Surviving the Toddler Years

toddler years

If you are a parent, you understand that there are many stages during your child’s development that present challenges.  Babies struggle to communicate, and toddlers tend to communicate things that you’d rather them not.  Volume control also seems to be an issue, or is that just my family with the generations of loud females?……….

I have found that you just have to roll with it, giving yourself and your child grace.  There are going to be moments where you wonder and reminisce what it was like before you had children, and there will be times where you do not want to think of your life without them.  I have heard the saying when raising children, that you have long days and short years.  That did not make sense to me until I had a child.  Although some days are long, it is so worth it!  God has blessed me with this wonderful little life that I am responsible for raising and teaching.  Now that I am staying at home, I do even more of the teaching than before.  Children are a gift from God and so precious.  Sometimes it is hard to remember that on those tough days.

Products – Surviving the Toddler Years

J will be four soon and she has been in this toddler stage for what feels like a long time.  She is growing up so fast!  We have found several products and activities that help keep a little person engaged and the parents sane.  I pray that some of these will be a blessing to you and your family as you too struggle through these “threenager” years.

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Books for Toddlers & Parents


God Gave Us Two

This is such a cute book if you are being blessed with another child and would like to prepare your other child(ren) for what is to come.  I love how the book continues to remind the reader that a child is a blessing.

Super Duper Safety School

I have always struggled with teaching my daughter about strangers.  Sometimes, she may have to talk to a stranger, and this book does an awesome job of teaching kids to discern the difference between a “tricky person” and someone who you can trust.  It is written in kid-friendly language with lots of colorful pictures.  We have read the book a few times and J is already catching on, using the tricky person analogy when we see people in public.

With all of the evil in the world, this book is one I would definitely recommend to all parents of littles.  Child abuse rates are staggering and those statistics reflect only what is reported.  I cringe every time I see a child’s picture on the news with information about where they were last seen.  The pornography industry has created a monster in making sex trafficking a solution.  Especially if you have a daughter, teaching her about “tricky people” is an absolute must!  Speaking of sex, that leads me to my next book suggestion.  Now there’s something you probably did not expect to read in a surviving toddler years blog post!

30 Days of Sex Talks

Okay, I know that this topic may be the farthest from your mind right now as you are arguing with your toddler about the difference between dessert and a meal.  Or explaining why we shouldn’t lick the shopping cart.  But, part of being a parent is preparing your child for the real world.  Even the best parent cannot be (nor should they be!) with their child 24/7.

Eventually, your child is going to grow up and before you know it, they will be experiencing life all on their own.  I have always thought it is never to early to start exposing your child to sex education.  No, I am NOT saying a toddler should know what the act of sex is, but I do want J to know the difference between a boy and a girl.  I have been talking to her for years about nature.  Flowers have boy parts and girl parts.  When mommies and daddies love each other, they have babies.  Etc, etc.  This sets the stage for more in-depth conversations later on.

This book does an amazing job of explaining the body’s anatomy, what private means, good touch vs. bad touch, and many more.  I love that it is all there and I do not have to create the conversation.  There are other versions available also that we plan to purchase as J gets older.  I see what the world is teaching my daughter about sex, but I want her to know what it is really about, through the lens of God.

Loving the Little Years

This book has really helped me gain some perspective when it comes to raising little kids.  I love how humble the author is and how relatable the book is while reading.  She shares looking at raising children in a way that pleases God.  The words that I have read in this book continue to give me pause when I am about to lose it with J.  Children are just little versions of adults trying to figure out how to cope and survive in their world.  A great, easy and relatively short read!


Ahhhh.  Bedtime.  The thought of bedtime and nap time can sometimes calm even the most distraught parent, as long as their child is a sound sleeper.  We have been extremely blessed with J and her sleeping habits even when she was a baby.  I love every minute with her, but sometimes it is nice to do something without having to explain it to someone else.  Curious minds are very questioning!  Here are some products that we use to aid our quiet time routines.

OK to Wake Light up Clock 

This clock has a light on it that comes on at a preset time to notify your child when it is okay to wake up.  There is no sound, so it is not like an alarm clock.  If they are still sleeping, it is not going to wake them up.  This saves the morning, “Mommy, is it time to wake up?” exchange.  I am NOT a morning person, so anything that saves aggravation, is a good investment to me!  If you would like a cheaper alternative and already have a spare light, you could use a light timer for the same purpose.  I would just make sure that the bulb is not so bright that it wakes the child up!

Shrunks Travel Bed

We do a fair amount of traveling for vacations and family gatherings.  This air mattress is designed for children.  We decided to get the larger one so J could use it for a longer period of time.  There is a smaller option available.  This is not your typical air mattress.  There are valleys inside of the bed for tucking sheets into and then an outer part slightly raised to prevent rolling off.  It holds air for days and travels well.

Young Living diffuser

One must-have at home and when traveling is our diffuser!  We love and use Young Living essential oils to support our health and wellness.  I use different combinations of oils and blends to help relax J at bedtime and during quiet time – heaven forbid I call it a nap!  Lavender is probably my favorite.  For more information about oils and Young Living, check out this post.

Play Time       stacking toys

Stacking cups by Green Toys 

I love giving J opportunities for independent play.  That is where problem solving and perseverance come from.  These cups are made in the USA and their volume is accurate.  This means at bath time, when you pour the 1 and 2 cup into the 3 cup, everything matches up.  What a great way to introduce adding and subtracting!  The cups can be challenging for little hands to stack because of the way that their grooves are, but I love giving J a challenge.

Sequence game 

Playing games with a toddler can be challenging.  We found this game online and J loves it.  There are pictures, so no reading is required.  It is very simple to play.  The object is to get four chips in a row.  The child has to match up the animal on their card with the animal on the game board.  Sometimes J forgets to discard and draw another card, but she is getting better.  This is a great game to play with littles, three and older.

Puddle Jumper 

The fear of drowning has to get to every parent.  When I was little, there were arm floaties that we used to call swimmys.  These inflatable tubes would fit onto your arms and keep you afloat.  Although, sometimes, you could tip forward and there was always the fear that they would slip off of the child’s arms.  This puddle jumper connects the arm floaties with a piece in the front.  This prevents the child from tipping forward and keeps them well above the water.  We have used it in the pool and at the beach.  J does not mind putting it on and I love the peace of mind that it gives me until she learns how to swim.


Library programs & Books

We have several libraries around us that offer great programs for little kids.  There is story time and crafts, yoga, etc.  One library has an amazing set-up for parents because all of the little books are in a room with age-appropriate toys.  The child can play while the parent selects some books to check out.  In our quest to go even tinier, I plan to utilize the library to extend J’s book collection.  Plus, it gives her an opportunity to interact with other kids.

Garden of Life probiotics

Probiotics are great for the digestive system for anyone.  I like this brand and J loves the flavor.  This goes beyond yogurt and introduces a multitude of good bacteria into the gut.  We try to eat fermented foods and take probiotics often.  This same brand makes probiotics for adults too.  See the version for men and women.

Potty seat

This potty seat was a God-send when we were in the potty training stages.  There are also built-in seats that are part of the toilet lid if you prefer a compact version you do not have to store.  I like the handle on the back for easy lifting and the shape was a great fit for J when she was younger.  Potty training is very challenging.  You have to wait until the child is ready.


I pray that this information was informative and useful.  Toddlers can be very challenging!  These products and ideas have definitely helped us out along the way.  Blessings to you and your family!

My Tips and Tricks for Pregnancy

baby in belly

Being pregnant is such a blessing because of the joy and excitement that comes with new life.  That being said, there are many areas of pregnancy that present challenges.  These challenges can be alleviated by using certain products and adding some activities to your daily routine.  This is also a great time to get some reading done because after that baby, you are not going to have any time to read!  Any extra moment that you have will be devoted to sleeping, most likely.

I have learned a lot during this second pregnancy and wanted to share some tips and tricks with others.  Every pregnancy is unique and every woman is different, so these are just ideas and suggestions that worked for me.

pregnant belly

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Pregnancy Suggestions – External


1. Leggings

These are a life saver when your belly is constantly growing!  Even some maternity pants can be uncomfortable if the waistband is not made right.  There are so many different places to purchase leggings, but I got mine at Target.  Three different colors to go with lots of different possibilities.  Super comfortable during any stage in your pregnancy, but especially in the last trimester when you feel huge and don’t want any extra pressure over your tummy.

2. Creams and Lotions

With a growing baby comes a growing belly and skin that must stretch to accommodate the space.  This pregnancy, my skin has been extra itchy.  I have found relief in using all natural products to make lotions.  I also try to apply lotion to my belly every night to prevent any stretch marks.  The most common ingredients when doing a Pinterest search are Shea butter and coconut oil.  These two products are great for the skin and help moisturize.  Find the raw Shea butter that I use here and coconut oil here.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Movement

3. Exercise of some kind: Yoga!

This is not a time of your life where you should be running marathons and lifting heavy weights, but you shouldn’t be sitting on the couch all day eating ice cream out of the carton either.  Find a happy medium.  I have fallen in love with yoga and pregnancy poses to relieve aches and pains.  I have also found yoga poses helpful to move this baby around when she is making me uncomfortable.  Yoga mats are relatively inexpensive and you really don’t even need one.  My favorite poses are: the bridge, cat cow, and king pigeon.  If trying yoga, just make sure that you are doing safe poses for pregnant women because some can be dangerous.

4. More exercise: Walk/Jog

Again, you need to use common sense and not overdo it when exercising.  I try to take a walk every day, sometimes mixing walking with a light jog.  Walking is great exercise, especially when you are pregnant.  I use these running shoes and love them!  If you don’t have time to talk a walk, try to incorporate more walking into your normal day.  Park further away from the store entrance, kick around a soccer ball with your child (if you have one already) or go for a swim.  The point is to stay active.  This will help you maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy and help your body not get stagnant.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Toxin-Free

5. Young Living essential oils

We discovered essential oils about four years ago shortly after my daughter was born. Essential oils are the lifeblood of the plant and contain beneficial constituents that the human body recognizes. These precious resources can support and balance all systems of the body including emotions. I enjoy adding Frankincense, Lavender and Tea Tree to lotions that I make using Shea butter and coconut oil. Frankincense helps restore and bring balance to the DNA (that’s the genetic instructions) of your cells. Lavender has many benefits, including being calming and soothing. Tea Tree also has many benefits, but is known for its ability to balance the skin. Young Living has incredible products with high standards. For more information, read this post.

Cleaning sprays DIY6. Toxin-free cleaning

Everyone loves a clean and fresh smelling home, but did you ever stop to think about where the scent is coming from? Many cleaning products claim to use real lemons, but who is truly regulating that? When you are pregnant, you may be extra sensitive to smells due to the hormones. I use only natural ingredients to clean. That way, I don’t have to worry about inhaling harmful fumes. My go-to ingredients for cleaning are vinegar, baking soda and Young Living’s Thieves cleaner. Between those three ingredients, I clean my entire home!  For more information and recipes, click here.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Internal

7. Drink pure water

Drinking water is beneficial for everyone, especially pregnant women.  The problem is that so many sources of water are not pure.  City water is treated with all kinds of harmful chemicals, well water could have harmful substances and bottled water is sold in plastic.  We chose to invest in a Berkey water filtration system.  So, we pour water from our well into the filtering device and it removes harmful substances like lead from the water.  If you’re drinking the twelve glasses a day that’s recommended, you want to make sure you’re drinking pure water without any harmful chemicals.  This hydrates your body without overworking your immune system.

8. Supplements

The sad truth is that we are simply not getting enough nutrients and minerals from the food that we are eating, so everyone should be taking some kind of supplement.  But, just like the water, you need to make sure that the supplements are from a pure source.  Expecting mothers need to be extra vigilant to make sure that they are getting folate, Calcium, and many other vitamins and minerals that your developing baby needs.  We choose to order most of our supplements from Young Living because it’s a company we can trust for purity.  I take 1 ounce of antioxidant juice called NingXia Red every morning with cod liver oil for my omegas.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Literature

Gentle Babies

Going along with the Young Living essential oils I mentioned above, this book is a valuable resource. It gives in detail specific oils and protocols that are super beneficial during pregnancy, delivery and after baby is born. There are certain essential oils that you should be extra cautious with when pregnant, just because they are so highly concentrated. Everything that you put on your skin or into your body can directly affect your unborn child because everything is absorbed one way or another. Your skin absorbs anything that you put on it and your digestive system must process what you consume. Even after birth, essential oils can be of assistance. There are certain oils that help increase or decrease your milk supply. Overall, this book is a small investment when you consider all the information that it gives you.

The Solution

I know this is a controversial topic, but let me be clear. There are too many “coincidences” and studies centering around bad science for this not to raise questions. There are all kinds of incentives and rewards for people in the medical profession to push and recommend vaccines. Guess who’s rewarding them? The same companies that make a profit from the vaccines! I just think of all of the people who lived 50+ years ago. They did not have the enormous amount of vaccines that are recommended today and they lived healthy lives.

There are other alternatives. It’s so sad to me that we have been brainwashed and just accept that a pill can help us. The human body is so complex and was created so intricately, there is no way a man-made substance is going to benefit long-term. This book explains lots of science behind the human body’s natural prevention called the immune system and then alternative ways to boost immunity.

Literature for Preparation

Loving the Little Years

I started reading this book after I saw it on someone else’s blog. This is written from the perspective of a mom who is not perfect. Sometimes when I’m reading books or articles, the tone and overall feel of the text is that the author has it all figured out. This is simply not realistic when it comes to raising littles. They are constantly changing and are God’s way of shaping our characters. This book has changed the way that I look at raising my daughter and I wish that I had read it sooner! The author connects raising children with your walk with Christ. An easy read and well worth the investment of money and time.


We purchased this book after watching a sermon series on parenting. This book has definitely changed the way that I view discipline. It is Biblically based and very straightforward. The author has a unique way of delivering content without making the parent reading it feel judged or guilty. This is another book I wish I had read before having my first child. So many gems and perspective shifters! I would recommend this to any parent or parent-to-be!


Overall, there are many challenges and blessings of pregnancy.  I pray that you have found some ideas in this post that will be helpful to you.  Blessings for your precious bundle and growing family!

Apple Picking

Family Fun with a Purposebag of apples

I love being outside and eating fresh fruit.

apples on the tree

This fun family activity combined those two!  We went apple picking at Fifer Orchards.  It is really important to me to educate J on food and using fresh ingredients.  We’ve made several lifestyle changes to try and get our health in order.  If you would like to read more about that, check out this post.  The book that inspired us the most is called The Daniel Plan.  If you would like to learn more about your health, nutrition and otherwise, I strongly encourage you to check it out!

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picking apples



The trees were full of beautiful apples!  We were so glad that we decided to get the larger bag.




J got to pick the apples straight off of the tree.  Now, that’s staying connected to your food!  There was even a little tractor ride involved.  A tractor pulling a trailer escorted us to the rows of apple trees and then picked us up when we finished picking.

Apple Uses

bag of apples



But, what exactly do you do with a 1/2 bushel of apples?  Eat them raw, apple pie, apple crumb cake, apple crisp, applesauce, etc.  There are so many possibilities!


The first step is washing all those apples!  Washing produce is so important.  Even when purchasing organic, you never know if the neighboring farmer uses pesticides or if crop dusters flying over spill some of the harmful chemicals onto the produce.  Fifer Orchards is not organic, but the worker told us that they try to limit the chemicals that they use.

washing apples


We love to fill the sink with water and add about a cup of white vinegar.

It is amazing to see the film come off of the produce in the sink!  You can rinse or just let air dry.  I have done both and cannot tell a difference either way.



We love using our juicer to make fresh pressed juice.  If you’d like to check out the one that we use and love, click here.  It is an investment, but when you juice often, it is so worth it!  This juicer is a cold-press which does not heat up, damaging beneficial enzymes.

Slice and core the apples, then dump into the juicer.  Fresh pressed juice and dry apple pulp to feed the deer in the woods.


fresh juice

We lost track of how many apples we juiced, but guessed around 40 or so.  Here’s the first 1/2 gallon jug.  The color is different from store bought apple juice, but I have found that is usually the case.  Store bought juices often have many other ingredients added to make them sweeter and “prettier.”  This juice tastes great and we know exactly what’s in it!  Read even more about juicing in this post.



Here’s the next batch of juice jugs:

more juice

We had some pineapple juice left over from our last juicing, and I found this recipe for Hot Apple Cider that I wanted to try.  The jug in the middle has pineapple juice and apple juice.

Hot Apple Cider Recipe:

6 cups Apple cider or juice (we used juice)

2 cups pineapple juice

Clove Vitality* 5 drops

Cinnamon Bark Vitality* 5 drops

Tangerine Vitality* 5 drops

Directions: Put all ingredients into a 3 qt pot and heat on medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm!

We used our large Hydroflask jug to keep it warm.  It was delicious!

*New to essential oils?  Learn more about them in this post.  The Vitality line is specifically for internal use.  We love our Young Living products!