Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What are the odds?

I saw this infographic a couple years ago, and then it came back around again more recently and I've had it bookmarked ever since.  I just love it!  It reminds me of Psalms 139:16, how God knew all of our days before even one of them came to be. We are purposefully made, instead of just a random accident!

In life it can often feel like you are insignificant, not here on purpose, or that you are just a mistake. Especially as a creative, like me, you can look at what you are doing and see a billion other people online doing similar things and feel like you have nothing unique to offer.  What I love about this infographic, is that it tells you the exact opposite.

If there was a "do-over" the chances of you coming out exactly the same way are basically zero. God created each individual on purpose and they are absolutely unique. God had a specific plan when he created you, and he has you exactly where he wants you! That is awesome! I love how this infographic puts it in numbers, it so fascinating and mind boggling!

I know this is kind of hard to read if you want to see the whole thing go here!

Be encouraged and keep pressing on! Do what brings you joy and keep putting yourself out there!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Its a....

It has been almost 6 months since I've posted?!  Seriously, how did that happen?  Since the last post a lot has happened, but the biggest news is we found out I'm pregnant again!  If you follow me on facebook, that would of course be old news, sorry. I just entered my 3rd trimester, also really hard to believe, and  I'm currently 27 weeks along! This pregnancy has been very similar and yet different from my previous two.  Different in the fact that I just don't think about being pregnant as much.  My plate is full caring for my two other children, and doing life. I guess by the third pregnancy it's old hat, I don't need to worry about all the other things I worried about with the first two! Its the same in the fact that it has gone very well so far, I'd even go as far to say that this has been the best pregnancy! I've started visiting the chiropractor again because of hip issues but that was something I dealt with in the other pregnancies as well. I have yet to share a baby bump picture so I guess its about time!

This picture was taken on our recent vacation to Maine the beginning of August, one of my favorite places!

We decided to find out the gender this time as well, and I wanted to share that with you all!  We are having another BOY! We are all very excited!  Here is the video we took when telling the kids!

Piper has been sure we were having a girl ever since we first told her we were having another baby, so she was a little disappointed at first but that all quickly changed!  We now have fun asking her what we should name the baby, it's always something different and usually humorous! We haven't decided on what we are naming this little guy yet.  Any suggestions?!

Well, that's all for now, until next time...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Natural Journey

This has been a post in the making for a little while, but I finally decided it was time to sit down and write it!  Today I'm sharing with you parts of my journey to living a healthier and chemical free life. I would love to hear your thoughts, so don't forget to comment below after you read, and I'm always looking for new products to try out, if you've found one you love, please share! 

The maturing process that happens once you leave home for the first time is a fascinating thing. When I look back over the last 12 years since I first journeyed out on my own, I very distinctly remember making certain choices that have directed my course to where I am today.  Wait... 12 years, how did that happen?! This makes me feel so old :(  I honestly calculated that a couple times just to be sure! Anyways...

College was definitely one of those times of choosing for me.  In college I was just so excited that I didn't have someone telling me what I should or shouldn't do or eat, can someone say FREEDOM! :) I'd like to say I made a lot of good choices in college, I did make some good choices, but I kinda binged on a couple things, at least at first. I watched a lot of TV and movies, because that was something we didn't do much of at home, and I ate my fair share of junk food, just because I could. We rarely drank soda at home, so standing in the cafe holding my tray full of food, getting to pick something other than water was pretty awesome. (I'm sure the same happened with food choices but for some reason soda just stands out to me!)  I came up with new drink concoctions mixing and matching different drinks, I thought I was pretty cool. Obviously, I was cool!  I remember though, standing in front of the soda fountain one day, and making the conscious decision that I don't really need to drink soda. Even though I had the option, soda made me feel crappy, and I just decided I wasn't going to drink it anymore. I'd like to go back and give my college self a high five!  Good choice Monica! I do still drink soda from time to time but its pretty rare, and when I do I'm reminded of why I made that choice to stop.  Instant headache, bloating, and just overall crappy feeling.  I'd love to say I've reached that point with sweets and chocolate, but sadly that is not true.  They are just so good!  (still working on it!)

Sitting in the OB office for my first prenatal visit was another moment that I remember very clearly. The nurse pulled out a packet of information and was going over the recommendations and medical suggestions they give to all new moms.  After looking at the very short list of over-the-counter medication they suggested taking when pregnant, I remember asking the question, so what do I do if I get sick? The nurse said something like, well if you get a cold try and let your body heal naturally, but if you are really feeling bad and can't seem to kick it come in and we will see if there is something appropriate to prescribe for you.  I left thinking, if they don't recommend you taking anything during pregnancy because it has potential harm to your baby, why are we taking all of these drugs?

I did get a cold or two during my pregnancy and that pushed me to look for natural, drug free remedies to common colds and sicknesses.  Along the way I found some things that have really worked well... garlic, vitamin C, and silver was what I started out with.  I jumped from there to finding chemical free products to put on my skin; deodorant, toothpaste, lotions, etc. These kinds of products are all being absorbed into your body and could effect the baby as well, yikes!  Then once Piper was born, I took one step further and started looking for natural cleaning products that didn't have all the harsh chemicals. One thing that every mother of small children knows is that everything goes in their mouths especially when they are young, and I didn't want to risk them accidentally figuring out the lock to the cleaning cabinet and then ingesting those chemicals. I am still surprised at how smart those little stinkers are! The one thing I loved about switching to all natural cleaning products is getting away from those nasty smells.  Some of the really strong cleaning products used to make me light headed and I would feel like I couldn't breathe, not cool! I also don't have to wear gloves, if it comes in contact with my skin it doesn't really matter!  I also don't hesitate to clean if the kids are around, which I would've in the past.

The last two years have really seen the most change around my house and a lot of that has to do with essential oils.  I had been reading about them online for a while and was very skeptical. The essential oil craze just seemed like another fad to me, and I'm not someone that just jumps in with fads very quickly, nevertheless my interest was peaked. I did a lot of reading, and the more I read about them the more interested I became.  I love the idea of using things God created in nature as remedies in everyday life. What I didn't love was the price, and I had no idea what to start with. At one point I decided I would give it a try and I went to the health food store and bought a bottle or two to try in cleaning products.  I remember attempting to use them but then realizing the recipes I was looking at were calling for a few oils I didn't have. I don't remember if I actually ever made cleaning products with them, but they smelled nice! Finally my birthday rolled around, and I had some extra money burning a hole in my pocket, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy a Young Living starter kit.  I figured with the kit I would have the most popular oils on hand so I could actually make things, and also be able to try out some of the more expensive oils I wouldn't have necessarily bought outright. I had heard really good things about the company and the quality of their oils, and they were recommended by people I trusted, so I did it!  I definitely wasn't that person who fell in love with oils right away, slow adopter here!  The first year, I just dabbled here and there, my kit came with a diffuser so I did diffuse oils some, but didn't really apply them on myself much, mostly because I didn't know what I was doing.  Looking back now I want to kick myself because they really could've been much more helpful in our rough transition after Toby was born. As I've slowly been learning more and more about what they can do, and I've seen results myself, I've come to the point where I use them daily and absolutely love them! They are definitely a game changer.  I have almost completely replaced my medicine cabinet with essential oils, and that to me, is really exciting.

Most of what I've learned and made changes to in my life have come from talking to close friends and family, and from reading natural living blogs. I'm a slow adopter in general so these things have taken a long time to come to pass and I'm still not where I would like to be. By slowly changing one thing at a time I've definitely made progress and looking back its really neat to see how far I've come. This was really brought to my attention when a friend had a cold a while ago and was talking about what they were taking to help manage the symptoms.  I had honestly totally forgotten about most of the common over-the-counter drugs for colds, my first thought was get out the essential oils, pop some vitamin C and hit the garlic shots!

My current philosophy on healthy living and eating is this, get as close to nature as possible. Basically if God made it, then I'm going to eat it or use it in as close to the original form as possible. There are a lot of great things about science, but when it starts messing with how and what we eat, that's not cool. I think its kinda cocky to think that by genetically modifying our food we can come up with a better outcome than what God originally designed for us. The list of modern diseases speaks for itself.  Ok rant over.

So I thought I would share with you what I've done so far.  My goal in all of this is to create something that's sustainable for me and my family.  I don't want to just make changes that stick for a couple weeks or months, but something that we adopt and end up changing our habits for good. Food is still a huge area that I'm working on.  This has been the slowest area of change for me and the most frustrating.  Changing food habits is no joke! The changes I've made so far are primarily in how I shop.  I read a lot of labels, I try to stick with ingredients that I know, and shop the perimeter of the grocery store eating and buying as little processed food as possible, getting as much whole and fresh food as possible. One of my goals for this year is to start eating more fermented foods, really start focusing on gut health, and trying to increase the amount of greens we eat on a regular basis. I won't have an infant this summer or be extremely pregnant, so I'm excited about adding more to my garden and doing more freezing and canning as well! This is an area that I am definitely still learning a lot about, if you have any pointers I'd love your help!

Here are some of the products we've been using and enjoying.

For deodorant, Matt loves using a salt stick, you can get these at any health food store or I've seen them at Giant before as well. I currently use primal pit paste which has worked really well for me, I've been using it for about a year but I'm thinking I might try out some other brands just to see if they are better!

Honest Company
I use a lot of their products and really love them. Toothpaste, cleaning products, vitamins, all of the kids lotions, shampoo, baby powder, etc. I really love their diapers too, they are super cute, but they are kinda pricey :(

I use Norwex enviroclothes and products for cleaning.

Essential Oils: Air purification, wound care, sickness remedy and prevention, cleaning, pest control... this list could honestly be endless, i'll keep it to a minimum!

Some of the blogs I subscribe to: Wellness Mama, Mama Natural, Food Babe

I love essential oils so much that I just recently decided to start a business sharing and selling them! My goal really is to help people in their journey to wellness whatever that looks like! I will be teaching a class each month on different topics, followed by a make and take drop in party where you can use my oils to make things and try them out on your own!  If you are local and are interested in knowing what topics we will be teaching on or would like to attend one of the classes leave your email in the comments below and I'll get back to you or you can contact me through facebook.

And I couldn't leave you without telling you about an awesome promotion Young Living is doing  this month where they are giving a 10% discount off their premium starter kits. (the kit that I started with!) I haven't seen them do this before! These kits are already giving you a great discount on products (value of $300+) so with the February sale they are $144 instead of $160.  This includes the 11 most popular oils and a diffuser plus some samples of their other products!  I'm hopping on the bandwagon myself and adding an additional $10 off just on February 29th. If you've been thinking about buying one or trying out essential oils, this is a great time!  Leave your email below or facebook me!

This was a long post, if you stayed with me the whole time, props to you! :) I wish you all the best in your journey's to wellness.  I love this topic so please feel free to talk or ask questions, I'm an open book!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Piper & Toby

These two... I just can't get enough of them!

A few weeks ago we got to celebrate Piper's 3rd birthday! Where did my baby girl go?!  Toby is not far behind either, his 2nd birthday is coming up fast, he's just a couple days shy of 20 months! I thought it was about time to do another update!  (ps... I finally decided to try and cut Toby's hair myself. I was pretty confident in my ability to cut hair, but not so confident in Toby's ability to let me give him a haircut. He wasn't really into it but I think it turned out pretty good regardless, don't you?)

Many evenings after the kids are in bed Matt and I talk about all the funny things the kids did and said during the day and just laugh!  They are just so amazing, and that word doesn't feel like it does them justice, there really isn't a right word that can completely encompass how awesome they are!

Piper is our little chatter box. She converses with ease these days and sometimes she sounds more like a 13 year old than a 3 year old.  She doesn't get every word right though, one of my favorites is when she says yesternight and yestermorning to try and talk about things that happened the previous day, or week. She continuously surprises me with how much she remembers and how long ago some of the things are that she references!

Piper loves to carry everything in plastic bags these days.  This almost always includes her Teddy, because Teddy goes everywhere with her.  There also tends to be a random assortment of toys accommodating teddy in the bag, or blocks, or all the puzzle pieces from every single puzzle she has!  We got her a backpack for her birthday to hopefully curb her enthusiasm with plastic bags, which it definitely did for a little while but I just caught her in the pantry again the other day swiping another plastic bag.

She role plays with Teddy a lot which is so cute to watch.  I'll catch her reading Teddy books, sometimes when I put Toby down for a nap, she will put Teddy down for a nap too.  If Toby takes Teddy (which happens about once an hour) when she gets him back she will console him and say something like, it's ok Teddy you don't have to cry.

Her favorite show is Clifford, that's pretty much the only thing we watch at our house  Toby also enjoys "clipberd"!

Toby is learning to talk really quickly.  He is repeating everything we say, his little voice is so cute, I could listen to him talk all day! Just this past week he started asking "Whats that called"  or "Whats this" about everything he sees!

Toby is my little helper, he loves putting stuff back!  I'll get something out and he'll immediately ask to put it back.  He especially loves when he can throw things in the trash. He also likes helping me load and unload the laundry, and sweeping the floor. We got this little kids size broom except he brushes it against the bristles leaving more mess than he cleans because they are all starting to fall out!

He's very smart and knows how to push Piper's buttons! This usually entails taking Piper's Teddy or pillow which she is very protective of.  I'm trying to work with them to not just stand there screaming at each other when this happens, but it feels like we have made very little progress in this department :(  He also likes to tackle Piper, its always a toss up how she will respond, sometimes she loves it, sometimes she hates it!

This boy is super athletic, his kicking and throwing skills are quite remarkable. He also has a love for coffee which is oddly hilarious. He knows and points out coffee makers everywhere we go, we don't typically let him drink it, although he has had a few tastes and seems to like it!

Toby finally figured out how to give real kisses, (not the slobbery open mouth kisses) and it is hands down my favorite thing in the world!  I ask him for kisses all the time and he always obliges, I hope he doesn't get sick of it anytime soon because they are just so precious!

To get to be at home with these kiddos everyday is such a blessing!  I have the best coworkers in the world! :)  If you want to see more pictures of the kids make sure to follow me on Instagram @mgibbel.


Friday, February 5, 2016

A Life Without a Microwave

My thoughts and experiences on living without a microwave for almost 2 years...

A couple of years ago I read an article online about the harms of using microwaves, it was a long in depth article using words I didn't know to explain what happens to your food, your home, your environment when you use your microwave.  (I've tried to relocate this specific article, but I forget where I read it from and there are so many similar pieces out there, just google something like harm and microwave and you will have your pick of articles to read!)

I read through most of the article, very skeptical about what I was reading, tucked it in my mental library and went on with life. I feel like the idea of not microwaving plastic is pretty prevalent, because the plastic particles can leak into your food and contaminate it.  (Why does every single tv dinner come in plastic?!) Nonetheless, I went on with my life trying to use my microwave less, and stand further away from it when it was running, (as apposed to smashing my face right against the door to see what was going on inside.... common I know you do that too!) but it was hard, microwaves are just so convenient!  

About a year later I came across the same article (coincidence?) referenced from one of the blogs I follow. This time I did read the whole thing and for some reason my opinions changed or I was much less skeptical than before. This was also right before we moved into the house we are at now. Since the farmhouse we were moving to had previously been occupied by an amish family they did not have a microwave there, and our city house had the microwave built into the cabinets. We were renting out our city house so it seemed like a good idea to just keep it there as an extra incentive to get it rented out quickly. It was kind of a conscious decision but a lot easier than grabbing our already used microwave and getting rid of it! Our new place was not going to have a microwave so we would just get used to it! I couldn't decide if I was crazy or not... having a small child with the second on the way any convenience you can get at that stage in life is gold. 

Then we moved, and I started questioning my decision instantly.  The first couple weeks were rough, I was in a new house, couldn't find anything, and throwing something in the microwave would have been so nice sometimes, but it's like any habit that you want to break, it takes time to adjust. This went on for about a month, and then something awesome happened, I forgot about it! We bought a toaster oven shortly after we moved in and we use it all the time.  Sure it takes a little longer to heat things up but the food comes out evenly cooked and doesn't turn into mush! Leftover pizza is awesome when warmed up in the toaster oven, instead of the gummy chewy crust that happens when you microwave it. I love it.  We also have this thing called a stove! It works really well to reheat things as well :)  To be honest the only time I really think about not having a microwave is when people come over and ask where our microwave is, and then I have to tell them we don't have one!  They probably think we are crazy, but at this point I don't mind. 

I don't know if every single thing I read in the article about microwaves is true.  Actually I have read other articles that try and debunk those ideas, and claim the author is using scare tactics.  I'm not a scientist and I don't plan on doing in depth research about it.  I just decided, if there was even a remote part of it that was true, I didn't want my family exposed to the results.  Do I worry about it when we go to other peoples houses and they use their microwaves? Nope.  Do I judge other people who have microwaves? Not at all.  There are plenty of things in our environment that we are exposed to every day, I can't control all of them, and I don't want to spend the time trying. What I can control is what I use in my house. You can read the articles yourself if you want to and make your own decision, I just wanted to let you all know there is a life without a microwave, and I would even say its a better one!  If you've ever thought about it, or have the same concerns, why not make 2016 the year to make the move? 

-Here's to ditching TV dinners, and other microwavable junk food because you don't have a microwave!
-Here's to more nutritious food because you aren't zapping out all of its nutrients!
-Here's to better tasting leftovers!
-Here's to keeping our kids, ourselves, and our environments under exposed to microwaves.
-Here's to actually using our expensive kitchen appliances, our ovens and stoves!
-Here's to slowing down and hopefully spending a little more time with family and enjoying our food!

Do you have a microwave, have you thought about ditching it before? Tell me what you think, am I crazy?


Friday, January 8, 2016

The Start of a New Year, Hallelujah!

Life has felt very undisciplined and quite frustrating lately, and after two really weird unfocused years when it comes to goals, I'm ready to get back into a routine and get things done!  I feel like I've heard more people bashing goals and resolutions this year than previous years, but I don't care, I really love goals and the way they push you to be better at life!   This year I want to get re-organized and uncomfortable!  Here are a few things that I'm putting into motion in 2016!

FINANCES: After paying off our debt in 2013. We kinda got a bit lazy in our budgeting.  We had been reining it in for so long it was nice to chill out for a bit.  What I thought might be a 3-6 month relaxation on the budget, turned into 2 years! Yikes!  Don't worry we were still keeping a budget, we just could have been doing a better job at it!

GOAL: So in 2016 we want to save $12,000 by June and start paying off our house before the end of the year. (I think i just lost my breathe when I typed that!  This is the goal that makes me nervous, we will definitely be looking for "fat" in the budget to make this happen!)

FITNESS: This year I'm turning 30 in June!  I'm excited and a bit scared too, if I'm being honest.  Since graduating from college, sitting at a desk job for 5 years and having two kids within 17 months of each other, I've gained about 30 extra pounds.  I'm really ready to not be carrying those pounds around anymore.  While losing weight is great its not my absolute goal, I really just want to feel better, not be tired all the time, increase my energy, and find a healthy lifestyle including food choices and fitness that works for my life.

GOAL: Lose 30 by 30!

FIELD: My home is my workplace. It's going on two years in April since we've moved and I think its about time to finally finish getting everything organized and in place. I've also been wanting to get back into blogging.  I had been blogging pretty consistently for a while but then got out of the habit probably after Toby was born.  Its time to get back on it!

GOALS: Finish our master bedroom in January, organize our spare room in February, clean up our basement (cellar) to a usable state in March, and organize our storage room in the barn in April, or May depending on how cold it its! Write one blog post a week!

Other Random Goals that I didn't neatly categorize: I really want to get my pictures off my computer and into photo books.  I'd really like to get to the point where I'm organizing my pictures throughout the year and then making a big photo book at the end of every year.  That being said I have a lot of back work to do. Ideally I'd like to have books every year since we've had kids, that means I have to go back to 2012.

GOALS: Put 2012 photo book together during the 1st quarter of 2016, the 2013 photo book during the 2nd quarter, the 2014 book during the 3rd quarter, the 2015 book and hopefully by then I will have organized 2016 as well so I can do two books in the last quarter of the year!

I'm wincing with each goal I'm typing, now that I put it out there, I'm going to have to actually do it! I've tried to keep them pretty attainable, but they still are stretching! There are some other ideas brewing in my head but I'll leave it at that for now, I need to get to work!!  :)

Have you made any goals for 2016?  I'd love to hear about them if you have, comment below and let me know!

Here's to a better 2016!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dear Toby

This past week you turned one, Happy Birthday little man! I just wanted you to know that I absolutely adore you!  I love watching you walk/waddle around the house with your hands up in the air for balance, I love how you speed up when you see me and free fall into my legs or arms as soon as you are close enough, I love playing with those little curls you have on the back of your head, and kissing your cheeks and neck until you belly laugh, I love how you recline against me and cross your ankles when we give you a bottle, I love how you attack my face when you are tired and try to rub your face all over mine, I love that you think trash cans are the coolest thing, and how you constantly try to throw your toys away, I love how you SPLASH the water like it's your job when we give you a bath, I LOVE that little 4 tooth smile of yours, I love the face you make just after you've been hurt and you can't decide if you should cry, the one where you crinkle your nose and show all of your teeth, I love hearing you say HI!, and watching your floppy wave when you say goodby, I love they way you dance as soon as you hear music come on, I JUST LOVE YOU TOBY!  But probably my all time favorite thing you do, is when you lay your head on my shoulder and just hang out there! Sometimes I just stand by your crib and hold you for awhile before I put you down to sleep, soaking it up because I know someday you won't do that anymore. Don't grow up Toby!  ...I know you will, eventually, but even though you get bigger don't loose who you are, because the essence of you is 100% perfect!

<3 Mom