Sunday, September 22, 2013

Toddler Safe Herbal Remedy for Skin Rash

Mother and Child - Xi Pan
According to Steven H. Horne, author of the ABC Herbal for Children, the three phases of herbal treatment and prevention in children is as follows:

ACTIVATE or energize the system; BUILD the body's immunity; and CLEANSE.

I kept this formula in mind while treating a very nasty rash that appeared on my one year old's lower back almost a week ago and had amazing success! Here is a summary of my new favorite Rash Regimen...

Since the rash didn't seem to fit the profile of any common skin problems I could find in my research and didn't stick around long enough to go to the doctor, we never diagnosed whether it was fungal, bacterial, or viral. This made me very uncomfortable, since I felt like I couldn't tailor my treatment to the specifics of the issue. I decided to give myself two weeks to take care of the problem before we at least went in for a diagnosis (I think it's a good idea to determine a timeline for yourself while utilizing home treatment methods just to be safe and keep yourself balanced. I'm probably a bit more jumpy now than I will be in a few years).

Garlic Bath: Once a day or more, I made a large batch of garlic tea to add to Erin's bathwater. She sat in there for at least 30 minutes at a time.

Peppermint/Yarrow Salve: After every bath I rubbed Erin down with an herbal salve of yarrow, coconut oil, and peppermint. In a pinch, pure coconut oil would have worked pretty well.

Tea Tree/GFS extract external application: Using a fresh Q-tip we all made sure to swab the affected area several times a day with a diluted solution of Tea Tree Oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract.

Fresh Ginger: I added fresh ginger to pretty much every dinner meal for about three days (Stir fry, soup, fried rice, etc. Ginger is pretty versatile.)

And that's it! As far as diet goes, I just generally tried to keep her away from sugars and white flour, while making our meals as healthy as I could without stressing about it too much. In less than one week Erin's dark rings and tired, whiny behavior went away, as well as the alarmingly gross looking rash that had begun to spread up her back by the time I noticed it.

I'm really excited about treating the WHOLE body, building it's strength and immunity so that it can heal itself. This was one of my first tests/experiments, and I feel like it went really well! I'll will continue to update our progress, and I also plan to review the book, The ABC Herbal, by Steven Horne, in the near future.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Making Babies, by Shoshanna Easling

It's finally here! My end of pregnancy motivation has been delivered, devoured and thoroughly obsessed over. Longed for since pregnancy #1, I actually broke down and bought myself a copy of  The Making Babies Book.

The Making Babies Series is a book and DVD set that follows Shoshanna Easling through the pregnancy and home birth of her daughter. For now I only have the book, which I've been reading through and implementing over the past few weeks, and I'm ready to share my thoughts.

Shoshanna Easling owns the Bulk Herb Store, which is my go-to resource when I need to stock up or want to try something new. Every article she's written has been very informative, and her herbal concoctions that are sold online are way out of my league. Everything she touches exudes confidence, beauty and FUN. I have always been impressed and inspired by her work.

First I'd like to say that when my book arrived it wasn't exactly what I'd anticipated. I wasn't disappointed, but I was definitely surprised. I had been expecting a guide, and I would have to say that the book is more of a pregnancy reference for meals, natural remedies, herbal concoctions, etc. without a lot of explaining. I'm guessing you get a deeper, more instructional perspective if you also buy the videos.

Pro's

Scattered throughout the entire thing are beautiful photos of Shoshanna, her family, babies and yummy food! It's all very colorful and inspiring. I think one of the reasons she does this is to show you how lovely pregnancy and everything it entails can be. Some days I found it encouraging just to flip through the pictures.

Every single meal, dessert, snack, and beverage recipe included is healthy and nutritious. When you read the ingredients you get the feeling that not only is this 'safe' to eat while pregnant, it's also going to do something very specifically beneficial for you and your baby.

There is a nice balance between very involved recipes that will probably require a trip to the specialty store (both herbal and food-wise) and very practical, simple ones that you can whip up without a lot of planning.

I've always had a hard time finding motivation to exercise during pregnancy. Her tips and instructions were simple, achievable and few, so I've found myself incorporating them daily. This is happy!

The informative section near the back is very straightforward. If you don't want to hear that nursing is the best choice or how minimal intervention is the safest route, I would suggest not reading that section. She's not bossy, she's just stating the facts of her research without apology.

I love the section for natural home cleaning and beauty care! I didn't expect to see it there, but I suppose it makes sense if you're going for an all natural pregnancy.

Con's

It definitely helped to have some general knowledge of all things natural and herbal. I could see myself being very overwhelmed with the information and suggestions even just 6 months ago.

I noticed several instances where an ingredient, tip or remedy was included without an actual explanation for why it would be beneficial. I did the research and always ended up agreeing with the suggestion, but the point is that I had to go find out for myself. Someone with more experience might not have that problem, and maybe I'm just picky, but it is something I noticed right away.

My brain did not want to accept the layout of the book. It felt too disorganized for easy research and planning purposes. It works and is very artsy, I just would have preferred something a bit more concrete.

There was less information about the actual birthing process than I had anticipated. It's mostly pre-pregnancy and the three trimesters.

~~~

I'm very pleased with my purchase (on Amazon for about $10 less than her website, btw), because I'm an all natural, herbal kind of girl, and I'm currently feeling extra capable of a super 'granola' lifestyle. I'm aware, however, that the book/material isn't for everyone. Feel free to ask for more details!



(Book is available at http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Making-Babies and Amazon.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Good Morning

I was gloriously lazy this morning.

  • I charged my visiting Sister in Law with making breakfast while I sat stubbornly on the edge of my rocking chair nursing a cough and runny nose. Her smoothies turned out way better than mine ever do.
  • My husband de-wrinkled (Not ironed, we don't do that any more. Instead we have a complicated 'wet it down and toss in the dryer' method) his own work clothes and had to fend for himself in the department of clean underwear.
  • Erin (My 1 year old)  was left to the care of our resident injured puppy who did a marvelous job of keeping her both entertained and terrified in almost equal measure.
  • I turned my nose up at the mere thought of kicking my butt into gear and addressing Hurricane Feehan which had ravished my home sometime in the night. I swear--it didn't look like that when I went to bed.
  • During breakfast, I sat in the comfiest chair and read a book. I had whipped cream in my coffee and there was no way I was reheating it three times before finishing.

All in all, it was a successful morning. The only blip occurred when my brother in law came to the door 15 minutes earlier than expected. Eye contacted was avoided until we both realized the living room was probably even messier than I was.

Now I'm back to doing not much of anything until I absolutely have to.

Actually, this sort of morning should be happening more often than it does. I'm in my 7th month of pregnancy and finally realizing I probably ought to slow down. Little Oliver James will forgive me if he comes without the baseboards having been scrubbed or the furniture spot cleaned. Erin, my beautiful, bright eyed, brilliant little baby needs my hugs and cuddles which are not always available if I've pushed myself to the limits.

I'm thankful for a husband who would fly over the moon to give me good things like rest and good cheer and nights out with no cooking. It's time to start cashing in! I want to be a happy, healthy, balanced mama with time to love and enjoy life. 

~~~

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Grand Vizier: Part VI


Carlisle closed one eye and squinted down at the silver tray with the eye of a practiced butler.  (The other eye had belonged to a surgeon and tended to exhibit a rather more than healthy obsession with straight lines and clamps.)  The Vizier very rarely held the sumptuous banquets of his predecessor and the lumpy grey homunculus occasionally found it necessary to add a little something to his master’s lunch tray.  Black bread sandwiches were all well and good, but pickles and mustard and corned beef did little to invoke the desired flights of decadence one expected from an evil ruler.  Carlisle tended to attribute this to a lack of dancing girls and fat men in turbans.

There was a creak as he hopped down from the wooden stool that allowed him access to the human sized counter tops.  Pulling down the flickering black candle after him, he ambled along the shadowy kitchen wall.  Pausing at a low cabinet, he pulled it open.   Somewhere in the darkened recesses near the back, was just the thing.   A dusty moment of grunting, stretching, and coughing later he was back at the table, carefully spiking the sandwich with a silver toothpick topped with a skull and covering the whole with a black silk napkin.  Rubbing his hands with pleasure he lifted the tray and padded out of the kitchen across the black marble.

Carlisle found the Vizier brooding in an enormous wing chair next to a colossal stone hearth. Smokeless and without visible fuel, dark blue flames were licking at the iron grate.The effect was like the sun through deep water as the light flickered across the analytic wreckage of the adequately named Dark Arcanum.

“I have brought you shome lunch, my lord.” Carlisle shifted an enormous tome deftly with one hand and placed the tray at his master’s elbow.  The homunculus took a step back and clasped his misshapen hands behind his back. He glanced at the fire.  “If the Thinking Fire ish any tell, my lord would like to be left alone?”

The Vizier looked up and the fired seemed to blink into a livid sea green.  “You know there isn’t a single book in here about princesses?”

“Ish that sho, my lord?”

“It is.” The Vizier shook his head. “You’d think someone would have bothered to write down what you are supposed to feed them or something.”

“I believe they eat chocolate, my lord.”

 “Hmm.”  The Vizier rubbed his goatee. “I spent all morning in the secret passage next to her room staring through that hideous portrait of the Evil Stepmother. Did you know the Spire rats can line dance? The can sing a quite tolerable aria as well.  And they made a dress out of the curtains. It was terrifying.”

Carlisle nodded sagely. “That ish prinschess magnetishm, my lord. Shmall minded creaturesh no matter how hideoush are hopelesh againsht it. “

“I see. That explains the big hearted farm boys who now want me dead, I suppose.”

“Yesh, my lord.”

The Vizier pressed his hands together in front of him and slid deeper into the chair as the fire resumed its azure tones.  There was a long silence. Finally the Vizier spoke, his voice coming as if from the bottom of a deep well.  “Do you suppose she wants to be a princess, Carlisle?”

“Every little girl wantsh to be a prinschess, my lord.”

“And what do little boys want to do when they grow up?”

“Moshtly shavage your landsh and kill your orksh, my lord. Hero thingsh.”

“Oh.”

“Shometimesh alsho ashtronautsh.”

The dark haired man raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“I don’t know, my lord, it jusht sheemed appropriate.”

There was another long silence and the fire went from a thoughtful indigo to a morose plum.  Carlisle shuffled his feet. “If I may preshume, my lord, what did you want to become when you were a young boy?”

 “I can’t remember.”

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Grand Vizier: Part V


Bladesinger crossed his huge, battered arms and propped them on the stone parapet. The view from the top of the Darkspire was appropriately excellent.  On a good day, the ashy, toxic smoke from the volcano would blow away to the east and from here you could see all the way to the Greenlands.

In a move somewhat typical of the Storyteller and his often generic, wide audience work, the Greenlands were called Greenlands because they were in fact green.  If you walked thirty miles to the west of here you would reach an utterly unnatural line of demarcation.  While some kingdoms had rivers or coastlines or walls for their border, The Darklands were clearly marked by the spot where the grass was literally greener on the other side.  As soon as you crossed that line, formerly murky, rushing rivers full of jagged rocks instantly sparkled, prancing and laughing over smooth, happy looking boulders.   The fields, which were desolate and thorny, became sun kissed meadows, dusted with wildflowers and teeming with butterflies.  Even the sunshine was brighter and more golden in the Greenlands.

 The Vizier’s realm itself was a collection of dark and vile locales seemingly designed with the distinct purpose of making your skin crawl. Ruins and tombs and inexplicable weirdness were aesthetic standbys.  Occasionally the Storyteller would bother to pencil in a back story when the need for tales of ancient doom were called for to add weight and history, but the vast majority of the times things were just an ordinary creepy.    Bladesinger frowned as he remembered an epic duel with Goodman Thief in a skeletal forest some miles to the South.  They had battled back and forth through the leafless trees for half a day, and when the sun had set, the naked giants had glowed a burning white.

Elsewhere you could find hideous temples to hideous gods which the Vizier had told him had never been hideously worshipped.  The grim sanctuaries were staffed by over muscled, heavily oiled and hairless priests who carried staffs topped by ominously glowing knobs.   In general they were inept as they were bloodthirsty.  Evil priests who intended to gruesomely sacrifice under clad maidens were a standby in some of the more lurid tales.  Usually there were a few giant snakes on the premises as well and background characters were advised to avoid passing that way.

Bladesinger himself had never really worried about getting eaten during his many adventures.  As the hideous lieutenant, he was also an archetype and technically immortal. He was only technically immortal because his job required him to die rather spectacularly on a fairly regular basis only to awake a few days later in preparation of his next narrative outing. By now, Bladesinger had done bottomless pits, vicious chopping machines, collapsing archways, and even a few immolations.  Once in awhile he would get “trapped forever” in an ancient tomb or endless cave complex.  He’d learned to carry a pack of cards and a stub of candle on his person at all times for just such occasions.  Sometimes it was days before he would be popped back to the Dark Spire or find himself in a dark forest preparing to menace a caravan.

He didn’t always die though; at least not the first time. Bladesinger was a personal fan of the apparent death and vengeful return.  While it nearly always ended in his extraordinarily certain death (impaling was currently in vogue) it gave him some serious face time in the third act and occasionally let him upstage the hero.

He sighed and turned away from the parapet.  Actually putting one over on the hero was the life dream of every villain ever born. At least the more clear eyed rogues who ended up being archetypes. The majority of them spent the better part of their time leafing through ancient archives and digging through arcane tomes in search of the edge which would allow them to finally pull one over on the heroes.    Someday, perhaps someone would do it and maybe the villain would become the hero and someone would write stories and they would be famous and beloved across the land.  In the meantime, they were doomed and the wicked world had fallen under a malaise of unoriginality.  The Vizier always “died” and the good guy got the girl.  It was the rules.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Grand Vizier: Part IV

Guest post by Ben Feehan! Check out Part III here if you missed it last time.

~~~

“What have we here?”  The Vizier clasped his hands behind his back and paced around the figure dangling by one arm from the troll’s enormous grey-green fist.  The troll was staring out across the room from under veiled lids, its moss colored lower lip sagging to reveal jutting canines the length of a man’s forearm.  Despite ambulating on a pair of legs the thickness of tree trunks and with knuckles that left ruts behind, it managed to look depressingly bovine.

The troll’s enormous brown eyes swiveled to look at the Vizier.  “This…this…ah…”

From behind one leg a furry, skittering creature appeared, hopping anxiously from one foot to the next.  Its notched bat like ears bobbed as it bent low.  The noise that came from its jagged little mouth was practically a whistle.  “Klonk is brunged you a princess, my effervescent prince.”

The Vizier looked down at the nervous gremlin as it adjusted its loincloth.  His brow furrowed. “Again?  I don’t need any princesses.”

The gremlin’s beady green eyes flicked sideways.  Its nostrils flared.  “Really?  Can we eat it?  Oh, please my pungent master? ”

The trolls eyes flicked open, and a large drop of something wet and slobbery made a splatting noise on the marble. “That…that…that…”

“Would you please?”  A crimson figure stepped out of the shadows, its face swathed in red silk.  This was Bladesinger.  Sometime before serving as the obligatory mid-tier practice dummy for The White Knight, Prince Charming, Goodman Thief, Wandering Jack, and half a dozen other standard heroes, they said Bladesinger had been a dashing mercenary cum bard.  At this point however, his general lack of lips and nose, along with more scars than a cocker spaniels favorite rawhide, had resulted in a less than pleasing appearance.  Still, he wore his mauled arms bare, his three and four fingered hands often resting on the hilts of the matching swords which curved away at both sides.   If Carlisle was the Viziers standard ugly sidekick, then Bladesinger was the mandatory sneering lieutenant. “I lost my ear with the last time.  I liked that one too.  Only one I had left.  You ever try to wear a respectable mercenary ear-ring with no ears?  Downright embarrassing.”

The Vizier looked at the dangling girl.  Like most princesses that passed through his Hall of Midnight she was fantastically beautiful.  Long golden hair framed a heart shape face with cornflower blue eyes, full lips, and a celestial nose.  Also like most princesses, she had unbelievably managed to survive being dragged up the side of a volcano by an eight foot monster without so much as fraying the hem of her sweeping pink gown.  She was glaring at him indignantly.  “Aren’t you supposed to be stroking my hair and making creepy comments about my undying beauty?”

The Vizier looked at Bladesinger, who shrugged. “I dunno.  Seems normal enough to me.  Law of averages.  Last one had red hair. One before that was a brunette.  You had that one fairy princess awhile back with the blue hair.  I guess you were gonna get a blond eventually.”

Carlisle cleared his throat and took a slow shuffle forward. “Shatishtically shpeaking, mosht prinsheshes are in fact fair haired.  I believe thish one is fairly average, my lord. Pink ish alsho a poor color choish. Washes out the shkin dreadfully.”

Bladesinger sniggered as the Vizier stroked his goatee. He looked down at the gremlin again. “Where did you find it?”

“It was wandering in the woods, my aromatic lord.  Near the evil cannibal hermit’s house.  The one across from the Evil Temple of Grahalaloo.”

“What were you doing in my evil forest?” The vizier glared at the princess. He flexed his fingers for effect. “Where are your friends?”

“I won the contest!” The princess looked confused.

“Is that the one where everyone else gets eaten by the giant spiders?  One of those process of elimination sort of things?” Bladesinger crossed his gruesome arms.  Beneath the scar tissue they bulged.  “I never did like those.  So subjective.  I mean really, anyone could win.

The girl glanced sideways. “You have giant spiders?”

Bladesinger continued. “A spider has at least four eyes. You’d think what with being able to see twice as well, he’d have left us with something useful.  Like a cow.  You can eat a cow. ”

The gremlin threw up a furry hand and hopped on one foot. “Maybe it was a variety act sort of thing.  A little singing, a little dancing, a little bit of pie eating. The ones with the biscuit crusts? Yes? Yes?”

“That…that…that…”

Carlisle shuffled his feet. “If I am not mishtaken my lord, I believe thish unfortunate creature may have won the Bi-Annual Many Lands Prinshess Pageant. Fairesht in all the land ish to be reshcued by Prinsh Charming.  It ish an ancient tradishon, my lord.”

 The Vizier sighed. “Of this I am aware.  I thought they were going for more of the abused second sister thing these days though. We always let Evil Stepmother handle this.  When did princesses come back?”

“Yeah.”  Bladesinger managed to look indignant behind his mask.  “Last year it was the sheltered female alchemist and librarians.  There was a whole category on letting your hair down from a bun.”

The homunculus folded his mismatched hands. “Maidensh and Dragonsh predicted it would be prinsheshes thish year, my lord.  It wash in the winter edition.”

Bladesinger snorted.  “It also said warg fur boots would be in, and that was a total bust.  Last time I let that poof tell me how to dress, let me tell you.”

The vizier looked at them both blankly.

The girl sighed. “Look, do you have a turret room? “

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Grand Vizier: Part III


In case you missed the last few entries in the Grand Vizier series, catch up on Part I and Part II here!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Grand Vizier rolled up the scroll on his ebony desk and sealed it with a black sealing candle, stamping it with the brass skull that was his signet. Someone was going to be poisoned.  Or at least they were supposed to be poisoned.  It never worked. Inevitably, an animal sidekick would knock over the glass, or a hapless goon would drink it, or some wholly random and unforeseen circumstance would prevent the intended from attending the right party and somehow they would discover that far away in his black tower someone wanted them dead.

It worked the same way with knifing and sniping and trapping and ambushing and even lacy silk pillow smothering.  Somehow the hired murderers, no matter their grim credentials, always managed to fail in some manner.  A dozen times they’d killed the wrong person.  Another dozen times, they’d missed entirely and managed to get captured, inevitably managing to implicate the Black Spire in some manner.   They managed to implicate him even if they died before falling in love with the target and using their now fully functional skills against him.  No wonder Evil Emperor had been bald.

He had occasionally considered changing assassination firms, but The Dark Brotherhood had a long standing contract and going elsewhere was not to be heard of.  It appeared that the standard ineptitude clause did not apply to bad guys.

Not that the Vizier really wanted to see masses of inconsequential citizenry murdered.  Far from it.  The Vizier prided himself in practical efficiency.  If you were an evil grand vizier and your job was prodding heroes into heroism, husbanding dungeon ecosystems, and machinating evil, you put on the black, rallied your ghouls, and did your work like so many burning villages.  It was only right. Somebody had to do it.

Sitting back the Vizier handed the roll of parchment to Carlisle who toddled across the room and dropped it into the horse hair mailbag. It was black.  The Vizier planted his chin in one hand and drummed his fingers.   If only it didn't seem all a little pointless. There were some games you couldn't win for losing.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Big House: A Walk Down Memory Lane


This weekend my parents are away at the Christian Heritage Conference. It falls to Ben and I to check in and make sure everything is running smoothly at the old homestead. 


I love coming here. There are memories everywhere, and I can take a bit of personal pride in the property. When my family moved here in 2007 this beautiful 2.5 acre plot was buried under heaps of garbage, old vehicles, RVs and various sheds built out of scraps to hide more scraps. Instead of this lovely home, we lived in a single wide trailer. I don't have any photos of that, because it was recently smashed with glee by Dad's backhoe while the whole family cheered.


Today when we drove up to the house, we were greeted by two German Shepherds and a lawn full of grass. The beautiful home is missing only a coat of paint, and the landscaping is well on it's way to completion. Raised garden beds hold teeny green sprouts and a swooping gravel driveway is ready and waiting for the black iron gate we all talked about for so long. Everything has come a long way.



The corner of this old and dangerous A-frame sat where the fancy breakfast nook is now. This thing was absolutely packed full of horribly useless stuff. Emptying it by the wheelbarrow load was a grim business, punctuated by dubious exclamations of, "Why would you save this?!" and a lot of head shaking.


I believe there were 7 completely broken down cars sunk into various corners of the property. Getting rid of those was Dad's job, but Mom and us kids got to clear away the old carpet and roofing that was buried with them. Which is miserable. Just take my word for it. 

Once, when mom and I took a break to despair over how deep one of the piles of disintegrated rubble went, we heard a buzzing coming from an old carpet we had tossed onto the hood of this red truck. Mom has serious reactions to stings, so I suited up head to toe, and stood ready with a bottle of the most poisonous looking concoction I could find in the hazardous substances pile. She yanked the carpet aside and dove for cover while I shrieked and viciously attacked the one poor bee that flew lazily away. I'm seriously glad the hive we were sure we'd find wasn't there. 




That's me! We had a tiny dirtbike track which has expanded by now. You can see a pile of tires...there were millions of them. No. Joke. I remember sweaty afternoons spent digging up layers of rimless tires and rolling them down the big hill to our tire stash. We all grew very strong. When the last dump load was hauled away, we had a party. A big one. For weeks after you could hear little ones playing with their toys and mentioning conversationally to their friends that we had finally finished 'The Tire Job'. Since not to many 6 year olds can brag that they'd spent three years doing physical, adult sized labor, we got lot of blank stares.


Dad built our house with his very own hands. Since it was basically going up in our front yard, and we were involved from the point of breaking ground, the 'Big House' became an ever evolving playground. The foundation was a dungeon, the roof a stronghold and secret spy lair. We hung ropes and swings from the rafters of the enormous attic and camped out with our flashlights and BB guns (just in case). Once the roof was on, there was no kind of weather that could have prevented mom from sending us outside to play.


Consequently, I love the outdoors year round.


Little miss Erin is having a difficult time adjusting to nature, however. 


She is okay being held while we are outside, but touch her feet to the ground and that child has some lighting quick reflexes. All of which indicate no. She will not sit in that grass. Those rocks will not dirty her pretty white shoes. And above all, her hands shall not touch the dirt. 


We are working on this. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts on Child Training

I recently read, watched and listened to a number of child training resources that I should probably read, watch and listen to again. Sometimes it takes awhile for this stuff to sink in. A few points however, stood out in  blaze of red and yellow caution lights. I thought I was familiar with most of these concepts. One year of hands on baby raising has shown me that head knowledge will  not suffice.

  • God instructs us to train up our children, not 'discipline up'.There is such a subtle difference here! I'm finding that if you rely solely on consistent, strict adherence to The Rules to create a good little child who will not embarrass you in public something is missing. Rebellion will breed, bad attitudes will form. It will happen before you even know it's possible.
  • To train up a child is to show them how. This is so important, and when I'd read the phrase often enough for it to finally penetrate my thick brain I was beyond excited. It felt like the pressure to succeed was suddenly gone and in it's place sat a rolling, hungry desire to live life with my daughter. 
  • If you fail in every other area of child training you must do one thing right: create an atmosphere of joy. Just do it. :) Be happy with your life, your spouse. Become a fountain of thankfulness and good cheer. I've read that children only understand outward signs of joy, and it's true! I tried making it a habit to reach out to my daughter and make her smile at least once every thirty minutes and found that with this attitude it's happening more and more and more. 
We are turning over a new leaf. Here is documented proof that my home is happier, my daughter is thriving and this Mama is still growing upwards. (Also some birthday pictures!)

Erin eating a PBJ for the first time. The bread part quickly became rather insignificant.




 Fun with scarves! Erin learned to say 'pretty' that day, and ran around modeling for us. :)


 Mom was cooking, so Erin was too. This is dried oatmeal, which she stirred with a tiny wire whisk. I think a potato was involved at some point as well.

We are starting a garden at my mom's house. Erin tags along and sometimes helps me water the seedlings. 

This one is a bit fuzzy. Erin decided, while playing in the Tupperware cupboard, that Daddy would look great in a plastic hat. She plopped it on his head and declared it 'pretty'.

We had a super low key birthday for Erin for now. First thing after her afternoon nap she got to open the first batch of presents! My sister's were very generous to bestow some of their most precious toys on the occasion of Erin turning one. :)


Her favorite by far was Aunt Amber-Rae's old Baby Sweetcheeks doll. She has this adorable way of saying 'baby' that melts my heart every single time. 

 We practiced putting Baby Sweetcheeks to sleep in her blanket.

 And Erin gave so many kisses and hugs.


Daddy is so much fun! 

 Almost all her birthday gifts from her aunts. The rest couldn't be pried from her fingers at the time.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mama's Herb Cabinet: Yarrow

According to some herbalists, Yarrow is the one herb you should always have on hand. If your herb cupboard is bare, at least find some yarrow, in some form.

The plant is extremely versatile, and has been shown to have at least a minor effect on nearly every organ in the body. Historically and around the world, Yarrow was known as the Warrior's Herb, able to staunch bleeding in the heat of battle (aka, quickly) and fight off infection. The native Americans used this herb for everything from burns, to toothaches, bad moods, and the common cold. Chinese folklore holds that Yarrow represents the perfect balance of Yin and Yang, and used the herb for protection against evil.

Most notable, is Yarrow's ability to saturate the bloodstream. Interestingly, Chinese lore nailed it. Some have called this herb the great "Master of Blood", because once in the bloodstream, yarrow has the curious effect of doing whatever it needs to. Thin, coagulate, boost the immune, target disease, relax, tone...it balances. Yin and Yang. :)

A dissection of the plant's properties reveals how this flower works it's magic:

"The volatile oils work as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and diuretic agents. The tannins are aggressive astringents. The alkaloids are both hypotensive and hypoglycemic. Yarrow even has coumarin in its cells which works as an anti-thrombotic to reduce high blood pressure. The bitter compounds that the tongue detects are due to flavonoids such as saponins and unpleasant tasting but powerful alkaloids like achilleine, trigonelline and betonicine. These are the secrets to yarrow's actions in the digestive system, tissues and the blood stream." Sue Sierralupe, Certified Master Herbalist, Yarrow: The Wound Healer

No wonder it's held in such esteem.

Traditionally in my home we have used Yarrow Tincture at the onset of any sickness, or if we knew we were about to be exposed. As long as we took our doses like we were supposed to, we stayed healthy. I remember the gleefully lofty looks reserved for the child who'd refused their tincture and was now suffering from a cold or such, and  was now restricted from all sorts of yummy things. Like sugar. And fun. They'd successfully avoided the miserably bitter dose, but we got to eat our dessert.

Out of curiosity, mainly (Since I don't need convincing-- I know it works!) I went searching for some actual scientific proof that Yarrow combats and prevents the many winter woes that plague us. I gave a little victory dance when I found this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21821943 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17704978.

For years, my mom has been telling us that Yarrow is specifically, and strongly effective against viruses. Most of my research was finding that yarrow is historically used externally for accelerated healing, and internally for minor colds and sinus problems -- yet I knew the herb was excellent in warding off, lessening, and curing tough colds, viruses, etc. The research posted in the links I provided above indicates that components of Yarrow will "prevent the growth and spread of malignant cells into surrounding tissues". Essentially, stop a sickness in it's tracks. And now, scientists are evaluating it's work against cancer.

I'm a little excited.

Here are some of the ways I've been successfully using yarrow with Erin, and Ben. I've used both the tincture and the tea with great results. It's kind of come down to what I can afford and have available at the time.

Yarrow Tincture/Glycerite

Enough yarrow plant (Flowers, stem and leaves. Fresh or dried) to fill a glass jar
Vodka, vinegar, or glycerin
Dark cupboard, or something to keep light from your jar

Lightly pack your container with yarrow. Completely cover with Vodka, vinegar or glycerin. Store in dark cupboard, or in the sun for 2-4 weeks. You may shake the jar occasionally, if you like. Be sure to either paint your jar or cover with something to keep sunlight from damaging your tincture if you are setting your container in the sun. strain, and store in a dark, cool place.

(Yarrow tincture can be purchased online or in some stores, but it's a little pricey.)

Yarrow Tea

2 Tbs Yarrow (dried or fresh)
2 cups boiling water

Pour boiling water over yarrow, and cover. Let steep for 5-10 minutes then strain. Drink hot, as needed.

Uses

Pick me up: My husband recently returned from a tiring trip. He came home exhausted, completely unprepared for the week ahead. I fixed him up some yarrow, and after a short nap he was refreshed, ready to tackle life again. In fact he stayed up way to late having fun, and was still chipper and positive the next morning.

Immune Booster: As soon as you realize you have been exposed to a sickness or feel like you might be having symptoms, begin taking yarrow internally. The number one rule with this herb is AGGRESSIVE treatment. Take it frequently, and consistently until the danger is past. If you ignore this rule, you will not get the benefits you are looking for.

Rash: After contracting a persistent rash from a neighbor child, Erin was fussy and uncomfortable. I was distressed, and about ready to go to a doctor when I was told that Yarrow is excellent for all kinds of rashes. Before each nap (Erin was taking 3-4 a day at that time) I stripped her down and spread Yarrow tincture over her rash. Amazingly, her rash disappeared  and did not come back. All the other treatments I had tried were either to messy to use consistently, or only temporarily useful.

Please take a moment to browse this site for some precautions regarding the medicinal use of this herb: http://www.umm.e du/altmed/articles/yarrow-000282.htm