Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Suffering with the common cold is a fact of life....or is it?

My journey into the world of herbs and natural remedies has been slow and gradual.  My parents introduced me to herbs in high school.  As an adult, I took very few until a couple of years ago.  We treated teething ailments with a homeopathic remedy, that DH says he wouldn't have bought if he'd known it was homeopathic, but it worked so much better than traditional pain relievers that by the time we discovered it was homeopathic, we were sold on it anyway.

A couple of years ago, as one of my children suffered through yet another cold, my dear friend suggested sambucus (elderberry).  I found some at GNC and used it, and it did seem to relieve some of the symptoms.  My friend told me about the website that she uses to buy hers, and it was only a few dollars more for a bottle twice the size.  Even with shipping, the bottle was cheaper than buying 2 bottles locally.  As some medical issues arose in my own life, this same friend purchased herbs for me to help relieve my symptoms.  They failed to eliminate the need for surgery, but they made me more comfortable until then.  My friend also introduced me to a combination of Fenugreek and Thyme for sinus headaches. 

I became convinced of the need for good vitamins in our lives.  Children vitamins with no artificial sweeteners (which make us sick) are harder to find than I thought, so I turned again to this site.  I discovered almost 200 children's vitamins on this site.  Some are no better than the ones the Bru Crew was taking before, but some, WOW!  I couldn't believe all the things in some of them!  I was so excited!!!!  The first ones I purchased, the kids gagged on!  So, back to look again.  The second ones were better, but not as good as the first ones, as far as ingredients go.  I decided to order something different the third time.  The kids ate the third ones, but I had to bribe them!  Then, I discovered that they had echinachea in them, and it is better not to take echinachea every day, non-stop, so we switched to something similar, but a little tastier and without echinachea.  My plan was to alternate-two weeks of one, then two weeks of the other.  That turned out to be too complicated and after the tastier ones, the kids turned their noses up at the ones with echinachea.  (I later found several hiding under the couch cushions.)  So, I turned to prayer.  I had switched through several vitamins of my own during this time, and finally found a whole foods vitamin that worked for me.  I was struggling for the kids because Ms. Quality Time thinks she is too big for a chewable, and she can swallow pills, but most pill vitamins are not for children, and she is not a teen yet to take the teen vitamins.  Tenderheart decided that she too wanted a pill, while Little Man and Smiley informed me that the only vitamins they liked were gummies!  Oh me!  I wasn't sure what to do, but James 1:5 promises wisdom to those who believe and don't doubt, so I claimed that and prayed hard.  I knew that the health of my family was important to God, and he wanted the best decision for my family as well.  Finally, I realized (with the help of the Holy Spirit) that even if the vitamins aren't the best vitamins available, my children are young enough to still be forming their habits for their adult lives.  It is important that vitamins are a pleasant experience for them so that they don't grow up taking them to please me, but in their hearts are saying, "I can't wait until I'm an adult and I don't have to take this junk anymore!"  So, I found gummies that I thought were acceptable, and some whole foods gummies to add to it, since I firmly believe that the best nutrients come from foods that God made.  I ordered some mini-pills that were whole foods for the older girls, but they were discontinued.  I found something else whole foods for Ms. Quality Time.  They are probably similar to Juice Plus pills, but cheaper and from a company that I trust (not that I don't trust Juice Plus, I'm just not that familiar with that company).  I discovered that the second kind of chewables that I purchased made a mini-pill that has some whole foods and is smaller than the pills Ms. Quality Time takes.  The company sent the wrong vitamins this last time, so we are still waiting for those for Tenderheart.  She is anxious to be done with the gummies, but aware that her older sister's pills are too big for her to swallow.  All that said, because of good vitamins, our sick time has been greatly diminished this year!

About ten days ago, give or take a couple of days, I did get sick, however.  I thought it was allergies, since our bradford pear trees were in full bloom, and I treated it as such.  However, last Tuesday night when my throat was on fire and I couldn't sleep, I began to think I was getting sick.  When I finally fell asleep and then woke up with crusty eyes, it was confirmed.  I began to drink my echinachea tea (which has many other immune boosting qualities and elderberry in it).  I felt some better.  My herb friend, who I mentioned before and I ask questions to all the time and knows much more than me, has told me several times that she takes garlic for colds and that sugar suppresses the immune system.  I didn't know about the whole sugar thing, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it.  I discovered that I was almost out of my regular sambucus, so I bought one from the local health food store that has no sugar, and includes echinachea, astralugus (another immune booster), vitamin C and Zinc, both of which are well touted for their immune boosting properties, especially against the common cold.  This particular cold also resulted in sores in my mouth, which I always take the amino acid L-Lysine to fight against.  I took an additional Vitamin C, limited my sugar dramatically (no jelly, no syrup on my pancakes, no cookies or candy, unsugared cereal, etc.) and ate only one piece of dark chocolate a day, I continued to take my Fenugreek and thyme as needed, and with my snacks, I chopped up a clove of garlic and downed it with OJ.  My DH complained about this practice, so I quit after three days, but it helped me so much that I may look into another way to take garlic next time.  The interesting thing through all of this, is that with the exception of my mouth sores and the occasional drainage, I had a cold without symptoms!  DH got a cold about the same time, and turned his nose up at my vitamins, herbs and supplements, and he coughed and sneezed until yesterday.  I say that with the utmost respect for my wonderful husband!  I am so grateful for him, and glad that he allows me to buy and take herbs even if he and I are of different opinions on the subject.  I just wanted you to see the difference in taking them and not, at least in the two of us.

On a side note, I was still unsure about the whole sugar thing, so last night I put it to the test.  We had gone to our local museum for a "Night Out with the Backyardigans".  I ate two chocolate chip cookies while I was there, and since they ran out of bottles of water, I had a small can of coke. (I think they were like 6 oz or something.  They were the size of cans of tomato juice.)  I had more symptoms last night than I've had since I started taking things to fight this cold off!  I guess sugar really isn't good for your immune system!  Also, I firmly believe that taking too many things at the same time is less effective than spreading them out, so my schedule was something like this:

7:00-vitamin and fenu-thyme with breakfast(since both recommend food)
9:00-vitamin C and Lysine (since it's supposed to be between meals)
10:00-garlic with OJ (with a snack to help control the acid in my stomach)
11:00-Echinachea tea
12:00-vitamin and fenu-thyme with lunch
2:00-vitamin C and Lysine (since it's supposed to be between meals)
3:00-garlic with OJ (with a snack to help control the acid in my stomach)
4:00-vitamin and fenu-thyme
6:00-garlic with OJ (with dinner)
8:00-Throat Comfort Tea (which also contains echinachea) and Lysine

This is not the only way, and probably not even the best way to do what I did, but I just wanted to give you all the details.  May your next cold also be symptom free!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


In the middle of the night last night, I heard a loud crash, followed by the pitter patter of kitty cat feet.  I thought nothing of it.  This is what I found, when I woke up.  They broke my pizza stone!!!!  Then, things got worse!  We had scheduled our female cat to get fixed, but when Dan's grandmother died, we canceled.  I had considered waiting and getting them both fixed together when our male cat was old enough to get fixed, but that isn't going to work.  She is in heat now, and there is only one male cat around-her brother.  As I'm heading out the door to the dentist this morning, it becomes apparent that we cannot wait to get her fixed, and they will have to be separated until then!  I was late to the dentist because I was going from the dentist to the gym, and I knew I couldn't just lock one of them in my room without a litter box, food and water for 3 hrs!  Fortunately, I didn't have any cavities (I was SURE I would after my morning!), and I had a good workout, but then I went to get the kids from the nursery only to discover that Smiley had an accident, so home, and to the shower we came.  Eventually, we will get to our school work today, but there have been lots of life lessons so far!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

If Dr. Seuss was still alive, today he would have turned 107!!!!  I have loved Dr. Seuss since I was a little girl, and I enjoy reading his books to my children.  They also enjoy reading his books themselves, so I decided to celebrate it in our homeschool today, but I didn't tell the children.  They each have a notebook in which I write the date and their assignments for each subject that day, but under today's date, it simply said, "Surprise School" with a smiley face.  I was really excited!  They were too, because I tend to want to check things off my list too badly to take the time for fun.  The Lord is working on that in me, but Dr. Seuss's birthday is just to fun to skip!  I woke them up to eat a green eggs and ham casserole that got mixed reviews.  Smiley resisted it, but eventually ate all of it.  Ms. Quality Time ate half of hers.  We adults enjoyed it a lot.  Little Man and Tenderheart ate the peppers and the ham from theirs, and left the rest.  I steamed some fresh spinach and pureed it to add to the egg mixture to make the eggs green without food coloring and to add nutrition.  After breakfast, we made a quick trip to the library to turn in books that were due before they were late.  Once we got home, Little Man read Green Eggs and Ham and the Bru Crew colored a picture from the book, just like Dr. Seuss did. 

Ms. Quality Time
Next, Tenderheart read The Cat in the Hat to us, and they completed a maze to help the cat find his hat.  This was followed by making edible hats for snack.  I melted white chocolate, dipped ritz crackers, and the Bru Crew put a marshmallow on top while the chocolate was still wet.  We then rolled out various red candies, like Starbursts and Laffy Taffies to make rings around the hat.  Their first one was as realistic as they could make it, but the second hats got a little crazy, and the colors were whatever they wanted.  Here's pictures of the hats.  We followed this up with The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and a Cat Dot-to-Dot page.

Little Man
 We read Fox in Socks, and completed a rhyming page, which was to be followed by  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, but we were unable to locate our personal copy, so we simply quoted as much of it as we could remember, which turned out to be quite a bit collectively!  This was followed by an opposites page all using fish-old fish, new fish, sad fish, glad fish, etc.  Finally, Ms. Quality Time read us Happy Birthday to You. In it, they go to Katroo, eat hotdogs on spools with mustard, which you wash off in the mustard off pools.  We had a lunch of hotdogs with mustard (and/or ketchup) and colored (gold)fish (from One Fish, Two Fish).  Then, we headed to our local indoor pool to swim.  [We did remove any ketchup or mustard ahead of time, in spite of what the book says.  ;) ]   All in all, I think our Dr. Seuss Day was a smashing success, and they are EXHAUSTED!!!  Ms. Quality Time said in a rather disappointed voice this evening, "I guess this is just a one time deal."  I told her that next year they would be expecting it, so it wouldn't be a surprise, but I thought it might be nice to make it a tradition.  I even encouraged her to be thinking of ideas to use so next year we could use some different books and different ideas.  I hope that you had a splendid Dr. Seuss' Birthday today, and if you didn't celebrate, I would encourage you to think about celebrating next year!

PS-Most of my printables came from Seussville!  Be sure to check it out!