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Go, Go Go!

Lottie has a new favorite thing. It's called "Baby Signing Time" and it's a collection of videos on YouTube that teach babies sign language to catchy songs. We started showing her the videos at about 7 months but she truly couldn't have cared less about them until she was about 13 months. We were hoping that on our long flight to/from Hawaii she would magically begin to be obsessed with them and want to watch them for hours, but no. She waited until about a month after we returned to decide she was obsessed with Baby Signing Time.

About 3 weeks ago, she really started picking up on some of the words and signs from the videos (much to my relief. up until that point I was concerned she was just watching them for entertainment and not learning anything!). She started saying "Baby" and going to sit in front of the TV when she wanted to watch the show, and then she started saying "GO!" and doing the sign she had learned for it. Lots of running around the living room yelling "Go! Go!" ensued (of course it stopped when I pulled out my camera, or I would show you a video. 

Funny how the Lord works. That same week, He told us to "Go!" as well.

A couple months ago, we had a family call us asking to see our house. We didn't have it listed for sale anywhere besides a "Make Me Move" on Zillow. We had assumed after the first showing that it wasn't going to happen, which we were fine with. But much to our surprise, that same family called us back and wanted to make us an offer on our house. We prayed, had an inspection, and...signed a contract to sell our house, all within about 72 hours!

We knew at that point we had to get serious about finding a new house if we didn't want to be homeless, so we spent every spare minute searching and looking at houses. We drove ourselves crazy because we are both picky about what we want in a house, and we didn't want to just settle on something because we needed to make a decision. We looked and looked and mostly crossed possibilities off our list for one reason or another. Too big, too small, not enough yard, felt like a fishbowl, too old, still under construction...you get me. 

Then we decided to go look at one that we had otherwise dismissed for various reasons, but we kept coming back to it. We went and...you know that feeling you get when it's the right thing, even though there is no way you know how it will work out? Yeah. It was that.

So we prayed some more and trusted God to work it out if it was His plan....and He did! He even so perfectly timed it so we only have to move once! So in April, the Shanks family is saying goodbye to our first house and to Pleasant Hill and hello to a new house with chickens! (Ha!) We feel truly blessed and totally confident in God's plan since He literally arranged it all for us! So wish us luck as we declutter and pack up our entire house with a toddler in tow the next month! 

Hope for 2017

I love a brand new year. I love hearing about everyone's words and goals for the year. I feel like going around high-fiving everyone I see the week between Christmas and New Years, because we all survived the holidays and now we're all filled with resolve to improve and change.

2016 was a lot of year for a year, am I right? I've gotten some good laughs at the memes being shared on Facebook about how glad everyone is to see 2016 go. It seems like everyone this year, more than ever, is ready for the fresh start of a new year. 

I've been thinking a lot about the changes I want to make for 2017. I have lots of things I want to accomplish, and I admittedly have grand visions dancing in my head of all the potential growth and awesomeness that could happen if all those things actually happen. I keep adding to my mental list of things I want to be more disciplined in doing next year - things like actually wearing my FitBit daily, journaling more often, actually writing appointments down in my planner, and giving the dog her heartworm medicine - because hey, what's one more thing to start doing consistently since I'm gonna be so awesome at it this year?

And it hit me a few minutes ago (during a very hot shower with eucalyptus oil smeared all over the shower walls - don't knock it til you've tried it) that all these grandiose ideas I have of who I am going to suddenly be on January 1, 2017 - disciplined, organized, prepared, have-my-stuff-together- are somewhat misplaced desires. I was reminded of these verses:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:1-9

The truth is that when I wake up tomorrow on January 1, 2017, I am going to wearing the same skin and have the same struggles I have today. The first day of the new year is the exact same length as every other day, and I won't suddenly have extra super powers to go and perfectly conquer everything on my goal sheet as soon as I wake up. I won't get to enjoy perfection until I go to be with Jesus and enjoy Him forever in Heaven. And I realized that while my desires to be more organized (so my home and business run better) and add more discipline to my routine (so I can fuel and care for my body better) are great - the hope of perfectly achieving those things is really just a longing to be clothed in my heavenly dwelling with Him. Perfected, without struggle or burden. 

The Scriptures in 2 Corinthians explain so well that He is preparing us for the very time when our mortal life gets to be swallowed up by our heavenly one. When we get to cast off all the burden, hardship, disappointment that happens in this life in these broken bodies and go to be made perfect in Him forever.  Until then, we walk by faith, not by sight.

Don't get me wrong - I believe we are wise to set goals and to resolve to make better choices. I certainly need to. We are all a work in progress! Each day, our highest aim is to please Him, and recognize that we are completely dependent on the help of His Spirit to guide, lead, change, direct, encourage, and teach us.

"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:19

That is the hope of a new year! 

Happy Birthday Lottie!

People told me the first year would fly by, and at times I didn't believe it. And then all of a sudden, here we are celebrating a very spirited, spunky, funny, sweet little girl's BIRTHDAY! I am soaking up all of the remainders of her babyness because it just does not seem possible AT ALL that the teeny tiny little thing we brought home from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving last year has grown into the big girl we have today!

So first of all, we had our friend Melissa McGhee take some 1 year and family photos last weekend and I literally cannot get enough of them!! Check out how beautifully she captured our baby girl!

We had a fun little family party for Lottie on Saturday, which she totally loved. She loved that there was a big banner hanging in the living room with her pictures on it. She loved that the TV was playing a slideshow of pictures of her. She loved that all her familiar and favorite people were there in her house (although she pitched a fit when my sweet 90 year old Grandpa Ed tried to talk to her...).

I made a little "cake" (sweetened with just bananas & applesauce!) for her to dig into and she had a blast doing that! She was a big fan of us giving her something she could really dig her fists into!

Lottie liked having her cousins over to play with her toys! And even though she did not understand presents whatsoever, after the party she inspected thoroughly and played with all of her new toys. She got some new clothes, bath toys, books, some sidewalk chalk, some soft dolls from Grandma & Grandpa, a fun puzzle - all her favorite things! For my first birthday, I got an American Girl Bitty Baby doll that I named Sugar. My mom kept that doll and all the accessories for all these years and gave it to Lottie for her birthday! At first, Lottie was not too sure about the baby in the basket, but she has warmed up to it. Today she even wanted to get it out and gave it a kiss!

Words can't describe how much we love you, little one! You have taught us so much in your one short year with us. You bring us so much joy, and you make us laugh every single day. We love seeing you smile and laugh and watching you figure out the world. We are so thrilled with you just for being YOU, and we are so grateful to be your parents. It is so fitting that you are our little Thanksgiving baby because I am truly so thankful to be your mama. We made it a year! We didn't break you and you didn't break us (ha!). We had a lot of fun, and a lot of hard, and a lot of new stuff we had to learn, and it has been a delight to do it all. We pray that you grow up knowing how much Jesus loves you and wants to walk with you through your entire life. We love you unconditionally, and so does He! Happy Birthday, Charlotte Jean!

Thrive this Fall: Chemical-Free Skin Care

I don't know about you, but when the weather starts getting colder and more dry, it can start to wreak havoc on my skin! Ever since I can remember, I have had issues with super dry skin pretty much all over my body, and I also struggled to keep my complexion clear. I tried dozens (if not hundreds) of lotions, creams, cleansers, moisturizers, ointments, and salves all promising to cure me of my skin woes - and not a one of them ever worked as well as I hoped! 

Now I realize that I was actually slathering my body in toxic chemicals masked as nourishing creams and I was just contributing to and worsening the problems with my skin. Nothing ever helped so back to the store I would go to to buy another promising product. What I really needed to do was ditch the chemicals and clean up my diet. For me - and probably for you, too - my skin is a window into the rest of my body, and specifically in my gut. If I get sloppy about avoiding sugar and wheat products and processed food, I notice lots of inflammation and dryness all over my skin and I start to break out on my face. Also, now that I have switched to skincare products free from chemicals, my skin will definitely let me know if I use a product that has something synthetic or toxic in it.  

It took me about a year of consistently removing chemicals from my skincare before I really started to see a difference. It can be discouraging to switch out all your products to natural ones, infused with pure, therapeutic grade essential oils and still struggle with breakouts and dry skin. But I stuck with it, and I am glad I did, because eventually my skin evened out and started to look and feel really good! It can also be really hard to find good natural skincare products that are both chemical-free and deliver on their promise to cleanse and nourish the skin. 

Thankfully, Young Living has some absolutely amazing skincare options! As with everything Young Living does, their skincare line was made with the highest quality, purest ingredients and they are so luxurious and effective! Let's talk a bit about each option:
The ART Skincare System is what I personally use the most, and I absolutely love it. It is beautifully packaged and performs like crazy expensive department store brands, except it is completely natural and good-for-you ingredients. It is a 3-part system:
  • The ART Foaming Cleanser is my favorite cleanser ever! It really cleans my face and it has some amazing essential oils in it like Frankincense, Sandalwood, and Melissa!! 
  • The refreshing toner is actually refreshing and doesn't leave my face feeling dried out like other toners I have tried. It has Frankincense, Sandalwood, Melissa, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, orchid extract and aloe! 
  • The Light Moisturizer is so moisturizing, but really is light on your skin. It helps your skin retain moisture and proper hydration. It is an exquisite combination of nut and seed butters and plant extracts, along with more Frankincense & Sandalwood essential oils. It is lightweight, but provides intense moisture and I absolutely love it!!

 I like to use the ART system at night before bed, and Orange Blossom Facial Wash in the mornings as I start my day. When I went recently to a Young Living Beauty School in Alabama, they taught us that the ART Skincare System is excellent for more mature skin, while the Orange Blossom wash is excellent for younger/teenage skin. Orange Blossom wash is wonderfully refreshing and smells bright and happy!
 Satin Facial Scrub is a fantastic, invigorating, and chemical-free exfoliator. The peppermint flavor makes it nice and refreshing and it does an excellent job at helping to slough off the old, dead skin and allow new, bright skin to shine through. When it comes to exfoliating, less is more because you can start to irritate the new skin with too much scrubbing. Satin Facial Scrub can be used up to 2-3 times per week to keep your complexion bright, smooth, and healthy!

One of my favorite things about Young Living oils is how amazing they are for your skin, and what a noticeable difference they can make when you add oils to your skincare routine. Frankincense is my FAVORITE skincare oil of all time, hands down. Myrrh is another favorite (I love to apply it neat because it is thick and moisturizing!), and Geranium is so soothing and nourishing! Another unlikely oil I have found to be amazing for my skin is Vetiver - I love to pair it with Geranium directly onto problem areas and occasional breakouts. Works incredibly well to improve the appearance of my skin! Add any of these oils to some moisturizing carrier oil like Jojoba or Argan oil, or add a few drops into your ART Light Moisturizer or favorite facial cream (just make sure it doesn't have chemicals in it) and notice the difference after just a few weeks!

Our next few posts in this series will be some fun DIY recipes for fall & winter skin care! Perfect for gifting this season or some DIY fun with friends!

Have questions about these products or Young Living? Contact me here and I will get back with you!
Ready to get oils in your home? Check out this post to find out how!
Order your starter kit and receive a welcome gift worth $25 from me: https://bit.ly/hannahshanks

Thrive this Fall: Wellness Roundup!

Welcome back! So far we've talked about incredible NingXia Red and Thieves oil to help us support our bodies through the fall & winter season, helping our bodies defend & protect our immune system with good nutrition and awesome supplements, and a couple of amazing OTC products that are totally natural and effective. Today we are going to do a round-up of all the oils, supplements, and items we keep handy in our fall/winter wellness arsenal to keep us in tip-top shape. Keep this list handy for your wellness wishlist!


  • Thieves Vitality. We covered this one in this post for the most part. Remember - Vitality oils mean you can put them in empty capsules and take by mouth or you can add them to food or beverages! Down the hatch they go & Thieves Vitality does an amazing job at supporting the immune system! Woot!
  • SniffleEase is one of the KidScents Collection of oils - which means it is a blend of gentle oils specifically formulated to support little bodies AND it comes already diluted! I love these KidScents oils because they are named to take the guess work out of their uses. SniffleEase is pretty self explanatory. Other oils in the collection include TummyGize, SleepyIze, Owie, and GeneYus. :-) Anyway, SniffleEase ROCKS and I'll let you in on a little tip:  I got a roller fitment from Young Living and turned my bottle into a roll-on for easy swiping on little feet and forehead whenever we need it. 
  • RC  is an awesome oil blend that offers great respiratory support and comfort! This blend smells SO good (reminds me of Christmas), and it comes in the Premium Starter Kit so it is often the first respiratory oil that people get to try. It's awesome stuff! I love applying it topically onto my chest before going outside for a walk or run! 
  • Raven is probably the strongest respiratory blend, as it includes Ravintsara (camphor) and Wintergreen. Because it includes these stronger oils, it should not be used on children under the age of 6 - but it is GREAT for adults! You can use it to support your body and alternate with RC; they work fabulously together! 
  • Breathe Again Roll-On is an awesome supportive blend of oils that supports healthy respiratory function - and it comes prediluted and super conveniently packaged in a roller bottle! 
  • DiGize Vitality is an powerhouse blend of oils that supports a healthy digestive system! This blend gets in and gets to work quickly and while it might not smell the best, it is certainly worth it when you start seeing its benefits! This oil also comes in the Premium Starter Kit, so yay for you new members!! 
  • We talked about Life 5 & Life 9 Probiotics to support healthy gut balance - which is SO important to our immune health. 
  • We also talked about Inner Defense, which is our favorite thing to take when we are stressed, busy, or traveling. 
  • Not mentioned in the previous post is how important getting enough Vitamin C is throughout the fall & winter! Vitamin C is crucial to our bodies defending & protecting itself! Young Living has 2 amazing Vitamin C supplements - Super C Chewables and Super C Tablets! They both are packed with high quality Vitamin C, citrus essential oils, and key vitamins & minerals. 
  • NingXia Red is an absolute must for us, as I mentioned earlier in this post. Check out the videos on www.ningxiared.com for amazing testimonies and info about this incredible antioxidant drink! 
  • Thieves Cough Drops - pure essential oils and stevia extract - that's IT! Active ingredient is Menthol that is naturally occurring in peppermint essential oil. So soothing and awesome for coughs & sore throats.
  • Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream - all natural pain relief powered by menthol from peppermint oil and methyl salicylate from wintergreen oil. Absolutely incredible relief on contact from aches, sprains, bruises, bumps, strains, sore muscles, arthritis, and more. If ya haven't tried it, you're missing out on an incredible pain relief cream without any chemical ingredients AT ALL!
Arming ourselves with these items in our cabinets and lots of healthy food, plenty of water, and making sure we spend time outdoors getting some fresh air, and washing our hands a ton helps us to feel great and supported all through the season. Nothing complicated or difficult. We keep it pretty simple and make sure we have what we need on hand to help us stay on top of our wellness. We are confident heading into the fall & winter and you can be too! 

Have questions about oils or Young Living? Contact me here and I will get back with you!
Ready to get oils in your home? Check out this post to find out how!
Order your starter kit and receive a welcome gift worth $25 from me: https://bit.ly/hannahshanks

Next up in our series, we are going to be talking about winter skincare! Awesome products and DIY recipes perfect for fall! 

Relieving Coughs & Soothing Pain with Natural Products

The cooler weather and dryer air during this season always seem to leave our throats a little scratchy and dry, not to mention the coughs and sore throats that come with some of the crud that goes around. We've already talked about how awesome NingXia Red and Thieves are in an earlier post, and some supplements and nutrition that are super important for gut health and overall support.

Most people know that Young Living is all about essential oils, and most people know that I really really love Young Living. No surprises there. But did you know that Young Living has TONS of other products, including 2 brand spankin' new Over The Counter items? We're gonna talk about them today!

Young Living has an entire line of household products made with Thieves oil that are simply amazing. This line of products is actually what drew me to Young Living - I was excited about using oils, but I was really excited to switch out some of my household products and try theirs! We're talking THE most effective, safe, toxin-free versions of household cleaner, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, hand purifier, and more. Their newest member of the lineup is the Thieves Cough Drops!
These cough drops are so effective because their active ingredient is menthol - a natural menthol that occurs in Peppermint essential oil! The ingredients in these drops are absolutely incredible - LITERALLY just 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils and stevia extract! Say WHAT! I know. They work amazingly well, taste delicious, have no scary chemicals or weird fillers or colorings added to them, and did I mention they soothe coughs and sore throats?? Because they do!! Now there's no need to make an emergency run to the corner drugstore when we start coughing or feel a sore throat coming on. We keep a bag of these on hand and take as directed at the first signs of cold or cough.

The 2nd OTC item from Young Living is the Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream! This cream is powered by naturally occurring Menthol from Peppermint oil and naturally occuring Methyl salicylate from Wintergreen oil - its two active ingredients! It absorbs quickly into the skin and spreads easily over areas of pain to start soothing on contact with strong & cooling relief. A little dab will do the trick and it feels so amazing to rub it into a sore neck, sore muscles, aching joints, a hurting back. It can help with arthritis and sprains, strains, and bruises, and more!

If you are into really sciencey type of stuff, you'll love this video about Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream! All I know is it works and seriously feels so good. I want everyone to experience the benefits of using an amazing pain cream that does use any synthetic chemicals to do the work! TOTALLY natural ingredients that are incredibly effective at relieving pain like we all deal with in our lives.

Have questions about oils or Young Living? Contact me here and I will get back with you!
Ready to get oils in your home? Check out this post to find out how!
Order your starter kit and receive a welcome gift worth $25 from me: https://bit.ly/hannahshanks

Thrive this Fall: Protect & Defend!

Today we are talking about protecting and defending ourselves this fall/winter season. Hopefully it's no surprise to hear that what we put in our bodies matters quite a bit. Actually, that's an under-statement. FRIENDS, it matters so So SO SO SO MUCH what we put in our bodies. Especially what we put in our mouths!

Did you know that up to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? I didn't know that until a couple years ago. In fact, until I started cleaning up my diet/eating paleo/joined Young Living, I don't know if I had ever heard the phrase "gut health" or knew that the gut was an important thing. Oh, but it is. I also don't know where I thought the immune system was located in the body? Maybe I thought it was more of a transcendent thing or that it traveled through the body to wherever needed immunity? Who knows. But I do know NOW that taking care of the balance of your gut is VERY important to overall health and that when our guts get out of whack, our whole body can get out of whack. So today we are going to talk about a couple of things that support gut health and balance that will help us THRIVE this season!

1. Avoid Sugar. We have to start here. #sorrynotsorry This time of year especially, it becomes incredibly easy for everything we put in our mouths to be some sort of sugary, pumpkiny, comforting bread-like treat or candy. We are not doing ourselves ANY favors in trying to stay well and avoid the crud through the fall and winter when we are stuffing our faces with sugar and white flour and processed foods and candy (not to mention all the hot chocolate and PSLs and peppermint mochas, etc.)!

Sugar has been proven to weaken the immune system, create inflammation in the entire body, feed cancer and yeast, wreak havoc on our blood sugar, stress our organs, contributes to obesity and disease, and lots of other evil things. When we eat something sugary, our bodies' defenses come down for a bit to go process all that sugar. So basically we are distracting our systems from doing the more important work just so we can enjoy a pumpkin donut for 2 seconds. Not worth it!! The average American eats over 130 lbs of sugar every year! No wonder we are all sick all the time!

We need to break up with sugar. I know I need to. You know you need to. Yes, it will always taste amazing and yes, it will always make everything it's added to taste better. But, if it's keeping you and your kids sick all winter and it's slowly killing you and making you miserable....isn't it worth it? If you had a friend complain about a boyfriend that was slowly killing her and getting her sick and making her totally miserable, you'd tell her to BREAK UP WITH HIM! So, do the hard thing that's worth it in the end and you'll start to see an incredible transformation in yourself.

2. Avoid white flour & processed foods. When you eat these things, they have no nutrients and your body sees them as sugar, so it does all the same things. Break up with white flour and eat whole, real, nutrient-dense foods that are not processed (lots of lean meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds). See above about breaking up with bad boyfriend.

OKAY. Now onto some things we can ADD to our bodies to support gut health and balance. Last time we talked about NingXia Red and how awesome it is for overall health & wellness support. In addition to that, there are a couple supplements that we make sure we are taking regularly to help protect & defend our bodies:

  • Life 5 or Life 9 Probiotic from Young Living - taking a probiotic helps support a healthy gut (and therefore a healthy immune system!) because it helps to bring gut flora back into balance by giving it beneficial bacteria that it needs! Bacteria can be good and it can also be bad.  Too much bad bacteria in our gut causes digestive upset and researchers are finding that it has almost everything to do with disease and overall health. Sugar feeds bad bacteria, btw (break up with that bad boy). Probiotics are found in naturally fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, fermented vegetables, yogurt, etc. We drink kombucha and eat yogurt occasionally, but we love having the support of Young Living's awesome probiotics, too! Life 5 contains 10 billion active cultures and improves colonization up to 10 times! Life 9 is a newly formulated probiotic that contains 17 billion live cultures from 9 strains!! Having an awesome probiotic like this on hand is especially important if you ever do find yourself on antibiotics, since they wipe out all the bacteria in your system (both good and bad). A probiotic can help to rebuild your gut flora in a balanced way!
  • Inner Defense - this little guy packs quite the powerful punch when you need extra support to stay on top of your wellness. When we are stressed or traveling or know we are going to be around others who are sick, we take a capsule of Inner Defense 1-2x daily. This supplement is awesome because it is made from pure essential oils and fractionated coconut oil. It contains about 245mg of Thieves essential oil and then Oregano, Thyme, and Lemongrass essential oils in capsule you can take by mouth with water. Even more awesome is that Inner Defense has even better results when it is taken in tandem with Life 5 or Life 9 probiotic! 
We make sure we have plenty of each of these supplements on hand during the fall/winter season. Food and nutrition is MOST foundational and important to gut health (and therefore immune health), so break up with sugar! In addition, adding awesome supplements like NingXia Red, Life 5 or Life 9, and having some Inner Defense on hand for this season is a great idea to really boost up your body and help it function the way it should! 

Have questions about these products or Young Living? Contact me here and I will get back with you!
Ready to get oils in your home? Check out this post to find out how!
Order your starter kit and receive a welcome gift worth $25 from me: https://bit.ly/hannahshanks