Wednesday, February 27, 2013

natural medicine cabinet: fighting little colds.

We finally got hit with the nasty little cold - me first, then the girls. Luckily, Andy's been so busy with work (meaning he is gone a lot) that he's managed to avoid the grossness. Snot, coughing, draining, ugh.

My general rule of thumb for treating illness is a little quote from Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, MD:

"Do less, stimulate less, speak less, eat less...Drink more, sleep more, rest more, breathe more."

Herbal & Homeopathic Remedies

1. Hyland's Homeopathic Tiny Cold Tablets

2. Mickelberry Gardens Elderberry Honey Tonic with elderberry, echinacea, raw honey, and apple cider vinegar. This is local - you can get a good organic elderberry syrup at your local health food store.

3. Wish Garden Cold Season Herbs for Kids - If they won't take it by the dropper (depends on the day), I'll put it in their smoothie or in a little glass of water or diluted kombucha.

4. Wish Garden Kick-It Biotic for Kids - same as above, if they won't take it in the dropper, I add it to the same smoothie, glass of water or diluted kombucha.

5. Cod Liver Oil, preferably fermented (although I recently ran out and have been using Sonne's until we get our new stuff.) It is spendy up front, but the kids only take 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. per day! So it ends up not expensive at all, and is my #1 supplement out of ALL of the above.

How to get them to take their CLO? Pour a little bit of elderberry + honey syrup onto a teaspoon, then fill in the rest of the spoon with the CLO. It's been working really well. The sweet tartness of the syrup cuts the fishy taste of the oil. I started doing it this way, too, or by just putting a little raw honey on the spoon as a chaser. Don't force them to take it - if it gets spilled, it stains badly. It's not worth the fight. Just keep trying until it works! The great thing about CLO is that the vitamins A & D are fat-soluble, so we store them in our tissues as opposed to water-soluble vitamins, which we pee out. So if you go a few days between doses, it's OK. 

A tip for using homeopathic remedies: buy the box and USE IT. They aren't like medications to be saved and used throughout the year(s) - for kids and acute conditions like a cold, cough, or flu, a homeopathic dose is usually administered every 2 hours, sometimes sooner. So don't be stingy with that remedy and follow the exact directions.

Therapeutic Treatments 

1. Cold Sock treatment: Right before bed and after a warm bath, put a pair of wet, cool cotton socks on their feet, followed by a thick warm pair of wool or cotton socks. When they wake up in the morning, the socks will be dry. This therapy helps draw fever, congestion, and other symptoms out of the body. 

2. Essential oils:
Fever: 1 drop of lavender oil rubbed on the tops of both ears, on the center of the pads of both big toes, and in the space between the largest vertebrae in the base of their neck and the vertebrae below it, then massaging the oil down the spine. This can be done several times a day. 

Chest Congestion/Cough: Combine a few drops of warm olive or coconut oil with a few drops of Eucalyptus and/or Peppermint essential oil. Rub across the chest under the collarbones, down the sternum, then down the spine. 

3. Warm baths, as many as they want to take.

4. Warm homemade chicken broth (or a crockpot version), to provide important nutrients and to thin mucus.  

5. Cuddles! 

Why no baby tylenol?  Dr. Palevsky explains it well: 

"Parents are taught to believe that symptoms and childhood illnesses can and should be avoided, suppressed and stopped at all costs, with the use of over-the-counter medicines, antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs, and vaccines. Parents are also made to fear the worst-case scenario each time their children get sick, or when they choose not to vaccinate their children. 

It is important for all of us to begin learning about new scientific information that explains why children must experience their symptoms and illnesses as a necessary rite of passage, thus, allowing their immune and nervous systems to grow, mature, and develop appropriately. 

The expression of these symptoms may not always be caused by infections from bacteria and viruses. Instead, these symptoms and illnesses may develop as a sign that our children are healthy; that their bodies are strong, and working to bring to the surface, and cleanse, any accumulation of wastes that are deep inside them, having accumulated due to their exposure to varying stressors in their lives. 

In many instances, the process of bringing these wastes to the surface of the body is aided by the bacteria and viruses already living inside of them, and is a necessary step for them to become well."

I know there's some great remedies out there - what's your go-to for your littles? 

These treatments should never be used if you are not completely sure of the diagnosis of your, or your child's, health problem and should only be used after your qualified health care provider has evaluated the condition. This advice is meant to augment and not replace the necessary care of a licensed primary care provider. If the health problem is serious enough that you would consider calling your primary care provider, you should still call him or her. However, even in those cases where other treatment is prescribed you will often find these remedies and therapies helpful. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

the little table.

The girls got this little IKEA table for Christmas, and it's where they eat their meals and snacks (well, most of them). It's painfully cute to watch them scurry over and climb up in their chairs when I say, "want some breakfast?" or their current favorite, "do you want a smoothie?"

It took us about a week of intentionally working with them to help them understand that they were actually going to eat at the table, and to stay seated in their chairs, on their bottoms preferably, and to not throw their food or plates. I count it a good day if I can successfully serve them two meals and a snack in their chairs, the other meal or snack is usually in my lap on the kitchen floor. Especially when Andy works late.

They still love to drop stuff off the table, and it's my PET PEEVE. But two things are happening, usually: 1) They love to watch things drop, from anywhere. Science in action! 2) They want to help me "clean up" by literally cleaning everything off of the table to - where else? - the floor. Out of sight, out of mind.

So I just have to put aside my to-do list and sit with them for meals, and when I see that look in their eyes and their hand hesitates with the food over the side of the table, I intervene and have them put it in my hand instead, then I pick up the plates and say, "Looks like you're all done, thank you!"

If they weren't done and cry out for their plates back, I say, "Oh, when you drop your food, it tells me that I need to take your plate away. Please don't drop your food onto the ground. When you're all done, say, 'all done, mama!' (and then I make the all done sign) and I'll take your food away." I give them one more chance, and if they drop it again, plate goes away and we try again later.

If I don't sit with them or if I leave them to their own devices for too long, I can just expect to do a little more clean up, and the blame falls on me. That's been a really hard thing to accept. Why can't they just submit to my will obey?  But yeah, their brains are totally working on things OTHER than that right now, instead I imagine it goes more like this:

Afton:  "Mom, get this. If I drop this frozen blueberry off the table, watch it hit the ground! Awesome!"
Ruthie:  "I'm trying to help mama clean up! She always tries to get us to clean up, and when I do, then she gets upset. I'm confused." 

So I try my best to be consistent with table direction, especially no standing up on the chairs or throwing food, and sitting down to eat, but also lenient in some areas, because they're 19 months old, after all. Although I did look up from something the other day and they had climbed from their chairs up to the table and were standing on top, tummy to tummy. Yikes. 

Girls, please stop growing and help me to remember every day that you won't always let me cuddle you, most everything else can wait. I know it in my heart, but it continues to be a hard truth to embrace. And stop dropping your freakin' food. No, really. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Secrets of Peaceful Parents {Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Series}

"One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world." - Dr. Charles Raison

If you read my last Just Write post, you may have figured out that we're taking a different direction to discipline. This has been a seed planted in our hearts when the girls were still in my womb and we started to ask questions about the type of household we wanted and the ways we would cultivate and encourage our kids to be self-reliant, responsible, and kind.

We're still really early in our journey but we're also right in the thick of early toddlerhood tantrums and it is taking everything that I have to rewire my thinking in how I respond and talk to them when they drop to the floor over the littlest things (of course, they aren't little to them, it could be the end of the world for all they know!) I feel like I should be "teaching them a lesson" at this point and helping them to see their "wrongdoing," but according to Dr. Laura Markham, this is the opposite of what I should be doing.

Dr. Markham is a psychologist and mother who created the site Aha! Parenting and is the author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids. I had the opportunity to go listen to her speak and, coupled with her book, our minds are being blown on a regular basis.

There are a few reasons why I want to share my journey through this book with you: 
  • The myth of the peaceful parent = permissive parent needs to be shattered. Yes, there are permissive parents out there, but this way is absolutely NOT permissive. Just because we aren't using physical discipline or punishments does not mean it's lax or indulgent! It is high-support, high-expectation and takes a ton of work. It's hard!
  • I feel like many of us who had a more conservative upbringing (mainly Christian, sometimes non too though!) have been scared into thinking that if we don't physically discipline our kids, they will run off at 16 with their boyfriends, get drunk every weekend, and have lots of sex with every boy they meet. I have heard this argument from no less than 2 church leaders in the last month. I'm serious. And it needs to stop.
  • Maybe you're a mama who has had these same thoughts but feel alone in the process, or that there is no other way. You are not alone. Let's do it, together! Or maybe you've been parenting this way all along. I want your experience! 
  • I need accountability. Although well-behaved, inside I was an angry child-angry teen-angry adult, and it's been quite a grace-filled journey learning how to express my emotions in a healthy way. If I know there are other people standing shoulder to shoulder with me, in the good times and bad, it will help.  
OK, so let's kick this off with an overview, and then over the next few months we can go more in depth.

The Three Big Ideas (from Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids)

1. Regulate Yourself: 

"Your own emotional regulation -- a fancy way of saying your ability to stay calm -- allows you to treat the people in your life, including the little people, calmly, respectfully, and responsibly. That's what produces children who are emotionally regulated, respectful, and responsible." (xxi)

Honestly, there are so many times when I just say, "maybe I should just give her a little swat," but as my wise friend Tiffany pointed out, at these times it is more about me maintaining a sense of control than doing it for her "own good." I'm definitely not perfect at this whole thing, but I'm hopeful that starting early will continue to help me regulate my own emotions for when times get really tough.

2. Fostering Connection: 

"Children thrive when they feel connected and understood. Parenting effectively depends above all on your connection to your child. Period....Children need to feel deeply connected to their parents or they don't feel entirely safe, and their brains don't work well to regulate their emotions and follow parental guidance." (xxi)

Have you ever noticed that on your busy days, your kids need you way more or act out more than usual? I do! We've been packing to move, and yesterday I tried to get a lot done. It was the worst day we've had in a long time. I also had a bad head cold, which made me even more cranky. Instead of trying to power through, I should have taken a break, sat on the floor, and read books for a while. I'm certain that the crying and tantrums would have been much, much less. That's an example of connection.

3. Coaching, Not Controlling: 

"What raises great kids is coaching them -- to handle their emotions, manage their behavior, and develop mastery -- rather than controlling for immediate compliance. They [parents] 'emotion-coach' so that their child develops the emotional intelligence essential to managing feelings and making wise choices. They use empathic limits rather than punishment - even just time-outs and consequences - to coach their child's development of self-discipline, rather than simply forcing their child into obedience." (xxi)

OK, this is a hard one. It feels wrong, somehow, and goes against the typical conservative parenting teachings, but I'm convinced that what she's saying here is 100% true. I had a very hard time expressing my emotions when I was younger (up until the last few years, actually, after intensive counseling) and felt like any anger or frustration I felt was something that needed to be covered up. I ended up stuffing a lot of things throughout my childhood and did not have very much of what Dr. Laura calls "emotional intelligence." If I could gift that to my children, I would be one happy mama.

Overwhelmed yet? Don't be! 

"Life is simply the slow accumulation of moments, and each moment gives us the chance to change directions. Even if we change our reactions to only a few things that happen today, we'll find ourselves heading in a new direction. Before we know it, we're in a whole new landscape." (xxvii)

Even if this method of parenting seems whack to you, or you're intimidated but curious, or you've been doing it this way for a while, please stick around and join the conversation! Next in the series will be a more in depth look at regulating ourselves. Something we ALL struggle with, right? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

easy valentine's DIY: you're my cup of tea.

I went to a girl's night valentines day party and forgot to make cards for our valentine's exchange, so I grabbed together the supplies I had on hand and came up with these little gems! Use my tutorial as a springboard to create something even cuter, especially if you have more time than I did.


Scrapbook Paper
Scissors or exacto knife
Tea bags

1) Cut out a tea cup template out of some cardstock, use the template to cut teacups out of scrapbook paper. 

2) Using cardstock as your base, measure out how big you want you valentine's do be. Mine was just a little thinner than a tea bag, and just long enough that it could wrap around the back and stay secured with a piece of clear tape. 

3) Glue some scrapbook paper (I used a translucent handmade paper) to the cardstock, then glue your teacup onto the card.

4) Using an exacto knife or scissors, cut a slit near the top of the teacup and in the teacup handle.

5) Tape some string to the back of your teabag, then lay the teabag facing up on the back of the cardstock. 

6) Pull the string through the slit cut in the cardstock above the teacup, then wrap the cardstock around the teabag and secure with a piece of tape.

7) Make a teabag label out of cardstock or use pre-made label to write, "You're my cup of tea!"


Thursday, February 7, 2013

To be a safe haven.

My two sleepyheads cuddle up in their cribs and we all let out a collective sigh of relief. 

It's tough on everyone, this growing up thing. Believe me, I know

Some days I feel like a child again, facing down the monsters in the closet, only this time the monster is me and the anger that I work so hard to breathe through and release is hulking and threatens to manifest itself in ways that my toddlers would not understand. Their little hearts are so precious, so vulnerable, so impressionable. My sense of justice is so short-sighted, blinded by my sense of entitlement and the things I think I deserve.

I suppose that's why my heart of hearts has come to be so against my use of physical discipline, because it's me I don't trust and retribution is what it would become. Do not hand me that rod; throw it off the bridge and watch it sink to the bottom. Fling it off the mountain top as I build my altar up here and purpose to walk a different path, a stone-strewn mountain trail that leads me far away from the person I see myself becoming without a continuing inflow of grace and mindbending mercy.

I'm believing in someone Greater than myself to measure justice, believing that the One I trust is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. Always, always, always.

That I would take that on as my mama-mantra, to the fulfilling benefit of my children, because when the natural consequences of life and being human rain down on their little heads, I'll be a safe haven for them to take shelter, with words of correction and truth and life and encouragement.

It's been a while, but once again sharing with Heather and Emily. Join up! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

colorful rug love.

The houses on blogs and Instagram that are stark white with neutral tones are gorgeous. They feel so light and clean and sophisticated. Like grownups live there.

But every time I go try to purposefully reproduce that look, I instead end up purchasing things like this from Urban Outfitters (with free shipping):

And then after I complete the purchase, I say "oh, shoot, I was going for the white-on-white look!" If you check out my Pinterest boards, you will see that I do in fact love color. I need to remember that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

finding my identity + house hunting.

There have been moments when I seriously wondered if my kids know what grass is. Like, green grass that covers parks and yards, you know, that grass?

Downtown apartment living with two active toddlers is tough. Before we had kids, we loved the hustle and bustle of downtown life, and it didn't matter that we lived in 500 square feet, because we could make do with anything and have a blast doing it. Now, even if we had to stay in this apartment, it would be OK and we'd make do like we're doing now, both Andy and I want a house with a yard so badly. Even just a tiny space, for us to run around, for Andy to have a little BBQ, and for me to grow something.

Living in the Portland metro area is spendy, and our budget is on the low end of low, but it's always been a priority of ours to be IN the city. We love to walk, we love the little neighborhoods with coffee shops and restaurants and quirky shops, and we love to feel like we're a part of something bigger.

But when you're super picky and your family is now double the persons, and when your budget is restricted and you have high expectations, nothing really comes available. I learned that the hard way.

 (the chubby sisters last spring at my parents' house)

There was a house, THE perfect house, right near our most favorite neighborhood and within walking distance to a favorite park and it was just perfect on paper. I saw it on Craigslist and my heart skipped a beat. But walking through, we both realized that for our budget, we could not have everything. It was on the high end of what we could spend and a really, really old house, but not in the quaint fixed up kind of way; there were holes in the walls and it was drafty and lead paint on the windows and, according to the landlord, asbestos under the kitchen floor. But it was in the perfect location!

Then I seriously asked myself how much of my identity was wrapped up in where we lived, and to possibly consider the fact that I was too concerned with the where rather than what was best for my family. Because I was seriously considering a house with asbestos under the floor just to BE on that street. My expectations were the major stumbling block to finding something that was right for all of us.

It's not wrong or bad for me to want to live in the "cool" part of town (although the up & coming changes year to year), and we both still dream of having a craftsman in the middle of town. But I was really concerned about what our visiting friends would think, what my friends would think, how I felt about where we ended up. I was coming at it upside-down and backwards. 

This weekend, we found the house. The yard is ginormous. They could probably build two more houses back there. So that means a garden. And maybe chickens. And lots of running and rolling around in sweet, clean grass. It's right in our price range and so not financially stressful for Andy. It's not 100 years old, so it's better insulated and it's clean. Still small, but we like small. But it's farther out than I wanted to go. It's not in a trendy part of town (at least not yet). It's a quiet street in the 100's block.

We filled out the paperwork and then I went home and baked myself a big pie of crow, then started pinning garden plans and chicken coops.

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