Freedom & Judgement

 

I’m a thinker. And I’ve been thinking a lot on freedom. And judgement. I’ve seen so much judgement lately. Judgement is inherent.  We judge. We have to because we are humans and every day, we have to make choices. Making choices means judging.

But here’s the catch….we can judge actions without judging people. I can think, “Hmmm…it’s best if my kids go to bed at 9pm and get up at 8am,” without judging the mom who lets her kids stay up all night (um, me!). We can bottle feed or breastfeed without judging another mama for doing the opposite.

Our family has a bit of a non-traditional lifestyle and I’ve been judged and slammed on all of these things:

  • We homeschool. Actually, we unschool. Basically, life is learning. We don’t use a curriculum. Our kids follow their own interests and passions. I’ve been told that I’m a crappy mom over that one. More than once.
  • Our kids have been in and out of bars throughout their lives (they are 13 and 17 now).  My husband is in a band and we take our kids with us.  They’ve seen a lot of drunk people and probably a couple of bar fights. Because of this, alcohol has zero appeal to them. But good moms don’t drag their kids around in bars. Yeah, right.
  • I’m involved in network marketing. Oh, the judgment on this one is heavy. Online, people make jabs and digs. Sometimes in person, too, but it’s much easier to slam someone online. I love what I do. I’m proud of it. I’m good at it. I’m successful and retired my husband 3 years ago.  Once, someone told me that I didn’t make an “honest living.” It’s not like the mafia or something. But the judgement is fierce. And it’s ugly
  • I’m a believer and follow Jesus. Some people just wait and watch for believers to screw up so they can play the hypocrite card. Ouch!

Y’all, this is what FREEDOM looks like.

We can educate our kids however we see fit. We can pursue our dreams and passions. We can choose our religion and political preferences. We can vote differently. We can parent differently.

In our country, I can do my own thing. You can do your own thing. And we can both be right.  In fact, sometimes no one is right. It just is.

We also have the FREEDOM to judge. Yup, we sure do. But judging only hurts us. Your judgement of ME says very little about me. It says A LOT about you. And those times that I judge, I need to do some serious self-reflection because usually, my own junk is surfacing.

Enough rambling. Let’s just try to be cool people, o.k.?

35 Ways to Invest in Yourself

35 Ways to Invest in Yourself

(because you are worth it)

  1. Spend meaningful time with a friend.
  2. Save money.  You won’t stress when something unexpected comes up.
  3. Therapy and counseling.
  4. Massages, manicures, & pedicures.
  5. Surround yourself with people who love, support, and encourage you.
  6. Read.  If you’re not a reader, try audiobooks.
  7. Regular check ups with your doctor.
  8. Adequate sleep.
  9. Be generous with your time and money.
  10. Find a mentor.
  11. Laugh.
  12. Feed yourself spiritually.
  13. Eat real food.  You’ll feel better.
  14. Forgive others.
  15. Forgive yourself.
  16. Exercise. Engage in any physical activity that you enjoy.
  17. Spend quality time with your partner.
  18. Sunshine. Bask in it.
  19. Meal plan.  If you plan, you’ll eat better.  See #13.
  20. Pray and meditate.
  21. Get clear on what you really want.
  22. Have a few outfits that make you feel amazing.
  23. Time away from your family & kids. Take a break sometimes.
  24. Learn something new.
  25. Start assembling a team (trainer, chef, housecleaner, counselor, biz coach, etc.).
  26. Keep a gratitude journal. Write in it daily.
  27. Get an accountability partner.
  28. Connect with nature.
  29. Establish personal and professional boundaries.  Great book here.
  30. Organization (being well organized saves time and money).
  31. Have a purpose (what makes you excited to get out of bed every morning?)
  32. Play.
  33. Volunteer (helping others always makes you feel better).
  34. Use faith declarations and affirmations.
  35. Accept what is not within your control.

and an a bonus…

36.  Sex.  My husband tossed this one in.  It’s great for stress, sleep, your immune system, and a healthy marriage.

Here’s the challenge:  Pick out one thing and focus on it today.  Just one thing.

And then tomorrow, focus on one thing.

And so on.

Baby steps.

What’s your focus today?

How to Make Fizzy Bath Bombs

 

My 13 year old daughter, Willa Blue, and I developed an addiction to Lush bath bombs.   While these bath bombs are absolutely amazing, they can be pricey.  The Karma Bubble Bar, my absolute favorite, is $12.  Yikes!

With this in mind, we wanted to find out how to make fizzy bath bombs on our own. I purchased some supplies and let my daughter have free reign in the kitchen.  After experimenting with a variety of recipes for a few weeks, she did it.

Before we jump in, you will need all of the ingredients listed as well as molds.  We like the round orb molds and ordered this kit.

This recipe will make 3 large bath bombs or 5-6 medium or small bombs.  I’ve added links to the ingredients.  If you are making in bulk, it’s much cheaper to order on Amazon.

How to Make Fizzy Bath Bombs

1. First mix together the dry ingredients:

2.  In a small bowl, mix the following wet ingredients:

3. In a larger bowl, alternating mixing the dry and wet ingredients together.  1/3 dry, 1/3 wet.  Repeat til mixed.  This will be about the consistency of damp sand.

4. Pack your molds tightly.  Very tightly.  If you are using the orb molds, pack both sides until overflowing and press together firmly.

5.  Let sit for about 30  TWO minutes and carefully remove from molds.  (edited to add: we discovered that they pop out much easier if you leave them in for shorter times)

6.  Allow to dry on wax paper and harden overnight.  If using orb molds, dry with the seam horizontal.  If the seam is upright, sometimes, they will split in half.

 

This has been a big trial and error for us so I want to note a few things:

Pigment.  We discovered that bath bombs with a lot of color can leave a ring in the tub.  This washes off easily but it’s something to keep in mind.  Personally, I don’t want to clean any more than I have to so we don’t make bold and bright bath bombs. We keep our colors lighter.

Humidity.  Humidity can impact your bath bombs.  Try making them on a dry, less humid day.

Molds. If you bath bombs are sticking to the molds, you can oil them down with coconut oil or almond oil beforehand.

 

Why are these DIY bath bombs so awesome?

  • Citric acid and backing soda have a chemical reaction and create carbon dioxide which creates the fizz when dropped into water.   As a homeschool mom, I’m calling this science!
  • The epsom salts are a great source of magnesium.  This helps with aching muscles and improves sleep.
  • You get the smell and added therapeutic benefits of essential oil.

 

Now you know how to make fizzy bath bombs!  Stay tuned for more fun recipes as we are already working on bath melts and a few other fun concoctions.

How to Start Homeschooling

 

How to Start Homeschooling

 

As a mom who has been homeschooling for several years, one of the questions that I frequently hear is, “How do I start homeschooling?” My own children are 12 and 16 and I know how intimidating it can be to get started. Those of us who have been homeschooling for a while realize that it’s actually pretty easy. As a newbie, it all seems super overwhelming. I get that.

If you wanted to get started homeschooling tomorrow, it’s likely that you could. How crazy is that?!? It might seem kind of kooky but in most states, it would be legal. Let’s jump in and discuss a few considerations and recommendations:

  1. Research the laws in your state. Laws very from state to state. Some states are super lenient (yeah, Texas!) and other states have more stringent requirements. You may have to submit annual evaluations, attendance, curriculum, etc. Don’t be intimidated by this. Simply check out your state’s laws and see what’s required. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association has a nifty little map and is a helpful resource.
  2. For the first few weeks (or months, or lifetime), consider natural learning or delight-led learning.   If you need to pull your child out of school quickly, don’t stress over curriculum. Your child will be perfectly fine taking a break for a few weeks or even longer. Allow them to explore their own natural interests and see what happens.
  3. Join homeschooling support groups. Mama, you will need all of the support you can get. Trust me on this.   Here in the south, we have access to a TON of local homeschooling communities. We have coordinated play dates, field trips, co-ops, homeschool days at local businesses, and a wide variety of educational enrichment activities. If you are in a rural area or a place where homeschooling is an oddity, join online support groups. You can find niche homeschooling communities on Facebook or private forums.   Ask your local friends or start googling.
  4. Develop a vision. What do you want to accomplish? What is your goal for your children? How do you envision your days? How hands-on do you want to be in your child’s education? What end result do you want to accomplish? You must know where you are going before you can decide how to get there. Otherwise, you are wandering aimlessly. It might take a while to come up with your family vision. That’s 100% o.k.   Once you learn what’s important, it’s easier to say NO to the unimportant.
  5. Start researching homeschooling styles and curriculum choices. It’s not necessary to recreate school in your home with worksheets, tests, and a schedule. Is your child an avid reader? Look for a literature based curriculum. Does your child need to be active and engage in hands-on learning. Some curricula are activity based and use crafts and manipulatives. Does your child need to be self-guided? There are all-inclusive online options. Are you comfortable with your children learning at their own pace and exploring their interests? You might want to look into unschooling.
  6. Ask for God to show you His will. Ask Him to bless your efforts. Invite Him into your days. This might be last on the list but it should be the FIRST thing you do.

There you have it. Now you have the basics and know how to start homeschooling.   If you’ve been looking into homeschooling, I want you to feel empowered.  I hope you can see that it’s much more simple that people anticipate.  The most important thing is to not allow yourself to be overcome with fear and hesitation. It’s truly a lot easier than you think.

Samaritan Ministries : Christian “Health Insurance”

If you are like most families in the United States, you fall into 2 categories:  1.  You don’t have health insurance because it’s so expensive OR 2. You are paying a CRAZY amount of money for health insurance each month.  Either way, you are probably hoping and wishing that there was another option.  And guess what?  There is an alternative.  And I think you just may love it.  It’s Samaritan Ministries, an alternative to traditional health insurance.

First, let me tell you a little bit about our family and why we chose to use Samaritan Ministries.  We are a family of 4:  me and my husband have a 16 year old son and a 12 year old daughter.  Say a prayer for me, the teen and tween years are full of unique challenges!  My husband and I have been self-employed for 20+ years.  We have always done our own thing.  Right now, my essential oil business is our income.  Being self-employed, we don’t have the luxury of having an employer paid health insurance plan.  But, from what I hear from many of my friends, employer sponsored plans are pretty much a thing of the past unless you work for the government.  Of course, if you are a Congressman, you have it made.  But I’m not gonna go there.  #scam

Prior to joining Samaritan Ministries, we purchased our insurance through Humana.  Our deductible was $7,000 a year for each person and our monthly rate had increased to $1,700 a month.  Seriously, is this crazy or what!?!?   Folks, this is A LOT of money.  In addition, we simply don’t go to the doctor very much.  I’m passionate about natural health and alternative medicine.  That’s my thing.  We practice prevention and handle little issues on our own.  We also prefer to see naturopaths, chiropractors, and alternative doctors.  These are not generally covered with traditional insurance programs.  So, basically, I was giving $1,700 away every single month.  But, hey, at least I wasn’t being fined by the Affordable Healthcare Act.

I heard about Samaritan Ministries from a friend and began to research.  Friends, I am a HUGE researcher.  That’s how I’m wired.  I’m the person that reads the 1 star Amazon reviews before purchasing anything.   I didn’t just research Samaritan Ministries, I also looked into other alternative companies such as Liberty HealthShare and Christian Care Ministry (Medi-Share).  I studied the website, interrogated customer service, and spoke to my friends who had used Samaritan Ministries.  After sharing my research with my husband, we knew that Samaritan Ministries was a good fit for our family.

Is Samaritan Ministries health insurance?  No, technically, it is not health insurance.  It’s actually a share program.  Our monthly share is $405 (for a family of 4).  Each month, I write a check to an actual family to help share the cost of their medical needs.  When a family has a medical bill, they submit it to Samaritan Ministries.  Samaritan, in turn, divides the bill up among participants.  So I’m not writing a check to a corporation; I’m sending money and prayers to the actual people who need it.  Truly, this is a joy.  It is such a blessing to be able to help other believers in their time of need. Writing a monthly check to Humana was a burden; writing a check to another family is a pleasure.

Samaritan Ministries Review

To help you make a more informed decision, here are a few frequently asked questions:

  • Is this legal?  Yes, it is.
  • Will I be fined by the Affordable Care Act?  No, health share ministries are exempt.  No fines!
  • Is there a deductible?  No.  There is not but needs under $300 are not shared.   When the need goes over $300, the amount from $300 to $250,000 is shared.
  • What if my medical cost is over $250,000? There is an additional  program, Save to Share.  This will allow you to share medical expenses above $250,000.
  • Am I limited to certain doctors?  No.  You pick your own doctor.  Always.
  • What if I need a second opinion?  Go and get it.  Remember, you pick your own doctor.
  • Are alternative doctors and chiropractors included?  You may request that alternative treatment be shared.
  • What are the member requirements?  You must be a professing Christian who attends church regularly and agree to abstain from  drug abuse and sexual immorality. You must also be accountable to a church pastor or leader.
  • What about pre-existing conditions?  Pre-existing conditions are not shared.  Some pre-existing conditions may be eligible for Special Prayer Needs.  Needs that fall outside of guidelines will often be posted and members can send donations as they feel prayerfully led.
  • Is pregnancy included?  Pregnancy costs will be shared.
  • How long has Samaritan Ministry been around?  Since September 1994.

Our family has been involved with Samaritan Ministry for over a year and I can only say great things about this program.  I am super passionate about this ministry and all the do to bring believers together and bear one another’s burdens.  It’s such a beautiful thing.

Friends, if you have any questions about my review of Samaritan Ministries, please comment here and I will do my best to answer.  I’ve done quite a bit of research and truly believe that this is an amazing (and little known) resource.  Please help me in spreading the word because people need to know that there are alternatives to traditional health insurance.  Samaritan Ministries is a blessing to our family and, if you have a need, it just might be a blessing to your family, too.

If you do choose to sign up, please let them know that Stephanie Blue Crane referred you.  I’ll get a small credit for spreading the word and be very appreciative for you remembering.

 

Favorite Summer Things Giveaway

Favorite Summer Things Giveaway

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Who is ready for a giveaway?  We all have things that we just can’t live without.  For me, it’s my essential oils.  So, I’m giving away a doTerra essential oil starter kit to one lucky winner.  But here’s the super cool part…. I’ve joined 11 blogger friends and we are ALL giving away some amazing stuff.  That’s 12 awesome prize packs.  I’m super excited for YOU because I know you’re lucky, right?  Repeat after me, “I am lucky.  I am blessed.  Good things come to me easily.”  Boom!  Now, go enter!

Here are my friends who are also doing giveaways:

1. Thriving Home // 2. Happy Money Saver // 3. Happy Home Fairy // 4. Heavenly Homemakers // 5. Kitchen Stewardship // 6. Nourishing Joy // 7. The Nourishing Home // 8. Intoxicated on Life // 9. Tried and Tasty // 10. The Frugal Girl //11. Mommy Hates Cooking // 12. Stephanie Blue

HOW TO ENTER:

    • Check out the giveaway collage featuring all the beautiful bloggers we’ve partnered up with and their favorite summer things things.
    • Scroll on down to see the details for MY favorite summer things.
    • Enter to win in the giveaway below.
    • HOP to all the other sites and enter to win their favorite summer things!
    • Look around and enjoy the sites of these incredible bloggers

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I truly believe that every single home needs essential oils.  They are amazing and life-changing.  For my part, I’m giving away oils!  No surprise, huh? One lucky winner will receive this awesome essential oil starter kit:

The Amazon links are affiliate links.  This means that if you click and make purchases, Amazon will send me a wee bit of money.  But guess what?  I always end up giving it right back to Amazon!  Love that place, don’t you?

To enter, head to the bottom of this page and click the link.  Then head on off to enter for some of the other giveaways!

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Thriving Home

Friends and stay-at-home moms, Rachel and Polly, began Thriving Home in 2012 as a way to encourage and equip moms in several areas of home life. They share healthy kid-friendly recipes, evangelize about freezer cooking as well as documenting many other topics relating to running a home and family including a few spectacular parenting failures from time to time. Swing by to join in on their crazy journey through parenthood.

Tried and Tasty

TriedandTasty.com is a premium and well established recipe blog with a friendly, conversational writing style paired with magazine quality food photography. The recipes are typically very health conscious, with rich and decadent desserts occasionally included for good measure. TriedandTasty.com has a loyal following of ‘foodies’ and is gaining new followers every day thanks to its recipes being featured on the websites of high profile magazines, news outlets, popular Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, and more.

Heavenly Homemakers

Laura Coppinger and her husband have four sons ages 10-17. HeavenlyHomemakers.com is dedicated to inspiring women daily with healthy (and easy!) recipes, homemaking tips, spiritual encouragement, and good ol’ clean fun.

Mommy Hates Cooking

Mommy Hates Cooking is a national cooking and lifestyle website that encourages families to take back the dinner table. Through her easy-to-prepare (yet looks like you spent all day in the kitchen) meals and her knack for breaking down meal planning, Kristy has become the busy-mom’s resource for the modern family.


Kitchen Stewardship

The mission of Kitchen Stewardship is to present healthy living in bite-sized baby steps, challenging people to make positive changes in their kitchens without being overwhelmed, and providing tools to balance a family’s health, budget, time and the environment. Katie Kimball and her team share family-friendly whole foods recipes, weekly challenges, and science-geek research on what’s healthy and what’s not.

Nourishing Joy

Nourishing Joy is dedicated to real food and natural living. We’re on a mission to equip and inspire parents like you with the tools to make intentional, thoughtful decisions that work for YOUR family easy. Or at least easier.

Happy Home Fairy

Julie Brasington is the creator of Happy Home Fairy, a popular blog focusing on encouraging and equipping moms to choose joy on the parenting journey. She shares easy craft ideas, FREE printables, simple recipes, corny jokes, holiday fun, thoughts on raising her 2 boys, and honest, heartfelt messages to uplift the weary mama.

Happy Money Saver

Happy Money Saver is a website that has a growing population of readers who are passionate about saving money, homesteading, gardening, cooking from scratch, freezer meals, DIY projects and embracing their dreams.

Stephanie Blue

At Stephanie Blue, I blog about my passions: natural living and essential oils. My purpose is to bring hope to moms and help them discover ways to strengthen their families physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

The Frugal Girl

The Frugal Girl is all about living cheerfully (and well!) on less. Get recipes, DIY tips, painting ideas, photography tips, green living inspiration, and more from Kristen, a homeschooling mom of four.

Intoxicated on Life

Intoxicated on Life is a resource for families who are looking to raise healthy families – body, mind, and soul. They cover a wide range of topics from healthy gluten-free recipes, to godly parenting, homeschooling resources, and more!

The Nourishing Home

The Nourishing Home provides family-friendly GF recipes, free weekly whole food meal plans, helpful cooking tips and techniques, and lots of encouragement to help you in your journey to live a more nourished life.

click to enter

My contest closes at midnight EST on May 31, 2015.  A winner will be selected on the following day and notified by email.  The winner has one week to claim the price.  Best of luck to all of you!