Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Essential Oils By: Susan Curtis

This is a quick book review of the book:

 Essential Oils 

Published by Neal's Yard Remedies (NYR Organics), written by Susan Curtis.

This book is a smaller, full color book, that goes into detail about 42 common essential oils.  It touches on the character of each oil, fragrance, therapeutic properties, psychological profile, and some safety data for each oil.

Then it goes into methods of application, and explains each one, and how to best apply them.  They discuss massage, baths, compresses, room sprays, burners and vaporizers, saunas, inhalations, gargles and mouth washes, cooking, and perfumes.

The first section of the book talks about essential oils, how they are made, how they affect the body, different natural chemical compounds that are found in essential oils, and how to store them.  Then there is a small section on basic safety, what do no and not to do with essential oils, essential oils that should always be avoided, and what oils can be safe to use on infants and children at what ages.

From there we proceed to the detailed information about each of the 42 essential oils discussed in the book.  Information about each oil consists of latin names, origin of the plant, description of the oil, method of extraction, main chemical constituents, therapeutic properties, psychological profile, most common uses, and safety data.

At the end of the individual oils, there is a chapter on base (carrier) oils.  This goes into the properties of different carrier oils, and explains why one might be used over another based on the situation.

Then there is a chapter on blending essential oils,  the basics of what you need to know to begin formulating your own blends, as well as recipes for making some blends yourself.

At the very end of the book there is a chart, with all the names of the essential oils discussed in the book, and the most common ailments they are used for.

Also in the back there is a list of recommended resources, and books.

The Pro's

So what are the pro's of this book?  Well, if you are someone like me, the beautiful glossy pages and full color photographs of plants, containers, etc are a BIG plus!  I get bogged down reading through books that are just one black and white page full of words after another.  Somehow it seems to loose the vibrance that so naturally goes along with essential oils.  

The book is laid out in a way that is very easy to follow and understand.  Needed information is given, but details that can be confusing, such as in depth chemical profiles of individual oils are not given here.  
The individual profiles for the oils are very well laid out, and easy to follow.  Each page for each specific oil contains headings, between the text to break it up nicely, as well as boxes full of facts in the margins that make it easy to flip back to and find safety data, most common uses etc.

I like that right at the beginning they make it very clear that many of the oils are NOT safe for infants and children, and have a handy little chart telling you which oils are safe for which ages 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-6 years, and 7-12 years.

I don't feel they are over paranoid about safety, but at the same time the book seems very responsible.  They do not discount that essential oils can be used very effectively internally for certain diseases and situations, but also note that you should only do so under the care of an experienced aromatherapist, or doctor who is educated in aromatherapy, and the internal use of essential oils.

The Con's

The book, because it is put out by a company that sells oils goes into a little detail on how they as a company produce their oils, and their pride in their products.  This is a VERY small portion of the book however, and unlike some other books I've seen published by essential oil companies, they do not go into detail about how their products are superior, and no other brand should be used for any of the other recommendations in the book, etc.  So all in all, I feel this is a very small con, but felt it should be noted.

The biggest con for me is that the individual essential oil profiles are listed in alphabetic order according to their latin names.  And while there is nothing wrong with this, to those who aren't familiar with the latin names of the plants, finding Yarrow listed first, followed by Frankincense, then Ylang Ylang, etc., could be a little confusing.  However, since there are only 42 oils discussed in this book, finding the oil you are looking for when you need a quick reference isn't very difficult at all.  Especially since the common name is printed in very large letters at the top left page of each oils spread.

Because the book was written and printed in England, there are a few recommendations that I feel were a little too conservative.  For example, in their list of essential oils that should never be used by anyone for anything was: wintergreen, camphor, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, and sage.  There were other oils mentioned as well that I agree should never be used.  But the oils listed above I feel have a very appropriate place for certain applications.  Although using them without any knowledge, and not under the care of an aromatherapist could certainly be quite unwise, especially with a few of them.  However, laws differ in the UK to here, and many of the oils are on their "poison" list, so they would be required to list them as oils that should be avoided.  And again, this is a very minor thing, better too cautious than recommending something that could be dangerous, but it was a fact I thought I should mention.


So all in all my conclusion for this book?  I would highly recommend it.  It is easy to follow, gives a lot of great information that I have seen missing in many other books, like recommendations for children, and all the different methods of applications for essential oils.  Many people think unless you are rubbing them on your skin, or putting them in a diffuser there is little other way to use them, but that is only the beginning, and this book could help expand your horizons on that.  Also, the bright pictures, the thick coated pages, and the easy to find references located in boxes in the margins make it an extremely user friendly book, that would make a colorful and fabulous gift as well!

Well that's all for today!  I will be back with more reviews for other books soon!

If you would like to order the book you can do so here:  Essential Oils By Susan Curtis
Or you can simply google the book and order from many other great websites!

For more information on healthy living, natural skin care, and essential oils and herbs visit us at:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Against The Grain: Raising A Secure Child Part 1

There isn't anything that can quite get our backs up as parents like someone talking to us about problems they see with us raising our children.  Even someone just casually talking about their philosophy, if it differs with yours can feel like an attack.  But the fact is most of us aren't taught proper parenting techniques.  We fumble our way through, doing what we've seen or been told is "right" or "best" or "biblical," and sadly, often it seems no one stops to think what is best for the CHILD, which should be the center of all discussion on child rearing.  In the Bible are told to raise our children in the way THEY should go.  Not the way we want them to go.  Not the way our parents think they should go.  Not the way that is easier, or causes less fights.  The way THEY should go.

So why am I writing this blog series, on such a volatile subject?  Well, after being a child once myself, babysitting for countless people growing up, raising a younger sister, working in a daycare, observing hundreds of parents raising their kids, and now me raising my own little boy, I feel there are things I've observed over the years, that might help someone out there who has struggled like me, to begin to see a different perspective, like I have.  You may not like what I have to say.  You may not agree with it.  But please read with an open heart, and see if maybe some of what you've been taught about child rearing may in fact not be biblical, or beneficial at all to your children.  I'm not writing this because I have it all figured out.  I'd be the first to answer a "well who are YOU to write something like this?" with an honest "I'm Nobody!"  Just a mom, that on this second go round has started putting pieces of the puzzle together, that were previously huge sources of frustration for me.   I am sharing this because I, like many of you out there was really never taught how to raise a kid.  We were told what kids should do and not do, but we weren't shown clearly how to get there.  Or if we were, maybe there were some HUGE red flags in the child training methods that we were presented with.  We get to see a lot of what "not" to do out in the world, and we learn what kids shouldn't do, by watching parent's who let their children run all over them and scream and fight at will, but we don't get taught what TO actually do.  So that is why I'm sharing what I've learned over the years, both from experience, research, and observations of children and parents.

Children Ages 0-2

What I want to talk about in this post is primarily young children, 2 and under, although if the proper steps were not taken when the child is younger the parents will need to go back and work on things with an older child that they failed to establish when they were younger.
We have all heard the raging debate between scheduled feeding of babies and demand feeding.

 Between rocking babies to sleep and letting them cry it out.  If you've been raised in any Christian circles at all, you've most likely been told that an infant needs to learn that "The world doesn't revolve around them." or "Your baby needs to be on YOUR schedule, not you on your BABIES schedule," or you may have heard a parent sigh as they hold a screaming 3 month old and say "well you sure can see their little sin natures can't you?"  May I be so bold as to say all of these statements are not only untrue, they are harmful and hurtful to an infants development, it goes agains the very nature of how God set up the infant parent relationship.  All through the Bible God praises children for their innocence and challenges us to be like them.  The places you read about an infant being "born in sin" are not statements of fact, they are lamentations from an adult that is ashamed of their current sins.  It is an expression to God that they know how evil their heart is and how repentant they are before Him.  And yet somehow from the prayers of repentant adults, the "fact" that we take away is that children are evil right from the womb.  I am not disagreeing with the "sin nature," but what I am disagreeing with is how that is used to explain the normal, innocent behaviors of an infant away into depravity and sin.  It is just not the case.  Emotions are not evil.  Sadness, Anger, Fear, these are emotions that are shown by an infant and none of these are sin.  And aside from all the biblical side of things, saying that an infant needs to immediately be conditioned that the world is not at it's beck and call is just plain bad science.  I hate to break it to you, but IT IS all about the baby!  The world DOES revolve around them!  God created an infant to be completely helpless, not so they can be taught they are not important, but so that the baby can do the necessary bonding with both the mother and father that can be the cornerstone of the rest of his life.  God created this beautiful time for a child to begin to understand what trusting the heavenly Father would look like, and to learn to trust, and "be still and know that I am God."  We all know that if that trust is not established at a young age, later on in life, grasping the concept of God as a Father, will be much more difficult.  It is our jobs to start setting the example early.
So, If you are not ready to learn to be unselfish, and deny yourself and your comfort for the needs of your baby, then by all means please don't have one!  They are helpless infants, that have been thrust out into a scary world, and their source of comfort and safety all rests in the hands of the adults that are in their life.  At the infant age, a child does not need to learn the world doesn't revolve around them.  Developmentally, this is the time that bonding takes place, that is crucial for the rest of the child's life.  There will be plenty of time for a child to learn boundaries, and that the world won't always jump at their every beck and call, but this is not that time.  Now is the time to bond, to nurture, to develop a deep trust.

Babies Sometimes Just Need To Cry

We are often told that "Well babies just cry," and again, I get so saddened by well meaning people who continue to spread lies like this to young mothers, either because it helps them feel better about their own parenting job, or just because that's what they were told.  Just because you do not know what the baby wants or needs does not mean the baby just needs to cry.  Are there times that despite every best effort you cannot find anything wrong, and your baby may just cry for a while?  YES!  But that doesn't mean there ISN'T a reason.  There IS a reason.  The baby may be cold, or hot, or scared, or have a tummy ache, or an ear ache, or with older infants they may be beginning to dream and have a nightmare.  If you can't figure out what your baby needs, you don't need to feel mountains of guilt, or beat yourself up, but parents should not be so arrogant as to assume that if a child's need is not readily obvious that the baby is simply crying for no reason.  Parents need to LEARN what their baby needs.  Some mothers intuitively know more, and can easily understand what their infants needs are.  But for those who can't, there are resources!  Did you know infants have different cries, that are universal for different needs?  Yep, it's true!  There is a language of crying.  It breaks my heart when a mom hands me a 2 month old little girl that is screaming and it is obvious to me, that she has a stomach ache, but everyone just fusses and says "oh nothing is actually wrong, she has just been fussy.  Maybe she's just grumpy."   I've been immediately discounted for even suggesting that an infant might be nauseated, or have another pain, and told "oh you don't know this infant.  She just cries a lot."  Sigh.  Yes, but why.  Infants do not enjoy crying.  It is a distress signal.  It is YOUR job as the parent to understand your child's needs, or to reach out to others for help when you can't.  That is what communities are for, and sadly something we have gotten far away from in our modern American culture.  But understanding your baby can be learned.  God gave infants the ability to communicate if a parent is willing to learn.  Do you sometimes have to guess what is wrong or try two or three things before you figure out what the problem is?  Absolutely!  For example there is a "pain" cry that infants have.  It doesn't tell you where the pain is, but it can alert you to a problem.   There was two nights as an infant that my little guy woke up HYSTERICALLY SCREAMING and would not be consoled no matter what efforts I made to soothe him.  We tried all the usuals: tummy drops, massage, bouncing, rocking, and singing within a matter of 5 minutes trying to figure out the problem.  And because I knew my baby, I knew he wasn't just crying for no reason, there WAS a reason, I just hadn't found it yet.  Guess what it was?  Ear ache.  Put drops in his ears, and within literally two minutes he was back asleep.  He didn't have a cold.  He wasn't sick that I knew of.  Why did his ears hurt?  I don't know!  But he got instant relief from the ear drops and slept well for a couple hours, then woke up screaming again.  This time we went right to the ear drops, and again, sleeping within minutes.  You can't learn your baby or figure out what they need unless you are willing to TRY things.  Many new mom's have been so schooled in the "babies just need to cry" line of thinking that they don't even try to understand what is wrong past changing a diaper and trying to feed them.  Once these two things are tried and the baby is not happy, "Well I guess she just needs to cry it out."  And the sad thing is that as a result, your baby learns that they are not safe, and rather than learning to trust you more each day, they become more insecure.  And in my opinion this a huge part of the reason for the "terrible twos."  Now the child has reached an age that they can choose to be defiant, and they realize they don't have to listen or comply.  And because the trust was not established as an infant, and they do not believe that you have their best interest at heart, or will really work to understand them and what they need, then why should they give you their attention and respect?  And I am not writing this merely as a mother.  I am writing this as a child.  I have clear memories back to when I was 18 months old.  I remember what I was thinking every time I was disciplined, and what made it seem fair, or unfair.  What made me feel close to my parents, and what made me feel utterly alone and 15 million miles from home in my heart.
Are we perfect?  Will we always know what our babies need?  Nope!  But giving up and leaving a baby to cry it out should be the anomaly, not the norm.  Will crying it out a few times scar our children for life.  Nope.  Babies are resilient.  THANK GOD!
Now please, before you get all up in arms, and think I'm all about catering to your child's every whim, just stop right there.  Cause that couldn't be further from the truth.  I do not have the energy to wrestle with a screaming two year old.  I expect him to be respectful.  And he is.  But that didn't start at 2.  That started as an infant, when trust was built.  My husband and I didn't have the energy when he was an infant to get up all hours of the night over and over for a fussy baby.  So we made sure we learned, and listened to him, so we could make midnight wakeup calls as short and sweet as possible for both us and the baby.   People tell me I'm "lucky" to have such a good kid in Hudsen.  And I will agree I am blessed, oh so blessed.  But I have not just coasted along hoping for the best and learning as I go.  This go around with Hudsen is SO MUCH easier since it isn't my first time in the saddle raising an infant.  But a lot of hard work, time, and energy has gone into making the good little boy he is today.
Is "giving in" and letting and picking up a crying infant what makes them learn to be selfish and defiant?  NO!  Inconsistency is though!  My son never once cried himself to sleep, (that I'm aware of) unless I was right there patting his back loving on him.  Do I have problems with him sleeping now, or then because he was "coddled" or  "catered" to him ?  Nope.  Did he manipulate me and take advantage and "rule our house?"  Nope!  I don't have the extra energy for that!  He knew if he needed something I would come, and as a result, he didn't feel the need to constantly cry or call out just to see if we were going to come this time, or ignore his cries.  He knew we would come!  We didn't spoil him, but we tended to his needs, rather than leaving him crying in a room because he we didn't want to "give in to his demands."  People still marvel at how easy he is to put down for a nap.  No screaming.  No fits.  There is no need for any of that.  Sometimes there are some random tears, if he is too tired or thinks he will be missing out on something now, but in general nap times are followed by no protest at all.  If something comes up, and he needs us, he knows we will come.  We always have.  And that is what erases the fear of being alone.  There is no need to fear being alone if you know that help is just a call away.  But if you know that you could scream your brains out and no one will come, that is a cause for fear, especially as a completely helpless infant.  And that fear can follow children for years to come.  Now am I suggesting that if an infant is ever left to cry in their bed they will be scarred for life?  No, I'm not.  But it is not an effective way of teaching a child that the world does not revolve around them, and the philosophy behind the "cry it out" or "infants need to be alone so they can learn to not be selfish" methods can cause a whole host of problems, that will reap negative consequences for years.  I know those are fighting words, but please consider this with an open heart.  Developmentally, a child is not capable of learning to be unselfish at this stage in life.  So why are we working ourselves silly trying to teach something that can't be learned.   More times than not it will create a MORE clingy child, rather than a less clingy one.  A child that can't be without mama without panicking.  A child that has extreme anxiety if they are not in their own bed, or not on a tight schedule, or don't have their favorite binky, or stuffed animal at bedtime.  And rather than giving the parents the peace and control they are hoping for, it instead rewards them with the exact behaviors they were hoping to avoid.

Many people site the cry it out method and say that it is biblical because it "works."  This is utter malarkey.  Infants are not idiots.  They learn.  Will they most likely eventually stop crying if they are continually left in their crib to cry?  YES!  But just because they learn to be quiet eventually, does not mean it is best.  And it does not mean they are learning what you THINK you are teaching them.  In my experience children that are put in the crib to cry every nap time, cry far more, and for much longer than a child who has the confidence of knowing their parents will come if they cry.  And just because they stop, does not mean they were just trying to manipulate you.  It just means they gave up, or wore themselves out.   If you know your child, and their needs, and their forms of communication, you will recognize when your child is trying to manipulate you, and you can put a stop to it immediately.  Not letting an infant "cry it out" does not mean you are letting them run your household, or are giving in to their manipulations.  While it may be easier to just let your baby cry than working to find the problem, in the long term, it is much better for the parent child relationship.  Don't take my word for this, take the word of scientists around the world.  Take the word of history.  Babies were not left alone in a room to cry.  They were strapped to their mothers back all day, or sleeping in a one room house full of other family and children.  They were not left to cry, that would have disrupted the entire household and extended family.  Aloneness, was not something that has been historically viewed as healthy for a baby.   Togetherness was what was valued, to the point of not just one family living in a house, but all the extended family living there too so they could be available for loving, caring, and teaching the children as well.   In our crazy busy world where we all want our "space" we want our infants to learn to be alone so we can have some peace.  While this may not be all wrong, it is also not all right, and it is NOT biblical.  And those of us who proudly proclaim what "biblical" raising of children looks like when we are going agains all of history, and the Bible too, perhaps we should stop and take another look.  So buyer beware when it comes to books on "biblical" child rearing.  Often the word "biblical" is simply used to describe the best way to make your kid always do what you want and never be a bother.  But children ARE a bother!  And that's the way God intended it.

Deuteronomy 6:7  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Notice he doesn't say to teach them what NOT to do at all times of the day.  We are to teach them WHAT God wants us to do.  Again, positive, not the negative.  And that is SO very hard to do as a parent.  We gravitate naturally towards the "no" and what "not to do."  But we have to keep ourselves in check, and keep in mind what is best for our child, and how they learn as infants and toddlers.

The Value Of Ground Work

A LOT of ground work has to be done the first two years of a child's life.  These two years should not primarily be about teaching a child that the world doesn't revolve around them.  These first few years should be about you learning your child, what works, what doesn't, how they tick, what their fears and insecurities are, what their strengths are, how they learn, etc.  There is plenty of time for boundaries.  Your child will spend the rest of their life being pounded with the fact that the world does not revolve around them.  But without a sense of trust, and a sense of self (who God has made them to be), a child cannot properly learn boundaries.   This isn't a theory, it is a developmental fact.   A child that is insecure, and uncertain of whether their needs will be met as an infant, will in their older toddler years constantly be pushing the boundaries, trying to get the security they lost out on as an infant.  I have seen it countless times.  A three year old that has to be told six times to come here, and is constantly pushing the parents buttons to try to figure out what is safe, and what is unsafe.  As an infant they never knew when their needs would be met, or when they would be deemed the "sin nature" and left to fend for themselves, and as a result, as an older toddler, they constantly push.  They do NOT trust that their parents have their best interest at heart, and so they are always on guard, and defensive toward the parent, just like they perceive the parent is towards them.  As parents we need to put ourselves in our infants and toddlers shoes.  Not just view things from the adult side of life.  We know an infant crying in the bedroom is not truly in danger.  They are not going to starve, or die, etc.  But what does the infant think, or feel?  That is what is important, not our adult logic.  Try to put yourself into your toddlers shoes, and walk a mile in his world, not understanding half the words the adults say, and trying your best to figure out life, and love, and growing up.  I know when I do this I suddenly have a lot more compassion for a struggling toddler that is pitching a fit.  When I realize he doesn't understand, rather than simply addressing the outward action, (the fit) I can address what is going on inside.  "Hudsen, I think you don't understand mommy.  We ARE going to Go to Grandma's house, but we just have to stop by the grocery store first to get some milk.  THEN we will go to Grandma's house!"  Suddenly a different child appears!  I am not catering to him.  Toddlers have a very limited tool house for dealing with negative emotions, that is important to keep in mind.  Developmentally they simply don't have any other options than crying, or throwing a fit.  But taking the time to understand what is behind the frustration, and dealing with that, is much more effective than simply addressing the behavior.  And after the child is calmed down, you can address the behavior.  "Hudsen, I know you were sad because you thought we were not going to Grandma's house when we stopped at the store, but screaming is not a nice way to say that.  Maybe next time you could use your words, and say "but I want Grandma's house!" and then Mommy can tell you what is happening.  I am sorry I did not tell you before that we were stopping at the grocery store.  Next time I will tell you so you aren't confused."
To be clear, I don't think conversations like this should be had while a child is throwing a fit.  The time for explaining and helping your child understand proper responses is never in the midst of a conflict.  It is only after the waters are calm again that you can effectively teach, and help prepare them for the next similar situation they may encounter.

Trust.  There Can Never Be Enough!

Let me give you an example of trust in the life of me and my little boy.  Of course things will look different in yours life, but hopefully this will let you understand where I am coming from:
 A few months ago I was sitting in Subway with my two year old.  He had take the unopened bag of chips out of the sandwich bag and was trying to open it.  Without even thinking, or saying a word to him I rudely snatched it out of his hands to open it for him.  I wasn't trying to be rude, I just didn't think and acted abruptly.  He looked up at me completely content, not a shadow of a doubt in his mind that I was obviously going to help him.  I handed him back the chips and stopped to think about how many children would have responded if their parents snatched some type of a treat away from them.  Those children that have not had the experience that their parents have their best interest at heart would have screamed, and got into a fit because they believe their parents are not looking out for their best interest, which makes them feel they have to fight for it.  But children that are secure have no reason to believe their parents would be trying to hurt them, so there is no need for panic and protest.  All children will protest some times, and I don't mean to imply that a secure child will never have a fit.  But it should not be the pattern.  If your child continually throws fits, or is defiant, that is a sign that something is WRONG.  Not with the child, but with the parent!  We are the adults.  Often times we need to alter our  behaviors even more than our children do, as they often follow our examples and this can lead to conflicts!
Another example of trust would be when my little sister was about 3.  She constantly wanted someone to come and play with her.  I would respond either "yes" or "no" when asked.  Other family members would respond with "maybe" or "later", and would get met with whining, pestering, and frustration, until often they would get fed up and inform her that since she was being whiny they weren't going to play with her at all.  So what's the problem here?  "maybe" and "later" are two words we should be very careful with.  They can easily lead to broken trust.  What the child hears is "yes!" and when we do not follow through, it can be heartbreaking for them, or worse yet, we punish them for insisting we keep our word. (nagging us.)  There are appropriate times for these tow words, but in general, we should be very cautious with words that have nebulous meanings around young children.   Like Eph 6:4 says: Father's do not exasperate your children, but instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  More often that we realize we exasperate our children, and then punish them for their negative emotional responses.  Just something to ponder.

The Strong Willed Child

Children often get labeled as "rebellious" or "stubborn" or "strong willed" when in reality most of the times the behaviors that lead us to conclude these things are a symptom of a problem in the relationship, not a problem with the child.  A child's will does not need to be broken.  This is not a biblical concept.  A child's will needs to be guided, instructed, and channeled, never broken.  A strong will is what makes an adult determined, persistent, dedicated, and strong.  It is not something to be broken.  I believe the idea that a child needs to be "broken" at a young age comes from a serious lack of understanding about the developmental process that children go through in their early years, and also an a lack of understanding about howGod deals with us, and what He desires from us as adults.  We should model our parenting after God.  God never seeks to break our will, or subdue us.  Rather, he guides, leads, teaches, and loves.  He instilled our wills to be used and channeled, not to be broken by our parents.  We have to have a sense of self, and have the freedom to choose wrong to ever truly choose obedience and love.  Many people compare raising children to breaking a horse.  However, any horse trainer worth their salt will tell you that "breaking" a horse is about trust, and guidance, not forcing the horse into blind compliance.  While a horse, or a child CAN be forced into blind compliance, and appear to be "good" without trust, as soon as a situation comes along that the child or horse does not understand or feel safe in, they will buck, panic, runaway, or violently protest.  The goal of raising a child is not to get them to the point they never defy or disagree with you, but always are compliant and docile.  The hard part is, that taking the time to train a child, and guide them in the way THEY should go, takes a lot more work, wisdom and effort on the part of us parents than merely trying to subdue someone that is 100 pounds smaller than you.  "Breaking a child's will" while exhausting, does not require nearly the time, the love, or the wisdom that guiding your child does.  Teaching a child the why, and how of obedience is much more time consuming than the simple "because I said so."

Communication: More Than Words

I am a huge believer in communication with infants and small children.  I believe 99% of us parents don't communicate enough with our children.  The problem is, most parents who do talk to their children about their behaviors, tend to primarily talk to their children when their is an infraction.  Then they have conversations like this "Mommy said not to do that!  You need to listen!  You have to obey!  Mommy doesn't want to have to tell you again."  And conversations like this repeat themselves over and over and over during the course of a day.  Communication is extremely important, but WHEN you communicate is equally if not more important.  The time to explain obedience, responsibility, listening, etc., is not when an infraction occurs, but before.  Parents need to communicate their expectations, their reasons etc., all through the day, NOT when an infraction occurs.  A mother should be having these conversations with their child at times of no conflict.  Where they can talk, and learn, and understand.  A child should have a full understanding of good and bad behavior not just because of what they are told when they are being naughty.  They need to develop a whole picture of what "being good" is, not just learn what is "bad."
We all assume our children know so many things that they don't have the slightest clue about.  We tell a 2 year old to "obey." but have we ever sat down and explained what that word means?  We tell a toddler to "stop having a bad attitude" and when they don't, we take that as defiance, and they are punished.  We say "sit still," "don't touch," "stop arguing" etc., but rarely do we take the time each day to discuss what these things mean in one or two year old terms, at times of no conflict.  It's just as if someone came to you, chided you for what you were doing in Chinese, and then when you turned back to what you were doing, they beat you for "not listening".  If you are punished for something, but didn't understand what you were told not to do, you won't feel any remorse for your disobedience, all you will feel is anger, hurt, and resentment for an unfair punishment.  It is exactly the same with our children.  We punish them for not obeying us, but we speak a foreign language.  I hear so often "oh they know exactly what they are doing... little sinners."  When often time it is quite clear that they in fact DO NOT understand at all what you are saying other than the word "no."  And "no" in the middle of a sentence of Chinese, is still very confusing even if we know the one word "no".   We use words like, "responsible, patient, respectful, attitude, obedience.  We tell our children they could get hurt if they run out into the street, but they have no idea what "getting hurt" means when they are 1.  You can't just talk.  You have to teach!
Here is another examples:  When my son was about 8 months old had a fascination with straight pins, like you use for sewing.  I am a crazy crafter, and often leave things out and about, or accidentally drop one on the floor.  He is down at my store with me all the time, and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to keep the pins out of his reach forever.  So, I sat down with him at a time when he wasn't trying to touch the pins, and explained to him (yes, at 8 months I explained) "Hudsen, these pins will make an owie, that's why mamma says no no, don't touch."  Of course he had no concept of what that meant, and kept tried to grab the pin I was holding.  So I took one of the pins I took his hand and very lightly poked him with it.  Just barely.  Just enough to hurt a little.  And as soon as the point touched his skin I repeated "OWIE!" very loudly several times.  I was not being mean, I was teaching him.  His eyes got huge, and from that day on you couldn't coax him into touching a pin if you tried.  I wasn't harming him, or abusing him, I was teaching him.  Rather than swatting his hand every time he reached for the pins, (which is what most of us have been taught to do) that would only teach him that MOMMY was the one that made an owie, not the pins, and that if mommy wasn't around to swat him, nothing bad would happen.  Teaching children natural consequences is ALWAYS better than interfering and "punishing."
After the lesson about the pins, I was free to use the phrase "owie" to describe other situations, without having to prove to him every time the possible consequences.  He now understood that when the word "owie" was used, what it meant.  All the explaining in the world couldn't have taught him that at 8 months, all the swatting his hands in the world couldn't have taught him that either!  But one tiny prick with a pin did!  And after that, he trusted me when I said not to touch something because it would make an owie.  As soon as the word owie would come out of my mouth his hand would jerk back from whatever he was trying to grab.  It wasn't just empty words I was saying, his little brain had an experience to link it too.  A safe experience, to help him learn, not to punish him for touching the pins, but to show him that mommy has his best interest at heart.  I do not want blind obedience.  Are there times a child cannot understand why?  Yes.  But there are far more times where a child could understand if the parents took the time to teach them.  But it is often easier to just demand obedience, rather than building trust by taking the time to truly teach in a way that they can learn.  Not focusing on correcting bad behavior, but focusing on building a trust so strong that when your child doesn't understand why, they have a whole bag of experiences to draw on that prove mom is looking out for them, not just that she is constantly demanding "obedience."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Trying To Make Simple The Utterly Confusing. Product Claims. What Is In, What Is Out?

Over the past few months I have had both individuals, as well as people asking for information in a Facebook Group that I started about what claims are ok, and not ok in regards to skin care products, essential oils, and skin care products WITH essential oils in them.

Ok, first the bad news:  There is no simple little chart that will clear up all confusion and guarantee your claims are always within legal bounds.

Now the good news!  There are a few things that can be explained to help you understand the process, and get more clear insight on how the law works.  I am an example person.  I need examples of what IS and IS NOT ok to do/ say.  General guidelines often leave me confused and depressed.  So I promise I will be as clear as I can, and use many examples to demonstrate compliance and non-compliance.

#1.  What Is The Difference Between "Cosmetic Claims" and "Medical Claims"

It often seems a fine line to dance, but once you see a few examples, I think you will get the gist.   I will give you examples of acceptable cosmetic claims, and then follow with un-acceptable claims that would be deemed as a "medical" claim according to the FDA.

Cosmetic Claim:  "This product may help hide, or reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."

Medical Claim: "Fades age spots, reduces wrinkles, eliminates, heals, or reverses aging."

Cosmetic Claim: "Cleanser for oily skin, reduces the appearance of oily skin." (notice it is not for acne (which is a medical condition, but simply for oily skin)

Medical Claim: "Prevents, heals, or stops acne."

Cosmetic Claim: "Helps the hair appear thicker, helps remove loose dandruff, revitalizes the appearance of damaged hair."

Medical Claim: "Controls or eliminates dandruff, prevents or cures hair loss, restores hair cells, promotes hair health."

Are you kind of catching the drift?  Claims about appearance, are cosmetic, but claims about healing, restoring, preventing, etc., are considered medical claims.  You could say "Causes the skin to appear more refreshed and youthful" but could not say, "helps refresh, and promotes youthful skin" because that is considered a medical, rather than a cosmetic (appearance) claim.  I could go on and on with these examples, and sometimes the rules change a little on what you can and cannot say for certain products.  For more information visit:

#2.  FDA Guidelines For Specific Ingredients Or Ailments

Here is where things usually get de-railed in discussions as navigating the FDA regulations can be quite a daunting task.  First things first:  The FDA has a process by which various active ingredients in OTC (Over The Counter) drug products are reviewed to determine their safety and effectiveness for use in self treatment.  After a lengthy process, (which I will not go into here) ingredients are categorized in one of three ways:

Category I: generally recognized as safe and effective for the claimed therapeutic indication
Category II: NOT generally recognized as safe and effective or unacceptable indications.
Category III: Insufficient data available to permit classification

Once an active ingredient has been categorized, reviewed, evidence presented, public opinion obtained etc., and a certain amount of time has passed, what is called a "drug monograph" (Drug Monograph = a recipe / rules for labeling and marketing/advertising)  is then put together as a kind of guide for using these active ingredients, and establish what conditions each ingredient is considered "safe and effective" to treat.  For ingredients that do not have a monograph, a "new drug application" must be filed, and approved before any marketing claims are made.

So what does all this mean?  If you want to know what percentages of a specific ingredient can be legally used in a product to make certain claims, or what claims are allowed to be made with certain ingredients, you can access specific drug monographs that will tell you that.  If there is NOT a monograph that goes along with a specific ingredient, then LEGALLY the only claims that can be made are cosmetic (assuming of course it actually IS for topical use.)

Educational claims can be made, in books, via articles, blogs etc., without any fear of breaking the law because this is covered under the freedom of speech act.  However, if any of these types of "educational material" are used as an advertisement for your products, or for promotional material in any way, then you have crossed the line, and are back to making a drug claim.

So, for example, Camphor is approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne.  So you would need to then go and read the actual drug monograph for camphor and find the information on what claims can be made, what percentages can be used etc.  Your product could contain other ingredients such as lavender, tea tree, etc., that have been shown to reduce acne, but have not been approved by the FDA for such, but these ingredients would need to be listed as "inactive" ingredients to be correctly labeled.  Whether or not the ingredients are in fact inactive in your product is not the point.  The point is Camphor has been approved, so if you wish to market your product for acne, you camphor (or another approved ingredient) used in the approved percentages, would be the "active" ingredient in your solution, and other ingredients you add based on your knowledge or research that are not approved by the FDA would need to be listed under "inactive" ingredients.

For another example, Vicks, follows all the specifications in the drug monographs of all of it's ingredients, so they are LEGALLY allowed to market their product for colds, and chest congestion etc.  BUT, you could make a product with the EXACT same ingredients and it would NOT be legal for you to market for chest congestion if your percentages, etc. were not in line with the Drug Monograph.
So that is why it is VERY important if you are going to make a claim, that you find the drug monograph that goes with your active ingredients and follow any specifications given.  And like I said above, this does NOT mean that the only ingredients you are allowed to use in your product have to be FDA approved for the condition you are wishing to market your product for.  But ONLY the FDA approved ingredient, used in the correct percentages can be listed as the "active" ingredient, and thus is the basis for your legal "claim" of what your product can help, or heal.

So specific drug monographs allow you to understand why it can seem SO CONFUSING, when one company makes a claim and it is ok, and it seems looking in from the outside that another company makes the EXACT SAME claim and it is deemed illegal.  To be able to make non-cosmetic claims, you must not only use approved ingredients, but use them in the correct percentages, and ONLY make the claims that are specifically spelled out and allowed in the monograph.

So, for example, if you asked a question like "I would like to make a wrinkle cream, what claims can I make or not make on it" no one would be able to give you a good direct answer, other than pointing you towards making ONLY cosmetic or appearance claims.  The only way anyone could help you know what claims you would be legally allowed to put on a certain product would be if they knew every ingredient, and the percentages etc, and could help you find the appropriate drug monographs that will give you the information you need.  If for example Vitamin E is approved for wrinkles, then you could follow that specific monograph and legally claim that your product helps wrinkles.

Is it a pain in the butt to wade through drug monographs?  YEP!  But you CAN find the information you need, and that is what I find exciting.  Many people choose to take the easier route and simply not make any claims, or only cosmetic claims on their products, which is of course just fine as well.  But if you DO want to make a claim, be sure to follow all specifications in the appropriate drug monographs.  To find specific drug monographs, you can go to the FDA website and search from there, or you can just type into google your ingredient and that you wish to find the drug monograph. (ie. Boric Acid Drug Monograph, or Camphor Drug Monograph)  You will also need to label your product with the appropriate warnings, cautions, and possible interactions according to the monograph.  This allows the customer to be fully informed, and be able to use your product in a safe and responsible way, rather than guessing and possibly causing themselves, or their families harm.

Now it is also important to remember that this only applies to those selling products.  You can make whatever product you wish in your kitchen, and tell your friends it healed your acne, and removed all your wrinkles.  The FDA does not care about that.  They care about claims being made for marketed products.  So when you look online, and see a product making a claim, and wonder to yourself "well how come they can do it but I was told it would be illegal if I said that!", it is probably because they have followed a specific drug monograph which allows them to make said claim.  However, it is important to note here too that MANY companies simply break the law, or at the very least try to scoot around it and find loop holes to market topical applications as nutritional supplements (which has completely different laws).  And this is neither honest, nor in the best interest of the customers, as safety issues with incorrectly labeled products causes huge potentials for reactions, drug interactions, and other unwanted side effects.

Ok, that is all for today, I hope this helps some of you desperately trying to understand this confusing system!  Hopefully this will clear up a little of the confusion surrounding the questions that have been popping up off and on for the last few months!

Until next time have a blessed week!

Ashley Glassman
Real Essential Oil Education
Real Essential Oil Education Facebook Page

References:  FDA Approval Process
OTC Ingredients
Example Of A Drug Monograph
Cosmetic Q&A

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Thank You Is Not Enough

This blog is going to be a bit different than my usual.
Tonight I am going to brag.  Not on myself, but on my husband.
Some people get recognized for their outstanding performances despite horrible odds, but so many go on quietly about their business, as if their behavior is in no way extraordinary.
And my husband is one of those guys.  He is so far and above a gem, that there is no way in this little blog post I could tell you all the ways he never ceases to amaze me.  But I'm going to try, at least just a little to tell you about the amazing man that God has given me.  This is a real post, not sugar coated.  And if it makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry.  But I can't truly thank him if I am sugar coating our reality right now.  The truth is what we have to deal with.

My husband has never had a healthy wife.  In over four years of marriage we have not ever gone more than a few weeks without me having a significant crisis of health.  He has regularly had to deal with me pass out, going completely limp, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation.  Never able to predict when it's going to happen.  Scares the crap out of him.  Multiple times he has seen me ill to the point where he held me and begged God to just let me die rather than continue to be in that much pain.  For weeks on end, many times over he has taken care of me in bed because I couldn't get up without him to hold me up.

 He has carried me up the stairs because I couldn't walk more times than I can count, and been woken up during the night to carry me back down to the bathroom and then back up again.  This is not something that has happened once or twice, but literally if you added up the days they would amount to months of him being my legs.  Without him once complaining.  In fact the opposite.  He will practically threaten me that I HAVE to wake him up if I need to go downstairs.  And that I am under no circumstances to try to make it myself just to let him sleep.

He rubs my feet when I am in severe pain for literally hours, not just sometimes, but probably more days than not.  He cooks, cleans, takes out the garbage, wakes up with our son during the night and cares for him, depending on my health often more than I do.  He goes to work, comes home and takes care of me and my son on my bad days, which are quite often.

Do I have good days?  Yes, but if I am going to give credit where credit is due to my husband, I have to be honest about my health as well.  And the truth is, I have far more bad days than good ones.  And almost every day, even if it is a good day, that ends at about 5 pm, and suddenly my body rebels, and I typically spend the evening in severe pain, usually laying on the couch trying desperately not to vomit.

He does laundry, NEVER complains when I haven't done something.  He lifts me in and out of the hot tub on nights when I am hurting but can't get myself in our out, just because he knows the heat helps my pain a little.  He heats up water bottles, makes me tea, and has emptied more buckets of vomit than most people would see in an entire lifetime.

On my bad days it is not unusual for him to work all day, come home make dinner, put Hudsen to bed, then force me to accept a back rub just because he can see I am hurting no matter how hard I try to hide it from him.

He is a better listener than most women.  Hearing what I have to say, sifting past the emotions, asking questions, and giving hugs when appropriate.

I ask God so often what I ever did to deserve someone like him.  This was most certainly NOT my plan for my life.  My plan was a clean house, where I cooked every meal, baking in between, boxing up his lunches every day for work.  I always imagined a house where I was the one giving back rubs after a long day, and he was the one who got to enjoy them each night.

I don't know why he loves me.  I really don't.  I feel beyond worthless for even low expectations of what a mother and wife should be most days.   But not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me not once, but several times how much he loves me, and how glad he is that he married me.

I have a store.  Really because of my health I should probably close it.  But he knows being down there when I can makes me feel connected to the world, and helps ward off the depression that tries to take over my life like whirlwind.  So he doesn't complain.  Doesn't resent me "wasting" my energy down there instead of doing the things I'm "supposed" to be doing at home.  But instead he encourages it, and helps me maintain it.

He lets me cry.  I try to be strong, but feeling various shades of horrendous all the time wears on a body....  and he understands that.  He doesn't say "you think you have it bad!  You should try being me!  At least you get to lay around half the day!"  He never makes me feel guilty.  If anything he tries to make me feel guilty for doing TOO MUCH.  He is always the one saying "no honey, I can do that you sit down!"  or "don't try to to do too much today babe."  I keep waiting for it to change, but it seems he cares more as the years go by not less.  I keep waiting for the "newness" of me being sick to wear off, and his "true colors" to come out.  But it is very obvious these are his true colors, and they are beautiful.

Is he tired?  Yep.  Is he discouraged.  Yes.  But he never takes that out on me.

Why am I writing all this?  Because he deserves it.  He has to listen on a daily basis to other people whining about their lives, and he doesn't punch them in the face (which I would feel like doing if I was in his shoes and had to listen to other people's seemingly small problems.)  He gets to deal with people all the time who have no idea how stretched thin he is and how hard he works, make comments about my illness like I've had a bit of a cold for a while, and he doesn't yell at them or tell them to get a clue.  People ask him all the time to come help someone "in need" or that is "having a rough time" and he doesn't scream at them "REALLY!  Do you NOT KNOW US AT ALL?  We are barely keeping our heads above water people, why are you asking us to help?"  He doesn't yell at them for being insensitive, he just gently tells them he is not in a place to help right now to help, or even more amazing, often times he DOES go and help.  He just quietly goes about his life, doing what has to be done.
And the fact is people DON'T understand.  They have their lives they are wrapped up in, and they assume that he is "fine."  They assume if he needed help he would ask.  Or if things were "that bad" they would someone magically "know."

Every night when we crawl into bed he hugs me and says "babe, we did it.  We made it through one more day."  And believe me that is all we are doing.  We put on the brave face and say we are "fine" because the truth is people tire very quickly of hearing every day that your wife is worse than the day before and you are both barely hanging on to sanity by a thin thread.  So you smile and say "doing ok, and you?" so as not to make them uncomfortable YET AGAIN, with your life.  But that doesn't make it true.  Or real.  What is true, and real, is that every day we cry and beg God just to let us make it through.  We aren't asking for anything big.  Just simple survival.

I've never known anyone like my husband.  And I know people see his "rough" outside and make assumptions about him.  His bluntness.  His opinions that are often free flowing.  His to the point nature that can be perceived as abrupt or rude.  His passion that may seem like anger.   But what they don't see is all the stuff behind the scenes.  All the heart and soul and love and gentleness and patience.  I don't know how he doesn't just burst with anger and resentment some days.  He certainly did not imagine his life being like this.  He did not ask for this.  This was not in any way how we planned to spend our days, clinging to survival as if it was the last thread of the rope we are dangling over a cliff on.   Many of the men I know feel put upon if they have to change even half of the diapers, or cook their own dinners.  Not my guy.  Or if he does, he loves me far too much to ever tell me.

Dr. Laura has a phrase that every woman should find a man that will "swim through shark infested waters to bring her a lemonade," and I have no doubt found him.

He has no idea I'm writing this, and will probably kill me when he sees it, cause he doesn't want recognition.  But I can't do much for him.  So I want to do this.  I want to say thank you and put it out there for everyone to see.
 I want to say: I love you honey so much more than you could ever imagine, and never take for granted all the things you do, that you probably think I don't even notice.  But I do notice.  Sometimes I don't say thank you when I should because it makes me so incredibly sad to see you having to do for me all the things that I wish I could do for you each day.  All the things you deserve.  And I hate that I am trapped in a body that won't allow me to show you in all the ways I should how amazing you are.  But I love you and couldn't be happier or prouder to be able to be your wife.  You are so wonderful, I can't ever imagine how I could repay you for you taking care of me the way you do.
I love you babe.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Looking For A Easy To Use Guide To Essential Oils?

I have been getting a lot of questions about what resources and books I recommend. I have multiple stacks of books on essential oils and aromatherapy but, sadly, would not recommend most of them for reasons that range from not being well organized and user friendly, to promoting or teaching false information or promoting unsafe use of oils. I also avoid recommending books that are brand loyal. I think a good book should be about the oils themselves, not promoting a certain company or their blends. 

That being said, there is one book that has been my go-to since I first started using essential oils. I keep thinking I will find a book I like better, but this continues to be at the top of my list. The book is   Aromatherapy For Vibrant Health And Beauty__ by Roberta Wilson. It is a very practical, well-organized book that I highly recommend. The front part of the book is an A-Z guide to individual oils, their uses, cautions, etc. The middle section, also organized alphabetically, lists various ailments and the oils and treatments that are recommended. Finally at the back, there is a guide to making your own essential oil blends for various desired results, with recipes to help guide you. 
I highly recommend this book if you want an easy reference to keep in your home. I have provided a link below for amazon where you can look at the description and reviews if you like. It is well worth the money. Like I said, I have MANY books, and this one continues to be one I grab when I want to look something up fast and not have to fumble through a poorly organized book. I have the old version, put out in 1995, but I have no doubt the new version is even better, so check it out! I don't sell it, but trusty old Amazon does! Just click the Aromatherapy PA link below and see the book there!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Diaper Rash Help

Diaper rashes are something that cause issues for every mom at one time or another.  A couple weeks ago I posted a recipe for my diaper rash balm that works like a charm.  However, I know that not everyone has the desire to be mixing their own lotions and potions, and for that reason I wanted to offer another recommendation for a non do-it-yourself version of a diaper rash ointment that I have found extremely effective.
A while back my little boy Hudsen went from having no diaper rash at all, to a few hours and a few poopy diapers later having a bum that was flaming red and bleeding!  I wasn't feeling well at the time, and had run out of my homemade diaper rash ointment a while back, and hadn't made anymore because I hadn't been needing it.   But suddenly I had a very sore little bum, and a baby that would scream every time he got his diaper changed from the pain.  I had a stash of diaper rash creams that various people had given me for baby showers etc.  I tried everything from the traditional diaper rash creams off the shelf at Walmart, to the natural Burt's Bees balms, but nothing seemed to sooth or heal it up like I was used to with my homemade creams.  I causally mentioned to someone one day that I HAD to get some balm made cause nothing was helping my baby, but I just hadn't felt well enough to make any yet.  She then proceeded to tell me about this cream, that I could get at the drug store next door, that wasn't made for diaper rashes, but worked like nothing else she had ever seen.  Desperate and willing to try anything, I ran next door and bought the only tube they had.
Glancing at the ingredients, I saw it had menthol in it, and thought "oh dear this is never going to work!  His bum is so raw the last thing he needs is MENTHOL on it!"  But, the gal was so insistent that I decided to give it a go.  I had a wash cloth ready and waiting, thinking he was going to scream when I put it on and I would have to immediately wipe it all off.  But to my surprise he cried for a few seconds as he had been doing when I changed his diaper, then stopped.  And every time since then that he has had any type of sudden severe irritation it soothes SO well!

So, that being said, if you aren't in the mood for mixing your own concoctions, but want a diaper rash cream that is heads and shoulders above any other cream I've tried, THIS is the one!  You can get it at some pharmacies, or you can order it off of Amazon.  I've posted a link below so you can either order, or get a good look at the product so you can find it locally!

That's all for today!

Ashley Glassman

Calmoseptine Ointment Topical 2.5 Oz Tube

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quick Product Recommendation For Moms With Infants Or Toddlers

 Today I just want to do a little product recommendation for Herbs For Kids "Chamomile Calm".
For any of you mom's out there that have infants and toddlers that suffer from colic, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, or just general kid hyperness (I think I just invented a new word!) I highly HIGHLY recommend this product.  At another time I may share a recipe for making your own version of these drops, but this brand has been the closest thing to the homemade version I used for years, and sometimes you just don't feel like making something yourself and just want to be able to grab something that is ready to use!
These drops are recommended for children 1 yr and older (I have some other tricks for the younger guys) and they really do work wonders on calming the little guys down, or helping with upset stomach.  Chamomile is very calming and relaxing as well as being very soothing to the digestive system.  These drops also contain Fennel, Catnip and a few other calming herbs as well.
Sometimes kids just get worked up, either from fun or because they are upset and it doesn't take much for things to spiral out of control.  My son gets these drops almost every night a few minutes before bed to help him relax and settle down.  The glycerine and fennel make the drops sweet and pleasant to the taste buds which makes it a breeze to get kids to take them.  My almost two year old requests them, and if he is in pain or upset as soon as he sees the drops he settles down cause he knows they will help.  He had pretty severe night terrors for a while when he was about one, and these really helped in the middle of the night to stop the fitful sleep.  He doesn't even have to be awake for me to give them to him.  I put the dropper in his mouth and he starts sucking cause he has taken these, or something similar since he was born.
If your kid struggles with hyperactivity, or bed time is a struggle every night I HIGHLY recommend these drops.  I don't sell them, but you can check them out on amazon via the link below.   They have just been such a great tool for me, especially on nights where mommy is exhausted and the little guy does not want to settle down, I had to share them with you!
Even if you don't have any regular issues with your kiddos just having them on hand for those once in a while situations might be very helpful!
Below is a link to amazon where I order my drops!

Herbs for Kids Chamomile Calm, 2 Ounce