The Practical & Natural Medicine Cabinet

The Practical & Natural Medicine Cabinet

I have a compromised immune system. It is a major side effect of the medications use to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis. As a result, I catch everything and then take 3-4 times as long as the normal person to recover. Colds almost always turn into bronchial infections or sinus infections. The flu will inevitably turn into walking pneumonia with me. So I am forever trying to boost my immune system with supplements, healthy teas, and plenty of sleep (though I often fail when it comes to the sleep).

Because I get serious infections so often, I end up on antibiotics once or twice a year. I have noticed that lately when I get sick I am getting prescribed stronger and stronger antibiotics because my body has started to build up a tolerance to your basic run of the mill amoxicillin. This means when the day comes that the proverbial super flu finally comes a knocking, I may be in serious trouble.

Because I don’t want my children to develop a resistance to antibiotics I always buy antibiotic free meats and dairy. There have also been some changes to our medicine cabinet that honestly really work for my kids.

Most cough syrups don’t work. Don’t believe me? Ask your pediatrician. Many of them are not safe for children under six. Plus, they are filled with dyes and artificial flavors. So what is a worried mom supposed to do?  Not to mention that what ever I do needs to be simple, straight forward, and be effective.  I don’t have time for bogus products that don’t deliver.

kids_cough_syrup_product11There are now several honey based cough syrups that actually work surprisingly well. I’ll admit I was skeptical. If actual medicine was proving ineffective how was honey going to do the trick? But the honey is thick and soothing on sore throats, and the nighttime version of Zarbees has melatonin in it, an all natural chemical that the body makes at bedtime, which helps little ones to fall asleep soundly so they don’t cough during the night. Genius! (Honey is not safe for children under a year old.)childrens_nt

For sore throats I keep a supply of Burt’s Bees Natural Throat Drops, free of dyes and artificial flavors. The honey pomegranate ones taste pretty good and just like Maty’s and Zarbee’s Cough Syrup, the honey really coats raw throats.

salineWhen it comes to drippy, stuffy noses, Saline Spray is awesome. Small kids really haven’t mastered the art of blowing their noses. Saline helps to break up mucus and thin it out so it is easier and more effective when you blow. It also moisturizes raw and painful nasal passages.

Next is a treatment I bet many of you remember from your own childhood. When I was sick my mom used to slather my chest with Vicks Vapor Rub. Breathing those menthol and eucalyptus vapors really did amazing work in clearing up sinus passages.vapor_rub_product111

Maty’s Soothing Chest Rub works just like Vicks but is free of petroleum jelly or petrochemicals.

pedialyteAnother common illness this time of year is tummy bugs. Besides having a supply of Pedialyte for maintaining fluid and chemical balances, I have learned to keep a supply of Witch Hazel Wipes in the house as well. When an attack of diarrhea happens, children’s behinds get raw and painful really fast making it hard for them to wipe. These wipes sooth a rear end with the very first use.

butt wipes

The last important item in the medicine cabinet is children’s ibuprofen for fevers that go above 101. I have learned not to medicate a fever right away. The truth is a fever is your bodies immune system doing what it is supposed to do, which is fight off foreign invaders. So actually a mild fever is a good thing. So before you dose, check your child’s temperature to make sure it is really necessary.

***I am not a medical professional. I am not pretending to be a medical professional. My advice is not to be taken as treatment for your child’s illness. If your child is sick then consult with your own pediatrician about the products listed on this page. These are just suggestions I have learned from speaking with my children’s pediatrician and doing a little research of my own, as well as watching my own children’s progress while using the natural remedies mentioned in this post. I was not paid by anyone to review these products, I just really like them and they work for my kids.***

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I Have an Inch Long Hair on My Chin and the Other Joys of Aging

Inch Hair

I never really minded getting a little older.  In fact I actually enjoyed it because with every passing year I grew in confidence, strength, and wisdom.  I remember being in my 20’s and thinking I knew everything.  Now I look back at my 20’s and realize that even with a college degree and a great upbringing I was a totally naïve about so many things in life.  The best way to understand life is to live it, both the good and the bad.

I also never minded getting older because I have never looked my age.  I shun the sun like a vampire so I have awesome skin.  Seriously, except for a few brow lines that are covered up by some bangs, I have no wrinkles.  I love wearing make-up and haven’t been make-up free since I was 13.  I have dyed my hair since I was 18 so gray hair has never been a problem, and while I do not dress like a teenager anymore, I also do not dress like an old lady.

Unlike my husband who has no knowledge of music that was made after the year 2000, I love rocking out to the new stuff.  Sure, I get in moods where I’ll listen to Duran Duran or Depeche Mode all day, but I absolutely love LinkinPark, Breaking Benjamin, and Rihanna.

However, I can deny it no longer.  I am getting older.  I am only 42, so I am not THAT old, even if my child did ask me if color television had been invented when I was a kid.

Getting older truly does suck.  This morning I was giving myself a facial and as I was rinsing it off I noticed something that freaked me out.  I had a rogue hair…on the side of my chin…that was jet black and an inch long!!  What??  How long had that been there?  Where did it come from?  I know for a fact that I never had that before.  Instantly the tweezers were out and that disgusting hair was ripped out by the root, but now for the rest of my life I will have to look at my chin weekly to make sure the little bugger isn’t growing back.

Then there is this thing called gravity.  It is causing havoc on my boobs.  I have never been perky.  The words perky and Double D’s don’t really go together.  But still, once upon a time they were at least in the right location.  Now I need industrial grade bolder holders to keep those things in place.  I’m not all National Geographic looking when it comes to my boobies, but I find myself wearing my bra now from the moment I get up till the time I go to bed to combat the gravity effect.

As for my knees and feet, well they creak, crack, pop, and ache.  I haven’t been able to wear heels in years.  I love high heels.  I love how they make your legs so long.  I love how they give you that perfect curve to your rear end.  I used to teach all day wearing platform 4 inch heels.  I used to have these AMAZING black leather boots that came up to my knees with 3 inch heels that I wore with tights and a mini skirt.  I felt like Xena the Warrior Princess when I wore them.

Now, after three foot surgeries and knees that grind because my cartilage is all gone and I am bone on bone, I now spend hundreds of dollars on plain looking shoes that don’t cause pain.  Boring!!

I wish I could say that was my only experience with the negative affects of aging but alas it isn’t.  My hormones have gone completely wonky.  Yes wonky.  I am up.  I am down.  I am laughing hysterically.  I am sobbing uncontrollably.  As for my patience, what patience?  I used to have it in spades, now I am likely to turn into the Hulk if you give me any lip.  Some days I feel like a complete witch, and I know I am acting like a witch, and yet I can’t stop the witch from coming out.  I curse you hormones!  You hear that?  I curse you!  Thank god for Zoloft, although I think I need to get my dose increased because lately it doesn’t seem to be as effective as before.

Plus, don’t even get me started about “That Time of the Month.”  Let’s just say I am so ready to have that uterus of mine ripped out already and be done with it!!

Still, I have no intentions of growing old gracefully.  I don’t feel old so I sure don’t want to look old.  Therefore, I will tweeze away, slather on my anti-wrinkle cream, schedule an appointment with my gynecologist to book a partial hysterectomy and get my Zoloft increased.  Then I will turn on Lady Gaga and dance like I’m 20!  At least until my knees start to hurt and I have to sit down for a while.

What battles are you waging with time and Mother Nature?

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A Tired Mommy’s Prayer for Sleep

Prayer for Sleep

The dinner dishes are cleared and the dishwasher is humming.  Homework is completed and the children are playing.  I look at the clock that hangs on the wall.  It is 6 pm.  Only two hours until the children go to bed and I can have some peace and quiet.  A small window of time for a hard working, tired mommy to sit in the sofa and fold the basket of laundry while catching a few minutes of SupernaturalDamn, that Jensen Ackles is a hubba hubba!

The clock continues to tick by.  I count down the minutes until I can rest my exhausted head on my squishy soft pillow.  “Dear Lord, let them sleep…please Lord let ME sleep,” I whisper under my breath.

The laundry folded and put away, the last pile of papers has been graded and shoved back into my school bag, and the preview for next week’s episode of Supernatural is over.  Thank God it is finally time for bed.

I slip between my sheets and let out a sigh.  I hope he isn’t in the mood because I am too tired.  I hope I won’t need to use the bathroom tonight.  I haven’t had anything to drink since dinner just to make sure.

After kissing the hubby goodnight, I roll over and close my eyes.  Suddenly I remember that tomorrow we are starting the Science Unit on plants and that I forgot to make the student response journals.  I’ll have to do that as soon as I get there in the morning.  Oh, and I need to sign AJ’s permission slipShoot, I should have done that tonight.  Soon, exhaustion quiets my over active mommy brain and around 10:30 sleep finally comes.

Casey, my five-year-old, comes in the room at 11 o’clock.  He is thirsty.  His throat is dry and he needs water now.  I take him into the kitchen and give him a tiny bit.  He downs it and asks for more.  I give him a second cup and then escort him back to bed, tuck him in and give him another kiss goodnight.

Luckily it is still early.  I have time for tons of sleep…right?

Warm and cozy, not wanting to get up, my bladder wakes me demanding attention.  Ever since the second baby not only do I cross my legs to cough and sneeze, I pee every hour during the day and at least once during the night.  I climb out of bed, run to the bathroom then hurry back.  I know I shouldn’t, but I look at the clock.  It is 1:32.  Okay, if I fall asleep right away I should be able to get three and a half more hours of sleep.

I lay there and lay there and lay there some more.  I am still awake when AJ, my twelve-year-old, gets up to use the bathroom at 2:24.  BAM!  Surprise, he slammed the toilet seat…again.  At least he remembered to flush.  Okay Lord, if you let me fall asleep right now, I will still be able to get two and a half hours.  Please God, I really need some sleep.

Miraculously I nod off, but then wake with a start.  Something is wrong.  Crying?  Oh, Casey is crying.  I hop out of bed and find Casey running back and forth in the living room doing a sleep walk version of the potty dance.  I grab him because I know he is going to pee any second but because he is still asleep he can’t find the bathroom.  I yank his pajama bottoms down to his ankles and position him in front of the toilet.  He all but sighs with relief as he answers the call of nature.  For the second time in one night I take him back to his room.  This time I toss a blanket over him and skip giving him another kiss.  I am just too tired and besides he is already asleep.  I go in my room and notice that it is 3:15 am.

“God, when I said I needed sleep I meant more than 20 minutes worth,” I grumble.  Apparently one should not grumble at God.  He has a way of getting the last laugh.  Five minutes later my husband begins to snore, quietly at first, which I try to ignore, but soon the whole room is rumbling with his inhales and exhales.  Resisting the urge to smother him with a pillow, I elbow him in the side and he rolls over.

God, if you let me fall asleep now I can still get an hour and a half.  Please, just 90 minutes of real sleep.  You know, that stuff they call REM.  Pretty please!

I lay there for a while, hoping to nod off soon, and I think I am just about to, when suddenly Bella, the cat, begins to cry for food and affection.  I try desperately to ignore her.  She knows I am ignoring her, so Bella starts to paw at the door.  “Scrape, scrape, meow.  Scrape, scrape, meow.”

I get out of bed, grab a pillow and throw it out the door at the cat.  It is 4:30 in the freaking morning.  Now when I climb back into bed I am angry.  So angry in fact that sleep is out of the question. I begin to think about all the stuff I have to do today; run off those science papers, get the new grades into the computer, run to the market after work, and cook a super fast dinner because Casey has Cub Scouts.

The alarm clock goes off at 5:00 sharp.  I hit the clock a little harder than necessary and let out a yawn.  I look up at the ceiling and, before I get out of bed to go chug two bottles of 5 Hour Energy and load up on caffeine, I decide to flip God a double middle finger.  I know it is wrong, and I will ask for forgiveness later, but right now I am tired, cranky, and honestly, he had it coming.

Simple Ways to be Ready for Emergencies

Simple Ways to be Ready for Emergencies

On July 2, 1997 a tornado decided to pass through my town.  Only one person died, and that was because he had a heart attack while trying to remove a tree from his lawn.  I remember huddling in the basement with my two cats and my dog.  I just about jumped out of my skin when the neighbor’s chimney blew off and smacked the side of my house.  Christ that was loud, and scary.  But what was worse was what happened after the storm.

My house was intact except for some ripped off siding thanks to being hit buy a chimney.  However, I had no electricity, hardly any food, no batteries for the two flashlights we had, no batteries for the small radio we had, and no candles.  I was up the creek with no paddle.

I will never be caught without batteries or candles again.  I have lots a flashlight including cheap basic ones for the boys to use.

I will never be caught without batteries or candles again. I have lots a flashlight including cheap basic ones for the boys to use.

I grabbed my keys and got in my car.  After I pulled out of the driveway I realized the street was blocked by fallen trees.  I literally drove over people’s lawns to try to get to the drug store!  Once I got to Rite Aid I went in, grabbed the items I thought I would need only to get to the register and have the cashier tell me that the power was down so they couldn’t ring up my stuff.  I showed them what I had and handed over $30, above the amount it cost but whatever, I needed the batteries and food.  I was glad I had gotten there so quickly because suddenly it seemed like everyone in town was making a run on Rite Aid for the exact same stuff I had just grabbed.

Back home I parked the car and heard a lovely hissing sound coming from my car.  I watched as my tire quickly went flat as a pancake!  I had picked up a nail.  We were without power for four miserable, unbelievably hot, sticky days!

The next time I was unprepared came when AJ was just a toddler.  It was the Great Blackout of August, 2003.  Being a mom had made me more cautious, as did the events of September 11th.   So I was good on important stuff like food, batteries, diapers, wipes, etc., but then came the big “GOTCHA” moment.  No water!  No power to the pumping stations meant no water to the houses.

Once I learned on my radio that we were not under attack by terrorists I once again headed to the store, with a toddler in tow, to buy lots and lots of bottled water.  At least this time there were no trees or four inch nails.  Three days later when the power returned we rejoiced, but I was wiser.  I had been caught short twice, and I hated it.

So now I have a stockpile.  I buy in bulk at Costco and also when I have some awesome coupons.  I have had relatives laugh at me and call me a hoarder, but a two  and a half ago I spent 4 months in a wheelchair because of multiple foot surgeries all at once.  My stockpile saw my family through that predicament.  My husband only had to run to the store on his way home from work to pick up fresh dairy, meats and produce.

 DSC_2357

I am sure there are doomsday preppers out there who would look at my stockpile and laugh, but I am NOT preparing for the end of the world as we know it.  I am preparing for the next blackout, the next Hurricane Sandy, or the next Swine Flu virus.  I want to know that in the event of a real honest to god emergency my family is covered for a couple of weeks if not even a little longer.

 DSC_2344

I am not going to list everything I have on hand.  You can get all the lists you want from a quick Google search.  A great starting point is here http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.    Plus, you need to have what your family actually needs.  We don’t need diapers anymore, but I do have a month supply of all my RA medications put to the side.  Each time my drugs are refilled I use the old bottle and put the new bottle in storage so the ones in storage are always fresh.

 DSC_2346

If you haven’t put together a small stockpile or a plan for emergencies you might want to start thinking about it.  Also, I didn’t acquire all this over night.  My stockpile took months to put together using a lot of coupons. Each week at the market try to buy three items for your stockpile.  It will grow faster than you think. DSC_2358

DSC_2359

PS- The best place to buy bottled water is Costco if you didn’t already know.  You get twice the bottles for the same price of every where else.  In fact I need to pick up a couple more cases now that I am looking at this picture!

~Tina

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