Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Keeping Christmas Simple and Christ-Focused

I really appreciated Leah's post on "What do you want for Christmas?" because it very closely echoes my heart as well. We undoubtedly want Christmas to be about Jesus' s birth, not about the presents. I'll admit, though, that I absolutely love the Christmas season and have so many traditions that I want to do with my girls just because they are fun. And some of those have nothing to do Christ's birth. So I thought I'd share just a little about how our little family tries to keep a balance and keep the focus on Christ.

--- We make a big deal about the Christmas story and read it often. We request every book at the library that deals with the nativity and read them together (over and over :) and discuss them. Some that my girls have particularly enjoyed are: "Mortimer's Christmas Manger," "Room for a Little One," and "Who is Coming to Our House?" We also read each version of the Christmas story in all of our different children's Bibles. This has been a lot of fun for the girls and they both LOVE any book they can find that has Mary and Baby Jesus in it. I have also tried to extend the story so that they get more background, including Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Anna and Simeon.

--- I try to ask them regularly, "why do we celebrate Christmas?" (Because it is Jesus's birthday!) My Mom usually does a "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake that Karis looks forward to decorating and eating. Like Leah, we don't talk about getting presents, (and they have no idea that they will be receiving any!) but we do discuss giving presents to others because it is kind and just like the wise men gave gifts to Jesus. My girls get very excited about giving presents to Daddy and wrapping presents for their cousins. Karis has even come up with some ideas for giving to others all by herself! She was bound and determined to take cookies to our next door neighbor and pestered me about it until I finally made time to do it! They have been thoroughly confused the few times people have asked them what they want for Christmas and were so surprised and delighted this Sunday when some sweet members of our church brought them some small gifts :) I am sure that as they get older and start to remember Christmas morning at the grandparents' each year, then it will be harder to keep the focus on Jesus's birthday and giving, but that will definitely continue to be our goal each year.

--- My husband and I have decided to keep our little family gift exchange very simple to avoid distracting the girls from the real reason for celebrating. We just give them a book (usually the next level of Bible that Karis is ready for) and a CD (because our girls absolutely LOVE Christmas music and it is really hard for them when we put it up for the year!) Last year we got them The Big Picture Story Bible and the Songs for Saplings CD:Questions With Answers. This year we are giving them The Children's Everyday Bible and Seeds of Praise CDWe also do simple stocking stuffers of things they need (like a new toothbrush, socks, gloves, etc.) and something fun (this year it is fingernail polish for Karis and play dough for Karlie). Now I have to be honest with you and let you know that the girls end up getting spoiled rotten at their Grandparents' houses, with lots of presents and super fun stockings, but they get spoiled there pretty much anytime they go visit so it doesn't take away from the season too much... they just see it as the fun of being at the grandparents' houses!

--- We have presented Santa to our girls as something fun and "pretend" that people like to talk and sing about around Christmas time, much like Frosty the Snowman. Next year I plan to get some books about St. Nicholas and try to delve into the historical tradition a little more, but for now, Karis has been happy to see Santas everywhere and just know that it is a fun story people like to read and sing about during the winter time. When she gets a little older, I'm sure I will have to discuss with her about the fact that some children actually believe the stories and that she shouldn't spoil their fun by telling them it is just pretend, but it hasn't been as issue for us yet :) She views Santa more as a decoration than anything else.

--- Have any of you done the Jesse Tree for Advent with your children this year? I didn't have it together this year and just now got all my ornaments made, but it is something that I am very excited about doing with my girls next year. Basically, each day you read a passage from the Bible and place an ornament on the tree --Each ornament represents a different story, starting at the beginning of Creation and working all the way to the coming of Christ Jesus. Each reading shows how all the Old Testament points towards the coming of Christ as the Messiah.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Breastfeeding advice

Several of my friends have asked me for advice on breastfeeding lately, so I thought I'd share this list that my dear friend, Leah, gave to me right before I had my first baby. It was REALLY helpful to me and I hope that it will be for you! (I've added in my own notes in italics)

Leah’s Advice on Nursing
**Disclaimer: Of everything I’ve learned, the most important is that advice is just advice. Take it for what it’s worth. Some things work for some people, but not others. You can’t live up to everyone’s standard. And you don’t have to. Just take the best of everyone’s advice and do what works for you and your baby. Your baby is unique – and that’s a good thing!**

  1. Start praying now that God would give you His wisdom to make good decisions and His peace to rest in Him while you are starting out. It can get really discouraging in the first week of nursing, and you really do need His strength to trust in Him and know that He is helping you along.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your nurses and the lactation consultants in the hospital. I called a nurse in to help me each time I went to feed Samuel so they could help me get him started correctly. It’s tempting to want to try to figure it all out yourself, but starting correctly from the very beginning is a big help in the long run.
  1. Write everything down – when she nurses, which side and for how long, and each diaper you change. The hospital should give you a little chart to fill out while you are there so you can keep track of when you are nursing and when she is having wet/dirty diapers. Keep up with the chart until at least your first pediatrician’s appointment. It will help you to see what is going on with your baby, and it will help the pediatrician see that she is progressing well.
  1. Keep in mind that women have been breastfeeding for thousands of years. Long before there was Baby Wise or La Leche League, women were successfully nursing their children. You can do it.
  1. Buy a sports bra style nursing bra and a tank style nursing bra. These are the easiest to use, especially at nighttime. I sleep in these bras for the extra support. Or sometimes I sleep in a tight fitting tank top that pulls down easily. You want to go for comfort and ease in a top/bra when you are feeding at night. (I absolutely LOVE the nursing tanks at Target!)
  1. Engorgement will pass! A few days after you give birth, your milk will start to come in and your boobs will be like two rock hard apples on your chest. I wasn’t too uncomfortable, but I know a lot of women can be. This will only last for 48 hours – hang in there! When you nurse during those 48 hours, sit comfortably and massage your breast while your baby nurses. Gently push from the outsides of the breasts towards the nipple. It will help move the milk through and ease some of your discomfort. After those 48 hours, you should feel a lot better.
  1. In the first few days, after your baby nurses, express a tiny drop of colostrum from your breast and rub it into the nipple. My nurse gave me this hint and it really helped. It is supposed to be the best treatment for keeping your nipples from cracking. Do this for as long as you need – I stopped doing it after the first week.
  1. Give your nipples 5 minutes to air dry. I always left myself exposed for the 5 minutes I used to burp the baby so that my nipple could dry.
  1. Use Lanolin cream from the very start. After I rubbed the colostrum on and then let my nipple dry, I applied a generous amount of Lanolin cream to the nipple area. I did this for the first week. After that, it didn’t seem that I was going to get cracked nipples and I stopped using it. I’m not sure if I was just lucky, or if all of the above advice did the trick. (I used coconut oil instead and it worked great!)
  1. Relax and enjoy the time with the baby while you nurse. It is a sweet, sweet time and the bonding is just as important as the passing of nutrition. Your baby knows you – your voice, your smell, your touch. Use this time to really form that special bond with your baby. She is uniquely yours!
  1. Nursing does hurt at first. Those first few sessions can be uncomfortable because you just don’t know what to expect. But it shouldn’t be painful. If it is like out of this world hurting you, then something is wrong. Take the baby off and try again.
  1. When your baby is drinking colostrum, you won’t hear her swallowing a bunch. It takes a few sucks to get enough in her mouth to swallow it down. Tune in from the beginning to recognize the sounds of your baby nursing. Get familiar with what sucking sounds like and swallowing. BUT, don’t be discouraged if you can’t figure out what sound is swallowing at first. It took me a few days to figure it out.
  1. The standard advice is to nurse your baby at least every 3 hours during the day, and every 4 hours at night. If you have a sleepy baby like me, start trying to rouse her if it’s been more than 2 hours. Although, I will say that I nursed Samuel every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night for the first 2 weeks so that he would gain weight quickly in the beginning and I wouldn’t have troubles with the doctors being concerned about his weight. And it worked – he had gained a whole pound by his 2 week checkup and I didn’t have to keep going back in for weight checks.
  1. Start out in the beginning using the “football hold.” It is the easiest one to master and you can really see how well the baby is latching on when they are in that position.
  1. Learn to do the “lying down” position as soon as you can. Sometimes you are really exhausted when the baby wants to nurse, and if you can get her to nurse while you are lying down, it can mean a lot more rest for you.
  1. Drink a lot of water! This is sort of silly advice because you will find that you are SO thirsty while you are nursing and won’t need to remind yourself to drink water. But always keep a glass of water handy. I have several throughout the house so there is always one nearby.
  1. Don’t give up too easily. A lot of women get discouraged and want to quit. I promise you, if you hang in there, you will succeed. If you are getting down, call someone and talk to them about it. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone, or like you are the only one who has ever wanted to quit. Breastfeeding is totally worth it and you’ll be happy you stuck with it.

  2. The biggest question I had in the beginning was “how long should I be nursing each time?” I will tell you that the books aren’t real clear on that answer. It is true that each baby really is different. For a reference, Samuel is a fast eater. He nurses for about 15 minutes each session. Now, in the beginning, I didn’t know he was a fast eater, and I was totally freaking out because I thought it was supposed to take 45 minutes. I was so nervous that I was doing it wrong. My advice here would be to take a deep breath and try to be in tune with your baby. I would aim for getting her to eat at least 15 to 20 minutes. If she is still hungry, she will keep eating. And with the colostrum, it takes them a little longer because it takes more work getting it out and because they are brand new at nursing. This question will make you worry for the first few days/weeks because you’re new at this and you want to do what’s best for your baby. It’s okay to be concerned.
  1. It’s important to keep the baby awake in the first weeks while she’s nursing. Not awake in the sense that her eyes have to be wide open. But, she does need to eat for a full feeding. She will want to fall asleep after 5 minutes. Rub her belly or her hands to keep her eating. The lactation consultant showed Ed how to crank Samuel’s arm to keep him awake enough to keep sucking.
  1. I only feed on one side at a time. I didn’t plan on doing that in the beginning, but the nurse had me do it, and it’s just sort of worked out that way. I asked my pediatrician, and he said that was great to do because it ensures the baby is getting the hindmilk. I think most books recommend that you feed on both sides at each session so that there is adequate stimulation of both breasts. I personally like doing one side each time. If he is still hungry, I offer the other breast.
  1. It is tough to know when she has “drained” your breast. I was dumbfounded by this statement. I couldn’t tell at all. It is a little misleading to say “drained” because it implies that the breast is totally empty and nothing is coming out. But your breast is actually producing milk for the baby as long as they are sucking. I decide to switch breasts when the one he’s using feels totally flabby and he is starting to irritate my nipple.
  1. Make sure you have nursing pads on hand. You will find that your opposite breast leaks when you begin nursing. And sometimes they will spontaneously leak even when you aren’t nursing. This has been one of the most distressing things for me. When you already feel emotionally frazzled, it can be really discouraging to look down and realize that you have leaked through your bra and it is now running down your shirt. Talk about wanting to cry!
  1. Keep a safety pin attached to your bra to remind you which side you should start nursing on for the next session. I actually kept a hairband on the appropriate wrist because I kept forgetting to move the safety pin. But if you are marking which side to start on, it makes it a lot easier.
  1. Last but not least, have a good cry now and again. And lean on your husband for support. Breastfeeding can be stressful because it is so new to you and baby both. It’s okay to cry when you get stressed out. Have your husband lay down in the bed with you, cuddle you, and reassure you that you are doing a good job and that you are an excellent mother. Hang in there, babe.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Trimester Tips:

Oh, morning sickness! It seems like just a bad dream now that I am in my third trimester, but I vividly remember how miserable I was and how just making it through the day seemed like a huge accomplishment. I was so incredibly excited to be pregnant, but truly wondered if I would actually be able to make it through while taking care of two little ones. This week I am supposed to be giving tips on how to keep your household going smoothly while feeling under the weather for several months, but I have to be honest: I did a pretty poor job of it this summer. My first two pregnancies were not too bad, but this last one hit me much harder and really threw me for a loop. I pretty much gave up and had to rely completely on my family and friends for most of the 1st trimester. That was really hard for me, but God taught me a lot through it. I’m going to share a few practical tips that I did learn, but just keep in mind that the biggest lesson I learned was to trust God and be humble enough to ask for help!
Random tips in no particular order:
-- If you are lucky enough to find out that you are pregnant before morning sickness hits, stock your freezer!! I usually have about 10 happy days before I am incapacitated and I try to cook up a storm during that time. As soon as I saw that blissful line on the pregnancy test, I threw my schedule to the wind, made a huge trip to the grocery store and cooked all week long: enough bread, pancakes, tortillas, and meals to last about a month. I really don’t know how we would have survived if I hadn’t because once it hit, I seriously couldn’t walk into the kitchen without gagging.
-- Give yourself a break -- I remember so many days during that time where all I did was lay on the couch or floor and read to my girls. I got absolutely nothing else accomplished. My house was a wreck and I felt like a slacker but seriously couldn’t do anything more than that. But at least I knew my girls were happy and out of trouble and I had made it through one more day. There is no reason to beat yourself up for lack of productivity when you can do absolutely nothing about it!
-- Don’t be too proud to ask for help! Your church family is there to help you through times like these and it will bless them as well! One young mother in our church asked if she could keep my girls for me one morning to give me a break. Normally, I would have declined, because the girls didn’t know her that well, but I was desperate enough to accept the help. My girls had a wonderful time and wanted to go back. They ended up going over there every Monday morning for the entire duration of my morning sickness! It started a great friendship with a young family that we hadn’t previously known that well and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! In addition, I cannot tell you what a difference it made in my mindset to know that I could start my week off easily. I had previously felt very overwhelmed on Mondays, knowing it would be so many days before I had my husband’s help again. I also had a young pre-teen girl in my church offer to come over and play with my girls. That began another beautiful friendship and she still comes over one morning every other week! The girls really look forward to her visits and I definitely do! I have been amazed at how God has used my weakest moments to form relationships that I now treasure. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! God will bless your humility.
-- Switch or stop taking your pre-natal vitamin is they are making you sick. With my first two pregnancies, I was able to take my pre-natal vitamins throughout my first trimester without any problem.This last pregnancy, however, they made me throw up. If I took them, I would spend all day in the bathroom.I decided that they were not doing me any good if I always threw them up, so I just quit taking them. I still felt utterly miserable, but no longer threw up at all. It was definitely worth it to me!
-- Ginger and honey tea can help settle your stomach. I didn’t want any of my normal favorite teas when I had morning sickness, but a simple ginger tea did seem to help a little bit. I bought fresh ginger at the grocery store and would simply cut off a few pieces and let it steep in my hot water for a few minutes. It was a very mild ginger taste and I would add just a drop of honey as well.
-- Try eating before you sit up in bed. If I sat up, I would not be able to eat anything, so my husband brought me buttered toast and ginger tea almost every morning to eat while lying down. Sometimes it was all I could manage for breakfast, but it was better than nothing!
-- Use paper plates and other disposables. I usually try to do everything all natural and “green-like,” but the first trimester is undoubtedly just a time to survive. Dishes became a huge problem for us because they completely grossed me out and made me sick and I just couldn’t do them. I really could hardly walk in the kitchen without feeling ill. My husband had to completely take over kitchen duty while I had morning sickness so he stocked up on the paper plates, bowls, plastic utensils, etc, and it helped so much! I also gave up on cloth diapers during that time.
-- Nap when the kids nap. This was hard for me, because nap time is when I get everything done! But I found that I if I did not use that block of time to sneak in a nap for myself, my body would not be able to make it the rest of the day. I would have to crash at 7:00 when I put my girls down rather than hang out with my husband. But if I took a nap mid-day, then I could stay awake to spend some time with Mark in the evenings.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some favorite resources

Since people often ask me about my favorite parenting books or where to find info on natural solutions, etc, I thought I'd compile a list of my favorites. This list is nowhere near completed; I'll be adding to it as I find more resources! I've put stars by my absolute favorites in each category :)

Favorite Biblical Parenting/ Mothering Books and websites:
Prayer of Hannah blog
**Don't Make Me Count to Three: A Mom's Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline by Plowman**
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Raising Godly Tomatoes by Krueger
Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children Into The Joy of Worship by Castleman
The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children by Priolo
The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart For Eternity by Sally Clarkson
A Mother's Heart: A look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother by Fleming
The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elizabeth Elliot
For Instruction in Righteousness: A Topical Reference Guide for Biblical Child Training by Forster
Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Priolo
GirlTalk blog

Favorite kids' Bibles/ resources for biblical study and scripture memory:
**The Big Picture Story Bible by Hunt -- perfect for 2 years and up!
**The Jesus Storybook Bible -- great for preschoolers and up!
Rhyme Bible Storybook -- very simple and fun because the girls love to guess the rhyming words.
My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts by Hunt
Doorpost's Catechism Set for Young Children
My 1st Book of Memory Verses byMacKenzie
Truth and Grace Memory Books

Godly Music for Kids:
Sovereign Grace Kids Music
Seeds Family Worship
Songs for Saplings -- I absolutely LOVE her catechism songs!
Hide Em in your Heart by Steve Green

Favorite Biblical Training Resources/websites
Doorposts.com, especially the If/Then ChartTitus2.com
Wise Words For Moms
We Choose Virtues

Favorite books on being a godly wife:
**Feminine Appeal by Mahaney**
Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home by Plowman
Sacred Marriage by Thomas

Other educational resources:

Sonlight -- I absolutely love their reading lists!
ABC Jesus Loves Me (a free online Preschool Bible Curriculum)
My Father's World
Classical Conversations -- what we are using for a homeschool foundation

For toddlers and early preschoolers:
Melisa and Doug Products, especially puzzles like Upper and Lowercase Alphabetand USA Floor puzzle
My First Steps to Math books and My First Steps to Reading books by Moncure
Tactile Sandpaper Numbers and Letters
Bob books, especially Alphabet and Pre-Reading skills for under age 4

For Preschoolers and Kindergarteners:
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Wise
The Writing Road to Reading by Spalding
Developing the Early Learner
Explode the Code
Language Lessons for the Little Ones

Good Reading Lists to help choose books for your kids:
Early Years Read-alouds -- Simply Charlotte Mason
Classical Christian EducationSupport Loop: 1000 Good Books List 
The Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education booklist

Five in a Row booklist
Our Library's book list

The Read-Aloud Handbook: 6th edition
 by Jim Trelease
Honey For a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt

Meg's Favorite Resources for Different Stages:

Favorite Books about Healthy Living/ Nutrition:
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig
**Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck **
Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods
Food Rules by Michael Pollen
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Pollen

Favorite resources/ websites on natural/ healthy living:
**Natural Living 101 at Passionate Homemaking **
Weston A Price Foundation
Nourishing Days
Food Renegade
Naturally Knocked Up 
Sue Gregg cookbooks

Money-Saving Books/Websites:
**Dave Ramsey, especially The Total Money Make-over **
Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids: Teaching Kids of Every Age the Value of Money by Clark Howard
Clark Howard.com
Deal Seeking Mom

Friday, November 5, 2010

25 Tips for getting over sickness naturally...

1. Oregano oil -- Personally, I think this is THE MOST EFFECTIVE natural remedy available! If you don't do anything else, please stock up on oregano oil. It is simple and effective. If I start taking it at first notice of a scratchy throat, I can pretty much avoid a bad cold because most symptoms are gone within 24 hours. If I don't start it right away, it might not go away as quickly, but it will still help a ton! I put a few drops in an empty pill capsule and take about 3 times a day. For children, just rub it on the bottom of their feet. Oregano oil is a hot herb and kills bacteria and viruses, very much like an antibiotic but without the dangerous chemicals. Make sure you read the label, though, and buy some that is not watered down with olive oil.

2. A tsp. of raw honey with 1/4 tsp. of good quality cinnamon. Both of these have great anti-bacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. If I'm feeling sick, I will mix up a bowl full of honey and cinnamon and take a spoonful 3-4 times a day. It soothes a sore throat tremendously, helps fight your sickness, and tastes great, too! For even stronger honey for medicinal purposes, purchase raw Manuka Honey.

3. Gargle with hydrogen peroxide or put drops in your kids ear.

4. Garlic -- If you google garlic you will be amazed at how effective this anti-bacterial natural remedy is. You can simply cut it up into pill-sized bites, or (if you are like me and don't like swallowing those pointy edges :) chop up finely and put in an empty pill capsule. For my girls, I slice it and just rub it on their feet. Their feet are very porous and absorb it very well. I also try to make meals that contain large a mounts of garlic when we are sick. For instance, I will make a pot of our favorite cheesy potato cheddar chowder and add a whole bulb of chopped garlic to the recipe. Or you can generously spread Donielle's "Cold Kicking Garlic Herb Spread" on your favorite bread or crackers :)

5. Probiotics -- These are so important for replenishing your good bacteria! You want to take them on an empty stomach if at all possible.

6. Collodial Silver -- Another super effective way to fight bacteria and viruses. You have to make sure you have a good source, but it really works! I take a mouthful about 4 times a day when I am sick.

7. Unpasturized Apple Cider Vinegar -- If you can, taking a mixture of 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with honey and plenty of cayenne pepper really works well. Take it 3-4 times a day. I can't do the pepper, but I just pour a little ACV in my water or tea and drink it throughout the day.

8. Steam Pot for chest/broncial/mucus issues. -- boil water on the stove in a glass pot – if you don't have a glass pot, boil the water in a tea pot and then pour into a glass bowl. When the water is boiling hard, remove from heat and add three shakes of Euchalyptus, lavendar, and pine oils into the hot water. The oil effectiveness lasts about 15-20 seconds so move quickly to get yourself over the steam. Breathe in through your nose, turn your head to the side and breathe out through your mouth. Continue this process until the scents aren't as strong. Be sure to close your eyes. With children, place a washcloth over their eyes as it can burn. You could also make a tent over the top with a towel for really young infants, but if they can get the concept of breathing through their nose, then it will get deeper into their lungs. You're doing it right if it just about takes your breath away or make you cough!

9. Grapefruit Seed Extract -- I add it to my smoothies, tea, or juice all year long just to boost our immune system. When I am sick, I take it in a capsule with my oregano oil.

10. Elderberries -- anti-viral, contains high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants, has cell-protecting components, soothes sore throats, and supports the immune system and respiratory system. I add some dried ones to my morning tea or make a simple elderberry syrup for the girls when they are sick. Lindsey gives a great little video of how to make your own on THIS post.

11. Kombucha -- it cleanses the body from toxins and aids in digestion and metabolism. Click HERE to see my review of it and some links explaining why I love this drink and how to make it yourself. My toddler and I drink this regularly (I'm still working on my husband :), and I was amazed that my baby would even take sips of it when she was sick! When I make it, I usually try to leave a small jar of it fermenting for several weeks so that it will be even more potent for killing off illness.

12. Mullein for chest/cold issues -- Take mullein capsules – The amount taken depends on the size of the capsule. The larger 0 sizes can be 1-2 capsules 3x per day. The small 000 capsules can be 3 capsules 3x per day. This is not a hard science, can take larger doses if the lung infection is bad or persistent. Mullein is a safe herb. You can also make a tea for kids who can not swallow pills. Or add a small amount to applesauce or yoghurt and have them take it that way. I add it to bone broth through out the winter.

13. Home-made Chicken Stock -- Your grandma was right to tell you to eat chicken soup when you are sick because it is chock full of immune-boosting nutrients! But don't buy the store-bought kind full of chemicals, bad salt, and MSG. It is so simple to make your own with nourishing sea salt and immune-building herbs. Every time I cook a chicken, I make stock for soups. Any time a soup recipe calls for water, I use my stock instead and it adds tons of flavor and nutrients! And anytime we are sick, I reach for my chicken stock!

14. Home-made ear drops -- these are helpful even if the sickness is not an ear infection, because it helps to get garlic and GSE into the body which fight infection. Click HERE for 2 different home-made ear drops, one that you can use right away and one that you can make ahead of time and store.

15. Cod liver oil -- Vitamin D is so important for your immune system and I prefer to take real food rather than just a vitamin D supplement that my body might have a hard time digesting and utilizing. I take it every day but take extra when I am fighting an illness. Don't be deterred by the gross-sounding name -- it comes in pill form so you don't have to taste it :)

16. Herbal Teas -- so healing! Click HERE for a list of which herbs help different ailments.

17. Stay away from sugar and white flour!!! This is so important, because they inhibit the natural workings of your immune system.

18. Let the fever run its course -- (That means NO Tylenol!) This is probably the hardest, yet most important thing for me to do when my girls are sick. God made our bodies to have a fever because the high temp. kills the virus or bacteria. Using Tylenol ruins this natural process and makes the body unable to fight the disease. It can also cause a fever convulsion by bringing the fever down too quickly. Without Tylenol, your fever will naturally break when it gets too high, then climbs back up and breaks again, etc, until it has killed the infection. So I just try to make my girls as comfortable as possible and if utterly miserable, I give THISspecial bath for helping with the fever. The main thing you have to watch out for with a high fever is dehydration, but I will write about that soon...

19. Coconut water -- This is truly nature's Gatorade or Pedialyte without all the added flavorings and sugar! I get in the organic section at Kroger or buy when on sale at Amazon and always keep it on hand for any time we are sick. Coconut Water is rich in many vital minerals, vitamins, and proteins, not just the basic "electrolyte essentials" found in a lab-formulated drink. And believe it or not, the natural electrolyte & pH balance of coconut water even make it suitable for a rehydrating IV solution! And my girls love it! Smart Water/ Trinity Mineral Water is also a good option for dehydration because it has a lot of electrolytes, but my favorite is coconut water.

20. Lemons -- high in vitamin C, which is important when sick. Once again, I'd rather take real food than a processed pill, so I add a ridiculous amount of fresh lemons to my tea or water all day long when I am sick.

Chiropractor! The relief a chiropractor can bring during illness is simply amazing. I can see immediate relief in my girls' eyes once the chiro has finished. And the amount of drainage that immediately is released is even more proof :) A chiro is particularly useful if you think your child has an ear infection and can bring immediate relief to the pain. Our family chiro has a lot of medical training and gave me much encouragement and more advice on beating sickness naturally. If you live in my area, I can recommend a fabulous Christian chiro who charges a reasonable rate and doesn't even deal with insurance. I just love her! I take my girls to a chiropractor before I even think about taking them to a doctor.

22. Coconut oil -- Filled with anti-viral and anti-biotic properties -- I eat a few spoonfuls or spread it on toast or mix in my tea. But make sure you buy the raw, cold-pressed kind.

23. Smoothies with coconut milk, coconut oil, frozen fruit, raw honey, and grapefruit seed extract --The best tasting medicine ever! It is really the only thing I can get my girls to eat when they are absolutely miserable. It is dairy-free so it won't add to drainage, has tons of vitamin C from the fruit, contains bacteria fighting GSE and coconut oil, all the nutrients of coconut milk, and the honey is soothing and has many other benefits. We actually eat these all the time to try to boost our immune system. My husband likes them so much that he was willing to give up his nightly ice cream treat for them (and if you know my husband, that is saying A LOT!)

24. "Remedies" from my Christian Holistic Doctor -- I know not everyone has this resource available but I wanted to include it because if you live in my area, I can refer you to the BEST natural doctor ever. She can pinpoint any illnesses/ allergies without invasive treatment and makes remedies based on your body's particular needs. She has such a heart for helping others and I just love her!

25. Homeopathic remedies -- I've recently started trying out Homeopathic options like teething tablets and allergy tablets. I've used the Hyland's and 
Boiron brand and they both seem to work well. I plan to try out the cold remedy next time any of us get sick and I have the flu remedy in my medicine cabinet just in case! Homeopathy seems to be very safe and effective. It treats the individual with highly diluted substances given in mainly tablet form, which triggers the body’s natural system of healing. The idea is that by giving a small dose of the very thing that could trigger the types of symptoms that a person is experiencing, you can actually bring about a natural healing response that will help to relieve those symptoms! Pretty neat!