What's the big deal about Young Living

REACH® Complete Care Mouth Rinse

I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of REACH® and One2One Network, and I received a REACH product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions stated are my own.

Have you heard how long I waited between checkups at the dentist? I mean I seriously dread going. It’s not that I don’t love our dentist, because I do. She is awesome with my kids and super sweet and gentle with all of us. It’s just a thing I have about someone poking sharp metal objects into my gums.

That’s why I make sure to be extra, extra diligent in taking care of my teeth and gums. That way I can justify avoiding a dentist appointment for as long as possible.

REACH Complete Care Mouth Rinse

So, when I got the opportunity to review REACH® Complete Care Mouth RinseI was all in.

The 8-in-1 rinse kills bad breath germs, helps prevent gingivitis, reduces plaque, fights tartar build-up, freshens breath and cleans the whole mouth by foaming between the teeth with no burn of alcohol. It tastes great, and it’s special “stay away from the dentist” formula is right up my alley!

REACH Complete Care Mouth Rinse

And I especially love the handy, dandy toothbrush holder and built in pump with the cup stored right there on the top. This way I don’t have to keep it under the sink like I used to with my old mouth rinse and worry about finding a cup for the mouthwash every time I use it. Which would usually be sporadically since I mostly forget to look under the sink!

No “out of sight, out of mind” problem with this mouth rinse. I keep this right on the bathroom counter by the sink and I remember to use it each day when I brush.

That way I can rest easy and NOT dream of jagged lids from tuna cans. ::shudder::


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A Homeschooled Student’s Guide to CLEP Tests – PART 2

*This post contains affiliate links.

A Homeschooled Student's Guide to CLEP Tests PART 2This guest post by Madison Hughes, homeschool graduate and college senior, is part 2 of a 4-part series on CLEP tests for homeschooled students.  See PART 1 of A Homeschooled Student’s Guide to CLEP Tests here, and be sure to check back for parts 3 and 4!

The popularity of CLEP tests is currently on the rise, and you may have heard about them from friends or acquaintances as a way to earn college credit.  Homeschoolers especially can take advantage of this easy method of acquiring college credit.  This 4-part series will guide you through learning about and choosing a CLEP test, studying for and taking a CLEP test, and transferring CLEP credit to a college.  In part 1, we explained what exactly a CLEP exam is and how to determine if it is right for you or your student.  In part 2, we will discuss how to consider your options and choose a CLEP exam.

Need-to-know before choosing a CLEP test

  • Almost all colleges accept some form of CLEP credit.  However, many colleges place restrictions on the type and/or amount of CLEP credit that students are allowed to transfer.
  • Before purchasing study materials, you should check with your college on which CLEP tests they accept, what test scores they require for credit, and how many total CLEP hours you can transfer.  If your college only accepts a limited number of hours, this may affect your decision on what CLEPs to take and what courses to take as physical or online classes.
  • If you cannot find this information on your college’s website, you should call the registrar’s office, which handles transcripts, enrollment, and questions about classes and credit.

Selecting a CLEP test

  • Before deciding which CLEP exam to take, as mentioned above, make sure your college accepts this particular class as CLEP credit.  Some colleges only accept a few CLEP tests, and it may make a difference whether the class is part of the general education portion of your degree or whether it is required by your major.
  • Also double check the scores required for passing – some colleges impose higher standards than CLEP’s standard score of 50 out of 80.

After this, you should ask yourself why you are taking this CLEP test.  Are you hoping to avoid taking a particular subject, such as a physical class?  Do you want to be able to either get an easy course knocked out quickly or take more time on a difficult one?  Are you using this course as both high school and college credit?  These questions should help you narrow down which tests you may want to take.

Keep in mind that available CLEP study guides are mostly undirected except for a few practice tests in the back.  This means that if your student lacks the ability to self-direct, or if they struggle on a particular subject, they may need to take that subject as a physical class whether in high school or in college.  One of the easiest CLEP tests to start with is the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature exam, which doesn’t require much preparation if the student is already a good reader.  However, not all schools or majors require this course, so double check before spending time and money to get a useless 3 hours of college credit.

After choosing your CLEP exam you will need to get materials, study for the test, and finally determine whether you are ready to take it.  We will discuss this in part 3, so be sure to check back!

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My Whole30 Experience

My 20 year old daughter, Madison, bamboozled me into doing Whole30 with her.

Basically it is a very strict diet that is to be maintained for 30 consecutive days. The point of it is to develop an understanding of how many things we eat without thinking about what the ingredients are, while doing a sort of “junk food cleanse.”

Whole30 sugar detox

Since I am not one to turn down a challenge, I took my daughter up on it and immediately regretted it! It turns out I am a junk food junkie! Plus, I love me some Dr. Pepper, and that is strictly forbidden. Did I mention it lasts for 30 DAYS???

Here are a few of the things not allowed on the Whole30 plan:

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweetener
  • Honey
  • Rice
  • Grains
  • Corn
  • Legumes
  • Peanuts
  • Dairy products

The first couple of weeks, I was miserable. I had a headache. I was cranky. I was tired all the time. I missed my sugar fix!

Whole30 breakfast

(Whole30 Breakfast)

Then something happened around Day 18. I got the “tiger blood!” It turns out it’s a real thing! That day, I came home from CrossFit, scrubbed the toilet and the bathtub, then taped off the dining room so I could begin painting it later in the day. This was in stark contrast from the 17 days before when I just wanted to crawl under the covers and sleep the day away!

Whole30 dinner

(Whole30 Dinner)

That’s when I started thinking there might be something to this healthy eating thing. I really have felt more energy than I have had in years!

Whole30 shopping cart

(Whole30 Shopping Cart)

My shopping habits have changed. My eating habits have changed. I have been changed.

I am now down to the very LAST day of my Whole30 challenge, and I have DONE IT! I only accidentally licked my finger once when I was serving ice cream to my children, and I immediately rinsed my mouth out. I have to say that even though it has been inconvenient at times, (especially when eating out or at friends’ houses) and I hated it at first, I’m glad I did it. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I proved to myself that I have the self control to do a hard thing.
  • I showed my children what it looks like to deny self and do a hard thing.
  • I now know I don’t need sugar to get energy.
  • I have increased energy!
  • I have noticed regular digestive function.
  • I no longer have stomach upset every morning from my morning coffee with flavored creamer, plus brown sugar.
  • I have expanded my recipe rotation to include whole foods, without artificial ingredients.
  • My friends cheered my on with recipe suggestions and tips.
  • I enjoyed participating with my daughter to cheer me on.

Have you ever tried Whole30? Do you think you could do it?

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Here I Raise My Ebenezer

When each of my children was born they received a special, soft lovie they slept with. Even my oldest kids still have their lovies, and cherish them.

That’s why our whole family was sad when our 5 year old Peyton lost her lovie, “Pickles,” around Christmas time last year. She had slept with Pickles every night since birth, and after she lost him she spent many nights crying herself to sleep without him.

After searching high and low, I finally concluded that I must have gathered Pickles up in the Christmas wrapping paper and thrown him away accidentally. Even though I tried to gently break it to her that we might never find him, Peyton prayed EVERY single night that God would help her find Pickles.

Pickles found


So, while I was out of town and got this message on my phone 7 MONTHS after she lost him, you can imagine my excitement! I actually cried! Then I texted all my kids who were at camp and we all rejoiced

I know it seems like a silly, small thing, but it amazed me that my girl, all on her own, had such faith to pray every night, even though I didn’t think it could possibly make a difference. And a few of my Facebook commenters celebrated with me and suggested I should throw a celebration to commemorate God’s goodness in this answered prayer.

bounce house

That’s why I decided we should have a huge party, complete with balloons, streamers, a bounce house, water slide, and all of our friends. After all, there is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice, right? I feel like the older I get, and the more I pay attention to the news, the more there is to mourn about, so I figured any time there is something to rejoice about we should rejoice.

ebenezer stone

We all celebrated big and I set up this “Ebenezer stone” so we would always remember that God hears the prayers of his children. (Psalm 34:17)

My teens may or may not have made fun of me for doing all this, but that has never stopped me from carrying out my crazy ideas before!

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A Homeschooled Student’s Guide to CLEP Tests

A Homeschooled Student's Guide to CLEP TestsThis is a guest post, written by Madison Hughes, homeschool graduate and college senior. This post is part 1 of a 4-part series on CLEP tests for homeschooled students. Be sure to check back for parts 2, 3, and 4.

The popularity of CLEP tests is currently on the rise, and you may have heard about them from friends or acquaintances as a way to earn college credit. Homeschoolers especially can take advantage of this easy method. This 3-part series will guide you through learning about and choosing a CLEP test, studying for and taking a CLEP test, and transferring CLEP credit to a college. In part 1, we will discuss what exactly a CLEP exam is and how to determine if it is right for you or your student.

What is a CLEP test?

A CLEP test is an exam that a student may take to obtain college credit on a certain subject. Students are generally awarded 3 hours of credit per test, although a few more advanced tests may count for more hours. The exams are given by computer at designated testing locations and are 90 minutes long. The number of questions varies per test but is usually in the range of 90-120. Each test is scored out of 80 possible points, with 50 points normally being the benchmark for awarding college credit. However, some colleges may choose to impose stricter standards on what CLEP scores they will accept.

Why should I take a CLEP test?

The 33 available CLEP tests cover a variety of different subjects. Students can easily use CLEP exams to obtain easy credit for many of their general education requirements, regardless of their chosen degree. This can help students to graduate from college on time or even early with less expense. (The Official CLEP Study Guide for each subject is usually $24.99 and the test is $80. That means you can get 3 hours of college credit for around $100.)

Deciding to take CLEP tests can help any student get a head start in college, but homeschooled high school students have a special advantage in this regard. In addition to giving college credit, a homeschool curriculum could easily be modified to use CLEP tests as dual credit. For example, a high school student who needs to study US History before graduation can fulfill this requirement by studying for and taking both US History CLEPs. In this way, the student gets college credit from studying a subject that he or she would have had to study anyway.

Who should take CLEP tests?

There is no age restriction on CLEP tests, although students under 13 must have signed consent from a parent before testing. However, the tests do cover college-level material and therefore require a certain degree of maturity from the student. I took my first CLEP test at 17, although I probably could have passed it earlier. For the average high school student, I would recommend taking CLEPs starting no earlier than their junior year. Advanced students may easily be able to pass an exam before this, however, so don’t hesitate to let your student start studying and taking practice tests at an earlier age.

Hopefully you now have a better grasp on the nature of CLEP tests. In part 2 of this series we will be discussing selecting and studying for a CLEP exam. Be sure to check back for the next installment!

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Love and Loss

One day recently while the kids and I were at the lake splashing around at the sandy beach area, we noticed a raggedy man wearing a backpack a little way down the beach throwing something repeatedly and with much force into the water. My 13 year old animal lover went down there to look and came racing back frantically telling me he was throwing baby ducks into the water with all the force he could muster, trying to kill them.

We all walked closer and I could see that she was right. He seemed intent on his task, and I’m guessing he had some mental health issues. Before I could stop her, my Adrienne went running to him shrieking for him to “STOP! STOP DOING THAT! What are you doing??? You’re going to kill them!!!”

I called her back to me and told her to stay away from him. I felt like there was nothing we could do, so I turned my attention back to my little ones splashing around in the water.

When it was time to leave the beach for home, I called the children to me and I noticed that Adrienne was holding something in her arms.

Adrienne with newborn geese


She was carrying the ducks.

“Mama, we have to take them home! After the man left, the mother duck wouldn’t take them back. She was chasing them away and pecking at them. We have to save them. They’ll die if we leave them!” she begged.

I told her to put them down and that I thought they would be fine. As soon as she did, they both fell over, panting hard. I could see that they were injured and that she was desperate to help them.

“Fine,” I said, “Pick them up and get in the van.”

I remarked on the way home that I hoped at my funeral all the children would reminisce about the myriad of rabbits, naked baby mice, goats, kittens, and puppies I have allowed them to bamboozle me into bringing home.

The little ducks were so weak when we got them home they both immediately fell into a heap in the cage we prepared for them. I warned everyone that they would likely die overnight.

Adrienne's swim lessons with geese

We looked up information about what kind of ducks they were (Egyptian Geese – a duck/goose hybrid) and what we should feed them, and miraculously they survived. They followed my girlie around like she was their mother, and we took them to the lake with us whenever we went.

Swim lessons with geese

They loved her. She loved them.

Goose snuggles

One day, we noticed one of the little guys didn’t come running to Adrienne when she came outside. We searched around and finally found the little fella dead under the henhouse. There was no sign of trauma, so we never knew what happened.

The other goose, Sherman, continued to thrive and we still took him on field trips to the lake. He always stayed close on the heels of his Mama.

Goose field trip to the lake


We kept saying we needed to return him for good one day, but none of us really wanted that day to come.

adolescent goose


He was learning to fly and growing bigger and more beautiful every day. My girl loved him so.

We were all so terribly upset when we found him dead soon after the above photo was taken. He had been mauled by an animal. We never found out what killed him, but we surely mourned.

We buried him and remembered what a good goose he was.

“I’m glad I saved him,” my girl remarked. “He had a good life with us.”

Yes, he did.

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson



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