parker tradition. This is the brainchild of my dear sister Brandi who realized about 4 years ago that our siblings will soon be too spread out geographically to see each other regularly, and she surmised that the only time we'd ever be together in one place would be for weddings or funerals.
So the plan was set years ago. Starting in 2015 and every 5 years after:


So this will be our first go at it. We've rented a big beautiful house in Winter Haven Florida, and Mom, Dad, Brandi Danielle Julie Samantha Kimmie and DJ (and spouses, and children) will be arriving on July 4th to spend a week together.
I dont remember the last time I had a week long vacation, if ever. I'm not sure if it will actually feel like a vacation (if you've ever traveled with and displaced young children you know what I'm talking about) but I'm excited to see my people!!! 
Best believe, there will be an epic blog post in the near future to highlight our time together. 
Thanks for keeping up with the McLeans through this mediocre blog, I DO love to write and keep everyone in the loop, so thanks for caring to read all about what's happening in our cuckooforcocoapuffs family. Ryan is a pretty private person but he supports my blog and letting you guys in (I THINK! I honestly dont think he can read to the end of my blog posts...he falls asleep).

Jackson finally smiles when he knows I want to take a pic of him!
Lukas and Lincoln

 I dream of the kids getting older, of when things will be easier, of when life will slow down and Ryan and I can enjoy an easy day without crying, without potty chairs, and when sleep is less erratic. But in reality...when things slow down and the kids are grown I will cry and mourn these exact days being gone, when chubby babies have grown into adults  and there are no more diaperbags needed, my heart will break with the heavy truth that our precious season together as a young family is over.
So I can't dream of the future and wait for bluer skies.
I just have to remember how quickly life is moving and how amazing and beautiful this part of our story is becoming.
I pray even as you read this you consider the beautiful parts of your life and focus on those. Look past your figurative dirty diapers and focus on something amazing that is happening right before your eyes. Changing your perspective changes everything.

 Don't wait.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

So Many Things: March

So many things.  Where to begin? 

First me. :)
I’m keeping my schedule busy, because that’s what Parkers do. I joined 3 different bible studies and after I drop the kiddos off at school, Levi and I head off to a different study on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. I am loving singing in church choir and on the praise team, which rehearses Wednesday nights and now Saturday mornings getting ready for Easter.  I’m signed up to teach the preschool music for VBS this summer, I serve on my sorority alumnae chapter’s exec board (although admittedly do next to nothing in my ‘office’), and I’ve recently told the PTA at the kids’ school that I can serve on the board if needed.  I’ll attend next Monday’s meeting to check it out.  J FUN!
I don’t know why. I just see a vacancy in my calendar and I want to fill it! I just enjoy being busy, I don’t like empty calendars. Ryan is the exact opposite, he does not want to see a busy schedule. So we compromise. I don’t show him. :)

My real life Jamsisters!
Jennifer Harmon, Business Development Director
Keri Evans, Founding Sister of Jamberry
Adam Hepworth, Jamberry CEO,
husband to Jamsister Christy

JK JK. I show him. He is a trooper.
So that brings me to my newest time sucker, JAAAAMBERRRY! YES, I say it with enthusiasm, even while typing it. You already know, since you are my friends, that I am head over heals in love and involved with this awesome company.  All these pics you see here are from our regional conference a couple months ago.  I will try to explain Jamlife to you without sounding like I’m selling to you, but it’s hard. I will try to just tell you why it’s been sucking my time.
I bought the starter kit because I wanted to fill some of my empties. I thought “EH. What the heck. They’re only nail stickers.  I don’t really have to LEARN about nail stickers. If I don’t enjoy being a consultant, I’ll just work to pay my kit off and call it a day.” I remember clearly the night I asked Ryan if it was cool if I bought a kit. He said sure, because he loves me and says sure to almost all of my crazy notions. You should find yourself a Ryan if there are any left, I highly recommend them.
So then I actually put some on (I know, most people try then buy. Not me. Rebel status.)  and I was just in love! I like pretty nails but painting them was stupid b/c they smudge or chip in .5 seconds, and I didn’t have the money or babysitters to go out and get my nails done all the time.  So I just had naked nails. But now I have pretty nails all the time! I can have soft neutral tones, funky graphic prints, feminine floral patterns, or festive shamrock nails, and I can do them myself, at home,  and each mani costs me less than $3! UM SO YEAH I’m SOLD.

But that’s just the product part, and that’s like, only a fraction of the pie. One of the other reasons I am sucked into Jamland is because I’m able to bring home dollars, just for sharing how much I love the jams I wear! SORRY I SHARE so much, I really do try to moderate it.  It’s just tough because it’s fun. I love getting to communicate, encourage, and be encouraged by other fun and excited women. Our team is just full of life and love and giggles, and we're all working Jamberry because we have a little dream that it can give us some sort of financial or personal freedom.
And the more I share what I love, the more others want to be part of it, the more others want to check it out for themselves, and that all means I am building a team, and making more money than I expected. I saw Jamberry as a possible budget helper, but now I'm seeing myself down the road, and it looks brighter and bigger than just a budget helper!  I am working with a team of 37 right now and it’s not getting any smaller…

Seriously, Ryan jokes about the day he’ll be able to stop working because of my jamfunds, but if I keep working at it I could make a full time income, staying home, doing this Jamberry thing!  It’s not even a far off, 10 year plan thing… it’s like a five year thing at most… It’s like a very real possibility thing. So I can be a stay at home mom and help financially?! I contemplated becoming a proofreader or writing a children’s book or something to help make money while staying at home. But instead I found Jamberry. Or God let me find Jamberry. 
Connie Lasita and Alison Dudney
Super Jamberry ladies!
Which brings me to a lesson learned in my obsession: Don’t let your hobby or job become so big that you can’t see anything else. I am keenly aware that God brought Jamberry to me as a blessing, but if it becomes a stumbling block in my relationship with Him I KNOW like any good dad, He’ll remove it QUICKSTAT.  So I’m trying to balance home life, wife life, mom life, and my spiritual life (which all totally overlap btw) with my Jamlife. I’m trying to not only balance them, but weave them expertly together like a tapestry, so that they’re actually more beautiful because of the threads around them, and they’re not in conflict at all. 
It’s a challenge, but I accept!

So. On to my other threads:

Luke is getting tall and has an F in math. J He’s also been sick for a couple days. His awesome teacher called last week to say he’s doodling way too much, he isn’t focused, and he doesn’t follow through. In the beginning she said she excused some of that b/c he had A’s and B’s (which he still does, except for that pesky math F) but now she says she’s concerned it isn’t getting any better.
All I can think of is Sebastian from Never Ending Story.
J He’s a dreamer. What can I say? So we’re working on keeping him focused and bringing the F up before report cards come out. He’s funny but he treads on thin ice when he brings his sarcasm into a convo with adults, and we’re trying to get him to reign it in, he can’t always be looking for the punchline when he’s dealing with adults.  He took some afterschool gold lessons this month and really liked it. We’re still trying to find his niche. He would argue that his niche is gaming. So the battle is on.  

Juliette is a magic light fairy who happens to live with a human family. She is funny and light on her toes and helpful, she’s high and low in a split second when she’s tired, she’s the boss and then the servant, and we aren’t really sure which it will be until she wakes up for the day. She wears her junior jams proudly for her mama and shows them off at school and gymnastics.  She’s in kindergarten and cries when she can’t find her homework.  She wears handmedown pink fringe boots (thanks Tanya!) and wants to put a show on for anyone who will watch. She’s been a little sick, and she cried when she learned Lincoln was assassinated this week.  It’s been a tough week for all. 

Jackson and Lincoln are still enjoying school with their early intervention class for 3 yr olds on the spectrum for autism. At their parent teacher conference (which is just weird for all you parents out there, going to a conference for 2 kids with one teacher, it’s hard not to compare them!) their teachers had wonderful things to say about their improvements, especially Lincoln, who’s made the most gains. Jackson is a bit more social in general since day one, and he’s also more volatile. When something doesn’t go according to his expectation he has a harder time adjusting. It’s interesting to see these 2 seemingly identical twins show so many similarities, and then show so many differences simultaneously.
Potty training is going well too! Jackson is a little more advanced shall we say? But we’re SOOO close to only buying diapers for one baby, and I can see the joy spread across Ryan’s face at the thought!
He likes to say the 8 years of buying diapers is finally coming to a close. That sounds a bit dramatic to me, but he’s a dramaqueen. :)

Ryan, as usual, is the rock of the family. He keeps his cool when people spill their milk or when I haven’t done the dishes or laundry in 3 days. He jumps on the trampoline with his kids the minute he walks in the door, only after giving me a smile and a kiss. He grabs Levi from my hip when he gets off the trampoline and helps plate dinners with the other hand.  He baths kids while I’m doing jamberry stuff, he sneaks out before I can even look up again from the computer and he’s brought me a starbucks coffee and a redbox.  He wakes up before me and makes lunches for the older two, runs out to get a full gallon of milk, loads the dishwasher, and then quietly kisses me goodbye without waking the baby in my arms. He jumps on his bike and heads to work, leaving me with the car and a full gallon of milk, two essential components to a successful morning.   
Levi is the happiest and cutest little redheaded baby I ever had. He crawls like a champ and is pulling himself up to standing. He weighs around 24 lbs at 10 months.  We have a follow up for his head this Friday in Orlando, I feel a large softspot that I never noticed before in an odd place and we are going to check it out then. He’s otherwise a great companion to me in the strange quiet of my days. I didn’t expect the twins to be in school this long until they entered kindergarten in 2017, and here I find myself with just baby levi from 9am-3pm everyday. That’s another reason why I like to busy myself with bible studies and business. I am supposed to be busy. 

Does that cover everyone?! I’m sorry it’s been so long since Ive given my update. I’m going a mile a minute these days and just trying to enjoy all the sweet parts of this life.  I miss all of you who I don’t get to see anymore but I’m grateful for being able to use this blog as a way to let you in, to peak into my window and see a small scope of what is happening in the McLean world. It’s fast paced, and it’s dirty. But it sure is beautiful.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Turn to Oils

It would come as no surprise to me if every single person reading this has more knowledge about using essential oils than I do at this moment. But for the sake of those less informed than I am, I will tell you what I know.

I know my family never used any oils for anything other than on baked potatoes and frying steaks up until 3 months ago. When we received our Starter Kit from Young Living, I admit to casually looking through the contents and pretty colorful glass bottles, then putting them back in their box and tucking it out of sight.

But within just a week I had cause to crack it open. My mom was visiting, and she was complaining of leg pain, which she usually gets from being on her feet too much during the day after having been in a terrible car accident years ago.

I looked through my manual and found that something in my kit called PanAway might do something. So I jokingly applied some to her legs. But within moments she claimed relief from the pain, she was giggling with surprise.

So I considered that a strange coincidence and put the bottle away.

But not too much time passed before my sister complained of a neck and shoulder pain, most likely from a strange sleeping position. She couldn't turn her head to the left at all.  I pulled PanAway out again, and was shocked that she admitted to also finding relief (big oil skeptic).

After that I started looking to the oils more regularly. I read more, I found that these oils claimed a wide variety of uses, some medicinal, but they did even more. I used Thieves in my cleaning around the house. I used Lavender on the kids regularly, for its claims of helping with sleep and restfulness. I gave Ryan the bottle of Stress Away to take to work, inhaling it or putting some on his wrists as his workday progressed, and even he admitted to feeling less burdened for the remaining parts of the day.
I began using the diffuser daily with a variety of the oils, to purify the air (I imagine if I could see the germs and yuck floating around this house of 7, I would move out), or to help the twins go to sleep, or to just make the house smell nicer.
In a horrible turn of events ALL of my starter oils were misplaced on a trip, and in one moment I lost all of them. :( So that was the moment when I realized I had become somewhat reliant on them. It wasn't long before I ordered more of the essential oils because I missed having them to diffuse, and I missed having them as options for fevers, congestion, nightmares, stink, bug bites, stress, dirty air, pains, scrapes, sore muscles, etc.
In my life, I love options. And I love that I have more now that we have the Young Living oils in our possession. And from what I've been reading, not all essential oils are created equal.
Check this out, from another blogger at, about Young Living Essential Oils:
  • They are the ONLY company that owns their own farms. Not only that, but they own more than 10,000 acres on six different continents so that they can grow plants in their natural habitats. Plus, they know when to harvest (some plants can only be harvested in a two hour time frame in the mornings in order to maintain their therapeutic value) and have distilleries right on the land.
  • They plant on fields that have been untouched by chemicals and follow those plants from seeds all the way to the bottles. "Organic" oils can legally come from GMO seeds, but Young Living takes that a step further by avoiding even those. If it's possible to be more than organic, Young Living has figured out how to do it.
  • They have 20 years of experience, and have set the international standard for essential oils.
  • They are the ones who invented the stringent tests that essential oil companies use. Most companies don't do all of the tests because they can be pricey, but Young Living conducts them all. On every batch of oil. Every time.
  • They only bottle and sell approximately 30% of the essential oils that they distill. The remaining 70% are sold off to other essential oil and soap companies as fragrance oils because they don't meet the extremely high quality control that Young Living has in place.
  • They have the most single oils and blends available. And they are all organic!
  • They have wholesale pricing available when you buy a membership (like Costco or Sam's Club!)
You can read her entire post about Young Living and why her family, after extensive research, chose Young Living among the other essential oil companies, here: A Beautiful Ruckus -- Switching to Young Living.

If you haven't tried any of their oils, you probably should. As a mom I rely on my bag of tricks to get me through life, and being able to add these oils to my bag of tricks makes me a more confident mama bear. One of my dear friends has the science and knowledge of these oils down pat, she is my go-to girl for questions and how-to's. If you are interested in these, I will hook you up with her, just let me know you're interested.  She is practical, intelligent, and beautiful, the latter doesn't really matter, but she is. She will be able to answer any questions that come up if you want to start your own oily adventure and open up your options for yourself and your family.

Now I'm off to bed. I'll be diffusing something magical and Ryan and I will be in dreamland before you even finish reading this post. :)