Felix is One!


Felix is one!I can’t believe it. He’s a year old.

I still can’t bring myself to reflect on the year that has passed — it’s too painful. Too many horrible things have happened. I’ve watched him suffer through too much. I can only focus on the present.

We’re so blessed to have made it this far.

At a year, he has spent just over half his life in the hospital (197 of his 365 days).

I’m struck, sometimes, by the normal things Felix has still never experienced at one year. Because of infection control protocols, he has never:

  • splashed in a bathtub of water
  • sat on the grass
  • played with leaves or eaten dirt
  • been smothered in kisses
  • snuggled with his big sister
  • seen another baby
  • pet a puppy or kitty
  • shared food with mommy

BUT! He finally gets to live at home. And he is so, so loved.

Felix is just a wonderful human being and a delightful part of our family. He’s still an easy-going baby who loves his bottle, adores his big sister (still mostly from a distance), and has figured out how to move across the floor without actually crawling.  He likes to party for two hours every night sometime between midnight and 4am. His smile and laugh are infectious, and on a grumpy day he can always be calmed by stepping outside or even looking out a window to see the trees blowing in the wind. Future nature boy in the making.

He’s still not sitting on his own, crawling, or babbling (he prefers to growl), but we’re hopeful that with time and support he will make progress in the coming months.

(We finally saw an occupational therapist for the first time this last week, and have a physiotherapist and speech therapist scheduled to come see him this coming week. I worry about him with every single breath I take, but I remain hopeful.)

He’s four months past gene therapy. We’re still waiting on the results of the latest blood tests, but the preliminary ones done by our own hospital’s lab look good.

Significantly, his CMV is still below the level of detection. We’ve hopefully made it through his lowest drop in T-cells, and we are overjoyed that the CMV never became a problem. In fact, it never even rose to detectable levels! We are beyond thrilled, and at the same time seriously peeved at the doctor (who shall remain nameless) who tried to cancel Felix’s gene therapy against our wishes because he feared Felix would die from CMV. So much agony and fear for nothing!

Our doctor predicts we’ll be able to stop his anti-CMV meds in about a month, at which point we can hopefully have the central line removed. (In the picture above you can see he’s still hooked up to continuous IV– you can see the coiled tube that connects to his IV pump. We’ve gotten creative in how we integrate it into our lives). How exciting to imagine our boy disconnected from a machine for the first time since he was a tiny baby!

Felix’s Birthday Celebration

Since he’s still in isolation, naturally we had a quiet celebration. We put up our fabric birthday banner and he got to wear his new homemade felt birthday crown. (It features red felt leaves since his birthday is in fall.) The grandparents stopped by for some cupcakes and we sang Happy Birthday.

chickpea chocolate cake cupcake withall-natural turmeric-coloured cream cheese icing (tastes like a normal birthday cake!)For the cupcakes, I used my standard chickpea chocolate cake recipe with cream cheese icing. But this time, instead of using beets to colour the icing (pink didn’t seem quite right), I used a teaspoon of turmeric to make it yellow. You couldn’t taste it at all! I sprinkled them with naturally-dyed blue sugar sprinkles (you can buy them here).

Felix's birthday

Felix with cupcakeOh, how we love this boy. We can’t thank God enough for him.

Hoping and praying for many more birthdays to come.

Thank you, always, for your prayers, love and support.


What I’m Into: Fall 2015



I meant to do a September What I’m Into post . . . And then an October one . . . and time just got away from me. So here’s a What I’m Into Post for the last couple of months together — for the season of fall. (Which, by the way, isn’t close to being over. Didn’t everyone JUST finish saying fall is their FAAAAAAAAVOURITE season? And then the second Halloween is over it’s all Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls? Hang on a second, friends. There are still four more weeks of your FAAAAVOURITE season to enjoy. And we’ve been having a lovely one at that.)

I hate that I’ve been neglecting the blog. But you know what else I’ve been neglecting? My kids. (So I guess that’s a who, not a a what.) I’m just trying to get through the next couple of months.

Life in isolation has produced mixed emotions in us. On the one hand, we are just so unbelievably happy to be living at home instead of the hospital. Every day at home is a gift. Ever meal cooked on my own stove, every night spent in our own bed. I never want to take a moment for granted.

But it does get lonely sometimes. And boring. We have lived separated from the rest of the world for almost a year now. I get sick of these walls sometimes. I miss the outdoors. I miss my friends. I miss their kids. I’m so tired of waiting and worrying. Will my baby ever be okay?

It’s so hard to go out when you need two separate babysitters to care for your two kids (your healthy one and your sick one) that it rarely happens. We’re just always home. Alone. Always.

We’re having Lydia live with us more and more these days, and I could write a whole post on that experience alone. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to one of these days.

Felix’s first birthday is this week. I’m hoping to provide an update soon (we’re waiting on some really important lab results right now and I’m kind of losing my mind over it.)

For now, here’s what I’ve been into.


Where is God When It Hurts? (Philip Yancey) — I re-read this 1977 classic when I realized that the excruciating emotional pain I experienced with Felix’s illness and near death over the last year is just the beginning of the suffering that is inevitably ahead of me. (Cheerful thought, right?) Yancey handles the subject sensitively and sagely. I’m sure I’ll be turning to it again.

Anne of Avonlea (Anne L. Montgomery) — I read the first Anne book while in the hospital a few months ago. I still can’t believe I never read these books. Why oh why did I waste so much of my childhood on the Sweet Valley Twins?! Why did I always assume these books would be boring? (I think maybe because the covers were always ugly.) This one was as charming and delightful as the first.

Children’s Books

With Lydia staying with us overnight more and more, and with her being a full year older than when I had to first relinquish care of her due to Felix’s diagnosis (she’s four now), I thought it was finally time to venture into the exciting world of read-aloud chapter books. What a thrill it was! (I went to this excellent list for suggestions.)

The Night Fairy

The Night Fairy (Laura Amy Schlitz) — this was our very first chapter book together. I loved the experience. What a thrill to have my child anxiously wondering, “What’s going to happen? Will the spider kill her? Will she get her wings back?” She hated the ending, though. (It’s a good ending; she’s just young and particular about how she wants her stories to end.)

Lydia tends to be wary of the unfamiliar, but I was able to lure her into the book with the fact that it’s about a fairy. But Flory is no Disneyfied Tinkerbell: she’s a complex character who develops through the story. It’s an exciting, well-written, well-paced story about survival, friendship, and forgiveness. It’s got a fabulous mix of magic and nature. It’s perfectly suitable for a boy, too. If I were to do it again, I’d probably wait until she was five, though. It was a smidge advanced for her.

Lady Lollipop (Dick King-Smith) — this book is from the same author as Babe. Again, I got Lydia to try it because it’s about a princess. I thought it was kind of boring but she really liked it. It involves using wit and kindness to get what you want in life. And there’s a pig, of course.

Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes (David Shannon) — this is a picture book Lydia picked out herself from the library, about a girl whose body starts to change in bizarre ways because she won’t admit she loves lima beans. I thought it was kind of dumb but Lydia finds it fascinating. She’s had me read it over and over again and asks questions about it randomly throughout the day. What do I know about what kids will like?


Ben requested that I knit him a winter hat. I was delighted to meet the challenge. I used this pattern. Unfortunately, I’m learning that I’m a very tight knitter, and soon realized it wasn’t going to fit him. So I shortened it and now it fits Felix. (It’s on Ravelry here.)

Felix hat

Then I knit my first sock. How exciting! It took a zillion hours, and as Ben pointed out, I now have half a pair of socks. Which is as useful as zero pairs of socks. But still! I made it! I know how to make socks! The next one will follow . . . eventually . . .

sock(Ravelry link)

Finally, I tried the hat for a second time but with larger needles. Hooray! Success! It’s so comfy and warm.

hats(Ravelry link)


We’ve been dutifully keeping up with Big Bang Theory and Brooklyn 99. Both provide much-needed laughs during this season of waiting. We’re also now regular viewers of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, which is terrific.

Last month I started re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix by myself which has been fun. (It gives me something to do when I feed Felix, who still feeds like a newborn). It’s so great, you guys! (I’m on season 3).

The last time I watched the show I was about Rory’s age, so I saw events primarily through her eyes. Now I’m almost Lorelai’s age, so I see them more through her eyes. The time Lorelai first saw Rory kiss Dean through the window I was all OH MY GOSH, IF/WHEN I SEE LYDIA KISS A BOY FOR THE FIRST TIME I WILL DIIIIIIIIIIE.

And while when I first saw the show as a seventeen-year-old I was completely and irrevocably in love with Jess, I now find myself thinking, “Man, that kid is irresponsible and disrespectful. And hey, hmmm. Luke’s kinda cute. I never noticed that before.” And then I’m all HOLY CRAP I’M OLD, THE GUY IS LIKE 40, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN??


We have no time for movies. When we do watch them, we watch them in two parts so we can get to bed by 9pm. It’s a sad life. But we did watch:

You’ve Got Mail — we’re still catching up on Classic Romance Movies We Weirdly Never Saw Before. (Last year it was Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Jerry Maguire). This one was completely charming. We both loved it.

Divergent — I just can’t pass up a good YA dystopian-novel-turned-movie. The first half of the movie was sooooooo intriguing. The second half was kind of Meh, I feel like I’ve seen this before.

And that’s what I’ve been into!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!*

Why I Quit DoTerra (And What I’m Doing Instead)

Why I quit doterraFirst off, I just want to be clear that I am not profiting in any way by writing this. No one is paying me or giving me any free stuff or even asked me nicely to say anything about their products. These are just some of my thoughts from my own personal experiences.

And I have absolutely nothing against doTerra. From everything I gather, it’s a perfectly lovely organization selling wonderful products. This is just an explanation of why doTerra ended up not being a great fit for me.

I started buying doTerra products about six months ago. I don’t have any complaints about the products, but I think I’m done with the company.

If you didn’t already know, doTerra is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company  — you know, like Avon or Tupperware, or more recently Plexus or Scentsy . . . one of those companies that often puts you in the awkward position of having your loved ones invite you over to try to sell you stuff, and then trying to get you to sell stuff to your friends. They sell essential oils and other related products.

MLM companies work by recruiting people to become their distributors/salespeople, usually with the promise of discounts on their products plus the opportunity to earn commission. Distributors sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing. They then in turn try to turn their friends into distributors, because this means even more discounts, free products, and/or more commission, plus other possible perks (think trips to Hawaii).

Overall, I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with MLM. DoTerra in particular seems to have a good heart, provides opportunities for stay-at-home moms to earn an income, and I know they do charity work, too. There are a couple of aspects, though, that just weren’t a good fit for me, especially when it came to doTerra, and I’ll be focusing on these.

Way Too Friggin’ Complicated

My story with doTerra starts simply enough, as it does for most people: I wanted to buy some doTerra essential oils. To be clear, I never had any interest in selling them or making a profit. That just wasn’t in my agenda.

doterra diffuser

I had heard good things about their products, and was drawn to some of their “proprietary blends.” I wanted to give them a try. But in order to get them for a halfway affordable price (a.k.a. “wholesale prices”), you have to sign up to be a distributor. And that comes with a membership fee.

So I signed up. Buying a membership makes you a “wellness advocate” (which I found a hilarious title from the start) and you get a whole packet of information explaining all the various programs you can sign up for to get further deals.

All of discount programs, I soon learned, involve first buying more products, selling to others, or recruiting other distributors. You are generally rewarded with discounts on additional purchases or free products.

For example, there’s a “product of the month” loyalty program where you have to sign up for monthly purchases, meet a minimum purchase requirement, and have them shipped before a certain date of the month. Only then do you qualify for a free monthly product of their choosing, which you may or may not even want.

Other loyalty programs also allow you get a certain amount of “points” back which you can use towards future purchases. But again, you first have to commit to buying or selling a certain amount of product every month to qualify. There are so many stipulations and minimum purchase requirements, and then many of the products I wanted (like the diffusers) didn’t quality for the discounts.

I quickly found these requirements far too constraining, and even found myself buying things I didn’t necessarily want just so I could earn points to make the whole program worthwhile. But without signing up for any of these programs, the products remained unaffordable.

Now I’m just a simple Mennonite girl with a degree in literature. I felt like I needed a business degree just to make sense of all the offers and programs to get a decent price on the products. I knew I was spending more than I wanted. For what?

Finally, I decided enough was enough.

All I wanted were some oils in the most economical way. Was that too much to ask?

Too Much Fanfare

I think my eyebrows first started to rise when I saw a photo on Instagram from DoTerra of their conference.

“Over 10,000 flowers are being arranged for centerpieces on 540 tables for the Gala tomorrow night. #doterraalive,” the caption read.

Maybe I’m miserly, but that struck me as an excessive amount of flowers. We’re not celebrating the commencement of world peace here. This is a corporation that has developed some new products to sell, and are preparing to unveil them to their sales team. 10,000 flowers? 540 centerpieces? Is Jesus going to be there??

Again, I come from a Mennonite background, where we celebrate huge life events by adding jam to a feast of bread and butter in the unadorned church basement. At my wedding there were exactly six flowers — in my bouquet, which we picked up for $2.99 from the grocery store on the way to the church. So maybe I’m not the best judge of opulence.

I will fully agree that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with lavish conventions and parties. I just don’t necessarily feel like paying a premium for a product so that the company can fund such events. I’d personally rather go with a more modest company who just wants to sell their product in an economical (but still honest) fashion.

I’m not interested in the fanfare.

Too Expensive

Why I Quit Doterra

Look, I don’t mind paying for quality. I’ll gladly reach deeper into my pockets for products that support my values (fair wages for workers, earth-friendly practices, etc). I’ve written before about how I’m willing to pay a premium for organic, local foods, for example. And doTerra does sell really excellent products, I won’t deny that.

However, I just felt like doTerra seemed to be spending too much on marketing. Too much was spent on rewarding top sellers, on fancy galas and conventions, on luring in new distributors, etc.

Moreover, I’m Canadian. When I signed up with the Canadian branch of DoTerra, I was under the impression that the prices on the site were in Canadian dollars. Because I’m not too bright, it took several very large purchases before I realized they were actually in US dollars. With the plummeting Canadian dollar, this makes doTerra oils (which are expensive for Americans) obscenely expensive for Canadian buyers.

A 15ml bottle of frankincense, for example, which is $73.94 USD (wholesale), is $97 CAD. Holy crap! That’s a week’s worth of groceries for me!

I know that doTerra advocates will tell you that only doTerra products are “certified pure therapeutic grade” (which they are, since they’re the ones who made up that term), and that they’re the only ones you can trust to be totally safe. (Young Living distributors will say the same about their products). But I did some digging around, and found another company that seems to be their equals in quality, but for a much smaller price tag.

I’m not convinced that doTerra (or Young Living, for that matter) have cornered the market on high-quality essential oils. But they are by far the most expensive. I suspect it’s mostly for the reasons I’ve discussed above — tons of money poured into marketing and fanfare.

Another Source?

Edens Gardens Essential OIls

When I complained on Instagram about the prices of doTerra products, a friend recommended Edens Gardens. I finally decided to check them out.

The price difference was astonishing. I’m talking between 40-60% off on most products. So I decided to get serious. I did some research and I made some purchases.

Here are some features of Eden’s Garden that won me over.

  • Excellent quality. From what I can tell, the quality of oils offered by Edens Gardens is every bit as high as doTerra’s. (Read their information on quality here.)
  • Stupid simple: you see which oils you want on their website, you buy them. No commitments, no membership fees, no complicated rewards programs, no grandiose titles. No nonsense.
  • Lower prices: like I said above: for most of the oils I wanted, I could get them for about 40-60% what I’d pay at doTerra. The website explains that they’re able to sell them for such discounted prices precisely because they don’t have all the fanfare associated with MLM.  They sell directly to the consumer — no middlemen. No fancy office buildings, no special prizes for top sellers, etc. (Read more here.)
  • Different size options: Eden’s Garden oils can be purchased in four different sizes, including a 5ml option. This is perfect if you just want to try out a certain oil without making a huge commitment — I bought a bunch of 5ml bottles for that reason. Many (most?) of them are under $6. (DoTerra, by contrast, only has one size option, which is typically 15ml, so you better hope you like it! Especially if you’re buying an $80 bottle!)
  • Much greater selection: doTerra offers around 45 different single essential oils and 20 blends. Edens Garden, on the other hand, sells about 131 single oils and 39 blends. You’re sure to find what you want! (Sure, doTerra sells all kind of other products like lotions, cleaners, supplements, etc, but I wasn’t interested in those).

One warning about Edens Gardens for Canadians:

The one downside to Edens Gardens is this: shipping to Canada is insane. (In the US it’s fine — free for purchases over $50). It’s one of those bizarre situations where the more you spend, the more you have to pay for shipping. It doesn’t really motivate you to buy more!

Fortunately I live close enough to the US border that I can have it shipped (free) to a mailbox in Detroit, and then hop over and pick up my package when it’s ready. But for other Canadians . . . you might not be so lucky.

So there are just a few of my thoughts on a few different essential oil companies! I thought it would be nice to offer an honest, unbiased opinion where I can’t possibly profit.

Again, a reminder: Edens Gardens has no idea I’m writing this. Just wanted to spread the word! If you’ve been looking into essential oils, here’s an option you might want to consider!