Sunday, February 5, 2017

Natural Relief from Shingles

I came down with shingles during my last pregnancy and it was utterly miserable.  It was well over a month before I was able to sleep through the night without the pain or itching waking me up.  Throughout that month, I stumbled across different things that helped to relieve the pain and I wanted to write them down before I forgot them.  I put something on my sores every couple hours and just alternated between each of these throughout the day.  Although I was in intense pain and couldn't imagine it being any worse, my spots did not get as bad as the pictures on the internet so I do believe these natural remedies helped a lot!

1.  Acupuncture -- The only nights that I managed a decent sleep during that month were the 3 times I did Acupuncture.  It is the only time I have ever done it and I don't love the process (those little needles can hurt!) but for some reason it really works!  If my shingles were to ever return, I would immediately head to the Acupuncture office to see if I could avoid such a bad case of it.

2. Chiropractic care -- by the time I realized that my malady was shingles, I was in  too much pain to be adjusted.  If I contracted it again, however, I would immediately get adjusted because my research showed chiropractic care to be very effective.

3.  Essential oils -- I alternated using tea tree oil (melaleuca) and ravintsara diluted with a tiny bit of coconut oil.  Lemon, Lavendar, Geranium, and Roman Chamomile  are supposed to help as well.

4.  Collodial Silver gel -- this is antiviral and really helps!  I alternated it with the essential oils several times a day.

5. Peaceful Mountain Shingles Rescue Homeopathic Gel -- this was very soothing!

6.  Derma Change Shingles Relief Cream -- the Maneuka honey in this was soothing to my sores  as well.  I alternated this with the Homeopathic Gel above every night before bed.

7. T-Relief tablets -- these have arnica as well as several other homeopathic remedies.  I took one every time I woke up in pain and I do believe they helped dull the pain so I could go back to sleep.  I took this instead of Tylenol because I was pregnant and didn't want to take Tylenol PM every night.

8.  Arnica gel -- I alternated this with the silver gel several times a day and I do think it helped.

9.  Collodial Silver -- I drank this about 3 times a day in an effort to kill the virus more quickly.

10.  Dr. Christopher's Formula Cayenne Heat Ointment -- I was afraid to use this when my sores were raw and angry because it is so potent, but once they transitioned to more of an intense nerve pain rather than a topical pain, this was very effective.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Lice and Tick Prevention Detangling Spray

Lice seem to be a major problem in the schools this year.  Not only are they everywhere, but they seem to be harder to get rid of than they used to be.  In one of my daughter's classes, there was a major lice problem before Christmas.  I thought for sure the 2-week break would clear things up, but after a week back at school we got another letter saying they were still finding kids with lice!  We happen to have 6 girls in our family with lots of hair so the thought of lice is absolutely horrendous to me!  Thankfully we have avoided it so far and I truly think the detangling spray I make them use a couple times a week has kept the lice at bay.  I actually started using it two summers ago as a tick deterrent and then added the essential oils that deter lice when the girls started school. I didn't really find this recipe anywhere; I just started mixing things that made sense to me together to make it.  I don't ever measure so I will try to guestimate what I do for readers but feel free to tweak it to please your own kids.  My girls do not really like the apple cider vinegar smell but neither do ticks and lice.  The smell vanishes quickly enough and it is great for hair so they have gotten used to it. The rose geranium oil is expensive but we haven't gotten a single tick in our hair the 2 summers we have used it and the summer before that we got them every single time we visited the grandparents or went to the lake.  It lasts a long time and is totally worth the price!

(*Note: I don't want to get into any debates about essential oil brands.  I have used Young Living, Do Terra, Edens Garden, and Plant Therapy all with great success.  I currently primarily buy Plant Therapy mainly because of the affordable price, great extensive Kidsafe line, and because of two day shipping on Amazon, but I love the others as well.)

very small travel size water spray bottle
1/2 tsp moisturizing oil (I usually just use olive oil because it is what I have on hand but almond, jojoba, or any other liquid oil will do)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
5 drops Rose Geranium oil (for tick prevention)
5 drops tea tree oil
10 drops Plant Therapy "Get 'Em Gone" blend
water filled the rest of the way to the brim of spray bottle

Directions:  Shake well and spray on hair.  I use it on my girls' hair every time they wash it and any other time there are tangles.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Just a few new favorite baby products

Babies really don't need much but it seems that every time I have a new baby I find a few things that help make my life easier.  Here are the ones I've loved this time around:

1. Baby K'tan original Baby carrier - I've always loved babywearing, but with 5 kids, it is an absolute necessity to have my hands free!  I formerly used the moby wrap or just a simple sling for the first 6 months until the baby was old enough to really use my favorite Ergo carrier.  And they were super helpful.  But the sling restricted one of my arms, making it hard to carry out many household chores or hold two different hands while crossing a parking lot. And as much as I loved the moby, it was honestly a pain to deal with all that fabric.  The K'tan solves both of those problems and is easy to put on and comfortable to wear.  I don't know what I would do without it.  The only downside is that I have used it so much out of necessity that my baby is slightly addicted to falling asleep in it!  I bought mine brand new on ebay but for the half the price of Amazon or the nearby stores that carry it.

2.  Arms Reach Co-sleeper -- This thing was a life-saver the first 2 weeks!  We usually just use a pack n play beside our bed but I am always highly anemic after giving birth and I get bruises all over my arms as I reach over and down to pick the baby up all night long.  I love this co-sleeper because the baby is completely safe so I can sleep in peace but she is so much easier to pick up!  We got ours on Craigslist for about  1/4 of the price.

3.  Tiny Love Take Along Mobile -- My last toddler destroyed our mobile and when I went online to search for one for our new baby, I was horrified at how expensive they were!  But this one is awesome because not only is it half the price of most of them, it is portable and can easily go on the carseat or pack n play for trips.  It can clip anywhere!  I also like that it is more simple than  lot of the over-stimulating mobiles available.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

5th Baby reflections

As my fifth baby turns 6 weeks old, I find myself a bit emotional.  She is growing so quickly and I don't know if I will be blessed to experience this precious newborn stage again.  It has been tough and exhausting many times, as all newborn stages are, but I have found myself slowing down and just enjoying her more than past babies because I know she might be my last and I just don't want to miss a moment or forget how precious a newborn can be.

With my first baby, I was determined to try to be a good mommy...I watched the clock constantly, not wanting to feed her too often or not often enough and trying to make sure she slept the perfect amount of time.  With my 2nd baby, I was too sleep deprived and honestly wouldn't remember a thing if I hadn't blogged about it.  My 3rd baby was thankfully an easy one and fell into our routine nicely but I gave up blogging so much because there just wasn't time with 3 little ones running around. My 4th baby was very fussy and my life was absolutely crazy with a recent move, my husband losing his job, and trying to homeschool a 2nd grader, a kindergartener, and a preschooler while bouncing a fussing baby in the sling.  She pretty much lived in the sling.  But this time, with my fifth baby, I find myself not even knowing when I fed her last or when she went down for a nap.  I purposely try NOT to look at the clock.  If she yawns, I put her down for a nap.  If she cries with her precious cough that means she is hungry, I feed her.  Even if it seems like I just did.   If a new mom asked me for advice, I would just say, "Enjoy your new baby.  You can't spoil a new baby.  Babies were meant to be held.  Don't worry about the clock.  Don't worry about how much time you spend rocking.  Don't worry about sleep-training those first 3 months.  Just enjoy your baby."  Because it passes all too quickly.  And it is such joy to just love on that baby instead of watching the clock.

Friday, December 9, 2016

My 5th Birth story

We are so in love with our new baby girl!  She truly came at the perfect time with just the right people available to help and I wanted to remember all the little miracles that happened along the way.

I must start her birth story about a month before my due date.  The previous month had been a tough one, with all 4 of my girls coming down with a long, miserable virus and many sleepless nights.  Mark and I also came down with sickness, although thankfully not the virus.  Needless to say, I was sleep deprived, utterly exhausted, and my immune system was down.  Shingles chose that unfortunate time to strike and it is honestly the most painful illness I have ever endured.  Between the baby kicking my bladder and the intense pain of the shingles, I could not sleep at all.  Only a month left before our sweet blessing arrived (if she waited that long!), and I could not do anything to get ready.  It hurt to even walk around, let alone clean the house or wash baby clothes.  Also, we had no room for the new baby yet. My husband and his Dad were busy putting up a wall to make a new bedroom for the big girls so the baby could take theirs, but in the meantime, the house was a chaotic construction zone and everything from our former family room (think tons of books and games and art supplies)  was scattered around the house, waiting for me to feel good enough to find new homes for them.  It was a miserable time but we are so thankful for amazing family and friends who brought us meals and helped take care of the girls when I was in too much pain to move.  And we all just prayed hard that Alyssa would stay put until I felt better enough to get the house back in order and be able to take care of her!

Finally, after about 2 1/2 weeks of intense shingles pain, it finally lessened (turned into very frustrating itching)  and I was able to start doing the things I needed to get ready for our baby girl!  It was such a joy to wash her little clothes and finally set up her new room!  But I still didn't feel great and still had much work to do to get the house back in order and continued to pray that she would not come til we were ready.

About a week before her due date, news reports claimed the coming of the biggest/ closest full moon in about 70 years on Monday. The old wives tales say that full moons bring on babies and my delivery nurse friends and chiropractor readily agree.  (My OB, however, says that a change in barometric pressure affects labor the most.)   I began to wonder if it would affect me at all.  My 2nd born had come a week early so it would not be a surprise for this baby to come that early.  I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks since about 15 weeks and they had been stronger and more frequent the past week.  But I really wasn't ready for this baby to come yet...

Sunday morning dawned and my 3 year old seemed sick again... some kind of stomach virus.  And my husband had come down with a miserable sore throat.  I had gotten the baby's room and clothes ready, but had not yet had the time to sort through all the junk from our family room, let alone deep clean the house since my neglect during the shingles.  But regardless of whether I was ready, the pull of the moon brought strong, painful contractions that evening.  My husband was trying to discuss baby names with me and the pain was too much for me to even hold a conversation with him!  I honestly was overcome by fear, once again reminded how much labor hurts.  I just wasn't ready to do this!  I needed my husband healthy and my house straight and my faith stronger.  I went straight to bed and just lay there and ached and prayed the contractions would cease.  I wrote down the times of my contractions and they were pretty constant for about an hour and a half, a lot of times only a couple of minutes apart.  But they didn't grow worse and finally ceased and I drifted off to sleep.  I was so thankful!

The next day, my body seemed to be cleansing itself, getting ready for labor.  But the contractions never returned!  My poor mother-in-law kept her suitcase and make-up in the car all week long, thinking labor would start again and she would need to rush over and take care of the girls.  But God gave me just the week I needed to get everyone healthy, my house clean and straight, and my courage revived.

(Note: many people have wondered why I chose to birth at a hospital this time rather than the birthing center I used last time.  It was a purely financial decision.  I absolutely loved the birthing center and my midwife and would go there again in a heartbeat, but our insurance changed and we just didn't have the extra almost $2000 it would take to do the birthing center rather than the hospital.  I had heard many good things about this particular OB and after meeting him, I felt he would be perfect for delivering our baby.)

On Friday morning I went to see my OB and he told me he would be on call the next day.  I love my OB (He has 11 kids his wife birthed naturally so he really understands me!) and I knew he would be on vacation for Thanksgiving after that, so I immediately started praying that I would go into labor on Saturday when he was there.  I did a bunch of exercises that are supposed to help spur on labor and texted Mark that I wanted to eat spicy Mexican for dinner since many people affirm that spicy foods help encourage labor.  There is also a particular pizza place in our area known for its patrons going into labor after eating there so I had decided to do lunch there the next day if the Mexican wasn't enough.  Friday afternoon was a gorgeous, amazingly warm day for November and my husband had the idea to take the girls hiking to enjoy the weather.  So we walked trails with some good friends for over an hour and I tried to keep as good a pace as I could.  I was doing everything I could to get this baby out!

Our friends joined us at the Mexican restaurant for dinner and while we were chatting, mentioned an activity going on the next day.  I jokingly said that we wouldn't be able to join them because we were going to be at the hospital to have this baby.  My friend retorted, "Oh yeah?  What time will you be going?"  I responded with, "Oh, about 7am!" as if I had any control over when this baby would come and we all had a good laugh.

After such an exhausting day, I went home and took a shower and went to bed early.  I was a little disappointed because I wasn't having any contractions at all, not even Braxton Hicks!  But I went right to sleep and had the best night's sleep I had enjoyed in a long time.  At 5:23am, however, I was awakened by a sharp pain and just knew it was time.  5:30, 5:34, 5:37, 5:40.  I just knew.  No doubt about it.  This baby was coming.  I went ahead and called the hospital to let them know I was coming and (more importantly) to ask what time my OB came on call.  7:00  Perfect!  The nurse asked how long I had been experiencing contractions and when I said ten minutes there was a big silence on the phone.  It was obvious she didn't believe that I was really in labor.  I said , "Listen, this is my 5th baby and we aren't even coming to the hospital for another hour but I just wanted to let you know and to find out when my OB would be coming in."  She sounded relieved as if in an hour I would realize it wasn't really labor.  I laughed to myself and breathed through contractions and called the grandparents and packed a few things.  I finally woke My husband up around 6am because I was having trouble getting anything done in between contractions and needed his help.  He took a shower and finished doing the things on my list and we were off to the hospital right around 7am!  I later laughed at the irony of our dinner conversation but was in too much pain to think of it at the time.

We got to the hospital and my nurse read my birth plan and said, "I used to be a doula so I think your plan is awesome!"  I almost cried with relief but a contraction came at that moment and I threw my arms around her and groaned as she held me up as we swayed through it together.

After the contraction was over I told her she was an answer to our prayers. (I had wanted a doula but my favorite one was going to be out of town for the holidays and I really hated to pay that much money for a new one when I knew I'd only need her for an hour or so.  So I never asked anyone to help me and had regretted it when the pain of contractions became fierce.)  My nurse Rebecca turned out to be so awesome.  She encouraged me and helped me through my contractions and showed my husband where to push on my back to help relieve the pain.  She is a Christian as well and has volunteered for years at our local crisis pregnancy center and knows many of the same people we do!  It was so wonderful that God placed her in my room when I needed her most!

When my OB came in the first time he checked me and said I was already at 8cm!  My contractions had been quite intense and I was so incredibly relieved to hear I was getting close!  He laughed and said, "I knew if I saw you in this hospital it would be almost baby time!"  I usually walk the halls for hours during labor but by the time the doctors and nurses had finished doing their initial checks, I was pretty far along already! I endured contractions for a bit longer and then started to feel pushy.  I told my nurse/ doula and she checked me and said I was complete!  She left to get the OB and my husband got pretty nervous about the baby coming while everyone was gone.

It seemed to take forever for them to get back!  I was already on the bed on my hands and knees ready to push.  I was also waiting for my Mom.  My parents live an hour away and hadn't expected labor to progress quite that quickly.  Right after the OB and nurse came back and I started pushing, my mom rushed through the door.  She had run the entire way through the hospital and was out of breath but I was so relieved to see her!  She is always the encouragement I need!

Even though I have done this 4 other times, I always forget how to push and how to hold it out long enough to be effective.  The pain just makes it hard to focus at first.  I kept asking if they could see her head yet and it seemed to take forever!  Finally my mom told me she could see it and that baby girl had tons of dark black hair!  That was just the encouragement I needed to push her out!  I was determined to push her out in a single contraction because at my last birth, I pushed out her head and then rested and it seemed to take forever for the next contraction to get the rest of the baby out and my strength had lessened.  So this time I just kept pushing and managed to get her all out in one contraction!  Such a relief!  My water did not break until her head came out, which turned out to be another little miracle.  I was GBS+ but didn't get to the hospital in time to get the antibiotics.  If my water had broken earlier, they would have had to immediately administer antibiotics to my baby, but staying in the water sac had protected her and instead they just did a 48-hour blood test to make sure she wasn't infected.  I was so thankful that she didn't have to start out her little life with antibiotics that could ruin her gut flora and give her tummy trouble!

After she was out, I kept asking if I could hold her, but her cord was too short to reach my arms.  It seemed like forever until it stopped pulsing and it could be cut and I could have her but oh, once I had her it was worth all the pain!  My Mom said that as I was asking to hold her, my baby turned her head to the sound of my voice as if she knew it already and wanted to get to me also.  New life is so amazing!

If you are interested in any of my other birth stories, here they are:
Baby #4
Baby #3
Baby #2
Baby #1

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer chores for my girls

After going through morning sickness, I realized that my girls were capable of much more responsibility than I gave them credit for.  I decided that I would make summer chore charts so that they could learn to do most of the housekeeping skills so that I wouldn't have to oversee them so much when the baby comes.   It took a little work the first couple weeks as they were learning, but now they are doing an awesome job!  I made myself a schedule as well, so that I sweep and mop on alternate days or vacuum, etc.  That way all chores get done at least twice a week and if they don't do them perfectly, I can make up the difference.  It has just been wonderful! My house is cleaner than ever!  I have to say that one of the biggest differences has been the amount of laundry I have to do now that my 7 and 9 year olds do theirs completely.  When you have a family of 6 people, cutting out two really helps!  I thought I would share our chore charts.  I also made a document giving them an opportunity to make some money.  I don't want to raise entitled children so if they ask for money for something, I just point to their chart :)

Summer Daily Chores

Karis (9 years old)
Monday -- Do your laundry and sweep bedroom
Tuesday - Wipe down bathroom sink and potty
Wednesday -- sweep and mop under dining table
Thursday -- Empty and refill dishwasher when asked
Friday -- vacuum and straighten family room

Karlie (7 years old)
Monday -- Wipe down bathroom sink and potty
Tuesday --Empty and refill dishwasher when asked
Wednesday -- Do your laundry and sweep bedroom
Thursday -- sweep and mop kitchen and art area
Friday -- Sweep and mop under dining table

Abbi (5 years old)
Monday -- Sweep and mop bedroom
Tuesday -- Help Mommy do your laundry
Wednesday -- Help empty dishwasher when asked
Thursday -- Wipe down bathroom sink and potty

Friday --Help empty dishwasher

Summer Ways to earn extra money:

First, ask yourself if you have done the following:
  1. Bed made, nothing on floor, drawers shut
  2. Daily chore
  3. Dressed, clean teeth, and brushed hair
  4. Been kind to sisters
  5. Happily done previous 4:30 clean up
  6. Devotions
  7. Clean table spot after each meal or snack
  8. At least one page of math workbook

Extra money options:
  1. Scrub tub -- .25
  2. Sweep and mop kitchen and art area -- .25
  3. Sweep and mop under dining room table -- .25
  4. Clean all windows, mirrors, and doorknobs that you can reach -- .25
  5. Clean out toys, books, and trash from van -- .25
  6. Clean and vacuum family room --.25
  7. Maps from memory -- 5.00
    1. Fill in States and tell me capitals
    2. Blob the continents and oceans with Latitudes, PM, eq, & directions
    3. Fill in Periodic Table H1 to Ar18
  8. Finish a math workbook -- 5.00
  9. 8.  Multiplication book in August - 2min/number: 5.00
  10. Be able to sing the following grammar songs from memory: 5.00
    1. Sentence
    2. 8 parts of speech
    3. Noun
    4. Verb
    5. Adverb
    6. Adjective
    7. 4 Purposes of Sentences
    8. Pronoun
    9. Preposition
    10. Linking Verb
    11. Helping Verb
  11. Recite all science or history songs from CC cycle 1 -- 5.00

Friday, January 29, 2016

Honey-Ginger-Lemon-ACV-Elderberry tea for Great Health!

Several days a week I make this tea and I really enjoy it!  I started with just lemon and ginger and raw honey because I read how it could help a sore throat.  Then I realized that it made my raw apple cider vinegar much more tolerable and I began adding that (because ACV is truly one of the the most beneficial things you can drink but boy, does it have a strong taste!)  Then my Mom gave me an awesome berry tea for Christmas that contained elderberries and I thought to add those to the mix.  And now I have a super healthy drink that I love! It is so simple to make also!

1.  Set water in teapot to boil
2.  Cut a slice of lemon and place in mug
3.  Cut a slice of fresh ginger and add to mug
4. Place some dried elderberries in a re-usable muslin tea-bag and add to mug
5.  Pour boiling water over lemon, ginger, and elderberries
6.  After cooling a bit, add raw honey and as much apple cider vinegar as you can handle.