Saturday, August 9, 2014

All-Natural Sunburn Relief

Essential Oils. 
Everyone's doing them.

Aaaand a while back my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try them to find out what all they hype was about. I'm ashamed to admit that they have mostly lived peacefully in the sweet little subdivided box I purchased for them.

There are one or two that I've used several times, but they were blends--designed to perform a specific purpose. No mixing or creativity required. One is designed to help boost your immune system, and the other helps with congestion.

So I've decided to experiment and bit and share my successes (hopefully no failures, right!?) here. 

My first experiment?
Sunburn relief.

We enrolled my girls in swimming lessons this year, but they didn't start until the end of July. And that may have been the first time I've worn my swimsuit this year. Nope--that's false. It was the second time. But that's beside the point. 

The point is that most of my lovely skin hadn't said hello to the summer sun yet, and I got a bit rosy after bobbing around in the pool with my mini-man while the girlies were getting their swim on. When I got home I rolled my eyes a bit, realizing that I didn't have any aloe vera in my house.

But then inspiration hit.
Essential oils!
Hey! I have some of those! Maybe one of my oils provides relief from sunburn! 

After a bit of research on the world wide web, I decided to go with this:


20 drops lavendar oil (for healing and soothing)
25 drops peppermint oil (for cooling and soothing)
water/fractionated coconut oil to fill a 2 ounce spray bottle
(I happened to have a pump bottle of hair spray from my airplane-friendly toiletries stash.)

And that's it! Make sure your pump bottle is clean, put in the oils, and fill with the carrier. I used fractionated coconut oil. Shake well, and spray away. I like to rub it in a bit after I spray.

It wasn't the same sort of instant cool that a bottle of aloe provides, but I felt like the soothing lasted much longer and I healed faster. Plus I always feel sticky when I use aloe, but not with this!

Say WHAT!?

This is the same husband who puts the word essential in little quotation marks with his fingers whenever he talks about them. He sunburned his feet pretty bad when we went paddle boarding last weekend, and I put some of this on his feet when we got home (to the tune of some eye rolling on the Mr.'s part), and what do you know! The next day there was no sign of it. 

The Mr. said (and I quote):
"You've made me a believer!"

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Happy Marriage = A Happy Home

The clock said 9:15. We had started our children's bedtime routine at 7:45, which meant we had been at it for an hour and a half. It was one of those nights where everything was a battle- from getting in and out of the bath to picking out the “right” pajamas. It had been one of "those" nights for months now. With a toddler hanging from my shoulder and a screaming 7 year old at my feet, I glanced across the room at my husband for help. He was wrestling with our teething baby, trying to keep him from biting his shoulder, all while trying to explain to our 5 year old why she couldn’t take a bowl of cereal to bed with her to “keep under her pillow until she got hungry.” His voice was full of patience, yet he spoke every word like it weighed a hundred pounds. He had ketchup on his pants, and spit up on his shirt. He looked completely drained.  He caught my eye and for a moment we just looked at each other… and I thought to myself- How did we get here?

Just yesterday we were young newlyweds, certain that the power of love could conquer anything! All you need is love! Right?! We were blissfully unaware of things like unemployment, mountains of laundry, stacks of bills, or the grief of losing a child. There were days we thought we were busy, and tired... but the true meaning of those words had yet to be discovered. 

It didn’t take long before we became acquainted with the cruel realities of life. Even the monotony of day-to-day living started to take it’s toll. There were lists to be made, things to be done, and children to take care of. The days quietly turned to years, and suddenly I found myself looking across the room at this handsome man and thinking… when was the last time I REALLY talked to him? Sigh….This man. This wonderful amazing man… do I even know him anymore?

My husband is going to school, and working full time, so our time together is extremely limited. I am the mother of 4 children under the age of 7. My children are young and dependent on me for everything. While in the trenches of motherhood it is often hard to remember that before I became a mother, I was a wife. I was a friend, a lover, and a companion. Just months after we were married, while I was still settling into my role as a spouse, we found out I was expecting. And now, here we are… four children later. I wouldn’t change the number of children we have, or our choice to have them so close together. I know that the decisions we made were right for our family. However, I had become so wrapped up in my role as a mother that I had put my relationship with my husband on the backburner without even realizing it.

That night I decided something had to change. Over the course of the last few months I have put more effort into making my relationship with my husband a priority. Implementing a few small habits brought about some big changes in our relationship, and I wanted to share them with you just incase you find yourself in the same boat we were in. 

 1.    Do the little things.
Let’s be honest, between work, kids, and an endless list of things to do, date night often gets pushed to the bottom of the list. And far too often a weekly night out is not in the budget for us. But don’t despair! We have found it’s the little things that keep our relationship alive: Hold hands when you’re at the park with the kids, send your spouse a quick text to see how their day is going, let them know you’re thinking about them. When your husband gets home from work, stop what you’re doing and give him a hug and a kiss. Cuddle on the couch when you watch a movie… In front of the kids? Really? YES. Really. Children need to know their parents love one another. I have realized that my husband and I are the strongest example to our children of what a marriage should look like. How we treat one another becomes the blueprint for how our children will learn to treat their future spouse. Raising them in a home where their mother and father clearly love and value one another will set them on the right path for how to build their own healthy relationships. So yes, do the little things- and let your children see them.

2. Be a team!
When women get together there is a tendency to start husband bashing. You all know exactly what I’m talking about and I’ve got two words for you- Stop it.

Maybe he does leave his socks on the floor, and maybe he really can’t remember to take out the trash. But guess what? No one is perfect.

How would you feel if your husband complained about your flaws in public? “Ugh, when I came home from work yesterday it looked like a tornado had blown through the house. My wife was STILL in her sweats, probably because they’re the only thing that fits her these days… she hadn’t even bothered to put on make up! The kids were screaming at the top of their lungs, and my wife hadn’t even thought about what we were going to have for dinner yet. Unbelievable! I work hard all day long, and yet THIS is what I come home to?” It’s not so funny when the tables are turned is it?

So next time your girlfriends are swapping complaints about their husbands- resist the urge to join in. Praise him when he can hear you, and praise him when he can’t. Respect him and he will do the same for you. Build him up in front of your children, “Wow, you are so lucky to have a dad who will play tea party with you!” or “Doesn’t daddy look handsome today?”  It will make him feel like the super hero he is.

Be each other’s number one fan. Support one another, even when it’s hard. When my husband told me he wanted to go back to school to get another degree I told him that if it’s what he really wants, then I’m behind him 100%... even though it means surviving long days without him, living on a tighter budget, and doing it without making him feel guilty about it. I’ve got his back, and I know he has mine.

Work together. Play together. You’re a team- so act like it!

3. Go to bed together.

This seems like such a simple thing, but for some reason it is so hard for us to do. Too often I’m up late working on the computer, or my husband is studying, and we end up dragging ourselves into bed at different times. And I’m embarrassed to say that FAR too often we let a third party interrupt our alone time. Nope, not the kiddos. I’m talking about a nasty time-sucking tyrant called TECHNOLOGY. Laying in bed with my husband playing games on the ipad, and me on my phone surfing Pinterest for new recipes, and pinning articles about how to connect with your spouse (oh the irony.) … we may as well be on separate continents.  Our new rule is to turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime. Those 30 minutes are our time together to talk and reconnect without the constant distraction of text messages or the ensnaring appeal of the Internet.

I recently had a good talk with a friend of mine, and when I told her that my husband comes before my kids she looked at me like I was crazy. “What? Your husband is a grown man. He can take care of himself.” But here’s the thing - putting my husband first doesn’t mean my children’s needs are neglected. My responsibilities as a mother haven’t changed. My days are still filled to the brim with carpools, homework, spelling lists, skinned knees, dance recitals, sticky fingers, PB and J, and endless battles over who gets the pink cup (Would it be so hard for Ikea to make their dinnerware in ONE color?!? I'm just sayin'!) My plate is still as full as it was 6 months ago, if not fuller- but the days don’t seem as long. Why? I think it’s because I don’t feel alone in the chaos. My relationship with my husband is stronger than it’s ever been, and even when the kids are bouncing off the walls- our home feels a little more peaceful.

At first the idea of making my husband’s needs a priority stressed me out.  After all, I’ve already got an army of little people who need my love and attention. The thought of one more person who needed a slice of my time was overwhelming. But do you know what I’ve learned? Putting my husband first isn’t really a matter of how I divide my time during the day. In fact, if we were to graph it out, the kids would definitely get the bigger piece of the pie! So what’s the difference? It’s not so much about the size of the slice of pie, it’s about the quality of it. It’s not about how much time my husband and I have together- it’s about making the most of what we have. And it’s worth the effort. A happier marriage = a happier home.

So tonight, as I look across the battlefield at my husband as he rocks our baby to sleep, his shirt covered in spaghetti sauce, his hair disheveled from building a fort in the living room… I’m not looking at a man I hardly know anymore. I’m looking at my teammate, my best friend, the love of my life. And I can’t help but think he’s never looked sexier.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Swimmable Mermaid Tail Giveaway (CLOSED)

Oh boy do I have news for you! You're totally gonna flip!
It turns out MERMAIDS ARE REAL! Like REALLY real! As real as the load of laundry hovering ominously behind me.

You want proof? 
You can't handle the proof!!!
Okay. Yes you can.

Check it out! Real live mermaids!

Okay so maybe they're not real in the traditional sense of the word, but they ARE super adorable.

My girls have been obsessed with mermaids over the past 6 months, so when I saw these mermaid tails I just couldn't resist. What little girl doesn't spend hours perfecting her Little Mermaid impressions in the bathtub, or practicing Ariel's dramatic first breath as a human every time you go to the swimming pool? I know I do! I mean... did. :)

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm totally living vicariously through my kids right now, and it feels great!

Now, let me start by saying I've done what is probably an unhealthy amount of research on all of the swimmable mermaid tails on the market. Shimmertail first caught my eye because they are a fraction of the cost of many of their competitors. Call me crazy, but I just can't bring myself to fork out hundreds of dollars on an obsession that my girls may or may not grow out of next month. I also love that the Shimmertail mermaid tails come with a swim fin. I've found that typically the fins inserts are sold separately.

HOLY COW what fun we've had with these!!! They are pretty magical. My girls have worn them to the lake, and the pool (always with life jackets on!) and every afternoon while little brother is taking his nap we pull out the wading pool and the girls have a blast splashing around, letting their imaginations take them away. I even found my oldest girl tucked in bed the other night reading the mermaid books we just bought her for her birthday... and wearing her tail! (Please excuse the crummy phone was too cute not to share)

Do you have a little girl in your life who would just FLIP over one of these mermaid tails?! Today is your LUCKY day!!! We're giving one away!!! The winner will get to choose a mermaid tail of their choice, available in size 2-10. Entering is super easy- and we'll pick a winner at 9:00 p.m. on Friday night. Good luck!

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Being A Newborn Is Horribly Difficult


Hi!  I'm new here.  At first glance, you would think I have the easiest life in the world: My every whim is seen to by willing, even eager slaves parents, I eat when I want, sleep when I want, and even receive praise for bodily functions usually discouraged in polite company.

But don't be fooled.  My life is far more difficult than it appears! Don't believe me?  Check out my list:

10. If I don't get my 20 hours of sleep, I get C.R.A.N.K.Y. don't even go there.

9. Speaking of which, these people keep odd hours. They sleep during the night time and don't eat nearly often enough. For some reason, they seem to expect me to adjust to THEIR schedule. They even get a bit grumpy when I refuse to conform...

8. What would be a tiny gas bubble for you is bigger than my whole stomach... So yeah, I think that's enough said.

7. Actually, no. That deserves a little more discussion. Can you even imagine the amount of discomfort that kind of flatulence can cause???

6. Imagine expressing the desire to go outside, only to be carried up the stairs, down the hall, and dumped in one's bed? Frustrating doesn't begin to cover it.  I just wish I could move by myself!

5. Trying to have a conversation or express a simple need is very frustrating when my only mode of communication is to cry.  Obviously, I have different types: I scream when I hurt, I wail when I need a clean bottom, I fuss when I am hungry and I whimper when my brothers get all up in my face.  It doesn't matter though, none of these people are very great at interpreting my signals...

4. My head is half my body weight. As fun as being a bobble head looks, it isn't. So stop laughing already.

3. I have these strange appendages that keep whacking me in the head no matter how desperately I try to control them. They invariably attack most ferociously at mealtime. My own body coming between me and my dinner? The humanity!

2. Pretty sure I know much more than these crazies who call themselves my parents. They tell me this will continue until I grow old enough to have my own, and suddenly, all bets are off... But I'm not buying.

1. I'm a grown up spirit squashed into teeny tiny quarters (Seriously. Have you seen my itsy toes?!?). It is nearly impossible to contain this much awesome, folks!!

Photo Credits: Davison Photography

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Monday, June 16, 2014

One Lucky Pickle is TWO Years Old! (Giveaways CLOSED!)

Boy have we learned a lot about ourselves and about blogging in the past two years.  It feels like only yesterday that we were giggling on the phone together, trying to decide what to call our new blog!  Since then we have added three children to our families (one each!!), Lauren moved twice, and we have written over a hundred posts. 

And this is what we have been up to most recently:

Setting up a huge birthday giveaway for our most fabulous Pickle readers!  We are tickled that YOU are here with us!  Every comment, e-mail, like, share, and pin that you send our way still makes us giddy.  We want to say thanks, so we've partnered with some of our favorite online shops to get some goodies into your hands!!

First up, a set of 3 prints from Sea What I Sea Designs.  Click on the picture for more details and to enter the giveaway!

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Next we have a hand knit monster of your choice from our very own Lauren at All Stuft Up.  Click on the picture for more details and to enter the giveaway.

Check out this gift basket filled with Younique Cosmetics (including the magical mascara that Jamie reviewed) from Crystal Chidester. Click on the image for more details and to enter the giveaway.

And finally, we have a Disney's Brave inspired necklace from Fandom Treasures!  Click on the picture for more details and to enter the giveaway.

Thanks to these awesome partners for some seriously nifty loot!  And a super big thank you to our One Lucky Pickle readers--you are the reason we do what we do.  I hope you win!

All of the giveaways start now (what are you waiting for?!?) and end Friday June 20th at 11:59 p.m. MST. They are open to all U.S. residents at least 18 years of age.  We will announce the winner on Saturday, so check back then!

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Fandom Treasures Necklace Giveaway (GIVEAWAY CLOSED!)

I have been following Fandom Treasures ever since Melanie started her store.  I'm a big fan of all things Disney, and her necklaces are spot on--such a celebration of the magic.  Now she has expanded to other brands of awesome--so if Star Wars (I know, technically now Disney too), Friends, or Sherlock (just to name a few) are more up your alley, she's got you covered!

Which one is my favorite, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you--I own her Tangled Inspired Necklace.  I actually won it in a giveaway (I never win anything!!  It was SO AWESOME!!)!!

Now it's your turn to win!!  And don't worry if you don't ever win anything either--it's time to "Change Your Fate."  (See what I did there?  That's what the necklace says...)  And yes, I said that in a Scottish accent in my head--did you?

The giveaway starts today and ends Friday, June 20th at 11:59 p.m. MST. They are open to all U.S. residents at least 18 years of age. We will announce a winner on Saturday the 21st, so check back then.  Good luck!

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See What I Sea Designs Giveaway (GIVEAWAY CLOSED!)

Let me tell you a bit about Bekka from Sea What I Sea Designs.

She is a kindred spirit who loves Anne Shirley, painting, and making her space beautiful.  I always look forward to her blog posts because they are chock full of loveliness every time--whether it be the paintings she creates and sells, her photographs of whatever cool place she is living in (she lived in Cyprus, guys!), or the way she describes her every day life with wisdom and wit.

I liked her from the moment I met her...back in 2003 (college dorms, baby!!) and the more I know, the more I like!  Sometimes we even mail stuff to each other: I sent her some Stephen's Raspberry Hot Cocoa in exchange for a set of beautiful cards (coincidentally, the very twin sister to the prints she is giving away here--so I know first hand how incredible they are!) and I recently received a welcome baby card from her (I pretend she designed it just for me!):

So, let's get to the giveaway already, huh?  This set of prints makes me taste summer when I look at it:

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Did your mouth just start watering? I know my tastebuds are poppin'!

Yes my friends, one lucky winner will receive these 3 prints on 110 lb. stock, each measuring 5x7 inches.

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Group them together for a tasteful vignette, or spread them throughout your home for a delicious pop of summer everywhere you look! This is a seriously awesome gift, valued at $42!  The giveaway starts now, and runs through Friday, June 20th at 11:59 p.m. MST. They are open to all U.S. residents at least 18 years of age. We will announce the winner on Saturday, so check back then!

No tears allowed for those of us who don't win--Bekka is giving us free shipping in her shop if we use the code FREEPICKLES through July 31st!

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