Allergic to Dog Dander? A Natural Remedy to Keeping Your Pet

Our youngest son is allergic to dog dander. When he was born, he struggled with Trachea Malaysia so we never supected it for a few years. He always seemed to be catching colds that none of the family would get and because of his Trachea Malaysia we just assumed it was because of that all together. We were wrong and he was suffering without us understanding that he had an allergy to dog dander.

When someone has allergies to dog dander they experience swelling, redness, and itching around the eyes and nose. They develope a cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Allergic to dog dander? A Natural Remedy to Keeping Your Pet - How one family found a solution to a serious condition without having to get rid of their family dogs.
Allergic to Dog Dander? A Natural Remedy to Keeping Your Pets

While our son was struggling with these symptoms of being allergic to dog dander, we were thinking things like our air vents needing to be clean or air conditioning was causing it. It took us some time to look at our beloved pet of thirteen years and point the finger to our son's best friend.

It was true, though. Our dog was causing our little boy to feel horrible but they were always together.

Allergic to dog dander means your best friend is causing your symptoms.

Time after time, our son would be feeling horrible and there was Shadow, by his side to comfort him and our little guy was always happiest to have his pal near him. Yet, it his symptoms would get worse and it was his best friend causing it all along.

We were loss to what we were going to do. Our son was devastated when we talked about one day Shadow wouldn't be with us because he was getting older and showing it. Our son would cry horribly and we started to look for a natural remedy to our family situation.

Then one day, I had the opportunity to review the Venta, a air purifier and humidifier all in one.

The Venta changed my son's life.

Within a few hours of it working in our home, we noticed that his symptoms improved. First his red, swollen eyes began to look better. His wheezing and coughing was improving as well.

We were quietly praying that this would be our solution and we could keep our dog until his life came to an end naturally.

Next thing we knew, our son was looking and sounding amazing! He was all over the dog more than ever and NOTHING was happening to him.

Little by little, we were growing relaxed with the Venta and allowing a few days to go without replacing the water. I would look at our son and see the redness, swollen eyes coming back and hearing some wheezing in his chest or even a couch. Immediately the Venta would get filled and it all disappeared.

Before I realized it, our son was connecting how he much better he felt with the Venta running continually. If he coughed, he would say “Mommy, the Venta needs to be filled.” He became our reminder on his own.

After our sweet Shadow passed away, our son was lost without a dog. He desperately missed his best friend and requested a new dog daily. Our hearts finally gave in and we purchased two Miniture Australian Shephards!

A boy and his two best friends.

These three are always together and thanks to the natural remedy of the Venta, we don't have to worry about the allergy of dog dander at home.

This past Thanksgiving, we traveled to visit family. While our family celebrated, I was keeping an eye on our son because in addition to our two dogs, there was another 4 dogs that he just couldn't leave along and we didn't have our Venta with us.

It hurts my heart to see the joy of my son diminish when his allergy of dog dander hits me and we are 400 miles away from the natural remedy that we all have appreciated so much. Befor we returned home, our son was struggling horribly. His cough was out of control and his eyes looked horrible.

The first thing we did when we entered our home was filled up our Venta.

This summer when we packed up our vehicle to head back to visit family, our son grabbed his two best friends and ran for the truck yelling, “Don't forget the Venta!”

Life shouldn't require you to pick your health over your best friend. Thankfully, the Venta has given our family the freedom to have both – health and our best friends!

The Venta does more than just clean your air of pet dander. Venta says it best when they say:

“You don't know how bad your air is until you know how good it can be.”

Learn more about Venta TODAY and make your tomorrow healthier!


Patriotic Activities for the Family

We are a very patriotic family and I thought it would be fun to pull together some of the best patriotic activities for the family to do together. These would be perfect for Memorial Day, July 4th and Veteran's Day. Don't forget about Flag Day, and Patriot Day!

Patriotic Activities for the Family |

Patriotic Activities for the Family

There is nothing more patriotic to do than to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  This printable Pledge of Allegiance will help your children understand what it means while they work to memorize it.

Our family loves patriotic music. One of our favorite collection of songs is Wee Sing Book & CD. It has so many patriotic songs that kids will just love to learn how to sing about our country, flag and message.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the best tips around the web for families to do together. Patriotic holidays are days that family should be together enjoying one another and the freedoms that our past, present and future military sacrifice to uphold for all citizens.

Raising your children to have some wonderful family memories around these patriotic days are a wonderful way to raise children who are thankful for their country and their military.



Patriotic Kids Blowers Craft Idea
is a fun way to get your children creating and having fun with the patriotic colors of red, white and blue.

Bald Eagle Craft is a great way to introduce your family to our national bird.

This Patriotic Cutting Practice printable is a great way to get your younger kids involved with the crafts as well.

Your toddlers may love this Patriotic Discovery Bottle.

Have fun competing to create the best American flag with this Red, White, and Blue Homemade Play Dough.


I love reading to my children. These are some great books to read around any patriotic day that will give them a heart for their country.


I love seeing patriotic decorations. I thought it would be fun for me to share some a few of my favorite ones that I want to do with my own family.

These are just adorable!


I could so pack these for our annual picnics at the local park.




Almost every year, we go to enjoy watching outdoor concerts and fireworks on July 4th. We take a cooler full of refreshing food, and I have been so inspired by some of my finds on Pinterest that I may just go over board this year.

You just have to love these ideas!







I have some many memories of sparklers, streamers and laughter leading up to the firework for the 4th of July. It is one of my favorite memories as a children that surrounds a holiday. My dad served in the military, as did all of his brothers and his father. Patriotic holidays were important in our family, and I have made it important in my own family, as well.

Glowsticks and Glow wands seem to be as popular today. I love that they help to keep your kids lit up when it grows dark.

Enjoy parades, concerts and fireworks, if they have them going on in your area.

My last recommendation is something that I hope you will do all year long with your family. If you come across a veteran (they often wear hats to share their service) or a solider in uniform, take a moment and thank them for their service to our country.

The recognition isn't something that they expect but when you do it, it brings pure joy to their eyes like you wouldn't expect to see. The one act of kindness can impact a veteran or current soliders life in a way that you don't even understand.

How to Tire Out a Toddler

Parents everywhere want to know how to tire out a toddler. If you have a toddler in your home, you can attest to their boundless energy, and endless excitement for life. Some of the ideas that I share in my popular post 10 Indoor Activities That Tire Kids Out may be beneficial to you as well, but when it comes to toddlers, I have a few more things that work wonderfully.

How to Tire Out a Toddler |

How to Tire Out a Toddler

The toddler stage is one of my favorite stages because it seems like their brains are on fire and learning so much every day. It is also because of this stage that I think toddlers can really wear out their parents, or care givers.

Getting Fresh Air

Getting out in the fresh air always induces sleep for myself and my children. Spending at least an hour outside a day, especially before nap time or bed time will help to encourage your toddler to get their energy out and breathe fresh airs.

There is something about fresh air that can really make a person feel relaxed and still energized. I don’t have any scientific reasons why, but a trip to the park or on the swing in the back yard has always been a wonderful way to tire out a toddler in our house.

Some of the other fun activities I have done with my toddlers outside have been:

  • bouncing or kicking a ball
  • blowing bubbles
  • riding a toy bike
  • going for a walk
  • learning to hop or skip
  • playing tag
  • chasing the dog
  • hop scotch


Most kids get plenty of exercise, especially if they are doing any of the things outside that I just listed. However, I have found that my toddlers love to do exercise videos with me. They only make it through about 5 minutes, but to their little bodies that is a lot.

Other forms of exercise that will tire out a toddler is jumping jacks, head and shoulders, wind mills, running in circles around the house, and climbing the stairs.

We have always allowed activities in our house that some parents don’t allow, but as our children get older we tend lessen the activities or send them outside to get their energy out.


When our oldest was a toddler, she hated to do naps and bedtime. I don’t think we would have survived her toddler years without the aid of music.

Depending on the music, it can aid your child to relax, and begin to settle down in order for sleep to come to them. They may sing for a while before falling asleep, but I would allow it for a time because it does help them relax.

This has been our experience with our daughter and on of our sons. In fact, my daughter still uses music in her adulthood to go to sleep if she isn’t able to fall asleep on her own.

Reading to Them

I read to my younger two before nap time, while I was weaning them and it was such a precious time for them and me. It often allowed my cuddles to relax them, while listening to my rhythmic voice reading softly to them.

Our favorite book is the Big Book for Babies, and is perfect for the toddler age. The pictures are adorable, and the poetry is short. It is obvious it has been a favorite book during that age, because it is falling apart on us.


It was hard for me to believe just how relaxing bath time could be for a toddler, until I tried it myself. Once I got our children out of the tub, and dressed for bed, you could always see a change in their behavior and a shift in their attitude.

Moms know the power of a relaxing bath, but don’t forget it works on toddlers, too!

I have been known to have music playing in a tub to aid in relaxing, so don’t forget to try this if you toddler needs to use several of these ideas.

Lavender Oil

I love lavender oil so much to help me fall asleep. I need it myself, as a sleeping aid, but it is powerful on toddlers, too. My favorite lavender oil is Counting Sheep roll on oil for kids. It is easy to apply, and really helps a restless toddler to fall asleep easier.

This is an oil that I don’t like to run out of… EVER!

As difficult as the toddler stage is on parents, I can’t stress enough how fast this time goes. I really encourage these steps to how to tire out a toddler because it engages the parents with the child, and promotes a calming environment for them to thrive in while learning healthy habits of sleep.

You may also enjoy my post, 10 Indoor Activities that Keep Kids Quiet

10 Indoor Activities that Keep Kids Quiet |

What To Pack for a Cruise

Now that your vacation is booked, you might be wondering what to pack for a cruise. It has been a learning curve for me, as I overpacked the first cruise, and now tend to pack more along the lines of a minimalist on our cruises. Depending on your purpose, and goal for your cruise, you may be surprised by what you need, and don’t need to pack. If this is your first cruise, you may learn a lot from my cruise guide.

What to Pack for a Cruise - Don’t overpack, but pack with purpose for a great vacation. |

What to Pack For a Cruise

Each cruise we have taken has had its own purpose, and the packing changed based on that purpose. You will find that to be the same for your cruise, or maybe cruises if you get hooked on them like we have.

Our first cruise had more packed then we really needed, but it also had formal clothing for the elegant dining that happens a few nights on a 7 days cruise.

When we took our children on a family cruise, we packed for two formal nights with them, but we only ended up doing that once. You will want to read my Cruising With Kids tips if you plan on taking your whole family.

I’m going to cover the basic things you will want to be sure you pack, regardless of your cruising purpose, and then highlight key things you will want to consider based on your other needs.

Basic Cruising Needs

Let’s face it, we take cruises for the relaxing and for the water.

I recommend packing one bathing suit for every two days. So far a 7 day cruise, we pack 3 suits per person. For women, I would recommend one cover for the ship, and one cover up dress for things off the ship. For men, I would recommend, having the same number of swim shirts as you pack trunks.

I also recommend two sandals. One for the ship and a more comfortable pair that you still get wet, but won’t bother your feet with walking.

Don’t forget a sun hat, sun glasses, sun screen and bug spray, as some areas have issues with health concerns based on insects in that area.

You will want to have cooler clothes for eating areas, entertainment and down time that doesn’t include water activities. I have found that 3 capris (or shorts), 5-7 shirts (blouses), 1 pants, and 1 sweater has been perfect for a 7 day cruise.

If you are planning on formal dining, you will need to pack for those nights as well. Women can pack really formal attire, shoes and accessories, or just a simple summer dress for each night. Men can pack one suit, shoes and two ties to change the look up.

Formal nights are part of your fair, but are optional to attend. Depending on your purpose for the cruise, you may decide to forfeit those nights and just order in your room or eat at the buffet in casual clothing. That is what my husband and I have decided for our upcoming cruise. Our purpose is to relax, and just enjoy each other!

Of course, you will need to pack your personal items, undergarments, and your PJs.

If you are doing excursions, you may want to read a little about the ship and excursions you plan on doing before packing. Some require close toes shoes, pants, long sleeve, or water shoes.

Lastly, you will want to carry plenty of cash to pay tips for your taxi drivers, any excursions you do, or purchases along the way. We ran out of cash quickly on our first cruise, so don’t do that unless you plan on taking your debit card. If you do, you may get charged more surcharges than you would like to pay. Most places will take credit cards, but you will want to notify your credit card company that you are traveling, and where, so they don’t block the charges.

Optional Items to Pack

My husband and I absolutely love to snorkel. When we decided to take our children on a family cruise, we decided that our Christmas presents would be their own snorkel sets, color coordinated for each of us to tell whose is whose.

We purchased a child’s snorkel set for our youngest, along with a snorkel vest to keep him safe. Depending on your level of swimming skill, you may want to invest in an adult snorkel vest.

This purchase saves a lot of money on excursions when we ported to the different islands. It was a huge success.

Now, we have our own snorkel sets, so we pack them for all our cruises, saving us so much money when we cruise because we only pay for taxi rides to the best snorkeling islands.

A splurge to bring a waterproof camera to capture your underwater favorites is something that I highly recommend.

I would recommend packing a deck of cards, or a small game that you can play together in your down time, or even a book. Some ships have a game room, so check to see if this is an option before packing too many games.

Internet service isn’t complimentary, and can be a big expense. I recommend having your phone full of some good music, and pack your phone charger, and ear buds so you can block out any noise while laying in the sun or pool side.

We like to bring a good water bottle with us, so we can fill up at the water stations, and stay hydrated. There are beverage packages you can get, but we tend to only drink water.

There is juice also available at stations, so unless you need soda or other beverages during your cruise, the beverage package isn’t necessary.

If you are flying, be sure you don’t have water in the bottle before going through security. They will make you dump the water out, and that would require going to the restroom and back through the lines. You can fill it up once you are through security.

You will be able to take the water bottle filled on and off the ship without any problems.

If you have a hard time going without your favorite chocolate, it is best to bring some with you. Ask me how I thought of this tip! You have no idea how much M&Ms can cost on the ship, or on an island.

I also recommend bringing an easy bag that will hold your towel (ships allow you to carry their towels off ship, but you must return them or you will be charged), sun screen, wallet, etc, when walking around the ship and while ported. You might even want to pack some sandwich bags to take a few snacks off the ship to help you when you get hungry!

Things You Shouldn’t Pack

Before our first cruise, I found some tips for what to pack for a cruise. They suggested bringing your own bottles of water, like Deer Park or the like, or your own soda.

This was such a frustration because you can’t have it checked with your luggage to go to your room. Thankfully, we were able to ask customer service to hold it for us, but that was after we carried it around the ship for a few hours. We regretted that quickly!

We found that just having a water bottle that we can fill was the best thing to staying hydrated.

Metal cases.

Yes, metal cases. Our son packed his poker case, and we had issues going through security because it looked like a gun case. Thankfully, they were kind to him but that could have turned out causing more harm to our schedule then we would have liked.

I hope you find this helpful, and aids you in having a wonderful cruise.

Don’t go on a cruise with reading my Complete Cruise Guide first, because you don’t want to make the same mistakes we did when we went on our first of many.

The Complete Cruise Guide All You Need to Know for the Best Vacation |



Cruising With Kids

Cruising with kids can be one of your best vacations. At least that has been our experience, and I would love to share with you just how we took advantaged of a wonderful opportunity with our family.

Cruising With Kids - Tips to make your vacation amazing. |

Cruising With Kids

Most people think Disney when they think about cruising with kids, but our family went on Royal Caribbean Allure of the Sea and had the time of our life.

In fact, while snorkeling, we talked with a family on a Disney cruise, and we were comparing things to do on each of the ships. The family on the Disney cruise were really disappointed, and we were thrilled with our choice. I share some tips in my cruise guide that may help when planning a cruise.

Royal Caribbean are affiliated with Dreamworks, so they have character opportunities just like Disney but so many things to do while cruising that out ways the options on the most popular Disney cruises.

Once you choose the ship that fits your family best, these additional tips will help you make your vacation filled with memories and absolutely wonderful.

Pack Toys for Kids

Pack a child’s bag of toys that can be used in the kiddie pool, sand and in dry play. Your kids can use them the entire vacation, but in different ways.

Be sure to pack a watering can that they can play with, but you can also use to do their bathing with, since there is no bathtub in the cabins.

Unless your child is use to showers, this can be difficult to get them clean. Using a child friendly watering can will help in so many ways that you will want to be sure to pack it!

Plan On Using the Buffets

When our family when on our cruise, we planned on eating formally twice during that week, and enjoying the formal dinning room each night.

That quickly changed, when our dinner time was scheduled past our son’s normal bed time and dinner from start to finish took two hours.

It was the buffet for every meal from that one forward and we couldn’t have been happier, and neither were our children.

Pack Snacks for Kids

Yes, food is endless on a cruise, but unless you want to be walking the ship the entire day, I highly recommend that you bring some sandwich bags, and pack a snack for between meals or when you are at the pool side. Having their own cups would be really smart too, because little ones get thirsty often.

If you kids are picky eaters, and have a favorite snack I would recommend packing some of their favorites in your luggage, to help your child adjust to a different schedule by having familiar things at hand.

Pack Favorite Blanket for Kids

You will love to enjoy the pool side, entertainment or just sitting looking out over the ocean while your little one catches a nap, instead of in your small cabin. Taking their favorite blanket with you in a bag will help you to just enjoy the day without having to go back to your cabin and miss out on the fun.

I love to use essential oils whenever I can, so I love packing Counting Sleep, roll on oil for kids to help them relax and catch some rest when they need it most.

Plan As You Go

Excursions are expensive, and depending on the ages of your kids, you may find that they provide more stress than you really want on a vacation.

When we cruised with our children, we purchased each of us our own color coordinated snorkeling set, and snorkeling vest for a Christmas gift before we went on our cruise. This allowed us to just enjoy free beaches, or take a taxi to a nearby beach without the cost or stress of excursions.

Often times, we waited until we got to a port and asked the local people for the best snorkeling beaches for families. We were always given great advice and just went with the flow.

Put Away Your Regular Rules

Parents always have rules for their kids. Don’t eat this, go to bed at this time, limited sugar, etc. Unless there is a health reason why you need these rules, I encourage you to throw them overboard, and just take in the full experience.

There are so many opportunities on board, and off shore that you don’t want to miss. Your kids will fall asleep when they are tired. Trust me!

Stay up late, and eat the things you normally wouldn’t eat. That is what vacations are about!

There is always time to catch up from sleep and get back to regular routines when the vacation comes to an end.

Put Your Kids in the Kid’s Program

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is so true!  NOTE: I’m not speaking about the teen programs because we didn’t do these, but the free programs available for younger kids.

I was so nervous to even try to do this, but I also wanted to do something fun with my older kids, so I gave it a try.

I let them know that I was nervous, and that he had never done anything like this before and I wasn’t sure how he would do be separated from us with perfect strangers. They gave me a cell phone so if he needed me, I could be called and get to him right away.

My little guy loved it, and still talks about it a year later!

They have adventure times every day, several times a day, and you can take advantage of these anytime you want for free.

This time away for 2 hours allowed our son to really have age appropriate fun, while I was able to enjoy my older children, and even my husband.

Oh, and it also provided me with a lot of exercise since I went from one end of the ship to the other during his two hour visits.

Plan Cruising With Kids Right Away

Yes, cruises are expensive but if you watch for deals, you can get up to 30-60% off a person. When you consider that the cost includes room, board and entertainment it becomes one of the cheapest ways to travel with your children.

Consider making this a Christmas gift for your family (I don’t recommend going during Christmas because it is packed, and not so much fun) instead of adding more toys to their overflowing rooms. Ask grandparents, and other family members to give cash for gifts toward the cruise, verses giving gifts.

Raise the money together as a family, but doing a yard sale together.

Where there is a will, there is a way!

Don’t overpack for a cruise, especially when you are cruising with kids! Learn what is important to pack for your cruise, and enjoy it better.

What to Pack for a Cruise - Don’t overpack, but pack with purpose for a great vacation. |

7 Ways to Help Those Battling Cancer

Do you know someone battling cancer? It seems that at the rate cancer is growing, we all should know at least one or more people who are fighting cancer head on. I know my dad is at the moment, and it can be a really difficult time for a family to go through.

7 Ways to Help Those Battling Cancer - Key things can really help those fighting cancer. |

7 Ways to Help Those Battling Cancer

I’m 400 miles away from my dad as he is battling cancer, and that has proven to be a difficult thing for me to go through emotionally. I’m part of a local church who have been lifting my family up in prayer during this time, and from time to time I get asked how they can help beyond prayers.

At first, I was unsure of how to answer them because they are so far away from us, and the first things that came to mind weren’t easy to accomplished.

Personally, I was asking myself the same question…

“How can I help beyond prayers, for my own parents, when I just couldn’t be there physically.”


Meals are always the first thing that comes to my mind because people have to eat. My siblings that live close to my parents alternate bringing meals to them. I couldn’t quite do that being so far away. I decided that I was going to make 12 freezer meals for them, and take it to them when we visited.

They are loving the soups and stews that I made with the help of some loving friends.

In addition to these meals, I made them some banana bread and ginger snaps. I put them in sandwich bags, and then placed them  in the freezer bags, so they could take a little out at a time.

Another great idea is sending gift cards to some of their favorite restaurants that deliver, grocery stores and even gas cards, since doctor appointments are happening all the time.

Encouraging Cards

I’m so thankful that the idea of sending encouraging cards came to my mind, when friends wanted to do more than just pray for my parents.

My parents have been loving getting unexpected encouraging cards in the mail from just those that are praying for them. My mom has them hung up on her wall and reads them often.

They received one card from a dear friend, on one of the hardest days that my dad had been in the hospital. My mom was just having an emotional day, when she opened the card. It made her cry even more, but it was more of release knowing that so many were praying for them.

They love the cards, and I know others would as well!

Visits or Calls

When people are diagnosed with cancer, they often think about their life and what they want to change in it. One of those main things is spending more time with those they love.

For my parents, this was no different!

They wanted their children to visit more often, but not all together, since the noise can challenge my dad’s patience when he isn’t feeling well.

During his recent period of being in the hospital, his dear friend was admitted in the hospital as well, and it wasn’t looking good. They were both battling cancer, but in two different hospitals. Neither was up to visiting the others, and their thoughts were consumed with each other.

After they were both home from their hospital stay, my mom thought about a phone call. It brightened my dad’s day, and these two friends for nearly 50 years, chatted on the phone.

It was true medicine to both of them!

My parents also enjoy video chats with my family from time to time. It helps seeing their faces, and not just hearing their voices.

Cleaning Their House

Cancer patients have to give their energy to treatment and healing. The family members are their care takers during this time, and that includes doctor appointments, and errands of all kinds.

As you can imagine, house chores take a back seat and can be easily overwhelming to a care taker.

Offering to come once a week to clean the bathroom, vacuum, do laundry, or even do some errands, could lighten a heavy load for a family needing it so much.


Journaling is a positive way to deal with the emotions of fighting cancer. Providing journals for not only the patient but their primary health care giver in the family, can give them a way to deal with the emotions of the battle.

This is why I created my 31 Days of Journaling Through Cancer for my parents, and my siblings. I wanted to help them, and myself, journal through the emotions and thoughts that we were facing each day.

Most people don’t know how to journal, but it is as simple as taking a pen in hand, and writing what comes to mind.

Treat Them Normal

Cancer patients may not feel up to the normal things of life, but you should always give them the freedom to be normal, and do their normal things.

It can be hard to know when to step in and offer help, but I have found that offering to help if needed was always better than just assuming my dad wasn’t able to do something himself.

Cancer robs so much from a person, and they often have to face the trials of losing their hair, mobility, and caring for themselves in the smallest of tasks.

The best thing we can do for them is helping them when we see that they try and aren’t able, or to offer your service if you see it becoming difficult.

Keep your conversations similar to pre-cancer diagnosis. They don’t want to talk only about their cancer and how they are feeling. This is what fills their mind every waking hour.

Instead talk about their interests, current events and future plans. Yes, future plans! Give them the joy of dreaming and setting goals.

Do a Project

Those battling cancer don’t have the energy to do a normal project, but they need to occupy their mind when they are resting and regaining their strength.

My parents love puzzles. My dad hasn’t been able to do them much since being sick, but he has enjoy playing games on his iPod.

Keeping their mind engaged and feeling a part of something is so important to their mental health.

If there is a bigger project that needs to be done, but they aren’t able to help, be sure to let them be involved in the planning of the project, especially if it is something that they would have been able to do on their own prior to fighting cancer.

They really need to feel that they have a place in their life that they still belong.

If you can think of another way to help those battling cancer, I would love to hear from you.

Here's a free download that can help you, or a loved one, stay positive during cancer.

Staying Positive During Cancer | Joy in the Home


Journaling Through Cancer

Journaling through cancer has been shown to do a lot of good for patients and loved ones. I know that I have used journaling to grieve the lost of 5 pregnancies and turned to it when my dad was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, and with direr outcomes expected. There is power in the written word, especially when releasing it from the emotions of things out of your control.

Journaling Through Cancer - Proven to help the mental part of this difficult journey. Learn more about how to do it for a positive outlook. |

Journaling Through Cancer

My dad has been sick for quite some time, but when he was first diagnosed with a tumor in his lung, it shook us as a family. Fear griped our minds, as we braced for the unknown that lied ahead.

I remember the joy we all felt the day he rang his chemo bell to symbolize his end of chemo. He still had a few more radiation treatments to go, but the end was in sight.

Over the new few months, we got word that his tumor had shrunk a great deal, and my dad was still doing what he could do to stay health, and celebrate the new health he was feeling.

Our family enjoyed him oxygen free over the summer, and loved seeing him laughing and enjoying life again.

However, that all seemed to change quickly, when my dad started to feel poorly again. He began to retreat to wearing oxygen again for most of the day. Before we knew it, he was back in the hospital and needing some more testing.

That is when we got the news.

His cancer is back and bigger than ever.

His tumor was now the size of tennis ball.

A tennis ball in the lung!

I couldn’t look at anything round without thinking about it in my lung. An orange, an apple, my dog’s ball all became this tumor in my mind.

I couldn’t wait to go visit my dad in New York for Thanksgiving. Our oldest son wasn’t able to go with us due to his work schedule, so it made the trip harder knowing that for the first time I was being separated from one of my own children on an important holiday.

On the trip there, I got a call from my mom telling me that my dad was in the hospital again.

The next morning, I went to visit him right before attending my uncle’s funeral on my mom’s side. It was a hard day for our family to say the least. My uncle had died of lung cancer, so as you can imagine, we were all taking it very hard.

It was then that we found out that my dad had to have a procedure to remove 1.5 liters of fluid off his lung. Think about nearly a 2 liter bottle of soda pressing on your lung.

Thankfully, he was able to enjoy Thanksgiving at home and around family.

However, the news came at the beginning of December that we all weren’t prepared to hear.

That fluid was malignant.

The cancer was spreading and quickly.

Just a few weeks before Christmas, my dad had another 1.5 liters of fluid removed and a tube put in to help drain any additional fluid that would produce itself down the road.

I was emotionally a mess. I couldn’t get out of bed at the time since I was running a high fever and sick, myself. It added to the spiral effect that I was experiencing.

It was then that I knew that I needed to journal.

I needed to write my feelings and thoughts out for my own therapy. I needed scriptures and healing quotes to fill my mind with positive thoughts, and to ponder the things that I was thankful for, even on the hardest of days when all seemed gloomy.

It was then that I realized that I was creating my cancer journal that I had wanted to create when that first diagnosis came. I started pouring my energy and focus into creating this just in time to get it to my parents and siblings for Christmas.

I was giving the gift of hope for Christmas.

My daughter was busy helping with the design and getting it submitted to Amazon for print.

The joy I saw on my parent’s face when I gave them their own 31 Days of Journaling Through Cancer was priceless. I turned the pages to some of my favorite verses and quotes that fueled me through my tears and emotions.

It was so nice to be able to all come together on Christmas, and smile through the trial while having talks of positivity and ‘we are going to beat this supporting each other like we never have before’. 

31 Days of Journaling Through Cancer

In my journal there are 31 days, with each day has a powerful verse and a quote about health or healing. Then on the two pages for each day, there is space for the key elements of journaling through cancer:

  • Positive reflection – Positivity is key to healing and the fight against cancer is no different. Dwelling on anything positive is so important and necessary.
  • Negative release – We all have negative thoughts, and until we release them in writing our mind continues to deal with these thoughts. Write them down and forget them!
  • Words of encouragement – We all need each other, and encouragement is often overlooked while battling cancer. In my journal, you have space to capture the encouragement, big or small, from others or even encouragement that you find on your own.
  • I’m thankful for – There is so much to find in the fight against cancer that can take your joy away, but also the heart of thankfulness. Making it a daily habit to find at least one thing to be thankful for is a way to battle cancer with the mind, and never giving up.

A few days after Christmas when my family left New York, my mom told me that she has been using my journal. She told her it makes her cry a lot, but it is really helping her walk through her feelings and find a positive mindset to face the day ahead.

My gift of hope keeps on giving, because those words were my words of encouragement that day.

My dad is about to start his second round of chemo, and I’m looking forward to hearing that bell ring a second time.

If you are facing the hardest fight of your life, or that of a love ones, I want to share the gift of hope with you as well. You can journal the four parts that I shared in this post, but if you are like me and feed off positive words of scripture and quotes of health and healing, then I encourage you to get your 31 Days of Journaling Through Cancer, and use your mind to fight against cancer today.

Here's a free download that can help you, or a loved one, stay positive during cancer.

Staying Positive During Cancer | Joy in the Home


You may find this post helpful in your journey to battling cancer, as well.

31 Bible Verses for Families Affected by Cancer |


Essential Oils for the Cold Season

Cold Season is always lurking, but there are ways to help keep it at bay, and to fight it before it gets out of control. For our family, we like to use essentials oils to combat the common cold, while building our immune system. Our favorite essential oils brand is Rocky Mountain Oils that provide many ready to use oils that include carrier oils and a new safe for kid’s line. (My adult daughter LOVES this line and uses them all of the time.)

You even get free shipping, and can buy one oil at a time.

Essential Oils for the Cold Season - Fight the common cold, strengthen your immune system with essential oils. |

Essential Oils for the Cold Season

We love the simplicity and ease of essential oils for the care of our family. When I first started using essential oils, it was in the early 2000s. I started with just two or three oils that we used all the time. As I learned more about different ones, and how they worked, I was adding them into our home ‘medicine bag’ that goes on trips with us.

I would love to share some of my favorites with you, but I would like to pass along some important information that took me years to learn and understand.

Essential oils need to have a carrier oil mixed with them to allow your skin to absorb them properly.

In times past, I would just rub the oils into my skin. I actually loved the feeling of some of the oils without the carrier. However, I learned that the carrier oil serves the purpose of helping your skin to absorb them prior to the air absorbing them.

In addition to this fact, it helps the oils to go deeper and last longer, while using less oils which saves you a lot of money over time. Now, I can’t add oils without a carrier!

I currently use fractioned coconut oil, and love it, but I will be trying some of the new carries that Rocky Mountain oils launched.

Rocky Mountain Oil Carriers |

Common Cold

Here is a list of oils to use for the common cold.

Strengthen Immune System

Oils to use for the immune system

Overall Health

Oils that encourage good sleep patterns, and other things that contribute to good health.

Learn more about how to use essential oils.

7 Ways to Spread the Christmas Spirit

Christmas spirit. We heard this term often, but do we really stop to consider what it looks like or feels like? I know that for most people, the Christmas season is spent with shopping lists, purchases, parties, wrapping and longing for the season to pass to get back to a normalcy to live.

Several years ago, our family took a step back and evaluated the Christmas season and what it looked like to our family. It was during that time that we replaced our tree with a manger. It seemed like a perfect solution for our young family to keep the reason of the season in front of us, as we made some transitions.

7 Ways to Spread the Christmas Spirit - Want to help your family ponder the reason for the season? These ways will help you do just that! |

7 Ways to Spread the Christmas Spirit

I don’t know many people who don’t love Christmas. In fact, I know quite a few that get so excited about decorations, lights, baking, gift giving and more long before the weather even really changes.

As a Christian, I love to see people getting excited about the season that is related to the birth of our Savior, but many times He is forgotten in the celebrations.

It is a family focus of ours to do what we can do to help spread the Christmas spirit, you know the reason of the season, to those that are within our path to reach.

If you are like our family, and you desire to really make the most of this season to bring joy into other’s lives, you will love these family fun ideas to spread the Christmas spirit each holiday.

Give Baked Goods to Your Neighbors

As long as I can remember, making baked goods for others is a part of my history. When we bought our first home, I was eager to pass on this tradition with our own neighbors and share some of the goodness of the season with those that often times can be strangers.

It is simple to do.

Just purchase some heavy duty red plastic plates and plastic wrap, and added a few types of baked goods to each plate for the number of houses that you want to bless. Add a little note to each, and deliver it. There is no need for them to return any dishes!

Go Christmas Caroling

I remember Christmas caroling when I was a teenager. I loved it!

A few years ago, my family church went caroling in our neighbor. We delivered baked goods at the same time, along with an invite to join us for church.

We actually have good friends because of it!

I remember one family actually said, “I didn’t realize people actually do this!” Then they tipped up. We just added it to the church funds.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Our daughter cooks for the homeless once a month, and loves it. There are always opportunities to volunteer within your community. Seek out a church that does outreach opportunities and ask for referrals for places you, too, can serve.

Donate Toys, Food or Clothes to the Needy

Donating is a wonderful way to spread the Christmas spirit. There are a lot of ministries that do this thing, but if you know of someone personally, why not just purchase them somethings and drop it off on their porch in a box, without a note.

We did this before, and it was one of the best things we did as a family.

Visit an Elderly Person Your Family Knows

We are blessed to be in a church that has many older people in the congregation.

Our culture is so busy for them, and they love how much we enjoy to just sit and visit with them. Hearing stories of their childhood, and hardships are the highlight of our time together.

You may be surprised just how much spirit this one thing can give to you, and to them!

Invite Your Friends, Family and Neighbors to Church

I’m often convicted that I don’t enough to spread His joy to others. Christmas is the perfect time to invite others to church, because it is the one time of the year where Christ gets some thought. The season alone often softens the hardest of hearts.

Did you know that most people who don’t attend church would be open to attending but they often don’t know where to go, or feel welcomed?

You can make a big difference with an invite!

Acknowledge Those that Keep Christ in Christmas

Our family enjoys a Nativity Scavenger Hunt each year (I share the printable for free). A reader emailed me and told me that they have a tradition of acknowledging those who keep Christ in Christmas by displaying a manger, or nativity scene. She was sweet enough to let me share this idea with you.

I created a free printable for you to carry on this wonderful tradition with your own family! Get yours here: Christ In Christmas!

In the end, it is people who carry the Christmas spirit and it is our responsibility to demonstrate the love, joy and peace that makes this season so special.

The more we do for others, the more His light will shine during this season and the rest of the year.


A Book List for a Meaningful Christmas

I love taking the month of December as a way to read to my children and have a meaningful Christmas, inspired by stories perfect for this time of the year. This has been a tradition for our homeschooling for over 15 years and one that I look forward to with excitement. I have so many memories of finding picture books that I thought were going to be just good reads with beautiful illustrations, to only find me crying as I read them to my children. This is what keeps me coming back to reading Christmas books each year.

A Book List for a Meaningful Christmas |

A Book List for a Meaningful Christmas

Christmas Tapestry is a story about how a tapestry that was used to cover the damage left behind from a leaking roof, lead an old Jewish woman to recognize the importance of this tapestry.

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story is about a boy who hope and waits year after year for a desired package from a train that delivers gifts to children. This book brings the true story of Christmas to the reader.

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale is a warm book that is full of beautiful illustrations of what it could have been like the night Jesus was born.

Jacob's Gift is a cherished book of mine, as it shares the truth about giving our best in what we do for others.

The First Christmas Night is a book with beautiful illustrations of telling the story of the birth of Jesus.

This Is the Stable is a fun book that shares the story of the Nativity in lyrical verses.

Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent is a book full of suspense and adventure, as it leads you through the Advent season and ends in the same town that the Messiah is born.

Bartholomew's Passage: A Family Story for Advent is a story that is spun off from Jotham's Journey and one that will have you just as captive, as it guides you through the Advent celebration.

Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent is the third book in this set and true to the adventure and suspense as the other two, as their stories are spun together. This too will guide you through the Advent season.

Legend of the Christmas Stocking is a book that will share the legend of how the Christmas stocking tradition started and will bring giving from the heart a focus.

The Legend of the Candy Cane is a wonderful story about the beginning of the candy cane. This story will make one of the most popular Christmas candies one of your favorites.


The Crippled Lamb is a wonderful book about acknowledging God's purpose for all of us and that things that make us different from others can be used for His purpose.

The Christmas Star is a simple book that tells of the star that lead the Wise Men to worship the Messiah.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is an inspiring story that brings a broken and lonely man to a place of enjoying Christmas again, as he carves a special nativity scene for a mother and her son.

J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told is the story of the candy cane and how it represents our gift in Jesus.

Lucy's Christmas is a book set in the turn of the 20th Century, when Christmas was a simple holiday of giving homemade gifts and traditions that most children do not have personal experiences with and family was the focus.

AN Orange for Frankie is a story that will have you reaching for tissues.  This true story is one that I think about each Christmas season, as its story of giving is played out through the book. I love it so much that I wrote about it at the Homeschool Village and created a printable for your family to be like Frankie! (Don't miss the opportunity to get the free ebook, by subscribing to their blog)

Desire a Christ focused Christmas? These resource will help you create it with hands-on activities focusing on Christ!

Truth in the Tinsel ebook

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt

I love nativity scenes. I own three already, and I’m always looking for one to add to our yard.  Our family loves going to look at Christmas lights together, as I'm sure most families do! Over the many years of this tradition, we have noticed how nativity scene are harder to find, and more Santa Claus and Disney things are making their way into decorations.

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt |

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt

We started to make it about a game to see who could spot a nativity scene, or baby Jesus first. The kids really were enjoying the hunt we embarked on every Christmas season.

In the attempt to saturate our family with a Christ Centered Christmas, I have created a Family Nativity Scavanger Hunt for us to do together, while keeping that excitement to ‘seek Jesus like the Wise men did long, long ago’.

Get your Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt.

You can print one per family or one per person.

You may want to take a clip board or hard books to use as a hard surface. And don't forget a pencil or pen to mark off your finds.  You may just be surprised how much of a hunt this turns out to be.

Your children may love to dress up as ‘wise men', as they go out looking for the nativity.

To add to our family tradition, we like to bringing some hot cocoa and snacks, with Christmas music playing in the vehicle!

I hope your family will enjoy the hunt as much as we will.

Do you want more Christ centered activities? These resources will help you do just that!


Truth in the Tinsel ebook

Communication In Marriage

Like most couples, when Harold and I started dating and moved into our engagement, we hung on each other’s words. We genuinely desired to hear what the other said and the thoughts of the one we were growing to love. Fast-forward a few years into our marriage and you will find the communication in marriage already breaking up.

Communication in Marriage - The Key to Staying Connected |

As a Christian couple living this natural decline in communication in marriage, we decide to work together to reach the communication that reflects our love for each other, while attempting to demonstrate the Biblical descriptions of a marriage. To do so, as a couple, we decided to answer the following questions in our own words.

This is a great exercise to do for your own marriage, so you can stay connected and keep communication in marriage your focus and goal.

Communication in Marriage – The Key to Staying Connected

Why is communication important to you?

  • Harold – “Without communication there is no way to know what is wrong, what needs to be fixed, and what it is that is working.  It also allows a couple to know each other better, by understanding what makes them the person that they are, thus allowing the spouse to know how to best support or compliment him or her.
  • Dollie – “Communication is the foundation of a relationship, one on which true understanding and shared beliefs can grow. When communication is properly working, there is a natural connection that allows two people to feel exposed on one side and completely safe on the other.”

What makes you feel listened to?

  • Harold – “When one listens to you, they do what it is that was said.  (I’m still working on conquering this)
  • Dollie – “I feel listened to the most when there is eye contact and responding to the conversation with more than a ‘sound’ of acknowledgement.

How can you do better in communicating with your spouse?

  • Harold – “I need to sit down with my wife, undistracted by anything else around me with paper and pen in hand, to write down things that need to be addressed. Otherwise, I have a track record to forget most everything that was talked about.
  • Dollie – “I have a lot of things that I desire to discuss with my husband, as the head of our home. Our busy schedule and desire to keep our evenings about our family, as well as needing ‘down time’ from the stress of the day, has proved that long conversations need to happen on weekends or on dates. Journaling those things that aren’t time pressing, has helped keep the necessary communication opened.”

When is the best time to communicate?

  • Harold – “It depends, but I find once I can step away from work for a half hour or so I can eliminate work from my mind and focus better on what is being said and thus communicate better.”
  • Dollie – ”Being a woman, I can communicate most anytime of the day.  Realizing this, I need to consider the optimal time for my husband to give me his full attention. Unless it is a pressing matter, I can wait until his attention is there.

What changes are you willing to do to protect and grow the communication within your marriage?

  • Harold – “Make sure, even if it is for a half hour, to set aside time each day, most likely early evening,  to talk about our day, our future plans and goals.
  • Dollie – “Not giving my husband ‘information overload’ and prioritize the subjects that needs his timely input within the functions of our family and home. When we have time while driving or at the table, I can chose the items that are less pressing but good things for him to know about the daily parts of our lives.”

In the end, communication is crucial to a relationship and to start rebuilding what may have been lost or protecting what still works.