Why We Use Essential Oils

A lot of people have asked over the years about essential oils and where to get them. It’s one of those things that can be difficult to source in Guatemala, or so I thought until I found out that doTERRA has a warehouse here! I recently signed up with them to be a consultant, but my main reason for this was to get cheaper oils.

I’ve always liked using herbs and natural remedies, like basil tea for amoebas and hot lemonade with honey for a sore throat, so essential oils were the next logical step. Even so, I wasn’t sure how well they’d work for us, but it seemed like a good idea to try.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the results. I’ve written the biggest story out under the Essential Oils tab at the top of the page. Dorian has has some seriously impressive results with doTERRA’s DigestZen. But we’ve been using other blends and oils, too.


I had heard that this stuff was good for relaxing, but when I put it in the boys’ room, they started to sleep 1-2 hours longer than usual, which is amazing. Dorian sleeps very little and so having him crash for an extra hour is pretty surprising. I found we got even better results when I rubbed a drop on the bottoms of their feet before bed.

We also put lavender on bumps and cuts and bruises. It seems to help them heal faster and is great for relieving the discomfort of bug bites. Dante recently had some issues with bug bites and I diligently applied the oil to see if it might help. It most definitely did. The itch relief was immediate and the healing was considerably faster than usual.


This is a blend that is specific to doTERRA and it is SO good. You can use it in place of Vick’s Vaporub, which is what we did. I’ve been avoiding internal use of oils until I have a better understanding of them, but Breathe is also used internally by some. This stuff stopped the boys from coughing all night long and it helped with my coughing, too.

Deep Blue

I got a sample bottle of this stuff and it said it was good for rubbing on sore muscles. I wasn’t sure if it should be diluted, so I added a couple of drops to some olive oil and then gave Irving a massage to help work out the knot he had in his shoulder. He had a procession the next day and texted me to tell me that he felt amazing and the pain he’d had for days was gone. He is even more of a believer than I am.

Other oils I’ve used include oregano and DigestZen for my upset stomach (nausea disappeared within seconds), and Frankincense, which drives me crazy because I dislike the smell, but it is really good on cuts.

If you’re interested in buying oils retail, you can help me out by buying from my site here. Your price doesn’t change, but I get a percentage. However, I’m also looking to build my team of consultants, so if you’re interested in getting a 25% discount, you can sign up under me. There’s no obligation to sell, no monthly minimum for orders, but if you end up recommending them to other people, you can also turn it into a business opportunity.

I won’t get all preachy about this, but I’m definitely going to be recommending essential oils more often and would love to have some of my readers join my team, so I’m offering a little incentive. When you sign up with me and get an enrollment kit, you’ll get $25 in free oils. Just let me know which oils you want when you sign up. You can contact me through the contact form on the blog.

Do you have any experiences with essential oils?

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 88

Well, it’s been a long while since I’ve done one of these, so I figured it was high time. Enjoy!

Dominic: “Mama! The wind is splashing me!”
Me: “It’s almost Christmas!”
Dominic: “Oh yeah! With Santa.”
Me: “You think Santa is coming?” (we don’t do Santa in our house)
Dominic: “No. We don’t have the right furniture.” (fireplace)
Dante: “Hey, can I have a nose-picker, please?”
Me: “A what?”
Dante: “For putting glue on my crafts. I don’t know what it’s called.”
Me: “A Q-tip?”
Dante: “Yes!”
The day after Dominic’s birthday.
Dante: “Is it still Dominic’s birthday?”
Me: “Nope.”
Dominic: “It’s still a little bit my birthday.”
During a Skype visit with the grandparents.
Dorian: “Minecraft is pretty awesome.”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol is awesome!”
Grampa: “Yes, Minecraft sounds pretty great.”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol is great!”
Dorian: “Also, Gary’s Mod.”
Dominic: “Also, Paw Patrol!”
Dominic: “My birthday is gone.”
Me: “Yes, it’s over. You can have another one in a year, though.”
Dominic: “No. It’s all gone. They ate all my cake. It was MY cake.”
Dorian: “I’m so bored.”
Me: “Well, you could read a book. Or clean your room. What about organizing your bookshelf?”
Dorian: “I don’t want to DO something, I want to WATCH something.”
Me: “Dominic, what do you want for your birthday breakfast?”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Right, you’re getting a cake, but what about breakfast? Bacon? Pancakes?”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Ok. How about lunch?”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Um, and dinner? Want chicken or pizza?”
Dominic: “I want my Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Yes, I think we’ve established that.”
Dominic: “And my birthday pizza?”
Me: “You said you didn’t want pizza!”
Dominic: “I did say that, yes.”
Dante: “Mama, how do you say ‘ni hao’ in French?”
(For the record, he speaks Spanish and English, with a spattering of Kaqchikel.)
Dorian: “You know that president guy who hated people with hair? And killed a lot of people?”
Me: “Um, are you talking about Hitler?”
Dorian: “Yeah, I just saw one of his flags.”

Dominic Turns 3

Hard to believe that it’s been three years since my last little one was born! His birthday was actually on the 20th, but Irving was sick and working and then the rest of us were hit hard with this flu/cold/death plague thing. Wow, is it harsh! I got the worst of it, with a 102.4 fever, horrible aching joints, etc. but Irving said it’s my own fault since I used essential oils on the boys and not on myself. Whoops.

Anyway. Back to the celebrations.

Dominic was dead set on a Snoopy cake for months. He had it all picked out, but about a week before his birthday, he decided he wanted a Paw Patrol cake. And not just a Paw Patrol cake, he wanted a strawberry cake because “I LOVE strawberries!” So, I made it happen.

Here are the shields that I made for the cake, one for each pup on the show (he’s only watched the first season).

Paw Patrol Cake

The finished cake, with a whipped topping covering instead of icing. It seemed a shame to ruin the sweet freshness of the strawberries with sweet icing, so I changed it up a bit.

paw patrol cake

Inside the cake, strawberries with jam and cream cheese filling.

strawberry cake

This cake ended up being much simpler than it was supposed to be. I tried to sculpt puppies to go on top of the cake, but it turns out that I’m not so great at sculpting at 3 am. So, in the end, I stuck printed pups on toothpicks on top, which he pulled off before I even got up. You’ll notice that he took a swipe of the icing, too . . . “I only tried a little bit, Mama!”

paw patrol

Despite this not being my best work, Dominic was thrilled. He was even more thrilled with the Paw Patrol banner that we printed and hung for him. In the morning saw it and ran in to tell me, “Mama, my Paw Patrol is HERE!”

Happy birthday to a very special little boy who has been the perfect addition to the family for the past three years.


February is a Month of Birthdays

Most people think of February as a month of love, but for us, it’s a month of birthday celebrations!

My dad and Irving’s brother, Vardin, both had birthdays on the 15th. We Skyped with my parents and the boys had a blast discussing magnets and Minecraft with them.

On the 20th (tomorrow!!!), Dominic turns three. THREE! How the heck did that happen? My baby is certainly not a baby anymore. He’s a little boy who is very active and decisive. I just can’t believe my littlest one is so old though. I’ll write more on him in tomorrow’s birthday post.

On the 25th, Irving has his birthday. We don’t usually do much here, because his mother takes over the birthday celebrations and I’ve learned to just leave it alone. This year, though, I’m not sure what is happening, since she is becoming increasingly unstable and hasn’t been capable of organizing anything. I may actually make a cake for him this year!

Finally, on the 26th, we have our anniversary. After all the excitement earlier in the month, we don’t make a big deal out of this except to reminisce about how we met and maybe a fancy dinner once the kids are in bed. This year is 12 years since we met. Wow.

What is your February full of?

Ashes to Ashes

Over the weekend, Volcan Fuego erupted in a major way, resulting in the evacuation of towns around the volcano. While we’re in a safe spot, we still got the fallout from the ash!

At first, it looked like a really cloudy sky. I figured we were going to get a bunch of rain, which is  little odd for this time of year. Instead of raining, however, it just got darker and darker. When I checked social media, I realized that it was ash and we quickly took precautions.

Volcano sky

When volcanic ash falls here, you have to be careful. It’s really not stuff you want in your lungs! We brought in the clothes and shut up the house. The boys were less than impressed to be kept indoors, especially since we couldn’t SEE anything falling.

The next morning, however, they were very excited. “Mama! The concrete looks funny!”

ashfall in Guatemala

Sure enough, the concrete patio was covered with a fine layer of grit. Kinda like snow, but not. The airport had to close and they had soldiers out on the tarmac sweeping up all the ash. Seems rather inefficient, but they did bring in firetrucks to hose things down later on. You can see images here.

volcanic ash

Irving donned a mask and swept up the ash, which is really more like volcanic sand. Once the patio was clear, we still kept the boys inside. They were not happy. Three boys kept indoors in a small box does not make for a cheerful household, so screen limits were lifted.

We now have bright blue skies and the majority of the ash is gone. Hopefully Fuego got it out of its system!

Little Chefs

All three boys are really into cooking right now and I’m all for it! More help in the kitchen? Yay! I do love cooking, but having some help is great, especially when I’m stuck on deadlines. In fact, the older boys are completely capable of making dinner on their own now, from lighting the gas stove (I still peek) to chopping veggies and cooking everything to perfection. And sometimes a tad past, but we learn from our mistakes.

Dorian regularly makes scrambled eggs for everyone except Dante (who still feels eggs are cruel and disgusting). He uses olive oil to keep things healthy, beats the eggs until they’re fluffy and cooks them beautifully. In fact, he can make eggs better than I can!

scrambled eggs

Dante almost always wanders over when I’m cooking to ask if he can help. He loves to cut vegetables and stir things. We’ve been working on seasonings, too and using our nose to help tell when a dish is well seasoned (as well as a taste test, of course).

The other night, Dante helped me with some simple chili and then he made a salad.

mini sous chef

This was the end result:

Dante's food

All this independence is rubbing off on Dominic, too! The other day, I made coffee cake and he helped stir and pour and scrape it into the pan. Later in the day, I heard him scrabbling around at the kitchen table and when I looked, he was scooping a piece of cake out of the pan with a spatula. Except . . . I hadn’t cut it! He’d taken a butter knife, careful cut himself a slightly lopsided square of cake (quite reasonably sized, too!) and then used the spatula to move it to his plate. I was pretty impressed!

At this rate, I figure Mother’s Day with breakfast in bed is imminent.

A Thumb Doodles Book Review

I recently got a few new books from The Book Depository to use for school. Two of them were for art, including this one:

thumb doodle book

What I liked about this book first off was that it includes the little ink pads for you to get started immediately. In fact, there are blank pages inside the book so you don’t even need extra paper. And the marker for detailing is also included. Very handy.

When I pulled this book out, the boys were quite excited. Getting ink all over their fingers? Yes, please!! They tore into it immediately, not at all interested in what the book had to say. I stopped them and we worked our way through the introduction on how to use your fingers as art tools and some different techniques.

There are several sections in the book, covering how to make sealife, people, etc. Here’s a page that the kids loved:

thumb doodles

The ink isn’t like ink at all . . . it’s more like paint on an inkpad, which makes the colors a little softer and it’s much easier to wash off than regular ink. The book is half blank or inspirational pages, but that’s fine. The kids used their own papers to work on or I never would have heard the end of the fighting!

This is what Dorian did:


This was from the sea life page. Dante’s picture was scribbled on by a certain toddler and ruined, so I didn’t get a picture of it.

Overall, the book was a lot of fun and the boys have asked to use it a couple of times since. There is also a Star Wars Thumb Doodles book, which we may need to consider soon. Since The Book Depository has free shipping around the world, we can get these books really easily.

Grab your own copy of the Thumb Doodles book on The Book Depository or Amazon. (both affiliate links!)

5 Superfoods You’ll Find in the Antigua Market (and how to use them!)

One the best reasons for living in Guatemala is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. The local market or “Mercado” is packed with delicious, cheap produce, including a number of superfoods.

1. Chia Seeds

chia seeds guatemala
Image source

These tiny seeds are packed with nutrition. Just one ounce of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and a whopping 5 grams of Omega-3 fats. They’re also great sources of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and calcium.

Chia has been shown to lower blood pressure and help stabilize blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics. Legend has it that Mayas used chia to improve their performance.

Where to Find Chia: Head into the interior of the Antigua market and look for vendors with bags of spices and grains. Ask for “chan.”

How to Use Chia: Guatemalans mix chia with water and lime juice for a refreshing drink. You can also mix the seeds into a smoothie, oatmeal or add them to baking. I’ve even used them to make “pudding” by mixing a couple of tablespoons into half a cup of milk, adding cocoa and sweetener and letting it sit overnight in the fridge.

2. Spinach

spinach in guatemala
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Boring as it may sound, spinach is such an awesome superfood that it has to be mentioned here. Like all leafy dark greens, spinach is high in antioxidants and iron. It’s also full of magnesium, potassium and calcium.

Where to Find Spinach: In the center of the interior market in Antigua, you’ll find huge tables full of vegetables. Ask for “espinaca.”

How to Use Spinach: Wash your spinach carefully, since it can harbor bacteria, then make a simple salad. You can also wilt it with garlic or toss a couple of handfuls into a blender with some fruit and yogurt for a delicious green smoothie. I often saute it with a little olive oil and garlic.

3. Ginger

ginger root in antigua
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Fresh ginger root is great for your digestion and can reduce flatulence. It also suppresses the appetite, boosts circulation and reduces nausea. It also adds great flavor to many dishes. A little ginger added to your soup works as a decongestant if you have a cold. If you need a boost in your love life, it’s also an aphrodisiac.

Where to Find Ginger: Inside the Antigua market, look for any large vegetable booth or a stand with dried spices. Ask for “jengibre.” You’ll be given a fresh root, which is sold by the pound.

How to Use Ginger: You can peel and grate your ginger root into any dish that needs a little extra zing. It also makes a delicious tea when sliced, boiled, and sweetened with a little raw honey. You might want to try your hand at making homemade ginger beer or candied ginger, too. I use it in stir-fries.

4. Coconut

coconuts in guatemala
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Coconut is low carb, but high in fat and great for those who suffer from malnutrition. Eating coconut helps kill off fungi, viruses and yeast in the body and it even prevents tooth decay. Fresh coconut is useful in preventing high blood sugar and strokes, as well.

Where to Find Coconut: Follow the road through the market to the very back where you’ll see a pile of coconuts. Ask for “un coco entero” to get a whole, peeled coconut with the water inside.

How to Use Coconut: You can also include the tasty flesh in both savory and sweet dishes, make your own coconut milk or cream, or grate it to use in baking.

5. Papaya

papaya in guatemala
Image source

Papaya contains large amounts of Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as antioxidants. It’s also very low calorie, making it a terrific snack. If you’re diabetic, papaya is one of the best fruits you can eat.

The seeds are also supposed to be good for parasites. Blend them into a smoothie to get them down, since they are rather peppery!

Where to Find Papaya: The fruit vendors at the back of the market (follow the road through the market and around to the very back) sell papayas.

How to Use Papaya: Guatemalans squeeze a lime over the fruit before eating it, but you can also use it in smoothies and salads. I’m not a fan, so I generally hide it in a smoothie.

What’s your favorite Antigua market superfood find?

The Bagel Invasion

In the whirlwind of negative stuff that is happening around here lately, (far more than just the Guate-Publications thing) I’ve been baking up a storm, which resulted in a rather funny story.

I’d run out of yeast, so Irving bought me another bag. The first time I used it was to make some whole wheat bread and the kids and I ended up watching this stuff bubble and grow like a crazy alien lifeform. It was amazing. And very, very active. The bread turned out beautifully and I was thrilled.

The other day, I got an order for two dozen bagels and set to work making them. The first batch came out so incredibly puffy that they were more buns than bagels! I thought maybe I had let the dough rise too much or hadn’t put in enough flour. So I made some more.

bagel poofs

They came out the same way! I was getting frustrated, since it was after midnight and I still had a bunch of writing to do. Making bagels is somewhat time consuming, of course, so I wasn’t getting a lot of writing done.

I chatted with my sister who suggested that I should try halving the yeast since it was so darn active. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?

So, I cut the yeast by half and presto! Perfect bagels. I whipped up the rest of them and got to bed by 1:30.

The end result was a whopping 35 bagels that were so unlike bagels they couldn’t be sold. On the plus side, we have lunch for the next week!