Coping Naturally: Swelling

This blog is no longer in use,
but you can find
this post and many more on my new site:  IamAlisonM.com

A few years ago, I was playing volleyball and returned a hit that shouldn’t have caused any trouble.  But for some reason, I felt a tiny ache in my wrist.  I thought nothing of it and kept playing.  By the end of the match, I realized I had probably bruised it.

By the time I got home, I knew something was wrong.

A few days later and in constant pain, I finally called my doctor.  He sent me for X-rays.  Nothing was visibly wrong.  I iced it, I used that hand sparingly, but it didn’t get better.  The following week my doctor sent me for an MRI.  The results?  Edema inside the bone.  I followed up with my doctor and he sent me off for a wrist brace saying to wear it 24 hours a day for a month.  If the pain didn’t improve, he wanted to send me to a hand specialist.

The pain didn’t subside.  As a matter of fact I spent three months in that flippin’ brace, unable to comfortably rotate my hand 360 degrees during any of that time.  This is not useful when you are a full-time legal assistant by day and full-time student at night.

Or while you're playing with your puppy dog at the beach...

Or after teeter tottering at a playground (excuse the hair!)

My brother-in-law (Mr. Natural Lifestyle himself) and his family came to visit one weekend and bought me something he swore would help.  What was it?

Yep.  Plain old ginger.  He left with instructions on how to use it and said that if swelling was indeed the problem, the ginger would cure it.  At that point in my life, natural remedies were not my first instinct.  But ginger. changed. everything.  From that experience on, I’ve used nature to solve every ailment possible!

To relieve swelling:

  • Slice ginger into 1/8″ – 1/4″ rounds
  • Place the rounds on and around the affected area.
  • Wrap with plastic wrap and leave it for an hour.
  • Expect a mild burning sensation; it won’t last the entire time.

Why it works:

  • Ginger is a natural anticoagulant, meaning it prevents clotting.
  • The swelling inside my bone meant that blood was flowing more like sand than liquid.
  • The absorption of ginger thinned my blood back out to let it flow freely again which reduced (and eventually healed) the swelling.

I’ve been fortunate to not need the ginger again, but I’ve recommended it countless times to friends and you know what?  The results never caused any complaints.  Nature wins again.

Coping Naturally: Teething

The teething baby:  miserable.
The parents of said baby:  miserable.
The older siblings:  miserable.

So what do you do?

I’m on round two of the teething infant.  V cut her first two teeth at ten months old and her next two at 12 months.  D cut his first tooth at five months and at eight months old is now working on number eight.  I feel like I’m ready (though not necessarily willing) to deal with teething at any age in whatever manner these teeth will choose to come in.  All at once?  Slowly but surely?  This mama is ready!

My arsenal of most effective crabby baby soothers.
  1. Keep Baby occupied.  As occupied as possible.  Verging on over-stimulated.  I tend to keep things simple with my kids.  An hour or two of TV a week, limited flashy/noisy toys, no portable DVD player, no Youtube on my cell phone.  But when the teeth are coming in, load ’em up!  The goal is to distract them from the fact that they are in pain so you can pull out the pain relief at bedtime when distraction is no longer possible.  Put on a movie, hand that baby some Mega Bloks and let him go to town.
  2. Always carry a teether in your purse.  Preferably a roughly textured teether that has a way for you to easily hold on to it.  We love Baby having something to gnaw on.  We hate when Baby gnaws on something that’s repeatedly dropped on the grocery store floor.  Keep that teether in your purse until Baby gets crabby.  Let him enjoy being out and having new things to look at. When the whimpering comes out, so does the toy (distraction).
  3. Hold off on the meds.  After all, we are coping naturally!  One of the best pain relief methods is ice.  Pop an ice cube in a mesh bag and let Baby go to town.  Hand him a frozen banana or a teething ring meant for your freezer.  My personal favorite is the ice.  With all the drooling that goes on, it doesn’t hurt to replace some of those fluids.  Or, simply try another toy.  Anything with edges and corners.  After all – the more rough the toy, the quicker the gums wear down and that tooth is through!  D’s personal favorite?  A toothbrush.  And it makes total sense.
  4. Prevent bedtime trouble.  When I know my kids will have troubles at bedtime, I don’t bother waiting for the crying to start.  I just give them some teething tablets and they don’t know what hit ’em!  Loaded with chamomile and belladonna, these bad boys can handle almost anything.  I’ve even been known to use one or two on days my kids just need a little extra help calming down.  Because these are homeopathic, I’m awfully generous with these little “cherry candies,” as V calls them.  (Tip:  For the very young teether, crush these with the back of a knife before dissolving in water.  For the older ones, just pop them in one at a time.)
  5. Go ahead, give ’em the good stuff.  If my kids are in so much pain they can’t sleep, I do give them the Ibuprofen. And why not?  I know I’ve done everything in my power to keep them comfortable and it isn’t worth their losing sleep.  So I give them a touch of the OTC so that, come morning, they aren’t in pain and overtired.  But honestly?  This is a very rare occurrence.  We’re talking bleeding/blistered gums, two teeth at a time situations.  In all others, the teething tablets held their own.

If your poor baby’s teething is also accompanied by a runny nose or coughing, be sure to check out Coping Naturally: Cold Remedies.  And remember, these are common symptoms associated with teething and are not always indicative of a virus…take his temperature to check for a fever.  According to the AAP a fever is 100.4 degrees F / 38 C or higher.

Easy Protein Shake

I’ve been on the hunt for fast protein sources lately.  With my gigantic 8 month old still nursing and my seeming inability to pay attention to my own health during our recent move, I’ve come into some health problems.  A friend of mine reminded me that “protein protein protein” will solve the majority of my problems.  After a big face palm and a “duh,” I got to work.  The following is a recipe for a shake with 21g of protein (yes, 21!!!):

  • 2 Tbsp of peanut butter
  • 8 oz of whole milk (or more to taste)
  • 1 Carnation Breakfast Essentials packet in Milk Chocolate
  • 1 banana
  • Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Post 100: How to Refresh a Tired Mama

Every mama  woman can start to feel run-down and overwhelmed so we need to remember to take a little time for ourselves.  Give a little love to that body that works so hard day after day (after day after day…)!

After a long 2 weeks, I'm ready to rejuvinate.

 1.  Give Yourself a Facial:  Cleanse, steam, strip, microdermabrasion, and moisturize that gorgeous face.  Do your brows. Remove your ‘stache. Exfoliate your lips.  Moisturize some more.

2.  Get a New ‘Do:  Go ahead…change it up.  It’s amazing what losing a few inches of hair can do for your attitude.

3.  Take a long, hot shower:  Are you listening?  A HOT shower.  And shave.  You must shave.  Not with soap and a cheap Bic razor, but with shaving cream and that Venus Embrace you’ve stowed away for special occasions.  YOU are a special occasion.  And no, from the knee down doesn’t count; you have to shave the top half too.

4.  Moisturize Both In and Out of the Shower:  Use a hair repair treatment in the shower (Tigi Bed Head Recovery or Aussie 3 Minute Miracle) and use lotion from head to toe when you get out.  Aaahhhh….

5.  Jazz It Up:  Wear a new top and your fave jeans, toss on a necklace, whip out your fave shoes, and take some time to put on makeup.  No, your Sunday church/lunch with mom look is not what I’m talking about.  Jazz. It. Up.

My favorite shoes. Ever. Go with everything and super comfortable.

Much. Better.

Coping Naturally – Infant Reflux

My little V had acid reflux from the age of two weeks until she was sixteen months.  She cried eight hours straight every day until we figured out that reflux was the problem.  It was a long couple of weeks.  Mr. M and I learned a lot in our search to find ways to help her and I am now passing on that knowledge to other parents in the same situation.  I am no expert, but I did read a lot about how to help V without prescription medication.  Keep in mind that by following these simple rules, V’s crying stopped.  That’s right, stopped.

I’m a firm believer in learning as much about a situation or condition as possible to make the most informed and best decision for my child and family. Not one solution works for everyone and I don’t think people are reminded that as often as they should be. That being said, there are MANY things parents can try to help babies with reflux. It’s important to know that it will be trial and error and that not every option works for everyone, but there are a few general rules of thumb.

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WHY do some babies experience reflux? A nurse friend of mine explained it to me before we ever talked to our pediatrician about it. There is a flap between the esophagus and the stomach that should open downward to let food into the stomach. However, sometimes the digestive system is underdeveloped and the flap occasionally opens upward allowing stomach acid (and sometimes food) to flow into the esophagus and therefore cause heartburn. And there is the “acid reflux.”

1. The good news:  If you are breastfeeding, your diet determines how much acid reflux baby will experience. The bad news:  You’ll need to eliminate all coffee (I know, with all that crying you need that caffeine…but hang in there!), tea, chocolate, citrus, and tomatoes from your diet. That’s the list our pediatrician started us with. If you look into other things, a lot of people will say to eliminate dairy, but the likelihood of a baby being sensitive to dairy is slim to none and it’s really difficult to diagnose simply by eliminating it. Start with that list and you should see improvements within a day.  Changing your diet will PREVENT the worst of the pain because whatever you eat he eats.  If you remove heartburn causing foods, the food itself is no longer causing additional problems.  Even if you decide to treat with a prescription, this rule should be followed.

***It is important to know that reflux babies can deal with breast milk much better than formula. So if adjusting your diet is possible to continue nursing, it will definitely help baby’s tummy.  From everything I’ve read, formula is not the better choice if reflux is the only issue.  Furthermore, we had to supplement with formula as V got older (due to a supply issue on my end) and that simply made things worse.

2. Treat the reflux:  Even if you’re not eating foods that will create heartburn, baby will still experience some. We used gripe water EVERY TIME we fed V and sometimes in between if she was still having major problems. It is a natural dietary supplement and the most effective formula we found included both ginger and fennel. We tried about five brands and these two worked the best: Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water or Little Tummy’s Gripe Water (cheaper of the two and who doesn’t need to save a few bucks, right?). They can be found at Target (cheapest), drugstores, or Babies R Us. We even found it at our grocery store in the digestive aids section. IT DID MIRACLES for V’s crying. We started by taking the minimum amount of gripe water she was allowed in one day and dividing it by the number of feedings she took. Then we gave it to her at every feeding. If she seemed to have problems later, we could always give her a little more in between and I would note what I ate 4-6 hours before that feeding to try and find the cause of the problem.

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3. Preventing throw up:  Not every reflux baby experiences vomiting, but our daughter literally threw up everything she ate. If she had a 2 oz bottle, 2 oz came back up. When she was taking 4 oz bottles, 4 oz came back up. LET GRAVITY HELP YOU. After baby eats, keep him upright for 30 minutes. Put him in a snuggly, a swing, prop him on a boppy, whatever you can do to keep the food DOWN. Just as importantly, never bounce him. Not while playing, not to soothe him. Never. Any up and down movement will slosh the milk in his stomach and help it come back up.  If possible, prop his crib mattress. He will sleep better because gravity will keep his food down and his stomach acid where it belongs. This was not an option for us for very long because V was incredibly active in her sleep, but while we could do it, it worked very well. You can ask your pediatrician about the safest method for you: propping the mattress with a towel, using a sleep wedge or a sleep positioner.

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4.  The rice cereal debate:  We had no luck with adding rice cereal to bottles of breastmilk. Our daughter just threw it all up. The goal of the rice is to make the milk heavier and harder to come back up. However, it didn’t work for us. If you do add cereal, pay close attention to whether or not it makes a difference for your little one.  If it doesn’t help, why do it?

5.  Contain the throw up:  I highly suggest using old fashioned cloth diapers or old bath towels. We used the diapers, our daughter’s sitter used the bath towels.

6.  It’s going to get worse.  Reflux will peak at 4 months of age. However, at 4 months, he can start eating solids if he’s ready. That is a whole different ball game and was a HUGE struggle for us so in the future I’ll hopefully share information on how to transition. Reflux should phase out by 10 months of age. Our daughter had it until she was 16 months. Until she was 10 months, she could only eat 5 different baby foods. Until she was 16 months, we slowly were able to introduce other things. But again, it was very trial and error.

7.  A vicious cycle:  Crying will upset his stomach which will in turn upset his reflux which will in turn make him cry more. It sucks, I know. Our daughter also had colic (oddly enough…they are saying colic is most likely caused by an underdeveloped digestive system which is why gripe water works for both. Hmm…) so we struggled with that. But we watched a video (Dr. Karp’s Happiest Baby method) that showed us how to calm her naturally. The biggest thing that helped her is white noise. We took the “shushing” in her ear up a notch and used static on the radio to calm her down. We played it loudly until she was calm and gradually turned down the volume. We still used it as she got older when she had a hard time going to sleep. I highly recommend it for times that baby gets hysterical. If he’s just upset, you can do the swaddle, sucking, and shushing steps, but keep him upright.

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So I know that’s a lot of info, but I sincerely hope it helps anyone in need. V’s reflux was fairly severe until we got it under control. She wasn’t “cured” just because we did all of these things, but she was happy and comfortable and we managed her symptoms without a fear of side effects.

As a toddler there is no sign of V’s previous reflux.  She’s happy, healthy, and her digestion is on track.  I love knowing that Mr. M and I did everything we could to let nature work in her favor.

Quick and Easy DIY Solutions

(*From an email my sister-in-law sent.)

Hull strawberries easily using a straw.

Rubbing a walnut over scratches in your furniture
will disguise dings and scrapes.

 Remove crayon masterpieces from your TV or
computer screen with WD40.

Stop cut apples browning in your child’s lunch box
by securing with a rubber band.

Overhaul your linen cupboard, store bed linen sets
inside one of their own pillowcases and there will
be no more hunting through piles for a match.

Pump up the volume by placing your iPhone & iPod
in a bowl.  The concave shape amplifies the music.

Re-use a wet-wipes container to store plastic bags.

Add this item to your beach bag.  Baby powder
gets sand off your skin easily, who knew?!

Attach a Velcro strip to the wall to store soft toys.

Use wire to make a space to store gift wrap rolls
against the ceiling, rather than cluttering up the
floor.

Find tiny lost items like earrings by putting a
stocking over the vacuum hose.

Make an instant cupcake carrier by cutting
crosses into a box lid.

For those who cant stand the scrunching and
bunching: how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet.

Forever losing your bathroom essentials?  Use
magnetic strips to store bobby pins, tweezers
and clippers, behind a vanity door

Store shoes inside shower caps to stop dirty
soles rubbing on your clothes.  And you can
find them in just about every hotel.

A muffin pan becomes a craft caddy.  Magnets
hold the plastic cups down to make them
tip-resistant.

Bread tags make the perfect cord labels.

Bake cupcakes directly in ice-cream cones, so
much more fun and easier for kids to eat.

Microwave your own popcorn in a plain brown paper
bag.  Much healthier and cheaper than the packet
stuff.

Install a tension rod to hang your spray bottles.

 Turn your muffin pan upside down, bake cookie-dough
over the top and voila, you have cookie bowls for fruit
or ice-cream.

 Freeze Aloe Vera in ice-cube trays for soothing
sunburn relief.

 Create a window-box veggie patch using guttering.

Use egg cartons to separate and store your
Christmas decorations.

Grocery Store Etiquette

It seems to me that America as a whole is losing some common sense, manners, and overall acknowledgment of other people.  Many of the following suggestions are similar to the rules of the road; that is the rules you would follow while taking your driving test and not the ones you’ve since created during your years of driving.  Feel free to apply these while you’re behind the wheel too.  The others are just a reminder of what is and is not appropriate to do to or in front of others.  And so, as a service to  people everywhere, I bring to you

Grocery Store Etiquette:
Rules to Follow While Running Errands That Involve Shopping Carts

  1. Don’t crowd the ads. Wholesale stores are the worst, but grab the ad and roll forward.  If you decide you don’t need it, you can always back up and put it away.  There will be no wailing alarms or flashing lights for moving five feet from the ad carousel.
  2. Stay to the right.  Your cart does not belong in the middle of the aisle while you stand behind it reviewing your grocery list or scanning the shelves for your morning cereal.  Pull over please.
  3. Look before crossing.  Would you plow through a busy intersection during rush hour without looking first?  No? Then please don’t ram your cart into mine at the end of an aisle.
  4. Wait your turn.  No, it’s not appropriate to walk right up to the counter assuming you’re next in line at the seafood counter.  There’s three of us standing here and we don’t do it for the free viewing of the live lobster tank.
  5. You aren’t here to pick up chicks.  This one goes out to the deli employee who likes to spend his shift trying to impress the girl he works with.  You know who you are.  When I (your loyal customer) place an order and am the onlycustomer in the deli, I am the most important person in your life.  Cut the chit chat.  Stop turning your back to me.  And when the cute girl (who FYI is way out of your league) comes up and asks if you’re using the machine, the answer is, “Yes.” If I ever hear you say, “Go ahead, I’m in no rush,” in front of me again, there will be h*** to pay.  You may not be in a rush, but the nineteen pound baby strapped to my body isn’t getting any lighter and my toddler is a ticking time bomb of antsy pants.
  6. Keep your germies to yourself. If you are sick, sanitize before working your way through produce. Carry a tissue for your sneezing and coughing, and for the love of all that is good in this world, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY KIDS.  Which brings me to…
  7. Keep your hands off my kids. When did it become okay to walk up to some strangers babies and touch them?! It’s not.  So back the H off.
  8. Reduce Reuse Recycle. I’m sorry, but in this day and age how can you not own cloth bags?
  9. Put your cart away. There is no legitimate excuse for leaving your cart sitting against my car.  Or in the middle of the last remaining parking spot in the lot.  That’s right, I had to put the E brake on, get out of my car and move three (THREE!) carts out of a spot today just so I could park.
  10. Look before crossing (again). This one goes out to all you pedestrians out there.  Yes, cars should wait for you.  But if there’s a car already moving, don’t step out in front of it and then act surprise when we throw up our hands in anger at you.

Let’s study up, people.  I’ll be back next Friday and I’m expecting results.