Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Bodies, Big Immune Systems :: Part Two

If you missed Part One of this post, read it first.

I talked a lot about supplements in the first post - while supplements are grand, and I hope they make a huge difference in the kid's bodies, I'm not foolish enough to think that if I throw a few gummies (which really aren't my favorite because of cavities) and powders down their throats they'll have all the nutrition they need for a healthy cold and flu season.
Two other vital components of a strong immune system are sleep and diet.

My kids are in bed by 7:30 pm at least five nights of the week. At first, the early bed time was instituted to preserve my sanity. When Beck and Evie were just little piglets I would count the hours until 7 pm so I could put them to bed and sit my rear end down and stare at the empty wall. That's all I wanted. Time to stare.

Now I realize that children need so much more sleep than many parents let them have (I'm not the only one that thrives on a 7 pm bedtime). People have got to stop these 10 pm bedtimes (or later!) and expect their little ones to be happy and healthy people.

Naps are vital too. All three of mine nap for a few hours in the middle of the day.
Here are the recommendations for sleep (by sleep experts):
3-11 months: 14-15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
1-3 years: 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
3-5 years: 11-13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
School-aged children: 10-11 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
I can't stress enough how much I believe in sleep.
I think I need a nap...

Here is my list of immune boosting foods. Some of them are packed with antioxidants and some are great for pH balance (which has a lot to do with keeping a body healthy):

Strawberries + Blueberries
Pink Grapefruit
Sweet Potato
Soy products
yellow veggies
Lemon (pH)
Lime (pH)
apple cider vinegar (pH)
avocado (pH)
spices and essential oils (pH)
amongst many others...
Foods to avoid or limit (for pH balance):sugar
tea (black or green)
vinegar (other than apple cider vinegar)
meat/cheese/animal products
I keep these lists around the kitchen to remind myself; I need them especially when I'm composing my grocery list.

Our Supplement Routine
I had a commenter (anonymous) remind me to be careful about the amount of vitamins and minerals that are going into the kid's systems to avoid toxicity. I'm so glad s/he brought that up! (Come out, come out, whoever you are!)
The threat of "too much of a good thing" entered my mind as I was figuring out how I would implement all of this knowledge; that is why we stagger some of the redundant supplements.

Everyday -
~fish oil: I put it in whatever I can find that will hide it. Macaroni and cheese, drinks, smoothies, salads, anywhere that will disguise it which isn't hard if you buy a flavored one like the lemon one I have.
~wellness drops + thieves: I just give them the dosage on their little tongues and have a treat waiting nearby for when they are finished. I'm not above bribery.

3-4 times a week -
~flaxseed meal: I sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of this in their oatmeal or put it in a smoothie, I've even put it in pasta sauce. They don't even know it's there. I love the taste, it is nice and nutty.
I also use it in baking. It replaces oil at a 3 to 1 ratio. For example: the recipe calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil, use 3 cups of ground flaxseed meal instead.
~green drink powder: I've mentioned fruit smoothies a few times. Smoothies (or "smoovies" in our house) are where a put the powder. I do 1-2 tablespoons for a batch of smoothies; which averages out to 1/2 tablespoon per serving.
That about covers what I had in mind to share in this series of posts but I had a few questions posed in comments and via email that I'd like to address on the blog too. I'll do a final post in the series to try and answer some of the questions. (If you have a question, feel free to drop a comment.)
I won't pretend to be an expert in this field, I'll leave that to someone else. But I do have some resources that I can fall back on (remember that semester of Nutrition class a couple of years ago?).
And now, for the good part. I'll leave you with my Feel Good Smoothie recipe.

It's got yogurt for a dose of the probiotics that are so important to keep that gut healthy.
(Did you know that the term "gut" is a technical medical term? It is!)
And blue agave nectar for a touch of extra sweet without the toxic sugar.
Okay, so she's not the most photogenic smoothie I've ever seen, but she's hiding that green powder, remember? It's what's on the inside that counts, people.

Now, dig out that blender and go at it.
Whip yourself up a SMOOVIE.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Little Bodies, Big Immune Systems :: Part One

Last Fall and Winter we were sick. Really, really sick. Sickness to the point of insanity. I was half crazy with the worrying and confinement. We were up to our ears in prescriptions. Just the remembrance of the barking cough my kids had (for months!) will send me into heart palpitations and a cold sweat.

I don't want to be sick again this year.
Do I need to type that again?

I don't want to be sick again this year.

I took my Mama Bear self to WF's last week (see?) and raided their supplements/vitamins section. I was a little overwhelmed but I had done a teeny bit of research on what the most effective immunity boosters are. I'm so glad I did because I think I would have just turned around and walked right out of there for the enormity of the selection.

I brought home quite a few good things that I wanted to share with the other Mama Bears out there.

Children's Multivitamin - Nordic Berries
Get a quality multivitamin. I bought this one because it had a good amount of zinc in it (which is great for the immune system); 8 mg. I would have loved to have found a multivitamin with 10 mg of zinc, I didn't this time, but I'll be on the look out for one.
Also, compared to the other multivitamins I picked up it had more units of each vitamin.
And...well...I ain't too proud to admit, the term "Nordic Berries" is really stinking adorable to me. Yep, I'm a victim of good marketing. What can I say?
And these things taste fantastic. Probably due to the amount of sugar in a serving (6g). When I go back to stock up on more vities I'll look for something with less sugar and more zinc.

Fish Oil - Carlson for Kids
When I was reading up on immune boosters, I saw that it is recommended that children eat 3 servings of fish a week to give them the proper dose of Omega 3's. We do not get 3 servings of fish per week...we might not even get 3 servings of fish per month. We're in the Midwest and we don't see much fresh seafood, we're just not big fish eaters. So, I went to the next best thing: Fish Oil.
This fish oil is full of Omega 3's. Omega 3's boost the amount of white blood cells in the body - WBC's are the things that destroy intruders like disease and infection.
This particular one is lemon flavored so it tastes yummy, not fishy. I promise, I tried all of this stuff before I gave it to my kids. It's palatable.
(Another way to get Omega 3's in the diet is via flaxseed meal; more on that later.)

Wellness Drops - Source Naturals::Wellness Herbal Kids
I'm a big believer in herbs and natural remedies. I searched for a formula that said "immune support" and came up with this one. It has echinacea, goldenseal, elder flower and a bunch of other wonderful things.
It doesn't taste too nasty. I give it to the kids by the dropper-ful with a promise of a glass of chocolate milk or a fruit smoothie. A spoonful of sugar...

Green Drink Powder - Orac-Energy Greens
Okay, guys. This is my favorite one. For some reason (maybe it's instinct, maybe it's to make myself feel better for spending a pretty penny on it) I feel like this is what's going to give sickness a kick where it counts. It has wheat grass, spirulina, 24 servings of fruit and veggies, acai and tons of other vitamins and roots stuff.

Thieves Oil Blend
This essential oil fights against viruses, fungi and bacteria. It's a concentrated, very strong oil that tastes and smells of cinnamon and cloves. It's not unpleasant for me to take, but it's pretty strong for the kids. I'm still trying to figure out how to give it to them without a fight.

I'm aware that some of these guys overlap one another. The multivitamins may not be so necessary with the green drink powder, but I'm okay with covering my bases twice...even three times.

We've only been at it for a few days and it's really not that hard finding times to give the kids their little bits of goodness. In my next Little Bodies, Big Immune Systems post I'll give the run down of how I sneak all of these supplements into the kids' diet and maybe throw in a few recipes while I'm at it.

I'm looking at this battle against sickness as a three-branched tree: Supplements, Diet and Sleep. (Maybe 4 branches...let's add Prayer in there.)

Behold, my Wellness Basket:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Day in August

7:30 alarm clocks - most adorable and effective waker-uppers you could ask for - drag me from the bed. Me? Not a morning person. By any stretch.

This morning it's oatmeal for breakfast.
Throw in some apple, some cinnamon, a few tablespoons of flax meal...

My sister crashed on our couch last night and had to leave early; before any of us woke up.
We found a message on our chalk board pantry door.
Good Auntie. :)

Squeals coming from the boy's room...
There's the charmer.

Here we all our morning glory.
A quick diaper change and morning clean up.
Evie-Baby is always ready for a busy day.
"Where are we goin', mom?" is her first question most mornings.
And most mornings I say, "Nowhere, baby."
Not this morning, though. We're headed out.
Getting her hair fixed with her New Zealand native sheep, aptly named "Kiwi."

Big sister plays with babes while I get a few, last minute things together.
Such a good helper.

We step outside and I can barely make it down the front steps, so amazed am I at the weather.
Look at that temp!
Look at it! I haven't seen anything below 84 degrees in the past three months.

My breakfast on the go:

It's a good one.
Bananas and I don't have a great relationship.
I'm very choosy when it comes to them.
They have to be very yellow; green at the tops; no bruises.
Too ripe? Garbage.

Our destination...

We're trying out Borders kid's story time for the first time.
Children's story time and I don't have a very good relationship either.
Almost every one I've been to has been beyond lame. The story time at the library is in a boring, windowless room led by a grumpy, fat librarian who can't do voices. Barf.
I don't have high hopes for Borders...

On our way into the store I glance at my biggest boy. Oh Lordy. It looks like I've forgotten to tame the beast.
I have a love/hate thing going on with this kid's mop of hair. It's adorable, when it's...well...adorable. But that takes work: water and scrunching and [sometimes] product. Five-year-old boys don't like that routine much.
Today we're going for the natural look.
Love this place. I want to stop and look. I feel a gravitational pull toward the cooking section...

Here we are. Tucked all the way in the back of the store in the children's section.

First impression: Good. The StoryLady is welcoming (she knows many of the kids by name) and she has the makings of what looks like a craft set up on a plastic mat. I'm feeling positive.

Just when the good vibes are flowing, the littlest piggy does...well...he does what piggies do. We hurry to the bathroom.

Pleased as punch with himself.

Back to Story Time. The kids are making rain sticks out of cardboard tubes and rice.

So great.
This is a good Story Time.

I'm feeling indulgent (doesn't happen much) so I get the kids a couple of children's sized smoothies from the cafe. I do this even as my mind fast forwards to the next time we come to Story Time and the piglets beg for a smoothie again and I will have to say "no." An uphill battle...

We go quickly for a stop at Daddy Man's work. He's been wanting to show the babies off to his colleagues and clients for awhile now. The kids are a hit - why wouldn't they be?!

The next portion of the day is conspicuously absent because it was very grumpy. We had an unusually busy morning (considering we normally don't get out of our jammies until 10 am) so lunch and nap prep was a hurried, emotional mess.
We made it through and I got to sit for a quiet two hours (this is a lifetime in mommy minutes) and eat a peaceful lunch and surf my favorite areas on the 'net.

Quick product recommendation: Cilantro Lime Hummus from TJ's.
Get some. You'll be happy.

The Brawny Man got home for a little break around 2 o'clock and I grabbed my purse and headed for the door. I was on a Mama Mission to stock up my Fall wellness arsenal; my kids were terribly sick last Autumn/Winter, I am going to do everything I can to keep the sickness at bay this year.

I got stuck behind one of these bad boys:

"I stop at all RR crossings." Obnoxious.

Because it's ultra cool to take pictures when you go to the grocery store.

The flowers are my favorite spot at WF.
Oh, the hydrangeas.

But here is my destination:

The children's supplement aisle. I loaded up on some goodies: multivitamins, zinc, wellness tinctures, fish oils and even a goodness-packed green drink powder that I'm going to sneak into a daily smoothie. Give the old flu a one-two punch.
(Spent a small fortune that had better keep us out of the Dr's office.)

Hurrying back home so I can relieve Mr. B. of his baby-duty and let him get back to work and so we can get ready for church tonight.

But first, the little one's badges need to be "sewn" onto their vests. I'm a fabulous seamstress.

Little Blue-Eyes gets his fill of rice cereal and bananas for dinner.

I totally love his little face. Kiss kiss kiss.

Sister to the rescue again.
She plays while I pack up for our church outing

Britt gets canoodled by some sweet friends of mine at church.

He's very canoodle-able (?)

And I had to snap a quick pic of the biggest piggies in their Rainbows attire.
Look at all those badges.
Such accomplished little babies.

And this is where the photo portion of my Day in August ends. We were exhausted after this day. The drive home was quiet - Sara Groves played soothingly in the car - and bedtime was quick and hushed with tooth brushing and prayers done hurriedly.

This is not my favorite kind of day. It was too busy; too scattered and unfocused. I feel like we just hauled ourselves from one task to the next in effort to get it all done. Unfortunately, life calls for these days and my life has been increasingly filled with them in the past months. I'm going to start making a more conscious effort to slow down and pick and choose those things which are important to my family. Things that are life-giving, not draining.
We spent the day after this in recovery mode. A slow start and a morning stroll in the park and then...home all day. Slow dinner, slow baths, slow stories before bed, slow prayers and slow lullabies.

And now, it's your turn. Post your A Day in August post to your blog and then leave us a link of the actual post (not just your blog url) so we can hop over and enjoy your day with you.

Happy hopping and see you next month for A Day in September!

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Yep. That's what we've whipped up in our kitchen. It's no bake so that means no hot oven steaming you out of house and home.
I've adapted this recipe from TJ's Crisp Rice Cereal box.

7 c. Rice Crispies or rice cereal
3/4 c. Blue Agave Syrup (a natural sweetener)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. creamy peanut butter
chocolate chips and/or peanut butter chips (optional)

Combine sugar and agave in saucepan and bring to a near boil, stirring often. Continue stirring until brown sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

Add peanut butter to mixture. Mix. Add cereal and mix gently. If desired, add chocolate & peanut butter chips, then mix well.

Press the mixture in a 9x13-inch greased baking pan. Refrigerate for several hours to cool and harden. To harden more quickly, place in freezer for about an hour.

Makes about 16 2" squares.

I'm exercising massive amount of self control. Next to mozzarella and basil, I think peanut butter and chocolate might be the most heavenly combination in the great big, old universe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've got my camera in my hand all day today. Documenting the day for:

Too much fun!
We've had a busy day thus far. Driving hither and yon for some things fun and some things necessary. And all of it is being captured to share with you for A Day in August.
I hope you have done or are planning on documenting your day in August and will share it on your blog and link up here.
Link up day will be before the weeks end; so get out your camera and start snapping. Everyone is invited to join the blog hop!

Want to know what the A Day in August photo journal could look like?

Click the photo for A Day in July
Click the photo for A Day in June

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Motherhood Creed

This book is it.

Read my raving review here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bright Ideas

A handsome Somebody is about to turn five.

(I know...I almost can't type that without turning into a blubbering mess.)

I'm looking for birthday gift ideas.

I want things that are timeless but will keep his attention. No loud, obnoxious toys. Educational, imagination-inspiring, enriching. Better toys.

Any ideas?

Friday, August 20, 2010