Thursday, February 28, 2013

A look back at February

It's not yet March officially but it sure feels like it sometimes.  Pollen is floating around here like crazy, eyes are itching, the sun is warming up the earth and things are starting to grow!  I've had an honest interest in gardening this year and even though my attempts at it have been feeble and weak to say the least (thus far it's all been in the name of discovery & exploration for Mia's sake!), I really wouldn't mind actually growing something edible this year.  More on that in a bit. For now, here's a bit of what we've been up to lately.  

Florida College Reunion. The Class of 2003 had our 10 year reunion in early February. I got to see a ton of people I hadn't seen in ages, and others whom I hadn't seen in ... days.  It was great to be back with so many old friends! 

Post-nap walks.  Sometimes the hours between the end of naptime and when Greg gets home for dinner can be tricky, but it's been so nice out lately that we take advantage of a walk around the block for some distraction.  

Cousin McKaber hung out with us one Saturday night a few weeks ago.  Mia was mesmerized by her little cousin and Gabe wasn't quite so sure.  McKaber handled everything like a champ and we enjoyed some QT with our newest nephew.

A friend donated her kid's old playhouse to our kids. It's not brand spankin' new, but it provides some leisure and excitement to our backyard and gives Mia the opportunity to play house (outside)!

Gabe recently learned how to climb our couches.  Now if he can get up on the couch he likes to sit there next to Mia or lay on it.  Silly boy.  He only stays still for about 14 seconds.  Exhibit A: Gabe on couch.

"Gardening" with preschoolers. 

Cinderella singing to...Cinderella.

Exhibit B: Gabe on couch.  Notice throw pillows, thrown.

Something's actually growing!  The kids played with the pots and seeds so much I wasn't sure the seeds actually were planted, so I'm not sure if this is a carrot or bean, yet, but I'm thinking it may be a bean.  This sprouted only 6 days after being planted.  I'm very excited about trying other things.  
[If anyone has any tips or pointers for a newbie gardener (I'm thinking small pots and stuff to begin with), I'm all ears!  What can I plant and when in south Florida??]

One has to keep their eye on this guy. Even at the park with swings, slides and countless structures to climb on, the only thing he wants to do is run away from me and descend these concrete stairs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

That lyric was the quote used for my senior year of high school back in 2001, from the song "Closing Time" by Semisonic.

We were so "present" back then without even realizing it! ;) Yah, right.

This came faster than I anticipated, but in the past two weeks I've toured two different preschools and had two very different experiences trying to imagine and predict and well, ask for God's guidance in figuring out the right educational option for our almost 4 year old for next year! And yes, this means it's been 4 years now since that picture you see of me & Greg to the left.  Four years ago we stood on a bank by a canal while our good friend snapped pictures of us as we anticipated the tiniest bundle you could think of...

She has always been looking to the future! ;)
The whole "your child is old enough to go to preschool next year" feeling is eerily similar in my estimation to the feeling I had when I was pregnant with Mia and was realizing "you're having a baby and you have major decisions to make!" Birth center, or hospital? Vaxing or no-vaxing? Cloth diapers or disposables? I guess in her case we did a little bit of both, didn't we?!

But with preschool, it's kind of all or nothing. You either do it, or you don't do it, and if you don't, that's fine, because there's always kindergarten.  But we have felt with this particular youngster that is she probably ready for a little structured learning.
Mia at her preschool co-op

Like I said, we've toured a couple of places, and we now have a feeling and a hunch that a certain place might be right for her and for us, but we are waiting a few things out until we know more and more time has passed.  I'll let you know when we know! But we are being very prayerful about this and if you felt like praying about it too we'd gladly welcome it!

What we've been doing this year:
Some may know that this year, we've been participating in a "preschool co-op" with a few other families from our church group.  It's more like giving our children practice at being in a learning environment than it is formally trying to teach them specific concepts or whatnot, although I'm sure they are learning a lot just through the experience. We aim to meet 3 Tuesdays out of every month, and the moms rotate who teaches each month. February has been my month and I have 2 more classes to teach!  It's been fun and eye-opening, and Mia has enjoyed every minute.  The classes only last about 1.5 hours but I was shocked how quickly that time passed when I last taught.

It is just kind of crazy that our little girl is slowly exiting little little childhood and is almost ready for school (hence the title of this blog)!

Well, another new beginning is coming from some beginning's end: Gabe's naptime is over and so must this blog post be.  Until next time...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Soaked Oatmeal: A hearty, simple breakfast

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
One of the first things that went out the door when we started transitioning into real food was boxed cereal.  Now, it's only an occasional treat or is purchased when a brand I like is on sale and I need a little help in the food prep department (or let's be honest, I have a major craving, which is actually now quite rare). I began learning how boxed cereals really aren't that good for us and I realized I often was hungry soon or had a sugar-crash after having a bowl of cereal - it just wasn't nearly as filling as bacon and eggs, or say, my dad's Sunday morning specialty: oatmeal.

Oatmeal is filling. I used to eat it a lot during my first pregnancy with Mia. It was more of the instant variety, but I do remember it keeping me full for a while.  There are always gradual transitions into real food, because now I never get the instant kind and I always get...

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free* Old Fashioned Rolled Oats.  (It doesn't have to be this brand, it's just a brand I recognize and trust.)

Life Insurance You Eat - Good Motto
This package contained 4 bags of oatmeal**
*A note about gluten-free:  Oats are naturally gluten-free, as you might already know, but they are often produced in facilities where they might come into contact with gluten and be contaminated. So if you or someone in your family needs to avoid gluten, your best bet is to find a brand that certifies their oats are processed in a GF facility.  No one is specifically GF in my family but I just like to know what I'm getting :D

So, anyway. Back to oats. My dad used to make oats every Sunday morning before church. I ate them most of the time, I think, but I couldn't always finish my bowl because they are just so...satiating!  It doesn't take much.

The neat thing is is that there's an easy way to do oatmeal simply that will also hugely improve its nutritional profile as well, and as an added bonus, will result in faster cooking!

As a grain, oats can still be hard to digest if not soaked or sprouted.  Either of these methods help unlock the nutrients in the oat by reducing phytic acid (an anti-nutrient) and allowing your body to assimilate the actual nutrients in the grain.

How to soak?  Glad you asked.  It's really quite simple.

You'll need (per Nourishing Traditions):

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup warm filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons of an acidic medium (i.e., whey, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or for lactose-intolerant, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds (optional)

2 cups oats -
(I usually make more and reheat leftovers the next day)
Mix oats with the warm water and 2 TBSP of acidic medium in a bowl. Cover and leave for at least 7 hours or overnight.

In the morning, bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to a boil, and add the oats & water & acidic medium mixture.  Reduce heat, cover and let simmer.  Once cooked (should probably only take about 5 minutes!), you may add ground flaxseeds if you'd like for additional nutrients.

2 cups of oats + 2 cups of water with
2 TBSP acidic medium
Make sure to serve with plenty of butter, coconut oil or cream if you prefer. We like to add butter, cinnamon and maple syrup or raw honey over here!

**Frugal Tip: If you're an avid oatmeal eater, I'd highly suggest participating in Amazon's Subsribe & Save options they provide for groceries. You sign up to receive these rolled oats on a regular basis (you select the frequency) and because you are a subscriber, you save between 5-15%! It also ships free!  The last time I ordered oats from Amazon, I paid $16.69 total for 4 packages.  That's a little over $4/package.  I should be receiving another shipment soon (the box lasted me quite a while!) and Amazon let me know that the price has dropped and I'll only be paying $12.75 with my discount.  That's $3.18/2-lb package, and if you are soaking these bad boys, you'll probably go through the package more slowly as soaked oats tend to be more filling.  This means this can be a very filling and frugal breakfast route!

Friday, February 15, 2013

My child is almost 4 and has never had antibiotics (directly)

My child is almost 4 and has never had antibiotics (directly)*.


I shared that information with a pharmacist the other day and she looked at me and said, "Woah, really?"  I guess I never really thought that maybe that is an unusual thing for an almost 4 year old, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how often I hear of other kids her age being on antibiotics at least 1-2x/year for some kind of infection.

I believe antibiotics have their time and place in medicine and I would not hesitate to use antibiotics in the right situation.  They can be life-savers and I'm thankful they were created so that we can use them in and at appropriate times.  An important distinction though is that appropriate times do not mean ALL THE TIME.

*Personal note: I was on antibiotics for over 5 years.  I shudder to think of the actual length of time I was really on antibiotics because, really, was that necessary? Absolutely not.  But, I was seeing a dermatologist for acne, and an antiobiotic is what she prescribed, and because I didn't want to deal with broken-out skin (the embarrassment! the horror! the scarring!), I dutifully took it as directed.  For the better part of my older teenage years and early 20s, I took an oral antibiotic and I rubbed a topical antibiotic on my skin. I also took antibiotics after Mia was born at least 3 different times because I could not get over mastitis without it.  FWIW, I did not get mastitis after Gabe's birth.  Cleaned-up diet for the win!

Why am I cautious about giving my kids antibiotics?

  • Because the infections were not life-threatening.
  • Because I knew given proper rest and a good clean diet, the infection could heal itself on its own.
  • Because simple infections that are treated with antibiotics often come back again and again.
  • Because antibiotics kill all the bacteria (both good and bad) in your digestive system, leading to a whole host of other problems.

In some cases, giving my child an antibiotic would've been much easier than the alternative course.  It's not as much fun restricting diet when your child has an infection, or making sure they consume garlic, or elderberry syrup, or trying to get them to guzzle warm tea.  A fruity tasting liquid antibiotic or chewable capsule would've been far easier!  But it may not have been in their best interest health-wise.

So, how have we handled illness and infections?

  • Clean up the diet from any processed foods or refined sugars.  Depending on severity and duration of symptoms, dairy and grains may also be removed.  Consume homemade bone broth.
  • Increase dosages of Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO). It has high concentrations of Vitamin A and Vitamin D, which are essential to prevent and regain strength from sickness.
  • Consume elderberry syrup. (Be careful if you or child have autoimmune issues, too much may not be good for you.)
  • Add liquid garlic (or consume raw garlic, if an option) to food or sneak in condiment like organic or homemade ketchup --> voila, garlic ketchup! Yum!!
  • Treat infection topically with colloidal silver or orally take colloidal silver.
  • Relax and replenish the body with soothing Epsom Salt Baths (provides magnesium).
  • Add probiotics into diet to give digestive system a little boost.
  • Visit your chiropractor!  This has helped immensely by visiting as soon as symptoms are noted - a simple adjustment often puts things back in alignment and your body can better respond.  A chiropractor working with children should use gentle fingertip pressure.  Mia often says this "tickles!"  I have also cleared up nasal drainage the first time I went to an acupuncturist!  The Chinese weren't messing around!
There are loads of other ways to treat illness. I refer often to Wellness Mama's post on Natural Illness Prevention & Beat Cold, Flu and Fever Faster.

These are ways you can naturally manage infections, like colds, ear infections, upper respiratory, and even skin infections.  

Will we ever use an antibiotic in the future? I am not a crystal ball reader, but chances are quite likely that the answer is yes.  For now, we will continue on this path and do what we can to preserve healthy gut function.  

Disclaimer: I'm not a medical doctor or a physician. I am "just a mom" who has done a lot of research.  Please consult with your primary care provider or holistic physician if you have questions regarding these recommendations.

What do you do to stay healthy? How do you limit or avoid antibiotics?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to Show Respect (even when you disagree) -- Guest Post @ MAM

It's the month of February and tomorrow is VALENTINE'S Day and all around us people are sharing ideas of how to show love and kindness to our loved ones.

Today I'm broaching a quite difficult that I feel quite inept at at most times, but it's vital to a healthy relationship and marriage: respecting each other even when you disagree (and I even talk about submission)! *JAW DROP*

You can read my post over at:
How to Show Respect (even when you disagree) @ Modern Alternative Mama

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meet Gabe, the Ninja

Greg & I have been calling Gabe a ninja for a while.  He is quite mobile now but still falls or runs into things quite a bit, but we have noticed he has special "spy" or "ninja" moves at times to keep him from totally hurting himself.  He'll fall backwards from something and roll to catch himself instead of falling straight back on his head.  Not all the time, but a lot.  He also seems to get himself into more and more trouble these days.  For example...
Ninja Move #2. He'd do this all the time if he could

Ninja Move #1:
The last few days, his ninja-hood has been in full effect.  Sunday night at church, I had to wipe something off his hands so I got out our plastic case of diaper wipes. He seemed interested in the case, so after I was done, I let him hold it (hey, whatever makes 'em happy, right?)  This seemingly innocent suddenly turned into a tool of assault.  Without any warning, Gabe flipped the case backwards behind us, and its aim was direct and precise and swiftly executed by hitting the lady sitting behind us in the knee.  I was so grateful it didn't smack her in the head!  But more than that I was quite mortified. She quickly retrieved the case and returned it to me, and I did my best nonchalant but remorseful, "I am so sorry," apology while halfway turning around to receive it.  I didn't get a chance afterwards to fully apologize, but that was ninja move #1.

Ninja Move #2:
I don't know if ninjas are necessarily known for making messes, but the speed at which he can tear through something definitely earns him ninja points. If I put him down (he is totally walking at this point), he can quickly find something to ravage. It's usually my diaper bag or a bin I have in my room with an easily removable lid.  Clearly I need to find better placements for these things as he gravitates towards them at any opportunity to make messes upon messes.

Going through my diaper bag has also had disastrous consequences.  Of course there's the potential of him ripping up money or coupons, but he also found a pretty full container of Altoids once and had pillaged almost the entire container before I got to him.  I was a little worried at the consumption as it's definitely something he's never had before, but a quick call to the Poison Control Center set me at ease although she told me peppermint oil contains salicylates and salicylates at high levels is similar to that of aspirin (although Altoids were more like candy than aspirin).  What is it with my kids and salicylates!!?

Ninja Move #3:
Later that morning after the crib snafu
This little boy gave me a bit of a fright early Thursday about 4:45am I was dreaming about Downton Abbey in a convo with Laura Hinely (no lie) when I heard a thud & some crying. A quick check of the monitor only to not see him. I rushed to his room and he was crying kneeling on the floor!!  He seemed fine...but I guess it's time to move the mattress down again! 

That move freaked me out.  I had just thought the other day he was looking quite tall in his crib, but I didn't think he had gotten into climbing and exploring in that sense.  Think again!  

Now the crib is lowered and we can sleep a little more soundly - the lowest it can get next is when it's time to turn it into a toddler bed! (Stop, Gabe, you're growing too fast!!)

He's grown and changed quite a bit over the last several weeks.  He's definitely entered the territory of "must keep your eyes on him at all times" because you'll never know what he's going to get into. He's climbed on the stage at church, tried to scale the play kitchen in our kitchen, and had so many tumbles and falls.  I took him, Mia and myself to the chiropractor on Monday because of all his recent tumbles (it scrunches up your vertebrae and puts you out of alignment) and the chiropractor found several sublaxations!  Man, it must be tough to be a gutsy toddler!  Not to mention a Ninja.  

Later in the day after the crib lowering
Well, I must rescue the ninja from his crib, for he has awoken from his afternoon slumber.  Ninjas need their sleep.

A Story of Healing

This article popped up on my newsfeed on Sunday. Someone I follow posted it, and the picture and its title caught my attention.  Little boys and girls are so much more on my radar these days as I have one of each, and I wanted to know what was happening to "the boy with a thorn in his joints."  You can read the full article here:

The Boy With a Thorn in His Joints @ NY Times

I was impressed because it was in the New York Times.  Not my crunchy mama newsletters that I get from time to time.  Not from Natural News.  Not from a blogger.  It was the New York Times, and they were discussing "increased intestinal permeability," which many among the integrative medicine world call "leaky gut."

An excerpt:

The idea is that inflammation in the gut causes the tight junctions between the cells that make up the intestinal lining to loosen. Then, like a lax bouncer, the barrier starts letting through undesirables, various proteins or bacteria that would normally be rebuffed; they then leak into surrounding tissues. The uninvited guests, the hypothesis goes, then trigger an offensive by the body, which uses inflammation to try to get rid of them. That sustained inflammatory response characterizes autoimmune disease.  (Source: The Boy With a Thorn in His Joints @ NY Times, emphasis mine)
I so appreciate that both treatment options were considered and evaluated for effectiveness, and the honesty of the mother in considering what was best and earnestly trying to improve the quality of life for her 3 year old.  Have I piqued your interest enough?

Read the full article here:

What impressed you the most from this article?  What raised questions? Share below!