Friday, January 31, 2014

Time for Gratitude: Patience

In my third trimester with my first baby, I’m most thankful for patience.

It wasn't easy to get to where my husband and I are today. But despite the heartburn and Braxton Hicks I’m experiencing now, this journey has been worth every long step.

Pregnancy is the greatest gift I've ever known.

My husband and I tried 18 months to conceive our firstborn. I never thought infertility would be a problem for me. We are young, healthy adults who lead clean, active lives. But after a few months, it was clear we would need help to achieve the family of our dreams, and it was then my patience was tested.

I’m really not a patient person. I don’t handle traffic well, and I don’t like being late. But I discovered a new strength inside of me when I had no choice but to wait, patiently, for our good news to finally arrive. Month after month, we would grieve another letdown, selfishly asking, Why us? But now I realize I was seeking justification for all the wrong reasons. Even as adults, it’s hard for us to understand why things happen the way they do.

Perhaps it was more my husband’s optimism and strength that carried me, but my level of patience has forever changed now. I understand life differently because of this journey to conceive. Even though I’m fighting impatience yet again as we await our due date, I can understand now that all good things come in their own time.

In the end, it was this baby who taught me that lesson, someone I’m eternally grateful for, too. 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Natural Home Remedies

Ah. Sick Season.

Otherwise known as winter.

Man, it's such a drag being sick, isn't it?

Even worse? Having sick kiddos. Those precious beings that you are supposed to be able to protect and keep safe can't be fully protected from sick-bugs. No matter how hard you try. Just leaving your house puts you and your family at risk. Heck, just breathing puts you all at risk.

If you are at all like me, you are very hesitant to give your kids any medicine - or to take any yourself. So, what do you do to prevent illness and treat it once it makes it's way into your home and bodies?

Before I go any further, let me be very clear: I am NOT a doctor. I am NOT a naturopath. I am NOT a chiropractor. I am NOT a nutritionist. I am NOT an aromatherapist. I am NOT a practitioner of any kind of medicine - natural or otherwise. I am NOT attempting to give you medical advice. I am simply a mom who wants to be as informed as possible about things that I am doing and putting into my own and my kiddos' bodies. I have done some research, talked with many friends (most of whom are MUCH more knowledgeable than I about such things), and put several things into practice that I'm going to share with you here. Home Remedies. I'm also going to mention some of the things that our facebook followers do, too.

A couple years ago I decided that I wasn't going to be "afraid" of sickness anymore. What I mean by that, is that I wasn't going to try to "knock it out" so to speak with synthetic medicine. Things like Tylenol, Nyquil, Advil, etc, we really don't even keep in the house anymore. Instead, I've learned that illnesses like colds, fever, flu, etc, actually strengthen our immune systems - particularly in the kids. So, hopefully to avoid a ton of illness in the future, we let their immune systems do the brunt of the work to treat their sickness.

That said, there are several go-to things that I pretty much always do if they are feeling under the weather. Things to help boost their immune systems and to draw the toxins out and just relieve some of the symptoms to make them more comfortable.

  1. Elderberry Syrup. I discovered this little miracle last winter and haven't looked back. We take it regularly to help keep our immune system in top-form, and if we do catch something (I'm talking mostly congestion, cough, runny nose types of things) we up our dosage. I used to buy it at the health food store, but then tried some homemade syrup from someone and then found a recipe that I like. We are on our first batch of syrup that I made myself and we *love* it! I'll post the recipe below ;). Amy M, one of our facebook followers, agrees with homemade elderberry syrup too!
  2. Epsom Salt Baths: This is one I learned about last year when the kids got Influenza A. One of my very good friends recommended I give them a bath with Epsom salt, Baking Soda, and Peppermint essential oil. Holy cow. I couldn't *believe* the difference after they got out! I remember looking at my sweet son sitting in the bath when I first put him in. He was very still, glassy eyed, and sleepy. I had him in there for about 20 minutes or so and when he got out he looked and acted like a new kid. He was still sick, but the salts, soda, and peppermint helped to pull some of those nasty toxins out of his little body and he felt so much better - he even ran around and played for awhile! When we were fighting through that illness, I gave them both these baths about 3 times a day. It took about 2-3 days for them to get back to normal, using only these baths and elderberry syrup. Another example comes from one of my sister's friends who called her recently with a sick baby. Her infant son had been throwing up all evening and just didn't feel well. She gave him an Epsom Salt and Baking Soda bath and he didn't throw up again. She was even able to go to work the next day. Seriously - it works wonders! As far as how much to use, I totally just guess. I throw maybe 1/2 cup salts and 1/4 cup soda. Approximately. When I put peppermint, eucalyptus, or lavender essential oils with it, I put it all in a small mason jar, add several drops of whatever oil I'm adding and shake it well before dumping it in to the bath. I'm definitely not precise.
  3. Increase Vitamins, Herbs, Supplements: There are several vitamins, herbs, and supplements that are *very* useful and helpful in increasing immune function. There are some that you've likely heard about often, but maybe some that you haven't heard that can help: Vitamin C, Echinacea, Garlic, Vitamin D3, Cinnamon, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the "mother"), Tea, Ginger. Maria K, one of our facebook followers mentioned Airborne, Aloe Juice, echinacea tea, as well as pineapple juice for sore throats. Tina B agrees with drinking tea and taking lots of vitamin C
  4. GOOT: I'm not sure what this stands for, but I love the way it works. To make it just blend a whole bulb of organic garlic, 3 Tbsp Olive Oil, and 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil. After it's well blended, strain out the garlic fibers and rub the garlic oil on the bottoms of the kids' feet, chests, and behind their ears. I do that for sure at bedtime, and then throughout the day as often as I feel is necessary. Keep the oil in the fridge and it will keep for several weeks. I think it probably starts to loose its potency after about 3 weeks or so. Your house will smell nice and garlic-y! :). My friend who told me about this remedy long ago also mixes the garlic fibers with honey and feeds it to the kids. Talk about a potent immune booster!
  5. Essential Oils: I am learning more and more about essential oils as time goes on. The first thing you need to know about Essential Oils is that quality matters. There are several very good brands that are therapeutic grade, and I would definitely recommend these for dealing with illness. The lesser-quality brands are good for cleaning, smelling, etc, but when it comes to health, immune systems, etc, you definitely want to go with a very high quality oil. Different oils are good for different illnesses and ailments. The main ones that we use in our house are Theives*, Peppermint, Lavender, DiGize*, Eucalyptus, and Tea Tree. Even though these are a few of the main ones we use, there are hundreds of different types and blends of oils available through many different companies. I encourage you to do some research, talk to people who use them, and make sure you are using oils in a safe and effective way. Larissa B, one of our facebook followers recommends doTERRA On Guard, along with other essential oils and garlic too
  6. Coconut Oil: We use a ton of coconut oil around here - particularly when fighting illness. The kids love it when I make them some CO mixed with honey and cinnamon. They get the super-power of coconut oil, cough suppressing honey, and immune booster cinnamon in one delicious spoonful of goodness :)
  7. Apple Cider Vinegar concoction: Tina H, One of our facebook followers gave us this recipe: 2 Tbsp ACV & Lemon Juice. 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon & ginger. Stevia and water to taste
If you want more information on exactly how I use any of these things just shoot me an email or leave a comment on here.

Our bodies are pretty amazing at fighting off illness and infection - in fact, did you know that a fever is our body's way of fighting infection? I'm not kidding! I'll post more on that another time. But for now, just know that our bodies are amazing! They really are built to protect themselves.

Now. I would be remiss if I didn't say this: Though our bodies are amazing with great ability to heal themselves through a multitude of illnesses, and there are natural remedies out there for almost everything, if you feel like you need medical attention for something, then get it! If you feel like your sweet kiddos need medical attention for something, then take them in! You know yourself and your kids better than anyone. Not only that, but you have God-given mama-instincts that are going to steer you in the right direction every single time. If you feel like something is really wrong and you don't want to try any home remedies then take them to your favorite trusted pediatrician (or ER if necessary) as soon as possible!

Here's wishing you a happy and healthy "sick season"!


P.s. Please tell me what your favorite home remedies are! I want to hear them :)


*These specific oils are only available through Young Living. Other companies likely have similar blends as well, you'll just have to do some research and decide what is best for you.

The Elderberry Syrup recipe I use came from Mountain Rose Herbs

1 c fresh or 1/2 c dried organic elderberries (harvest blue or black, NO red)
3 c water
1 c local raw honey
1 organic cinnamon stick
3 organic cloves
1 tsp grated organic ginger (optional)

Bring berries, water, and spices to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Smash berries to release remaining juice and strain the mixture. Allow to cool and then stir in the honey. Syrup will last 2-3 months in the fridge

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kids are SO Funny

Oh, the things kids say.

They can make us laugh. Sometimes even complete with tears - ha!

I don't know about you, but I take complete joy in the things my kids say. The thing is, I'm absolutely HORRIBLE at writing their humorous quips down so I usually forget them. *sigh*

There are a few here and there, though, that I for whatever reason remember.

The other day was one.

Vienna and I were chatting on the couch. She was telling me about something (I can't remember what - imagine that), and somehow the topic of her foot came up. I think she told me it hurt or something. Anyway, we were looking at the sole of her sweet foot and she pointed at something and asked me what it was. I told her it was a wrinkle. She gave me the funniest look and said with all sincerity:  Wow - that's my *first* wrinkle - I must be getting old! (she turns six next week)

Seriously - in the moment it was SO difficult to keep my composure and not burst out laughing. What a precious sweetie. I just smiled and agreed that she was definitely getting older. She was so proud.

Another one was with Porter. We were walking through Toys-R-Us a couple months ago just perusing. We happened to be in a pink aisle with a lot of barbie stuff, I think. Anyway, there was a "rockstar" guitar on display. Porter, with his hands-on-hips, curled-Elvis-lip, super-serious way of saying some things pointed at the guitar and said: Hey - look at that! It can really ROCK.

It was SO funny!

Another time when Vienna was a very early talker - probably not long after Porter was born, so she was likely around 2 or so, I was going to the bathroom. As per normal I wasn't alone. As I finished, I pulled up my super old/worn out pink polka-dot underwear and she said: Mom, when I get a big butt like you can I have those beautiful panties?

Oh. My. Cow. I about died trying to stifle my laughter. I mean, I don't want my kids to think I'm laughing AT them when they say something hilarious - they are usually so sweet and serious. But dang, are they funny sometimes!

My most favorite of all time, though, is not even my kids, but my SIL's sweet daugher. This happened long before we had kiddos. My SIL and I were making lefse one day at her house. Her daughter was probably 1 1/2 or 2 - just starting to talk. She had just woken from her nap, my BIL (my husband's brother) just got home from work so she was super excited. She was thirsty, so her mom got her a drink in a glass. She had it cupped in her arm, and as she walked across the kitchen floor she tripped on the dog and spilled a little. She then bent over to "move" the dog (a big boxer who wasn't going anywhere - ha!), and of course proceeded to dump the whole glass of water on the floor (remember it was cupped in her arm?). Her whole face crinkled up with tears and she said (in her super adorable just-starting-to-talk sort of way): Sh*t! Sh*t, Sh*t, Sh*t!

I tell you what - my sister in law and I were SO glad that her husband was there to "deal" with it. We both had to turn away and neither of us could stifle our laughter. We were both shaking and literally had to leave the room. It was probably the single funniest kid-moment I've witnessed to date. I'm seriously giggling to myself as I type this.

So. Funny.

Ok, so what are your favorite funny-kid-moments? What have they said or done that made you laugh? What do you do if it's something that you really shouldn't be laughing at?

My most favorite thing though? Laughing WITH my kids. We sometimes get into giggle fits and just can't stop. Usually it's at bedtime. Go figure ;)

Ok, so share, share, share! We wanna hear your stories!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Breastfeeding to Avoid Allergies

I hear so much talk about allergies in kids these days. I feel very blessed to have two kiddos that don't have allergies. I believe that there are many things that can contribute to the development of allergies, but I also believe that breastfeeding your baby can have a huge impact on allergies and can definitely help lower your child's risk.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League talks about avoiding and relieving allergies too. Here is an excerpt:

"Avoiding Allergies

Protection against allergy is another of the many advantages a baby receives from breastfeeding. Your baby will not be allergic to your milk; you can count on this with certainty. It is a law of nature that infants never become sensitized to their natural food.

Proteins make the critical difference. The protein in human milk is totally compatible with human babies, but the proteins in cow's milk and in formulas based on cow's milk are potential troublemakers for the human infant. Some babies, when first exposed to these foreign proteins, become sensitized. When they are again fed cow's milk or cow's milk formula, they react with a variety of symptoms: stomach upsets, vomiting, diarrhea, stuffy nose, rashes, general crankiness. Even one bottle of formula, fed during the night in the hospital nursery while mother "gets her rest," is enough to sensitize some babies to cow's milk proteins and produce allergic symptoms months later.

Not only will a baby never be allergic to his mother's milk, but breastfeeding can be a factor in protecting the baby from future allergies. Many studies have found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for several months or more had fewer allergic symptoms later in childhood.

A 1988 study reported in Annals of Allergy found that allergies were less likely to occur among breastfed infants and that breastfeeding, even for a short period, was clearly associated with a lower incidence of wheeze, prolonged colds, diarrhea, and vomiting. More recently, a 1995 study published in Lancet followed children from infancy through adolescence (seventeen years of age) and found that breastfeeding provided long-term protection from eczema, food allergy, and respiratory allergy.

A Miracle Cure

For some infants, breastfeeding serves as both a preventive measure and a cure for allergic disease. One of the most dramatic cases of an extremely ill baby getting well on mother's milk came early in La Leche League's history. Lorraine and Emil Bormet's two-and-a-half-month-old David, formula-fed since birth, had been suffering from almost continuous diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and eczema. Different formulas had been tried, including soybean and meat-based varieties, with no improvement in David's condition. As a last resort, the doctor suggested that human milk was probably the only thing David could tolerate.

Lorraine located a nursing mother several miles from their Illinois farm home, and the mother agreed to help. Following David's first feeding of human milk late one evening, his astonished mother reported that, "he fell asleep and slept through the night for the first time in his life."

Convinced of the value of human milk, the Bormets wondered if Lorraine could bring in her own milk, even though it had been almost three months since the baby's birth. They contacted La Leche League for information. Milk production, we could assure her, is stimulated by the baby's sucking, and so she began the painstaking work of encouraging David to take the breast. Lorraine stayed in close touch with Marian Tompson, one of La Leche League's co-Founders, and David continued to receive human milk from generous donor mothers. Eight days after she began her efforts to breastfeed, drops of milk appeared. Some weeks later, Lorraine Bormet was completely nursing her baby, who by then was symptom-free, healthy, and content.

In the years since the Bormet story unfolded, other mothers with similarly allergic babies have contacted La Leche League, and many have found that, despite a late start, they could provide their own milk for their babies."

There is a lot of research out there about breastfeeding and how it is absolutely best for baby. Like I said above, I believe that there are many things that can contribute to the development of allergies. Even though babies can still develop allergies, breastfeeding is clearly the perfect food for your baby, and we encourage you to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months before introducing anything else into their delicate system.

If you are a breastfeeding mom (or will be soon) and want to meet with other breastfeeding moms for advice, support, encouragement, etc, join us at Educated Mommy tomorrow evening (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. for our Breastfeeding Support Group!

We hope to see you then!



La Leche League International (1997). The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Sixth Revised Edition. New York: Penguin Group.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Here's to More Ups than Downs

Can you believe it's already the 6th of JANUARY in 2014?!

What the what?

I absolutely cannot imagine where time even goes. I mean how in the world can it already be 2014? It seems like I was just newly pregnant for the first time, moving across the country back to SD in the blazing heat of the summer of 2007. That's almost *SEVEN* years ago!

As time keeps just slipping away, I can't help but wonder what the next 7 years will bring. What kinds of ups and downs will there be? The last 7 years have been chock full of them. Honestly there have been more downs than ups, but the ups have been SO wonderful that they more than make up for the plethora of downs. And that's what matters, right?

I feel so abundantly blessed in so many ways that it's difficult to dwell on what didn't go exactly my way for whatever reason.

And now since it's the beginning of a new year, it's time to talk and think about new year's resolutions.

Most of the things that are talked about are things that we are going to do: loose weight, be healthier, live life to the fullest, take more chances, enjoy the "little" things more, spend more time with the kids, work less, play more, etc, etc.

I saw a post that got me to thinking - someone in my news feed asked what if we resolved to "stop doing something" instead of doing something. I have been trying to think of things that would fit into this category for me.

I could stop being so critical of myself. I could stop yelling at my kids as much as I do. I could stop getting frustrated with my husband. I could stop being so guarded with my friends and family and tell them all how I really feel about them and how much they mean to me and what I'm really thinking about things. I could stop being so disorganized and inefficient with my time. I could stop worrying about so many things and go to my Maker in prayer instead.

I could stop doing a lot of things.

Heck, I could start doing a lot of things.

But you know what I'm going to do instead?

I'm going to keep living my life. I'm going to continue to strive to be the best wife, mommy, daughter, sister, auntie, friend, employee, nurturer, encourager, prayer warrior, and all-around person that I can be. I'm going to do my best to improve myself every day, just as I have done for as long as I can remember. If I have a bad day, I'm going to pick myself up and start over again. January is the start of a new year and the time for a fresh start. But so is every morning. So is every afternoon and night. So is the beginning of every hour and every minute. It is *never* too late to start fresh in whatever you are doing. It is *never* too late to be better than you used to be.

I feel blessed to have such an amazing support system in my corner. Whenever I fall they are there to help me back up. Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed they are there to encourage me. Whenever I need to cry they are there with a shoulder for me. Whenever I'm feeling alone, they are there to remind me that I'm not. No matter what.

That's my prayer for you this year and today and every day. I pray that you can continue to be the best you can be. No matter what happens that you have the support you need to press on and do what the Good Lord calls you to do. No matter what your resolution or goal. You are beautiful and wonderful and we are all in this together!

You have a "village" here at Elegant Mommy, and we feel so blessed to be able to offer you encouragement and help in whatever area you need it in.

So here's to the New Year. May it be filled with blessings and new adventures and more ups than downs.